Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of Scream. Read at your own risk!
Scream finally unveiled the season 2 killer in the finale — and it wasn’t who we were expecting.
Though it seemed all signs were pointing to Emma (Willa Fitzgerald) having snapped and donned the infamous Brandon James mask for a bloody, revenge-fueled killing spree, it was her boyfriend Kieran (Amadeus Serafini) who was both Piper’s (Amelia Rose Blaire) original partner and the killer haunting Lakewood in season 2.
Why? Well, basically, Piper and Kieran used to date, and both had serious parental issues. Instead of getting therapy, they decided to make their parents — Piper’s medical examiner mom Maggie (Tracy Middendorf) and Kieran’s cop dad, the late Sheriff Hudson (Jason Wiles) — look foolish amidst a killing spree that would culminate in their deaths. In fact, Kieran was Piper’s big surprise that she mentioned in the season 1 finale before Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) interrupted, leading to Piper’s death. That’s why Kieran tormented Audrey in season 2. (It’s rather obvious when you look back on every time the show had Kieran pop up just after the killer disappeared.)
The reveal harkens back to the original Scream twist that Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) was the killer because — surprise, surprise — parental issues. For what it’s worth, we were sure Emma was the killer, which would’ve been an interesting route for the show to take to really do something Scream has never done by having the heroine be the killer. For those who will yell, “But they did that in Scream 4!” Nope. Sidney is always the heroine, no matter what, so no they didn’t.
However, the second season’s insinuation that Brandon James might actually be alive may not have been a total ruse. Instead of being killed by Emma and Audrey, Kieran was turned over to the police to rot in jail, where he received a call from the owner of the infamous mask. Was it actually Brandon James? Or was it his brother Troy? EW turned to executive producers Michael Gans and Richard Register to find out:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was it always the plan for Kieran to be the killer?
MICHAEL GANS: Yes, Kieran was. There was one tiny other option that I won’t tell you that was a possibility prior to pitching, but the moment we met with everybody at Dimension and MTV, from that point on, we had pitched it as Kieran. It was always there. As opposed to other times where it changed greatly, this season it was as written, and in fact the same motivation from the beginning. There was one moment in the middle where there was discussion of changing the motivation. But it was always Kieran.
RICHARD REGISTER: It was always that Kieran and Piper were this killing duo, a Natural Born Killers situation, and Piper got killed in the middle of that, so he was exacting his revenge ultimately.
GANS: Their plan didn’t pan out the way they wanted it to, so he was taking revenge. That was always the reason.
It seems very similar to the original Scream. Was that intentional?
GANS: No, I think that permutation is a constant possibility. It was not intentional. In general, there is a sense of homage in every moment in this to the first film. There’s always a little wink. It wasn’t meant to be that. I think he was the best possible version of the murderer in our opinion. In some ways, that playing with predictability, that playing with trope, that consciousness of styles and things that have come before and a fearlessness is part of the franchise of Scream. The Billy Loomis element of it and the Billy Loomis history is something that comes with it, but in all honesty, he was, to us, the best possible killer for this season — other than Willa, who would’ve been the next best possible killer.
Did you ever consider having Emma be the killer?
GANS: Absolutely. We wanted it. That’s the idea behind Kieran, the idea behind this partnership with Piper would be to make Emma believe so deeply that it could be her, and to make the audience believe that as well. But to make that such a viable possibility was the most amazing thing. What’s most brilliant about it is how it affects those that are being stalked, almost more so than those that are stalking. You have to be very careful about that. It’s almost more about the Sidney character or the entire cast — more about Brooke, more about Noah, more about Audrey — about how they’re being stalked and how [the killers are] getting in their heads. For Emma, we wanted exactly what you felt to happen. We knew that from the beginning, that was also in the original pitch, that it would be this psychological game, that it would have a Hitchcock element to it, as well as being true to a Wes Craven-Kevin Williamson origin story. You would have this main character who was questioning whether or not it was possible. We love that you thought it was her. That’s exactly what we wanted. We knew that it couldn’t be her at the end of the day — in this season.
If Kieran wanted to kill his dad in season 1 and make him look foolish, why did everyone else in season 2 deserve to die?
GANS: That was retribution.
REGISTER: That’s all about Emma and Audrey.
GANS: Those people were pawns in the game, but they were negligible. He had no concern for any of their lives.
REGISTER: Once Kieran started that, he said, “The world would see you two as they once saw Piper: As psychotic killers.” His whole thing was framing them for these murders so everyone says, “Oh, those two bitches are killers.”
GANS: The motivation for killing each one of them had to do specifically with how it would play against [Emma and Audrey]. His big mistake, the one thing he couldn’t count on was Eli showing up, his cousin. That he didn’t count on, and that was a problem from the get-go. That was the red herring. It was all about getting at them, and any way he could get at them, that’s why he went for the clerk at the motel, because Audrey had a direct connection. It was going to be a perfect way to frame them up.
Do you think there’s some credence to that teacher’s idea that Emma and Audrey have created a bit of a delusion?
REGISTER: Oh, yes.
