This review contains spoilers.
Yeah baby! After a dreary three week lull, SCREAM is back to the standard I have come to expect. “The Vanishing” is the strongest episode of Season 2 thus far, so much so that it reminded me why I love this series so much in the first place. Gore, wit, suspense, unexpected surprises, and the willingness to kill off a character who we have become emotionally invested in all exist in this episode. And of course if you’re going to name your episode after the brilliant George Sluizer masterpiece, you better have someone buried alive, which this episode certainly does!
Starting off in the morgue, Maggie performs another autopsy on Piper’s body to find a new surgical mark has been made on the corpse. Opening it up, she finds inside a pig’s heart. This crafty and delightfully gross opening sequence signals that answers are finally ahead for what exactly happened at this farm house.
Then we’re given the Audrey and Emma confrontation that we should have had three episodes ago. The two of them share their feelings, come clean with each other, and decide they have to work together to stop the killer. It’s an expertly written scene from Eoghan O’Donnell that reveals two big things: that Audrey knew Piper was Emma’s half-sister the whole time and that Audrey was with Piper the night Rachel was killed. These are two pretty big revelations as it justifies why Audrey has been so hesitant to tell Emma about her involvement with Piper, and it suggests that this killer was around in Season 1. It actually makes me want to go back and rewatch Season 1 to study how Audrey reacts to Rachel’s death.
The crux of the episode is on the dual kidnapping of Noah and his girlfriend Zoe. Noah wakes up in a coffin. He hears Zoe nearby, also buried alive. Outside, the killer forces Audrey and Emma to work together in hopes of finding Noah and Zoe alive before they suffocate. Even in this ordeal, Noah is able to spurt off a couple humourous quips like, “I’ve put buried alive as like the third worst way for a character to die in a horror movie.” The suspense racks up as Emma and Audrey scramble to figure out the clues the killer has left for them to follow. Never once does the show let up as the characters not only have to race against the clock, but try to stay focused on the end goal whenever they disagree so they don’t waste time arguing while the seconds tick away.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Acosta and Maggie visit the farmhouse where they find the killer’s hideout. The episode accompanies this with flashbacks to the characters when they were teenagers. We learn that Maggie communicated with Brandon James through leaving notes in a tree, and that Acosta helped Maggie bury a knife used by Brandon to commit a murder. Just enough screen time was spend on this subplot so that future episodes can focus on it. “The Vanishing” never feels crammed since much of the focus is kept on Audrey, Emma, and Noah.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! The biggest surprise of the episode isn’t that Noah survives. It’s that the phone he finds streaming Zoe’s coffin is actually taped footage. When Audrey and Emma rescue Zoe’s coffin, they open it up to find that Zoe drowned quite some time ago. This is particularly shocking because several past episodes have spent a lot of time developing Zoe as a major character in this season. It is also heartbreaking because this is the second girlfriend Noah has lost to a Lakewood murderer, the first being Riley in Season 1. How this changes Noah’s character for the rest of the season remains to be seen.
But for now, we have an immensely satisfying episode that represents the very best of SCREAM: THE TV SERIES. With two episodes left, my interest in how this mystery will play out is at its peak. Hopefully, the crafty direction, smart writing, and suspense stay at this level long past the season finale.
What did you think of this episode? Has it restored your faith in the season? Let me know in the comments section below!
You can also stream the next two episodes and catch up on all the season’s past episodes through Netflix.
The Vanishing Breathes Life Back into Scream
With non-stop suspense, long overdue character development, shocking reveals, and a surprise death, "The Vanishing" puts SCREAM Season 2 back on course for its final two episodes, and I can't wait to tune in next week!