This week on Pretty Little Liars
, Spencer figures out Ezra's secret through his terrible taste in bar food, Emily is almost killed again like always, Hanna takes the FBI field agent test and passes but still gets some unfortunate dental work, and Aria transforms into a being of pure rage. In summary: it's a pretty great episode.
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This season is shaping up to be one of my all-time favorites. The double reveal at the end of season 4A injected some much-needed vitality into a show that was faltering a bit. Not only does the Ezra reveal add another dimension of danger, but finding out Alison is alive has tested the liars' relationships with each other.
Case in point: the division between Emily and Spencer continues from the last episode
, keeping them apart for most of this installment. Out of all the relationships between the girls, the Emily and Spencer dynamic is the most fraught.
Perhaps it's because they're the two most capable out of the girls, or perhaps it's because they were always on opposing sides when it came to Alison. Spencer was the only one ever willing to stand up to Alison, while Emily was the one most likely to see the good in her.
They've argued about colleges before, but this argument feels more serious and much more personal. Thankfully, they're reunited by the end of the episode, in a sweet moment that shows when the chips are down good friends are more important than winning a fight.
Of course, Spencer might want to get used to being the odd man out. Her revelation about Ezra is sure to put her on a path butting up against all of the girls, but Aria in particular. Allowing Spencer to figure out Ezra's dirty little secret so soon is shocking on a number of levels.
It seemed likely the season would hold that reveal and finally play that card closer to the end of the season. The fact that they've accelerated the timeline is a truly exciting sign for what might be coming up later this season.
Even more excitedly, the storyline backs Spencer into a corner and Spencer is always best on the edge of madness. Remember that time she jumped Mona like a feral cat? Those were some good times.
Troian Bellisario is a great actress, and she's particularly good at playing an unhinged Spencer. This episode, the audience can see Spencer begin unraveling. She's not full-on Radley crazy, but her Jesse Spano pill popping might get her there by the end of the season.
The idea of crazy Spencer returning is a welcome one indeed, especially since Spencer has been unwisely sidelined in boring plots about Toby's dead mom so far this season. It's time to let Spencer stop brushing her hair, tackle someone at an academic decathlon and really shine.
In fact, all of the girls were dealing with their own emotional issues this week. Aria is becoming a being of pure rage, Emily is always terrified, while crime novels are Hanna's drug of choice. 'A' has all the girls on pins and needles, and the cracks are finally starting to show through. Thankfully, when the liars lose it, TV magic isn't far behind.
Aria is slowly turning into the Hulk and the only one who can see it is the new guidance counselor at school. Aria's rage is burning white hot like the sun, and it continues to burst through at inopportune moments. It's amazing so much anger can fit into such a tiny person.
Aria Smash! She tells Mike not to hang out with Mona and then freaks out when she sees this weird new couple kissing.
Aria Smash! She tells the new guidance counselor Mona is the devil, apropos of nothing, and then runs out of the office.
Aria Smash! She tells off Maggie and then grabs her arm, causing her to drop a box full of Malcolm's things.
Aria turning into a giant rage monster is one of the most satisfying things I've ever seen. If you had been harassed by an unseen entity for years, you'd probably start throwing boxes and yelling at your brother and his Zac Efron hair and wearing biker jackets too. I can't wait until Aria joins a Riot Grrrl band and smashes her ukulele on stage.
Unfortunately, she'll probably just go to counseling with Jesse, who will turn out to be an ax murderer and lock her in the basement.
Special Agent Hanna Marin
As Aria turns green, grows to the size of a normal person and tries to step on fleeing women and children, Hanna is studying for the FBI field exam. She's been surrounding herself with all the crime novels and true crime stories she can read.
First of all, I wasn't even aware Hanna could read something without the words "flirty frock," so this is some real character development. Second of all, Hanna's Nancy Drew deductions are actually incredibly smart. Hanna is talking to Spencer about the psychopathic mind exactly the way I talk to my friends about their exes after watching a marathon of Criminal Minds.
Hanna is Clarice Sterling on the path of Buffalo Bill. Nothing can stop her, and she's got on the Olivia Pope power coat to prove it. "You need me to look up dental records to compare against the body of our formerly dead friend? It's handled!"
