This week on Pretty Little Liars,
everyone gets into their finest country western attire and line dances, while relationships are tested and Red Coat floats around like a ghost. It's an amazing episode, certainly one of the best so far in a season which has too often felt like the show spinning its wheels. The episode masterfully keeps dozens of plates spinning, with several relationships going through dramatic ups and downs over the course of the hour.
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Yet somehow, it still finds enough room to shove in several hilariously long dance sequences. Apparently, in between nearly being skewered on knitting needles, all the girls have taken up memorizing elaborate country western choreography. "Moves Like Aria," the new country jam from Maroon 5, will be dropping any day now.
With the mid-season finale next week, its time to move our major players to the right squares on the chessboard. And no player is being moved around more than CeCe Drake.
Last week, Caleb mentioned that CeCe seemed to be everywhere and nowhere all at once. This week, somehow CeCe literally is everywhere, talking on a phone to someone while seemingly located outside Rosewood, yet back in town in time to dive into giant piles of hay and listen outside Ezra's door to what I can only assume is a whole lot of whining.
Is it possible we've been so fixated on the possibility of Alison having a twin that we missed the idea CeCe might have a double? I'm only half joking here. How is it possible for CeCe to declare she's "not going back to Rosewood" in one breath and then have her ear to Ezra's door soon after?
Also, if CeCe is Red Coat, does that mean she's also 'A'? But if she is 'A', why not show her face in the creepy doll tag? I have so many questions and few answers, but CeCe Drake having a psychotic twin bent on vengeance doesn't even seem that far-fetched at this point.
Relationships Are Tested
While the the Red Coat mystery seems closer to being solved, it's really the liars' relationships that become the biggest question marks. Things are strained between Hanna and Caleb due to her mother's frequent and seemingly endless incarceration. Orange is the New Ashley Marin: coming soon to Netflix.
Things are also tense between Spencer and Toby, especially after he finds out she told her friends about the game of cat-and-childhood-trauma 'A' has been playing. "It's not you, Toby, it's this storyline. I just want to break into things again and carry around industrial flashlights. Talking to senile old doctors just doesn't offer the thrill of trying to hack someone to death with a spade."
Speaking of Emily, things are still really tense between her and Paige. She obviously still cares about Paige, but the birthday conversation still lingers between the two. It's hard to invest fully in a relationship with a timer counting down to zero.
But since Emily's whole life is a bomb timer just waiting to go off, she figures she could do worse than spend a little extra time with Paige. "I want to dance with you now," Emily says, "before they turn the lights off." Especially since Paige can really, really pull off that country western belt buckle. Yeehaw, indeed.
And what of Aria? Is she cleaning up wine stains around town? Turning leftover Tippy feathers into earrings? Remembering and promptly forgetting she has a brother? After a brief interlude of almost mattering to the main storyline via needle in the eye, she takes off for her usual merry-go-round with Ezra and Jake. Who will she chose?
Relationships are in turmoil, but at least the girls, after some earlier strife this season, are stronger than ever. And it seems like they'll need to be, because it looks like they're returning back to Ravenswood next week in the mid-season finale, where the townspeople gather in the graveyard to pay homage to the dead everyday around noon and then go out for a nice sensible lunch.
What's Up with CeCe Drake?
After Emily tells the girls about the crawl space under the DiLaurentis house, Spencer gets that crazed look in her eyes that means it's breaking and entering time. Spencer really reserves that special kind of crazy for light misdemeanors and academic decathlons.
Aria, wearing the pelt of the tiger she used to make her weird tribal necklace, is trying to figure out where CeCe fits into this whole mess. Hanna, however, is mostly freaking out about the careless legal counsel her mom is getting now that Veronica Hastings is no longer her lawyer. Better call Saul!
Underneath the house, the girls poke around but only manage to find a coat button. Footsteps above don't belong to Mrs. DiLaurentis, who's out shopping with Hanna, but to an angry yet crafty 'A'.
A knitting needle comes very close to impaling Aria's sweet face, the most she has had to contribute to an interesting storyline all season. Thankfully, the spirit of Mufasa on her blazer manages to save her from harm.
Back in Alison's room in front of her blonde twin foreshadowing poster, Emily has a flashback. She remembers Alison painting her toenails and telling her to dump her boyfriend at the time because he was like the mushy squash everyone else had passed over. Alison would have been a really lovely writer of Hallmark cards. "Roses are red, violets are blue, your girlfriend cheated on you!"
It turns out someone, probably CeCe, used Alison's Shannen Doherty skill set to break up with a violent boyfriend who then pulled a gun on her. Emily posits the theory that the boyfriend might have been Wilden, who was seeing not Alison but CeCe. When she came back into town, she needed to kill him to escape. It would certainly fit with the timeline of one of the last places we saw Wilden, shoving a protesting CeCe into his police car.
