Horror does not have to mean anything. It can, and some of the best horror does, particularly where the works of George Romero and Wes Craven are concerned. But ultimately, larger meaning in horror is just a bonus so long as we’re frightened. For the most part, Scream the TV series has failed even by that minimum standard. Yes, perhaps Scream the TV series would have us believe it’s not technically horror, but rather mystery-suspense, something like Pretty Little Liars without the fun. But this thing is still called “Scream,” so we’re allowed to have some expectation of terror.
Fortunately, “The Vanishing” worked. It worked! Frightening, suspenseful, and outright disgusting in ways the series has rarely been, it was the best episode of the season so far. And though we lost poor Zoe in the end, this episode finally felt important and weird enough to keep us on board until the (hopefully) bloody finish. Let’s talk about it!
“The Vanishing” wasted no time getting gross. We began with the gruesome autopsy of a corpse that had already been autopsied in the past. (Scream really gets a lot of gross-out mileage from its corpses.) But yeah, even in death, Piper just can’t catch a break.
The weirdest moment came when Chill Mom™ (who, by the way, is Piper’s MOTHER) tore open her chest cavity and pulled out what she immediately identified as a PIG’S HEART.
I’m just going to accept that medical examiners can identify specific animals’ hearts just by eyeballing them. But that does not mean Chill Mom™ isn’t a major creep. As Sheriff Acosta looked on, they realized this particular pig heart was a message meant for them both. But what? To barf?
Meanwhile, Emma and Audrey were still experiencing the fallout from Audrey’s epistolary friendship with Piper. Now, it still boggles my mind why exactly Audrey decided to reach out to Piper in the first place, but it’s even more baffling that Emma seems to believe Audrey was somehow at fault for Piper’s murders. Piper was a person who went to insane lengths to murder a handful of teens in overly complicated ways, yet all of it was Audrey’s fault? I feel like she would’ve done that stuff without Audrey having to get out her stationery. In other words, Emma needed to relax in my opinion, which is correct.
We were then treated to a flashback in which Chill Mom™ and the Sheriff were hanging out as teenagers and came across a dead and/or dying Brandon James. I guess previous episodes had alluded to the fact that they’d all known each other when they were teens, but now we were finally getting answers! Sorta. Who even knows.
Then, Noah received some texts from “Zoe” inviting him to play hooky with her, and despite the town being under siege from a tech-savvy murderer who frequently impersonates other people’s phone numbers, Noah completely trusted his boner and arrived at an isolated location…
Where he was almost immediately stabbed!
Seemingly minutes later, Audrey and Emma paused their bickering to receive a live feed on their phones of Noah waking up in a buried casket. He’d been stabbed but he was alive, and clearly the killer wanted the two “final girls” to come find him!
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Neither of them seemed stoked about this, but this was Noah, and they were not about to let him experience the ending of the original Danish version of The Vanishing. They were hoping more for the ending of the American remake of The Vanishing. Know what I mean? Thus concludes the astute references to The Vanishing films you were hoping to find in this photo recap.
NEXT: Claustrophobia has its perks
Inside his buried coffin, Noah was not having the best time. It was certainly thoughtful for the killer to have included flattering LED lights so he’d look better on camera, but this did not stop Noah from claustrophobia-induced panic. Very few people would enjoy being buried alive, and Noah definitely wasn’t one of them.
Though one would assume the killer (who is for sure Kieran, because honestly, where was he during this episode?) would NOT want the authorities involved, the killer phoned the Sheriff to tip him off that shady stuff was going down at the barn. At this point, it felt less like this was part of the killer’s plan and more so just the killer feeling bad for the Sheriff for how incompetent he’d been these past few months. See, even psycho killers are capable of a lending a helping hand sometimes.
Emma and Audrey followed a trail of clues (which included a daffodil placed behind Noah’s murder board) to a specific barn from their childhood, where they used to spend a lot of time preventing horses from eating daffodils and also grieving for dead mothers, respectively. But something about this barn looked scary, and that something was the SCYTHE holding the doors shut.
And, you guessed it: Inside they found a fly-covered pig corpse. Because why not? Pig corpses are kind of this season’s theme, for no other reason than they are disturbing and disgusting. Fair enough.
Noah was still trapped and losing oxygen fast, but one way his brain was able to cope was by imagining Zoe was in there with him. Not since the ayahuasca episode has Scream gotten so surreal, but this was a welcome change from the norm. And even if Zoe was a figment of Noah’s imagination, the emotions were realer than ever. I liked this part a lot.
Speaking of emotions… Emma had found a Xeroxed copy of one of Audrey’s letters to Piper, in which Audrey had written some mean things about Emma. This was back when their childhood friendship was on the rocks because Emma had become “pretty” and “popular.” Anyway, because Emma is not great with priorities, she paused from looking for Noah and really laid into Audrey for saying all those hurtful things. That’s when Audrey finally admitted what many had suspected all these years: Audrey had been in love with Emma, and Emma had broken Audrey’s heart! A tragic admission, to be sure, and Emma processed it like she processes everything: with a slack-jaw and dead eyes. Still, it was an important moment in their friendship. I’m guessing.
NEXT: A wet tragedy
Back to Noah! Using an old-fashioned intuition known as “listening,” the two girls heard Noah’s screams — and they were coming from beneath the pig corpse!
Minutes later, they exhumed Noah’s coffin just before he had a chance to suffocate. But guess what? There were MORE screams coming from under the casket! Adorably enough, buried beneath it was a smaller casket containing a cell phone. (Insert BlackBerry joke.)
The phone appeared to be playing a live feed of Zoe trapped in a casket of her own, just like Noah’s, only way muddier.
Despite Emma still reeling from Audrey’s admission and Noah basically bleeding to death, they all raced out to the lake where they presumed Zoe had been buried.
Unfortunately, they were too late.
That cell-phone video hadn’t been a live feed. It had been a replay. Zoe had been dead for a while. Not gonna lie, guys. This one was just sad. Noah’s girlfriend was dead and there was a strong chance he’d just spent a few hours hanging out with her ghost. Very sadface.
Back at the barn, the Sheriff arrived to discover the killer had left a gruesome bit of modern art hanging from the rafters: The pig corpse, plus, like, a severed hand and a tiara. The whole thing looked a lot like the final image from last week’s episode with the mean girl hanging from the ceiling. In art-world terms, the killer had refined his themes but the results remained odious.
It was clear the killer was communicating directly to Chill Mom™ and the Sheriff now, and his messages related to whatever had happened between them and Brandon James back in the day. They assumed Brandon James was maybe still alive and back to his old tricks (he’s not), so Chill Mom™ left him a note in their old secret cubby hole saying to stay away from Emma. But guess who was creeping in the bushes watching her?
Eli! Classic Eli. Just a creep standing creepily watching others be creepy. I think this show really wants us to think he’s the killer, but come on. Wrong cousin.
“The Vanishing” was full of very effective (disgusting) imagery and gore, plus who can deny the terror of being buried alive? In other words, here was an episode of Scream both scary and death-filled. Praise be! It’s anyone’s guess if the next two episodes will capitalize on this upgrade or just collapse at our feet like a fly-covered pig corpse. Stay tuned, friends.