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Scream - Betrayed - Review

“If there is some freaked-out psycho trying to follow in Billy Loomis’ footsteps, you probably already know him...or her...or them. They’re probably already in your life. They get off on that.” – Dewey Riley, “Scream 2”

“Scream” begins and ends this week’s episode with scenes of a character being knifed by the killer – one a nightmare, the other a reality. But the meat of “Betrayed” is whether Emma believes in her renewed friendship with Audrey enough to know it’s not her wielding the blade.

Because Detective Brock clearly thinks she has her woman when she orders Audrey perp walked out of class and into the police station. As she and Piper both mentioned last week, Rachel’s murder – the lack of connection to the other victims, the method of it – is the outlier, the anomaly in nuGhostface’s pattern. Brock seems certain that it’s the key to cracking the case and, as she gloats to Maggie and Sheriff Hudson, Audrey was the obvious suspect under their noses the whole time.

And the evidence Brock lays out against her is pretty damning. On the night Nina posted the footage of Audrey and Rachel kissing and then had her throat slashed (helpfully exposited as being September 30th; ten bucks says the season ending bloodbath takes place on Halloween, same as Brandon James’ killing spree), the only person who can corroborate Audrey’s alibi is Rachel, who is of course dead. There’s also the fact that the girls are amateur moviemakers and Nina’s murder was filmed. And the kicker is the reveal that DNA found inside the mask recovered at the hospital matched Audrey’s. So Brock’s theory is that, angry about their humiliation, Audrey and Rachel killed Nina, Rachel started to crack, and then Audrey faked Rachel’s suicide to silence her. Means, motive, opportunity.

Audrey looks even less innocent when she sneaks a call to Emma and Noah, asking them to remove an incriminating SD card from her house, which they do seconds before the police show up to search it. I liked Emma taking the lead in these scenes, first cutting off Noah and getting him to focus when he goes on one of his pop culture rambles, and then barely hesitating before smashing through the glass to get in the locked back door. But they’re both left unsettled when their curiosity gets the better of them and they watch the video, which shows an enraged Audrey swearing revenge on Nina.

The footage forces Emma to question whether her friend is capable of murder, even noting to Noah that if Audrey was being framed, nuGhostface would be rubbing it in her face, which he hasn’t. But Maggie gives her a different perspective when she opens up about her past with Brandon James. Taking Emma to her childhood home, she reveals that Brandon – or “Bran” as she calls him – wasn’t the monster everyone said he was. They lived next door to each other, grew up together. They were friends (it’s all very Severus Snape and Lily Potter) and Maggie regrets not standing up for him.

So Emma goes with her gut and gives Audrey an alibi, earning herself a hug in a sweet moment. But I can’t help wondering – the DNA match reminded me of Audrey glaring at a picture of Brandon James in her bedroom back in the pilot. Is it possible Audrey is related to the James family and that’s why the police got a positive result on her DNA?

Let’s check in on our other leading suspect, Mr. Branson. Noah does some digging online and finds no record of the man they call Mr. Branson before he moved to Lakewood, which makes him think that he changed his name. Noah suspects that Branson’s a “garden-variety psychopath,” masking his true identity and trolling for random victims. But Audrey takes it in another direction, theorizing that Nina found out Mr. Branson’s secret (perhaps, given his relationship with Brooke, a past affair with a student?) and blackmailed him into planting the malware. And thus, Noah concedes, the pool of nuGhostface suspects should still be those with an axe to grind with Nina (there’s a cool camera shot of Will, Jake, and Brooke flittering in and out of frame during this conversation).

But back to Branson. Noah sneakily acquires his fingerprints using an app on his phone so we’ll see what they turn up. Also, is it just me or has there been some unintentional comedy from the “I’m acting suspicious!” way Bobby Campo has been playing the character since he became a suspect?

Despite its prominence in the promos, Emma and Kieran’s visit to Brandon James’ house is an overall minor part of the episode, a cold open bad dream Emma has of being stabbed by the killer, who turns out to be herself (I did like the Casey Becker-esque way she reaches up to pull off the mask). It is interesting that her subconscious seems to be warning her about trusting Kieran. He does have an off-kilter sense of humor, joking about “some weird mother/daughter sex bet” when Emma tells him about catching his dad doing the walk of shame out of her house.

Last but not least, there’s Will. On the outs with both Emma and his friends (he and Jake are basically at war and Brooke blows him off when he tries to explain about the blackmailing), he gets some advice from an unlikely source – Piper (and sidebar – she may be older than the Lakewood teens, but she still wouldn’t be namechecking “Dangerous Liaisons” when “Cruel Intentions” is right there). Piper enthuses that “everybody loves a redemption story” and wants Will to come on her podcast, suggesting that his recent screw-ups won’t completely tarnish his nice guy reputation if he takes responsibility for his actions.

But Will has another headline in mind. He manages to get the blackmail payout and the video back from Jake and hands them over to Mayor Maddox, even inadvertently stopping the mayor from shooting him with his sincerity. “I really don’t want to die for doing the right thing,” he says (where letting Piper secretly listen in fits, I have no idea). But he may just, as after Mayor Maddox leaves, in a fairly creepy sequence, nuGhostface slides out of the shadows and attacks him and Piper. Piper smashes her head into some concrete, losing consciousness as the show cliffhangers us on a screaming Will getting dragged off.

Did “Betrayed” convince you to cross Audrey off the suspects list? Do you think Will will live to die another day? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.