Emma confronts Branson, and Sheriff Hudson's life hangs in the balance

By Keertana Sastry
August 26, 2015 at 06:28 PM EDT

The final countdown to the killer’s identity on Scream begins with a look back at the killer’s inception. Tuesday night’s episode “The Dance” begins with a flashback one year prior as the killer breaks into the Lakewood County Municipal Records building to grab the infamous Brandon James mask and then immediately cuts to Piper’s Halloween edition of her podcast and a montage of Lakewood getting ready for Halloween. Piper explains that she’s been looking for a connection between the past and present murders but can’t figure out Branson’s connection to Brandon James. Of course if Maggie and Emma’s baby theory is correct, there couldn’t be a more obvious connection or motive.

Sheriff Hudson interrogates Branson, who is really not giving up any information, about the present murders or his suspicious past involving yet another murder of a student. He calls for his lawyer, but Hudson isn’t giving up so easily. He’s also more confident than he should be about Branson’s guilt and tells the press that the town will still be hosting their Halloween dance at the high school as per usual, just with added security and a curfew for trick-or-treaters not attending the dance. Piper is frustrated that the Sheriff doesn’t seem concerned that the killer could plan something for the dance if it’s not Branson, but he tells her he’s just trying to do his best to keep the peace. He then adds to Piper, “What are you doing?”

Speaking of Branson, his lady love Brooke continues to have terrible luck in her life. Her boyfriend is arrested for murder, her father is in prison, her mom is in rehab, and most of her friends are dead. Sure it’s not as bad as accidentally murdering your ex-boyfriend and being terrorized by a serial killer, but hey, it’s still not great. Emma takes Brooke to Jake’s house to stay for a while and on the way, the friends talk about Brooke’s secret relationship and how she’s just not convinced enough to assume, like everyone else, that Branson is the killer. Brooke gets defensive with Emma and later Jake about being with Branson (she tells them both that she feels alone and they both assure her they care for her) and argues that Emma is doubling down on the Branson theory because she needs someone to be held accountable for Will’s murder. To Emma’s credit, she agrees, but there’s so much more than that. This killer has literally been physically and mentally torturing Emma and everyone important to her, of course she needs someone to be held accountable. And it makes sense for her to assume it’s Branson when so many pieces of evidence are pointing in his direction.

But Emma is not ready to just shut the book on the murders entirely, and she tells her mother that she needs to see Branson as she’s bound to get a rise out of him with her presence. In Emma’s mind, seeing Branson will give her confirmation that he’s the killer. But considering how smart the killer has been throughout the series, it would stand to reason that Branson wouldn’t give up his poker face just because he’s meeting Emma while in custody. He might be a killer, but he’s not an idiot. Branson says a few suspiciously creepy things during their confrontation but nothing that will confirm his guilt without a shadow of reasonable doubt. So is Branson connected to all the murders? The motives behind most of the victims makes sense if he really is Brandon James’ son, but not Rachel’s staged suicide.

And that’s Audrey’s big problem. After Emma tells Noah and Audrey the truth about Maggie and Brandon and her confrontation with Branson (both of which make Noah just about burst with shock and excitement), Audrey continues to be bitter about the fact that the press and police have basically ignored Rachel’s death. She wants definite proof that Branson killed Rachel and Emma tells her they’ll get it. Audrey later comes up with a plan of attack for her and Noah. She explains that Rachel used to document her entire life on tape but that her files mysteriously vanished, just like the spyware on Nina’s laptop. But there is some good news for once: Rachel backed everything up on the Cloud and Audrey has the password. Now “Bi-Curious” and “the Virgin” get to look through hours of footage for something incriminating that Rachel might have caught Branson doing, thus giving him motive to kill her, too. Guys, if Audrey had the password to Rachel’s Cloud account, couldn’t they have done this video research so much sooner? Or did Audrey just happen to hack Rachel’s Cloud account at that moment? I’m hoping it’s the second because this would be such a strange oversight.

During the search, Noah and Audrey stumble across something potentially big. While looking through Rachel’s camera footage from a local bar, they see Kieran and Nina leaving the bar together on the night before she was murdered with Kieran noticing Rachel’s filming. Coincidence? Audrey sure doesn’t think so, she’s convinced Kieran is the killer and this is the reason Kieran killed Rachel, but Noah’s not quite sure and is hesitant to tell Emma.

