Knowing that the audience for Fox’s upcoming Scream Queens will be impatient to find out whodunit, showrunner Ryan Murphy isn’t going to make viewers wait: He’s introducing the murderer in the series’ premiere. But, of course, there’s a catch.
Though fans will “definitely meet the killer” in the horror-comedy’s two-hour launch on Sept. 22, Murphy said at a joint American Horror Story/Scream Queens panel at Comic-Con on Sunday that they won’t realize at the time who it is. However, “if you go back and watch that episode at the end [of the season], I think it’s very clear.”
Cast members Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Skyler Samuels, Keke Palmer, Abigail Breslin and Billie Lourd — all of whom joined Murphy on the panel — also might not know the culprit’s identity… even if it’s one of their characters.
“It really is a whodunit,” Murphy insisted, adding that he allowed each of the actors to do a take of every scene as if their alter ego were the murderer, which of course influenced their performances.
And, while a Season 2 renewal is still a ways off, Murphy was already able to lay out his plan for the series’ potential sophomore year — a plan that differs significantly from American Horror Story’s anthology format.
“With American Horror Story, every year there’s a new story, a new theme,” he noted. “On Scream Queens, survivors will go on to a different location, but the characters that you’ve grown to love will continue on, and many of them will not.”
Speaking of American Horror Story, cast members Angela Bassett, Matt Bomer, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates were on hand to discuss the upcoming Hotel installment. One thing that may be different this year? Murphy may kill off Paulson.
“I always want to write the opposite of the season before. Someone said to me, ‘Paulson is the only one that always lives,’ and I said, ‘We’ve got to change that right away,’” he told the crowd, adding — when the remark was met with boos — that her character’s potential death would be done in “a very fun way.”
Other highlights from the star-studded panel:
* While they couldn’t say much about Hotel, the cast did reveal their characters’ names: Carbona (Bassett), Donovan (Bomer), Mr. March (Peters), Hypodermic Sally (Paulson) and Iris (Bates). And, furthering the idea that all American Horror Story seasons are connected, Murphy confirmed that past characters will check in to Hotel throughout the year.
* Neither Hotel nor Scream Queens will feature a musical number. “Never say never,” Murphy said, “but I feel like I got that out of my system.”
* While discussing American Horror Story’s anthology format, Murphy managed to throw a little shade at a certain veteran leading lady who won’t be appearing in Hotel. “I love it, because you say to the actors, ‘I need you for one season. If you love it, great, let’s do it again. If not, go do something else and then come back,’ aka Jessica Lange.”
* Despite her current Scream Queens gig, Roberts said that she “[doesn’t] think it’s over on American Horror Story, either.”
* Although Lourd’s Scream Queens character wears earmuffs as a slight homage to the actress’ real-life mom, Carrie Fisher (aka Princess Leia), “there’s also a mysterious plot point” involving the accessory.
* Speaking of homages, Scream Queens’ Curtis will give a wink and a nod to her iconic Halloween character, Laurie Strode, in Episode 2. “There is a wordless homage that I threw in,” she teased, “as a tipping of my hat to all of you Laurie Strode lovers out there.”
Your thoughts on the news coming from Sunday’s American Horror Story/Scream Queens panel? Drop ’em in the comments section below.