We open on Maggie writing the medical examiner’s report on the murder of Will Belmont. As she types, we see a blood splattered Emma in flashback bumping into Will’s shocked mother as she leaves the Barn of Death. Mrs. Belmont has a look for herself as the camera moves through the bloody canyon in the center of her son’s head.
Emma is interviewed by the police fruitlessly, and then given medication by a psychiatrist. Home again, she listens to the therapy tape of her father angrily describing Maggie’s one night stand with Brandon James.
Brooke watches over Jake in the hospital and gets a visit from Noah. Jake eventually wakes to learn that his best friend has been slaughtered.
Emma, in shock, goes back to school the day after the murder and tries to get back into the old routine. She is greeted by Audrey and Noah, who both think she should stay home and take time to psychologically heal. Emma encounters a shrine to Will on his locker, and the first cracks start to form.
Sheriff Hudson examines the lives of the five victims: Nina, Tyler, Rachel, Riley and Will. Piper Shaw pops up at the police station and shows him the video of the Mayor moving the body.
She explains that her motivations are to help catch the killer and see justice done. She is no longer acting in the role of a journalist. As she leaves the station, Brooke appears and asks if her father is going to be arrested. It doesn’t look good for the Mayor.
Seth Branson teaches “The Crucible” while Noah and Audrey discuss their suspicions of him.
Quinn Maddox is arrested. He explains that his wife is perfectly fine and in a drug rehab facility in Arizona. He provides the address and telephone number.
Brooke finally talks to her mom over the phone.
At school, Kieran offers his support for Emma at her locker. In the bathroom, she is visited by the bloody specter of Will, his split-head glaring at her furiously. Yikes!
Hud reveals to Maggie that he has been tracking the credit card transactions of Kevin Duvall and that he is close by based on his purchases. Maggie defends him, saying he would never hurt Emma. They discuss the deputy assigned to her and how best to keep her safe. Emma walks in on this conversation and explains that her safety is not the issue. Her loved ones are being killed. They are in danger, not her.
Noah brings up the possibility that aliens have taken over the school as in “The Faculty” while Audrey discovers Emma reading about Paranoid Delusions online. Shortly after, Emma encounters Will in a darkened corridor of the school. He is holding his heart, which he offers to her and then crushes in his fist. Emma flees the vision in terror and runs right into the arms of Kieran.
Piper records her thoughts for the Autopsy of a Crime podcast, describing the murder of Will as a turning point for her. Because Will saved Piper’s life, she can no longer even pretend to be objective.
At the coffee shop, Emma tells Piper that the Mayor isn’t the killer and she wishes the real culprit would just kill her and spare everyone else. Piper encourages her to fight back.
Later that night, as Emma is closing up shop at the Ground House, Will’s ghost returns again as the creepy Daisy song plays on Emma’s phone. This time he offers her a plastic heart-shaped key chain and she accepts it. The deputy watching her takes her to the hospital.
Maggie visits and leaves, and then Kevin shows up. Emma angrily rejects him as she feels he rejected her these past eight years. He explains that he always missed her, but he felt he had to stay away. He exits.
Piper comes by the following day and suggests that Emma try for a reconciliation with Kevin. Her own father was murdered and she will never get another chance to speak to him.
Audrey and Noah discuss Branson’s patterns as a killer. Is he killing high school character archetypes? The Brain (Riley), the Princess (Nina), The Jock (Will).
In a holding cell, the Mayor explains to Brooke that her mother had a friend who loved to get high with her. He discovered this man dead in the guest room from an overdose and made it go away. Hence the video. Brooke tells her father that he’s on his own now.
Emma has a breakthrough. She experiences a memory of childhood in which her father and mother are arguing over a child fathered by Brandon James. She discovers Kevin hanging out at the hospital, and he helpfully explains that her mother had two children. The other one was born of Brandon. Emma has a secret brother or sister.
This is a classic twist in the horror genre. I can name countless slasher films that have the Evil Twin or Homicidal Sibling thing going on, besides the “Halloween” series.
Audrey and Noah decide to dig deeper into Branson.
Emma remembers that the heart key chain in her vision of Will belonged to Nina, and it was on the surgery table at the abandoned hospital. She asks Audrey for the video of the interior of the hospital and finds an image of a sonogram for “Anderson”; her mother’s maiden name.
While searching Branson’s classroom, Audrey discovers the killer’s knife and a cell phone containing texts with Riley inside the PA Announcement speaker.
Noah gets a hit on a cyber search for the teacher’s true identity. Seth Branson is really Seth Palmer. He was a teacher in New Hampshire who was involved in an illicit affair with a student that was found murdered. He fled and reinvented himself. They call the sheriff, who examines the evidence and puts out an APB.
Brooke and Seth meet in the school auditorium and begin making out. Brooke sheds most of her clothes as they prepare to have sex on a couch on-stage. Seems like a good idea, right? Bunch of murders centering around high school students. Let’s go get it on at the school. *Shakes head*
Emma learns that Maggie was pregnant at 16 with Brandon’s baby. Kevin cheated on her and Brandon offered her a ride home from the bowling alley. They made love. Maggie was kept out of the child’s life after its birth and adoption and is not even aware of the gender.
Back in the auditorium, Branson hears a noise and decides to investigate. Really, people?
Brooke is left alone in near darkness until the curtain flies open, the spotlight comes on and Ghostface slashes her arm. Brooke flees through the backstage props and backdrops and collides with Seth as the police burst in, guns drawn.