This week on Pretty Little Liars
, Spencer enjoys a relaxing vacation from her life in Radley Sanitarium. Wilden resurfaces, but Hanna is no longer afraid of him now that she knows she can just run him over whenever she's tired of his questions.
Aria tries to help Ezra get a teaching job, and we discover that Rosewood actually has a principal, which is by far the most disturbing revelation of the night. Plus Emily meets Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin and finds out Paige's ex Shana, she of the year-round Halloween store, is actually a swimmer too. I guess Paige has a type!
Last week's episode of Pretty Little Liars
was so big, so crazy, and so full of potential game changers that it's easy to see this week's installment as something of a letdown. But the creative team behind Pretty Little Liars
is smart, infinitely smart really, because you can only stay in that edge-of-your-seat place for so long before it gets tiring.
There's keeping things fresh and moving the story along, but if you're always trying to top yourself things can get absurd really quickly. And yes, I'm saying this about a show where last week Hanna rolled a police car into what looked like a very tiny puddle.
After a big episode like last week's, with Toby's supposed "death", the show slowed down the pace a bit. Because Pretty Little Liars is so good at juggling multiple storylines and keeping a million balls in the air, it would be easy to feel like a lot happened in this episode. But really, not much did.
The show decided this episode would be Spencer's show, and it cleared some of the more dramatic and heart-pounding elements out of the way to let actress Troian Bellisario do her thing.
While Spencer had a lot of big, emotional moments and even spent her time in Radley in full Nancy Drew mode, the rest of the girls' stories this week were a bit thin. Emily met an Olympic gold medalist and...that was about it. Aria is once more wrapped up in Ezra drama, and their relationship looks to soon return to its inappropriate beginnings. Hanna spent most of the episode sprouting "moving to New York" exposition and honing her new zen attitude toward crime.
Make no mistake, this episode was all about Spencer, and as usual Bellisario hit it out of the park. Although I seriously wish Mona had chosen to bring a hairbrush on her visit to Radley instead of some cookies. Spencer really needs a style intervention.
Spencer Vacations From Her Life In Radley
Things in your life have to be pretty bad if a mental institution is your idea of fitting in some down time. But that's apparently just what Spencer decided when she got picked up by the park rangers without any ID. "Radley certainly is lovely this time of year. I think I'll go in for a little psychiatric evaluation!"
Once there, she immediately starts bonding with her orderly named Eddie. Listen Spencer, I know you're putting out a really flirtatious vibe recently, but I think "orderly in the mental institution" might be where you decide to draw the line. Like Wren, he seems to be at least marginally picking up what's she's putting down, but unlike Wren he probably hasn't tried to hook up with any of her friends or family members. So win?
Spencer makes a couple of huge discoveries while in Radley, because she is Spencer and you can't just turn off years of Hastings CIA-level espionage training. The first thing she figures out is her new orderly Eddie is actually the E.Lamb of Toby's stolen ID. Which leads her to push for information, until she finds out Radley had a big security breach most likely initiated by someone working there.
My god, how surprising! You mean Radley isn't a secure facility? You mean Mona used to Ferris Bueller her way out of there whenever she wanted with some paper mache? I'm absolutely shocked....said no one.
Anyone else getting super suspicious of Wren? Like maybe he was at Radley for something other than the underage girls?
Speaking of creepy people just lurking around Radley, Dr. Sullivan pops in to confirm Spencer's identity. "Well at least trustworthy Dr. Sullivan is there with her," all the liars with short term memory loss say in relief.
Spencer also learns that Eddie might have known Toby, since his mother might have been a patient in the ward. Interesting! We're getting a lot of teases about Toby's family, and yet we still haven't seen an actual living adult in the Cavanaugh family.
Spencer also discovers she's staying in Mona's room, where she finds "will the circle be unbroken?" carved into the desk. This takes us into the brightly lit, hazy world of Alison flashbacks, where Ali is tempting fate by making fun of Mona in church. I didn't think it was possible for Alison to cross the threshold of a church without bursting into flames?
Other news? Alison's many volumes of diaries, some of which Mona shows Spencer are in her possession. Mona tempts Spencer with all the answers she's ever wanted. "I think you're as sane as I am," Mona says, which is pretty damning praise indeed.
