This week on Pretty Little Liars, Spencer detoxes by going on long runs and remembering childhood murders, Aria has a steamy fling, Emily and Hanna put their detective hats on and a new ‘A’ suspect pops into view.
For an episode that puts forward another prime ‘A’ suspect and strongly hints that Spencer was Alison’s would-be killer, this week’s outing in Rosewood is actually kind of snoozy. This is one of the first episodes all season where the pacing just feels off.
Big things are happening, but they don’t feel like they have any weight. Perhaps there’s too much going on or perhaps there just isn’t enough. Last week, Spencer and Aria went crazy, while this week Hanna spends half of the episode on a tepid date.
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‘A’ New Suspect
Of course, that was always a danger the show was facing when introducing a new suspect after the Ezra non-reveal. The problem is, the show has played this game too many times. It takes the audience down a path, showing us a certain person is definitely ‘A’ and then swerves at the last minute. Clues and hints are one thing, that’s how a show like this survives for four seasons on an increasingly complex central mystery.
But Pretty Little Liars has made the mistake of explicitly “telling” the audience two separate beloved characters were ‘A,’ waiting half a season in which the character in question skulked around like a serial killer choosing which girl to make into a skin suit and then flipped the car into reverse at the last minute. With both Toby and Ezra, the show made big and bold reveals with shocking reverberations for the liars and the show. Doing it once is bad enough, but doing it twice makes it hard to invest in the next twist the show throws out.
So this newest revelation, that Mrs. DiLaurentis might just be ‘A’ in an attempt to save Alison from the liars who she thinks tried to kill her daughter, falls a bit flat for me. Firstly, I’m just not sure it makes sense. ‘A’ was harassing the girls far and away before they knew Alison was alive and before they ever put on their sleuthing hats. Perhaps this was before Mrs. D knew her daughter was alive, and at that point it was just revenge?
Secondly, coming so shortly after the show dragged out the Ezra reveal, it just feels like falling into another trap. Is Mrs. D really ‘A’ or is she just a psycho like Meredith? Or maybe she’s just murderous like Nate and Ian? Or maybe she’s just writing a true crime novel?
I can’t decide if Mrs. D as ‘A’ makes perfect sense or no sense at all. I do know, however, that the mental image of Mrs. D sorting all the A’s out of alphabet cereal is pretty hilarious.
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How Aria Got Her Groove Back
After leaving Rosewood in a rage, flattening houses along the way to Syracuse, Aria spends the whole weekend crashing frat parties and hooking up with musicians. Spencer spends this weekend kicking a long-standing pill addiction (rehab happens faster in Rosewood), while Aria spends it discovering pineapple rum.
Even off-screen, Byron Montgomery is seriously the worst father of all time. He’s ostensibly on the same campus with her and just fails to notice her doing keg-stands in the quad and having one night stands? Also who is watching Mike? Mike went from living in the rafters of the house to being the only one who’s ever home. I wouldn’t put it past the whole Montgomery family to just move and forget to send Mike the forwarding address.
“Hello,” Mike says to his empty house, crying over his breakup with Mona. “Is it me you’re looking for?” But the house never replies, because the answer is no.
Meanwhile, Aria dons a pair of giant black sunglasses to deal with her hangover and has a one night stand with Riley, a musician also touring the campus. They talk about art and alcohol while Aria wears more plaid than Kurt Cobain. Aria has really embraced the rocker lifestyle after thrashing Ezra’s place.
Riley gives Aria the courage to go confront Ezra, which she does at his thrashed apartment. Ezra, completely tone-deaf to the destruction around him, seems to think Aria will be swayed back into his clammy arms by the news that he turned down his publisher’s offer. It’s too little, too late for Aria, who tells Ezra to get to stepping.
“I banish you from Rosewood and from the hallowed halls of the academic institution you use to pick up underage girls. From henceforth I shall stare at your face no longer. I banish thee, Ezra Fitz!” Never let it be said that Aria isn’t dramatic.
Ezra hands her his manuscript, which he claims contains important secrets he never thought were important enough to tell her.
“Oh, did I forget to mention I think Mrs. D is ‘A’? Would that have been useful information for you to know before Emily’s house was destroyed, Hanna’s mom was set up for Wilden’s murder and Spencer was driven drug-crazy? Whoops! Live and learn, right?” Somehow, Aria does not smash him over the head with a typewriter on her way out the door.
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3 Days Later
In the movie 28 Days, Sandra Bullock goes to rehab for that exact length of time. In Rosewood, if you want to kick an addiction, you can actually do so over a long holiday weekend. Spencer returns from her three-day sabbatical in rehab jittery, angry and just looking to talk to Toby. Unfortunately, Veronica Hastings has ordered up some kind of sober companion for Spencer, like she’s Sherlock Holmes on Elementary.
