TV Review: Scream (2×12) “When a Stranger Calls”


Same, Audrey. Same. gif credit:

Same, Audrey. Same. | gif credit:

Well everyone, we’ve reached the end of Scream’s sophomore season and all I have to say is: MEH. Let’s just get down to it so I can talk about why I’m so disappointed.

Folie A Deux is Also a Fall Out Boy Album, I’m Just Saying

We pick up right where we left off, our heroes in police custody for the Mayor’s murder. The Killer does them a solid, causing the police car to crash, killing the cop, and leaving the keys for the girls so they can make an escape. That, of course, is not the last time the girls will hear from the Killer. Their arrival at a convenience store brings our first Killer call of the episode. The Killer informs Emma that they’re playing a game. If Emma tries to forfeit by turning herself in, they’ll gut someone she loves.

Cut to the hospital, where Lang is musing about Emma and Audrey to Acosta. “It’s called folie a deux–the madness of two. It’s a psychological syndrome in which one deranged person transmits a delusion to the other, creating a shared psychosis that is stronger than one could have developed alone. The second person can help push the first over the edge and that can result in a psychotic break,” Lang explains. She thinks that Emma and Audrey can’t move past their trauma, so they keep reliving it. They might not even be aware of what they’re doing.

At Kieran’s house, Emma and Kieran have a poorly acted, tear-filled reunion. Can someone at least pretend like we all don’t know who the Killer is please? Emma hides when Eli returns. He bursts into Kieran’s room, demanding to know why he was being questioned by the cops all night. Kieran admits that he told them to do so, and tosses his own question at Eli: why was he at Will’s funeral last year?

An Aside for a Grieving Daughter

Stavo arrives at Brooke’s house to tell her that he’s sorry about her father’s death. Brooke is holding it together quite well, considering all of the recent loss in her life. She grills him about why he didn’t respond to her last night, which he says was only because he couldn’t bear to go home the night before. He tries to convince her that Audrey is the Killer, which she’s not having any of, despite having seen the damning video. The relationship between Audrey and Brooke is one of the show’s more nuanced, realistic ones; their friendship seems both hard-won and like it would exist in the real world.

Brooke visits Noah, who shares his own condolences for Brooke’s father’s murder. Emma calls Noah from an unknown number, swearing that they didn’t kill Mayor Maddox, which Noah and Brooke believe unconditionally. Emma divulges that she and Audrey are at the movie theater and orders them to stay away. Brooke and Noah immediately agree to ignore her wishes. “Actually, I’m going to need some pants,” Noah says, wearing only boxers and a hospital gown.

Who Invited the Guy with the Hair?

Kieran, Noah, and Brooke arrive at the theater and Emma gets the second Killer call of the episode. Emma channels Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Know What You Did Last Summer, challenging the Killer to come get them.

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The kids reunite and gather old movie props, which are apparently actual weapons. “Noah, please don’t go all meta on me right now, I need you guarding this door with me,” Brooke says, as Noah starts panic rambling. “You know it’s not me. Of course, that’s what the Killer would say. Okay sorry, it’s not me. It’s really not me,” Noah replies.

“If Piper had an accomplice, maybe that accomplice found another accomplice. Maybe there are two killers again, working together! That really opens up the possibilities if you think about it,” Noah muses, continuing to damage Brooke’s calm. Stavo’s arrival interrupts their conversation, explaining that he’s here because Brooke sent him a text. Only she didn’t. “Don’t let him in. We’re trying to lure the Killer here and you show up? I’m sorry, but that’s a pretty classic ‘Don’t let him in’ situation, right?” Noah asks. Brooke smartly refuses (not that Stavo has anything to do with this, but whatevs), and Stavo storms away. They hear a scream and everyone but Audrey runs into the theater.

The Killer is streaming footage of the murders on the big screen. Kieran leaves to go find Audrey (eyeroll), demanding that they all stay put. Emma immediately goes against this in order to shut off the projector and spare Brooke and Noah the horror of seeing their loved ones’ deaths in real time. The lights are extinguished, the Killer pops out, Brooke gets stabbed. Emma demands that Noah call an ambulance and Kieran demands that Emma bails, claiming that Audrey must have run off on her own.

At the hospital, Brooke is in critical condition and needs surgery. Emma breaks down to Kieran over the phone, blaming her own lack of responsibility for Brooke’s injury. Meanwhile, Stavo is in tears blaming himself for not staying at the theater. Acosta quietly comforts him. Noah takes his moment to assure Acosta that it wasn’t Audrey or Emma who stabbed Brooke. Noah realizes that Acosta knows that there’s far too much evidence pointing their way, that his manhunt for them is really a distraction.

