Scream Queens: “Thanksgiving” Season 1 Episode 10 Review

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The best Scream Queens episode yet gives us all a reason to be thankful.

My biggest issue with Scream Queens‘ erratic plotting and characterization is that the show’s distracting points often take away from the general sense of fun. This week, however, a wholly focused episode allows for the show to reign in on its weaker areas and deliver an hour that’s campy, intriguing, and a total blast.

The last episode of this caliber was “Seven Minutes in Hell,” which used the Kappa mansion to bring all of the sisters together. “Thanksgiving” uses the same mentality, and it’s warped view of family and sisterhood is an absolute riot.

Before everyone is under the same roof, however, we get the glorious set piece that is Chad Radwell’s Hamptons Thanksgiving. The Radwell family is played by a roster of amazing guest stars including Alan Thicke, Chad Michael Murray, and Patrick Schwarzenegger. The real scene-stealer, though, is Julia Duffy as Mrs. Radwell, who chews the scenery like a pro and makes me wish that she was leading a Radwell family spinoff series.

The real magic here is that these scenes are able to hit some emotional beats, while still acting as an over-the-top mockery of the upper class. Chanel might be “stupid rich,” but she’s nothing in comparison to the über-wealthy Radwells. In the episode’s sole somber moment, we see her calling her mother because she’s clearly out of her depth. Unfortuately, Mama Oberlin is far too lost in the sauce to help out.

Hester’s entrance to the Radwell dinner was irksome only for a few moments. Yes, I was initially upset that the series has once again proven its core cast will be indispensable until the season’s final moments, but, really, Hester’s death wasn’t a proper goodbye either.

Furthermore, it’s a testament to Brad Falchuck’s—who wrote this week’s episode—handling of the Radwell Family vs. Outsiders dynamic that we’re somehow able to feel sympathy for both Chanel and Hester as they’re berated during a particularly cruel game of Pictionary. Both of these ladies are pretty awful, but the episode does well to pin them in a corner and cause them to join forces in order to get out of it.

In between all of this, sisters continually return to the Kappa house because their family Thanksgivings don’t quite feel like home. Only a show like Scream Queens would be able to pull off the ridiculousness of having girls feel more at home on a campus with a loose serial killer than with their own families. Still, it works, and it turns out to be quite important.

Yes, “Thanksgiving” is the first episode in a long while that’s able to make the season’s mystery interesting again. While Chanel and Hester suffer at the hands of the Radwells, the rest of the girls—along with Dean Munsch, Pete, and Wes—play an interesting game of “who do we think the Red Devil Killer is?”

Blame is placed on Chanel No. 3, Grace, Dean Munsch, and finally Wes, who we learn is an even more awful person than we thought. Apparently, Boone is was his illegitimate child. The merry-go-round of speculation makes for highly entertaining fodder as clues are piled on top of of each other like the various animals in Chanel No. 5’s eight-meat stuffing. Right now, the killer could be anyone, but it’s not the same as before. Now, almost everyone has a motive, and I have a feeling that things are about to get very, very interesting.

Then, of course, there’s the ending, where the show does the very thing I’ve wanted it to do since week 1 (well, maybe week 2, if we’re being honest). As the girls, Wes, and Chad—who came back for Chanel after she ditched his family and apologized to her in the most Chad Radwell way possible—sit down to “eat” their dinner, they lift the dish cover to discover that Gigi’s head has actually been served to them instead of a turkey. It’s a satisfying moment, proving this show actually knows how to pack a punch. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes

  • Thoughts on who the final Red Devil might be: Right now my main suspect is Hester. Her line about finding a knife “sharp enough to cut through roasted flesh” is identical to the line Gigi delivers in the beginning of the episode when her and a still-masked Red Devil have room service Thanksgiving. Add this to the fact that she’s always been a bit of an outsider amongst the Chanels, and she’s got plenty of motive.
  • My backup suspect is actually Zayday, even though I desperately want her to be the Final Girl. Still, she’s the only one that no one accuses of being the killer and she’s the only one who continually goes into the kitchen to check on the turkey, giving her plenty of opportunity to switch it out for Gigi’s head. Could Denise Hemphill be right?
  • Mrs. Radwell: “So, let’s all give a round of tolerant applause to our newcomer, Chanel O…ber…lin.”
    Mr. Radwell: “Welcome, Chanel. Chad hasn’t mentioned you. Ever.”
  • Abigail Breslin’s line delivery has often been hit-or-miss on this show, but was pretty spectacular this week. Her weird brainy moment of knowing about sulfites in wine and bologna was pretty hilarious, as was her spot-on “I’m ok!” after everyone gives her weird looks for nonchalantly mentioning that her family left for the Maldives without her.
  •  Pete is still kind of annoying, but his line about bribing a government official was pretty funny.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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