by Bethany Rose
Episode 3 Recap, Thoughts, and Theories - Spoiler Warning.
The focus of this episode was relationships, which meant there were arguments—a lot of arguments. But before we settled in on watching some bickering, we discover just what Audrey did when faced with Jake’s corpse in the storage unit.
Though he was very bloody and very smelly, Audrey knew that she had to get the incriminating note (placed in separate pieces) off of Jake’s body, since Noah was planning on heading to the storage unit bright and early the next morning. She keeps the note’s pieces in a bag and is still holding on to them that next morning when Emma calls. Audrey isn’t as supportive of Kevin Duval’s return as Emma hoped, so the first argument of the episode ends with both girls frustrated.
Audrey continues to be on a rollercoaster of ups and downs. She knows her stalker is no longer just playing a mean prank and almost gets caught with the evidence. And the news of Mr. Duval’s return prompts her to get her first real suspect of whom her stalker might be. She then gets a brief reprieve when she returns to the storage unit, this time with Noah, and discovers it is completely changed. Now instead of a pine-fresh body, there’s a few pieces of seemingly random junk (I use the word seemingly because one of those pieces of junk was a sign for the Crescent Palms, perhaps not so random). Just when Audrey thinks the coast is clear, she spots a camera in the unit, and unfortunately for her, so does Noah.
Emma’s breakfast doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, especially when her dad’s apology for leaving seems to include some major shade throwing toward her mom. Since he won’t explain why he left, Em leaves feeling upset with her dad and then calls her mom to argue some more.
While all the arguing is going on, one pair seem to be making a connection, as Zoe takes notice of Brooke’s disinterest in the Lady of the Lake contest (which is similar to the pageant in I Know What You Did Last Summer). The two bond over talk about Zoe’s interest in Noah. And once again, Stavo is watching Brooke and somehow manages to be equally charming and creepy at the same time.
Another potential friendship blossoms when Em agrees to show Eli around George Washington High School, even though moments before he was eavesdropping on her heart-to-heart with Kieran.
Not at school are Audrey and Noah, since Noah cannot wait to view the surveillance footage of the storage unit. In one of the best scenes of the season, Audrey realizes she has no choice. If she wants her secret to be between her and the new killer, she has to kill Noah. She grabs one of his faux-onyx plated dragon bookends and preps herself to kill her best friend. This moment is great because it shows the audience just how much Audrey cares about herself over others, and connects greatly to some of my observations from my season 1 theories (more on that in the Thoughts and Theories section of this article). Fortunately for Noah, and once again for Audrey, the video won’t work, but once again Audrey’s relief is short lived as the killer sends her footage from the camera and says “Don’t worry partner. I covered for you.”
The next argument of the episode arrives when Kevin shows up at Maggie’s and she is not interested in hearing him out. She does, however, take notice when he explains why he returned. He received a number of emails from Riley, explaining the situation and suggesting that Em needed her father to return. Maggie informs Kevin that Riley died months ago.
Brooke’s day is fluctuating about as much as Audrey’s, though for completely different reasons. Her new friendship with Zoe and her chance to play cupid all brighten her day, but a call from Seth Branson (whose voice has always sounded similar to the generic voice the killers use) disrupts her happiness. And her “girls only moment” with Em and Audrey doesn’t turn out as great as planned when she discovers that Emma only planned on telling Audrey about Mr. Duval’s return. Of course, mention of Emma’s dad immediately brings Em and Audrey back to argument mode, though the meeting did somewhat work in Audrey’s favor, as her knowledge of Mr. Branson’s return gives her another suspect to check out.
Maggie and Kevin decide to show the faux Riley emails to Sheriff Acosta, but he isn’t alarmed by them. Maggie insists he investigate, so he agrees, but Mag still feels like Kevin and Miguel think she is overreacting. The incident, paired with the unresolved argument from earlier, means that Maggie and Kevin end their time at the station arguing, and when Kevin tries grabbing Maggie to stop her she clearly has had enough.
The episode’s title comes into play when much of following scenes take place at Crescent Palms. Em is supposed to meet her father there (though finding out through a generic note at the coffee shop doesn’t seem legit). Eddie is supposed to prep Mr. Duval’s room, but the bottle of alcohol he brings is a definite sign this was not Kevin’s request. For some reason, Eddie thinks the room being covered in plastic is kinky, but I immediately thought it looked like a Dexter-inspired kill room. Which of course it is, as the killer rises and attacks Eddie, first with the bottle, then multiple times with the corkscrew. And that’s the end of Eddie. Audrey’s “partner” also requests she head over to the Crescent Palms, setting up the final acts of the episode.
