Jeffrey Kopp

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."

TV REVIEW: ‘Narcos’ Season 2

Paulina Gaitán as Tata Escobar and Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar. (Photo courtesy of Gaumont Television & Netflix.)
Paulina Gaitán as Tata Escobar and Wagner Moura as Pablo Escobar. (Photo courtesy of Gaumont Television & Netflix.)

Spoiler alert: Pablo Escobar dies. This has been a well-known fact since December 2, 1993, when the bloody and expensive Colombian manhunt finally came to an end. The magic touch of Netflix turns this famed historical event into an intense roller-coaster ride of emotions and action. With an expert cast and a gripping story, the second season of “Narcos” is a television event that you do not want to miss.

Nearly everyone has heard the name Pablo Escobar, but the story of his rise to fame and eventual downfall is far less known. The first season followed Pablo (Wagner Moura) and the other members of the Medellín Cartel building their cocaine empire in Colombia. The season comes to a close with the escape of Pablo from his luxurious La Catedral prison. Season two picks up on the night of the escape as members of the Colombia National Army surround the famed prison. Following the escape, Pablo is forced to go into hiding with his wife Tata (Paulina Gaitán), his mother Hermilda (Paulina García) and his two children, Juan Pablo (Juan Murcia) and Manuela (María José Sanchez Real). A band of loyal sicarios also follow the Escobar family as they are forced to move from safe house to safe house to avoid the many different groups that are after them. Conflict arises as Tata becomes increasingly worried for the safety of her children, but her loyalty and love toward Pablo keeps her from leaving him. In “Narcos,” Pablo is humanized to show his unwavering dedication to his family, even as his options become increasingly limited. Pablo is simply not a man that is willing to go down without a fight, especially when the safety of his family is on the line. The Escobar family dynamic gives viewers an interesting look into the fact that although Pablo was a mass-murdering criminal, his family was essentially his weak spot. Wagner Moura’s talent is showcased in the fact that his portrayal of Pablo can be utterly terrifying when necessary, but also highly emotional and caring when around his family. The series also does a fantastic job of showcasing the countless acts of terror and fear that were committed by Pablo in the name of maintaining his drug empire.

Paulina García as Hermilda Escobar. (Photo courtesy of Gaumont Television & Netflix.)
Paulina García as Hermilda Escobar. (Photo courtesy of Gaumont Television & Netflix.)

While much of the focus of the story is on Pablo Escobar and his family, a large portion of time is spent exploring the effects of the manhunt on the many hardworking members of the law enforcement, both American and Colombian. Most notably, DEA agents Steve Murphy (Boyd Hollbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal) are involved the various search plotlines of the season. Questions of jurisdiction and the role of American forces in Colombia are presented, but the role of these two DEA agents is incredibly important. As the season progresses, Agent Murphy struggles after his wife Connie returns to the United States with their daughter after realizing that life in Colombia is not exactly safe. Agent Peña is involved in several dark storylines, including the controversial interrogation tactics of Colonel Carrillo (Maurice Compte). He also finds himself caught up in the affairs of the ultra-violent vigilante group, Los Pepes, which wage a bloody war against anyone even remotely connected to Pablo Escobar or the Medellín Cartel. The friendship formed between Agents Murphy and Peña proves to be some of the more lighthearted material of the season.

Boyd Hollbrook as Agent Steve Murphy and Pedro Pascal as Agent Javier Peña. (Photo courtesy of Gaumont Television & Netflix.)
Boyd Hollbrook as Agent Steve Murphy and Pedro Pascal as Agent Javier Peña. (Photo courtesy of Gaumont Television & Netflix.)

Some of the other storylines of the season include the introduction of Limon (Leynar Gomez), who becomes one of Escobar’s most loyal sicarios. Much of Limon’s story this season revolves around his friend Maritza (Martina García), a single mother who becomes involved in Escobar’s empire to make money, but soon finds herself in constant danger. Much of this danger stems from one of Pablo’s chief assassins, La Quica (Diego Cataño), who will stop at nothing to see each enemy of his boss dead. While some of this storyline does feel a bit like filler, it does showcase the fact that nearly everyone that found themselves involved with Escobar, ended up dead or in prison. There is also an aspect to the story that revolves around the conflict between Colombian President Gaviria (Raúl Méndez) and the Attorney General. Pablo Escobar’s destruction of Colombia is shown through many different viewpoints ranging from those who support Escobar and those that staunchly call for his immediate death.

Diego Cataño as La Quica and Leynar Gomez as Limon. (Photo courtesy of Gaumont Television & Netflix.)
Diego Cataño as La Quica and Leynar Gomez as Limon. (Photo courtesy of Gaumont Television & Netflix.)

Overall, the second season of “Narcos” stands strong next to the first season. While this series may not be as popular as other Netflix originals such as “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black” and “Stranger Things,” it is still absolutely worth your time. While certain aspects of the story are fictionalized for dramatic purposes, the series does a great job of exploring this major historical event and encouraging viewers to research Escobar and his effect on Colombia themselves. The acting is superb, especially that of Wagner Moura, who was absolutely snubbed for an Emmy nomination this year. Netflix has already renewed the series for two more seasons, but with Pablo Escobar dead, what will the future look like? The final episode of the season may be a major hint of what is to come, but will the series be able to stand on its own without Escobar? That remains to be seen. The first and second seasons of “Narcos” are currently streaming on Netflix.

Hannibal Buress discusses his career in television, stand-up and film

Photo courtesy of Hannibal Buress.
Photo courtesy of Marcus Price.

Ahead of his nationwide stand-up comedy tour, Hannibal Buress spoke with the Niner Times about his upcoming show in Charlotte on Jan. 20 at the Knight Theatre. From two hit comedy television series to a variety of comedy specials and blockbuster films, Hannibal’s talent is put on display regularly.

To begin, you have an upcoming tour, the Hannibal Montanabal Experience. You’ll be performing here in Charlotte on January 20. What can people expect when they come to your show?

Pyro, fireworks, jokes, videos, music; the next level comedy installation.

You also have your Netflix Special, “Comedy Camisado,” which came out earlier this year. What was it that drew you to Netflix?

You can put it out on HBO, you could do Showtime, premium networks or you could self-produce it, but having it on Netflix is that it’s just there. People can go to it when they want to go to it, it’s not on at a certain time. It’s just there and easy for people to find. I can send out a link to it whenever. The work is just there. I’ve also been able to get my other two specials that I did originally on Comedy Central and work out a deal with Netflix. I did another separate one with “Hannibal Takes Edinburgh.” So, I’ve got four up there and if people really want to dig in before they come see my show or just in general, it adds a body of work for people to be able to do that.

Was there a certain moment in your life that you really knew that you wanted to be a comedian?

Right after I started doing it. I tried doing it because a friend was doing open mics and I went and watched and figured I could do it. After that, I went to another open mic and did it and kind of fell in love with the energy and vibe of it. I just kept pursuing it from there.

You’re currently starring on two television series, “Broad City” on Comedy Central and “The Eric Andre Show” on Adult Swim. What are the main differences between working on both shows?

They’re two different shows [Laughs]. It’s a scripted show versus a partially-scripted, improvised talk show. I’m not in every scene on “Broad City.” I’m not even in every episode. I’m definitely in every episode of “The Eric Andre Show.” On “Broad City,” I’m playing the love interest of one of the characters. On “Eric Andre,” I’m interviewing people and it’s loose and more improvised. They’re both fun roles, but they both require different things from me. On “The Eric Andre Show,” we’ll shoot for a while; an hour-long interview, but only use two minutes. It just varies and they’re both really connecting with people.

Photo courtesy of Hannibal Buress.
Photo courtesy of Marcus Price.

Both of these shows feature several celebrity guests. Has there been anyone on either show that you’ve met that has really surprised you?

On “Broad City,” I’m not usually in the scenes with the special guests. We’ve had Katy Perry on there, we’ve had Blake Griffin on, Hillary Clinton and a lot of other people. My scenes aren’t usually with them, but they’ve had a lot of great people on the show. On “The Eric Andre Show,” doing the “Rapper Warrior Ninja” bit was a lot of fun. Danny Brown, I had known already and Open Mike Eagle, Nocando. I was a fan of A$AP Rocky. For the “Rapper Warrior Ninja,” we created this obstacle course and the rappers had to freestyle while going through these obstacles. So that was really fun. Danny Brown, at the end of this course, jumped in the air trying to touch the final part and the American Gladiator that we had there knocked him out of the sky and we had a big laugh at that; that was really crazy.

This past summer, you lent your voice to two hit animated films, “The Secret Life of Pets” and “The Angry Birds Movie.” What is it like working on a more family-oriented film rather than your usual live action roles that are targeted towards adults? 

It’s fun and it’s really simple that it isn’t a big time commitment. You can kind of do it from wherever in the country as long as they have a recording studio in that town. You can say “I’m going to be in Miami, can we do it at 3 p.m. tomorrow?” and they’ll find a studio to work out of in Miami. So, it’s cool and quick. I think on “The Secret Life of Pets,” I might have done five one-hour recording sessions spread out over the course of a year and a half. We don’t do the hard work on animation. The directors are the ones spending time with the visuals and making it all work. It’s fun and it’s cool to be part of, but it is definitely very easy work.

Finally, you have two films set to come out next summer, “Baywatch” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” What, if anything, can you tease about your role in these films? 

In “Baywatch,” I have a scene with Priyanka Chopra from “Quantico.” So, we got to act together and those worlds collided in cinematic history. With “Spider-Man,” I’ve got nothing, because they aren’t even giving us the rest of the scripts. I play Coach Wilson, who is Peter Parker’s gym teacher and I don’t know that he is Spider-Man. That’s really all I have for that. They’re going to be two big movies and that should be my nickname, “Small Roles, Big Movies.”

