This week on Pretty Little Liars,
the girls are pulled in many directions while their biggest piece of Alison-related evidence literally flies away.
Things are getting even more complicated for the liars. (But when do they ever get simpler?) Hanna can't get over the sneaking suspicion her mom, not always the most reliable when it comes to murder, might have killed Wilden in expensive shoes.
Spencer freaks out about not getting into UPenn and Ezra's advice to lie on her college essay. Please, I remember the process of writing college essays and I feel like "My Murdered Friend Drove Me Insane And Then Pulled Me Out Of A Burning Building Which Is How I Built Character" is kind of the exact essay college admissions boards fall all over. I mean, no one is going to forget that essay.
Emily, the resident superhero of the group, saves everyone from getting turned into roadkill by 'A' and ends up with a huge bruise and head trauma. This causes her to temporarily turn into a druggie in order to get through a swim meet. Hugs, not drugs, Emily.
Seriously, though, what are the auto insurance rates like in Rosewood? Someone nearly gets run over like every other day. The town should just outlaw cars as weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, as is her way, Aria spends most of the episode obsessing over her hot new martial arts teacher. Once again, another example of an episode where everyone else is diving into mysteries and nearly dying, and Aria is contemplating exactly what Sensi Sexy smells like. (FYI: it's cinnamon!)
Moving the Story Forward
After an action and info packed premiere, the second episode of season 4 takes some time to check in with the girls. It's crazy how fast Pretty Little Liars moves, and how the show barely ever takes a moment to let the audience catch a breath. By now, the characters are well established enough that the show can just keep throwing more twists and turns and trust the audience to keep up.
But really, this episode serves a specific purpose, which is to introduce and expand upon the storylines that will be driving the action going forward into the first part of the fourth season. It's a fun episode (cannibal parrots!), but it's also a setup episode, neatly lining up the stories and mysteries which will haunt the girls throughout the rest of the season.
Spencer and Emily will be trying to get into college, Hanna will be trying to figure out if Ali is alive and if her mom is a murderer as well as a really bad driver, and Aria will be making out with another one of her teachers. As an Aria storyline, it's a slight improvement over "cleaning up a red wine stain," so I'll take it.
The Alison Question
It also appears we'll be diving even further into the mystery that is Alison Dilaurentis this season. The mystery of Ali looms large, especially as the girls struggle to figure out who's on the new 'A' team and whether or not Ali is indeed piloting planes and pulling people out of burning buildings.
Ali is like what would happen if you combined Mean Girls with Batman. During the flashback with her mother, I swear I thought she was going to use her super bitch powers to levitate something with her mind or set someone on fire. You have to admire Ali's commitment, she would literally stop breathing until she got her way.
In this case, what she desperately wants is to spend time at the family's Cape May beach house. She tells her mom it's to hang out with the girls, but really she's running with an older crowd. Is Wilden really the mysterious beach hottie or did someone else in board shorts catch Ali's eye?
Perhaps the only one who knows is Tippy the parrot, and she's not talking. Well, she is talking, but she's not saying anything all that interesting.
Tippy's just humming a song, which I referred to in my notes as "Rue's song" because Hanna's Katniss Everdeen braid made everything seem like a reference to The Hunger Games. The liars' lives basically are the Hunger Games at this point, though. May the odds be ever in your favor, girls, although the odds are pretty good someone will run you over with a car.
Spencer, because she is Spencer, quickly figures out that Tippy is actually humming a phone number. No one picks up when they dial the number hoping to get beach hottie, and when they go to record Tippy they discover she has quite literally flown the coop.
As the episode ends, we find out 'A' has Tippy after a really unnecessary fake-out where it appears 'A' is eating Tippy. Keep your friends close and your enemies digested, I guess? But then 'A' begins turning Tippy into Tippy Lecter by feeding her a piece of chicken. Because of course 'A' would have a cannibal parrot. Of course.
Mama! Maybe Killed a Man
As the only one who believes Alison is still alive, Hanna actually has a lot more to worry about than the undead. It's the dead that's really bothering her, namely the fact that she's somewhat suspicious Ashley Marin might have come back into town from New York to finish the job on Wilden.
