This review contains spoilers, including the reveal of the killer.
So it was Kieran all along. Well, unlike 95% of the rest of SCREAM’s fan base who were predicting it would be Kieran – theories that pulled from clues such as Kieran’s height and strength matching with the killer’s, as well as the same boots – I did not point him as the killer this time around. I actually thought it might have been Seth Branson pulling an “I wasn’t actually dead” Houdini act. Although I’d like to think I knew it was Kieran too. I did suspect that this season’s killer would have been a love interest that Piper kept secret, so in a way I was half right. Also, I was dead sure Kieran was the killer in Season 1; I truly thought the series was going full Billy Loomis with that character. But then I grew to like him and was hoping he wouldn’t turn out to be the killer. Well, he was; we just didn’t know it at the time. So in a way I was right there too. Yay me! Okay, you can tell me I’m full of it in the Comments below. I’m also digressing way too much.
Season finales are rarely as satisfying as we want them to be. Part of that is because not only do these episodes have to resolve the current season’s conflicts, they have to outline the course for the next season to keep viewers returning, which makes them feel crammed and lacking in focus. “When a Stranger Calls” manages to pull off a “predictable” but enjoyable end to Season 2’s whodunit mystery, and manages to set up Season 3 with just one completely enthralling scene. Kieran, locked up in jail in an orange jump suit, answers an incoming call for him. On the other line, Ghost Face’s voice asks, “Who told you you could wear my mask?”
I love this scene for two reasons. I love the fact that Kieran wasn’t killed. The SCREAM franchise has managed to distinguish itself from most horror slasher franchises in that each installment features a different killer wearing the Ghost Face mask, and that killer always meets a grisly end. It was a genuine surprise for Season 2 to break tradition by having Emma spare Kieran’s life so the cops can make their arrest. Hopefully we will get to see lots of this character in the next season. Also, it suggests that Brandon James is in fact alive, well, and fully insane. Fans have speculating whether or not Brandon James has actually been dead all this time, and while the finale didn’t confirm that by any means, it highly suggested this possibility.
The rest of the episode was well crafted, suspenseful, and managed to include a lot of visual throwbacks to the film series. Its opening scene mimics the cop car crash from SCREAM 2 in several ways including a grisly death for the officer. Eli and Kieran each accusing the other of being the killer in front of Emma is a throwback to Randy and Stu pointing fingers at the other in front of a distressed Sidney in the original SCREAM. Even Noah manages to get a few Randy-esque self-referential lines in. There are many more of course and spotting these cues is one of the many joys of this episode.
It’s kind of fruitless to talk much about the plot of this episode, since it’s pretty much continuing the events of “Heavenly Creatures” the way a film’s second act would. Emma and Audrey are on the run with the entire police force looking after them. The girls decide it’s time to face off against the killer, and so they gather their friends to do so at their hideout, the theatre. If the episode has a flaw, it’s that it follows a rather standard horror slasher formula. There are fake-out scares, and the series’ main characters are safe for the most part from truly coming under the sharp end of the killer’s knife. Also, please don’t create a drinking game based around how poor of a shot Emma is. The amount of times she fires a gun and misses her target from blatant point blank range is astoundingly hilarious, and you will get alcohol poisoning by the episode’s half way mark. But SCREAM has always had issues with executing its plot points through a more generic narrative. It doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing, especially when it’s this much fun.
Overall, SCREAM Season 2 should win the show new converts in that it’s a smarter and more suspenseful season than Season 1. Michael Gans and Richard Register didn’t quite set a new bar for horror on TV, but they at least put the genre’s tropes to good use, all while making the occasional SCREAM self-awareness quip. I look forward to binge watching Season 2 in its entirety again right before Season 3 premieres (which has yet to be confirmed, although all signs point to a near certainty).
Who did you think the killer was going to be? Let us know in the Comments below. SCREAM Season 2 is now available in its entirety on Netflix.
A satisfying, well-crafted finale
While the final reveal is a bit on the predictable side (although I didn't quite predict it), Season 2's finale is fun, suspenseful, and it's final scenes add some surprisingly cool new twists for what is sure to be a Season 3