This week on the Halloween special of Pretty Little Liars,
all the girls dress up from different time periods and wander around Ravenswood. And ... that's basically it.
The Halloween episode is certainly enjoyable on the surface, full of creepy chills and thrills. If you think about it for a few minutes, however, you'll realize almost nothing actually happens for a good chunk of the hour. Mostly, the girls just wander around a tomb, and then they wander around a tunnel, and then they wander around a mansion. The most shocking story item on the menu before the final minute is that Hanna unrealistically knows exactly how to dial a rotary phone.
Red Coat Revealed
Of course, that last minute is a real dozy. Although, again, it's not exactly information we didn't already know. By teasing out the reveal that Alison is actually alive for such a long time, the show has considerably taken some of the shock out of discovering she's been running around in a red coat.
We saw her pull the girls out of the fire; we heard Grunwald explain her miraculous survival from being buried alive. While it's great to finally "see" and talk to Alison, the fact that she's alive and kicking has been fairly well established by now.
And of course, the creative team doesn't want to give out too much information. "Who did this to you, Alison? Who's after you?" the girls ask. Instead of pointing the finger at Ezra, Alison says something vague as usual.
Then when Ezra comes around the bend to give Aria back her phone; Alison has already disappeared, floating away on a breeze to go scurry under her porch and come up with more unintelligible clues. "The person who is after me is dating someone much younger," she'll say next. "Oh god, that's half the town!"
The clue she does give is directed at Hanna. "Remember what I told you in the hospital," Alison advises. We're talking Pretty Little Liars deep cuts now. In the hospital after Mona ran Hanna over with her car, Alison appeared to make sure her friend was alive, no matter how dangerous it was. When Hanna asked what she thought was a hallucination of her dead friend what happened, Alison refused to answer.
"You think the truth is some shining disco ball of purity? Then go ahead and try it. Be honest, see what it gets you," Alison once said, sounding very much like she was the one loopy on hardcore pain medication. "Telling the truth to the wrong person at the wrong time is how I got where I am. Take it from me, you're always better off with a really good lie."
What truth did Alison tell? Is there more to the story than another May-December love affair gone wrong? Remember, Alison had also been obsessed with the idea of getting money, going so far as to blackmail Aria's father. Was that money just to disappear from her stalker, or is there more to the story?
Those are all intriguing questions, but we're not much closer to the answers of what Alison has been up to, or even how much danger she's really in.
Party in a Graveyard
The episode begins minutes after the mid-season finale left off, with the girls power walking down the streets of Ravenswood in their Victorian attire. I use the word "Victorian" very loosely, since none of the girls look like they dressed for the same decade.
Spencer looks like the old spinster aunt who has to play chaperone. Emily and Hanna both decide the look they're going for is "cleavage," with a side of roaring '20s gangster thrown in. And Aria looks like a steampunk Mad Hatter extra from Alice in Wonderland. "Nailed it!" they all think and then sashay into the party.
None of the girls are enjoying Ravenswood, where every major life (and death!) event happens in the cemetery. I wouldn't be surprised to find out the high school is taught there, with headstones for desks. At the party, they're no closer to finding Alison, although they do bump into a few cast members from the spin-off. See you in an hour, Luke.
Following Alison into a creepy mausoleum, they decide to go down the secret passageway into the dark tunnel below because ... nope, I have no idea why they decide this is a good idea. Perhaps their huge, decorative hats are impairing their higher brain functions.
Of course, they immediately get trapped in the tunnel, because this is the Halloween special. Once in the tunnel, there are statues everywhere. "Don't blink, don't even blink!" The girls are surrounded everywhere by what look like Weeping Angels, a Doctor Who reference only Spencer would appreciate.
As they walk, a huge gust of wind barrels down the tunnel and literally blows Hanna away. I just ... what? Is Storm from X-Men down in those tunnels? My god, is Storm 'A'? Thankfully, Storm hates those giant hats as much as I do, because the wind separates the girls from their headgear as well.
Trapped in a Glass Case of Emotions
Hanna somehow ends up in a giant, creepy mansion with a bunch of vintage photos of little girls on the wall. There remains plenty of twin symbolism, including Hanna seeing what look to be the two little girls from The Shining just wandering around town.
