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Pretty Evil: “Scream Queens” premiere episode

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Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of FOX.

Pretty Evil is a weekly “Scream Queens” recap column by Mandy Durose.

The premiere episode, “Pilot/Hell Week” introduced us a world of over-the-top humor, poking fun at the whole atmosphere of college. Combine that with just enough flair of mystery that each character leaves you with, and a healthy dose of skepticism as plots and intentions are revealed.

The opening teaser takes us back to the Kappa House in 1995. The party is in full force as it is discovered that a Kappa sister has given birth in the upstairs bathtub. While some girls are consumed with fear, others are concerned they will be late to the “Waterfalls” by TLC jam session downstairs, causing the sister in the bathtub to bleed out.

Jump ahead to present day and we see new Kappa Queen Chanel (Emma Roberts) and her minions, Chanel 2, 3 and 5 prepare for their day, accompanied by a Chanel voice over that didn’t disappoint in Ryan Murphy’s wit. The character description, “White Mammie” given to Ms. Bean, the cleaning lady, achieved describing Chanel’s no-mercy and offensive humor.

As Chanel’s perfect monochromatic color coordinated day is thrown off kilter, we are introduced to Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis), a scotch drinking old college feminist who absolutely hates sororities, especially Kappa. Thanks to a flashback to the Kappa House when Chanel didn’t reign supreme, we see the first murder of the night.: a spray tan filled with hydrochloric acid that dethrones Chanel’s successor. This scene is also the first glimpse we get of the mysterious Red Devil murderer.

After meeting Grace, an incoming student with a mix tape loving, widowed, ultra-protective father and a dream to fulfill her mother’s Kappa destiny, the rest of the characters introduced seem to show two different sides of them.

Chad, who adds a humor element through his over-the-top relationship with Chanel and what it is like to be popular, is part of the golfing fraternity, the Dollar Scholars, and also likes spending time sleeping with Dean Munsch.

His goofy sidekick, Boone (Nick Jonas) is a closeted gay man in love with Chad. My initial reaction to the character of Boone was a nonessential character thrown in by Murphy to add drama and wacky humor to Chanel and Chad’s on-and-off relationship, evident in the scene where Chad allows Boone to cuddle with him after Chanel breaks up with Chad. In true satirical white college girl form, Chanel comes sobbing back to Chad, only to find him in bed with Boone. The moment is funny but not seen as an essential plot point, until Boone asks Chanel to join Kappa as the first gay man in a sorority. As Boone leaves, we see what could be a deceiving look in his eye.

This year’s Kappa pledges are a variety of characters. Grace and her roommate Zayday (KeKe Palmer) are the most normal. Hester the Neckbrace is a history major with a creepy obsession with death and calling the girls ‘Mom’, Predatory Lez clashes with the Kappa way and has sleeves of tattoos, while Tiffany, a hard of hearing blonde girl obsessed with Taylor Swift is given the obvious nickname, Deaf Taylor Swift.

The show used time wisely, by killing off multiple characters right at the start. Under Munsch’s surprise declaration at Kappa’s White Party that the sorority must allow all to be pledges, Chanel fuels her fury into a plan to fake kill Ms. Bean, by burning her face off, to teach Munsch a lesson. Not soon after, we are greeted with the second death with Chanel 2 (Ariana Grande) being humorously killed by the mysterious Red Devil character.

Watching Ms. Bean’s face get fried off was fairly gruesome, but the Red Devil is playing far worse games. While the new pledges are buried in the ground only to reveal their heads like gophers in an overnight hazing ritual, the Red Devil drives a lawnmower over Deaf Taylor Swift’s face.

The plot is pushed forward when Grace wants to change the rude and murderous ways of the Kappa House. She teams up with the barista/investigative school reporter, Pete, to spy on the Kappa House and reveal the House’s secrets. Pete has a past of his own with the Kappa House. We see Chanel bark her 210-degree 5-shot trenta pumpkin spice latte no foam order at him and discover she filed a restraining order against him last school year. Pete seems like the typical misunderstood nice guy looking for justice, but could his restraining order past be a clue in the string of murders? Pete becomes the main suspect for Grace when she discovers the Red Devil costume in his closet.

By this time, Grace’s Kappa snooping has welcomed her into a hidden room for Kappa President eyes only, a room overflowing with Kappa secrets, including the bloodied bathtub from 1995. I could not sit still, but instead squirm anxiously in my seat as I screamed at the television, Grace you are the baby! Instead of the reveal I was hoping for, Chanel busts Grace, leaving her confused.

The most shocking death of all was Boone. Or should I say fake death. I have to admit, it was like Murphy was teasing us by flashing scenes of a shirtless Boone working out; almost like telling us to get our last looks in while we can. Boone is interrupted by the Red Devil and ends up with a sliced throat. Or does he? The two-hour premiere left us on a cliffhanger that made almost everyone a suspect. Boone is not dead, but actually in on the whole thing, making us wonder, what fresh hell is this?

Predictions:

Like a screwed up prophecy, Grace is obviously the baby born in the bathtub.  This means that her dad telling her that her mom died when Grace was two is a lie. Why is her dad lying to her? Is he even her biological father? I’m guessing parts of this puzzle will be unfolded throughout the season. Knowing Murphy, discovering Grace is the baby is the least relevant information to the Kappa bathtub death of 1995.

While watching it seems to make too much sense that Pete is the Red Devil. His cliché barista undercover investigative reporter gives him too much motive to be disguised in the costume, stalking the Kappa House. That doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s involved in someway. Those sly smiles and utter distaste for the Kappa House has to make him at least an accomplice. And the Red Devil has to be someone on campus considering Boone was in on his own fake death. I’m still undecided on prime suspects since it is still early, but I’m testing out theories on Dean Munsch and Chad.

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