With the school on lockdown, was the killer locked in with them?

By Price Peterson
June 29, 2016 at 03:42 PM EDT
Credit: Eliza Morse
S2 E5

People love straightforward titles, and Scream‘s as straightforward as they come. Both a noun and a verb, it’s also an imperative: This will be scary and we should act accordingly. But when you have 10 hours to tell a story the films could only tell in about 95 minutes apiece, then why not use all that extra time to really explore the idea of screaming itself? What IS a scream? Yes, it’s a loud guttural response to terror — or in the case of Adele, a successful career — but how many different screams are there? Hundreds, if not thousands. This week, “Dawn of the Dead” brought us a new spin on an old classic: the underwater scream! It may not be loud, but it sure is wet.

After last week’s insane episode (literally, as it involved drug-induced insanity) provided an infusion of weirdness to a so-far pretty staid happening, “Dawn of the Dead” found Scream returning to its more typical tension-and-atmosphere-free pokiness. It didn’t help the entire episode took place under bright fluorescent lighting and was limited to about three different rooms. But there was a girl fight, so at least Scream isn’t above cheap thrills every now and again. Let’s talk about it!

We began only minutes after Jake’s bloodied, disgusting, and downright unpleasant-smelling corpse fell from the rafters and landed at Brooke’s feet. Word had spread fast, and despite the school going into immediate lockdown, Emma and Audrey pulled a boss move straight out of the Final Girl handbook: They demanded to see Brooke because they were her best friends from the last time people were getting murdered. No arguing with that. Right this way, ladies.

In a dark but very silly moment, the authorities (“authorities”) were forcing Brooke to stand in place onstage, still drenched in blood, while they could photograph the crime scene for evidence. Seems like the correct protocol.

Eventually they allowed her to go wash the rotten blood off her face and body, but the only dry clothing anyone could find for her to wear was a cheerleader outfit. That just seemed unusually cruel, but then again, this is a show about murder.

Because the students were now all locked in, the Sheriff took the opportunity to question each of them one by one. To his credit, it DID make sense to call in the Lakewood 6 5 first, as they were the most likely to know what was going on. But in my opinion, it would be easier to question hundreds of students if he had more than a single deputy on hand. Perhaps a second deputy, or even a team of FBI agents, considering this town was clearly a hotbed for serial killings. Where were those haunted hotties of Criminal Minds when you needed them?

Audrey discovered Brooke had been texting with “Jake” during a time when he was probably already dead, so I loved when she stole Brooke’s phone for the sole purpose of sending a hateful text to the killer. (I’m sure Brooke will never see that Audrey did this on her phone. It’s the perfect crime.)

But the truly funny part was that Jake’s phone suddenly wound up in Emma’s bag! Yep, someone had planted it on her, and she was the one to receive Audrey’s hurtful text. But because Emma was not thinking straight, she didn’t immediately turn the phone over. Nope, she then took suggestions from her bad-decision-making friends about whether to hide or get rid of the phone somehow. Because nothing keeps a person safer than preventing with an actual investigation! (Just kidding, nobody is actually investigating this stuff.)

Zoe was still feeling weird about witnessing her no. 1 crush Noah making out with his bi-curious bestie (BCB), and not even a sudden murder could soften her stance toward him. Plus, she was busy conspicuously reading a crime novel written by someone Amazon describes as the inspiration behind “the hit CBS TV series CRIMINAL MINDS.” So, you know, don’t mind her.

At one point, Kieran decided he needed to quickly run to his locker in order to prevent the authorities (“authorities”) from finding his GUN. Because whoops! Kieran has a gun.

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In one of the more casually shocking moments of the episode, nobody honestly cared? The Sheriff just sort of nodded understandingly at Kieran’s excuse of wanting to “protect” his friends from the killer. So yes, a teenager brought a gun to school and was borderline commended for it. Nothing icky about that. This guy knows what I’m talking about:

NEXT: A killer cameo

Eli didn’t have much to do in this episode except be his usual creepy-cute self. In this scene, he figured out Emma was holding Jake’s phone and he casually offered to help her dispose of it. Sure, that’s a normal thing for a guy to offer! Unfortunately, he was too late: Kieran, in order to obtain, like, a second hug from the Sheriff over bringing a gun to school, narc’d on Emma for having Jake’s phone. This was treated like a big betrayal on Kieran’s part, but she honestly should have handed it over. Like, come on, teens. When you are innocent, act innocent!

Even when the Sheriff called her in for questioning, she sort of just straightforwardly said, “Duh, I’m the Final Girl” and the Sheriff was like, “Duh,” and they moved on.