Tickets for Hannibal’s tour are available now. “The Eric Andre Show” airs Friday nights at 12:00 a.m. on Adult Swim. More information about Hannibal and his projects can be found at HannibalBuress.com.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Do Not Disturb’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Fear the Walking Dead”

Karen Bethzabe as Elena Tobar and Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Karen Bethzabe as Elena Tobar and Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

With the characters separated across Mexico, “Fear the Walking Dead” takes the time to introduce some new faces while developing three of the key players. Conflict and chaos erupts in a series of intense action sequences that help to deliver yet another strong episode. Problems do exist within the episode, however, these are issues that the series has faced since the beginning.

A major complaint that many fans of the series (myself included) have had is in regards to the fact that much of the initial outbreak and the breakdown of society was largely skipped over. The opening scene of this episode shows one terrifying altercation that occurred just as life was starting to fall apart. An elaborate wedding reception is taking place at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. The hotel manager named Elena (Karen Bethzabe) watches as the bride dances with her father. She speaks with the mother of the bride, Illene Stowe (Brenda Strong), who alerts Elena that her family and the other wedding guests will be leaving soon due to the mysterious sickness that is going around; she explains that the United States-Mexico border will be closed soon and that she wants her family north of the border when that happens. Suddenly, the father of the bride falls to the ground from a heart attack. The bride attempts CPR, but the father dies, turns and bites his daughter right on the face as the various guests watch in horror. Elena rushes out of the room with some of the other hotel workers before locking the guests in. This opening scene is a great introduction to the character of Elena and helps to show off some of the initial panic during the early days of the outbreak.

This episode places much of the focus on Travis and Chris, who haven’t been seen since “Shiva,” when they separated themselves from the rest of the group. Travis struggles to walk on his injured foot as Chris urges him to stop and take a break. They eventually find a car, which Travis is able to hot-wire while Chris walks over to a nearby restaurant in search of supplies. He hears voices from a backroom and notices two dead bodies on the floor as several Infected wander in. Chris grabs a can of beans and a few bottles of water before killing one of the Infected. Three men walk in from the backroom and Chris saves one from an Infected. He then rushes out of the restaurant and back to Travis, urging him to quickly drive away. Night falls and Travis drives down the road, but his injured foot prompts him to pull over and switch places with Chris. Travis gives Chris a hasty driving lesson as they discuss the state of the world. Travis has a more optimistic view of the apocalypse and believes that the world will eventually return to normal. It is interesting to learn that Travis has remained hopeful, even after losing Liza and witnessing many horrific sights. The car runs out of gas and Chris drives off the road to set up camp nearby. After making a fire, Travis tells Chris that the mountains may be the best place to look for safety. The fractured relationship between father and son seems as though it is headed down the right path, until a new group of characters arrive and change up the dynamic.

Chris spots a truck driving in their direction and alerts Travis. They hide, but the men arrive and find Travis and Chris. The men joke with Chris about the fact that he stole their supplies earlier. Brandon (Kelly Blatz) introduces himself and the other men, Derek (Kenny Wormald) and Baby James (Israel Broussard). While sitting around the campfire, Travis and Chris speak with the men about how they came to be in Mexico. A simple vacation has left Brandon and his friends stranded south of the border. They share that they are originally from San Diego, which Travis explains was bombed by the military. Brandon and the others tell Chris and Travis that they are welcome to join them on their trip back to the United States, but Travis immediately rejects this offer and asks for a ride to the next town instead. Brandon and his friends ask Chris about his killing techniques when it comes to the Infected, which Chris proudly boasts about. Chris later argues with Travis about how trustworthy the new group is; Travis is understandably hesitant to trust them, while Chris believes they are worth sticking with. The next morning, the group drives down the road in a truck; Brandon explains that the new lawless world is “fun,” but Travis disagrees. Chris notices a farm and directs Derek to drive off the road toward it. Over the course of this episode, Chris shows off a very different side of him than we have ever seen. He fits in with Brandon’s group and actually manages to smile and laugh.

Chris and Travis look over the dead body of the farmer. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Chris and Travis look over the dead body of the farmer. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

After arriving at the farm, Travis pulls Chris aside and tells him that they should stay at the farm after Brandon’s group leaves. Chris doesn’t want to hear anything that Travis is saying and runs off to join Brandon, Derek and James as they investigate a barn. Brandon opens the barn door and finds a large flock of chickens. Chris and the other boys chase after the chickens as Travis searches the property. He comes across a makeshift cemetery that has several marked graves that have the death year listed as 2010, the current year in the story. Travis panics after realizing someone is still likely living on the farm and rushes over to alert Chris and the others. The farmer barges into the barn with a shotgun and orders everyone to leave. Travis attempts to calm the situation and urges Chris and Brandon’s group to leave the man’s property. The farmer shoots James in the leg, prompting Chris to fatally shoot the man in the chest. Seemingly unfazed by what he has just done, Chris reaches out to Travis, who stares at the dead man in shock. Has Travis realized that Chris may be too far gone? Will Chris stay with his father or will he join forces with Brandon’s group? After seeing this episode, I predict that either Chris or Travis will not live to see the end of this season.

The other focus of this episode is on Alicia at the hotel following her separation from Ofelia in last week’s episode. Alicia hides in a secured room, looking through the peephole and counting the Infected in the hallway while practicing tricks on her butterfly knife. Emergency lights flicker in the hallways adding to the ultra-creepy vibe of the hotel. Alicia makes her way out into the hallway, but is soon overwhelmed by the number of Infected. She makes her way to the elevator and pries the doors open. Alicia jumps into the shaft and grabs onto the cable as the Infected fall in after her. She struggles to pull herself up the cable, but a helping hand from above comes to her aid and allows her to safely make her way up to another floor. The helping hand turns out to be Elena, who takes Alicia to a room and explains that her nephew Hector (Ramses Jimenez) is missing. Alicia begs for Elena’s help in searching for Madison and Strand, but Elena refuses. Elena tells Alicia that she has the master keys for the entire hotel and that the remaining hotel guests want to take them from her. Alicia formulates a plan of rescuing Hector, Madison and Strand together with Elena. This episode demonstrates Alicia’s strength as a survivor and quick-thinking in tense situations.

Alicia and the Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Alicia and the Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

With Elena agreeing to help Alicia, the two lead the Infected through the hallways in an attempt to trap them. Alicia herds a large cluster of Infected into a hotel room before escaping on to the balcony as Elena locks the door. The Infected pound on the balcony door as Alicia scales the side of the building to get to the adjacent balcony. This intense scene has a heightened sense of danger as Alicia looks down and sees the ground several stories below. Elena and Alicia make their way down to the ground floor where the wedding reception took place. After explaining what she did to the wedding guests, Elena breaks down in tears, but receives comfort from Alicia. Elena’s decision to lock the guests in with the Infected is strikingly similar to what Father Gabriel did to his congregation in the early days of the outbreak on “The Walking Dead.” The situations are very different, however. Where Father Gabriel acted selfishly for the sole reason of protecting himself, Elena did what she did in an attempt to contain the outbreak and protect the other guests.

After searching the ground floor, Alicia and Elena find the entrance to the bar barricaded with furniture. Suddenly, several members of the wedding party arrive with Hector as a hostage. Illene and Oscar (Andres Londono), the groom, are among the group of guests. They demand that Elena hand over the keys in exchange for Hector. She complies and Alicia abruptly opens the doors to the bar, releasing several Infected. Alicia notices an Infected that bares a striking resemblance to Madison, but turns out to be a rather cheap fake out; did anyone really expect the show to kill off one of its main characters completely off-screen? Elena leads Hector and Alicia down through an underground tunnel as the Infected chase after them. They find themselves trapped behind a locked door, which is suddenly opened by Madison and Strand; Alicia and Madison embrace as Strand and the others barricade the door. The reveal that Madison and Strand somehow escaped being surrounded by Infected at the bar is a major negative of this episode. What was the point of the climactic cliffhanger of last week’s episode if there is no real resolution to it during this episode? It appears as though the specifics of their escape from the bar will be shown in next week’s episode, but any real fear or intensity will be lacking due to the fact that we are aware that both Madison and Strand survive. Unless there is some large dramatic reveal, splitting up this particular scene seems incredibly odd and unnecessary. Regardless, I am interested to see how Alicia and the others get out of their current predicament.

“Do Not Disturb” is a thrilling episode that places the story in a very interesting position. Travis and Chris are likely to be headed into much darker territory as the season progresses. The relationship will surely begin to fall apart moving forward. Cliff Curtis continues to impress me with his performance as a struggling father who will do whatever it takes to protect his son. Alycia Debnam-Carey’s performance as Alicia is yet another highlight of this episode. The character of Alicia has grown extensively over the course of the series, specifically this season. Her physical abilities combined with her social strengths make her the standout character of this episode. The new characters that are introduced are welcome additions and will likely bring a whole new feel to the series. What other mysteries are hiding in the hotel? Be sure to tune into “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Los Muertos’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Fear the Walking Dead”

Strand and Madison fight off the Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Strand and Madison fight off the Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Following the Nick-centric episode last week, the focus this week is split between two groups. As Nick adjusts to life in La Colonia, Madison’s group discovers a massive beachside resort. Some minor problems do exist within the episode, but this is yet another strong chapter that sets up several different stories and develops the characters.

“Los Muertos” begins with Nick waking up in the infirmary in La Colonia next to several other sickly patients. He wanders out into the community and soon notices that the residents have left their posts and gathered near one of the walls. Nick finds a young girl crying and tries to comfort her, but quickly realizes that something truly dark is happening. In a nearby field, the girl’s father says goodbye to Luciana and Alejandro before stepping into a bus that is connected to a gated area filled with Infected. The man slowly walks into the herd of Infected, allowing himself to be devoured, as the residents look on. Later, Nick is shown helping out with some of the patients at the infirmary. When he goes to fetch water, he discovers that La Colonia’s water supply is running dry. Luciana reaches out to Nick and brings him along on a supply run. Luciana takes Nick to the closed off area with the Infected. She pins an Infected against a wall, slits its throat and covers herself in blood. Nick follows Luciana’s lead as she explains some of her rules. I don’t know if it is just me, but it seems as though the characters are becoming increasingly lazy when it comes to covering themselves in the Infected blood/guts. If you are trying to be completely safe, it would be best to cover yourself as much as possible. However, it is interesting to see the different ways characters approach this technique. On “The Walking Dead,” the characters typically wear a heavy type of clothing to prevent any of the walker guts/blood from touching the skin. This entire concept opens up an thought-provoking comparison of the various viewpoints that characters on both shows have in regards to the virus.

