[This is a review of the Scream Queens season 1 finale. There will be SPOILERS.]
Even before Scream Queens premiered this past fall, we figured audiences would be in for a fun, campy horror farce; and for viewers who tuned in each week, that proved to be the case. However, what surprised many was just how engaging and legitimately intriguing its central whodunnit mystery would end up being. Yes, Scream Queens was dumb escapist entertainment (in the best possible way), but the fact that we were intently wondering and speculating all season about who the Red Devil killer(s) could be was easily the show’s biggest achievement — at least, until it capped off its rookie season with a two-hour finale that answered all the series’ pending questions in satisfying fashion.
While we fully expected that show’s big payoff — the much anticipated unmasking of the last remaining Red Devil — to be the most surprising and satisfying moment of last night’s two-part finale (titled ‘Dorkus’ and ‘The Final Girl(s)’), it was actually the way in which everything played out that ended up being the most pleasing and fulfilling aspect of the finale. As is turns out, the answers to how and why were more important and far more interesting than the answer to who.
So, ultimately, it didn’t really matter that Hester (Lea Michele) was the one unmasked as the final Devil and that Pete (Diego Boneta) was revealed to have been in cahoots with her, Gigi (Nasim Pedrad) and Boone (Nick Jonas) almost from the beginning. Over the course of the show’s first 11 episodes, we saw Scream Queens create motive and build suspicion for nearly all of its characters, so the series could have (fairly) reasonably explained why and how any one of them could have turned into a serial murderer. What really mattered was the finale spent time making some sense of its killers’ actions, showing that the entire season had real narrative value and purpose, rather than simply being a three-month build-up to the revealing of some cheap trick.
Of course, it’s clear now that a simple “ta-da” reveal would have ultimately been disappointing. As silly as the series has been, we still needed some real closure to feel like the whole season wasn’t just a time-wasting charade (even as fun as it often was). So, when the first part of the finale opens with Pete spilling his guts about his involvement in the murders and how he could easily get behind the Devils’ hatred for everything that Kappa and the Greek system at large stood for, it’s refreshing to get some answers up front for a change.
And the second hour of the finale takes the same approach. Instead of drawing things out, ‘The Final Girl(s)’ gets the less important reveal of Hester’s true identity as the second tub baby and final Red Devil out of the way early, focusing the rest of its runtime on how exactly she executed her complicated plan — which was 20 years in the making — to absolute perfection.
With the clever use of flashforwards and flashbacks, the episode outlines every step of Hester’s diabolical scheme in meticulous and glorious detail. We learn about her past in the mental institution and how she was groomed to kill, that Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) admitted her to the university despite her very obvious fake high school transcript, and how she set up each of the Chanels to take the fall for the murders. It’s also revealed that Hester was never afflicted with any sort of spinal condition, but only used the neckbrace to become virtually invisible to the shallow Chanels, who would only pay attention to the prettiest and most popular pledges of the next incoming class.
And that commentary on social status and the importance of being a nice person in today’s often cruel world ends up being a wonderful and hilarious bonus to the episode. In the finale, we see that cyberbullying, hazing and being an all-around terrible person makes you deserving of death, or at least a life sentence in the local insane asylum in the eyes of the Red Devils. So, even if the sorority hadn’t been involved in the death of Hester and Boone’s mother, the Chanels could have still been targets of revenge, given that they weren’t nearly as warm, friendly or welcoming as Zayday (Keke Palmer) and Grace (Skyler Samuels) were when Hester first arrived at Kappa Kappa Tau. Even the judge and jury at the Chanels’ trial decide to ignore what evidence there was against the girls, as they convict and sentence the Kappas based more on just how awful they actually are in one of the biggest laugh-out-loud scenes of the entire season.
In the end, the finale’s message, injection of the show’s signature brand of dark humor and its detailed account of how Hester got away with serial murder made the episode a devilishly delightful, yet still unexpected bookend to a zany, fun-filled season of television. While it’s still unclear if Scream Queens will get a second season from FOX or not, we’d certainly love to see what co-creator Ryan Murphy has in mind for another run of Scream Queens episodes.
What did you think about the Scream Queens season 1 finale? Did you correctly guess who the killers were? Let us know in the comments!