NEXT: Who is Brandon’s son?

Brooke finds that her webcam has been hacked once again and accuses Jake of doing it since Branson is behind bars and doesn’t exactly have unlimited Internet access. She and Jake argue over her defense of Branson and Jake hurts her feelings enough to make her want to leave and go home. Brooke calls Emma from the liquor store, saying that she’s got a reputation to uphold (a comment that goes back to her argument with Jake) and that she’ll be throwing a house party during and after the dance.

Let’s not forget about Piper during all this. She visits Emma and explains that she’s been chasing down another lead in the murders: Brandon James’ mother, Cassie. Piper says she found the woman and spoke to her, but her words were incoherent. Emma tells Piper she wants to visit Cassie as well and the two make a trip together for answers. Emma tells Cassie that she’s Maggie/Daisy’s daughter and Cassie gets a little senile. Thinking Emma is Maggie, she breaks down and demands to know why Maggie got her son killed. She sings the creepy Daisy song that the killer plays and states that the song was both Brandon and his son’s favorite song. Cassie then confirms to Emma that Brandon’s son’s name is Seth. Now Emma has all she needs to safely assume Branson is the right person behind bars. Meanwhile Kieran is watching Emma from his car.

Emma tells her she’ll meet Brooke after the dance, as she makes up with Kieran and the two decide to attend the dance together. They share a nice, if not slightly creepy couples dinner with their parents and all looks to be well for a split second. Of course things are about to go from worse to absolute horse crap as Sheriff Hudson discovers that Branson might not have made the phone calls to Emma as they didn’t come from cellphone towers near the school or his home. Hudson tells Maggie that they have a general location from where the calls came and that he’s going to personally knock on doors to find a witness who puts Branson at the scene of the crime as some kind of “penance.” Though in my experience watching too many movies and TV shows, when someone says something like this, it usually means injury or their death is imminent. We see Hudson making his way into an unlocked home and he stumbles across a TV monitor of the school, the sheriff’s station and more as someone comes in. As Hudson draws his weapon to investigate, we know what’s coming. The killer sneaks up behind him and knocks him down.

Emma gets dressed in her best Mia Wallace look from Pulp Fiction as Kieran tells her he’ll meet her at the dance rather than pick her up; she runs into Jake at the dance who has just been spying on Brooke in her home. Emma asks Jake what he said to get Brooke so upset and the class doosh actually takes responsibility for his idiocy: “Some Jake-ass thing” he replies to the accusation. Jake clearly has real feelings for Brooke, especially since they’ve gone through so much together, and it’s nice to see the guy becoming more than just a stereotypical d-bag.

Emma tells Jake about Brooke’s party and decides to actually have an enjoyable evening. On the other side of the dance floor, Noah and Emma are still debating about Kieran, Noah is still on Team Butcher Branson as the killer but Audrey is now firmly on Team Killer Kieran. Noah explains that now is probably not the time to reveal the truth as Emma and Kieran dressed as Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction have a famous dance to replicate. As the dance ends and Kieran goes to get drinks for himself and his date, Audrey runs over to Emma and shows her what she found. Emma’s skeptical about Kieran’s guilt and the two friends get in a fight over the information.

Emma confronts Kieran about the footage; he tells Emma that he did meet Nina that night but she lied about who she was and all he did was drive her home after she had too much to drink. But the damage is already done, Emma doesn’t trust Kieran anymore. And when Piper appears at the dance, she only makes things more confusing. She tells Emma that something Cassie said didn’t sit right with her and so she went back to investigate further by bringing a high school yearbook to Cassie and having her point out Brandon’s son: She points out Kieran’s face. As Emma tells Piper she doesn’t know where Kieran went, a video screen flashes at the dance and shows the bloody image of Sheriff Hudson and immediately cuts to the police station where a voice on a police scanner reveals that Branson has escaped from his cell.

NEXT: Our murder board comes to a close. Final prediction time!

12. Emma

I think we’ve safely confirmed Emma is not the killer. It’s next to impossible for her to be doing all this, so let’s move on.

11. Maggie

I’ve heard on the Internet that people have claimed Maggie could be the killer due to some kind of psychological/split personality issue, but this theory just seems a little too high concept for this series. I’m sticking with the idea that Maggie is just as much a victim as her daughter in all this.