Later, we finally see CeCe in the flesh, on the phone with someone protesting that she doesn't want to return to Rosewood. She's surrounded by pictures and newspaper clippings of all the girls, which look like they might have come straight out of Mona's trailer. Does this mean CeCe is definitely 'A'? At the very least, the red coat on the chair certainly points to her identity as the mysterious blonde about town.
At the hoedown, Emily sees someone in a red coat fleeing the dance, and she and Spencer rush outside. Continuing to add to Rosewood's premium auto insurance rate, the two try to rob the hay ride truck to take off after 'A'. But unfortunately, one of the only special skills Spencer Hastings hasn't acquired is the ability to start old trucks.
Behind them, Red Coat swan-dives into the giant pile of hay in the back. "Don't worry, Spencer, I got this. I don't know if you've heard, but I killed a guy once. I have no problem shanking someone with a spade," Emily says and gets to work trying to slice and dice Red Coat.
But Red Coat has already ditched the incriminating coat and disappeared, like a puff of smoke or a ghost or a song you half remember but the tune can never be quite brought into focus. Devoid of her red coat, she evaporates into a fine mist and is carried off on a breeze to float over Rosewood, giving a chill to Aria Montgomery as she takes her new custom boots and walks them on over to Ezra's apartment.
See, Ezra Fitz has been growing out an increasingly weird-looking feelings beard in an attempt to control his emotions. He even yells at Emily about how she doesn't have real problems when she comes to ask about her glowing college recommendation. Sure, Ezra, I'm sure the girl who is literally homeless just doesn't understand hardship.
Of course, Ezra soon unburdens himself of the story about Malcolm's paternity, because he's a real professional committed to never stepping over the line of propriety with a student. I know my favorite teachers in high school were the ones who took me aside and told me about their paternity battles and their baby mamas instead of helping me get into college.
As is the theme of this episode, Emily finds it impossible to keep this information from Aria. After an entire episode of less-than-subtle prodding to call Ezra, Emily finally spills the beans. This is after Ezra shows up, clean-shaven but still looking like someone who maybe shouldn't be within 50 feet of a school district, to chaperon the dance.
Jake comes up to Ezra to drop some country western wisdom about cheatin' hearts and hurtin' ways, because as soon as you step into a hoedown the g's magically disappear from the ends of all sentences.
At Ezra's later, Aria says she won't take no for an answer and implores him to tell her everything. They hold hands and there still seems to be some romantic tension there.
Outside Ezra's door, a blonde in a dark hoodie floats in on the breeze and listens closely at the door. Who else could it be but CeCe? Perhaps she lost her red coat while crawling out of a pile of hay, bloodied from being hacked with a spade? Or maybe she was never at the hoedown at all.
Perhaps CeCe is there, right outside your window as you read this, watching you, right now. She'll be there when you go to sleep, to read you bedtime stories about "beach hotties" and then stab all your collectibles with knitting needles. Perhaps CeCe is everywhere or maybe CeCe doesn't even exist. Maybe we're all CeCe.
The Man Who Saw Too Much
Meanwhile, Hanna is being followed around by a super attractive stalker, because everyone in this town in simultaneously one moment from being a print model or a serial killer. She's soon freaking out when she finds a stack of money in her locker for her mom's defense.
"This is going right into a pasta box! Can you imagine putting all that money into an envelope? What are we, savages?" Hanna says, running to find the nearest box of angel hair pasta.
It turns out Travis works for a garage by the lake and heard Ashley fighting with Wilden. So far, so bad for Ashley Marin's prison outlook. But he also heard her get into the car and drive away before shots were fired and someone ran off into the woods. So basically, Travis' testimony can exonerate Ashley, and Hanna talks him into taking back his bribe money and confessing to Lt. Tanner instead.
Does this mean the police investigation into Ashley is finally over? It's been a good opportunity for some fine work out of Ashley Benson, but as a storyline it has really dragged over the course of these last 11 episodes. I certainly wouldn't be sorry to see the last of Ashley in a prison jumpsuit and ankle bracelet.
'A' Delivers a Weird Mix Tape
In another storyline that has been badly dragging all season, Toby finds a CD of his mother singing in his car stereo. "Turn it off before it brainwashes us or something!" Spencer freaks out. But Toby is obsessed with finding out what else Dr. Palmer might have in his mother's files and 'A' keeps adding fuel to the flame.
A huge argument erupts between the lovebirds when he finds out she "chose" her friends over him and spilled the beans about 'A's' latest game. Hoes before bros, Toby. That's just basic girl code. Also, when your faked death puts your girlfriend into a mental institution for several weeks, I think you lose the right to get mad over a little over-sharing.
Spencer sends Caleb after Toby, who finds him trying to break into Dr. Palmer's old car. Once again, goodbye Rosewood auto insurance rates! The police are, obviously, right behind Caleb and the two guys run off together into the woods.
What did you think of this week's episode? Could CeCe have a twin? Will Aria chose Jake or Ezra? What doll did 'A' stab with that knitting needle? Share your theories in the comments!
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(Image courtesy of ABC Family)