This week on Pretty Little Liars
, Aria's rage transforms her into Incredible Hulk Aria, causing the citizens of Rosewood to scatter before her or suffer her wrath.
"Hey, Aria, do you want a home-cooked meal or a hug or human companionship?" ask the other liars. To answer, Aria walks out into a street, pulls a lamp post out of the ground with her bare hands and then levels a whole city block. "Good talk!" the other liars yell, while Hanna shoves food into her mouth. "We're really getting somewhere with you emotionally!"
Okay, perhaps none of that really happened (although a real-life Ariazilla would probably be the only way this show could get better), but it's a pretty good encapsulation of Aria's transformation into a rage monster. To say Aria isn't taking the news about Ezra well would be putting it mildly. I guess it's tough when formerly the worst thing to happen to you was a bad wine stain.
She should really get a pep talk from Spencer about how to deal with betrayal. Spoiler alert: it involves using board game maps and hiding clues in dolls at Radley. My personal theory is that Spencer and Aria spent almost no time together in this week's episode because the amazing powers of their molten crazy combined would melt all of our faces right off.
Human beings aren't meant to experience that level of crazy awesome insanity. Our eyes would be as bloodshot as Sparia's, our nerves as jittery at Spencer's. We'd feel the need to throw a typewriter through our televisions, but who even has a typewriter anymore? Only Ezra Fitz ... well, not anymore.
The Ezra of It All
The beauty of the crazy liars this episode might be meant to distract from the fact that the show is really and fully committing to this Ezara-as-journalist storyline.
The idea of Ezra as 'A' was great, game changing and actually made sense with both the show and his character. Ezra as an incompenent journalist boning his way to the story unfortunately also makes sense and fits, but isn't nearly as interesting.
It does, however, make Ezra look like even more of a sociopath, if that's even possible. What journalist stalks teenage girls and sets up cameras all over town to find out about the disappearance of some random girl in Pennsylvania? Would Random House really be interested in the walking lawsuit that is Ezra's potential book?
Most important, there is absolutely no way the show can redeem Ezra at this point. A good proportion of the audience already found him creepy just based on his relationship with Aria, assuming it was legit and based on real (albeit age-inappropriate) romantic feelings.
Now that it's shown he was just using Aria to pad out his badly written book, doesn't this pretty much torpedo him as a viable character? No matter what he might know about Ali's disappearance and about 'A,' he's always going to be the creepy dude stalking teen girls. He'll always have used Aria for his stupid book, after dating a 15-year-old Alison. And he'll always be the guy that knew about 'A' but did nothing to help Aria and the liars.
That makes him just as creepy and weird as 'A.' Casting Ezra as 'A' at least put him in a familiar and workable villain role. Ezra as perv journalist certainly doesn't leave much of a place for him on the show. After all, Ezra is no Mona "state of magical hyper-reality" Vanderwaal.
Aria wakes up from a pilot flashback with righteous rage in her heart and a curse upon her lips for the name of Ezra Fitz.
"And lo and behold, like the wine stain I lifted with a sensible home remedy, I shall lift you above my head and rip out your heart, Ezra Fitz. I shall eat it in front of your senior English class and then use your blood to write pretentious literary quotes on the blackboard. I am Aria Montgomery, and I shall be avenged!"
Unfortunately, Fitz isn't in school, which causes Aria to careen out of Rosewood High looking for vengeance. Townspeople run from the sight of her, for Aria is on a quest for revenge and she knows it's a dish best served cold.
She goes straight to Fitz's apartment to murder him and then hide his body in the nearest coffee can and/or pasta box, but he's not home. Instead, she finds all his research and all of his journals, detailing the painful particulars of every single thing Aria said to Ezra about herself, her friends and Alison. This causes Aria to see red and immediately begin trashing Ezra's apartment. If you didn't cheer during this scene, I don't understand you and I don't care to.
Back at school, the girls find Spencer twitching in a corner and ask if she's seen Aria. Spencer, having also experienced the painful betrayal of a loved one that drove her literally insane, knows exactly where Aria went. "When I found out Toby was 'A,' I carved his name on his mother's tombstone. So probably something like that, only maybe a little less intense."
They show up at Ezra's trashed place, where everyone is shocked to find Aria just making herself a little nest out of broken chairs and scattered papers like the tiny birds she likes to wear as earrings.
"Game recognize game," Hanna says, nodding wisely. "But there's actually a restaurant where you can do all this without the breaking and entering charge."
As they scoot out of the apartment, Spencer grabs a bunch of papers. Even all hopped-up on her focus juice, Spencer Hastings is still Spencer Hastings.
