The most difficult part of adapting a slasher film into a television series was always going to be the middle. If this were a film, the first act would have established the situation; the second act would be dedicated to a dozen grisly deaths in quick succession, and a little bit of sleuthing; and the final act would be a big, tense confrontation revealing the identity of the killer. With the setup done in the first two-hour episode and the final showdown being saved until the season finale, that leaves all the other episodes to be stretched out over what should be the second act. Finally, after all these weeks, the action is sagging. No one even died this week. No one we actually cared about, at least.
The middle of the mystery is where you always find the stalling tactics, the misleading clues, the red herrings, and the diversions that have little to do with the main plot. This episode had more of those things than Chanel has half-used lip liners. I’m just going to come out and say it: This was the worst episode of the series yet.
There was only one death, and it wasn’t even done by the serial killer. In fact, we didn’t see the Red Devil even once. How do you have a show that’s like a slasher movie when the killer is completely absent for an entire episode? Also absent was Denise Hemphill! And Chad Radwell and Chanel didn’t really deliver the laughs like they usually do either. Instead we’re stuck with joyless Pete and Grace (and her ever-revolving collection of ugly hats). What a slog!
There were really only two incidents that had anything to do with the Red Devil and trying to figure out just who is wearing that suit (and how many people). The first came when Gigi was on the phone with a former associate whom she no longer wants to acknowledge because they let her down. It appears that they didn’t want to kill one of their other associates, a Red Devil who doesn’t want to kill anyone but instead kidnap them. Could that be the fallout of the last episode, when Zayday and Chanel escaped from the tunnels unscathed? Or maybe this is the person who kidnapped Zayday?
Gigi also reiterates something we already know: that she is orchestrating a revenge plot that has been decades in the making and involves several other people helping her commit crimes. Gigi only had two scenes, but they were amazing. She’s right, I don’t like seeing her in contemporary clothes. Keep her looking like one of Swell’s friends walking down the runway in the Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead fashion show forever, please. Grace might have meant it as an insult, but being told you dress like Brenda Walsh is perhaps the biggest compliment you can ever bestow upon a person. (Saying you behave like Brenda Walsh, that’s another thing entirely.)
The other thing that is definitely related to the murders, but more specifically to the Bathtub Baby, happens at the insane asylum, when the old woman walks up to Grace and Pete and offers them a painting and says, “I paint them all.” One of two things is happening here. Either she does really work fast and she painted the pair’s portrait that quickly and we’re going to find out in a future episode that she painted the portrait of the Bathtub Baby’s mother, or the Kappa sister of hers who ended up in the loony bin will tell us who has committed the crimes.
What I think is more likely is that the painting she presented to those two is an old painting, because Grace’s hair was styled quite differently. I bet she illustrated Grace’s mother and Pete’s father when they were in the asylum after the Bathtub Baby incident. Wouldn’t it be amazing and twisted and so Ryan Murphy if they found out they were actually siblings this whole time they were falling in love? Yes, it totally would.
Other than those two things, the rest of the episode didn’t really matter at all. What happened? Oh, Dean Munsch took advantage of the serial killer to finally off her ex-husband, a Beatles 101 professor who left her for the brilliantly named Feather McCarthy (played by the brilliant Tavi Gevinson). The dean knew that one more killing with everything going on at the school would just be blamed on the Red Devil, so she could get away with finally getting her revenge. She then used Grace and Pete to frame Feather, who goes away for the crime, thanks to her Bologna obsession.
Now, I am going to totally overlook the fact that the cops would never put someone in a straitjacket when taking her into custody and that they couldn’t throw a person in an insane asylum before she was declared criminally insane by a judge. I’m going to totally ignore that and pretend like it could actually happen. I’m also going to pretend like Dean Munsch knew what she was doing when she told Feather to start a Bologna blog even though she gave her that idea before Feather had the affair with her husband. I’m going to ignore that, too. Best to overlook these things.
What I am not going to overlook, however, is how dumb Feather was when she walked into her house, saw an arrow clearly drawn out of blood (she even tasted the blood), and then actually follows the arrows into the house. If you see your man’s hand nailed to the wall with a message that says, “Walk this way,” you are first obligated to do an Aerosmith impersonation, and then you better run out the front door and call the police (or at least Denise Hemphill). Don’t go up there. You know what is up there. Someone is dead up there. Someone is dead up there, and there might be a killer waiting to strike again. You do not follow the killer’s breadcrumbs, you run out of there like a Walmart shopper trying to get a $29.99 flat-screen TV on Black Friday.
The only other thing that happened is that the Kappas had a funeral for Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and then contacted her using a not-creepy-at-all Ouija board from their not-creepy-at-all basement. The spirit told them that Chad Radwell was cheating on Chanel, and this somehow led Hester to convince the other Chanels that they had to kill Chanel Prime. I didn’t quite follow all this logic. It also led Chanel to catch Chad Radwell sleeping with a goat so that he could drink it’s milk because he’s lactose intolerant. I didn’t find this scene especially funny (mostly because it was completely superfluous), but it did feature Chad Radwell with no shirt, so beggars cannot be choosers.
Anyway, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle comes to Chanel Prime in a dream and tells her that the other three are plotting to kill her, so Chanel stops their attack and somehow convinces them that Grace and Zayday are the Red Devil killers. Basically all that keeps happening is that each character keeps accusing the person she hates the most (or wants to eliminate) of being the killer. God, the middle of a mystery show is always the worst, and we have five more weeks before we find out who did it. The writers better find a way of engaging us really quickly.
A Collection of Funny Lines Taken Completely Out of Context:
- “As soon as Chanel No. 2’s parents learned that their daughter’s dead body had been found, they went on a cruise to celebrate. That’s how much they hated this dead bitch.”
- “What if Chanel No. 2 is busy getting Eiffel Towered by Hitler and Satan?”
- “We are murderers hell-bent on revenge. That is our brand.”
- “Stephen had this old iPod thing that you plug into the wall, and it picks up music from the air.”
- “She is not a farm animal. Her name is Ramie, and she is a non-human helper companion.”
- “Cops Finger Dean Munsch.”
- “Why do you have nine tampons? How big is your cooch?”
- “Yes, there are waterslides, but they’re lined with razor blades and splash down into a pool of boiling pee.”
- “Not only would I have survived your attack on my life, it only would have made me skinnier.”