Scream Queens, Season 1, Episode 10, “Thanksgiving”
Written by Brad Falchuk
Directed by Michael Lehmann
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on FOX
“Thanksgiving” works as well as it does mostly because the specter of death is not constantly lingering over the collection of Thanksgiving dinners in the rotation. No character besides Gigi, who knows the devil’s identity already, sees the devil this episode and because of that the action can slow down for an episode and focus on relationships more fully. Rather than shouting accusations at comrades in the aftermath of an attack or making out because they are in the midst of a life threatening situation, this week the Kappa girls and all of their requisite men have the chance to sit down, discuss things, and actually breathe which is something to be thankful for. Even Gigi’s death, which should feel important seeing as she is the last person who could confidently finger the culprit, doesn’t take away from the focus of the episode. Anybody who has made it to this point probably accurately predicted Gigi’s demise after the cold open but even the knowledge that another one of the masterminds behind the plan was dead before the episode even got going serves as an appropriate bookend rather than a distraction in the background.
The better Thanksgiving of the two family dinners on display, the Radwell compound holiday is a romp of a time even after factoring in the heavy misogyny and general awfulness on display. Chad Michael Murray and Patrick Schwarzenegger are perfect, if obvious, casting choices for Brad and Thad Radwell and the duo of Alan Thicke and Julia Duffy as the elder Radwells are absolutely inspired choices. This dinner is perhaps the storyline most removed from the string of murders since the season began, and the ability to focus on interpersonal conflict instead of constant speculation about the killer makes a huge difference in the appeal of the conversation. This is also the least grating that Emma Roberts has been in at least half a dozen episodes, as the more Chanel is an underdog the more easy it is to root for her.
Being put in a situation where her money, her looks, or her cutting remarks are not enough to make her good enough for Chad’s parents makes her sympathetic in a way that crying over not winning a KKT election or losing a best friend doesn’t accomplish. The Radwell’s are so condescending, so disgusting, so insufferable that anybody put up against them comes out better as a result. It’s a character wrinkle that Chanel really needs at this point in the season if she is supposed to be at all rooted for near the end. Her realization that the Radwells are treating Hester the way she treats people all the time may not alter her behavior for good, but at least merited some holiday good will in standing up for her sister and rescuing her from that situation. Maybe the good karma from supporting Hester is the reason Chad came back and maybe not, but either way it makes for a much better Chanel Oberlin.
The other Thanksgiving, that at the Kappa house made up of Dean Munsch, Wes, and all the girls who didn’t want to go home for the holiday (or those that were left behind while their families went to the Maldives without them) is centered around laying ideas of who the killer is out on the table. For most of the season, baseless accusations have flown as danger circled the Wallace students but nobody got any closer to figuring out the killer. With every murder the assumptions bounced from suspect to suspect. That Pete, Dean Munsch, and the rest finally get to sit down with some time on their hands and lay out all the supporting evidence to their theories gives layers to the mystery and lets the audience in on small details they weren’t aware of before like Chanel #3 running up the back stairs the night of the chainsaw attack or Grace’s possible meeting with the Red Devil. As an exposition dump that other episodes didn’t quite have the time to fit, it works to distill possibly important information in small doses while also moving the mystery of it all towards an actual conclusion.
Reasonably, it can’t be Wes or Dean Munsch at this point because the audience is already in on the confirmation that the remaining murderer is Boone’s brother or sister. That doesn’t mean that moments like the snippet of Wes attending a tunnel party at Kappa in the 90’s or the look on Munsch’s face when the group realizes she isn’t allergic to bologna don’t land just as perfectly. Grace and Pete seem like the best bets at this point unless someone like Chad or Hester come out of nowhere to take the title of Best Serial Killer on Campus. Now that Gigi is out of the drivers seat of revenge, all bets are off for what the Red Devil could do next. And that in itself is a very exciting place for Scream Queens to be in with only three hours left.
- “Chanel that is so hot. I want to see it. I want to see the body. We can have a threesome with the body!”
- “Your dad started drinking early today because Jay Cutler’s starting for the Bears.”
“The only thing you’re carrying is water weight you little tramp. That’s not a baby bump, it’s poo belly.”
- “Drunk on wine is still drunk, Mother.”
- “It tastes like Henry VIII just threw up in my mouth.”
“Are you just going to make it a habit of pushing people down the stairs? Because I think we can both admit, not the most adult form of conflict resolution.”
“This one is just sharp enough to slide easily through roasted flesh.” “What a weird way to put that.”