We open on the Lakewood County Municipal Records building after night has fallen, one year before the start of the modern-day murders surrounding Emma Duvall.
While a security guard is engrossed in a porno mag, a black clad intruder slips in and swiftly enters the Evidence Room. Inside, they easily turn the dial of a huge safe and discover the Brandon James case evidence in a cardboard box amongst many others. Case documents reveal that Daisy is actually Margaret “Maggie” Anderson, and Brandon’s famous mask is tucked into a plastic bag within. The intruder holds the mask up to their unseen face.
Piper Shaw blogs in voice-over about the missing mask as Lakewood families decorate for Halloween. Meanwhile, Sheriff Hudson interviews teacher Seth Branson, being held on suspicion of serial killing and stuff. He presents Seth with an 8-inch Bowie knife covered in Will Belmont’s blood and a case file on a murdered female student in New Hampshire where Seth had previously taught. Seth claims innocence and lawyers up.
During a car ride, Brooke and Emma discuss Seth. Brooke defends him and says there’s no way Branson murdered five teenagers under her nose. Emma isn’t quite so sure. She wants for this nightmare to be over so she can move on. Because Mayor Quinn Maddox is in prison and Brooke’s mother is tucked away in rehab, we learn that Brooke is headed to room with Jake Fitzgerald.
Hudson announces safety measures (No masks? The hell?) and security for the school Halloween Dance. Piper, present at the press conference, can’t believe the dance is still happening with all the recent violence. She explains privately to Hudson that the occasion will prove irresistible to the killer.
Brooke moves into Jake’s safari-themed guest room. Jake seems pretty fantastic for a fellow who was skewered on a massive hunting knife so recently. As Jake leaves Brooke alone to get settled in, he asks a question about the backstage sexy times reunion between her and Branson.
“Why’d you go back to him?”
“I felt like I had nobody else.”
“You had me.”
At the police forensic lab, Maggie orders a DNA panel for Branson and a paternity test for herself to see if the teacher is her son, fathered by Brandon James. It makes little sense, since Seth is far too old to be her child. She was pregnant in 1994, which means her offspring could be no older than 21. And Seth looks like he’s at least 29. But, whatever.
Emma begs to be let in to see the disgraced teacher in hopes that the sight of her will spark a reaction from him. She gets her way, and he begins the chat with an ominous “Hello, Emma.”
He has no idea what she’s talking about when she begins to divulge secret facts about the case and quoting Ghostface from past phone calls. It’s pretty clear that he’s the wrong man. It was clear a long time ago.
Brooke, who has an allergy to wearing clothes, strips down for a shower and notices that her open laptop is filming her.
The spyware is back in play, even though Seth is locked up.
At the Groundhouse, Noah and Audrey are shown the sonogram image of Emma’s mysterious step sibling. Noah is excited about the whole idea, while Audrey doubts Emma’s sanity after her run ins with phantom Will last week.
“Brandon’s son. Branson. He picked that name.” says Noah.
Audrey can’t understand why Seth would kill Rachel, the odd link in the chain of killings. No connection between them has been found. Her death was made to look like a suicide, which could mean that the killer was sending a message to the medical examiner or that Rachel learned something that scared her killer, who was actually trying to cover up the murder by staging a suicide.
Audrey and Noah head out and Piper shows up. She reports that Brandon’s mom Cassie James lives nearby and encourages Emma to interview her. So wait, there’s a series of murders based around a legendary figure in Lakewood history, but the police haven’t thought to drop in and chat with said legend’s mother?
Emma agrees to meet Brandon’s mommy. Cassie starts off the conversation coherently enough, but then quickly decides that Emma is Daisy, the pretty blonde that her son was in love with. She says Brandon begged her to let him work at the bowling alley alongside Daisy, and that is what got him killed. As Piper and Emma prepare to leave, Cassie mentions that Brandon and his boy both loved that creepy Daisy song. She also casually remarks that Maggie and Brandon’s child paid her a visit recently, asking all about Daisy and Brandon. He was good-looking like an old-time movie star, and his name was Steve or Keith… or, no, it was Seth.