Phew! Crisis averted!

If there’s one thing I’m loving about this season, it’s the addition of this grade-A sh*t talker. I don’t know what her name is or what her game is, but this girl has shown several times to be the worst person in the world. This week, she started openly heckling Emma for the crime of having survived the first wave of attacks. And then, for good measure, the girl started screaming about how Emma’s family were all trash. This did not make Emma happy.

Credit where credit’s due: Emma is usually just a bucket of foam, but in this episode she straight-up tackled a girl in one scene and later threatened to beat the killer’s a** in another. In other words, Emma had HAD it, and no one could blame her.

I truly don’t understand the logic of how murder investigations are handled in this world, but at one point Brooke demanded to look at Jake’s body again, and everyone let her? Yes, this was an active crime scene so delicate that Brooke had been forced to stand there covered in blood for about an hour, but now it was fine for her to be borderline unattended near the corpse. At least she got a hug from Chill Mom™ out of it. Unfortunately, Chill Mom™ informed her Jake had been dead for several days, which meant the texts Brooke had been receiving were bogus. The only thing worse than a murder is getting catfished!

At some point, the very shady high-school psychology teacher (again: why?) locked Emma in her office for no reason. Which meant it was a perfect time for Emma to receive a call from “UNKNOWN,” which she was legally obligated to answer. And yeah, it was the killer. Now Emma OFFICIALLY knew that another killer was at it. That’s right, in episode 5 (of 10), our main character finally became aware of the primary storyline. Better late than never?

I was so confused by this part. Emma was safely locked in a room while the killer taunted her from outside the window, so Emma decided to break the window? I guess the idea was she wanted to come at him or her with a furious vengeance, but all she really did was break some safety glass — and manage to cut herself on it — only to find the killer had slipped away. A for effort, I guess.

Next: Another beatdown in the learning center

Another totally arbitrary moment happened when the Sheriff FIRED Chill Mom™ from the case because she told Brooke that Jake had been dead several days. Was this an unprofessional slipup? Sure. Are there any other medical examiners in town? Absolutely not. Then again, the Sheriff himself had been acting shady, as he had clearly decided to re-plant Jake’s phone back on his corpse for some reason. My guess is he was trying to protect his son, who at this moment looks like a major suspect. For example, Stavo had taken to openly pretend-shooting his classmates:

Very cool, guy. Also, maybe relax about doing these drawings in public?

To be fair, I’m not sure if this drawing was of Kieran or Audrey, but when Audrey snatched away Stavo’s tablet and showed the other students, they had no choice but to kick the living sh*t out of him.

Which, fair. Stavo is almost definitely not the killer, but he for sure needed an attitude adjustment. This was not the time or the place, creep!

I also didn’t understand why Audrey suddenly recanted her accusations simply because Stavo had been beaten up. It’s nice that she has basic human empathy, but get it together, girl! At this point, Audrey knows the most about what was going on with the new killer, but not even she could make heads or tails of what was happening. Same.

Emma was pretty steamed at Kieran for snitching on her to the Sheriff about possessing Jake’s phone. And while he didn’t seem super sorry about it, because she should’ve just handed it over anyway, she pointed out she’s a grownup and can make her own decisions. Then she did NOT accept a ride home from him, which in the teen world is as dramatic as divorce.

I loved Brooke’s Skyler White moment, when she got so upset about Jake’s death that she had no choice but to wade into the pool with all her clothes on.

See what I mean about this underwater scream? It was just the fresh spin that all the regular screams on this show needed. Not only did it look cool, but nobody could hear it, which on this show is crucial for allowing the action and plot to stretch on and on for a frustrating amount of time.

Our final shocker came when Noah noticed that Audrey’s stories were full of holes and inconsistencies, so he swiped her phone and cracked her passcode. And, you guessed it: He now knew that a killer was harassing her with knowledge of her prior involvement! If that didn’t put a crimp in his awkward crush on her, nothing would.

Ultimately, “Dawn of the Dead” lacked ambition and importance, but it’s always commendable when cable shows can save tons of money by restricting an episode to three rooms and hire only 12 extras. But now that we’re halfway through the season (yet only entering “Act 2,” according to Noah), here’s to hoping the show’s been saving its true fireworks for the hours to come. And if we get a new type of scream out of it (perhaps an upside-down scream, or maybe an outer-space scream), then hey. Bonus.

What did YOU think of “Dawn of the Dead”?

Scream airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday nights on MTV.

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