The Killer Unmasked, Figuratively

Emma gets a Killer text that says, “Time to face the mask! Come alone or she dies,” along with a picture of Audrey in handcuffs. She immediately heads over to the Blessed Sisters Children Home, gun drawn. Kieran calls and the two exchange “I love yous.” EYEROLL. Scream, some of these moments might serve to throw us off if they weren’t so ridiculously melodramatic. Emma receives the third Killer call of the episode: “I’m not hiding, I’m savoring…the final destruction of you, Emma Duvall, and all you love.” Whatever, save it.

After a brief attack by the Killer, Emma finds Audrey. A disheveled Kieran walks in, claiming that he activated the GPS coordinates on Emma’s phone to find her, which doesn’t make sense because I’m pretty sure you need to enable that sort of thing ahead of time. Do I think it would be smart if all of them had access to it to find one another in the midst of mortal peril? Yes. Do I think they did that? No. Eli bursts in, bleeding from a stab wound. He claims that Kieran stabbed him and he played dead to get away. He’s already called the police. Emma doesn’t believe him, but he reveals that Kieran was responsible for the restraining order on Eli. Kieran was the one who posted nude pictures of her on the internet and blamed his cousin. Eli came to Lakewood to get back at him. Kieran claims that Eli is the Killer and Emma shoots him before handing the gun to Kieran.

“You will feel safe again, Emma. And you too, Audrey.” Kieran says. Once again, if you’re going to use dialogue to reveal something, please make it something a teenager would actually say.  Emma realizes that he’s the Killer because of his word choices, and Kieran drops the act. He shoots Eli three times when he tries to get up, making for our one casualty of the episode. Kieran then full-on villain speeches, even worse than Piper: he and Piper were together before he moved to Lakewood, they bonded over parents who threw them away, etc. “But Piper showed me that killing people is way more fun than therapy!” Give me a break, dude. He tortured Emma for Piper, and then tortured Audrey because she was the one who killed Piper.

Using a combination of shelving and Audrey’s handcuffs, the girls manage to incapacitate him. Audrey and Kieran both beckon Emma to shoot him, but she declines. “I get to choose how you’re going to die…but not. Not today. You’re going to rot in prison because you lost at your own sick game,” she says. The cops arrive and arrest Kieran.

As per usual, Noah gets the last monologue of the show. “It’s official–three months later, and Lakewood has survived another mass murderer. Piper did have an accomplice–go figure! I was right all along. But no one saw this killer coming. But believe me–it cuts deep. After a betrayal like that, do you ever really learn to trust again? The only way to move forward is to put it behind us–again. Brandon James, Piper Shaw, Kieran Wilcox, they all wanted revenge. Maybe that’s the end of the chain. Maybe this was the last dangling thread. Maybe there are no more to pull. Maybe everything is finally back to normal. Or maybe Lakewood will always be Murderville. Only time will tell,” Noah podcasts. The episode closes out with Kieran in jail, receiving a phone call. “Who said you could wear my mask?” the Killer’s voice says. Dun dun dun.

You guys, I just so badly wanted this to not be the obvious choice. Let me dissect the many reasons I ultimately found this reveal disappointing. This show should never beg for comparisons to the original movie franchise, because it won’t win. Having the final girl’s boyfriend be the killer has been done–and it’s been done better. This was sloppy and the motive lacked the explanation and nuance inherent in the first film.  Kieran doesn’t even make for a good horror villain–he exerts far too much effort, which made for some humor where shouldn’t have been any. The entire thing felt forced and way far-fetched at certain points. Still, I hope they renew the show–I’d be interested in who was on the other end of that phone call.

Best Line: “You know it’s not me. Of course, that’s what the Killer would say. Okay sorry, it’s not me. It’s really not me.” I have to give it to Noah for his poorly timed meta rant.

Killer Calls Per Episode: 3

Killer Calls Per Season: 21

Body Count Per Episode: 1

Body Count Per Season: 7

Episode Rating: 4/10

Season Rating: 6.7/10

Bri is a 25-year-old born and raised in the swamps of Jersey. Just kidding, she lives at least twenty minutes from those swamps. She’s a publishing professional that moonlights as a writer. She enjoys going to concerts (anything from Rooney to Springsteen to NKOTBSB), roadtripping, and complaining that she truly belongs in the 1950’s, the 1920′s, or the 1980′s depending on her mood. She definitely owns more books than she should and reads every chance she gets. If you stop hearing from her, it’s because the book piles have fallen over and smothered her to death in the night. You can contact her at Twitter: @bri_lockhart