Later, Aria looks through one of Ezra's books and sees a letter from Random House. She calls the number and finds out Ezra is at the publisher at that very moment, twirling his villain mustache and toasting with champagne and lighting $100 bills on fire. This causes the righteous rage to build back up and she stomps all the way over to the principal's house to inform him of all the underage sex.
Hanna, feeling the earth quake beneath her feet on the way to kiss more men, runs over and talks Aria out of confessing. She says it would just put her in an awkward position and kick up a lot of dust.
So instead of confessing, Aria yells at Hanna and Emily, packs a suitcase full of feathers and spikes and animal prints, and takes off for the open road. Because Aria has no parents, no one is there to stop her. Where will Aria go? Will it involve kicking Ezra in the nads? And can we keep Hulk Aria? For I love her so and I cannot bear to part with her.
While Aria is terrorizing people about town, Spencer is trying to get back on the straight and narrow. Everyone is worried about her, from her parents to Toby and even the liars.
You know things are serious when the space time continuum unlocks and allows both Hastings parents to be in the same place, at the same time, speaking lines and breathing the same air. This is serious, end of the world-type stuff.
No matter how hard she tries, Spencer can't seem to stay on the wagon, even though a stint in rehab after her stint in Radley isn't going to look very good when applying to colleges. A well-placed bottle by 'A' gets her back on the super-focused happy trail, but the revelations she finds in Ezra's research are disturbing to say the least.
It turns out Mrs. D. paid off CeCe to stay quiet about an intense fight she witnessed between Alison and Spencer the night of Ali's disappearance. In the flashback, we see Spencer grab a shovel and we watch as even the steely Alison looks a bit nervous. "This conversation is over," Alison says to Spencer, "and so are we."
Unfortunately, Spencer doesn't remember the night of Alison's disappearance very well because she was all hopped-up on Adderall. Okay, I have to ask: does Adderall even work like this? I thought it just made you hyper-focused and able to concentrate? Can it also cause memory loss? I don't know enough about this to call malarkey, but I find this suspect.
After confronting Mrs. D., Spencer finally seems to accept that she's out of control. I'm guessing she's going straight to rehab next week. Her dad definitely knows more than he's letting on about the night of Alison's disappearance and Spencer's role in what happened. And based on some looks they share, I'm now beginning to wonder if Toby knows something as well. But Alison is alive, so what exactly is Spencer forgetting?
Paige Discovers the Truth
Meanwhile, Emily is having some relationship problems of her own. Paige understandably wants to see her girlfriend someday, and is surprised when she sees Emily carrying so much cash.
"You know banks exist, right?" Paige asks hilariously, because no one in Rosewood ever uses banks. "My grandma likes to keep her money in coffee tins," Emily explains. "It's an old Fields tradition passed down over generations. I wouldn't expect you to understand."
Paige doesn't buy this explanation and follows Emily to where she's getting ready to mail the money to Alison. Paige forces the truth out of Emily, which is that Alison is alive. "Cool story, lady bros! Thanks for announcing that loudly on main street," says 'A.'
Emily tries to explain the situation, but Paige isn't having any of it. She thinks it's too dangerous for Emily to get involved and she should just let Alison's parents or the authorities handle it. Emily tries to explain the "A-ness" of things, as Hanna would say, but Paige isn't buying it.
Finally, Paige agrees to stay mum on the money if Emily will agree to stop communicating with Alison. But it's put a huge strain on their relationship, since Emily, like most humans, doesn't like ultimatums.
Unfortunately for Paily, things are only going to get rockier in their relationship. On the way home, Paige drops a letter including the address for the money in the nearest police car with a tip-off that Alison is indeed alive.
Because if there is one fine establishment in Rosewood you can trust, one establishment without corruption, it's the Rosewood police department. Paige might have done what she did for the right reasons, but it's only going to blow up in her face.
Elsewhere in Rosewood...
-- Hanna spends time with both Travis and Office Holbrook, sizing them up for potential love interest status. Travis is age appropriate and has corrupt parents, so they're really on the same level. But Holbrook reads true crime and is way older, meaning she is pulled to him because this is Rosewood. To seduce all these hunky men, Hanna pulled out her best outfit: a Jackson Pollock painting she converted into a jumpsuit and a bright pink blazer she stole off a middle-aged real estate agent.
-- The private investigator Papa Hastings sent after Melissa was actually following Spencer the whole time. Ouch!
-- Don't smash his TV first, Aria. You know Ezra is one of those people who claims not to watch television. Go right for his typewriter instead. Hit him right in the pretension!
What did you think of the episode? What do you think about Ezra not really being 'A'? Is Hulk Aria your favorite Aria? What did Spencer do the night of Ali's disappearance? Sound off in the comments!
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC Family.(Image courtesy of ABC Family)