TV Review: Scream – 104 – “Aftermath”

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SPOILERS HEREIN

“…I’ve got some grief gaming to do.” – Noah

Find all my reviews of MTV’s Scream here.

Something that bothers me to no end is hearing people ask for a list of episodes of a TV show to “get the gist” of what’s going on instead of getting caught up. Likewise, it bugs me when people skip episodes and just read plot summaries. I know I’m probably weird and this is a very specific pet peeve, but I hold the long-form narrative structure of television in high regard and feel like it should be consumed in chronological order and with no gaps.

Having said that, skipping episode 4 of Scream probably wouldn’t hurt you or disrupt the overall viewing experience. Of course, I’m being hyperbolic and not actively endorsing skipping the episode, but Aftermath slows things down to develop the characters a little more. Unfortunately, the problem with that is I still don’t really care about these characters.

I’ll give credit where it’s due, though. Aftermath follows the events of the last episode and (unlike the pilot) the characters actually care about Riley’s death and grieve in their own ways. None of the actors are noteworthy, though. John Karna, who plays Noah, is particularly awful in the opening scene, which is a shame because I’m really growing to like Noah as a character. But at this point, I’m just glad there’s some drama in the series that isn’t lame teen romance or an even lamer teen criminal plot.

The episode also dove more into the lore of Brandon James and actually gave us an origin of the mask. It was surprisingly refreshing to see the show take a break from slashing its characters for some mood and tension. Even though the characters’ trip into the hospital was really hokey and predictable, I appreciated what the show was attempting.

Noah’s “almost fourth wall breaking” deconstruction of the killer’s supposed lair was the first time I felt like the show’s meta dialogue matched the movies’ signature witty pop culture references. It was also a clever way for the show to separate itself from its namesake. Having characters in a creepy lair, analyzing the killer’s motivation for sending them there while giving us exposition about the mask was a lot more effective on me than simply aping the iconic phone call that opened the original movie.

Elsewhere the show explained a little more about Will and Jake’s moronic subplot but I’ve nearly checked out of that part of the show at this point. Showing us that they don’t just have lurid videos of their friends but also have blackmail material on the mayor of the town (Brooke’s father) still doesn’t get me invested in their subplot. Throwing in a really forced hackneyed motivation of Will needing to pay for college is eye roll inducing as well.

I like that the show is downplaying the podcaster after the awful introduction in the second episode. But I feel like the show is attempting to make her a red herring to distract us from whoever the killer actually is. There isn’t much there to lead us to believe she’s the killer, but I feel like she exists to make us think she’s chasing a story she created. Or maybe she’s supposed to be the TV show’s version of Gale Weathers. If that’s the case, the show is failing miserably at that piece of misdirection and characterization.

All in all, the episode showed a couple signs of improving but ultimately proved to be pretty dull. It ended on a ridiculous surprise moment that made me laugh at the stupidity of it. Noah and Audrey, having just uncovered video of Emma losing her virginity, accidentally press a couple of keys and magically upload the video to everyone.

It’s silly and moronic but if you look past the sloppy way the show sets it up, the ending is really a letdown in and of itself. Scream is a teen slasher and in “Aftermath” it pretended to be more of a teen drama. I appreciate the attempt at character development and building the story; I really do. But I’m either too old to buy into what the show is passing off as drama, or the writers aren’t working hard enough to give its audience an engaging story outside of the violence.

Episode Rating – 5.0

Current Season Average – 5.38

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So, who is the killer?

In my interview above I mentioned the podcaster is proving to be a weak red herring, if that’s what they’re making her out to be. The fact is there haven’t been much of any “whodunit” moments in any of these episodes. So I’m admittedly grasping at straws.

If you’ve been reading my other reviews, you’ll know my working theory is that Mr. Branson is a post-surgery Brandon James resurfacing to continue his murder spree. At the time of writing my 1st or 2nd review, I threw out the idea because I didn’t really have anything else to go on.

As each episode airs, my theory makes more and more sense to me. Whether it’s due to a lack of any other evidence or because the show is telegraphing it’s ending remains to be seen. However, finding out that the Brandon James mask was a post-op mask made specifically for him at various stages of some surgical procedure is the first time I felt like my theory holds water.

If it turns out that I guessed the killer and the motive after one episode, I’ll be pretty annoyed.

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