The residents of La Colonia watch as a man sacrifices himself to the Wall. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
The residents of La Colonia watch as a man sacrifices himself to the Wall. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

While walking, Nick questions Luciana about the sacrifice that took place earlier. Luciana explains that the man who sacrificed himself was already dying. When someone in La Colonia is close to death, they give themselves to “The Wall,” which is essentially a barrier of Infected that protects the community from outsiders and herds. Luciana also tells Nick that the community’s leader, Alejandro, was previously bitten, but never turned. Nick refuses to believe this claim and explains that everyone that is bitten will die and turn. The two eventually arrive at a local supermarket that is guarded and controlled by a gang. Luciana speaks with the gang leader, Marco (Alejandro Edda). This particular gang has shifted from selling drugs to operating a barter system of supplies. Luciana trades a bag of painkillers for a shopping cart that can be filled with supplies in the supermarket. Inside the store, Luciana gathers jugs of water and other supplies that are needed in La Colonia. Nick grabs a chocolate cake snack, but Luciana orders him to put it back and only take what is necessary. Before they leave, Nick notices a group of people residing in the back of the store. Nick is able to deduce that these people are drug addicts suffering from the effects of withdrawal. He spots Marco tending to a young girl, who happens to be his sister. As Nick and Luciana are walking away from the supermarket with their supplies, Marco and some of the gang members attack Nick; he had slipped the cake snack into his pocket even after Luciana warned him not to. Marco threatens to cut off Nick’s hand with a machete, but Nick turns the tables and threatens to cut off the gang’s supply of painkillers, which are given to the addicts. Luciana translates Nick’s demands, which also include a second shopping cart filled with water. This tense scene demonstrates Nick’s skills at negotiating and bargaining, which may be traced back to his life before the apocalypse where he possibly found himself in similar situations while trying to score drugs. Nick’s quick thinking and adaptability are both skills that will definitely come in handy and help to assure his place as a long-term survivor.

Nick and Luciana shop for supplies at the gang-controlled supermarket. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Nick and Luciana shop for supplies at the gang-controlled supermarket. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

As they walk away, Luciana lashes out at Nick for potentially compromising the safety of La Colonia. She explains that the gang members aren’t aware of the community’s location yet and she wishes to keep it that way. After they return to La Colonia, Nick greets the young girl whose father sacrificed himself to the Infected earlier. He gives the girl the cake snack and tries to comfort her as Luciana watches on. This demonstrates Nick’s deep care toward children; this was also shown in “We All Fall Down,” where Nick plays with the Geary children and discusses the difficulties of growing up in a post-apocalyptic world. Nick meets with Alejandro, who scolds him for acting so foolishly around the gang members. Alejandro explains the almost cult-like belief of himself and those in the community that the Infected are just passing through and that the world will soon return to normal. This belief system is incredibly reminiscent to that of Celia, however, Alejandro seems far more willing to accept and adapt to the new world. By using the Infected as a deterrent against outside threats, Alejandro shows that he realizes the world is incredibly dangerous now. Nick briefly spots a mark on Alejandro’s shoulder; could this be the “bite” that Luciana told Nick about? If Alejandro was actually bit by an Infected and survived, this revelation will change “The Walking Dead” universe forever. Is it possible that there are survivors out there that are immune to the virus? This would definitely be an interesting development, but I am incredibly hesitant to believe Alejandro was actually bitten. A final scene in La Colonia shows the residents in a church as Alejandro preaches. The congregation chants the phrase “from death we come and to death we deliver ourselves” as Nick joins in.

The other focus of this episode is on the group containing Madison, Alicia, Strand and Ofelia following their evacuation from the Baja mansion in “Shiva.” The group drive around in search of Nick, but both Alicia and Strand call the search hopeless and explain that they must return to the Abigail. They make their way to the spot where they docked the Abigail, but it is now nowhere to be found. Strand explains that the Mexican military likely stole it sometime after they docked. This is a shocking discovery as the Abigail seemed as though it would be a long-lasting home base for the characters that would allow them to travel more quickly. Now it appears that the survivors will be trapped in Mexico for the foreseeable future. Alicia decides to use driftwood to leave a message for Nick, Travis and Chris should they return to that location; “Abigail Lost Head North” the message reads. Strand drives the group down to the beach in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, where they stand and watch to see if they hotel is safe. They eventually decide to approach and enter the hotel in search of shelter and supplies.

The group enters the hotel through the lobby, although the doors are barricaded leaving them to agree that other people may be inside. Strand rings the bell at the front desk in an attempt to draw out any Infected or other survivors. Madison and the others stumble upon the hotel ballroom that has the remains of a wedding that likely took place right as the world was beginning to fall apart. Ofelia mentions to Strand that she came close to getting married, but broke things off when she realized that she would have to take care of her parents. This is an interesting development for Ofelia’s character; will we possibly learn more about her backstory through flashbacks? Alicia and Ofelia decide to make their way to the upper levels of the hotel to search for supplies, but Madison wishes to stay down at the bar. Alicia presents a strong plan of searching the hotel, room by room, for supplies in luggage and the mini-bars. Madison objects, but Strand makes it clear that Alicia can take care of herself and offers to make Madison a drink. Ofelia and Alicia begin making their way through a hallway, but notice several rooms with “Do Not Disturb” signs on the doors; these rooms clearly have Infected inside of them. They find a room without Infected and begin collecting food and supplies, but locate an Infected hanging in the shower after committing suicide. Ofelia stares longingly at the Infected man; after everything she has lost, this prospect of suicide appears to be a real possibility for Ofelia.

In another hotel room, Alicia wonders why the man would quit fighting and give up. Ofelia explains that he was likely tired of living and simply couldn’t go on any longer; she also tells Alicia that she doesn’t believe that the group will survive much longer. Alicia passionately disagrees and states that survival is human nature. Down at the bar, Madison and Strand make the idiotic decision to get drunk. They begin opening up to one another about their lives before the apocalypse and Madison explains the circumstances of her husband’s death. Madison’s husband, Stephen, died in a head-on collision while driving home from work one night. Madison tells Strand that it was suicide, even though she had told Nick and Alicia that it was just an accident. This ties back to the flashbacks in last week’s episode and helps to further develop Madison’s character and her relationship with Strand. Madison continues to pour tequila for herself and Strand, while pitching shot glasses at the wall to let out anger. Strand bangs on a piano, which attracts the attention of some trapped Infected in a nearby store. Upstairs, Alicia showers before checking in on Ofelia, who has mysteriously disappeared. She walks out onto the balcony and is startled by several Infected falling from above. Drawn by the noise in the bar, the Infected stumble and fall off the hotel balconies before smashing into the ground. Alicia rushes out of the room and makes her way to a stairwell to get down to the ground floor. However, the stairwell is filled with Infected, leaving Alicia seemingly trapped. Down in the bar, Strand and Madison notice the Infected falling from above before flooding into the hotel. They use whatever they can to fight off the Infected, but they eventually find themselves trapped behind the bar in an epic shot that leaves their fates a mystery.

“Los Muertos” is an exciting episode that is packed full with revelations and character development. Nick’s story in La Colonia takes several interesting turns as he comes to realize that Alejandro and the other residents are darker than he expected. Luciana proves herself to be both a strong and interesting character that will hopefully receive more development as the season progresses. There will likely be conflict between the residents of La Colonia and the gang led by Marco; how long will this community stay standing? The storyline with Madison’s group showcases a compelling setting that hasn’t been seen in “The Walking Dead” franchise yet. This hotel has the potential to be a long lasting safe haven for the characters if they can refrain from getting drunk and making foolish decisions. Therein lies my problem with this episode. Madison and Strand’s decision to get drunk and goof off in an unsecured location while there are pressing matters at hand is incredibly annoying. Characters choosing to get drunk is a small problem that I occasionally have with “The Walking Dead.” One would think that you would want to be in prime condition at all times in case you are forced to fight Infected or other humans. It is unclear yet what consequences, if any, this momentary lapse of judgement will have. Could the safety of the hotel be compromised? What happened to Ofelia? With the apparent loss of Daniel, Ofelia’s outlook on life is incredibly bleak. Is it possible that she left to commit or attempt suicide? The standout character of this episode is by far Alicia, who called many of the shots and rallied to keep the group’s morale high. Alicia is a character that I can definitely see evolving into a hardened survivor as the series progresses. Be sure to tune in to “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – ‘Grotesque’

Spoiler Warning for the Mid-Season Premiere of “Fear the Walking Dead”

Nick Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Nick Clark. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Sundays belong to the dead again as “Fear the Walking Dead” makes its anticipated return to a post-apocalyptic Mexico. With the group split up, the characters are likely to receive more development than ever before. This week’s episode focuses on Nick as he makes his way across the harsh Mexican landscape, learning that the Infected are just one of many threats that exist in this new world.

