Happy Birthday to Me
by Bethany Rose
Episode 4 Recap, Thoughts, and Theories – Spoiler Warning.
Audrey and Emma’s problems continue. Audrey thinks burying the corkscrew used in Eddie’s murder is a good idea, until she wakes up with the item in bed with her. Emma’s love session with Kieran turns bloody when the killer appears, but it was all a dream she was chronicling in her journal. She then discovers her parents fighting, which she has clearly had enough of, as she dishes out some harsh truths to both of them before leaving the house.
Kieran and Eli have a small tiff before Eli wishes his cousin a Happy Birthday. He proposes a party, but Kieran would rather spend the evening with just Emma. Not one to seem to care much about Kieran, Eli then conveniently runs into Em at the coffee shop and plants the seed in her mind that Kieran really does want a big gathering. So they agree to plan the party together at Em’s house, since her mom will conveniently be filling in for another medical examiner that evening.
Mayor Maddox seems excited about the upcoming announcement of the Lady of the Lake pageant finalists, certainly more enthusiastic than Brooke. He tries reassuring her that she can pick any guy she wants to accompany her if Jake continues to act squirrelly. (Note: After her dad leaves the room, Brooke has a short text conversation with Jake. My poor eyes couldn’t read a word of it!)
At school, Audrey continues to get playfully threatening texts, and her suspicion of Stavo grows when Brooke claims he is obsessed with the Lakewood 6. Trying to get to the bottom of things, Audrey pulls the fire alarm and as everyone else exits the room, she sneaks back in and looks through Stavo’s tablet. She discovers the creepy looking comic book depictions of the Lakewood 6 he’s been drawing, including a very bloody and violent looking picture of Em.
Mayor Maddox asks Sheriff Acosta for help in locating Jake, but like most people who seem to find their way into Acosta’s office, he doesn’t want to fill out a report. Since he sought out Acosta for the job and a return to Lakewood to be the town’s hero, Maddox feels the sheriff owes him this one favor. So he agrees to search for Jake.
Back at school, Noah awkwardly tries asking Zoe to Kieran’s party, and Brooke helps seal the deal. The always a bit too chill Keiran asks Emma if she’s ready to chill that night. And Sheriff Acosta makes his way to the school’s office looking for answers about Jake’s whereabouts. He’s told that Jake called in sick on Monday and sounded pretty awful, and he’s reminded that even if Jake isn’t actually sick, it isn’t too surprising that a student would not come to school when the parents are out of town. Not buying into that idea, he decides to head over to Jake’s house, finding still no sign of Jake.
After school it is party planning time. Noah can’t pick the right outfit, and Audrey isn’t helping make his difficult choice any easier. She’s too concerned with discussing Stavo, but Noah isn’t suspicious of him the way Audrey is. He agrees that he has that creepy mysterious factor, but argues that isn’t always a bad thing. He suggests Audrey is acting out of your typical movie-induced paranoia.
The Emma and Eli party-planning committee hit the bottles early which may or may not have led to their close kissing encounter. Brooke interrupts the moment and brings in a bottle of tequila that she says was just sitting on the doorstep. There’s a card with it, and it of course is signed “Jake.” Brooke laments that it’s a really lame way to learn he’s back in town.
With the party in full swing, Stavo passes out tequila shots that the partygoers down when Kieran arrives. Noah and Zoe mention to Brooke and Audrey that it smelled and tasted weird, and as soon as Brooke says the bottle was from Jake, Audrey takes off and runs through a mass of sickened partiers. She thinks everyone needs to go to the hospital, but Stavo not only disagrees, he just so happens to know exactly why everyone is feeling so horrible. He claims the tequila included a mix of ayahuasca, which will not have any major effects on the sick youth except for some short-term hallucinations. Most of the remainder of the party is one crazy mix of truth and hallucinations, so I am going to discuss some of the highlights here:
Brooke’s hallucination includes some fire and a moving tattoo. She conjures up Jake, which makes her question her loyalty to him over her newly “burning” feelings for Stavo.
As the ayahuasca starts to wear down and the police are at the scene, the group explains the mysterious evening to Sheriff Acosta. He is also surprised to hear the tainted tequila was a gift from Jake. Emma seems to be the odd man out, as she feels her attack really happened, but nobody will corroborate her story. Audrey is the only one who says she believes her, and then tells Acosta that instead of worrying about Jake, he might want to investigate his own son.
