[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the premiere of the second season of Scream Queens.]
Scream Queens 2.0 debuted Tuesday night.
Viewers tuning into the second season of the Fox horror-comedy anthology series had been promised a reboot of sorts by creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan ahead of the Sept. 20 premiere. A three-year time jump, new hospital setting and cast additions, including John Stamos, Taylor Lautner and Kirstie Alley, had all been teased for the returning second cycle, which did not screen its premiere ahead of time to press.
A show that Murphy once described as "bubble gum splashed with blood," Brennan assured the second season would be bloodier and funnier than the first: "I think we're leaning into the creepiness a little more and a little bit more into the comedy as well." Falchuk added, "We looked at the horror movie model and saw this season as a sequel."
By graduating from the Kappa Sorority House and moving to a hospital backdrop, the trio was able to cast more age groups while keeping many of the season-one survivors. The new murder mystery will play out amid bizarre medical cases, a familiar-sounding nod to Murphy and Falchuk's days of Nip/Tuck. Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter that his initial pitch for the horror-comedy included the ability to reboot the show each season.
The changes also come in an attempt to broaden the audience for season two. Dubbed a "model for contemporary viewership" after season one, the younger-skewing audience watching on-demand and online contributed to the series becoming the No. 1 new show on VOD and social media last fall. Live viewership, however, struggled. "Before the show did seem very young," admitted Murphy, "but now I hope there's something for everybody."
Here's what the series laid out on its operating table during the second-season premiere. Did it deliver on its promises? Tell THR in the comments below.
With an agenda sure to be revealed at a later date, Dean Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) lures the surviving gaggle of Kappas, Zayday (Keke Palmer) and the Chanels - played by Emma Roberts, Abigail Breslin (No. 5) and Billie Lourd (No. 3) - to be med students at her new teaching hospital. Munsch now has the doctorate that the University of Pittsburg "stripped from Bill Cosby." From a flashback to Oct. 31, 1985 that played out similarly to the opening flashback of the first season, viewers learn that the likely new Red Devil was birthed in the bacteria-eating swamp neighboring the now-Cure Institute Hospital.
John "Dr. Hot" Stamos and That Steamy Shower Scene
Dr. Brock Holt (John Stamos) and Dr. Cassidy Cascade (Taylor Lautner) are the cocky, dark and eligible doctors of Cure. "I'm basically female Viagra," is how Cascade introduces himself, while Holt, dubbed "Dr. Hot" by Chanel, lathers himself up for the new med students in a steamy shower scene that has her stripping down to her underwear. (Preview scenes show Glen Powell returning to have a shower-off with Holt.) The pair also bond over how to solve the bizarre case of the episode - which saw Saturday Night Live's Cecily Strong suffering from Hirsutism - and nearly kiss. But both men have their secrets. Holt, who has a mysterious back tattoo, was a prodigy until the head surgeon had to undergo a hand transplant after a garbage-disposal incident. Cascade boasts a peculiar ice-cold body temperature.
But the most ominous of Scream Queens music is saved for the moments when Kirstie Alley's "advanced practiced registered nurse" appears. She runs the hospital and tells Chanel she's going to "eat her for lunch."
Scream Queens Gets the Making a Murderer Treatment
It's no surprise that Murphy, the man responsible for The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, is a fan of true-crime docu-series. Last season left off with Lea Michele's Hester getting away with murder while the Chanels were framed and locked up for her crimes in a mental hospital. And season two reveals that a Netflix docu-series titled "Entrap a Kappa Kappa: Murder on Sorority Row" turned the Chanels into a phenomenon and ultimately proved their innocence.
The Making a Murder-riff featured Hester in a Brendan Dassey-like confession tape (Michele's only appearance on the episode, though she's poised to return for more) and an update that Hester had been locked up instead. Though the Chanels were exonerated, Chanel and her two "idiot hookers" were now broke, poor and exhausted - which is why they jump at Dean Munsch's offer, thinking they are already doctors. Their new career aspirations? Special medical correspondents for Fox News.
The Green Meanie
Ending the episode full circle, the new killer arrives in the final moments. Seemingly reborn from the flesh-eating swamp shown in the opening flashback, the mysterious Green Meanie is donning the Halloween costume Jerry O'Connell's character threw into the water with the dead body. He/she slices off Cecily Strong's character's head and appears to bring the knife down on Chanel #5, leaving Abigail Breslin's fate to be continued. Could the green swamp killer be the husband rising from the dead, or his surviving pregnant wife seeking revenge? Or, perhaps, Scream Queens has another Hester on its bloody hands.
And with that, a new murder mystery is born and everyone is a suspect. Keep up with THR's coverage throughout the season and share your thoughts in the comments. Scream Queens airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.