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‘Scream’ review: ‘The Vanishing’ is the best of the series

SCREAM
Season 2, Episode 10
“The Vanishing”
Airdate: August 2, 2016
GRADE: B+

If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews of MTV’s Scream, then you know that the show has many weaknesses which prevent it from achieving even half of what it wants to accomplish. Ironically, the one thing the show struggles with more than the shallow characterizations and ridiculous plot contrivances is the death of any of the show’s characters. It isn’t that I’m hoping they die, it’s that the deaths often fail to resonate with the audience in any way, shape or form. Most of the time, when Scream tosses us a character death, it sucks…but when they get it right…oh, boy, it’s something.

Frustratingly, the episode starts off with Emma and Audrey arguing again. This makes little sense since they were practically friends again by the end of the last episode but, again, this show has no idea how to pick a lane and here we are. Emma’s still peeved that Audrey invited Piper to Lakewood and, here, Audrey finally lets her reasoning slip: she was doing a documentary on Brandon James. Ok. That took ten whole episodes? And that’s something that Audrey couldn’t confess…why? Turns out there’s a reason for Audrey’s elusiveness…but I’m getting ahead of myself…

scream
Audrey and Emma Episode 210

Piper’s body is in the Lakewood Morgue and Maggie picks it apart, finding that the person who dug her body up installed a pig’s heart inside her chest. Like an XBOX game, ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! Suddenly, we’re witnesses to the time a young Maggie and young Sheriff Acosta found a very disturbed Brandon James sitting next to a tree. The whole thing is painfully hokey and arbitrary, considering that there’s no reason this couldn’t have been revealed a long fucking time ago…but, hey, I guess we should be lucky Maggie’s not in the kitchen, browbeating Emma or that Acosta’s yelling at this son for being a murderer again.

The episode finds its way when Noah, fresh off his nookie high, calls Zoe to find out why she wasn’t in class. Zoe texts him to tell him that she “needs time to think” and that she’s hanging out at “their place”. Where’s “their place”? Remember a couple weeks back when they hung out at the lake for, like, an hour in swim suits but never went swimming? Yeah, that’s “their place” now. Since Noah’s a little lost puppy dog, and he wants more tail, he just takes the rest of the day off from school since Lakewood High grants students vacation time just like Cisco.

scream
Killer Episode 210

We all know the “killer texting the characters” ploy by now. Everyone does except for the characters on the show. Not only does Noah fall for the trick, he obeys “Zoe’s” Creepypasta Google Maps (“turn right, keep going, you’re almost there”) without thinking twice. Eventually, this leads to Noah getting stabbed right in the gut and — because the episode is called “The Vanishing” — buried alive. There’s a twist to this: the killer live-streams Noah’s coffin struggle to Emma and Audrey who just give up fighting for the greater good.

There’s several things at play here: first is the fact that Noah and Audrey are the heart and soul of the show so, when either of their lives are threatened, Scream automatically has you on the hook without asking for much. The other is that Audrey’s being pulled in several directions. One of her best friends is in grave danger and she’s dealing with Emma’s scorn due to the entire Piper flap and she has the death of Jake still on her conscience as well as the scores of other bodies which, arguably, are her fault.

Noah Episode 210
Noah Episode 210

Except, this time, Noah hits home. Forget Seth Branson, Haley or Jake…if Noah or Zoe die, Audrey’s shield of apathy is shattered. But Audrey has made a career of hiding things so how does somebody with so many secrets tell the truth? This is where we get a major reveal (and something I didn’t see coming): Audrey was in love with Emma — only Emma became the upper echelon of Lakewood High. She dated a meathead who had another meathead friend in Jake who, in turn, was dating the pretty rah-rah cheerleader blonde in Brooke.

This adds a whole new dimension to the proceedings — if only Noah wasn’t locked in a coffin, we’d be able to expand until the sun came up. But Noah’s in a coffin. And while Audrey and Emma can see him, they can’t hear him. Watching Noah here is interesting. At first, he tries to be witty about his situation — except he clues in real quick that this isn’t a movie and that he’s most likely going to die. Admittedly, I’m somewhat confused by the fact that the Killer stabbed Noah in the goddamn stomach first before burying him and Noah should have bled out completely before suffocating in a fucking coffin but, again, that’s how Scream rolls.

Audrey, Emma and Noah Episode 210
Audrey, Emma and Noah Episode 210

The final half of the show is devastating. Last year, Noah had to deal with the death of Riley, his first crush. Here, he’s forced to deal with the realization that it’s his turn to perish. The episode only ups that ante because Emma and Audrey are more content with screaming at one another over their own issues than saving their friend who is having hallucinations of Zoe due to the lack of oxygen in the coffin. It’s only in the nick of time to do they locate Noah after they hear him shouting under the ground they’re stepping on.

But what of Zoe? The Killer is even cruel enough to stream the trio a video of Zoe struggling in her own coffin which appears to be leaking water at a rapid rate. Noah realizes just where Zoe is and the three race to the lake, finding a long rope which leads into the lake. Zoe continues screaming for help as her coffin is pulled to land. Zoe is safe…or, so the trio thinks. When they open the coffin, they find Zoe has already drowned. The video wasn’t current. Noah breaking down in tears is hard to watch and will, no doubt, transform him. Possibly, for good. When an actor can convince you that he was deeply in love with a character you didn’t really care about, that’s saying something.

Forgiving some slight hiccups, “The Vanishing” is very slick fare from a show that has a history of letting its viewers down. The episode is, for the most part, tight, tense and incredibly well-executed. The lack of Brooke, Keiran and Gustavo and the reduction of screen time for Maggie, Acosta, Eli, Brooke’s father and the slew of other minor characters is the reason for this. I’ve said it before: Scream works best when the show cuts the fat and serves us up a good story made up of the more interesting characters. “The Vanishing” is by no means perfect, but it’s nice to see the show finding its footing this late in the game.

About Matt Perri

Matt Perri
Matt Perri is one of those literary Ronin you’ve never heard of until he shows up and tells you he’s a literary Ronin. He’s a native Californian, a film buff, old school gamer geek, and a sports/entertainment fan. A lifelong Giants, 49ers and Sharks fan, he also covers the world of pro-wrestling, writing recaps for WWE Monday Night RAW and Total Divas at Scott’s Blog of Doom. You can follow the guy on Twitter via @PerriTheSmark as well as here at The Workprint and his own blog, We Hate Your Gimmick.

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