Scream Queens Season 1 Episode 3 Review: Chainsaw

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Chainsaws and Backstreet Boys and makeovers, oh my!

Scream Queens Season 1 Episode 3 somehow managed to up the campy quotient that was already prevalent in the series premiere. If there was any doubt that this show was pure absurdist comedy and satire...

... well, I would say that the doubt should be as dead as several of our murder victims but that's not even really definite now, is it? Missing corpses, ahoy!

I'll confess, I have completely fallen for the tone of this show. It's so delightfully silly. I can pinpoint the minute I knew it was love: it was when Chad and his troupe of all white-wearing Dollar Scholars rushed towards the chainsaw-swinging Red Devil(s), baseball bats a-blazing, as "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" blasted.

There were many plot developments that took place in the aptly-titled "Chainsaws," but two points were clearly the most important: there is a tag-team of at least two Red Devil accomplices and victims' bodies keep getting stolen.

Several characters separately came to the conclusion that there are two(+) killers. One of the killers, based on the premiere and the most recent developments, is probably Boone.

Surprise to all: security guard Denise Hemphill ended up being a decent sleuth. It was hilarious that she accused Zayday, of all people, but especially hilarious that she revealed her evidence against Zayday in order from least to most important. Niecy Nash's performance in this scene was fantastic, as was Keke Palmer's.


Denise Hemphill

Denise's evidence against Zayday: Zayday is planning to run for Kappa president against Chanel, Zayday had a CD from the Best Buy where Denise's murdered friend Shondell worked, Zayday tweeted at Shonda Rimes about the importance of having an accomplice when trying to get away with murder – oh, and yeah, Zayday has a chainsaw under her bed.

Perhaps better than all of this non-evidence being followed up with actual, pressing evidence is the speed with which Denise totally bought Zayday's weak excuse (Zayday's grandmother sent her the chainsaw, for her protection, because of course).

The most ridiculous part of this is that, in all likelihood, Zayday probably is innocent and her grandma probably did send her that chainsaw. (Though, notably, Zayday was not one of the Kappa girls who ran down the stairs when the Red Devil was attacking Gigi and Wes.)

The Dollar Scholars also learned, firsthand, that there are two (or more) Red Devils. More on that later.

Chanel and Chanel #5 discovered that Chanel #2's body, like Ms. Bean's, is missing. On a related note, Zayday and Grace went snooping and, for inexplicable reasons, were not quick to be convinced by Denise that #2 was actually murdered.

Their main basis for doubting that #2 was dead was the fact that she was still active on Instagram. The picture they showed Denise was very "Weekend at Bernie's," which leads me to believe that #2 is definitely dead and the killer just stole her body, posing it and taking pictures of her to make it appear that she is still alive.

This brings up a (relatively minor) concern that I have about the show, which is an issue that arises in many Ryan Murphy series. Namely, the fact that often too many plot points are introduced and then abandoned willy-nilly. I'm all aboard when everything is goofy and fun, but when the plot gets messy for no discernible reason, I quickly lose interest and respect for the show.

It seems that this Chanel #2 dead-but-still-on-Instagram bit was created mostly for laughs, but if we get to the end of the season and it is totally dropped, I'll be annoyed. I'm going to want an explanation for why the killer would steal Chanel #2's body and make it appear that she was still alive, while not doing the same for Shondell, Mrs. Bean, or any of the other students who were killed (who the killer allowed to be seen as dead).

I also didn't quite understand the bit with Chanel #2's parents despising her. That was just kind of odd and random. Though that scene did serve the very important purpose of revealing that Chanel #2 (and #3 and #5, as was later revealed) dated Chad Radwell!

One of my favorite parts of the show so far, which recurred here, is the back and forth between Chanel and Chad as she tries to convince him that they should be together, only for him to insult her and break up with her (again).

Chad: Why do you even care how many people I sleep with? Okay? I always wear protection. And it's not like I love these chicks.
Chanel: You... you love me?
Chad: That is not what I said!
Chanel: You love me.
Chad: Stop saying that.

Chanel is definitely going to go nuclear on the other Chanels when she finds out about their dating Chad behind her back. Unless, that is, she knew all along – the other Chanels dating Chad would absolutely provide motivation for her to be the murderer, no?

Speaking of Chanel: as much as I love her, I'm glad that this installment pulled back the focus a bit. She and her delightfully evil one-liners were one of the best parts of the premiere, but I don't think the show would be able to sustain that level of quality with non-stop focus on her. It's too easy for the show to turn into the Bitchy Emma Roberts hour that way.