“Fear’s” Mid-Season Finale (Shiva) left off with the group splitting up and going in their own separate directions. After Daniel burned down the Baja mansion and seemingly died in the inferno, Nick made a choice to turn away and leave his family behind, claiming that they destroy everything that they touch. A heartbroken Madison was dragged away by Strand to join Alicia and Ofelia. Meanwhile, Chris and Travis are also on their own, with Travis choosing to keep Chris away from others due to his violent outbursts. This episode picks up with Nick staying in an abandoned home with Sofia (Diana Lein) and Juan (Moisses Arath Leyva), two former residents of the Abigail mansion. Sofia explains that she is taking Juan down south in search of the young boy’s father; she begs Nick to join them, but he refuses and shares that he wishes to find other people that share Celia’s views on the Infected. Sofia tells Nick to head north before telling him goodbye, giving him supplies and taking off with Juan. Nick begins his journey by wandering down a highway headed north toward Tijuana, which is one-hundred kilometers away. He eventually discovers an empty house, which he settles in for the night. A woman sneaks up on Nick as he is sleeping and attacks him with a metal baseball bat. She screams at him in Spanish while forcing him to leave without his supplies; a young girl is present, watching in fear. It is always interesting to see other survivors, even briefly, to help show that our characters are not alone in the world.

This episode features a truly emotional series of flashbacks to life before the apocalypse that help to develop Nick’s character. The flashbacks begin in a rehab center with Nick and his girlfriend, Gloria (Lexi Johnson). Nick’s parents will be visiting him in the facility soon, so Gloria decides that they should practice what Nick will say. She pretends to be Nick’s father while he opens up about his feelings after spending a few weeks in the facility. Nick speaks about how his father’s apathy toward Nick hurt him. Later, Gloria’s parents arrive to meet with her; Nick jokes about how well off Gloria’s family is. Madison arrives and meets with Nick in a private room. She tearfully explains that Nick’s father is not at the meeting because he was killed in a car accident on the way home from work. A shocked Nick breaks down as Madison embraces him. A final flashback shows Nick and Gloria in the drug hangout church in Los Angeles from the pilot episode. Nick shows Gloria a book that his father gave him; Gloria tells him that she wishes to read the book herself. The two shoot heroin before going to sleep. This brings Nick’s story full circle, as we first see him waking up in the church to find an Infected Gloria feasting on another person in the pilot; Gloria likely died from an overdose before turning. The flashbacks are a welcome addition to the episode and help to provide a large amount of character development for Nick. The flashbacks also help to explain why Nick left Madison and Alicia behind.

With no supplies, Nick wanders onto a road with multiple abandoned cars. He locates a bottle of water and a radio from a car that has a snarling Infected in it. Nick hears a car approaching and hides behind one of the abandoned vehicles. Three members of a gang arrive and kill an elderly man that is asking for water. Nick’s radio makes noise, alerting the gang members. Nick flees as the trio fires on him; he manages to evade their bullets and escape, but he finds himself lost in the desert. As the pain of hunger and thirst begin to envelop Nick, he becomes desperate and eats part of a cactus; he immediately vomits. Next, he decides to drink his own urine in an attempt to quench his thirst. He rests next to a van, but is soon startled by two wild dogs barking at him. One dog bites Nick on the leg, but he fights them off with a rock and works his way to the roof of the van. The hungry dogs try to grab him again, but a small approaching herd of Infected distracts them. The dogs attack the Infected, but are overwhelmed and devoured in a disgustingly brutal slaughter. This episode truly demonstrates Nick’s ability to adapt and survive even under the especially harsh situations where many would crumble.

Nick and an Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Nick and an Infected. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

On top of the van, Nick grimaces in pain from his leg wound. Several of the Infected begin moving toward him, but a car horn distracts them and draws them in a different direction. Nick jumps off the van and eats some of the meat from the dog’s corpse. He uses a belt from an Infected to make a tourniquet for his wound. He then covers himself in the Infected blood and joins up with the herd. Nick begins to hallucinate and begins hearing the Infected talking to him. The gang members from earlier show up as the herd makes their way down a road. The gang members begin shooting several Infected, but Nick keeps walking. One of the gang members seem to recognize Nick among the herd and freezes before dropping his bullets. The gang member scrambles to pick up the bullets, but he is quickly surrounded and devoured by the Infected. This entire sequence was filmed beautifully with Nick essentially becoming a living Infected. From a nearby spot, a woman named Luciana (Danay Garcia) and two men watch the scene, apparently looking for someone. One of the men, Francisco (Alfredo Herrera), tells Luciana that they need to help Nick, but she disagrees and walks away. Nick passes out on the pavement, but later wakes up as rain falls from above; the rain represents a shift in Nick’s luck.

Frank Dillane as Nick and Paul Calderon as Alejandro. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)
Frank Dillane as Nick and Paul Calderon as Alejandro. (Photo courtesy of Richard Foreman/AMC.)

Nick slowly makes his way into a city, likely Tijuana, where he stumbles upon an abandoned pharmacy. The store has been ransacked and very little medicine remains, none of which is useful to Nick. He makes his way into another store, where Luciana and Francisco appear and ask him about his wound. Understandably, they are worried that the bite is from an Infected, but Nick explains that it is from a dog. Luciana tells Nick that she knows someone who can help him. Later, Nick is shown in an infirmary where he meets a doctor named Alejandro (Paul Calderon). The wound isn’t life threatening, but Alejandro scolds him for being so reckless around the dead. Alejandro then leads Nick outside to a lively community called La Colonia. Nick plays soccer with children as other residents stroll around visiting various food stalls. La Colonia instantly reminded me of the Hilltop Colony on “The Walking Dead.” Could this community be a safe haven for Nick or are there sinister undertones that will be revealed as the season progresses?

“Grotesque” feels more like a artistic survival film rather than an episode of “Fear the Walking Dead.” This is arguably the first time that a character on “Fear” has been without food and water; this is also the lowest point that Nick has been at since the start of the apocalypse. This episode showcases the fact that Nick has what it takes to survive in this world; this episode solidifies Nick’s place as my favorite character in the series. The new community and characters are both promising and refreshing; I am especially interested to learn more about Luciana, who also demonstrates strong survival skills. The absolutely beautiful scenery adds to the artistic style of this episode. It is worth noting that this episode featured very minimal dialogue; Frank Dillane is able to expertly carry an entire episode while only uttering a few words. I am incredibly impressed by the acting talents of Dillane, who stands out in every scene he is in, whether it be the highly emotional flashbacks or the action-heavy scenes with the Infected. Will Nick choose to stay in La Colonia or will he search for his family? Be sure to tune in to “Fear the Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

TV REVIEW: ‘Scream’ – ‘When A Stranger Calls’

Spoiler Warning for the Season Finale of “Scream”

Emma (Photo courtesy of MTV.)
Emma (Photo courtesy of MTV.)

Everything comes to an end in the not-so-shocking Season Finale of “Scream.” The killer is revealed in a very anti-climactic ending that leaves very few characters dead. Season 2 has had its ups and downs, but the finale is really nothing special at all. That being said, there are some great moments that pay homage to the original film series. After weeks of anticipation and speculation, who is revealed to be the killer?

Before we get to the killer reveal, it is important to discuss the build up to the ending. Following the arrests of Audrey and Emma in last week’s episode, the two are being transported to the police station. The masked killer steps out into the road, causing the police officer to swerve off and crash into a telephone pole. The unnamed police officer gets out of the car, but is quickly stabbed by the killer. Audrey and Emma are trapped in the backseat, but the killer spares them and hands over the keys to their handcuffs. This scene is a nice homage to a great scene from “Scream 2,” although the situation and outcome is very different. Emma and Audrey flee to a gas station where they receive a phone call from the killer, who informs them that they are not to turn themselves in or get caught by the police. If they turn themselves in, the killer explains that another person will turn up dead.

Rather than searching for the killer, Sheriff Acosta decides to pay a visit to Ms. Lang at the hospital, who explains that she believes that Audrey and Emma are the killers. I don’t quite understand why Ms. Lang is trusted by Acosta, especially considering Ms. Lang likely has head trauma from her encounter with the killer. Meanwhile, Brooke comes to terms with the fact that her father was just brutally slaughtered. She makes juice and chats with Stavo before heading over to the hospital to check in on Noah. Aside from breaking down with Noah, Brooke seems to be handling the situation rather well. Sheriff Acosta heads over to the Duval household, where he searches for evidence against Emma. Maggie confronts Acosta about his unwarranted suspicions of Emma. This scene provides some of the best acting ever featured in the series; while the show is not known for strong acting, Tracy Middendorf does stand out as Maggie.

The Lakewood Five decide to meet at the movie theater for a final standoff with the killer. Little do they know that the killer is actually already inside the theater with them. The five arm themselves with sharp movie props from a display in the lobby. Brooke and Noah guard the door and Noah explains that this is the big finale and that everything will come to an end soon. Suddenly, Stavo shows up asking to be let in after receiving a text message from Brooke; the characters still haven’t realized that the killer impersonates people using texts and phone calls. Stavo leaves as noises from inside the theater draw the group in to investigate. They find footage of the murders playing on the screen and realize that the killer is inside. Emma, Kieran and Audrey leave to investigate while Noah and Brooke remain in the theater. The lights go out and Brooke is attacked from behind; the killer stabs her before running off. Kieran returns and helps Brooke as Emma chases after the killer. Emma receives a text message from the killer that shows Audrey being held hostage. Emma flees the scene as the police rush in and rescue Brooke and the others.

In all honesty, the grand finale should have taken place at the movie theater, but the abandoned orphanage turns out to be the final setting. Emma stupidly goes by herself and wanders around in the darkness. At the hospital, Brooke is rushed into surgery as Noah explains the evidence against Eli to Sheriff Acosta. Emma quickly locates Audrey, but Kieran suddenly shows up with Eli right behind him. Both accuse each other of being the killer, with Eli claiming he was stabbed by Kieran. Emma doesn’t know who to trust, but ultimately chooses to shoot Eli after he lunges for Kieran. After Eli is seemingly killed, Kieran tells Emma that she will finally be safe. Emma immediately recognizes this as being similar to something the killer just told her on the phone. She slowly comes to terms with the fact that the person she trusted the most is really the killer. Yes, Kieran is the killer; are you shocked? I definitely saw this coming, especially after seeing multiple strange occurrences this episode. Kieran holds Emma and Audrey at gunpoint as he explains his motivations. Kieran was secretly friends with Piper and her death at the hands of Audrey and Emma really angered him. This explanation, as well as the sudden change in Kieran, is definitely reminiscent to the character of Billy Loomis in the original “Scream” film.

