The promo for “Happy Birthday to Me” had me thinking Scream was going to go full bottle episode on us, which would have been great. Unfortunately the party that was marketed to us only took up about a third of the episode (though it was a highly entertaining third at that. Fortunately, this proved to be Scream’s strongest episode of the season that had a bonkers Carrie-like finale.
Kieran’s birthday party was a total hoot. Watching these characters trip balls for a while provided quite a bit of entertainment value. For one, it gave all of the characters a reason to be in the same scene together. It brought Zoe and Gustavo further into the mix as opposed to relegating them to unimportant side characters, though now that Zoe and Noah are broken up (can they be broken up if they were never officially dating?) we’ll see if Zoe remains in the picture. It seems a little odd to build up a relationship between them only to have it fizzle out so quickly. What was the point of it all? And how awkward was that three-way kiss between them and Audrey?
After the killer left an ayahuasca-laced tequila bottle at Emma’s doorstep (with a card signed by “Jake”), things really started to get interesting. After some initial paranoia regarding the fact that everyone was vomiting, everyone caught wise to what was going on. The visual effects during the sequence were particularly impressive. Each character got their moment to shine during their trip. Brooke’s hallucinations showed us that she is still very much damaged by the events from last season, and from Jake’s absence. It’s lamentable that Brooke’s scenes still center around a boy (that’s her crutch, I get it), but Scream is letting her grow as a character. Her interactions with Zoe and Noah show a different Brooke than what we are used to, and she is all the better for it. Maybe she’ll decide to be single for a while and learn to be by herself. Who knows?
I complained about the Audrey storyline last week, but it wasn’t as bothersome this week. Yes, it is only a matter of time before her relationship with Piper is revealed and she is sent to jail for an episode or two, but since development on that front was put on hold in lieu of party shenanigans, it was a bearable part of “Happy Birthday to Me.” As silly as it is that the killer was able to sneak in and leave that bloody corkscrew under Audrey’s comforter without waking her up, it was a nice touch. Audrey is clearly out of her element, and it’s nice to see her sweat. She’s still getting sloppier with every episode though, as this week she pulled the fire alarm to look through Gustavo’s tablet (which didn’t have a passcode for some reason…not very smart Gustavo) only to find some pictures he had drawn of the Lakewood
Five Six. I must say, it was some pretty cool artwork. I’d frame that one of Emma with a knife in her head (hint hint, MTV).
Sheriff Acosta continues his trend of being inept, though he finally starts listening to the kids. His discovery of a Brandon James mask in Gustavo’s bedroom may mean that he will wise up and keep an eye on his son, though it’s highly doubtful that Gustavo is the killer since Scream seems to really want us to think he is. After all, he was the one distributing tequila shots at the party. Eli has Emma under his spell until she realizes he’s a liar. It’s nice that this plotline wasn’t dragged out for too long. I’m not sure how many episodes I could have taken of an Emma/Eli/Kieran love triangle. It’s still unclear just what Eli’s purpose is to this season, but hopefully it’s something more than just throwing a wrench in Emma and Kieran’s relationship.
Let’s talk about that final scene though. As soon as you saw the guy on stage holding a rope, you had to know it was pretty much a guarantee that Brooke was going to get covered in blood. As predictable as it was, it didn’t stop it from being a great set piece. Jake’s bloody corpse plopping right in front of Brooke was just the cherry on top. At least everyone knows Jake is dead now. I can only assume that the pageant will play a large role in a future episode (or maybe even the finale), which is always a great idea.
“Happy Birthday to Me” is the strongest episode Scream has had this season. It was fun, creepy and silly, which is basically all you can ask for from an episode of Scream. You can tell they’re still working out a few kinks, but since each episode gets a little bit better than the last it’s safe to say that Scream knows what it’s doing.
- Scream Thinks the Audience is Stupid Moment: The killer stabbing Kieran during Emma’s dream sequence in the first act. Dream sequence fake-outs are uninspired. Besides, they already did this last season.
- I don’t feel like I should have to defend my 4/5 score for this episode, but just remember: I grade Scream on its own terms. This episode is a 4/5 for Scream standards. So I don’t want to see any “So you’re telling me this is as good as The Conjuring 2?” comments.
- Fun fact: Audrey’s dead ex-girlfriend Rachael is played by Sosie Bacon, the daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick.
- Eli killed a dog when he was younger. Torturing animals is one of the early warning signs of a serial killer. Is it too obvious? Maybe…
- “Happy Birthday to Me” was directed by Daniel Stamm. You may recognize him as the director of The Last Exorcism and 13 Sins.
- “Hey Killer, isn’t it fun to be screwed with?” –Yay, puns!
- All Gustavo does is stare creepily. That is actually all he does. Also, I refuse to call him ‘Stavo.
- “Fancy seeing you here….at school.”
- Did no one in the neighborhood notice all those kids puking in the front yard?
- “Maybe you should ask your son! He’s the one who seems to enjoy drawing Emma covered in blood.” –
- I totally forgot that Maggie was a medical examiner. Tracy Middendorf has really been shafted this season.
- Next week’s episode is titled “Dawn of the Dead.” If there isn’t a high body count I will riot.
- Finally, here’s your weekly dose of Brooke’s bitch-face. LOVE IT.