I foresaw the rise of Hester. It seemed unlikely that Lea Michele, another Ryan Murphy golden girl, would be relegated to random creepy background girl. It seems obvious that Hester, now made-over as Chanel #6, is going to wind up competing with Chanel for dominance.

Hester clearly wants to be Chanel. Calling her mommy, sneaking around in her closet, commenting that they're the same size – yeah, these are all pretty big red flags. But Chanel is too distracted in her quest to regain her prominence to even notice the very real threat from Hester.

Grace and Pete continue to be boring. I don't really buy Grace's theory that Chad Radwell is the killer (mostly because I love Chad and hate Grace – boo, Grace). I hope Scream Queens Season 1 Episode 4 doesn't devote too much time to Grace and Pete's adventure searching for answers about the mysterious "Greenwell."

Finally, I want to leave off by discussing my sincere appreciation for that wonderful Dollar Scholars/Red Devil(s) scene. There were so many fantastic parts.

To start, Chad's introduction of his plan was great. I was impressed with his sleuthing skills and nodding along with him as he explained why he was sure Boone was actually murdered and hadn't committed suicide (even though we knew for a fact that both scenarios were wrong).

Then, he announced his plan to lure out the Red Devil – wandering around, on steroids, wreaking havoc with baseball bats and shouting the Red Devil's name. "Ghetto code." Flawless plan, Chad. He is such a gem.

The Dollar Scholars started by pummeling other random red objects (the fire hydrant, the red car), which demonstrated the perfectly stupid type of rationale that I wasn't surprised to see from these dudes. ("This stuff is red, too! There must be a connection!!")

Hilariously, Chad's "plan" actually sort of worked. They did lure out the Red Devil. They just didn't count on the chainsaws or there being two Red Devils. Oops?

You have to give the frat boys props for going at it, despite the chainsaws. The Scholars running at the Red Devils with bats raised, as the Red Devils easily sawed off the bats, was probably one of the funniest things I've seen on TV in recent memory.

Equally hilarious was that one Dollar Scholar having both arms sawed off and not being remotely near death (everyone else saw him pick up his head and look around after hitting the ground, right?) That seemed to be a nice little "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" reference.

It's just a flesh wound, right, Chad Radwell?

Stray Observations:

  • Glen Powell's reading of that Chad "love letter" to Sonia (aka Chanel #2) was fantastic. He does "smarmy jerk" so well.
  • Gigi is great! I really love her burgeoning romance with Wes. I also love her interactions with the very aggressive Dean Munsch. I was sure she was going to die during this installment and was really dreading it, so I'm glad that didn't come to pass.
  • Although it was extremely creepy to watch Wes Gardner gush about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. New suspect alert?
  • The Dean's white noise machine was one of those jokes that lasted just a bit too long to be as funny as it could have been. Restraint, Murphy. Restraint.
  • While the "Backstreet's Back" Dollar Scholars/Red Devil(s) showdown sequence was obviously the highlight of the episode, I have to give second prize to the inner monologue of one Aaron Cohen (the man behind the Coney). It was so random and strange, I loved it.
  • Chanel #3 is an oddball with her offbeat propensity for winter accessories, but I find her spontaneous relationship with Sam to be pretty heartwarming. Yes, it was random, but there was also something adorable about it. Her speech to Sam about being "alibuddies" was funny. I also liked the (again, absurd and random) plot point that her secret biological father is Charles Manson. Because of course.
  • I desperately want to know what Chanel's game of "Cocaine or Dildo" entails.
  • Another lovely, subtle "Heathers" reference: the use of that particular version of "Que Sera Sera" in the Hester/Chanel closet scene.

Suspect of the week: I thought of this during the Scream Queens Premiere Round Table discussion, and I'm sticking with this theory until someone looks like a more likely suspect: Melanie Dorkuss, the acid-burned former Kappa president. I'm about 99% sure it's going to be her.

What did you all think of this installment? How convinced are you that Boone is one of the killers? Who could the other killer be? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts and remember that you can watch Scream Queens online right here at TV Fanatic!

Chainsaw Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (43 Votes)

Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Scream Queens Season 1 Episode 3 Quotes


Denise Hemphill

Look, Chanel, I'm going to be honest with you. I'm sort of over this whole "serial murderer" thing that's going on right now. Last night, I had an amazing threesome with Roger and Dodger, and I realized that I'd rather focus my attention this semester on getting spit-roasted by hot golf frat twins than help you figure out who's murdering a bunch of dumb gashes!

Chanel #5