GANS: That syndrome, that heavenly creatures syndrome, is real. They operate exactly under the terms of that if you look at it closely, one is driving a story and the other is supporting that story. Audrey has taken on that psychosis, even though her life is not necessarily the focus of the murders, now it is. They could well be that. In fact, they could suffer from that [after] the situation very easily.
REGISTER: That also is an inspiration from the Scream franchise, that idea of dual killers.
If the show is renewed for a third season, where would it pick up? If every year a serial killer is haunting Lakewood, at what point does it become unrealistic that they haven’t moved away?
GANS: Given a third season, in all honesty, you sit and have a blue-sky period, which we haven’t had yet. To us, it’s not impossible for them to move out of this town. Also, now because they’re famous, after the second murder, it’s not over, it’s no longer a small-town story, so what happens wherever they go? People will know about them. They’re no longer a normal girl in a normal town, neither of them. It’s no longer a regular life. But finding that normalcy and recreating that normalcy along the lines of what Sidney did, trying to do that, and who is inspired to come after them after that? And the reasons and motivations for why they would come would be different than the simple motivations of “I share a parent with you,” or “I hate you for screwing up my plan and killing my girlfriend.” It becomes very much more psychological. Also, there’s no telling what could happen with any individual member of this group after living through this. Who or what psychoses could take over the individual minds of this group? That’s where we see the series going next, so not necessarily staying in Lakewood, but being connected to Lakewood and maintaining the history of Brandon James is a big part of the story and the psychoses of whoever takes on this killer psychology, and not removing any single one of the members from our cast from possibly being the killer. That’s not to say that is what happens.
REGISTER: That will be, going forward, the game plan.
GANS: We continue to plan on what drove the story to begin with: What scares you? How strong are you in facing that scare?
Was that really Brandon James on the phone? Could it be Troy James?
GANS: What we can say is yes, it could be Brandon James, or yes, it could be Troy James. That’s the truth. Troy was mentioned once, but we’ll say this: Troy is alive.
REGISTER: Yes, Troy is alive.
Is Brandon alive?
REGISTER: We can’t say.
GANS: Not going to tell you that.
Did Piper and Kieran know the fate of Brandon James?
GANS: They thought they knew the answer to that. They believed that he was alive somewhere.
Are you considering a time jump for next season?
REGISTER: That is a consideration.
GANS: It was a consideration this year. It’s a consideration now. We actually considered a time jump initially when we were trying to put together the pitch. We have definitely talked about a time jump. There’s more story than anyone can imagine.
How are Emma and Audrey dealing after this?
GANS: It’s tough for them, because there is so much they didn’t say. In the circumstances at the end of the season, for Emma, she knows she has to make it work and she loves Audrey, and Audrey really loves Emma, but what comes next is them getting over the hump of how do we define their relationship under those terms? It’s not going to be easy. It looks easy when they’re in peril and you have to cling to each other, but I would say that they’re not over the hump of dealing with all of those sins that Audrey and Emma have to deal with in regards to their relationship. In other words, Audrey had a crush on her, and she chose to ignore it. That’s something Audrey and Emma will have to get over, and the strangeness of the relationship to Piper and how that panned out for all of them.
Is Eli definitely dead?
GANS: He’s shot at the end and appears to be dead, but we don’t have him carried off on a stretcher. We don’t have the diagnosis on whether he lived or not. But at this stage of the game, the way we’re playing it is he’s dead. In our minds, he’s dead. But there’s a possibility. We did love him.
REGISTER: Yes, we really thought he was fantastic.
He was a red herring.
GANS: He was, but you have to make yourself available to the concept of red herring in the course of the story. There are movies when the red herring is a pain in the butt, but in this franchise, everyone is a red herring, everyone is a suspect. Eli was, but it was within the plot. It was no accident that he became a red herring. It was all Kieran’s doing. Unlike a plot circumstance of “Could it be him?” it was actually structured to be him by one of the characters. Fingers were pointed at him on purpose, so it makes it a little different than an accidental red herring.
Is Brooke alive?
REGISTER: Yes, she’s fully alive.
GANS: She’s still alive in our heads, so we’d assume everyone would know she’s alive. She’s absolutely alive.
What’s your plan if the show is not picked up? Do you want to finish it up in some way?
GANS: Yeah. The thing about us, and I haven’t considered the possibility of it not getting picked up, we love this franchise. It’s never-ending to us. We have a lot of ideas. We have one very particular fantastical idea that may or may not happen in the course of the series, but we would use it in another way if we could. In other words, if there’s another possibility for a movie, or whatever happens, based on this series to finish this series and this Lakewood version of Scream, we would do it in a minute.
Have you thought about doing another season with an entirely new Scream story not connected to Woodsboro or Lakewood?
GANS: Yes. That’s a possibility, too, in the future of this show. I think the franchise supports it. I don’t see it as anthological, like American Horror Story. I see it as an ongoing story, but that being said, you can do a lot of interesting things by taking that story to different places and reinventing who surrounds your main character, who your main character becomes, what happens to your main character and how the show morphs. The show could more to an entirely different world and stay within the confines of a never-ending story.