This week on Pretty Little Liars,
Alison isn't back for five minutes before she tells a giant lie, Aria begins going slowly and deliciously crazy, Mona may or may not be back in the 'A' game and Toby returns from London just in time to comfort Spencer with some shirtless action. Thanks, Toby. I think we all needed that.
After an action-packed premiere, it seemed like the show would have to slow down a bit in episode two to take stock. But slowing down isn't Liars
' strong suit, so this episode is, if possible, more full of crazy action and shocking revelations than the season opener.
Yet the episode, written by co-executive producer Oliver Goldstick, never feels particularly rushed. The dialogue zips along (the phrase whirly girly is going to become a new favorite), the revelations are surprising and the emotional moments all land remarkably well. It's too soon to tell what the show is going to be like now that we have a fifth liar, but if this is a preview, then that's certainly a good sign of things to come.
Of course the biggest moment of the episode was saved for last, when Pepe the dog ex machina discovers Mrs. D's body in the backyard. At this point, if you're gardening in Rosewood you're basically just asking to accidentally discover a dead body.
Mrs. D is put in a body bag, proving Alison's ability to survive a burial attempt like a mole person wasn't a gene passed down from her side of the family.
"Don't tread on my petunias," the ghost of Mrs. D whispers on the wind. "Your shoes are very tacky." I'll miss Mrs. D so much. Now the only one left on the show who dresses like a mid-century polo player is Spencer.
Alison's Big Lie
As soon as the girls get back into town, they want Alison to go to the police station. "Let's all just agree to tell the truth," Spencer says. All the girls nod, while Alison looks confused, because what is the truth and how do you tell it?
The liars power walk across the street in an obvious and hilarious homage to the Beatles' Abbey Road album cover. Alison is such a Yoko, though, isn't she?
In the police station, Holbrook asks Ali what happened and she immediately lies that she's been kidnapped for the past two years. Spencer gets that look in her eyes, that beautiful pre-Radley look that means she is just seconds from jumping over a table at the academic decathlon and taking Alison down like a wild bobcat. Crazy Spencer is my favorite Spencer, and no one makes Spencer crazier than Alison.
Alison lies that she was kidnapped by someone she never saw because she was blindfolded, escaped shortly before Halloween, and the girls have been hiding her in a shed ever since. Holbrook begins to ask logical questions and Alison expertly diverts them with drama and tears. But honestly, how long can Alison get away with her threadbare story without someone poking holes in it? In the real world, probably about a day. With the Rosewood PD? Maybe forever.
Someone in Rosewood puts up the parental bat signal, which is a pasta box stuffed with cash, and the parents of Rosewood assemble like The Avengers.
Veronica Hastings, aka the Incredible Hulk, is seriously irritated with her moody oldest daughter and her cagey husband. Ashley Marin can't believe Hanna could keep this secret, even though Hanna once covered up a potential vehicular homicide and buried a gun using a mason jar as a shovel.
Byron Montgomery blissfully stays in offscreensville, but Mike is surprised Alison didn't kill her kidnapper with catty nicknames. Basically, everyone in Rosewood is back and they're all shocked Alison is alive, while the liars freak everyone out by being far too calm about the whole thing.
Spencer vs. Alison
Already, the cracks in the friend group are starting to show through. Spencer is immediately enraged Alison went behind their backs and told this huge lie. But it wasn't without reason: when she looked at her phone, she saw a text talking about what happened in New York. Alison claims she lied to protect Aria, but Spencer isn't so sure.
Spencer is already tired of living back on Planet Alison and she asks Emily if she isn't also sick of being on Alison's whirly girly ride. I'm pretty sure that's a ride Emily wouldn't mind buying a ticket to, so Spencer is maybe barking up the wrong tree.
Speaking of barking, as her last act Mrs. D adopted an adorable dog named Pepe. While Jason gets weird and super intense about sending Pepe back, Alison decides to keep him around. Poor Pepe. The last pet Alison had ended up as a bird cannibal. Tippi the Bird: you're always in our hearts.
Pepe does eventually find Mrs. D's body, after an intense fight between Spencer and Jason. Jason wonders if Alison has been saying he was the one who kidnapped her, which seems to point to the fact that Jason is maybe not as involved as the girls originally thought.
There is obviously some serious beef between Jason and Mr. D, but then why was he in New York at the same time as the girls? And who else would Mrs. D have written that e-mail to about covering for them? Melissa? Papa Hastings? Still, given Jason's bereft face, it seems tough to imagine he was the one who killed his own mother, the only one left in his corner. If there's one thing 'A' is good at, however, it's putting on an act.
