The Chanels are back, and things are about to get twisted.
Scream Queens Season 2 Episode 1 was a fun start to the new season. It managed to successfully reintroduce all of our favorite characters after a two year time jump, while still laying the groundwork for what seems like a fun new setting and killer mystery.
I'll be totally honest – I didn't like "Scream Again" quite as much as I liked the Scream Queens Series Premiere. The series premiere had this totally oddball, bizarro quirkiness that was totally unique and hilarious.
That said, the first season simply wasn't able to maintain that harebrained, zany tone – the rest of the season never lived up to those first two hours.
"Scream Again" significantly pared down the number of characters – and the scope of the story – so I suspect that this will be a slightly more restrained season. This is both good – because the first season was just too out of control and all over the place at times – and bad – because when the energy of the first season was on, it was so on.
But on to the good stuff: When I heard about the casting news this season, I was psyched. I think most of us can agree that all of the best characters from Scream Queens Season 1 have returned to the series for its second season – Cathy Munsch, Zayday, the Chanels, Hester, and Denise Hemphill all appeared in some capacity, with all but the latter two functioning as major characters.
Chanel Oberlin: Good morning, idiot hookers.
Chanels #3 and 5: Good morning, Chanel.
Next week's promo features Chad Radwell, so that gloriously stupid yet hilarious hunk will be on his way back shortly too, rounding out the only part of the surviving cast that I missed from last year. (Sorry not sorry, Grace and Grace's dad.)
"Scream Again" nicely filled in the gaps between what happened during the Scream Queens Season 1 Finale and the show's 2016 "present day," with plenty of hilarious one-liners and moments.
Cathy Munsch made the move from being a dean/best-selling author/inventor of "New New Feminism" to opening a teaching hospital. According to her TED Talk, her goal was to revamp the broken healthcare system.
Yeah... Right. Somehow, I doubt that's the actual end goal Munsch has in mind – she acted incredibly sketchy throughout the entire premiere (much as she did throughout the first season).
And anyway, why on earth would she be trying to lure back her former students, many of whom she vocally despised, if not for nefarious means? Munsch at one point commented she was personally invested in making sure the hospital succeeded. Why? How is Munsch connected to that hospital?
The Chanels, meanwhile, spent about two years' time at the asylum – as we'd already seen during the finale's flashforward – but at some point, a well-timed Netflix documentary series reinvigorated interest in their case, which was reopened.
In an appeal, Denise Hemphill made her triumphant reappearance, hilariously (and quite easily) convincing the actual killer, Hester Ulrich, to confess to being the real murderer.
More Denise this season, please! "Special Agent" Hemphill is a treat, always.
Poor, stupid Hester. For a genius criminal mastermind who got away with multiple counts of murder and framing the Chanels, she wound up being incredibly dumb in the end.
Hester easy-breezily confessed to being the murderer (which Denise caught on tape) because she believed that, since the Chanels were already convicted, she couldn't be tried for the crime because of "double jeopardy."
Obviously, as Denise pointed out to loony Hester, "double jeopardy" only applies to one person – one person can't be tried twice for the same crime, in the United States. Duh, Hester.
The taped evidence of Hester confessing and Denise arguing with her about what did and did not constitute double jeopardy was easily one of the funniest moments of the premiere. Lea Michele plays unhinged Hester flawlessly – the decision to make Hester totally batty was one of the best character moves.
And again: MORE DENISE, ASAP, please and thank you.
Hester was carted off to an asylum herself, while the Chanels were released back out into the world. Except they are broke as a joke, now, and everybody hates them.
Apparently, in a complete retcon of what we'd seen in the finale, things weren't as hunky-dory in the asylum as Chanel had led the audience to believe in her finale voiceover. Though Chanel claimed that the three were having a ball at that point, in the two years after they were released she referred back to it as "the most traumatic time" in her life.
Munsch rescued the Chanels from the doldrums, where they were broke, working menial careers, and hoarding snack pies while hanging out on a porch.
Chanel #5: Can I have some--?
Chanel #3: Get your own damn pie! I've been moppin' wads all week.
Hilariously, despite their various troubles, the Chanels and Zayday had all managed to graduate from college in record time, with Zayday already in medical school. Maybe that's why she's apparently no longer in touch with her former BFF Grace?