Eli jumps up and tries to attack Kieran, but Kieran fires his gun multiple times into Eli’s chest, killing him. Audrey manages to knock the gun out of Kieran’s hand, prompting a chase scene that leads to Kieran being trapped by Audrey and Emma. Kieran tells Emma to kill him, but Emma refuses and states that she wants him to rot in jail for what he did. Thanks to an earlier phone call from Eli, the police rush in and arrest Kieran. Is it just me or did Kieran’s killing spree end way too easily? Yes, he killed Jake, Zoe and Eli, but other than that, the rest of the victims were mainly nameless red-shirt characters. A three-month time jump shows the characters readjusting to life after the murders. Noah records his podcast, while Stavo and Brooke are shown to be in a more serious relationship; Stavo has stepped into the void left by Kieran as one of the Lakewood Five. Maggie finds her note to Brandon James with a knife through it. In prison, Kieran receives a phone call from someone who angrily lashes out at him for wearing “my mask.” Is Brandon James really alive or is there another killer on the loose? My theory is that Kieran is the son of Brandon James.

“When A Stranger Calls” is a rather anti-climactic finale that ends things in an overly simple and easy way. It is worth noting that the first season finale was also fairly anti-climactic, however, the killer reveal was far more shocking. While Kieran being the killer wasn’t exactly shocking, it is great to see that the series decided to make an original character turn out to be evil. While a third season of the series is still up in the air, there is plenty of set up for a story surrounding Brandon James. All in all, the second season wasn’t terrible, it just feels very lackluster. The great moments really shine, while the bad moments stand out. There is no denying the fact that “Scream” is a fun show with likeable characters. If the show is picked up for a third season, hopefully the negatives will be fixed and the threat level will be raised.

 

TV REVIEW: ‘Scream’ – ‘Heavenly Creatures’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Scream”

Emma and Audrey (Photo courtesy of MTV.)
Emma and Audrey (Photo courtesy of MTV.)

The end is near and the penultimate episode of the season sets everything in place for a climactic finale. The anticipated reveal of the killer’s identity is close, but the suspect list is still far from being narrowed down. The horror is brought out in full force as yet another character falls victim to the killer’s slaughter.

The episode begins with an absolutely chilling sequence that involves the killer breaking into the Duval household. The camera follows the killer as he/she quietly creeps through the house before checking on a sleeping Maggie. The killer then proceeds to Emma’s room to steal her dream journal. Emma awakens after hearing a noise, but the killer is nowhere to be found. Rather than calling the police (literally no one would blame her for alerting the police, even if it was just a false alarm), Emma investigates for herself and finds a wooden heart necklace with her name carved into it hanging on the front door. Someone finally phones the police, but they are obviously too late. Maggie worries about Emma’s safety and tells Sheriff Acosta that she tried to communicate with Brandon James. Kieran also arrives and comforts Emma. The opening sequence is ultra-creepy and is the perfect example of what the series should incorporate into the story more often.

At the hospital, Noah is still recovering from being stabbed in last week’s episode. He is also grieving over the death of Zoe, but his friends arrive to cheer him up. They are unsuccessful and Noah explains that he is giving up on his obsession with death and horror films; he shares that he is ending his podcast and asks Emma and Audrey to take down his suspect board. Emma and the others head over to Noah’s house and begin packing away all of the evidence from the suspect board. Emma finds a newspaper clipping from Will’s funeral and notices a strange appearance in the background. Eli was in attendance at Will’s funeral, which means that he was also present in Lakewood during the first round of killings. This just adds more weight to my claim that Eli is the creepiest character in the series.

Speaking of Eli, this episode shows him take drastic methods to protect his family. Mayor Quinn is bribing/blackmailing Eli’s mother to get her to leave Lakewood. Eli decides to sneak into Mayor Quinn’s house to steal some sort of incriminating files. Meanwhile, Sheriff Acosta heads over to the hospital to question a now lucid Ms. Lang. He asks her about her connection to Piper, but Ms. Lang denies ever being friends with her. She also tells Acosta about Stavo and his fascination with death. Finally, she explains her belief that Emma is dangerous and may even be the killer. I have no idea how Ms. Lang is even alive; her run in with the killer left her with massive blood loss, yet it appears as though a simple bandage can heal major brain damage.

After deciding they are better off to return home, Stavo and Brooke part ways. Stavo goes to the hospital to visit Noah and inspire him to continue with his podcast. Stavo presents Noah with an illustrated comic page of Noah fighting off the killer and saving the day. This develops Stavo and shows that he is capable of being normal and friendly, but his odd actions early in the season still have me incredibly suspicious of him. At the same time, Kieran decides to investigate Eli by sneaking into his room. Audrey and Emma wait outside as Kieran scours the room for anything incriminating. He finds the collection of letters that Audrey wrote to Piper; how did Eli get his hands on these? Kieran flees the house and shows the letters to Emma and Audrey; it is no surprise when Emma once again votes against alerting the police. Kieran rushes back into the house to return the letters and it seems as though Eli catches on to what is happening. Eli and his mother spend this time randomly drinking beer together in the backyard.

In typical fashion of these not-so-smart characters, Emma and Audrey decide to head over to the abandoned pig farm to investigate further. At the hospital, Noah records his podcast in memory of Zoe, but when he tries to upload it, he is hacked and a video is uploaded in its place. This video showcases footage, audio and photographs that incriminate Audrey and Emma to the recent string of murders. The video was seemingly produced by the killer, who has already shown that he/she is more than capable of hacking Noah. Brooke watches the video and sees the footage of Audrey and Jake’s dead body. At the farm, Emma and Audrey discover the secret room in the house. They find Emma’s stolen dream journal, which has been left on a specific page that details Emma’s dream where she stabbed all of her friends. A car pulls up and the girls rush over to the window to see who has just arrived; they see Mayor Quinn get out of his car and walk into the barn.

Mayor Quinn arrives at the barn and wanders around while texting the killer/person that is blackmailing him. The sound of a cell phone ringtone can be heard in the incredibly eerie scene. Mayor Quinn locates the mysterious cell phone (I’m pretty sure that this is the same cell phone that Stavo was seen using earlier). Suddenly, the killer appears and uses a pitchfork to stab Mayor Quinn directly through the stomach. The killer flees just as Audrey and Emma enter the barn. Mayor Quinn pulls the pitchfork out of his body and the girls rush over to help; they also pick up the pitchfork. The police rush in to find Audrey and Emma with blood on their hands and holding the pitchfork. The episode ends with Emma and Audrey being placed in handcuffs as Maggie and Kieran arrive; who told Kieran that any of this was going down?

“Heavenly Creatures” is a great episode that sets the stage for a bloody and thrilling finale. Hopefully, the finale will make up for the rather lacking level of action and loss that this season has had. This episode does a great job of using intensity and suspense to increase the fear and horror. With numerous possible killers and motives, how many people are actually involved in the murders? After this week’s episode, my killer prediction is that Kieran, Eli and Stavo are all involved in the killings. Kieran has a habit of showing up at odd times, especially just after the killer disappears. Eli has been flat out creepy this entire season and it is definitely suspicious that he stole confidential documents from Mayor Quinn, who was later killed. Stavo’s general shadiness also leads me to believe that he may be involved; his apparent cell phone at the crime scene doesn’t help his case either. Be sure to tune in to “Scream’s” season finale next Tuesday at 10 p.m. on MTV.

TV REVIEW: ‘Scream’ – ‘The Vanishing’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Scream”

Photo courtesy of MTV.
Photo courtesy of MTV.

This season of “Scream” has been rather lacking when it comes to a raised threat level and body count. It seemed as though the show had evolved into a melodramatic soap opera rather than a full-fledged slasher series. However, everything changes in the latest episode, which effectively emphasizes on the horror aspect and creates dire consequences for the actions of the characters.

Following the shocking reappearance of Piper’s corpse in last week’s episode, Maggie takes the time to examine the body for clues. She finds a pig’s heart in place of Piper’s heart; if you remember back to the pilot episode, the killer sent Maggie a pig heart in a box. This discovery prompts Sheriff Acosta to begin questioning whether or not Brandon James is actually dead. Flashbacks of Maggie and Acosta as teens reveal that Brandon did survive being shot by the police at the dock. Maggie and Acosta helped Brandon to the farmhouse seen in the season premiere. It is unclear what happened after this, but Acosta goes and investigates the house and discovers a secret room that someone has been clearly living in.

The other storyline of this episode deals with Audrey, Emma and Noah. Emma is still furious at Audrey for bringing Piper to Lakewood; she also is incredibly angry about the fact that Audrey tried to cover it up. Meanwhile, Noah is at school, but notices that Zoe is nowhere to be found. Soon after, he receives several text messages from her telling him to go to their secret spot at the lake. Noah decides to skip class and head out to the lake, but when he arrives, Zoe is once again absent. Noah receives more text messages urging him to search the area for Zoe; Noah naively goes along with this little game even though he is completely aware that the killer has a history of impersonating others. Noah wanders into the woods calling out Zoe’s name. The killer suddenly appears and stabs Noah in the stomach

Sometime later, Audrey and Emma receive a live feed from the killer of Noah in a coffin. The killer tells Audrey and Emma that they are not to go to the police or tell anyone or else Noah will die. This sends the two “final girls” on a journey to find their friend. Inside the buried coffin, Noah begins to panic when he realizes he has very limited oxygen. Noah hallucinates Zoe, who provides some truly emotional development. The killer sends clues to Audrey and Emma, leading them to Noah’s suspect board. Behind the board is a daffodil, which leads them to a barn that they regularly visited as children; this barn has many of the same daffodils around it and also happens to be the same barn that Jake was killed in. Inside the barn, the girls discover a rotting pig corpse with the organs spilled out. With the time ticking, Emma and Audrey start needlessly bickering again. Emma demands answers from Audrey about why Piper was brought to Lakewood. Audrey admits that she was in love with Emma and had her heart broken when Emma chose to hang out with the popular crowd instead of her. While this is all important backstory for the characters, it again furthers my dislike for Emma; rather than focusing on finding Noah, she selfishly pushes Audrey into a corner.