Speaking of 'A', Alison and Mona have an amazing scene at Alison's tomb. In the most Alison move imaginable, she brings flowers to her own grave. Mona confronts her there and Alison tries to make peace by pointing out how similar they are.
Which is when Mona drops her faux cheery, kidnap whistle-distributing charade and goes full-on Crazy Van der Waal. She tells Alison she's the one who sent the text about New York and that Alison is soon going to wish she had stayed dead.
Does this mean Mona is back in the 'A' game?
The Telltale Fiddle
While the rest of the girls are solving mysteries, Aria is quietly and delightfully unraveling at the seams over killing Shana. Finally, a legitimate reason why Aria wouldn't be involved in a lot of the mystery storylines. I've said it before and I'll say it again: unhinged Aria is my favorite Aria. She zooms around the episode in 100% manic panic mode, and it's a beautiful thing.
Crazy Aria, it must also be noted, has the best one-liners. Since the girls spend all episode forgetting to fill her in on relevant details, she finds out incredibly late about Pepe's adoption. "When did she have time to get a dog?" she asks, hilariously incredulous. Can we please keep this version of Aria forever?
"Who is the fiddler on my freaking roof?" she also quips in a panic at one point. Not only is Aria obsessing about Shana, but she's also hearing violin music everywhere. Of course, part of this might be because Mike keeps borrowing her iPod and filling it up with violin music for a "school project." Ever since the Mike and Mona pairing, I've been wondering if there's more to Mike than meets the eye.
"You keep borrowing my iPod, Mike, and it will be back under the porch with you," Aria threatens, gravely. "I've seen some things. I've done some things. Don't test me. I can turn a decorative spike into a shiv in seconds."
Speaking of murder, Aria and Emily have a lovely heart-to-heart about killing in self-defense. Only in Rosewood is there about a 50% chance your best friend will understand your justifiable homicide because of a similar experience.
"Remember Nate?" Emily asks, but Aria is confused. "The guy who killed my girlfriend and buried her, as everything is buried in this town, in a backyard? Remember? He pretended to be her cousin and then tried to kill me and my new girlfriend? I shot him? Any bells?" Aria looks blank, wondering if this was during one of her life-or-death wine stain debacles.
"Anyway, you'll find with some good therapy ... with some decent therapy ... with even some terrible therapy, you will get over it and realize you didn't have any other option," Emily confides. Aria nods sagely while kicking a sleeping bag onto the floor and carving "murder" into the wall over and over again with her spiked earrings.
"Good talk," Emily mutters, as Aria twists balloon animals that say "I killed Shana" and mails them to the Rosewood police department.
Elsewhere Around Rosewood...
-- Toby is back and his hair has taken on a new and puzzling configuration. What look is he going for exactly? Newsie? Unwashed? Whatever it is, we don't have much time to focus on it because within five minutes of arriving from London he is shirtless and having sexy times with Spencer. Never say this show doesn't pander to its audience. Apparently, Toby went to find Melissa, but she was nowhere to be seen. Only Wren was staying in her London apartment.
-- Jason goes to drop something off to a "friend" in Philly, and Hanna and Emily give chase. Before they can figure out who it was he went to see, a creepy homeless-looking guy scares them off. So a gun-wielding, ambulance hopping 'A' is no problem, but a dirty old man is just too much for them to handle?
-- Speaking of Jason, he literally couldn't be acting like more of serial killer. When Spencer walks into the DiLaurentis house, Jason is sitting in a chair in the dark, apparently just waiting for someone to enter so he can rise dramatically from the shadows. It's the moment I remembered Alison and Jason really are related.
-- Before her death, Jessica DiLaurentis wrote an e-mail to a blocked address saying, "I can't protect you anymore." Who was she talking to?
-- I say this all the time, but Sasha Pieterse has really grown into a terrific actress. Every one of her scenes this episode was magnetic, but none more so than her scene with Mona. The crushed look on her face when she realized she might still be in over her head definitely heralded a much different, and more overwhelmed, version of Ali. "Poor Alison" isn't something I ever thought I'd type, but the acting and direction in the final scene were lovely, showing just how lost and alone Alison truly is.
What did you think of the episode? Is Jason innocent or involved? Is Mona still 'A'? And just who killed poor Mrs. DiLaurentis? Sound off in the comments!
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)