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Recap / Scream Queens S 1 E 1 Pilot

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"Good morning, sluts."
Chanel Oberlin

We suggest that if you haven't seen the completion of the season and like suspense, to set spoilers as invisible.

The series opens in 1995, where we see a girl in a bathtub. This is Sophia, and it turns out that she's just given birth! Which is a terrible thing, and the rest of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority are going to kick her out for daring to get pregnant just as soon as they've danced to TLC's "Waterfalls" — which we can't blame them for, it's awesome. Except by the time the gang returns to the basement, Amy (who stayed behind) is holding the baby and Sophia is dead.

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Skip forward twenty years, because as if RIB didn't have enough fun destroying your sense of continuity with Glee's Grand Finale. We're back at the same sorority, the KKT, at Wallace University, which is now ruled by Alpha Bitch Quinn Fabray Chanel #1. She's called to the office of Dragon Sue Sylvester Dean Cathy Munsch, where she's informed that the Dean is going to try to take her little glee club sorority down. Madison is accused by the Dean of mauling last year's sorority head — insert flashback to tanning spray being hydrochloric acid, leaving the head foaming at the mouth as the school's mascot, the Red Devil, appears — but she doesn't like the girls anyway and wants to revoke their charter. Welcome Gigi, from the president of KKT nationwide, who says that Dean Munsch can't do that. As the Dean and Chanel have a stare-off and throw insults, Gigi tries to keep the peace.

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Short interruption to inform you that according to the internet, Emma Roberts has dated both Alex Pettyfer and Chord Overstreet and, therefore, may as well be Quinn Fabray for all intents in this show. A more soulless, purely evil Quinn, basically what would've happened if not for falling in love with Rachel Berry Character Development.

Somewhere else in Wallace University, we find Grace Gardner being driven to her first day of University by her father, Will Schuester Wes. Grace wants to join KKT because her mom was a part of it and died when Grace was two. Her mom is not Sophia, though. Her dad does not want her to join a sorority, and specifically warns her against joining KKT, but she ignores him. Her dad is not the Red Devil, though. When she gets to her dorm room, she invites roommate ... something black sounding ( Mercedes Zayday Williams)... to join the sorority with her. They go to the mixer "Rush Kappa" together, during which the disastrous happens: Dean Munsch announces that KKT must accept any and all pledges that it gets this year. Of course, this causes all the "bikini-ready" girls to rush out, leaving a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that consists of Grace, Zayday, "Neckbrace Cheerio" (Hester Ulrich), "Deaf Taylor Swift" (Tiffany DeSalle), "Predatory Lez" (Sam), and "Candle Wax McFartypants" (Jennifer). You may have guessed, but one of them has a neck brace, one is deaf and likes T-Swizzle, one is a Butch Lesbian, and the last blogs about candles and has an issue controlling her flatulence. The Chanels (because #1 can't be bothered remembering their names), are horrified.

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Chanel #1 then goes to talk to her preppy boyfriend, Biff Chad Radwell, who says that if she loses popularity due to hanging around misfits, he'll break up with her. She's trying to claim it's not her fault, but Chad gets too bored to continue the conversation and lets Gay Best Friend Boone explain to her that it doesn't matter. As much as these people are dicks, not one of them is homophobic, suggesting that Even Evil Has Standards and that is it. Thank you, Ryan Murphy, maybe there's some hope for you after all. Chanel decides that the best way to keep her boyfriend is to scare all the other girls out of the sorority. She isn't the Red Devil, either.

Chanel's idea is to shove their housekeeper's face into the deep fryer after faking a cat-fight with her. The housekeeper, Ms Bean, isn't impressed at the idea even when Chanel tells her that the heat will be off and it'll only be a second: she'll just get some oil in her hairnet. She's still understandably apprehensive. (If she looks familiar to you, she was in Glee as a cashier in "I Kissed a Girl".)

We also go to Grace, who's hanging at the local coffee shop called The Grind. Pete Martinez works there as a barista and hits on her until she reveals she's in the Kappa sorority. He says he likes her and so immediately warns her against being in the haunted sorority. Still not the Red Devil. Then Chanel approaches and steals Grace away after telling her that Pete is a crazy stalker and she had to take out a restraining order, Pete excusing it that he was a freshman, and scaring Grace away from him back to the sorority in the process.

Chanels #s 2, 3, and 5 (#4 having died shortly before the series) find a "creepy collage" of the glee kids Chanel in Ms Bean's room. Chanel promptly rounds them up to go and scare the pledges with the fryer. Of course, the Red Devil has previously been around and switched on the heat. The fryers are now full of boiling oil, so Chanel literally burns Ms Bean's face off. Surfacing from the fryer, she starts pulling at the singed skin of her own face and tearing it off before dying of heart failure or something as a result of her injuries. Her double chin was melting off.

Grace wants to call the police, not up for the whole bonding-by-murder-witness thing that everyone else has jumped at. When she leaves, the Chanels and pledges minus Zayday swear to frame her should she actually be calling the police. Chanel bribes them with a trip to Mexico to do this and to help her get the body to a freezer. What they don't notice? Pete is watching them.

Given all the different characters, we have an abrupt cut to visit Chad. He's in bed with Dean Munsch, after having sex because he's not doing great academically and two years ago her professor husband left her for a 19-year-old student plus something about Gloria Steinem. He says he's in love with her, and she kicks him out of her room. The point of this little scene is probably to establish Chad's enforced inherent lack of fidelity and a reason for Dean Munsch to hate female students.