The bickering stops when Audrey and Emma begin hearing Noah’s screams. They are able to determine that Noah is buried under the spot where the dead pig currently is. They rescue Noah from the coffin, but soon hear more screams coming from below him. Under Noah’s casket is a small box containing a phone streaming footage of Zoe in a casket slowly filling with water. They infer that Zoe is somewhere near the dock at the lake and they quickly drive over. Noah is basically bleeding to death from his stab wound, but he is able to carry on anyway. They arrive at the dock and locate a casket halfway submerged in the water. Zoe’s screams still ring out from the streaming footage, but when the casket is opened, Zoe’s lifeless body is revealed. This shocking turn of events leaves Noah obviously devastated. Back at the barn, Maggie and Acosta discover the pig corpse hanging in the rafters in an elaborate display. Later that night, Maggie heads over to a tree that she once left messages for Brandon James at. She leaves a note telling Brandon to not harm Emma, but once she walks away, Eli creepily steps out of nearby bushes. What is Eli up to?

“The Vanishing” is a fantastic episode that truly demonstrates what this series is supposed to be. The death of Zoe is completely shocking, especially after it seemed as though Noah would be the one to fall victim to the killer’s games. It also takes Zoe off the suspect list; after last week’s episode, I was fully convinced that Zoe was the killer or at least involved somehow. It will be interesting to see how Noah reacts to the death of his girlfriend. The growing relationship between Zoe and Noah was one of my favorite storylines this season, so I am especially sad to see her go. After this week’s episode, my killer prediction is Kieran, who was noticeably absent from this episode. Eli may be involved, but at this point, this seems to be too obvious. Be sure to tune in to “Scream” next Tuesday at 9 p.m. on MTV.

 

TV REVIEW: ‘Scream’ – ‘The Orphanage’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Scream’

Photo courtesy of MTV.
Photo courtesy of MTV.

The ultra-cliché factor of “Scream” has always been one of the main factors that reeled me into the series. Characters making choices that are clearly stupid is a trait that exists within the entire “Scream” franchise. The series has always managed to balance storytelling with cheesy horror cliché moments, but this episode showcases a general stupidity of the characters that is far more than just classic horror fun. Even with the above complaint, this is one of the stronger episodes of the season with the killer threat being somewhat increased.

This episode begins with a painfully obvious dream sequence that involves Emma stabbing Noah, Kieran and Audrey. Emma is woken up by her mom in the kitchen; she appears to have been sleepwalking and is holding a knife in her hand. Kieran tries to comfort Emma’s fears that she may be dangerous. The topic of conversation quickly switches to Audrey and her role in bringing Piper to Lakewood. Last week’s cliffhanger involved Emma learning Audrey’s secret, which has now led to increased separation and anger among the group of friends. This episode is full of irritating and hypocritical anger among the Lakewood Five; Brooke is the exception to this and mostly stays out of this bickering.

This episode shows Brooke grow closer to Stavo, who is still incredibly creepy. From sneaking into Brooke’s home to stealing confidential police evidence, Stavo works his way into Brooke’s heart in the weirdest fashion. After spending the night with Brooke, Stavo steals her lipstick as the camera focuses in on a tattoo of a spine of his back; is this supposed to have some meaning to it? Snooping Stavo discovers text messages between Jake and Brooke’s father. He shows Brooke the text messages, prompting her to angrily confront her father. Apparently, Mayor Maddox hired Jake to burn down the development that Emma and Eli had their creepy date in. Brooke blames her dad for the death of Jake, but doesn’t seem to suspect him of being the killer.

The unnecessary bickering continues at school as Emma lashes out at Noah for not telling her about Audrey’s secret. Kieran and Brooke are both angry as well, but Emma gets somewhat violent when Audrey arrives and tries to share her side of the story. Everyone seems to be more concerned that Audrey and Piper were pen-pals than they are about the fact that a killer is on the loose. Emma goes to her locker and finds a cassette tape with a lock of hair attached to it. Rather than going to the police or telling her mother, Emma listens to the tape with Kieran. The tape is a recording of Ms. Lang’s conversation with Emma in the coffee shop; Ms. Lang seems to suspect Emma of being more mentally unstable than she originally thought. Emma is honestly the most irritating character on the show at this point; her constant anger towards her friends and lack of concern for her own safety make me question if she may be involved in the killings herself.

A major plot point of this episode revolves around the sender of the audio file that revealed Audrey’s secret. Noah is able to figure out that the file was originally sent from his computer. Audrey immediately suspects Zoe, who admits to sending the file to herself, but to no one else. Noah sticks up for Zoe among the many jabs from Audrey. After further arguments, Audrey leaves in anger. One thing leads to another and Noah finally loses his virginity to Zoe all over his bedroom. After, Noah discovers a recording device in his room that possibly also recorded Audrey’s confession to Noah. Could the killer be behind this or did Zoe really send the file to Audrey? This is yet another case of characters being focused on such minor issues when the killer is on the loose.

A trip to the hospital to visit a bed-ridden Ms. Lang gives Kieran and Emma more answers than they expected. I originally believed her to be dead after being attacked by the killer, especially considering the fact that she was basically floating in a pool of her own blood. Regardless, Ms. Lang begins screaming when she sees Kieran and Emma. The two leave the room and Emma is confused as to why Ms. Lang was so frightened to see her. My theory is that she was actually screaming because of Kieran, but we will get to that later. Emma and Kieran decide to steal Ms. Lang’s house keys and sneak into her home. They find a photograph on the wall of Ms. Lang as a child with her classmates; Piper is revealed to have been a classmate of Ms. Lang. Both Piper and Ms. Lang lived at an orphanage as children. Now, the orphanage is abandoned and Emma decides she needs to investigate the place for herself. She once again doesn’t alert the police to this new development and instead enlists the help of Kieran, Noah and Zoe. The group arrives at the orphanage to find a large party going on. One party-goer explains that the invite apparently originated from Audrey and Emma. Rude prankster, Haley, is handing out masks at the party. Emma confronts Haley, who explains that she is helping the person that really organized the party. Kieran finally makes the rational decision to alert the police.

Zoe and Noah go on a mission to cut off the electricity to put an end to the party. Emma and Audrey argue more, but discover photos of Piper that lead them into a room. In the room is the body of Piper sitting a rocking chair; both Emma and Audrey are horrified. Haley slips away from the party to spend some alone time with the anonymous party planner. This planner turns out to be the killer, who brutally stabs Haley multiple times as the party continues; her screams are silenced by the booming music. The police arrive and Sheriff Acosta tries to question Emma, but is called away when the body of Haley is discovered strung up. It is worth noting that Kieran was seemingly absent/unseen during the murder. If he is the killer, it may explain why Ms. Lang screamed.

“The Orphanage” is definitely thrilling and plot-progressing, but showcasing the numerous problems with the characters. Emma is more irritating as each episode passes, but Audrey is also growing increasingly annoying; I am not sure if this is intentional or not. Nine episode in and only four characters have been killed off by the masked murderer; aren’t the stakes supposed to be raised in the sequel according to horror movie rules (“Scream 2” explores this occurrence)? After this week’s episode, my killer prediction is that Kieran and Zoe are involved in the murders. I also believe Mayor Maddox may be involved as well. Be sure to tune in to “Scream” next Tuesday at 10 p.m. on MTV.

TV REVIEW: ‘Scream’ – ‘Village of the Damned’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Scream”

Kieran fights Eli at the town carnival. (Photo courtesy of MTV.)
Kieran fights Eli at the town carnival. (Photo courtesy of MTV.)

The killer’s sick mind games continue in the latest episode of “Scream.” An hour of horror cliché moments makes for an entertaining and plot progressing ride that changes the list of suspects once again. With just four episodes remaining this season, the pieces of the puzzle are slowly beginning to fall in place.

The episode begins in an ultra-creepy way as Audrey wakes in her bed to two creepy messages written in blood on her wall and ceiling. The messages are clearly from the killer and are meant to scare and taunt Audrey, but of course, Audrey doesn’t go to the police. She does tell Noah, who insists that Audrey share her secret with Emma. Speaking of Emma, she finally comes to her senses and goes to the police about the house fire from last week’s episode. Eli still insists that they keep quiet about the fire, but Emma states that she is done keeping secrets. Sheriff Acosta questions Emma about the fire and slyly drops hints about the fact that two bodies were found in the house. Clearly, Acosta suspects Eli may be responsible and explains to Emma that Eli got into some deep trouble back when he lived in Atlanta; Eli had a restraining order against a girl and broke into her bedroom. Emma seems shocked to learn this secret about Eli, but I am not at all. Eli is truly a shady character and always seems to be watching and getting into everyone else’s business. After Emma leaves, Maggie brings her findings about the two bodies to Acosta. She explains that one of the bodies hasn’t been identified yet, but that the other is Seth Branson.

This episode marks an interesting shift in Acosta’s character, who is finally starting to investigate his own son. He listens to a tape recording of a conversation between Ms. Lang and Stavo, in which Stavo explains that he has some truly dark interests. Acosta rushes home and tears apart Stavo’s room, searching for the incriminating killer mask, but comes up empty. Stavo confronts his father and asks if he really believes that his own son is capable of murder. Through dialogue, viewers are alerted to an incident at Stavo’s old school that involved him shooting one of his friends. This is definitely an interesting development for the character of Stavo, who I still believe is entirely too obvious to be the killer.