Seeing a phone booth, Hanna steps inside to use the rotary phone and is soon trapped and surrounded by weird lights. For a second, I'm thinking Pretty Little Liars is going to go full American Horror Story and Hanna is going to be abducted by aliens. Maybe they're saving that for the next spin-off, Hanna XY.
In the booth, Hanna thinks she sees Alison get grabbed, and then she gets a terrifying phone call. It's like the music you would hear while waiting on the line for customer service in hell.
She only escapes the phone booth thanks to Caleb's new pal, Miranda. Upon figuring out Hanna is Caleb's girlfriend, she gives Hanna's considerable and heaving cleavage one glimpse and immediately forsakes any and all romantic feelings she might have developed for Caleb. Sorry, Miranda, sharing the same haircut doesn't make you soulmates.
What's the Zoning Like in Ravenswood?
Meanwhile, the girls get separated again, because they are failing Horror Movie 101. Emily and Aria are left alone to be nearly decapitated by the window Emily has decided to climb through to safety. "Glass in my hair again? This is unacceptable!" Emily is ready to punch some ghosts in the face.
Off in other corners of the world's largest and creepiest funeral parlor, Spencer runs into a gas mask-wearing 'A'. They fight and Spencer immediately gets the upper hand, which makes perfect sense if you really think Ezra is 'A'. Spencer Hastings could take Ezra Fitz any day of the week and not even break a sweat. She cuts 'A's' hand with hedge clippers, but before she can take off the mask, 'A' manages to knock her unconscious.
Finally, the whole team reunites and runs towards the sound of Alison's voice. It's just a recording Mrs. Grunwald was playing of a tape she said had been stolen six months ago. In the recording, Alison is saying someone is going to kill her. If Alison was ever specific at any point, so much of this could be avoided.
Mrs. Grunwald tells them she senses one of them has been touched by the one Alison feared most. There's totally a bad touching joke in there somewhere.
Having had enough of this nonsense, the girls return to Spencer's car to find the tires slashed. Unfortunately, Emily's lesbian powers only involve looking amazing in zoot suits, not car repair. Just as the girls are despairing that they'll have to join Caleb's spin-off, Ezra pulls up menacingly in his car.
"How did you know to find me?" Aria wonders. "Oh, it's not because I slashed those tires. And it's certainly not because I put a GPS tracker in all your ugly statement jewelry." Then Ezra gives all the girls the creepiest look possible, to which they just shrug and trudge off to accept the ride.
However, when Ezra gives Aria back her phone, after Alison scurries away, he has one hand carefully concealed in his pocket. Is that because one of his hands was injured from a fight with Spencer?
It's Spin-Off Season
Perhaps the reason the episode doesn't feel like it really comes together, or presentesmuch in the way of new information, is because it's part Pretty Little Liars spook-fest and part elaborate setup for Ravenswood.
To wit: on the way to Ravenswood to help Hanna, Caleb meets another foster kid named Miranda on the bus. Miranda is there to see her only living relative, an uncle named Raymond who apparently owns a funeral home. I imagine with all the cemetery action in Ravenswood, funeral director is probably an intelligent career move.
The two bond on the bus over being in foster care and having the same haircut and stealing other people's food. Normal stuff. Then they bond over the fact that both stumble upon gravestones with their names and faces. Less normal stuff.
Not wanting to leave Miranda, Hanna tells Caleb to stick around and make sure she gets her answers. "Good luck on your spin-off, darling!" They have a big dramatic kiss and then Hanna leaves to go rejoin Liars, while Caleb sticks around to hope Ravenswood takes off.
Unfortunately, the Ravenswood of it all splits the focus of the special, leaving not much meat to chew on until Pretty Little Liars returns in the winter. Alison is alive, Ezra is almost certainly 'A', and Hanna and Emily have amazing cleavage. In summary, it doesn't feel like we learned anything from this special we don't already know.
What do you think? Were you disappointed in the Halloween special? Do you think Ezra is 'A'? Were you surprised and delighted to finally see Alison alive? Will you be watching Ravenswood? Share your theories in the comments.
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(Image courtesy of ABC Family)