But before that, it’s movie time! Stavo, Noah, Brooke, Zoe, and Mr. Branson all find themselves at a showing of Killer Klowns from Outer Space! Of course, Noah didn’t know Zoe would be there, and Brooke didn’t know Stavo would be there, and none of the teens knew Mr. Branson would be there. Even though Mr. Branson was a major suspect during Piper’s killing spree, and even though his relationships with former students and Brooke were unveiled, he seems pretty confident that he can stroll freely around Lakewood and win back Brooke’s affections. Noah doesn’t really have time to worry about the return of Mr. B., though, because he once again notices that Audrey is (in)conveniently MIA, and he is still processing Stavo’s warning that openly pursuing Piper’s supposed accomplice will likely make that person come after him. Though Brooke and Stavo bickered when they first arrived at the theatre, her argument with Seth was much more serious and Stavo gladly helped her avoid Seth’s advances by posing as her boyfriend, which of course had to be verified with a kiss. Just as the group is about to leave (without getting to witness anyone being captured in a cotton candy cocoon), Seth asks Brooke if she liked the flowers he sent, which disturbs Brooke since she was sure they were from Jake. So she makes sure to text him that it is over and whoever is the current killer really understood “The Jake” because he or she replies “K Babe. Hasta la vista.”
Back at the Crescent Palms Em finds Room 213 empty, save for some newspaper clippings regarding the past killings, one of which includes a pic of Em and Maggie. She is so intrigued by the clippings that she doesn’t notice the bathroom light turn on.
Noah and Audrey’s relationship continues to get tested as he questions her absence from work, but Audrey is quick to agree with Stavo’s previous suggestion that pursuing Piper’s accomplice is dangerous. She barely avoids spilling any details by using the thin excuse of being busy, then gets a message from the killer with footage of Em in the same hotel room as Eddie’s corpse. Since Emma is still mad at Audrey, she avoids her call, which means the one thing Audrey hoped to avoid has to happen—she calls 911. Fortunately for Emma, a couple fighting outside saves her from a gruesome discovery, but unfortunately for her, she discovers her dad at the nearby Lakewood Lounge, intoxicated and, of course, arguing with someone. This, of course, leads Emma to argue with her dad, and even though he claims he checked out of the room and left no newspaper articles there, she is too upset at learning the truth behind his abandonment to process that. Kevin admits that he once tried taking Em out when he was drunk, and fractured Maggie’s jaw when she tried stopping him.
Fortunately for Audrey, who by this time has arrived at the scene, she now has an excuse for calling 911, claiming she noticed Mr. Duval’s argument outside the Lakewood Lounge and was worried about Emma’s safety. Though the truth about her dad prompts Emma to admit Maggie and Audrey were right, she still lets Audrey know that she doesn’t always need Audrey to rescue her. Just as Audrey’s day seems to be ending back in the right direction, she gets one more message from the killer: “Look under the seat.” Audrey pulls out the blood-covered corkscrew and receives one final message (at least for that evening), a snap of poor dead Eddie with the warning: You shouldn’t have called the police. GOTCHA :).
Thoughts and Theories:
In keeping with the horror movie theme, this episode was titled “Vacancy,” which certainly made sense with the motel taking center stage toward the last quarter of the episode, but another equally appropriate title could have been “Fight Club” as it seemed like almost every character featured got in at least one argument. But if my theory (yes, I have finally picked one—for now) is right, this episode offered some important clues to the killer’s identity.
First though, let’s discuss my Audrey theories from last season. I didn’t recap every episode, only wrote an overall piece on the season, but I did look back at Audrey’s storyline, since the finale of season 1 showed her connections to Piper. In that article I claimed that the big reveal should really cause viewers to rethink the original portrayal of Audrey, as victim of an embarrassing viral video. I suggested that Audrey and Piper made sure that the video was captured, since it served as a nice distraction for the killer’s real motivations; however, if that set-up were true, then it implied Audrey’s relationship with Rachel was as fake as that onyx on Noah’s bookends. Speaking of which, it seemed like last season Noah was only safe. As I pointed out, the few times it appeared he was a target turned out to be false scares, so I thought that Audrey made a “No Killing Noah” pact with Piper by explaining that Noah wasn’t in Emma’s group of friends anyway. But maybe that pact came with a clause: If Noah got in the way or too close to discovering the truth, he had to die. When it appeared that the truth was finally in front of him, Audrey only briefly hesitated before picking up the bookend. Yes, she seemed hesitant even after that, but the fact that she was preparing to kill him shows just how motivated Audrey is to keep her secret, and solidifies my theory that while Piper might have done most (if not all) of the first season’s killings, she was Audrey’s accomplice, not the other way around.