The town of Lakewood is about to celebrate their centennial with a carnival and beauty pageant that will attract most of the town’s citizens. Zoe and Brooke are both preparing for the beauty pageant, but Brooke explains that she would rather Zoe win as she is really only entering to further her father’s public image as mayor. Emma finally decides to apologize to Kieran for lashing out at him, but more tension seems to form when Emma explains that Eli told her about Kieran’s secret past. On the day his parents died, Kieran got into a big argument with them and now blames himself for their deaths. He is very much angry that Eli told Emma and explains that she should stay away from him. Later, Audrey invites Emma to the carnival after receiving footage that the killer took of Emma while she slept. It appears as though the killer is now more interested in creepily spying on people rather than actually killing.

The oddly timed carnival is a massive hit for the community, but obvious safety concerns are taken to keep people safe; a large force of police officers are stationed throughout the carnival. Emma tells Audrey about Eli’s restraining order, which prompts Audrey to explain to Emma about the creepy blood messages on her walls. A fight breaks out between Eli and Kieran, but none of the many police officers nearby do anything to stop it. Brooke and Zoe get ready for their speeches by sharing some alcohol from a flask that Zoe snuck in. Zoe gives a great speech to the crowd, but a completely drunk Emma gives a rather dark speech about how Lakewood is cursed and about her grief over the death of Jake. She also bluntly states how incredibly stupid it is to have the carnival and pageant when so much death has occurred, not to mention the killer that is still on the loose.

Night falls and Emma receives a call from the killer on Kieran’s phone telling her to go to the funhouse or Keiran will die. She chooses to go alone and not alert any police officer; an officer tasked with guarding Emma does follow her, however. Emma searches the frightening funhouse as the killer stalks her and later attacks her officer. Emma locates the officer’s body as the killer approaches; Emma grabs the deputy’s gun and fires at the killer, but hits a mirror instead. The masked killer rushes outside, but is surrounded by the police. Emma follows and is shocked when the killer’s mask is removed to reveal Kieran with tape covering his mouth. Is this part of the killer’s unclear, yet elaborate plan or could Kieran be the killer? The carnival is over and Zoe celebrates winning the pageant by going home with Noah. A phone call from Audrey once again interrupts the romance between Noah and Zoe; at this point, Noah’s plight to lose his virginity is more stressful than the killer’s chases. Zoe leaves and releases the audio of Audrey’s confession to Noah. Audrey goes over to Emma’s house to confess her secret, but she is too late and walks in as Emma is listening to the audio. How will Emma react to learning that Audrey is responsible for bringing Piper to Lakewood?

“Village of the Damned” is an entertaining episode that positively uses the classic horror movie clichés that this show was originally built around. This is also significant development in the plot, specifically with Audrey’s secret and the relationship between Emma and Kieran. After this week’s episode, my killer prediction is that Kieran is somehow involved. I also believe that Zoe may possibly know more than she is letting on. Be sure to tune in to “Scream” next Tuesday at 10 p.m. on MTV.

TV REVIEW: ‘Stranger Things’ Season 1

Minor plot points of “Stranger Things” will be discussed in this article.

Photo courtesy of Netflix.
Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Over the past few years, Netflix has become a prime source of some of the highest quality television series; “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” are two of my personal favorites. The newest series in Netflix’s impressive lineup can be added to my list of favorites. “Stranger Things” is a thrilling and terrifying story set in a small town in 1983. From the plot development to the acting and musical score, this is truly a series that is worth your attention.

Immediately, viewers are thrust into the charming setting of a small Indiana town in the early 1980s. “Stranger Things” is definitely reminiscent of 80s science-fiction and horror films such as “E.T.” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” as well as more modern films like “Super 8” and “Cloverfield.” Even with these comparisons, this is a series that has a very unique feel to it. Starting off as a simple story about the disappearance of a child, “Stranger Things” quickly evolves into something far more sinister. Winona Ryder stars as Joyce Byers, the mother of the missing child. Ryder beautifully steps into the role of a grieving mother that will stop at nothing in her search for answers. Joyce Byers receives help in her search from police Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour). As the story progresses, viewers are given backstory to help better understand the character of Hopper. Winona Ryder and David Harbour have a great dynamic that truly grows and changes.

In many current television shows, the majority of child characters receive far less screen time than the adults. “Stranger Things,” however, places the viewer into a small group of young friends that are also investigating the disappearance of the boy, who happens to be their friend. Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard) leads this group that also contains Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas Sinclair (Caleb McLaughlin). These three boys, believing that their friend has become caught up in supernatural forces, go on an epic adventure looking for clues. A mysterious young girl with the number “11” tattooed on her arm (Millie Bobby Brown) suddenly appears and befriends this group. Each of the child actors on this series give absolutely fantastic performances in their respective roles, especially considering the disturbing material. There is also a storyline involving Joyce’s teenage son Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and Mike’s sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer). Over the entire season, viewers witness an interesting juxtaposition between adults, teenagers and children and how they deal with the situations that they find themselves in. Mike and Nancy’s mother Karen (Carla Buono) becomes caught up in the troubling mystery, as well.

It is incredibly difficult to describe this series without giving away parts of the overall mystery. This is definitely a story that viewers should experience firsthand without much previous knowledge. Any fan of the horror, science-fiction and supernatural genres will appreciate the tone and intrigue of this series. A strange, yet comforting sense of nostalgia is present, even if the viewer didn’t grow up in the 1980s. The eight-episode first season is available to stream on Netflix and is perfect for a weekend binge.

TV REVIEW: ‘Scream’ – ‘Let the Right One In’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Scream”

Eli and Emma. (Photo courtesy of MTV.)
Eli and Emma. (Photo courtesy of MTV.)

Last week’s episode was a definite low point of this season thus far, but this week’s episode shakes things up and gets back on track. With an extremely small body count, the sense of fear just wasn’t there for much of the first half of the season. After the latest episode, the second half of the season seems to be headed in the right direction with the stakes being raised.

The cold open of this week’s episode is one of the creepiest things that I have seen in this series and the killer isn’t even involved. Eli sneaks into a stranger’s house, makes breakfast and watches the homeowners sleep in their bed. Emma becomes more unhinged this episode as she grows closer to Eli. Sheriff Acosta visits the Duvall house and explains to Emma and Maggie that the text messages that Kevin received from “Riley” have been traced back to Emma’s computer. Emma denies any involvement and Sheriff Acosta explains that the killer may be stalking her once again. Kieran and Emma face further relationship drama as Emma becomes increasingly angry about Kieran talking to the sheriff. Emma feels betrayed, but Kieran explains that he is just looking out for her and trying to keep her safe. At this point, the relationship drama is incredibly boring and presents Emma as a rather annoying character.

Sheriff Acosta visits the abandoned farm to investigate after being told about Emma’s discovery of her childhood photos. He finds a single photo on the floor of the farmhouse; the photo is of Emma as a child with a man whose face is scratched out. Sheriff Acosta acts incredibly shady about the entire discovery and seems to know more than he is letting on. Sheriff Acosta and Maggie discuss the photo of Emma. There seems to be some conspiracy that the Lakewood parents are involved in as Mayor Quinn is mentioned. What do the parents know about the killings? Emma arrives to work angry at Kieran, prompting Eli to creepily step in and flirt with her. He also explains to Emma that Kieran has been a completely different person since moving to Lakewood. Eli invites Emma on the strangest date ever that includes sneaking into a model home in a neighborhood that is being constructed. Eli explains that Emma needs to let loose and have fun; is sneaking into an abandoned home at night with a killer on the loose really considered fun? The two chat a little and Eli tells Emma that he regularly sneaks into stranger’s homes to play out his fantasy of living a different life; Emma is surprisingly okay with this and doesn’t seem very concerned about it. Suddenly, the fire alarm starts ringing out and the two realize a massive fire has been set. Both the front and back exits are blocked by the fire, so they escape through the garage. The inferno swarms the home and Emma starts to call for help, but Eli stops her. He explains that the police will think that they started the fire. Unbeknownst to Emma and Eli, there are two bodies in the home’s bathtub, one of which is Mr. Branson, who is somehow still alive. The other body may be that of the hotel clerk that was murdered several episodes ago.

Another storyline of the episode deals with Brooke and Audrey, who try to locate Mr. Branson after he is mysteriously absent from the hotel, even though Brooke handcuffed him. Brooke receives a text message from “Mr. Branson” asking her to meet him at the school; Audrey voices her worry that Mr. Branson may be dangerous, but Brooke doesn’t really question anything. The girls leave the hotel room, not realizing that video cameras are everywhere, recording them. The killer texts Audrey and tells her to go to the school alone or her secret will be revealed to Brooke. At the school, Ms. Lang sits at her desk and goes through a tape recording of a conversation that she had with Emma. She also has files on each of the Lakewood Five. Ms. Lang hears noises in the hallway and receives a phone call from the killer, who tells her that Mr. Branson is waiting for her outside her office. She comes face to face with the killer, who shows off Branson’s bloody hand. Ms. Lang runs away, but discovers Mr. Branson laying lifelessly on the floor. The killer returns and stabs Branson in the stomach with a knife before chasing Ms. Lang again. The killer follows Ms. Lang up a flight of stairs, where a brief struggle occurs before Ms. Lang is pushed down to the ground. Blood spreads out across the floor, but a janitor arrives and discovers that Ms. Lang is still alive. Brooke and Audrey arrive and walk into the grim scene, shocked and horrified.

My favorite part of this episode is the growing romantic relationship between Noah and Zoe. She invites him out to study, which really was a cover for a date at the lake. Zoe explains to Noah that she wasn’t in Lakewood during Piper’s killing spree because of something bad that she did. While we don’t know exactly what it is, she does explain a little to Noah. The date at the lake goes well and Noah works up the courage to invite Zoe over to his house. Before going home, Noah stops and buys condoms in an absolutely hilarious, yet awkward scene. At Noah’s home, Zoe notices a file on his computer that turns out to be the incriminating confession of Audrey. She sneakily e-mails it to herself before seducing Noah. Things are going well and it appears as though Noah may finally lose his virginity, but Audrey rushes in and interrupts the moment. Zoe leaves and Audrey explains to Noah what happened at the school. She also shares her belief that the killer is targeting her once again and that if the janitor wasn’t at the school, she could have walked into something far more dangerous.