The Chanels as medical residents was as humorous as expected. They continue to be caricatures of awful, insensitive human beings, but they had some glorious one-liners here and there. We also got that fabulous makeover scene after they inadvertently caused werewolf girl Catherine Hobart to go totally bald.
Catherine Hobart: I have no hair, anywhere! I look like a cancer patient!
Chanel #5: No! You look like a large baby.
As always, I'm especially fond of the continued antagonistic relationship between Chanel and #5. Fingers crossed that #5 didn't actually die at the end of the premiere! I'm not ready to give up that frenemyship.
As for the new faces – I enjoyed nearly every new character introduced. Kirstie Alley's Nurse Hoffel had a few great zingers, verbally sparring with Chanel, but I'm hoping she's developed beyond being a one-note Dean Munsch clone.
John Stamos was as fun as expected in the role of Hot Doc Dr. Holt. I loved his lost-hand backstory, which was so out there and eccentric.
Also, that hand is definitely possessed, am I right? He 100% didn't have control of it during that flirtation scene with Chanel, when they were thinking through Catherine's case to come up with an alternative to Zayday's lobotomy idea. The hand flirtatiously crawled onto Chanel's and then closed around her throat, before he literally pulled it off of her.
Whose hand was that before it was transplanted onto Dr. Holt?! I'm getting super Evil Dead vibes from this storyline.
Dr. Cassidy Cascade was definitely my least favorite of the three major new characters, but I think that was the point.
It appears that he's supposed to be #3's aloof, strange male equivalent, but whereas Billie Lourd carries off that persona in a strangely magnetic and often hilarious way, Taylor Lautner just seems like a stiff robot. Maybe his "cold" personality is somehow related to the fact that his body is literally ice cold?
Finally, the villain of the season – the Green Meanie.
I never liked this swamp. I grew up around here, and the kids used to always talk about a monster that lived back here. The Green Meanie.Nurse
The premiere's opening scene was a smart mirror of the Scream Queens Series Premiere opening scene. It was a flashback (this time to 1985 instead of 1995), and there was another pregnancy featured. This time, the wife of the man who was left in the swamp to slowly die by the absurdly callous Dr. Mike and nurse was pregnant with a son.
The main distinction between the two flashbacks was that, while the bathtub death that kicked off the first season's mystery was over-the-top it was still relatively believable – nobody actually killed pregnant Kappa Sophia, she just bled out accidentally because her friends were huge "Waterfalls"-obsessed jerks.
But the idea that a doctor and nurse would literally murder a patient to go back to a Halloween party? That was just slightly too much for me – even in Scream Queens-universe, I couldn't quite suspend my disbelief enough to come to terms with that one. It's just too ridiculous and pulled me right out of the episode.
Regardless – if we're following the first season's format, obviously the first Green Meanie suspect would be whoever that son grew up to be, seeking revenge on the hospital's patients for his father's cruel death. The kid would be 30ish by now, but I don't think we've met any 30-somethings yet, so perhaps the unborn son is just the first red herring.
Other things I loved:
- Cecily Strong's surprise cameo as Werewolf Gal Catherine Hobart was great. A brief role, but definitely fun – her particularly brand of "WTF are these idiots doing?" reactions was perfect. Also, RIP Hairy Mary.
- The faux Netflix documentary about the Chanels was called "Entrap a Kappa Kappa: Murder on Sorority Row." I love the title, and I love how apt a satirical twist on the current collective public obsession with true crime documentaries it is.
- The ghosting confusion conversation was great – classic Scream Queens.
- Small but amazing moment: When Zayday explained the lobotomy idea to Catherine, she showed her a picture of a drill and a hole to explain. Gosh, I love Zayday.
- Chanel #5 thinking the nurses were ghosts.
- Kirstie Alley's nurse is named I. M. Hoffel. Not quite on par with Chanel's Dean Munsch zing back in Scream Queens Season 1, but pretty good nonetheless.
- The musical stylings of the premiere were 100% on point: "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes when the Green Meanie was attacking #5 and Catherine, and "Vacation" by The Go Go's during the makeover montage.
- The parallels to the Scream Queens Series Premiere, from the flashback sequence setting the stage to Chanel waking up with the other Chanels at the foot of her bed, were great.
What did you think of "Scream Again"? Let me know your thoughts by commenting below, and watch Scream Queens online here at TV Fanatic to relive the premiere!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.