In the first two articles, I discussed four potential killers (plus a bonus just-for-fun theory): Noah, Brooke, Emma, and Maggie. While it is still early in the season, I have picked one of the four I think is most likely to be the actual killer, and this episode certainly supports my choice. My pick for this season’s Lakewood Slasher is (drumroll) Maggie Duval!
Last week I explained why Jake as the first victim made the most sense as a victim of Maggie’s. After this week’s episode, it seems like Jake’s murder was more than just a warning to Audrey, it was also her chance at redemption, a test. Jake’s reveal in the storage unit should have been the last straw for Audrey. Yes, the previous texts and calls were disturbing, and the photocopied notes were evidence that the stalker had proof of Audrey’s connections, but Jake’s demise was a message that the stalker was also a killer and that Audrey was being punished for her past. The killer was potentially giving Audrey a chance to confess, maybe even show true remorse for the chaos and carnage her idea caused, but Audrey chose to cover up any evidence that connected her to this new death. She made a clear choice: Her secret and her new status as part of Emma’s group, part of the Lakewood 6 (5) was the only thing she valued, more important than even the lives of those other group members.
I also suggested that the next death would probably offer a greater understanding of the killer, and Eddie’s death proved that. Though there were definite reasons behind the victims of Piper and Audrey’s time behind the mask, it also seemed like death, in general, was OK for them. While Audrey wanted to get back at/re-friend Emma, Piper seemed to be in it for the kill and revenge. That there was even a Good Girl/Bad Girl option on the night of Riley’s murder shows what types of killers the Piper and Audrey duo were. This season’s killer seems to only be motivated by revenge on Audrey, and in order to make Audrey suffer for as long as possible (since Audrey chose not to confess), Eddie had to die. He seems to be the only other person in Lakewood who knows the truth, and there was no guarantee that Audrey’s phone threat would last too long, so the killer had no choice but to get rid of him. Still, anyone who is motivated by revenge on Audrey would have done the same thing, so while Eddie’s death furthers this new motivation, it doesn’t serve as evidence that Maggie is the new killer. But Kevin Duval’s return does.
Though Maggie seems surprised when Kevin tells her he’s been in contact with Riley, those emails mean that someone wanted him to return to Lakewood. But why? Only to provide Audrey with a red herring for her stalker? Doubtful. Anyone in town could have taken that role, especially the dearly departed Eddie. But if the killer’s one motivation is only to torture Audrey, then there is no reason to bring Mr. Duval, a person Audrey barely remembers and what memories she does have of him are unpleasant. What happens to Kevin in the remainder of the episode explains how his return fits into Maggie’s plan.
The meeting with Sheriff Acosta almost works as a point against my theory. After all, if Maggie was the one communicating with Kevin through email (which, Kev, did you even stop to think how a somewhat random high schooler got your email address?), then why would she not only go to the police but insist that Miguel take the emails seriously and investigate them? I am sure Maggie has that all covered, of course, because her real reason for accompanying Kevin to the station was not for more information on those emails (though Miguel’s lack of concern probably made her feel good—if the town’s sheriff isn’t worried about a series of emails from a dead girl, then the sheriff probably isn’t concerned that anything is awry in the town). Maggie made sure she started arguing with her ex in the middle of the station, and there were witnesses to Kevin’s attempt at grabbing her, making him look like a violent person.
That Eddie was killed in Kevin’s hotel room, a room filled with those newspaper clippings (and, remember, one was a nice reminder of how a mother and daughter survived side-by-side) is further evidence that Maggie is framing Kevin. If she can torture Audrey and make her ex-husband look guilty, then Maggie gets this season’s official Two Birds, One Stone award. Yes, there was a chance that Emma would not have been interrupted and would have discovered the killer and Eddie in the bathroom, but the killer could have easily then knocked Emma out and cleaned up the scene, making Emma both suspect her father of murder while also being too afraid to admit it because she couldn’t verify she hadn’t had another hallucination. Finding her dad in a drunken brawl instead was only icing on Maggie’s cake, as it caused Em to have major distrust in her father.
I haven’t yet explored the possibilities of Kieran being involved in this season’s murders yet, as he has barely had any significant (or has he) storylines, but next week is his birthday, so a new lead suspect just might emerge. I’m incredibly excited that the episode’s title is “Happy Birthday to Me,” and while I know that each title has so far only tenuously connected to the episode’s actual content, is it too much to ask for to see a shish kabob murder scene? I think not.