Season 2, Episode 3
When we last left MTV’s “Scream” and The Group Formerly Known as The Lakewood Six, Emma’s dad stalked her like a killer in a horror film and then apologized before telling her that he wanted back into her life. Meanwhile, Ghost McMeltFace 2: Simba’s Pride continued to toy with Audrey by leaving the body of Jake in a storage unit for her to find and freak out over.
Luckily, this episode wastes no time starting right where we left off and builds on that to give us some intriguing moments.
First thing’s first (and I feel like I’m asking this for the 57th time):
why can’t Audrey be the heroine in this thing? While I understand the predilection for making our heroines flawed and damaged, yet deep-down strong, Emma is so boring. Audrey meets all the criteria the writers of “Scream” believe Emma is meeting — only Audrey has a kick-ass sidekick, a very complex backstory and an attitude for days. One of the coolest moments of the season thus far has been watching Audrey flip out. Last season, she seemed so stern, so cool and so under control. Here, she’s slowly slipping into madness. Her handiwork is just an e-mail away from becoming public knowledge, she’s speechless when the killer asks her to admire her his latest conquest and if it’s not bad enough that The Killer is riding her, she has nowhere to run or hide — because her best friend is unknowingly close to uncovering her secrets as well.
That isn’t to say that Audrey’s not treading water.
She covers up Jake’s murder by taking the killer’s taunting, hand-written message off the body and trashing it. She gears up for Noah’s “discovery” of the body…only to find out that Jake’s body is missing and the storage shed she found it in has been filled with random junk. On top of that, there’s a camera which watches over the two of them, giving The Killer even more leverage. Noah (somehow) taps into the Crescent Motel’s security cameras and gets ready to expose hapless reception desk clerk, “Eddie Kruger” (ugh, that still hurts to say or type) as a liar, blissfully unaware that his BFF is the one who was in the Storage Shed of Blood. Watching Audrey sweat here is fun. As Noah’s video files get closer to loading, Audrey paces nervously, trying to think of something, anything to stop time. But she can’t…so she grabs a bookend Noah has on his shelf and holds it over her head, ready to whack Noah — but the video malfunctions and she relaxes. For the first time, we breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Audrey’s struggle to keep up appearances is ironic: she started this whole ordeal and now it’s run amok and she’s paying the price. Even though she didn’t directly kill anyone during the last series of murders, she was manipulating the person responsible. But now that the shit is hitting the proverbial fan, Audrey has to make a decision: will she become what she created? What would have happened if Noah saw something on that video stream? Would Audrey actually kill Noah to hide the truth? And is Audrey capable of redemption? Is she a hero or is she a villain? That is what makes this story fun. The only thing that negates it is the fact that Noah hasn’t been able to pick up on his friend’s very strange behavior nor suspected her. One could make the case, however, that Noah loves Audrey so much that he wouldn’t dare entertain that thought.
Having digressed, this is not the only moment that works.
Shortly after The Killer murders the esteemed Mr. Kruger with a corkscrew (one of the most insipidly stupid moments of the episode; Kruger just enters Daddy Duvall’s room with a “liquor delivery” and proceeds to wander around a 350 square-foot motel room “looking” for Dad before finally getting his ass handed to him by GMMF 2), Emma comes looking for her father in the very same hotel room — while The Killer awaits her in the bathroom. Forgiving the fact that Emma doesn’t even bother to look for her Dad in that room (why isn’t clear; it’s well-lit and the shower’s apparently running), The Killer calling up Audrey via Facetime and showing Emma wandering the room before taking a video of himself in the mirror waving, before he hangs up on her, is a bit chilling.
The only problem with this is the same one that’s been plaguing this series since the beginning: lack of a payoff.
Emma’s search for her father is interrupted by some barroom brawl that has spilled out to the streets next to the motel. Her father’s involved with some lowlife and Emma’s not happy about this. So, the suspense automatically dies when Emma leaves the room, completely unharmed, in order to argue with her deadbeat Dad who not only beats the living shit out of some guy at the bar, he pretty much admits to beating the shit out of Emma’s Mom, too, before the police come to question Emma’s father for taking part in the public disturbance. The whole confrontation between Emma and her Dad is wholly uncomfortable, yet welcome in a strange way and it also manages to nicely wrap up the simmering conflict between Emma and Audrey, who had been at odds over the credibility of Emma’s father which lasted all of ten minutes, but even still, it works.
And that brings me to the part of the episode that makes me hate this show with the power of a thousand white hot suns:
If it wasn’t for Brooke, this episode’s rating might have been higher and the show would be more than passable — but, no, MTV insists on pushing Brooke on us like a mall kiosk worker pushing $500 dollar lavender-scented neck pillows. Jake has, once again, stood Brooke up. So, he’s still missing. Because he’s dead and Brooke doesn’t know it. But Brooke’s got things to do. Like trying to help Zoe hook up with Noah. And run a town pageant. And get mocked by Gustavo because Jake’s still missing.