Dean forces Spencer to work through her issues, mostly with a lot of running around. Unfortunately for Spencer, this detox process leads her to further uncover some of her memories of the night of Alison’s disappearance.
In her memories, she chases Alison into the woods with a shovel, and when Ali falls, she hits her on the head. There’s blood on Spencer’s face, and it’s honestly pretty gnarly stuff. Spencer is understandably shaken by the memories she recovers, although her mother refuses to confirm in what way her parents “covered for her” the last time she was all hopped-up on Adderall.
Okay, once again, is this even remotely how Adderall works? From the way this storyline is progressing, you’d think Spencer’s ADHD medication was cut with bath salts, magic mushrooms and black tar heroin. How is it that she doesn’t remember murdering a close childhood friend? Even with alcohol in the mix, I’m pretty sure this isn’t how Adderall works.
Spencer’s unchained memory causes her to rethink everything. What if she was the one who tried to kill Ali that fateful night? It would certainly explain Alison’s hasty exit when Spencer popped out during Emily’s meeting. However, a spur of the moment friend-i-cide wouldn’t explain why Alison was running scared before the night in question or why she was hoarding money. Also, this potential reveal would be so much more horrible and terrifying if we didn’t already know Alison is alive.
Her memories make Spencer especially susceptible to the possibility that Mrs. D could be ‘A.’ It doesn’t help that suddenly Mrs. D is everywhere, popping up when you least expect her. She’s making comments about your “dirty sheets” and staring at you for hours while you sleep, like a demon from Paranormal Activity dressed in Charter Club.
Mrs. D knows your dirty laundry because she’s the one who threw that potting soil under your bedspread. Right now, Mrs. D is apparating into your room, silently watching you. You can feel her in the corner of your eye, but when you turn around she’s already disappeared into a light mist. The only reason you know she was there at all is because all of your T-shirts have been replaced by sensible button-downs and argyle sweaters.
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A Bad Date and an Investigation
Emily is roaring mad about Ezra and manages to lay down some solid burns to Mr. Fitz about handing her paper to a “real teacher.” While Hanna might be able to hurt you with a plate, Emily can do it with her words.
Next, she’s after Mona, standing behind her car in order to get information about her alliance with Fitz. Given the amount of vehicular homicide in Rosewood and Mona’s own rocky relationship with running over close personal friends, that was really a ballsy move on Emily’s part.
Mona confirms she’s been working together with Ezra since about the time she got Jenna’s car. In exchange for helping Fitz, he was leaving her less than legal activities out of his book. Was he also leaving out all of his statutory raping of teenagers and stalking young girls? Because my guess is Mona’s stuff would just be a drop in a very disturbing bucket.
Apparently, Fitz was essentially blackmailing her into dating Mike for better access into the Montgomery household for more information. Let that sink in, because it’s really gross. If Aria and Ezra ever get back together after this, I’m throwing something heavy at the television, Hulk-Aria style. This is a grown adult in an authority role asking a teenage girl to date another teenager for information on his underage girlfriend. Gross.
Meanwhile, the Hanna Marin 2014 Kissing Tour continues, this time swinging back around to Travis. He takes her out and she’s totally distracted when she isn’t trying to fit the entire menu into her mouth. “Hey, are you done eating that?” Hanna says while texting on her phone, making no eye contact with Travis, and unhinging her jaw so she can devour his whole dinner plate. Travis, obviously, falls instantly in love.
When Hanna isn’t playing the field in the weirdest way possible, she’s talking to Detective Hottie about that accidental kiss. He shows her the letter about Alison and judges by her reaction that she knows more than she’s letting on.
Not having forgotten her FBI training in handwriting recognition, Special Agent Hanna Marin notices a note from Paige in Emily’s room. Outside in the hall, Hanna asks if Emily told Paige about Alison and Emily looks stunned.
This doesn’t look good for Emily and Paige. Thankfully, both Hanna and Aria can advise Emily on the healing powers of breaking things.
Elsewhere Around Rosewood…
— “How old is she? Does she even know how to text?” Hanna asks about Mrs. D. I guess that would explain all the notes, telephone booths and old-timey projectors.
— Why is Toby in London?
— “My mom doesn’t cook often,” Hanna tells Travis, “but when she does the secret ingredient is hundred dollar bills.” At the restaurant, Travis orders lasagna. There are a lot of complaints you can and maybe should make about Pretty Little Liars, but at least the writing staff is always in on the joke.
— If you think of Mrs. D, she will appear in your room, like Bloody Mary or Voldemort.
What did you think of the episode? What did you think of that reveal? Is it another fake-out? And are you liking Aria’s new guy? Sound off in the comments!
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8pm on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV