One week without Ghostface means there needs to be a week with a whole lot of Ghostface, and sure enough, episode 3 delivered on the masked mayhem front. The last episode really played up Audrey’s paranoia that she would be found out, and “Vacancy” really runs with it – now that she finds out her stalker and/or other accomplice has gone and killed Jake and left his rotting corpse in Piper Shaw’s old storage locker. The evidence against Audrey (Bex Taylor-Klaus) is mounting, and even her closest friend Noah (John Karna) suspects something is up. But more importantly, someone knows what Audrey (Willa Fitzgerald) did with Piper in Season 1, and that someone (or someones?) is crazy enough to continue the spree around Lakewood. We’re only a few episode into this season and the plot is thickening rather nicely, and Scream continues to be big, schlocky fun.
Fresh off of finding Jake with small notes that read “See how I finished the job for you, Audrey?” pinned directly to his undoubtedly stinky dead body, Piper’s potential killing buddy has to return to the scene of the crime when amateur sleuth and new podcast host Noah figures out where Piper’s storage space is. When Audrey booked it from there the first time the whole thing was peppered with car air fresheners masking the foul stench emanating from the body formerly known as Jake, but when Noah drags her back there’s nothing but old antique junk. Audrey thinks she’s dodged a bullet, but a USB security camera inside threatens to expose her big incriminating secret. Fortunately for her, it’s just Ghostface messing with her again, as there’s no media found on the thing. When Noah pops it into his computer to look for clues there’s a whole lot of nothing.
One of the best parts about Scream:The TV Series is just how faithful it is to the ways information is secretly (or not-so-secretly) disseminated among teens. The show itself is greatly exaggerated for its melodramatic horror purposes, but the gossipy sharing of photos or texts points to a truth – in the way a deadly bunch of backstabbing high schoolers could make something like this unfold.
Cell phones, USBs, podcasts — every bit of information that should lead to the killer breaks down because of this lack of direct, face-to-face communication. Only Ghostface utilizes direct calls to taunt his victims to play into his game. He’s in charge because he knows how to get his message across to all the vulnerable people who will listen. It’s a bit of trickery leftover from the movie series, which had Drew Barrymore and a gaggle of other victims running around talking on landlines. Now, all the iPhones offer a nice thematic continuation of that.
After that, Audrey’s own brush with Ghostface’s technological terror takes a backseat for most of the episode to deal with Emma’s PTSD and the reemergence of her dad Kevin. Instead of calling or emailing like a regular parent, the dude just straight up creepily followed her around in his car until he saw she was alone to say “Oh, by the way, I’m back.” But nothing is normal in Lakewood, and you just kind of have to accept that everyone is crazy. Still, the show did a nice job of connecting father and daughter through their trauma.
It’s all surface-level stuff of course, but the mirroring of Kevin having to deal with the fallout of original killer Brandon James’s spree with Emma’s own brush with Piper links the two troubled souls together in a weird way. Tom Everett Scott (aka Shades from possible greatest movie ever That Thing You Do) plays Kevin with the perfect sense of being broken while also being tender and wanting to restore his relationship with his daughter.
That or he’s the killer who’s dealing with his trauma by acting out some twisted PTSD fantasy on his own daughter and her friends. The fact that Ghostface took over his hotel room only to murder the poor bellhop at the Crescent Palms (the place where Piper stayed during her time in Lakewood) followed by his boozy dustup with a fellow drunk at a nearby watering hole moments later makes him one to keep an eye on.
But, to be honest, there are so many people who could be Ghostface at this point that it’s great just to sit back and watch all the potential red herrings accumulate. Besides Kevin, it could just as easily be Eli (Sean Grandillo) or Stavo (Santiago Segura). And what about Mr. Branson, the Humbert Humbert to Brooke’s Lolita who mysteriously shows back up in town? Plus her dad the mayor is possibly involved in Jake’s disappearance and death, which will likely complicate things for Brooke. It makes you think that she’ll be next.
“Vacancy” wisely ends as it began, with Audrey who, more so than Emma this season, seems to be the story’s focal point. Ghostface plants the corkscrew he used to kill the bellhop in Audrey’s car, and as she sits there with bloodied hands it dawns on her and the audience that she’s probably in too deep at this point. It’s only a matter of time before someone actually finds out she was Pipers accomplice. Its all going according to Ghostface’s plan, and it’s grotesquely glorious.