My favorite part about this storyline is how incredulous Ashley manages to act when Hanna questions her. "How could you imagine I would kill Wilden? Is this about running him over that one time? I swear you crush someone with your car one time and everyone always looks at you when there's a homicide!" Ashley Marin, you are, and always will be, my shining star.
But Hanna has some evidence to back up her suspicions. The smoking gun in this case is a pair of muddy Manolos Ashley has conveniently stashed in a bag in the kitchen.
Can someone explain to me why the kitchen is Ashley's go-to location for hiding evidence? I'm surprised those shoes aren't stuffed in a lasagna box.
Hanna doubts her mom was going hiking in her Manolos, and is even more freaked out when the police discover Wilden was close by the burned-down lodge along with a pair of female footprints in high-heeled shoes.
How many things happened the night the lodge burned down? Was Wilden part of the group who set the fire or was Ashley just clubbing him to death with a shoe nearby? Either way, between her phone in Wilden's pocket and taking out the trash late at night, Ashley's looking more than a little guilty.
Things are looking bad for Spencer when she gets a rejection letter from the University of Pennsylvania. It's where all the Hastings have always gone to college. It's where they learn to burn evidence and drink giant goblets of wine while looking villainous. Without UPenn, how will Spencer learn these important life skills?
You know times are tough and things are desperate when you go to Ezra Fitz for advice on academics instead of dating the under-aged. Ezra talks Spencer off the cliff, because dealing with emotional 16-year-old girls is pretty much his entire wheelhouse.
Also, Spencer is literally wearing her cry for help on her abdomen, as a horse peaks out from the side of her sweater and stares right into your soul, like a Lisa Frank sweater from hell. Don't wear that on the college interview, Spencer.
After reading Spencer's college essay, Ezra wonders if maybe she could turn down the crazy just by, like, one or two degrees. Like maybe don't mention that mental breakdown and perhaps skim over how you see your dead friend whenever you're in a drug-induced haze?
"Honesty might not be the best quality," Ezra says, neatly summing up the modus operandi of this entire show. But Spencer freaks because she knows the more she divulges to the admission board, the less 'A' will have to hang over her head.
Speaking of blackmail material, Toby finally admits that he stole the RV and gave it to 'A' in exchange for information about his mother's death. You see, according to the records, Toby's mother was actually getting better at the time of her death and feeling hopeful about returning to her family. So Toby doesn't understand why she would have killed herself.
There's some fine acting by Keegan Allen in this scene, especially since Toby's whole emotional range last season ran the gamut from ominous to serial killer-esque. It's nice to see the actor is given a wider range of emotions to play, and the storyline promises more Toby emotions and yet another Rosewood mystery.
Drowning in Secrets
After bravely saving Mona and Aria from 'A's vehicular homicide attempt, Emily lands on her shoulder and gets a seriously nasty bruise. But Paige is sweetly yet unknowingly putting pressure on Emily to get into Stanford on a swimming scholarship.
Paige is already looking at dorm rooms, so Emily decides to just pop painkillers like they're candy. It's almost like Emily has learned nothing from the whole steroid cream debacle.
After some trash talking with Shana, Emily ends up bonking her head in the pool. The image of Emily floating in the water with blood trailing out of her head is pretty chilling.
She finally comes clean to Paige about 'A' resurfacing and the two are resolved to keep happily planning their future. But what nefarious future does 'A' have in mind for Emily?
Hot For Teacher ... Again
Well, you have to hand it to Aria, she has a type. As soon as Jake the hot martial artist became her teacher, you just knew Aria was going to make a move.
The second he said, "I can be your teacher," it was true love for Aria. Suddenly, she was thinking, "I wonder how much older he is? I wonder if dating him would be technically illegal? I must have him!" That's so Aria.
What did you think of this week's Pretty Little Liars? Are you sad Aria is moving on? What really happened to Toby's mom? And will Tippy become the Hannibal Lecter of the bird kingdom? Sound off in the comments!
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(Image courtesy of ABC Family)