Gustavo’s needling angers Brooke to no end and prompts her to angrily call the hell out of Jake, allowing the writers to give us this “gem”…and by “gem”, I mean “shit”:
“Look: I have upgraded from texting to VOICEMAIL to further express my level of ‘YOU ARE SO DEAD.'”
Really. That dialogue was said. That happened. How a person “upgrades from texting to voicemail” is beyond me, but that’s still not the worst part. The worst is when she goes back to texting him, having thoroughly “downgraded to texting”, I guess:
Brooke: That’s it! WE ARE DONE!!!
“Jake”: K, babe. Hasta la vista!
Still not the worst. Brooke’s response?
What?! Are you in Mexico with your parents?
Really?! Dead or not, honey…he ain’t into you. Suck it up.
STILL NOT THE WORST.
Remember Seth Branson from last season? The weird, pervy teacher who was “educating” Brooke on the side before going all creepy and weird for no other reason other to serve as a nonsensical red herring before vanishing into thin air without so much as a mention of what happened to him after Piper had kidnapped him? Anyway, he’s back, out of nowhere, and blowing up Brooke’s phone with romantic Shakespearean sonnets because nothing says “romance” like suddenly calling the girl you love after pretending to be disturbingly psychotic and then vanishing for six months.
STILL NOT THE FUCKING WORST.
After a great exchange between Gustavo and Noah regarding Noah’s podcast and Gustavo warning Noah that he might actually get hurt or worse in his quest for the truth about the Lakewood Murders, Brooke and Zoe show up. Also, Gustavo’s not actually supposed to be here because nobody invited him so it would stand to reason that a) he’s The Killer b) he’s acting creepy and lurky for no logical reason or c) he’s persistent as he is uninteresting, so he fits within the scheme. Brooke’s latest attempt to get Zoey and Noah together is a screening of “Killer Klowns From Outer Space” at Lakewood’s town theater. So, we get a Meet Cute even though they’ve already met:
Zoe: So, did you do the reading for AP English yet? ‘Of Mice and Men’? I mean, in what world does strangling a rabbit equal a bullet in the head?
Noah: ACK! Oh my god…spoiler alert!
Really? That novel is, like, fifty years–you know what? Fine. We’ll take it. But, Brooke is aggravated — aggravated! — that Gustavo would dare show his face in a public movie theater lobby. While she doesn’t leave him a voicemail, she does attempt to be witty which, as usual, fails upon takeoff and features Gustavo with the laziest comeback of all-time:
Brooke: Can I get just like one ‘Stavo-free’ day? Do you have any of that?
Gustavo: Yeah…the thing is…we’re all out of that…
I mean, sweet baby Jesus H. balding Christ on a fucking crutch, look at that verbal spew.
BUT STILL NOT THE GODDAMN FUCKING WORST OMG
Seth Branson shows up and he doesn’t get it! Why would Brooke reject his advances? I mean, after all…Branson was the one who sent her flowers, not Jake! But Branson’s moved on. He swears he isn’t stalking Brooke — even though he admits to “seeing her everywhere, all over town”, which is also creepy. But Brooke refuses to be outdone by her pseudo-psycho teacher-turned-lover-turned stalker and I finally present to you THE WORST:
Brooke: Your sources were correct…about Jake…it’s…it’s complicated! But, in the meantime, I’m keeping my plate full. THIS is my new friend, ‘Stavo! He’s the sheriff’s son, so…be nice.
‘Stavo (because that’s his hip new name now): Is this OLD DUDE bothering you?
Branson: You’re not dating this guy…
(‘STAVO GRABS BROOKE AND THEY MAKE OUT FOR A FEW SECONDS; BROOKE’S KINDA NOT PLEASED.)
Branson: You’ve changed, Brooke. You didn’t even say ‘thank you’ for the flowers.
So, to recap:
Brooke still hasn’t reported Jake as “missing”, never really calls him and just texts him, they “break up” because she just sucks on toast at the love thing — yet still wants to set up Zoe with Noah, Gustavo mocks her for all of that and shows up at random which is annoying but cool, Branson shows up at random which isn’t cool at all, Brooke outlines that she’s still with Jake, acknowledges sleeping with Branson (while he was teaching) and then lets ‘Stavo the Stud kiss her?
Have I missed anything?
Brooke is the bane of this show’s existence. Her character, a blithering idiot three seconds from being a bimbo without the bimbo look, is insulting not just to women, but people in general. Everything she does is another right turn into a dead end. I can’t decide if the episode’s name (“Vacancy”) refers to the so-so horror film that came out a few years back or if it’s referring to the spot between her ears. The only way her role could possibly be redeemed is if she grows past this and becomes integral to the overall plot. Jake’s death may do this, but dragging out that particular revelation is really dragging the show down and that’s careless on the part of the showrunners.
Overall, however, this was the first decent episode of the new season. Audrey’s inner-character dueling is only going to get more interesting what with Noah and Zoe possibly getting together. Will this create jealousy on Audrey’s part and add more stress to their relationship? Will Emma find it in her heart to forgive her father or has that ship sailed? AND CAN WE PLEASE GET BROOKE TO STOP RUINING THIS SHIT ALREADY???
Let’s hope so.