10. Sheriff Hudson

I’m pretty sure that the guy is about to die. Getting whacked in the head with a fire poker has got to hurt and he’s clearly in pain while on the video showing him tied to a tree. Perhaps the killer has done something terrible to him already? Maybe he cut off his legs or something? I don’t know guys, I just feel like even if the police figure out where he is, he won’t survive through the finale.

9. Brooke

I maintain that Brooke has too much on her own plate to be dealing with killing her friends and torturing Emma and her mother. She’s going through so much and she’s also dealing with the fact that her boyfriend is in prison for murder. The real question is will she make it through to the end of the season?

8. Noah

Noah is the ultimate sidekick right now and it’s been so long since I’ve really suspected him of any real wrongdoing of the murderous kind. I think Noah is safe not as the killer at the moment, he’s too invested in discovering the truth and keeping his friends safe. I just don’t think he could do all of this.

7. Mayor Maddox

The guy’s a sleaze ball, but I don’t think he’s a serial killer. But I’m not sure I believe he just found his wife’s drug dealer’s dead body. Maybe Maddox is capable of murdering someone, just not the teens in Lakewood.

6. Emma’s Father

Seriously was his appearance last week just a hallucination? Is he really around? If so, he could definitely be a suspect, I just don’t understand where he is and who he is at the moment.

5. Jake

Jake is becoming more and more likable as the season progresses. Now I’ve read some of the comments from last week’s episode where you all agree with me that Piper could be the killer, but that she needed a helper to attack Will and herself after the Mayor Maddox confrontation. The killer certainly looked like he could be a tall guy, but we also saw the killer from Will’s perspective while he was crawling on the ground. So literally anyone could have done this. Sure Jake is still a little suspicious considering he’s definitely spying on Brooke, but I actually think it’s out of care and worry for her.

4. Audrey

Riddle me this friends, why was Audrey so gung ho about switching to Team Kieran as the killer? Sure he’s got a connection to Rachel’s death, but why can’t she believe that someone else could have a connection to her as well? Also there’s something that I can’t quite get over after all these episodes. The person that attacked Rachel looked to be way shorter than the killer we’ve seen murder other people throughout the season. This might be a long shot and a totally incorrect scenario, but what if Audrey is the second killer? I don’t see the point in her being the main killer because she’s not quite old enough to be Maggie’s second kid. Plus if we’re to listen to Cassie James, the killer is supposedly a boy. But maybe Audrey is working with the killer and she actually killed Rachel? Just a thought to mull over.

3. Branson

Yes, the guy supposedly escaped and he definitely looked creepy enough during his confrontation with Emma to be the bad guy. I don’t deny his suspiciousness at all, but it just seems too easy. I think that Branson is once again a red herring. It’s possible that someone could have broken Branson out of prison, maybe by force or maybe Branson is the killer’s accomplice. I think Branson is certainly guilty of something, I’m just not entirely positive it’s the Lakewood murders.

2. Kieran

He’s one of two people who always happens to show up at the strangest times on the show, and he just looks suspicious. He has motive now for Rachel and potentially everyone else if he’s Brandon James’ son. Though if he is Brandon James’ son, why would he want to sleep with his half-sister? (Shudder) Putting that aside, he was supposedly the person Cassie recognized from the Lakewood yearbook and he was spying on Emma. Kieran is definitely still a top suspect, though in my opinion, there’s still someone more suspicious.

1. Piper

I know, I know. After everything we’ve seen on Tuesday night’s episode regarding Branson and Kieran, why would I stick with Piper as the main suspect? For one reason: Consistency. There are just so many inconsistencies with Piper. She’s the only other person (along with Kieran) whose whereabouts can’t always been accounted for and the reveal about her father’s death is a detail that I still believe the Scream writers threw in for a reason. Plus, she tells Emma that she found Cassie by tracking her social security number, and yet no one else was able to do that? How is that possible? How could she have figured all of this out? And by the way, how is Kieran already in the yearbook if he just joined Lakewood? The yearbook for the current school can’t already be out, can it? I think it’s entirely possible that Piper has been bonding with Emma to manipulate her, but of course she would have needed an accomplice to attack her and Will. That’s where everyone else comes in.

What are your final murder predictions fellow Scream fans? Could Piper still be the killer, or is it likely Kieran or Branson, or someone entirely different?