‘Scream Queens’ Season 1 Finale Recap: “What’s Murder If Not the Perfect, Most Ultimate Form of Hazing?”

During its first season, Fox’s horror comedy ‘Scream Queens’ may have never hit the same heights of giddy delirium as creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s ‘American Horror Story’ at its best, but still managed to be a pretty funny and entertaining show with its own vibe. The first season finale brings the Kappa Kappa Tau storyline to a close and reveals the identity of the Red Devil Killer.

Technically, it reveals the identities of two Red Devil Killers. Over the course of the season, we learned that multiple killers had been working together. Previously unmasked (and subsequently killed off) were fratboy Boone (Nick Jonas) and Kappa national chapter president Gigi (Nasim Pedrad). We knew that at least one other Devil remained, Boone’s twin.

Episode 1.12, ‘Dorkus’

The finale aired as two back-to-back episodes. In the first half, Grace discovers that her boyfriend Pete was one of the Devils, but he claims that he was recruited after the murders had already started. He agreed to join them to get revenge on Chanel, who had humiliated him the previous year. He admits to killing Boone, as well as Chanel #5’s boyfriend Roger… or was it her other boyfriend Dodger? He insists that he’s in love with Grace and would never hurt her. He says that the final, chief Devil is one of her Kappa sisters. Unfortunately, just as he’s about to tell her the name, that very Devil leaps out of an armoire and stabs him to death.

After a scathing “missive” that she’d written to the remaining Chanels about their failed plan to murder Dean Munsch goes viral, Chanel is labeled the Most Hated Woman in America. For a moment, she considers killing herself with an asp, like Cleopatra, but mistakenly orders a harmless garter snake online instead. Failing that, she decides to go on an “apology tour,” like celebrities do after their scandals. For her first stop, Chanel drags Chanels #3 and #5 with her to visit former Kappa house president Melanie Dorkus, who dropped out of school after being disfigured by acid during a spray-tanning session. Melanie believes that Chanel burned her, but Chanel continues to deny the accusation.

Meanwhile, Grace and Zayday enlist Grace’s dad Wes to distract Dean Munsch while they snoop around in her home. Wes hilariously seduces Munsch with one of his signature playlists, which gives the girls enough time to go through her files on all the Kappas. They find that the transcripts and personal records for one of the pledges were ludicrously falsified. Among other things, they list a home address on Sesame St. and a Social Security Number of 123-45-6789.

Chanel puts on a show of apologizing to Melanie, but then tries to stab her with a pair of scissors. Chanel believes that Melanie is the Red Devil taking revenge for the acid attack. Before she can actually hurt the girl, they’re interrupted by Grace, who announces that the Red Devil Killer is in fact Hester (Lea Michele), a.k.a. Chanel #6.

The girls race back to the sorority house to confront Hester, only to find her collapsed on the floor with the spiked heel of one of Chanel’s shoes stabbed through her eye. Hester wakes up and points to Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin), yelling that she’s the Red Devil.

Episode 1.13, ‘The Final Girl(s)’

The second episode picks up a few months later, in January 2016. The university has reopened. Zayday and Grace are now co-presidents of the Kappa house. Hester, sporting an eyepatch, is the sorority’s treasurer.

Through voiceover and flashbacks, Hester admits that she’s the Red Devil Killer and has gotten away with everything. She was the other twin born in the bathtub. She and Boone grew up in the insane asylum, raised by Gigi, who groomed them for revenge. She adopted the neck brace (which she doesn’t really need) as a “cloak of social invisibility.” She was behind the acid attack on Melanie Dorkus, and stabbed herself in the eye socket after researching how to do it without harming the eyeball itself. She framed Chanel #5 for all of her crimes. In short, she’s batshit crazy.

Hester hired commercial actors to pretend to be her parents, and convinced Chanel #5’s parents (who actually call her “Chanel #5”) to sell their daughter out by lying about her really being an orphan. That part didn’t take much effort; they hated her anyway. “Our daughter sucks,” they agree.

When newly-promoted police chief Denise Hemphill (Niecy Nash) comes to arrest Chanel #5, Hester also accuses Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd – daughter of Carrie Fisher, hence the earmuffs gag) of being in on it with her. She reveals that #3’s father is Charles Manson, and claims that the girl has a split personality known as “Dirty Helen” who commits all the murders without the other personality being aware of it. Even Chanel #3 is convinced that this could be plausible. Denise Hemphill arrests her as well.

But wait! Hester’s not done yet. She next turns on Chanel herself and makes the case that she’s part of the conspiracy too. Denise doesn’t need to hear any more. She has her squad of former-male-strippers-turned-deputies arrest all three girls.

We jump forward four more months, to May 2016. The Chanels are in jail and have been denied bail. Denise Hemphill breaks up with boytoy Chad Radwell before going off to join the FBI. Dean Munsch is now the successful author of a book about “New New Feminism,” based on the principle that “Women Are Better.”

Munsch comes across Hester and tells her that she knows everything. She recognized the girl as the baby twin right away. Hester threatens to reveal that Munsch murdered her ex-husband. With mutual blackmail hanging over each of their heads, they agree to go their merry ways.

The Chanels are put on trial, during which Chanel insults the members of the jury and prompts them to change their votes from Not Guilty to Guilty. Chanel’s rich daddy has disowned and abandoned her. The judge sentences them all to life sentences in the insane asylum.

As it turns out, the girls actually enjoy the asylum quite a bit and get along fine there. Chanel is even elected house president by the other inmates. As the episode ends, however, Chanel gets ready for bed and the Red Devil Killer appears above her with a knife.

Season Verdict

I’d be curious to rewatch some of the season’s earlier episodes to see if the plot twist of Hester being the killer really holds up to scrutiny. Although she was certainly a suspect all along (really, everyone was at some point), I feel like something happened along the way that ruled her out in my mind, but now I can’t recall what that was.

Fox has not yet announced whether the show will be picked up for a second season. If it does, Ryan Murphy has stated that four of the stars will return playing the same characters, but with a different setting and horror theme. Given the way this finale ends, the asylum seems like an obvious candidate, but that would also feel way too similar to the second season of ‘American Horror Story’.

More than four characters survived this storyline. I have to imagine that Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis would be locks to return. Beyond that, however, I’m not sure. Lea Michele proved to be surprisingly hilarious this year, but I just can’t see another season based around the Hester character. While Skyler Samuels as Grace was nominally the hero, her character was pretty bland and boring.

That’s assuming that the show comes back at all, of course. Its ratings declined after the pilot episode and the series is currently labeled as “on the bubble.”

I enjoyed the show a lot. It’s not perfect, of course. The tone was frequently too shrill and the series had basically no sympathetic characters to root for. (Even Grace was just far too dumb to form any attachments with.) While that’s fine for a gimmicky one-shot story, it will be hard to invest in the concept long-term. Regardless, I’d watch a second season if it comes back.

2 comments

  1. Csm101

    I enjoyed this show very much as well, but I’d be happy with it as a one off. I always suspected Hester, but making her so crazy made me second guess myself by thinking it was TOO obvious. I guess hiding in plain sight worked well for her. I loved watching Curtis have soo much fun with her role, she made me laugh so many times. Emma Roberts owned as well. How could someone so hateful be so much fun to watch?!

  2. I loved watching Curtis have soo much fun with her role, she made me laugh so many times. Emma Roberts owned as well. How could someone so hateful be so much fun to watch?! Where such information?

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