This week on Pretty Little Liars
, the girls get all dressed in white to walk in Mrs. D's charity bridal show, but it's just a smokescreen to discover Alison's hiding place. If you guessed this bridal fashion show would end with a finger bone corset, a bear trap and a broken heart, you understand the way charity fashion shows work in Rosewood.
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So much happens in this one episode and yet the whole thing works mostly as setup for the ultimate reveals to come in the finale. So we get plenty of flashbacks to Spencer's lost summer as a junkie, sitting on front stoops and harassing passersby for SAT words. "Do you have some change for Adderall, sir? I can spell loquacious for you!"
At this point, nothing in this Spencer storyline will make sense until we find out she's been cutting her Adderall with black tar heroin. Once again, I'm not sure this is how ADHD medication works. This is 100% as ridiculous as Jessie Spano on caffeine pills from Saved by the Bell, but Jessie Spano never bashed a girl's head in with a shovel after one too many cups of coffee. I know prescription pill addiction is serious, but the show is acting like Spencer was doing bath salts and then chewing people's faces off.
Of course, this leads to plenty of flashbacks showing that Alison's crazy mother is as off-the-wall nuts as Alison herself. She was absolutely convinced Spencer was out to get Alison, but was there anything to her fears? We still don't know much about Spencer's lost summer, besides the fact that she seemed like a different person.
Or an evil twin. The show has toyed with the concept of twins, particularly evil ones, before. Are these just shout-outs to book fans in the know or is there more to these references? I guess we still have another week until we find out.
The storylines this week all crisscross and combine as the liars work together to investigate Mrs. D and discover Alison's location. Each girl also has her own side plot to provide some nice moments, particularly between Ella and Aria, but for once the girls are together more than apart. Perhaps this is why the episode zooms along on all cylinders.
The liars are always better together than they are apart. When they split up, the girls tend to get unwanted dental work or find themselves caught in bear traps. Yet for some reason they just keep wandering into the darkened woods after strange shadowy figures, sure that this time they won't be left for dead in a burning building.
Spencer Gets the Finger
Spencer continues trying to piece together her lost summer with little success. Her new sober companion, Dean, notices how skittish she is and reads her to sleep. Of course, this means Veronica Hastings walks into the house to find Dean asleep on Spencer and immediately jumps to the wrong conclusion.
When you hire an attractive man in Rosewood, said handsome stranger will definitely hit on your teenage daughter. This hold true for teachers, lawyers, doctors, police officers, regional detectives and now even rehab counselors. It's almost like Veronica doesn't spend any time in Rosewood and instead spends all her time lawyering elsewhere while her daughter is nearly killed in her own shower. Oh ... right.
Later, Spencer and Jason connect over how they're both junkies who had to go to rehab. Jason, however, is much more pro-Mama D than he ever was before. He keeps talking about how much his mom has been through and how he has to be there for her. Before Spencer can find out any more information about the girl in the yellow shirt Jason saw the night of Alison's disappearance, Dean shows up.
They hug and Dean drops the bomb that Jason's so-called rehab facility closed years ago. He tells her to be careful and Spencer nods, taking in the advice and immediately discarding it.
"I will be careful! Before you go, just want to check if it's a good idea to go running into the woods towards a hooded figure trying to kill me and everyone I love. Before you answer, keep in mind I have nothing to defend myself with but an extra long veil caught in a bear trap."
While everyone else is at the charity fashion show and Aria is performing "Like a Prayer" in her '80s Madonna wedding dress, Spencer wanders into the woods. She falls a few times and manages to get her veil caught in the aforementioned bear trap.
They are really not getting the deposit back on that dress. Suck it, charity! I would have loved to see Spencer try to explain to anyone else why she looked like the bride from Kill Bill when she finally returned to the show.
A shaken Spencer returns, explaining her lack of logic for wandering into the woods alone. "Makes perfect sense," they all nod. The end of this series is going to involve all of the liars trapped down a crevasse, 127 Hours-style.
As they help Spencer out of the dress, they're shocked to see her corset lined with finger bones. "Great, this will go smashingly with my human teeth bracelet!"
The note attached says, "What will you do when the rest of me comes out of the grave?" referencing Officer Holbrook's injunction to exhume the body formerly known at Alison DiLaurentis. Pretty Little Liars has pulled a lot of craziness out of its hat in the last few years, but a finger bone corset is crazy even for this show. Well done, show, I tip my hat to you.
