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Anatomy of a killer: An in-depth look behind the 'Scream' mask

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “In the Trenches” | Aired Aug 11, 2015

John Douglas, famed FBI serial-killer profiler and author of Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Serial Crime Unit, says, “Put yourself in the position of the hunter.” Look through his eyes, walk in his shoes. What drives him? What emotional element is the triggering force? Is he controlled or untethered? What’s his signature? Not only do serial killers feel compelled to murder, but they often learn and improve their “craft” as they go. Knowing all that, let’s take a closer look at Scream‘s killer. What do we know after watching “In the Trenches”?

  • While it’s the most obvious trait of the killer, it bears saying: This guy is über-intelligent, and more tech-savvy than your average person.
  • He’s obsessed with before. He has a singular focus on Emma and her ties to the Brandon James case. The inciting incident seems to be the 20th anniversary of the murder spree, and the fact that Emma is now the same age Daisy was during that time period. No one is likely to have the emotional investment our new killer does unless there’s some kind of familial connection.
  • This killer wants his truth exposed, even if he’s calling it Emma’s truth.
  • While he psychologically torments Emma, she’s never really been in any physical danger.
  • For that matter, Maggie has never been a target either. Yes, he’s threatened her, but were those false threats just to get Emma’s cooperation?
  • He enjoys giving Emma a fake sense of power, making her believe that she has the capability to save her friends … when he never intends to let that happen.
  • He also makes certain that she feels personally responsible for her friends’ deaths, even though their bloodshed is at his hands. This brain-f–k began in earnest with Riley’s death, but even with Rachel’s death, Emma was made to feel culpable. Not so with Nina and Tyler. Why? Were they just a vehicle for the killer to start harassing Emma? Or are there two killers with different motives?
  • The killer is stabby! Riley, Tyler, Nina, Jake, and Will were all stabbed. Psychologically speaking, that is considered an intimate way to kill someone, and often implies that they personally know the victim. Wielding a knife against another requires getting up close and personal, while literally getting your hands messy. That kind of killer wants to see the fear in your eyes and absorb it. Scary!
  • Rachel is the killer’s exception. She was hanged, and then her body was moved to make it look like a suicide. There’s a different psychology here. Why?
  • He thinks both Emma and Daisy are too easy to forgive. What is he unable to forgive?
  • He believes that Daisy/Maggie is a whore. Does that imply she betrayed someone the killer cares for—someone like Brandon?
  • He wears a Brandon James mask to hide his identity. Brandon originally wore a mask for medical reasons, following surgery for his Proteus syndrome. The killer is obviously paying homage to Brandon. Proteus is NOT hereditary, but it gets its name from the Greek god Proteus, who could change his shape. Has the killer changed his appearance?
  • The killer is enthralled by the idea of perception—the way people view themselves, the way they view others, the false way they present themselves on social media. Does he feel that Brandon was erroneously perceived as a killer? Maggie herself said she didn’t believe he was capable of the crime. Is the killer someone who loves Brandon enough to care that he was wrongly viewed as a monster? Or is the killer publicly perceived one way, when in actuality he’s someone completely different? Remember, he’s repeatedly said that “truth” is his motivating factor. What’s interesting about that is that two people can witness the same event, but perceive the reality of it differently (because their personal experiences color that truth).
  • The killer orchestrates situations to corner his victims, but also reacts to moments of opportunity. That kind of hasty spontaneity could cause his downfall.
  • Don’t look to the silhouette of the killer for clues. Short, tall, male, female, old, young—the Scream franchise has already proven that you can’t judge a killer by his (or her) costume.

Four Rules of Thumb

  1. He likes to play with his food before he eats.
  2. Nine times out of 10, he’s sweet, funny, and über-smart.
  3. Playing the fool is a pretty great cover.
  4. The killer might orchestrate situations to earn his victim’s trust.


I adore John Karna’s portrayal. His self-effacing charm is disarming, and though we’ve seen Noah and the killer in the same frame, I’m not dismissing his possible involvement. In truth, I fear his quirky cowardice may be a mask of a different kind. Fingers crossed I’m wrong! But he could be testing that nature vs. nurture philosophy IRL …

I’m definitely leaning toward a pair of killers.

Body Count

1.5: Will, death by trench digger … plus the attempted murder of Jake with a knife to the chest.

Overall Total Deaths

5 Tallys

Check back each week for new reviews and an updated body count. ‘Til next week, stay away from trench diggers and talk to your friends in person. Phones are NOT to be trusted!

Who is on the top of your suspect list? Will you mourn Will’s passing? Who do you think is next?

Scream airs Tuesdays at 10/9C on MTV.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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