Scream Queens Season 1 Episode 5 Review: “Pumpkin Patch”

Scream Queens

Following the kidnapping of Zayday in last week’s episode, the campus is finally closed this week on Scream Queens, but that doesn’t stop any of the craziness that viewers have grown accustomed to on this show. While many of the characters remain paper-thin or even flat-out annoying (with Denise, Chad, and Hester being the only exceptions), the FOX comedy continued to provide its own blend of campy insanity in last night’s “Pumpkin Patch,” while also revealing a new ally of the Red Devil.

Just like in every episode of Scream Queens we’ve seen so far, there was a lot that worked in this episode, and a lot that didn’t. The show can get away with a good amount of its ridiculous storylines and character decisions by attributing them the to the campy style of the ’80 slasher films the series is clearly emulating (and spoofing), but its consistent commitment to that style of storytelling doesn’t allow any for any real, genuine character moments to be successful.

For example, take Grace’s discovery of Wes and Gigi’s relationship. All of the time that Scream Queens devotes to this plot feels like wasted minutes, as it hits every cliched beat possible, with Grace accepting Gigi as her dad’s new girlfriend at the end…just because? It’s neither outrageous enough to be funny nor grounded or fleshed-out enough to be compelling. Instead, you just have talented performers like Skyler Samuels and Nasim Perdrad wasting their time with cringe-worthy dialogue when they could be doing something more entertaining.

However, at least Gigi’s character is about to get more interesting. Even though her stuck-in-the-90s fashion sense and music taste have made her an enjoyable presence on Scream Queens, the reveal at the end of the episode that she’s actually working with at least one of the Red Devils opens up many new storytelling avenues for her. It seems like Gigi will have a lot more to do than just make out with Wes or trade barbs with Munch, and that’s exciting because it changes up her dynamic with the rest of the show’s characters and doesn’t let her remain bound to her typical, weekly routine.

And that’s perhaps Scream Queens biggest problem at the moment: most of its characters feel stagnant. Aside from the previously mentioned Denise, Chad, and Hester (who all find new and inventive ways to entertain in each episode, even if it’s something as ludicrous as Chad’s JFK speech or Denise’s Steve Harvey line from this week), we know what to expect from everyone on the show, so much so that it’s become boring. Chanel is always going to go off on a self-absorbed rant, Grace is always going to say why Chanel is wrong, and Munch is never going to care about all the drama going on her campus, and the wheel just keeps spinning.

In order to stop audience fatigue from setting in, Scream Queens consistently needs to provide its viewers with moments that they won’t be able to see on any other TV shows, moments that will surprise and delight them, like the fraternity brothers’ chainsaw attack on the Red Devils, set to the Backstreet Boy’s “Everybody,” from a couple weeks ago. It’s not enough for Scream Queens to just be campy, sorority-skewering satire with a murder mystery tacked onto it; it needs to elevate that material. “Pumpkin Patch” has its moments, but ultimately falls short of the best that Scream Queens has been able to offer its fans throughout its first five hours. Here’s hoping the show has more tricks (and treats) up its sleeve for the remainder of the season.

Other thoughts:

  • The reveal that Denise is also sleeping with Chad (and that they role play) is easily the best moment from this episode.
  • I forget whether it was Roger or Dodger who died in this episode (although I want to say it was Dodger), but their initial response to the Red Devil (a callback to the Backstreet Boys-set attack from “Chainsaw”) was so, so good: “It’s the Red Devil. Let’s bash his car!” “No, first, let’s protect Chanel #5.”
  • So one of the killers is in love with Zayday? Interesting. Now that she’s escaped, I wonder if we’ll see him try to kidnap (or kill) her again.
  • Gigi struggling to put on her pants in the background of Grace and Wes’ heart-to-heart almost makes that whole scene worth it.
  • Thanks to Dara for letting me fill in for her this week! She’ll be back to cover next Tuesday’s episode, “Seven Minutes in Hell.”

What did everybody else think about this week’s Scream Queens? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Patti Perret/FOX]

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