That was easy, right? A little too easy.
At the Duvall house, Kieran shows up and reconnects with Emma. They make plans to attend the Halloween Dance in a couples costume, and eat pizza with Maggie and Hud. It’s a joyful scene, shot stylishly with a camera spinning around the revelers. The killer is caught. Time to party!
Audrey investigates Rachel’s hard drive and discovers that all her video files were wiped at the time of her death. But Rachel backed everything up to the Cloud and Audrey and Noah access it to watch raw video footage that might have incited murder.
Brooke asks Jake if he is the spy operating the webcams since Seth, the suspect apparently in any crime ever committed in town, is behind bars and has no access. They fight over her constant defense of Branson, and Brooke packs her bags and leaves.
At the police station, Hudson traces the burner phone found along with the Bowie knife in Branson’s classroom. He discovers via cell towers where the calls were made and that it is very far from Seth Branson’s house or the high school. Concerned that the teacher will walk if he can’t be tied to the phone calls, Hud decides to show a photo of him to residents in a beautiful lakeside area where the killer phoned and texted folks.
He arrives in a cruiser at a lovely summer home and pokes around, discovering a laptop which shows footage from the police station, bedrooms, traffic cameras, etc. Startled by a noise, he turns and is promptly whacked on the head by Ghostface with a fireplace poker.
Kieran texts Emma that he has “something to do” and will meet her at the dance. She is dressed as Mia Wallace from “Pulp Fiction,” a film which opened in 1994, the same year as the Brandon James Massacre. Brooke calls as she is stocking up on booze for a huge after-party blowout at her now empty house. She’s done with being the kinder, gentler girl she became after Nina’s murder. It’s straight back to the party girl now.
At Nightmare Level, Audrey and Noah discover why Rachel may have been thrown over her balcony with a noose around her neck. Footage shot in a local bar right before Nina’s death shows Kieran and Nina leaving together. She is clearly tipsy, and he looks straight into Rachel’s hidden camera as they pass.
Outside the Halloween Dance, Jake sits in his truck and accesses the spyware he just said he didn’t have access to. He flips through footage of Brooke’s house and mutters, “Where are you, Brooke?”
Inside, Noah rocks the hizzy as the laptop DJ while dressed as Dracula.
Maggie serves punch as a chaperon, while Audrey (dressed as an 18th century noblewoman-slash-Goth chick) waits for the right moment to tell Emma that Kieran might be not only homicidal, but also Emma’s sibling. Didn’t they have sex a few episodes ago? Yikes.
Speaking of the Devil, Kieran shows up killing it as Vincent Vega, and Noah jumps on the laptop to play Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”
Emma and Kieran reenact the twist contest dance from “Pulp Fiction” as Audrey protests and Noah wins an award for Best Line of the Episode.
“What? He’s not gonna to kill her during the dance sequence.”
Maggie can’t reach Hud over the phone, so after the dance, Kieran agrees to try him. Audrey seizes the moment to tell Emma all about Kieran knowing Nina. Emma blows it off, pointing out that they’ve all had incriminating or embarrassing videos in the recent last. After Audrey leaves in a huff, Emma and Kieran discuss the latest bit of news.
Kieran met Nina at a bar before school started. She was drunk, and he took her keys and drove her home. After he found out about her death, he was afraid to tell anyone.
Emma isn’t quite buying it, and Kieran heads out angrily. Audrey reappears. Her thirst for justice has blinded her. She wants to punish Rachel’s killer and she’s furious that Emma is unsure about his guilt.
Audrey heads to Brooke’s after party to get drunk.
Jake meets Ava, who becomes his “arm candy” for Brooke’s shindig.
Piper, who loves mysteriously appearing out of nowhere, does just that. She took a high school yearbook to Cassie James to show her a photo of Seth. Cassie instead pointed out photos of Kieran Wilcox (taken at the candlelight vigil) as the man who came to see her claiming to be Brandon’s son.
