This week on Pretty Little Liars
, 'A' blows up a house and tries to kill Alison with her own scarf, so apparently 'A' used the downtime to really Eat, Pray, Love
and get in touch with the serial killer inside. "I realize I've been phoning it in," 'A' apologizes, knocking Alison over the head with a golf club. "Here's a Snapchat of me burying your mom!"
'A' is back and it's sending the liars scrambling. Already, there are cracks forming within the friend group and it's likely these will only deepen as 'A' comes back to haunt them. Hanna's existential crisis makes her far too eager to jump on the bandwagon when Alison decides it's time to pack up and leave. This causes a huge fight with Emily, who is still struggling to deal with her feelings for Alison and what it all means.
The action is mounting and the mysteries are deepening, yet even with five liars now instead of four, it has never felt as if the girls were quite this outnumbered. They still have 'A' to contend with, Mona's Army is on the move and the police are finally starting to do that "investigating" thing they usually ignore.
It's hard to fault Alison for wanting to get the hell out of Rosewood, possibly the most reasonable reaction to this crazy town anyone's ever had. 'A' has other plans for her, however, and threatens her life in order to keep her around. 'A' clearly wants to drive Alison crazy, and already the steely former mean girl seems to be shaking apart at the seams.
Yet Alison still has her unique power to needle and manipulate, and her two easiest targets so far have been Hanna and Emily. They've reacted in opposite ways, with Emily being tied closer to Alison through her sudden romantic availability and Hanna being pushed away as Alison becomes something of a rival for her very identity.
I always assumed Spencer would be the first to turn on Alison, but poor Spencer is too busy dressing like a hobo and trying to Parent Trap her family into the dysfunctional mess we all know and love. Meanwhile, Aria works hard to remind herself of Ezra's betrayal, even when the boxes and boxes of betrayal are staring her right in the face. The heart wants what it wants, I guess.
'A' is Back and Better Than Ever
It seems like 'A' took a sabbatical to refresh and recharge his/her batteries. I imagine 'A's' vacation would entail sitting on a desert island, knocking back a fruity pink drink and slowly stringing together human teeth puka shell necklaces for the liars.
Now that 'A' is back from vacation, he/she is really ready to cause some true chaos. After blowing up Toby's house, 'A' basically sends Alison a Snapchat of her mother being buried in a shallow grave. At this point, Alison freaks out even more than before and decides she is 100% getting out of dodge.
Obviously, escaping town isn't so easy. Rosewood is like the Bermuda Triangle, you can visit but you can never really leave. Unless you're a side character on the show, then it's likely you'll mysteriously disappear for three seasons and then reappear with weird facial hair. Rosewood giveth and Rosewood taketh away.
Alison snaps at Hanna about her stupid love triangle between Travis and Caleb, and Hanna goes all dark about the eyes the way she does when she's about to shove a huge amount of money into a pasta box or bash someone over the head with a rowboat paddle. The cord of Hanna's patience and sanity has been getting thinner and thinner since Alison returned, and it finally snaps.
Hanna decides to help Alison get out of town and do it without any of the other girls finding out. She shoves her whole closet into Alison's bag and grabs her emergency savings from a box of farfalle to hand over to Ali. You get the distinct impression she would strap Alison to her back and run her out of town if there were no other option.
Alison goes home to say goodbye to her father, forgetting that in Rosewood parents can never be around for more than one episode at a time, else they create a hole in the space/time continuum. While Alison grabs her fake IDs and gets ready to leave, 'A' pays her a visit.
'A' hits Alison with a club and then chokes Alison nearly to death with her own yellow scarf. It's vicious and scary, and shot in a way that's focused on ratcheting up the tension even before the fight starts. Thankfully, a furious Emily, having just gotten into a huge fight with Hanna, arrives on the scene just in time.
She goes full She-Hulk on 'A', eventually getting thrown once again onto her poor shoulder, which just can't seem to catch a break. Even though both Alison and Emily were mere inches from 'A', neither seemed to get a good look at their assailant's face. At this point, I feel like the only reasonable contender for 'A' is The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home from the podcast Welcome to Nightvale. How can you be that close to someone and not even catch a glimpse?
Hanna goes to see Caleb, who is still so depressed about his show getting cancelled, he's taken to drinking. Both Hanna and Caleb are rocking the same hobo chic look, like they live in a boxcar on the wrong side of town. They both look like they stepped right out of John Mellencamp's "Jack & Diane." "Oh yeah, life goes on. Long after the thrill of your spin-off is gone!"
Hanna says she still wants Alison out of town, and Caleb starts to talk about his cancelled show again. "Listen, Caleb, no one cares about ghosts or Ravenswood anymore," Hanna says, taking a last swig of his liquor. "At least I still have Travis!" The next day at school, Travis dumps her.
