“The Deadfast Club” gets straight back to the point in an uneven but snappily-written and watchable first episode.
This recap of Scream Season 3, Episode 1, “The Deadfast Club”, contains spoilers.
Scream, as a franchise, has always been built on rules. And Scream Season 3, Episode 1 — dubbed here and there as Scream: Resurrection — immediately proves itself not only to be aware of those rules but to be willing to bend and break them at every opportunity. What’s more, it happily announces it’s doing so. “The Deadfast Club” is proudly a product of the Scream mythology, even though it has no connection to the narrative of the films, but also a Frankenstein’s monster of other genre and general pop-culture influences, from a bizarre nod to Tony Todd’s Candyman to an obvious affection for the 80s hangout classic The Breakfast Club.
The self-awareness of Scream is its best aspect and means the show can get away with being slightly uneven and occasionally succumbing to the very stereotypes and plot beats it’s making fun of. Fronted by a diverse cast and unafraid to make reference to the dangers that tend to befall characters of color in the slasher subgenre, Scream Season 3, Episode 1 makes it clear that this is a show built from the ground up for those who appreciate what it’s trying to do; the presence of the Ghostface mask and the iconic Roger L Jackson voice is just the start of it.
“The Deadfast Club” is the cheeky nickname for a new cast of good-looking high-school archetypes led by Power Rangers‘ RJ Cyler as Atlanta-based high school football star Deion, whose twin brother Marcus was killed (or was he?!) eight years prior on Halloween night. Joining him for a red herring-laced mystery that somehow relates to that fateful night are loudmouth activist Kym (Keke Palmer), her best friend — the gay is always silent — Manny (Giullian Yao Gioiello), Deion’s potential love interest Liv (Jessica Sula), the meek and dorky Amir (CJ Wallace), and gothy horror enthusiast Beth (Giorgia Whigham, fresh from impressing in the second season of Marvel’s The Punisher).
They’re the usual types, then, but quickly established as being slightly more aware of it than usual. Once an irritating jock is offed in gruesome fashion and the gang realize they’re going to be forced to play by the genre’s very specific rules and regulations, they all make a decision to not do so — mostly inspired by Kym, who has an obvious issue with her predetermined fate of “black, and therefore first to die.” Scream Season 3, Episode 1 can occasionally be distracting in its efforts to throwback to the movies or garner cheap attention; this first episode contains Paris Jackson and Tony Todd cameos and introduces Mary J. Blige as Deion’s mother and Tyga as his brother. But the show’s core lives up to its Scream: Resurrection subtitle — it might resemble its older self, but it’s also pretty different, back from death to terrorize us once again.
It isn’t scary in the traditional sense, but I’m not sure it’s trying to be. “The Deadfast Club” has one moment of shocking gore but many more of smartly, knowingly-written interactions that are just as fun — if not more so — than the bloodletting. And it has none of that horrible obnoxiousness that you often see in ostensibly woke teen properties; it’s smart in how it aims and takes fire at its targets, and more importantly, they’re the right targets.
Airing in two-hour chunks across three nights on VH1 after sitting on a shelf at MTV for a ludicrously long time, Scream: Resurrection has arrived with clear intentions, and — thus far, anyway — it’s proving that its time spent percolating wasn’t wasted.