Let’s start with the good news: Scream the TV series is getting better with every episode. It’s becoming less of a slog to get through, and there’s more suspense, action, and humor (though mostly unintentional) with every passing episode, something the pilot apparently forgot completely on all bases. The bad news is pretty obvious too though: A better shade of bad is still mostly bad. Last week’s “Wanna Play A Game?” was the most fun (and best) episode of Scream so far, but it was also full of all the stupid series behavior that we have come to know and question. This week’s “Aftermath,” however, finds a way to evoke real emotions out of and for these characters, but it also comes at the expense of the most likable character in the core clique, if not the show as a whole. (No offense to Audrey, but she really is barely a character, and unless she ends up being a major player in this whole serial killer thing, her character could just as easily not exist.)
If nothing else comes from Emma in this series, at least “Aftermath” can lay its claim as the episode where she finally showed some sort of emotion in the form of grieving for Riley. Brooke does too, which is a win for everyone who has been rooting for Key & Peele’s Jacquelin to do anything other than play the cliche, over-sexualized teenager. For the few scenes she has, this is Brooke’s episode, and really, it needs to be, especially after her survival as the result of another questionable murder from Ghostface Filler. Scream the TV series is so lucky that it (Brooke’s pain) works, because the episode also serves as a reminder that Brooke is a poor little rich girl (her mourning occurring by the pool really doesn’t help things) who’s consumed with her own image (a lot of her mourning features her wanting people not to hate her, in light of a death pool from the other psychologically damaged children at Lakewood High School). It’s the best Brooke has been, and it’s all because it doesn’t involve her engaging in an affair with her creep of a teacher or choosing another friend’s death as a reason to party and crack jokes.
But given the show’s pattern, her likability in this episode probably means she’s the next to go. (Alright, the next will be probably Jake or the teacher, because like Riley, they’re not series regulars.) It’s certainly not going to be Emma, as Ghostface Filler wouldn’t harm a hair on her head. In fact, as Ghostface Filler doesn’t make an appearance this week—keeping with this show’s lack of scariness—the status quo of safety remains for Emma. Emma even brings up the fact that he’s only done what amounts to prank calling her, which is a much-appreciated self-awareness but also a big part of why Emma the protagonist is a dud. In the Scream films, Sidney Prescott was also the Final Girl, but Ghostface always made sure to get physical with her early on, to really scare her and to leave his/her mark, way before the final act. Here, Ghostface Filler talks to Emma. And sends her yearbooks. All while he (or she—as Audrey points out to Emma that Ghostface Filler’s voice is actually a voice changer) kills off characters with little rhyme or reason.
Even though Emma continues to be lacking as a character, as mentioned before, this is Brooke’s episode. It’s also a pretty good episode for Noah the nerd, as the aftermath of Riley’s death is the exact moment when John Karna is able to show some real acting ability and not just a regurgitation of pop culture. Oh, the regurgitation is still there, but even when it comes to that, there’s finally a genuine humor to it, especially as he calls into question the logic of Pretty Little Liars (though it does a lot of what Scream the TV series wants to do, much, much better, especially with suspense and horror). Also, none of the regurgiation takes place in an English class.
Still, characters aren’t Scream the TV series’ strong suit, if the show even truly has one yet. Kieran (remember Kieran?) is completely absent from the episode, a point that only becomes apparent towards the final act of the 39 minute (these are not content-filled pieces) episode. Also, if last week’s dialogue about the subject matter (and really, even the scenes from the pilot) was too vague for anyone, this week’s confirms it: Will and Jake are (or were) running their own child pornography ring. And that’s at the very, very least, as the sheriff and mayor may have even slept with under-aged people. Supposedly the now deceased Nina and Tyler were a part of this, but that doesn’t really matter, because a child pornography ring is still an integral (hopefully, otherwise it’s just an unnecessary unpleasantry) part of the story, now partially because Will wants to go to Duke (and television doesn’t quite understand FAFSA). For everything that’s even remotely fun or possibly good about the show, Will and Jake decrease that by at least 80 per cent with each of their scenes.
Then there’s Piper the podcaster, who remains a part of the show, finding a way to be a less functional version of Gale Weathers, Sarah Koenig, and Josie Geller combined with each passing scene. Keeping in mind that it makes no sense the high school would allow this podcaster to even be on campus in the first place (as we have seen her before), and given the fact that the last thing Lakewood wants to do is sensationalize these murders, it makes even less sense that someone like Emma—or really, anyone involved with this outside of maybe Noah—would want her to stick around. Based on what we’ve heard from this podcast, Piper is neither a journalist nor an investigative participant in this story. All she is doing is reciting these character’s tragedies, not looking for answers, not looking for anything. So why keep her around? Much like Emma, our protagonist, she’s a passive character whose purpose is questionable. This isn’t to say the 21st century update from television journalist (like Gale Weathers) to podcaster is an egregious one; but to do it without any real reason other than the fact that Serial exists and podcasts are all the rage is basically Scream the TV series in a nutshell. Things just happen.
And with that, we have the end of the episode: A sex tape of Emma losing her virginity leaks, thus removing almost all of the good will this show may have garnered from this and the episode before. Like I said, things just happen.
- As someone who watches Teen Wolf, I’m used to watching teens just stroll through crime scenes and morgues, but I can’t accept that with Emma. Stiles basically annoyed his sheriff father into allowing him to come to his job. Emma just walks in like no one was standing watch.
- Apparently Riley’s parents want to file a civil suit against the sheriff’s department for their daughter’s death. Are we supposed to be upset by that? Because Emma’s mom saying she’ll try to talk them out of it is more upsetting. Riley’s parents should sue everyone involved for the gross negligence that led to their daughter’s death.
- There was no reason Emma, Audrey, and Noah couldn’t have taken Nina’s laptop (while also transferring files to the SD card), other than it serving the incompetency of the plot.
- Speaking of incompetency, as someone who has seen television and movies, Noah should have immediately pointed out how Tyler all of a sudden dying in an explosion, sans head (or anything, really), was all nonsense.
- Brandon James’ entire story is boring, but it’s in a competition for most boring with sheriff/Emma’s mom scenes. Who will win? (We all lose.)
- In case you were wondering, this was my favorite part of last week’s episode (which received no review because of technical difficulties, not a mental breakdown). Note the sender.