The saddest part of the episode is Spencer's mental state, as she realizes that a break in a mental institution really is like a relaxing vacation from her life. She also clearly blames herself for what (maybe?) happened to Toby.
"I want to see my friends. Please, when can I see my friends?" Spencer initially begs. "Tell them that I miss them." But as the episode drags on and things get even murkier, Spencer starts to question if her friends understand her at all.
As the episode winds down and Spencer sits in group therapy, she imagines the faces of Aria, Emily and Hanna as she admits she's not the person they know anymore. Now she's just some Spencer that they used to know!
"You don't know me. You don't know who I am anymore. And you can't count on me," she tells the liars. Is Spencer really snapping? Or will she rise like a Phoenix from the ashes, grab a hairbrush and some mascara, and take the whole 'A' team down from the inside? It's too soon to tell, but I'd never bet against a Hastings.
Hanna and Ashley Marin have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that Wilden is alive and therefore Ashley isn't guilty of vehicular manslaughter. The bad news is that Wilden's alive, and not too happy about ending up as literal roadkill for a few days.
I'm about to float some theories about Wilden here you guys, because Ashley stomped on the gas and hit him as hard as possible and homeboy doesn't even have a scratch. Not one scratch on that beautiful, creepy face. So I'm thinking Wilden is either a.) a zombie b.) a vampire or c.) a cylon. Maybe there are many copies and they have a plan? It's pretty much the only reasonable explanation.
Ashley is freaking out about Wilden and about the possibility of getting a job in New York. Hanna is like "well, it's not south of the border like I was planning on fleeing, but I already dress like a crazy person so I think I would fit right into the Village or maybe Bushwick."
While Ashley is at her conference, Hanna goes to stay with Emily, which is a nice reversal from when Emily stayed at her house while her parents were out of town.
It's also good because putting Hanna and Aria under the same roof would just be a disaster. "Why did you blow up all this important evidence?" "I don't know, it seemed like a good idea when we were high on glue fumes from bedazzling everything we own with spikes."
But no sooner does Ashley drive her murder car away from the Fields house than Wilden pulls up in his new cruiser. He tells Hanna he "went fishing" but the only thing he's really fishing for is the location of his police cruiser. What do you think he had in there that was so important? Some key murder evidence? A Brittany Spears CD he doesn't want discovered?
He tells Hanna he'll leave them alone if only she tells him where the car is. Somehow, Hanna refrains from cackling "go fish!" at him, but it would be an excellent pun.
Ezra's Back in High School
Aria wants to help Ezra raise some funds, so she goes to Bryon to see if he can land Ezra a job at Hollis. He doesn't manage it, but he does get him in as a substitute teacher at Rosewood High.
This leads to the funniest moment perhaps in all of Pretty Little Liars history. The principal, who now totally exists, needs to ask Aria about boning her former teacher. "So you knew him...socially?" he principal asks. "Oh yes, but now I don't see him socially. Or bone him often. I don't even think I could pick him out of a crowd...of old guys who hit on me."
Completing the picture of uptight restraint is the fact that Aria is dressed like a 40-year-old Upper East Side divorcee for no apparent reason. Hide yo kids, because I guess Ezra is back at Rosewood High.
Elsewhere in Rosewood...
- "I always just thought you were cruel, I never knew you were sick," says Melissa Hastings, demonstrating why she's not great in a mental health crisis situation.
- Emily meets special guest star Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin and it adds nothing really to the story but it's great to see Missy anyway. "Does Rosewood have a good program?" Missy asks Emily. "Pretty good, when we're not being murdered!"
- Hanna wasn't surprised Spencer was the first to crack, after all it's what you get for being so smart and correctly remembering movie quotes.
- Aria gets up in Mona's face, like the teeniest little honey badger ready to take off her huge earrings and mess Mona up. No one messes with Team Sparia!
- 'A' apparently now has a mobile stalking unit, which is like a mobile meth lab, only somehow creepier.
What did you think of this week's episode of Pretty Little Liars? Is it a bad idea for Ezra to teach at Rosewood? How much longer will Spencer stay at Radley? And seriously, is Toby dead? Sound off in the comments!
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(Image courtesy of ABC Family)