Scream Queens made its debut last night, and between all of its Heathers worship and “tee-hee, I’m edgy!” deliberately offensive jokes, it introduced a serial-killer mystery ripped straight from the glory days of slasher movies. So, who’s that knife-wielding maniac hiding inside the devil costume?
Since FOX aired two episodes back-to-back, we’ve gotten to know most of the show’s major characters—and therefore, chances are good that we’ve already met the killer. Spoilers follow, and please feel free to contribute your own theories in the comments!
Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts): The Queen Bee of Kappa Kappa Tau is mean enough to stab anyone who crosses her ... and she almost certainly engineered the acid-bath spray-tan demise of her sorority-president predecessor. She also shoved maid Ms. Bean’s face into a kitchen fryer, claiming she thought it was turned off as part of a rather horrifying prank gone awry. Also, her encounter with the devil killer (in her room, before someone sprayed “SLUTS MUST DIE” across the wall) was revealed in flashback ... so she could have been making the whole thing up. And since she’s a college kid, she’s probably a speedy texter, capable of whipping out rapid-fire messages during the death scene (a Scream Queens highlight so far) pictured at the top of this post.
Ms. Bean (Jan Hoag): Oft-abused Kappa house maid unflatteringly referred to as “White Mammy;” spends hours scrubbing bulimia barf out of communal carpets. Has a secret wall of Chanel Oberlin photos with the eyes scratched out. After possibly-accidental, absolutely-disfiguring deep-fryer incident, was thought to be dead ... but her body disappeared from the meat locker where the girls stashed it. According to Chanel, she also helped cover up the tragedy that kick-started the Scream Queens saga: the 1995 death of a sorority sister who died after giving birth during a party. Back then, nothing happened in the Kappa house without her knowing about it, and she surely has more than enough motive. Current whereabouts unknown.
Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis): Sardonic, man-eating college dean who hates the Greek system, hates Kappa, and really hates Chanel. Declares that any and all pledges may join the sorority, thereby quashing Chanel’s smug declaration that “a sorority is the one place in the world where you get to pick and choose the people around you.” Along with Ms. Bean, helped sweep the 1995 birth/death under the rug. Tells the hunky father of freshman Grace—who’s only pursuing her Kappa bid as a way to take down Chanel, and restore the chapter to being the “sisterhood” her late mother spoke of so fondly—that the campus serial killer will not target his daughter. (“I can guarantee that,” she promises.) When her office is burglarized by snoopy campus newspaper editor Pete (Diego Boneta), the devil appears ... but chooses to humiliate him rather than kill him.
Pete (Diego Boneta): The coffee shop worker who also happens to fancy himself an investigative journalist is dead-set on bringing Kappa down; he frequently refers to it as an evil place, and loathes Chanel for leading him on then rejecting his romantic advances. (Her insanely high-maintenance pumpkin-spice latte specifications might also have something to do with it.) Sparks with Grace, but she becomes freaked out when she finds a devil costume in his closet (he claims he wears it as part of his gig as the school mascot at football games), and accuses him of being the baby born at Kappa in 1995. Though he does encounter the devil in Munsch’s office, he survives. And he’s often filmed for a few extra beats when a scene’s about to end, looking like he’s thinking creepy thoughts.
Joe Nick Jonas): At first, it seemed like the Michael Bay-worshiping Boone—the semi-closeted best friend of Chanel’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Chad—was merely here for stunt casting. (See: Jonas’ fellow pop star Ariana Grande, who gets offed in the pilot after her character declares she’s gonna spill the beans about what happened to Ms. Bean.) But after his staged death at the end of episode two, in which he’s shown to be in cahoots with whoever’s in the devil outfit, his involvement is suddenly a lot more interesting. Could Boone be the vengeance-seeking Kappa baby instead? It seems quite possible that, like in Scream, there are two costumed killers working together here.
Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad): Kappa’s national president, a ditzy lawyer, swans onto the scene when Munsch threatens to revoke the chapter’s charter, but she’s very much in favor of the plan to force the sorority to accept anyone who wants to pledge it. She also makes cheerful reference to a “traumatic experience” that has her “stuck in the 1990s,” which is made most evident by her wardrobe and musical taste. Could she be the girl who discovered her sorority sister had given birth, then inadvertently let her die? Could she be anyone else?
Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin): Chanel Oberlin’s sharpest minion is meek at first, but becomes ever-more disillusioned with her overlord’s actions as the bodies start piling up. Of all the sorority girls, she seems most likely to snap; we assume she’s top of the list of suspects when Boone appears to kick the bucket, because she tells him very publicly she won’t stand for a gay dude joining Kappa. But could that have all been an act? What’s clear: Chanel #5 hates Chanel #1 with the fire of 1,000 suns. She’s the Heather Duke to Chanel’s Heather McNamara. And one more thing: not for nothing, but Breslin is a bona fide Oscar nominee. Surely she’s not going to be relegated the sidelines for this entire show.
Neckbrace (Lea Michele): The pledge who wears an awkward body brace and knows way too much about disposing dead bodies also happened to star on Scream Queens creator Ryan Murphy’s Glee. While that’s not as rad as having an Oscar nomination, it suggests Murphy has something more juicy planned for her character than occasional comic relief.
Wild cards: Jennifer the Candle Vlogger; Grace’s overly-protective father; the Ghost of the Dead Sorority Sister from 1995.