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Scream - Vacancy - Review

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“You know when people say ‘I know how you feel,’ but you know they’re just saying that because they really have no freakin’ idea how you feel. I know how you feel.” – Sidney Prescott, “Scream 4”

In this week’s great episode of “Scream,” the new nuGhostface filling the “Vacancy” left by Piper’s demise really raises his game against last season’s final girls.

Emma is already in a tizzy because of her father’s unexpected return, her feelings about it decidedly mixed. On one hand, she has good memories of him from when she was a kid. On the other, she’s angry he abandoned her for years. Emma has a better understanding of why he couldn’t handle living in Lakewood. But she’s unsettled when he tries to bond over surviving masked killers because, obviously, Kevin never recovered from his experience with Brandon James and that scares the hell out of Emma. She tries to talk it through with Audrey, since she knew her dad, but Audrey’s suspicious and shares some home truths that only spark tension between the two. It’s an important reminder of the role their childhood friendship plays in the show’s narrative spine.

Speaking of Audrey, ooh boy, does she have problems of her own. Rejoining last week’s cliffhanger, she’s sickened by the sight of Jake’s corpse, but as nuGhostface calls to remind her, all she can really do is remove the note pointing a finger at her and flee into the night. The next morning, Audrey queasily accompanies Noah to the storage unit, but Jake’s body has been removed. She’s then horrified when Noah finds a camera and, her panic building as he tries to download the footage, she even picks up a bookend and seems to consider bashing him in the head. Now, intellectually, I knew it was too early in the season for Audrey’s connection to Piper to be discovered. But the show did a great job of ratcheting up the tension in these scenes, especially in Bex Taylor-Klaus’ performance.

These separate story threads end up crossing at the Crescent Palms, where first we see that desk clerk getting brutally murdered by nuGhostface with a corkscrew. Emma is lured there by a note from her dad, promising her the answers she wants. But it seems to be a trap when the killer FaceTimes an en-route Audrey (I loved nuGhostface’s little wave when he turned the camera towards himself) and shows her that he’s hiding in the room Emma’s investigating. It’s another tense sequence as Audrey freaks the fuck out, trying to call Emma, almost crashing her car, and finally resorting to calling the police to ensure her friend’s safety.

But Emma only receives a metaphorical stab to the gut when she spots her dad outside the bar next door, drunk and violent. She’s hurt when he reveals that he was about to skip town again and it only gets worse when he fesses up that he attacked Maggie once when Emma was little, breaking her jaw. Audrey’s “coincidental” appearance breaks up the tense scene, and seems to soothe things between the friends. But finding the bloody corkscrew in her car only reminds a rattled Audrey just how screwed she is.

There does seem to be more to Kevin’s return, though. Already not happy to see him, Maggie is stunned when she learns Kevin was lured back to town by e-mails from Riley Marra, who is, of course, dead. They take their concerns to Sheriff Acosta (and we’re reminded here that Miguel grew up with/knows them and was in Lakewood during the Brandon James murders), who promises to have a friend at the FBI trace the messages so we’ll see where that goes. I also gotta say, I liked the tense chemistry between Tracy Middendorf and Tom Everett Scott.

Floating around the periphery of this are Kieran and Eli. While an eavesdropping Eli supports Emma’s desire to punch her dad, citing his own deadbeat father, Kieran advises her to be more open to the idea that he’s changed, probably regretting the state of his relationship with his dad when he died. Other than that, Kieran mostly just seems annoyed by Eli’s presence and Eli’s slightly off-kilter interest in Emma continues.

Meanwhile, Brooke is besieged by man problems this week. She’s angry that, after coming clean to her dad about their romance, Jake has apparently ghosted her. She’s annoyed by Gustavo’s creeping. But what really alarms her is the phone call she receives from Mr. Branson. He pitches woo (and apparently knows about Brooke’s involvement with Jake), but Brooke’s not interested in hearing from a guy who lied about his name, his backstory, and his affair with a young girl who ended up dead.

Later, when she’s sweetly trying to set up Noah and Zoe (I thought Carlson Young and Kiana Ledé had really nice friend chemistry, by the way), they run into Branson at the movie theater. Her friends awesomely defend her, and Gustavo asking if the “old dude” is bothering her is the most I’ve liked him so far. But Branson unknowingly gets in a whopper of a parting shot when he reveals that he was the one who left the flowers on Brooke’s car, not Jake. And the dismissive text from “Jake” she then gets only confuses Brooke more.

So that’s my take on this week’s “Scream.” Fill the “Vacancy” in the comments section with your thoughts and speculations.

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