Meanwhile, an enraged Emily is trying to figure out where Alison has been hiding using the collection of nearly useless clues she's managed to amass.
If only Emily had thought to conscript Detective Inspector Hanna Marin, handwriting expert and FBI profiler. Hanna would have had this thing figured out in a hot second. But since she's not on the case, she continues her mission to kiss every available human being in Rosewood.
Emily has borrowed Aria's white hot Hulk rage this week, and she's stomping around being unpleasant to everyone in sight. The reason for her anger is Paige, who she knows wrote the note outing Alison to the police.
Paige tries to explain she couldn't answer any of Emily's million phone calls while away with her family because her grandparents are old and infirm and needed her attention. "All grandparents are old," snaps AARP spokesperson Emily Fields.
Emily does manage to put the pieces together, though, discovering the password to Alison's secure e-mail account is actually the name of the Italian restaurant she keeps calling. They send a message for Alison to call because it's not safe and she immediately rings Emily.
Then the liars do one of the stupidest, greatest and most hilarious things I've ever seen them do: they put Alison on speaker phone. Speaker phone! Alison went through all this trouble to fake her own death and hide out and have money sent to her through poor chloroformed Shana and the girls just put her on speaker phone like they're conferencing about cute boys.
"I can't talk now, because you idiots have me on speakerphone and 'A' is probably watching from the closet or hiding in the tulle of one of your dresses. But meet me in Philly and I'll explain everything. You might want to bring food and water, it will take me approximately 10 years to explain everything I did the night I was murdered. The last person I told this story to died of dehydration halfway through, and I hadn't even gotten to the part where I fly planes for fun."
The girls take off to go find Alison, but before they go Paige shows up to talk to Emily. Paige explains that Emily might have been right about how she doesn't really care at all about Alison, due to the fact that Alison is a noted and respected sociopath. Emily nods while poor Paige's face crumples and then Emily says she can't trust her anymore and breaks up with her.
"We never alert the proper authorities about anything, Paige," Emily says, "That's the first rule of being a pretty little liar. The second rule is to keep glass away from my hair. The third rule is to keep mannequin legs available at all times in case you're attacked by snakes. Didn't you read the pamphlet I left you?"
Paige looks devastated and it's very sad, although I refuse to believe this is all she wrote for Emily and Paige. If Emily could forgive a little near-drowning, I think she can eventually put this note situation behind her.
When they get to Alison's hideout, the girls are shocked to see someone there they didn't expect. "What are you doing here?" they ask. Who is it? We'll have to wait for the finale next week to get the answers.
Elsewhere in Rosewood...
-- Hanna and Travis continue their flirtation, with Travis ruining a perfectly good BMW for no apparent reason and then kissing a bossy Hanna. It's not really a season 4 episode of Pretty Little Liars unless Hanna is eating something or kissing someone.
-- Ella returns to mend Aria's broken heart after she hears about Aria's new rock and roll lifestyle from Byron. They have a few very nice scenes, including one where Aria yells at Ella about leaving even though she's the one that pushed her mom onto the plane. Aria is such a teenager in this episode and it rings so genuine. Aria in particular is always in love with the idea of being a mature woman of the world, so it's fun to see that breakdown and to see her act like a normal teen.
-- After a nice speech about mending broken hearts, like broken bones that still hurt sometimes (or will prove you're not actually buried in your tomb), it turns out Ella is engaged to the pastry chef in Vienna. Ella's offscreen life would make an excellent Lifetime movie.
-- Mrs. D continues to wander around like a Japanese vengeance spirit from The Grudge, glaring at Spencer and mentally stabbing everyone in the face with her judging eyes. She manages to be everywhere and nowhere at once, floating in on the breeze to yell at Ashley Marin about guest rooms and models and floating out again to yell at someone else about seafood. She'll probably haunt your dreams tonight, like the WASP version of Freddie Krueger.
-- Alison doesn't seem to want to tell her mother she's alive, which is weird. If Mrs. D doesn't know Ali is alive, why was she buying a leather studded mini skirt?
-- 'A' has found CeCe Drake and turns her into the authorities. That's way harsh.
What did you think of this week's penultimate episode? Did you love the liars in white? Will they ever stop wandering into the woods? Who showed up in Alison's lair? Share your theories in the comments!
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)