“Let the Right One In” is a definite step in the right direction for this season of “Scream.” There is a growing sense of urgency and fear as more bodies begin to pile up, but the death count is still remarkably low. This episode manages to balance the need for character development with the need for an increased sense of danger and threat. It appears as though my prediction of Ms. Lang being the killer is not true. After this week’s episode, my killer prediction is that Sheriff Acosta is either the killer or involved in some way. Be sure to tune in to “Scream” next Tuesday at 10 p.m. on MTV.

TV REVIEW: ‘Scream’ – ‘Jeepers Creepers’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Scream”

Audrey & Noah. (Photo courtesy of MTV.)
Audrey & Noah. (Photo courtesy of MTV.)

MTV’s television adaptation of the popular film franchise of the same name has turned out to be a surprise hit. By teetering on a fine line between cheesy horror and real dramatic tension, “Scream” has proved itself to be a fun ride. The second season is now at its midpoint, but the stakes still seem incredibly low, especially in comparison to the first season. The fun ride that the show was in the first season seems to have slowed down, unaware of what it wants to be. The latest episode demonstrates the lack of balance that has been present for much of the second season.

Following the school lockdown in last week’s episode, the characters begin to come to terms with the death of Jake. Emma receives a phone call from the killer, who asks her about their altercation at the school. Emma opens up to Kieran and explains that the killer is taunting her, similarly to Piper last season. Emma later visits Noah and learns that Audrey is suddenly his number one suspect in the case. Last episode, Noah stole Audrey’s phone and discovered the incriminating text messages and photos that link her to the murders. Noah texts Eddie (the motel clerk that was killed in “Vacancy“) to gather more information about Piper’s accomplice. The killer, posing as Eddie, arranges a meeting at the local abandoned fairgrounds. Noah and Emma both agree to meet at the fairgrounds at night without questioning anything.

Romance seems to be blooming between Brooke and Stavo, who decides to do some sleuthing at the police station. Stavo also reaches out to Audrey and shows his portfolio of gruesome drawings; he is creating an unsettling comic book detailing the events of Lakewood in their complete bloodiness. Audrey and Stavo share that they are both currently suspecting each other of being involved with the killings; does Stavo have evidence that Audrey is involved? Through Stavo’s investigations, Brooke learns that Mr. Branson had an alibi for the night of Jake’s murder. He was apparently with Ms. Lang and Brooke deduces that the two teachers must be dating. Brooke meets with Ms. Lang and puts on an act to fool her teacher into thinking that Mr. Branson was with Brooke on the night of the murder. The shady Ms. Lang was clearly lying and Brooke reaches out to Mr. Branson. He meets with Brooke in his hotel room, where she handcuffs him and proceeds to threaten torture on him. After taunting him with a pair of scissors, Brooke decides that Mr. Branson was not involved, but rather than freeing him, she leaves him tied up and tells him to stay out of her life.

The meeting at the fairgrounds doesn’t go exactly as planned. Emma’s car breaks down on the way, so Noah goes in by himself. He wanders into a darkened funhouse mirror room that evokes a terrifying feeling of claustrophobia. He realizes that he is being stupid and runs back to his car, but the masked killer awaits him and uses chloroform to knock him out. Noah wakes up on a ride, tied up with none other than Audrey tied up behind him. Noah takes a few moments to confess after realizing that their current situation greatly resembles the torture subgenre of horror films. Emma arrives and Audrey decides to unveil her strange plan. Audrey wasn’t actually tied down, but rather tricked Noah in an attempt to remove his suspicion of her. Not only is this an incredibly stupid plan on Audrey’s part, it is insanely dangerous considering a killer is on the loose. Emma arrives and searches the fairgrounds, but comes up empty; she does spot the killer and tries to escape. Audrey unties Noah and the two join up with Emma, but before the group is able to leave, Kieran abruptly appears. The group of four leave the fairgrounds with no injuries or deaths, even though they were in the presence of the killer.

The episode ends as Audrey comes clean to Noah about her involvement with Piper. Audrey invited Piper to Lakewood to help create a documentary. Audrey is clearly hiding much more information and her involvement goes much further that she is letting on. As Audrey confesses, Noah’s podcast recorder picks up the entire confession. Did Noah intentionally record Audrey? Will he release the tape to the public or the police? A bloody final scene ends the episode as Mr. Branson remains in bounds in his hotel room. The killer appears and saws off his hand before cauterizing it with an iron. Mr. Branson screams out in agony, but it is worth noting that he did not die; the killer cauterizing his stump leads to the assumption that Mr. Branson’s story isn’t over yet.

Six episodes of this season have aired so far and only two victims have been claimed by the killer(s). This season seems to be focusing far more on the emotional aspect of the characters, as well as, an exploration on who can be trusted. This is a definite negative that I have with this season. Characters can be developed, but there has to be regular action and a fear that the main characters can be killed off at any time. The supporting characters should be dwindling at this point, much like they were last season. At this point, “Scream” the television series bares very little resemblance to the film franchise. This series could be greatly improved if a character was killed off every episode; the CBS series “Harper’s Island” did a great job of offing a character each episode, keeping viewers guessing the killer’s identity and developing the characters. My killer prediction after this week’s episode is Ms. Lang, who may be on a revenge path for Mr. Branson’s lying. Be sure to tune in to “Scream” next Tuesday at 10 p.m. on MTV.

TV REVIEW: ‘Scream’ – ‘Dawn of the Dead’

Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “Scream”

Photo courtesy of MTV.
Photo courtesy of MTV.

For the first four episodes of the second season of “Scream,” the viewers have been well aware that another killer is on the loose. It isn’t until the latest episode, that the characters themselves finally realize that they are being targeted. The Lakewood Five slowly begin to piece together the situation as the suspect list grows.

Following the bloody reveal of Jake’s body to the characters, Sheriff Acosta places the school on lockdown. Audrey and Emma attempt to comfort a shocked Brooke, who is forced to remain at the crime scene so that all evidence can be collected. Brooke is allowed to shower and change into clean clothing; she shares her confusion about Jake’s death by explaining to Audrey that she had just recently received texts from him. At this point, Audrey is the only person aware that Jake has been dead for several days. Sheriff Acosta begins to question the students, beginning with the Lakewood Five. In the library, Emma sneaks away from the other students after discovering Jake’s phone in her bag. Emma realizes what the police might think if they learn that she has the victim’s phone in her possession; she decides to tell her friends, but not the police.

Meanwhile, Noah attempts to reconnect with Zoe, who clearly still has feelings for him. A plan of the police to search all of the lockers in the school prompts Kieran to panic. He collects Noah and the two rush to his locker to hide something that Kieran doesn’t want the police to find. A police officer catches Kieran and discovers that he has a gun in his possession. The officer takes Kieran to the sheriff, who questions why Kieran needs a gun in school. Kieran explains that he has the gun to protect himself and his friends. After the events of last season, Sheriff Acosta appears to be understanding of this. Noah, who was not caught, seems more disturbed by Kieran’s possession of a gun. Back in the library, Eli offers to dispose of Jake’s phone for Emma (that’s not suspicious at all). Before Eli can do anything, Sheriff Acosta arrives and confronts Emma and asks her to turn over the phone; Kieran told on Emma to get himself on better terms with the sheriff. Acosta questions Emma about her possession of the phone; Emma denies any involvement, but the sheriff brings up her emotional and mental instability. Sheriff Acosta proves himself to be a rather odd factor in the overall story and I definitely do not trust him.

Emma is escorted back to the library, but some of the students begin voicing their annoyance of the special treatment of the Lakewood Five. The annoying prankster girl heckles Emma, which starts a fight. Emma is rushed away from the scene by Ms. Lang, who explains that Emma is experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Ms. Lang strangely locks Emma in an office, telling her to get some rest. An unknown number appears on Emma’s phone before the killer suddenly shows up at the office window. Emma grabs a chair and breaks the window in a fit of anger. She cuts her arm on broken glass before realizing that the killer has disappeared. Was this a hallucination or did Emma really see the killer?

For some reason, Brooke is allowed to return to the active crime scene to view Jake’s mangled body. Maggie tells Brooke that Jake has been dead for several days. Later, Sheriff Acosta removes Maggie from the investigation, claiming that she can’t be a mother and do her job at the same time. This is yet another shady action taken by the sheriff; shadiness must run in the family as his son is as creepy as they come. In the library, Audrey watches as Stavo draws on his tablet. She grabs the tablet away from him, discovering a collection of disturbing drawings of the various students. Audrey shows off the drawings, prompting Stavo to be attacked by his classmates. While I don’t consider Stavo to be a suspect, his drawings were completely inappropriate, especially in light of the recent murder. For some reason, Audrey later apologizes to Stavo for accusing him. Emma tells Kieran that she needs some time away from him. Brooke submerges herself in the school pool and lets out a fierce scream. Will Brooke be able to cope with the death of Jake? The final shocker comes as Noah steals Audrey’s phone and discovers the incriminating photos and texts that link her to Jake’s murder. What will Noah do with this evidence? Will he confront Audrey or go to the police?

“Dawn of the Dead” definitely pushes the story forward as the characters realize that they may be in danger again. This season has been far less deadly in terms of murders, but there is a lot of interesting drama that has been building. Hopefully the killer will start claiming more victims as the season progresses; the intensity and fear isn’t as prominent as it was last season. My killer predictions for this week include Ms. LangEliSheriff Acosta and the annoying prankster girl. Be sure to tune in to “Scream” next Tuesday at 10 p.m. on MTV.