Meanwhile, 'A' sends Alison a text message telling her not to leave town, or she risks being murdered.
Detective Tanner is on the Case
Aria and Ezra, after their visit to bone town last week, are actually putting their heads together to try to solve the mystery that is 'A'. Of course, it's Aria and Ezra putting these clues together, and Rosewood's Batman and Robin they are not.
"Hold on, Aria, I think I might have some clues in this giant box of surveillance footage. Hold on, it's right under these pictures of you sleeping and this stack of photos of Emily hiding evidence in coffee filters."
Of course, Ezra comes up with basically nothing, and Spencer speaks for a portion of the audience when she reminds Aria about all the stalking and creepy behavior. Aria just kind of shrugs and is nice enough not to remind Spencer of that time her boyfriend inadvertently put her into a mental institution. Does anyone on this show have a normal relationship? Anyone? Bueller?
Back at Ezra's, Aria tells him their night of passion to the sweet, dulcet notes of Sting was a huge mistake. As if that wasn't bad enough, Detective Tanner pays him a visit to find out more about Shana Fring and why she died with gunshot residue on her clothing in Ezra's family theater.
"Nothing to see here!" Ezra shouts. "That's not an underage girl hiding in my bathroom and those certainly aren't boxes filled with surveillance footage of minors!" Detective Tanner nods and walks out, thoroughly on the case now.
Later, Detective Tanner comes to see Emily and Alison, to ask if Alison could come down to the police department to answer some questions. Questions like what happened to her lifelong pal Shana and where exactly the girls were in Philadelphia when Shana was killed. "So much tragedy in such a small town," Detective Tanner says, as if she just appeared on the scene yesterday and hasn't been rolling around town doing nothing for seasons now.
As soon as she's gone, the girls get a text from 'A'. "It's time for the caged bird to sing," it says. This can only mean Tippi the Bird is about to make her triumphant return, to wreck her cannibalistic destruction on the bird population of Rosewood and sing telephone numbers to you gently, oh so gently, as you fall asleep. We miss you, Tippi. Come back to us.
Who is Bethany Young?
The mystery of Bethany Young is first and foremost in the minds of Spencer and Aria. Spencer goes to see her good pal Eddie Lamb at Radley, who informs her he can't tell her anything confidential about Bethany.
Then Spencer gets sidetracked with the task of Parent Trapping her parents back into the loving and lie-filled relationship the whole family has enjoyed for years. It almost works, except Veronica Hastings decides to leave Peter anyway.
"I thought you guys were happy, in between all the times I thought you guys were serial killers," Spencer says, crushed.
Meanwhile, Eddie Lamb leaves a disturbing drawing on Ezra's doorstep, because the person you want to leave important evidence with is a person who can casually say, "Let's check the surveillance equipment I have in the hall!"
The drawing is one of Bethany's and it shows Mrs. D pruning her beloved roses in her trademark scarf while a monster lurks nearby brandishing a spear. "That monster is so tacky! Is that last season's murder spear?" the artistic rendering of Mrs. D seems to be saying with her eyes. I miss Mrs. D so much sometimes.
The girls correctly guess Bethany might not have been Mrs. D's biggest fan, but besides Mrs. D's involvement with Radley, they're still no closer to who Bethany was and why she died. The girls decide someone should be sent into Radley on a recon mission, and while Aria is daydreaming about Ezra, everyone quickly calls not it.
"This is a little outside my wheelhouse," Aria says, since her wheelhouse mostly involves love triangles, losing small children and cleaning wine stains. But then the girls explain that volunteering at Radley probably involves plenty of arts and crafts, and Aria signs on the dotted line. "Oh, the things we'll bedazzle," she whispers.
Elsewhere Around Rosewood...
-- Emily bullies poor Paige into revealing the members of Mona's Army by appealing to her conscience. What does Paige get for her troubles? A dead rat in her locker.
-- It took the police this long to make the connection between Shana and the fact that the theater was owned by Ezra's family? Didn't Holbrook make that connection in the finale?
-- 'A' sends flowers to the family of Bethany Young, then dons the same black veil a mysterious woman once wore to Wilden's funeral. Interesting.
-- Spencer starts crying when she realizes the video of Mrs. D's burial means her father couldn't have been the one that killed her, even after she accused him of murder earlier in the day. At this point, being accused of murder is like a term of endearment in the Hastings household. Mr. Hastings says he and Melissa were talking at the time, but won't reveal what they were discussing.
-- Alison asks to stay with Emily and "just sleep." Poor Emily is so confused that she spends an entire time-lapse night just staring at a sleeping Alison, like the possessed girl from Paranormal Activity.
What did you think of the episode? Are you Team Travis or Team Caleb? Can Alison really be trusted? And just how is Bethany connected to Mrs. D? Sound off in the comments!
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)