Kevin tells Emma he’s going to leave and get some help. Maggie returns and checks on Emma, who claims her dad saved her. Maggie seems to be more upset at Kevin’s savior complex than she is at Emma’s supposed attack.
Acosta decides to look at Stavo’s room and finds a stack of drawings (yes, there is a pig drawing) and then discovers his son also has his very own Brandon James mask.
The next day, Kieran tries comforting Em while gently explaining that maybe her initial reservations about returning to Lakewood too soon might be valid. Emma isn’t upset at his thought, but she does confidently say that she is back in the right place.
Noah wanted to know why Audrey apologized to him before kissing him, but she quickly blames it on the drugs. She then suggests that Noah turn his attention to Zoe, which he does. To his surprise, she turns down his offer for another date, suggesting that maybe he has more feelings for Audrey than he thinks.
At the Lady of the Lake assembly, Brooke apologizes to Stavo. They seem more likely to get together than Noah and Zoe at this point. Em tries avoiding Eli by heading to the assembly, but not before sharing her anger at him for lying about Kieran’s birthday wishes.
The five finalists of Lady of the Lake are announced, and Zoe and Brooke both get called to the stage. As the banner drops, so does a lot of blood and Jake’s body, leaving poor Carrie White Brooke Maddox screaming.
Thoughts and Theories
Something isn’t right. I don’t know what it is, with the exception of my previous theories, but something is just strange. Not ayahuasca strange, but definitely off kilter. Up until now, the killer has been very careful about remaining a secret except to Audrey. Up until now, it seemed like the entire line of the killer’s thinking was only how to torture Audrey. Now the cat is out of the bag in a major way. Was this all part of the killer’s master plan? Does the killer have a partner that changed the plan? Did Eddie’s death necessitate a change? Maybe this will somewhat be like one of my favorite films, Tenebre. (Warning, if you don’t want spoilers for that film, skip to the next paragraph.) In it, a deranged killer tells writer Peter Neal that his writing inspired the murders. Toward the middle of the film, Neal’s main suspect for the murders ends up getting killed. At the film’s end, it is revealed that the main suspect did, in fact, commit the first series of murders, but the entire thing made a repressed memory of Neal’s bubble to the surface. This memory made Neal then want to kill, so he killed the original murderer and then set off on his own murdering spree. Could a similar twist be brewing in Lakewood? Doubtful, but it sure feels like something just as strange is happening.
Possible Killer 5: Kieran
As promised, Kieran’s birthday episode brings him into the list of suspects. He certainly has reason to hate Audrey, since his father was one of Piper’s victims. Living with his aunt and Eli doesn’t seem to be ideal for Kieran, save for the fact he gets to stay in Lakewood, so it is possible the situation her choices put him in was just all too much and he snapped. Though Kieran hasn’t been seen as much as the other Lakewood 6 this season, his behavior at his party could hold some major clues.
While Eli’s ketchup painting phase could easily have been a ruse, it appears that he, Audrey, Emma, and Brooke are the only members of the group who were truly under the ayahuasca’s influence. We saw the others act strange, maybe laugh a lot or pass out, but we didn’t see any of them hallucinating, meaning that one of them could have only pretended to drink the shot. Kieran is one we didn’t see hallucinate, and I find it interesting that it wasn’t until the ayahuasca incident that he decided to tell Emma about Eli’s past. Perhaps it was really Kieran, not Eli, who killed the dog all those years ago. If he did lie about this, then that is a major indicator that he is the killer, and certainly connects to all the talks of the subconscious bubbling up that the dream theme of this season keeps repeating. While Kieran certainly has motive, I just can’t see him going through with all this planning without falling asleep in the middle of it all. He’s just that chill.
Most mysteries include a red herring or two. It certainly isn’t a new thing. Eli and Stavo definitely have the red herring feel. My problem is that, even as red herrings, they seem a bit too obvious. It reminds me of the cartoon A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The show followed a younger version of the Scooby Gang, and Fred was shown as an inept sleuth. One of the show’s characters was named Red Herring, a character who was so over-the-top obviously not the culprit, yet Fred always picked him as the guilty party. Eli and Stavo don’t just feel like red herrings, they feel like Red Herring.
So the question is why? Is Eli made to look super guilty so that Kieran looks more innocent? Does Stavo know more than he’s admitting? Stavo mostly interacts with Brooke and Noah, and Eli mostly interacts with Kieran and Emma, so it might be important to read more into these interactions.