What does Pretty Little Liars
do with a problem like Ezra Fitz? Well, for one, shoot him.
Note: BuddyTV pleads its case for and against the redemption of Ezra Fitz after the Pretty Little Liars season 4 finale. For the other side of the argument click here. In the season four finale of the show
, Ezra took a bullet in service of protecting the girls. But does that come even remotely close to redeeming the character after the events of season four?
Throughout the fourth season, we saw some seriously dark sides to Ezra Fitz. The mid-season finale hinted very strongly that Ezra was indeed 'A', the malignant presence haunting the girls. Most of season 4B was spent with the audience convinced Ezra was 'A' while he stalked the girls, hung out in creepy murder cabins, and skulked around every corner like a young, pretentious Hannibal Lector.
Except the show didn't have the guts to go all the way with Ezra, who is one half of arguably the most popular couple on the show. So instead of being the mastermind behind the girls' torment, Ezra became just a morally compromised and creatively bankrupt "true crime writer."
It was a cop-out, that's for sure, but it was also a backtrack further muddying Ezra's already pretty shady character. The finale did backflips in order to clear Ezra's name from yet more statutory rape (not all, mind you, just additional) and even went so far as to have characters declare him a "good guy." Then he got shot protecting the liars.
It's obvious the show wants the audience to forget and forgive. But we shouldn't, and here are 11 reasons why:
1. His Relationships with Underage Girls
Probably the biggest reason Ezra is a huge creepy creep predates even the reveal that he might have been 'A'. Ezra's relationship with Aria has always been a touchy subject for the show. Despite the romantic trappings, the fact remains that Ezra is still several years older than a decidedly underage Aria.
But then it turns out he's been through all this before anyway, when he briefly dated Alison. The show bent over backwards to assure the audience that Ezra never slept with the very, very young Alison during their brief fling. But we know he did sleep with Aria, which is technically statutory rape.
2. Ezra's Abuse of His Teaching Position
Dating someone in high school is bad enough when you're just some creepy older guy. (Or doctor: Wren, looking at you boy.) It's especially bad when you are also your girlfriend's English teacher. Throughout most of their relationship, Ezra was in a position of power over Aria as her teacher. That makes their relationship, even before all the recent revelations, completely gross and inappropriate.
3. Targeting and Using Aria
One of the biggest pro-Ezra Fitz arguments prior to this season was that Ezra hooked up with Aria before he realized she was a high school student. The explanation never held much water to me, because no matter how great a makeout session, it makes little sense to put your career on the line and risk jail time for a person you just met. Now we know, of course, that Ezra was specifically targeting Aria because of her connection to Alison.
In hindsight the Ezra and Aria relationship makes more sense from Ezra's perspective, but becomes much, much more disturbing. Despite knowing Aria was only 16, Ezra pursued her for some tidbits for his book. He seemed upset that Alison lied about her age, but a year later he would zero in on Aria knowing full well her young she was.
Whether or not he eventually fell in love with her isn't the point. He targeted Aria from the beginning and used her to fill in the backstory for his book. He said he wanted to be willing to do anything for the story, and in this case anything involved risking jail time for statutory rape and crushing Aria's heart.
4. Stalking the Liars
For some unknowable reason, Ezra felt like part of writing a true crime book included stalking a bunch of underage girls. Girls who were friends of his girlfriend and students in his class. He rigged up the town with cameras and got others to do his dirty work, taking photos of the girls going about their daily business and sending those photos to Ezra.
He then put together several creepy lairs full of pictures taken without consent and timelines he put together thanks to some diligent stalking. Ezra didn't just betray Aria's trust, he betrayed the trust of each liar whose privacy he cavalierly violated. Even in Rosewood, you shouldn't have to worry that your English teacher might be hiding in the bushes and taking pictures of you stuffing a wad of cash into a pasta box.
5. He's a Selfish Liar
On a show called Pretty Little Liars, it's not unexpected when a major character turns out to be a liar. Ezra lied to Aria for their entire relationship. He used the personal stories she told him in moments of privacy and intimacy to put together a book.
He was going to publish this book, without telling her, full of her deepest and darkest secrets. Secrets not told to a reporter on the record, but to a boyfriend in confidence. By Ezra's own admission, he began working on the book again the moment they broke up, because apparently your girlfriend's privacy isn't important when she stops being your girlfriend.
6. He Knew about 'A' and Didn't Do Anything
Thanks to all the stalking, there is just no way on Earth that Ezra didn't know about 'A' a long time ago. Yet he didn't do anything to help his girlfriend or her friends from being stalked and harassed by a mysterious entity.
Sure, we forgave Toby for his transgressions on the 'A' team, so why not Ezra right? Except Toby went undercover on the 'A' team to find out information for the liars and to protect Spencer. Ezra has been sitting on a giant pile of information relating to 'A', information the liars could certainly have used, and only handed it over once he'd already been caught.
In the finale, we find out Ezra even has a good idea (or theory) on who 'A' might be
. Yet he never actually told the girls, or their parents, or the police. I guess they could all just wait and read about it in his book.
7. He Tried to Separate Aria From Her Friends
In season four Ezra was at an all-time creepy high. So it only makes sense that he would try to convince Aria to spend less time with her meddlesome friends and more time with him. Considering all the lies, secrets, and subterfuge implicit in their relationship, it just adds another creepy layer that Ezra tried to distance Aria from her support system.
8. He Blackmailed Mona Into Dating Mike
Mona is very far from a reliable source. But according to her, Ezra convinced her to spend quality time with Mike in order to learn more about what was happening with the liars. If true, I don't think I have to outline why it's morally terrible for a teacher to blackmail a student into dating another student for information on yet another student. If there was a "World's Worst Teacher" mug, Ezra Fitz would deserve it.
9. He Still Might Have Assaulted Spencer in Ravenswood
Ezra was in Ravenswood for some reason following the girls in the Halloween special. He was also in a costume. A person in the same costume assaulted Spencer. We don't know if it was Ezra or 'A', but there was certainly some shady business there.
10. He Only Came Clean When Caught
It's not like Ezra was so incredibly wracked by guilt that he turned to Aria one day and spilled the beans. In fact, Ezra went out of his way to cover his tracks when he suspected Spencer might be onto him.
He only admitted the truth when Aria directly confronted him with evidence. If she hadn't found his badly hidden manuscript, he might still be sending her on wild chickpea chases through the woods while he worked in his murder cabin lair.
11. Think of the Children!
I hate to be that person, but here I am being that person. Pretty Little Liars has a rabid fanbase to which I count myself as a member. A good proportion of the show's fanbase, however, is made up of younger fans.
The show does so much right when it comes to portraying strong female friendships, positive gay characters, and not hand-wringing over female sexuality. It's a show centered on multidimensional female characters who are strong and tough and vulnerable and, most importantly, active in solving their own mysteries.
There is so much that is great about Pretty Little Liars and so much that is progressive about the show. Redeeming Ezra would send the wrong message to the show's obsessive and young fanbase. Considering everything else the show gets right, it would be a shame to see the show get this one so wrong by romanticizing such an inappropriate relationship.
Of course, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'll be impressed with how they redeem Ezra. Or maybe they won't try to redeem him at all, and continue to make him a morally murky character. We'll have to wait until next season to find out.
Pretty Little Liars season 5 premieres Tuesday, June 10 at 8pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)