The power goes out at the dance. When it comes back on, a blurry video of Hudson lashed to a tree shows up on a huge wall video monitor. He’s alive but badly beaten.
In the final scene, we see an empty corridor leading to an open jail cell. A police officer, his torso slashed open, is handcuffed to the cell door. A trail of blood leads out of the cell and down the hall as an officer says over the walkie-talkie:
“All points bulletin. Seth Branson has escaped custody.”
After 9 surprisingly engrossing episodes, there’s just one thing left to say…
Let the after party begin!
The killer is revealed in the very next episode. Let’s look at the suspects:
She has major beef with first victim Nina over the video from Episode 1, and she later conveniently found the hidden knife and phone obviously planted to frame Branson. Honestly, who looks inside a PA announcement speaker? Ridiculous. Her DNA was on the mask and she has never been in the same room as or been attacked by Ghostface, meaning she could be behind the cloak and mask. She also possesses a voice changer.
Audrey as the killer doesn’t hang together, though. She truly loved Rachel and would never hurt her, and she seems to be investigating this whole thing. She wants justice.
He can be a little creepy at times, he has vast technological know how, but he is also the one who exposed the spyware program. He wouldn’t slay Riley, and he has fought off Ghostface at the bowling alley. They can’t be the same person.
He loves huge knives, manipulating people, lying, spyware, blackmail. He has a thing for Brooke, who has been virtually unharmed by the killer save for a flesh wound. He has never technically been shown in the same scene as Ghostface, and he’s fast, strong and athletic. But he was basically unconscious when Will tackled the killer in the bowling alley, despite the suspiciously harmless nature of the stab wound to his chest.
He was also hospitalized at the time of Will’s murder. But there’s still something not right about him.
We all know that Seth is innocent. He’s guilty of having sex with high school girls and possibly other crimes, but he isn’t a costumed serial killer. He’s a red herring. I have a feeling he didn’t escape from his cell, but was forcibly taken. He’s too guilty seeming. He changed his name to escape a past scandal involving a murdered student, so I’m not buying it.
He sure SEEMS guilty. Always showing up outta nowhere acting all shady. My initial theory was that Sheriff Hudson was secretly Troy James, Brandon’s forgotten about older brother. He’s the right age and Riley was killed ten feet from his desk. I figured that Kieran was his partner, but I never realized that Mr. Wilcox could be Emma’s brother. MTV is a daring network, but I don’t think they’d allow a brother and sister to have sex and be a romantic couple. So no. Plus Hudson was just attacked by Ghostface. If there are two working together, why would Hud go out to some strange house? He would know exactly what his adopted son was up to.
Kieran is not the killer.
Mayor Quinn Maddox
Are you serious? There’s no motive. Innocent.
She was handcuffed to a bed while Riley was murdered miles away. She seems genuinely horrified by the spyware and the mayor’s video. She was attacked and suspiciously only grazed by a killer who rarely misses a lethal blow. So the purpose of attacking her was not to kill her, but to further implicate Seth, who got lost in the dark nearby right before the police burst in to find Seth holding a bleeding Brooke.
Brooke is innocent.
And then there’s Piper Shaw.
Piper, who directed the criminal investigation towards the Mayor by showing Hudson the video.
Who later brought Emma to Brandon’s extremely suspicious mother, who pinned the crimes on Seth. The next day, Piper then identified Kieran as the killer. Piper, who always shows up with an amazing clue that changes the course of events. Who led the gang to the warehouse where Will had been taken and the message had been left.
She survived her encounter with Ghostface with a bruise on her forehead. But was she really attacked at all? Is she one half of a two person killing team? I’m sure that Cassie James is much more coherent than she seems and much more furious. The town killed her son and then destroyed his good name. So when Emma is brought to her by Piper, all she had to do was say that Brandon had a son and that that boy is back. All she had to was lie about the gender.
Personally, I think Emma has a step SISTER, not a step brother.