In the dentist's office, she rolls her eyes through talk of her virgin ex-boyfriend Sean, with her eye the whole time on the file room. She figures if she can see who got dental work there around the time of Alison's death, she can find out how they swapped the dental records on the body. She gets the pages, but then 'A' knocks her out with sleeping gas and gives her an unorthodox procedure.
In her mouth is a tiny slip of paper the girls find that says, "I told you dead girls can't smile. Stop looking -- A." Between the message and Hanna waking up with blood on her mouth, 'A' is getting even more chilling lately. Also, more talented. Who knew 'A' could do dental work? I guess minions really do get dental on the 'A' team.
With someone chasing Emily and giving her dad a heart attack at the same time Hanna was taking a trip to the dentist (Veronica Mars references forever), I guess it's safe to assume Ezra isn't acting alone. So who else is on the 'A' team?
The Terror of Emily Fields
Emily Fields has become a mixture boiled down to two emotions: anger and terror. She's still incredibly angry at Spencer for scaring away Alison, but mostly she's just trying not to jump out of her own skin.
Of course, there's truth to that saying "You're only paranoid if they're not out to get you." And in this case, 'A' really wants to scare the ever-lady-loving sense out of Emily.
In an effort to help Emily not stab him in the face with a pair of scissors, Mr. Fields sets her up with Ezra for an after-school program. If Emily stabs one more person, Hanna is going to start profiling her.
This after-school program seems to involve making photocopies in a dark, empty school, so of course it's specially tailored to help Emily with her terror issues. Soon, 'A' is after her in the empty school in a scene straight out of a horror movie, and Emily calls her father for a rescue.
Because he's the best dad in the world, Papa Fields climbs the drain pipe and helps her out of the building. Unfortunately, Emily is going to have to mail his "dad of the year" award to the hospital when it turns out Papa Fields has a heart condition.
Boysenberry Pie and Board Shorts Ale
Beginning to unravel from stress, lack of sleep and an incurable case of being a Hastings, Spencer throws herself into trying to decode Alison's diary. That's not the only thing she's throwing herself against, however, if you know what I mean. And you probably don't, because I didn't mention she had invited over foxy Andrew for a "studying" session.
Andrew shows up hoping for more mental breakdown side-boob (she is looking a bit crazy around the eyes) but instead gets hit up for drugs. Spencer wants some of his performance enhancing drugs ... but the performances she's looking to enhance is her ability to study. That's right, Spencer is juicing in order to get her schoolwork done.
I can't wait until this ADHD medication storyline goes full-scale Jesse Spano. "I'm so excited!" Spencer will yell from the top of her lungs while clutching the severed head of Mona Vanderwaal. "I'm so scared!" This is what Spencer is like normally, so can you imagine a Spencer on drugs?
Her close reading of Alison's diary takes her to an entry about Ali making time with an older man. That doesn't seem very interesting, since every girl in town is dating someone at minimum five to 10 years older. At the Hart and the Huntsman, Alison discussed her writing with a mysterious older gentleman who ordered a boysenberry pie and a beer.
Going to the bar, Spencer spots Ezra making that very same order and puts the pieces together. It all falls into place when she sees the brand of the beer Ezra was drinking: Board Shorts Ale. This is a huge and clever reveal, and now Spencer has locked on to Ezra's scent like a bloodhound.
Elsewhere in Rosewood...
-- Andrew makes dreamy eyes at Spencer and wonders if she's still with "the carpenter." That makes it sound like Spencer is dating Jesus.
-- Don't call it a comeback: Tippi the bird returns when 'A' uses the shredded dental records to line her cage. At least 'A' is still taking care of Tippi, although the bird is probably a full scale cannibal by now.
-- The detective who tried to put Hanna's mother in jail returns to meet-cute with Hanna and bond over crime novels and dental records. Seriously, are there no women between the ages of 16 and 40 in this town?
-- Ezra calls Mona into his office for a special chat. Is Mona back on the 'A' team?
What did you think of the episode? Were you relieved Spencer figured out Ezra's secret? Were you freaked out by the dentistry? And just who is on the 'A' team anyway? Sound off in the comments!
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)