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Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Scream: The TV Series S2

Scream: The TV Series
Series 2

(Spoilers below.)

Turns out, this show finished last week, but I didn't realise - the fact that there's a two part Halloween special coming up beguiled me into thinking this was a twelve episode series, and to be honest, it didn't help that this series feels oddly incomplete.

Set some months after the first series, the second series of Scream sees Emma return to Lakewood, just in time for a new killer to start their reign of terror. Obsessed with Emma and Audrey, who is revealed to have been Piper's accomplice during her murder spree, this new killer starts by murdering Jake, and begins to escalate from there, setting up a series of sick games to torment Emma and Audrey. As tension builds, suspicion quickly settles on two suspects: Stavo Acosta, the new Sheriff's son, and Eli Hudson, Kieran's cousin.

It's odd, I finished watching this series last week and already it is starting to fade from my memory. I remember certain moments: I remember the sequence with Noah trapped in a coffin, which was definitely the best episode of the series. I remember figuring out that Kieran was the killer and then being vindicated shortly thereafter. I remember an excellent episode revolving around the gang all being in lockdown at the school.

Stavo's very pretty, at least.

But that's the thing: While this series has a lot of very good moments (and gratifyingly it gets into the swing of things a lot quicker than the first series), there's no sense of cohesive story and pacing to it. Murders begin, and then they continue, and then the killer is revealed, and then they stop -- but there's no slow build to the killer being revealed, no escalation of stakes, very little progression in the mystery.

The best way I can demonstrate this is by talking about the suspects. In most mystery stories, you are presented with several clear suspects early on, and then as time goes on some of them get ruled out, some people you thought were innocent come under suspicion, and the details of the mystery gradually become clearer. In this series of Scream, the early suspects are Stavo and Eli, and then by the final episode, your suspects are -- still Stavo and Eli! 

Nothing about the mystery has been clarified, and nothing's become clearer by that final episode, so the audience never has anything to formulate their own theories on, or to pick out any new suspects with -- in fact, the only reason I realised Kieran was the killer was through a combination of recognising that his role in the series had been scaled back some, and because it's a callback to the first Scream film. While we're told much of the killer's motivations and psychology, the show is suspiciously quiet on the matter of offering new evidence or having the mystery slowly unfold for us.

Same killer dealio.

For a series that enjoys going on impressively long diatribes about the absence of its status quo, that's a very odd status quo to set up, wherein the 'mystery' just becomes a solid, unchanging background detail that you're not meant to figure out.

But that is clearly partly the result of the fact that, try as they might -- and much as I actually do enjoy Scream -- this isn't a story that meshes well with television. It's telling in a lot of ways that, having introduced most of its core cast last series, this series is clearly loathe to kill any of them off (for obvious reasons), instead killing one for shock value and then relegating its small cadre of newly introduced recurring cast members to the role of throwaway victims. 

Going into the third series (although one hasn't been confirmed yet, but with the Halloween specials it seems like it's probably only a matter of time), that kind of saps any tension out of the series. One of the big advantages of slasher flicks is that anyone can die, and television shows, which revolve around a stable cast of characters, might struggle to reproduce that.

Kieran, who is super obviously evil.

The series ends on an oddly abrupt note, as well, with a very short confrontation with Kieran before he goes to prison. While leaving Kieran alive is an interesting turn -- trial and escape arc, anyone? -- combined with the strange abruptness of the ending, the pacing issues of the series a whole, and the cliffhanger final scene without really any resolution of any other dangling plot threads to balance it out, the result is that this series feels not yet done, like it won't be entirely complete until the Halloween specials.

So, while I did enjoy this series (it was certainly more enjoyable than Guilt), I admit to being a little disappointed. It was fun to watch, but it was ultimately forgettable, and that's something of a shame. Still, the Halloween specials should be fun, at least. Apparently there's a third murderer, which I'm going to speculate now is Emma's father, because there's something super-suspicious about that guy.

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