Back to Grace, who we have quickly learnt is the main character and who was not creeped out by Pete enough to not do what she does when she finds him: tell him about the murder of Ms Bean. Typically not something you tell anyone, let alone the creepy stalker guy. Whatever, he conveniently reveals that he saw it anyway. He also says that he's on the school newspaper and she suggests that she can be his mole inside the KKT so that they can right an exposé on them together. Weird. The pair of them, as well as Chad and Chanel separately, go to recover the body. It's gone.

Back at the KKT house, the Chanels are setting up a blood brother type pact to not reveal the truth behind what happened lest someone think that they conspired to murder. Well, this can only go well. Actually, the cutting themselves all seems to go quite well until Chanel #2 (real name Sonya Herfmann) decides she has to leave the forsaken University. Alone in her bedroom, the Red Devil makes her the perfect witness: a dead one. She still manages to tweet that she's getting murdered as it happens, finalizing her 140-characters as she's cornered and then coming back to life for two seconds after the Red Devil leaves in order to hit send. It's actually quite comical. The Chanels read the tweet and though they initially discarded it as melodramatic before the murder scene was shown, they discover her body and then elect to leave it where it is. Once Neckbrace/whatever Lea Michele's character appears to reveal a disturbing insight into destroying murder evidence Yup, you finally found it. To the shock of only those who don't get that Lea Michele is Ryan's muse, she's the Red Devil. Well, one of them...

As the episode ends, the hazing of the pledges begins. Their first challenge? Spend a night buried up to their necks in the lawn. The actresses actually did this. Once they've finished with the holes, #s 3 and 5 leave for the night, though they say they'll be back soon, and once it gets dark the weird conversations start. Deaf Taylor Swift is right in the middle and therefore cannot see anybody else, yet starts a conversation anyway: "I wonder what Taylor Swift is doing right now." She then proceeds to sing "Shake It Off", oblivious to everyone around her screaming and the reason why: the Red Devil has appeared, driving a ride-on lawnmower. During her chorus, D.T.S. opens her eyes and screams out. With her visuals returned, the audience looks from her perspective and notices that the Red Devil is coming right for her. She gets her head shaken off. It's quite a gory decapitation.

Deaths:

  • Sophia (flashback): bleeding out after childbirth
  • Chanel #4 (mention): reportedly meningitis but this is denied
  • Ms Bean: as a result of facial oil burns
  • Chanel #2: stab wounds to the neck, shoulders, and head
  • Tiffany ("Deaf Taylor Swift"): decapitation by lawnmower

Songs:

  • "What's A Girl to Do?" by Bat For Lashes
  • "Waterfalls" by TLC
  • "Warm in the Winter" by Glass Candy
  • "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri
  • "Wild With You" by The Silverman Brothers
  • "I Know There's Something Going On" by Frida
  • "Heart & Soul" by T'Pau
  • "Hold Me Now" by Eden XO
  • "Four For You" by The Silverman Brothers
  • "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift

Tropes:

  • Accidental Murder: Chanel only planned to stage a murder for Ms Bean to scare the pledges away. Someone else turned the oil in the deep fat fryer on and it results in Ms Bean getting killed for real.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: At the coffee shop, Grace puts her name down as 'Senorita Awesome'.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Chanel describes her reasons for launching a smear campaign against Pete...
    "What was I supposed to do? True Tori was over and I was bored."
  • Brutal Honesty: Dean Munsch is not subtle about her dislike for Kappa House or telling Chad that he's lousy in bed.
  • Captain Obvious: Grace after Ms Bean dies.
    Chanel: She's dead!
    Grace: Of course she's dead. You just burned her face off!
  • Comically Missing the Point: Following on from the above, Chanel argues that Ms Bean probably had a heart attack and died for that reason.
  • Cowboy Be Bop At His Computer: In-universe example. While calling Ms Bean "white Mammy", Chanel quotes the famous "I don't know nothin' about birthin babies" line from Gone with the Wind. Mammy doesn't say that line, Prissy does.
  • Facial Horror: Ms Bean gets her face burned off in the deep fat frier.
  • Hero Worship: Both Chad and Boone seem to worship Michael Bay.
  • It's All About Me: Chanel rebuffs Pete's attempts to ask Ms Bean if she wants anything at the coffee house, by redirecting him to focus on her order.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Although she immediately tries to cover it up, Chanel clearly looks horrified when she realises that the oil has been turned on and Ms Bean is really burning.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Chanel is describing the potential result of the "fatties and ethnics" joining Kappa - namely excessive use of the toilet - Ms Bean is clearly looking worried at the idea.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dean Munsch's first scene has her giving one of these to Chanel.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Chanel #2 tries to do this. And becomes the first victim of the Red Devil in the process.
  • Shirtless Scene: Chad by way of having just finished sleeping with Dean Munsch.
  • Skewed Priorities: Chanel #2 is more concerned with tweeting about getting attacked than trying to fight off the killer, or calling out for help to someone else in the house.
  • Stalker Shrine: The Chanels set one up for Ms Bean as part of their ruse.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Chanel when insisting that Pete make her pumpkin spice latte at 210 degrees.
  • Villainous Breakdown: All the Chanels have them once Dean Munsch announces that Kappa will have to accept every pledge.

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