Who is the Red Devil? It's the question at the heart of FOX's horror anthology Scream Queens ... and the show has offered viewers a surplus of suspects, from wicked sorority sisters to dim fraternity brothers and jaded faculty members. But it's a question that got even more complicated in the wake of the revelation that there were at least two people dressing up in the school mascot's costume and murdering coeds. We already know that Gigi (Nasim Pedrad) is working with them and that Boone (Nick Jonas) is also in league with the killers — or is perhaps even one of the Devils himself. But who is the real mastermind behind the operation? Could Grace Gardner be the killer?
Don't count out the hat-loving pledge played by Skyler Samuels just because she's the show's nominal protagonist. There may be more "obvious" suspects: Hester and her obsession with death, Chanel #3 and her infamous serial killer father, Dean Munsch and her hatred of all things Kappa, Pete and his general creepiness, just to name a few. But we're only five episodes into a 13 episode season, so do you really think the killer is going to turn out to be the obvious choice at the end? And what could be more surprising than sweet, unassuming Grace turning out to be the deranged psychopath offing her sorority sisters?
Here are the seven biggest clues that Grace is the Red Devil.
1. She's Never Been Attacked By The Red Devil
Grace and the Red Devil have appeared onscreen together twice: once when she was first approaching Kappa house and he was lurking behind her, and once when she was searching through Kappa's basement and his mask could be seen through a window. But given the fact that we already know there are multiple people under the costume, this doesn't mean much. It's much more significant to point out that Grace is just about the only character left who has not once been directly attacked by the Red Devil. She was conveniently missing from the gopher hazing when "Deaf Taylor Swift" got her head mown off; and she hasn't run afoul of the killer since.
2. She Overheard Chanel's Plan
In the first episode, Chanel Oberlin took Ms. Bean out for coffee so she could explain her genius plan to scare the pledges with her face-in-the-fryer prank. Of course, she wasn't super subtle about this, speaking at full volume so anyone who was in close proximity might have heard. And who was in close proximity during that scene? Grace, who was standing in line right behind her. It would have been a simple matter for Grace to slip into the kitchen and turn on the fryer, leading directly to Ms. Bean's grisly demise.
3. She Found Out Where Mandy Lived
Mandy Greenwell was one of the only living people who could shed light on the mysterious events of the 1995 bathtub baby. When Pete tracked down her location, Grace was thrilled — and just hours after Pete and Grace left her trailer, Mandy was killed by the Red Devil. Coincidence? I think not. Plus, Grace seemed fairly put out that Mandy disproved her Chad-Radwell-is-the-killer theory by stating that the baby was a girl. Grace's Chad theory always felt out of left field to me. I mean, the guy can barely string a sentence together much less hatch a nefarious murder plan. Grace was clearly trying to throw suspicion onto someone other than herself, and was bummed when Mandy could prove that she was wrong — so she killed her.
4. She Knew Zayday's Favorite Food
In last week's episode, Grace knew that Zayday's password was "Oakland Nachos" because her bestie had previously told her that was her favorite food. Then, when Zayday was kidnapped by the Red Devil, the masked killer tried to serve her a fancy dinner of... you guessed it... Oakland Nachos. This is too many quote-unquote "coincidences" piling up around Grace. Perhaps Grace kidnapped her best friend to once again throw suspicion off herself, but then felt bad about it and tried to make up for it by at least giving Zayday a nice meal while she was locked up.
5. She Already Revealed Her Motive
During the premiere, Grace explained to Pete that she was pledging Kappa house because it was where her mother lived — but that horrible people like Chanel had ruined the sorority's legacy. She flat-out told Pete that it was her goal to join Kappa and cleanse it of Chanel and her awful minions one-by-one. Um, anyone else getting a major red flag here? Just hours after Grace joins, Chanel #2 is murdered and the rest of the sisters find themselves the target of the Red Devil. Again, I ask you: Coincidence? Not bloody likely...
6. It Would Be An Homage
We all know that showrunner Ryan Murphy loves his homages. His FX anthology American Horror Story has paid tribute to famous horror movies like Rosemary's Baby, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Freaks, and many many more over the course of its five seasons. Last week, Scream Queens made direct references to both The Silence Of The Lambs (Zayday in the pit) and The Shining (the hedge maze). Grace turning out to be the killer would be yet another homage — this time to a film with direct ties to the show itself. (Spoiler alert!)
At the end of the 2011 horror sequel Scream 4, it was revealed that Sidney's cousin Jill Prescott — the film's secondary protagonist and the target of Ghostface's attacks — was actually the brains behind the operation, in a desperate grasp at fame. Scream Queens' own young, pretty, seemingly innocent protagonist being unmasked as a psycho killer would be a clear parallel to that ending. And who played Jill in Scream 4? Why, none other than Scream Queens star Emma Roberts, of course.
7. Nobody Suspects Her
Literally no one. With all the crazy crackpot theories that are bouncing around, no one seems to be thinking about Grace as a possibility — which is probably exactly what Ryan Murphy intends. Audience are programmed to trust a protagonist, even when all the signs are telling us we shouldn't. (Take a look at Agatha Christie's The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd for a prime example; written 89 years ago, it's still shocking today.) Our assumption that Grace is the season's "Final Girl" has blinded us to the fact that she's actually the most likely suspect. Heck, when MTV put together a list of 11 suspects, they didn't even include Grace as even a possible Red Devil candidate. That's a huge oversight; and one that's going to come back to haunt us when it's revealed that Grace was the killer all along.
Now that I've staked my reputation on this theory, watch Grace get killed off in a shocking turn of events on this Tuesday's episode, "Seven Minutes In Hell." That would be just my luck.
Images: Patti Perret/FOX