SLASHER Review: “In the Pride of His Face”

Gory on-screen murders return... and we know who the killer is!

After the first couple episodes, Slasher has been largely avoiding on-screen kills, opting for cliffhanger versions more often than not (with an episode or segment ending on someone's impending demise and flashing forward to their corpse when the show resumes), but "In the Pride of His Face" makes up for it with the gnarliest one yet - though the Executioner actually doesn't lay a finger on his victim. Instead, Tom - who is guilty of pride - sacrifices himself for Sarah (also guilty of it) and literally dives onto a spinning bandsaw, which instantly tears his entire torso asunder and sends blood and mulched-up body parts spraying everywhere. It's the sort of kill scene that would have sent the MPAA on a rampage if it was included in an R rated Friday the 13th movie circa 1988, but is now perfectly okay for basic cable.

So now all seven deadly sins are accounted for, but there's still one episode to go - how does that work? Well there's still the matter of actually unmasking the killer, which still hasn't happened. As I predicted last week, the culprit's identity is now known to us (it's Cam! Everyone guessed correctly by the end of episode two!), but his "reveal" happened only in front of the audience's eyes - Sarah and the remaining other characters are still in the dark. Plus it's still not out of the question that there are two killers - that's the route both Scream the series *and* Scream Queens took (actually there were THREE killers in that one), and it's always an easy way to assure any possible plot holes are smoothed over.

But if Cam's working alone, they did a pretty good job of hiding it in plain sight. Like I pointed out before, when he calls his wife to check on her in episode four, we don't actually see him dialing or get a cutaway of her phone ringing, so he's in the clear there - he obviously never really made that call. And tonight when he investigates the Executioner's lair and finds his list that points to Sarah and Tom as his only potential victims for Pride, he's with another officer, so he's playing along for the benefit of another character, instead of cheating the game for us in the audience. I always think of Gossip Girl's big finale reveal of who the title character was, and how the show's fans instantly took to the internet with memes of all the times the guy who was Gossip Girl all along would be alone in his room, stunned at the things he himself wrote (he also got himself in trouble on several occasions by posting his own secrets). I doubt I'll have time to verify, but as far as my memory goes, if Cam is the only killer, the show's writers (well, writer - Aaron Martin is the only one that's ever credited) did a good job of making it all fit.

That said, I am increasingly sure that Robin is helping him out. I rewatched Scream 2 last week and was reminded at how well they handled Mickey, giving him plenty to do in the film's first act and then gradually weaning him out of the narrative, so that when he came back as the killer you were satisfied (meaning it wasn't Friday the 13th, springing a completely new character out of the blue to answer the whodunit), but he was never so significant that you'd be wondering where he was when he disappeared for a good forty minutes or so. Robin was basically a co-lead for a few episodes there, but after not appearing at all last week he makes only the briefest, perfunctory appearance here... but they also take time to remind us about that family that died after he and his husband evicted them from their home. It's such a weird throwaway detail to bring up with only one episode to go, so if he's not Cam's partner, then that is some really wonky red herringism. 

Speaking of people's limited appearances, Sarah finally returns to the limelight this week, as she's in just about every scene, including a really farfetched one where she and Tom have a fun little chat about hobbies and things he wished he could have shown her, as her dad. She's very casual and even loving toward the guy who butchered her mother and would-be father, which I don't quite buy. I mean, sure, she never met them and he is the only real family she has anymore, but I think it would take more than a couple hours to start sitting next to him and cheerfully swap stories. They're off together because Tom is protecting her after it became clear that one of them was the killer's next target, rightfully not trusting Cam to do it. Of course, Tom is a fugitive, so he has to take Sarah out of Cam's protection by force. Once you learn that Cam is the killer, it makes his actions kind of ironically heroic - it was a dad protecting his daughter from a killer, though at the time it was a crazy murderer taking his daughter away from police protection. 

Tom gets a big showcase this week as well, both in the present and the past, as a pair of flashbacks show how it is he ended up in bed with Sarah's mom, Rachel. He was a local minister (!) and she seduced him (in church no less) fairly quickly for one of her videos, but the usual fun and games backfired when Tom starts telling her how much he loves her and how they can run away together and such. It's all rather pathetic, and it doesn't help when she calls out for Brian (Rachel's husband/Sarah's not-father), saying she doesn't want to play this particular game anymore. Brian comes in (inexplicably wearing what can only be described as a Cosby sweater), laughing at and pitying Tom, explaining why he makes these videos and praising his performance "until the last part" (meaning his lovesick pleas of devotion). You get why Tom killed him so viciously, basically, and we also get to see how he ultimately did Rachel in after she convinced him to spare their baby. The flashback-heavy episode almost reminded me of Lost's structure, and perhaps that sort of format might work for this kind of show in the future - giving each character their own episode with flashbacks at how they got to where they are now, rather than go for a more traditional multi-character approach.

As for Dylan, we finally learn his big secret - he runs an Executioner fansite of sorts, devoted to the current mystery, Sarah's parents murders, etc. As reveals go it's hardly the most exciting, but it at least seems to put him in the clear as far as being a killer (just like the reveal that Cam's dad had a bag of "weapons" because they were props for his weird S&M sessions). Lisa Ann Follows also finally makes her move on him this week, but he refutes for Sarah's sake, doubling down on the "good guy after all" proof (not to mention the fact that had he gone through with it, Lust would pretty much be the last of the sins for him to be guilty of himself). His storyline makes me wonder if this kind of show might be better with a 24-esque real-time format, because for several weeks he's had to be a dick to his wife, keep a lame secret from her, and act suspicious on the regular... all to advance his career a tiny bit? It's the sort of revelation that might be fine if it had only been a couple hours since their rift began, but for days on end (when she already knows that he's into the case anyway) reeks of "let's drag it out so we can keep him as a suspect" writing, which of course renders chunks of the show rather wasteful in hindsight.

But hey, it's been a fairly entertaining and consistent journey so far, and even though we know who the killer is, I'm still curious to see how it all plays out in next week's finale. Hopefully with a long damn chase scene. 

This post is sponsored by Chiller. The new original series Slasher airs Friday nights at 9pm ET on ChillerTV.