I’d like to start with the first shot of the episode. I think it’s really important, you know? The first shot on this ninth episode of the third season of Pretty Little Liars features a barista steaming milk at the damn coffee bar, but it kind of looks like someone is using a chainsaw on a hand. Aria and Spencer stroll in, ignoring the creepy steaming pagan milk ritual, and discuss the latest find on Maya’s secret video site: a snapshot of Maya’s wrist decorated by the mysterious stamp. We know the stamp from Emily’s blackout memories. The short story: Emily was found in a diner with her “girlfriend” sporting the stamp. Aria’s eyes are as big as possible, but Spencer is attempting to run away. Aria asks why Spencer isn’t all “Go Go Gadget” (amazing reference, Aria), and Spencer explains it is because she forgot to apply to colleges while rapped up in the Maya drama.
Now. That statement is a little extreme. Spencer forgot to hand in her early decision application to University of Pennsylvania, which can also be called UPenn or just good ol’ Penn. I feel like one character on every single teen soap needs to have Ivy League aspirations. Gossip Girl one-upped everyone by making every single character act as an extended metaphor of each individual school in the Ivy League (Jenny Humphrey was such a Cornell). Spencer is freaking out for absolutely no reason, but this mental breakdown drives a lot of the drama from this episode, so I accept her frantic facial expressions. Spencer decides that she is dropping the Velma act to be more like Daphne, but Aria points out that Spencer’s Scooby-Doo reference is kind of wrong since everyone in that animated gang looked for clues.
The Scooby reference was the perfect time for someone in Rosewood to talk about Buffy, but they forgot to do that and therefore I will never forgive anyone ever. Emily and Spencer are definitely huge Buffy fans; Aria watches casually, Hanna can’t stand it. Regardless, CeCe shows up and is all, “LOL Aria you forgot your phone by the register I’m hot I went to Penn come to a cool party with me because my friend Steven works in admissions I am 22 meet me at 7pm for the party love you mean it.”
Hanna is dealing with a lot because a.) Caleb is back, and b.) PornStarMom deals with a cop saying Hanna has five days to surrender her blood sample. PornStarMom calls Mariska for help, but, like, I think Mariska was busy. Hanna isn’t actually dealing with the blood sample drama just yet, but she should be. The cop has shown up to take Hanna’s blood sample. And what could possibly be more important than blood? SEX. Caleb and Hanna run into each other in the hallway at school, and have an extremely tense conversation over moody music. I watched PLL in HD this week and I was really digging Caleb’s forehead scar during this scene.
About 1.27 seconds after Caleb walks away, Hanna gets a text from A. A wants to meet Hanna in the Apple Rose Grill or Caleb pays. How much will Caleb pay? The Liars should be asking more questions at this point, they should text A back basically every five minutes. Hanna meets up with Spencer to discuss the text; Spencer is eating fruit while Hanna eats a boring salad, and I think both girls need a little protein in their lunch. Rosewood’s hot new (only?) lesbian duo, Emily and Paige, shows up. No one is telling Emily about Maya’s site, because everyone just wants Emily to be a happy, blissful lesbian for a little. It’s working, for now.
NEXT: Adult Truth or Dare!It looks like Aria skipped school to go on a really long search for Ezra, because Aria is never at school and always outside of Ezra’s apartment. Aria overhears a big argument… and meets Ezra’s little brother! Wesley! So cute! Such a Fitzgerald! I would really love for Wesley to woo Aria, but I feel like I want really twisted things for Ezra and Aria that no one else approves of. Oh well. Wesley is around because of some convoluted bulls**t over the car Ezra sold for all that sock drawer cash. Not important. Ezra is looking frazzled because he needs to buy the car back.
Wren (Hot British Doctor/HBD) calls Hanna. She ignores his call, which I don’t appreciate, but at least I now know how to spell his name correctly. Thanks, Hanna’s iPhone! Hanna can’t deal with the MASSUGAR.COM guilt, so she finally tells Emily about unlocking the website. Emily then goes home to watch every single Maya video and cry a lot and possible contemplate suicide and definitely contemplate renewed alcoholism. Hanna keeps blowing off her mother, so PornStarMom starts flirting with Ted the Pastor in the middle of the street; I stop paying attention and/or Ted wants to grab coffee soon. I didn’t realize that adults went on coffee dates, because I thought that was something you do only when you’re 22 and want to avoid talking to someone for more than an hour because the first date has real disaster potential. If you can’t tell, I love coffee dates!
The intentionally funniest scene of the night shows Spencer and Aria getting ready for CeCe’s party. Spencer wants to wear one of her “most collegiate-looking blazers,” which is the worst idea ever. Another PLL moment in which someone thinks a casual setting is an interview! Aria has big fashionista inspiration and picks out an outfit in warm speed, and then promptly sits on top of that outfit on Spencer’s bed. I hope Spencer owns an iron. Spencer then tells a really funny story about shaving off her father’s sideburns in his sleep for $200 when she was 10. It’s amazing. Still not sure how it was relevant? No less amazing.
The big Penn party? It’s at Noel Kahn’s cabin, but the party is actually thrown by Eric. Eric is Noel’s older brother. Hooray. The Kahn brothers both radiate that attractive awful douche thing. CeCe is a bad bitch, and I really wish she would be Jenna’s best friend instead of her mortal enemy. Also, both CeCe and Jenna were fighting over Nate only two episodes ago, and they’ve clearly moved on to new dates tonight. Slutty. To get into the party, the girls receive THE MYSTERIOUS WRIST STAMP!!! Aria is like, “STAMP ME.” She actually said that. Here we go.
Spencer brought her application to the party. Her Penn application. It really happened. It happened. It is a thing that happened. Steven from Penn isn’t at the party yet, so CeCe puts the application in a safe place. Or so she says? Not trustworthy, CeCe. There’s a lot of alcohol at the party, but Spencer and Aria turn down a drink. Good (underage) girls! They need to keep their wits about them. CeCe drinks her liquor straight, no mixer. CeCe drinks hard liquor only, possibly because she is counting calories, but I now bow down to the power of CeCe. Eric and CeCe then begin a game of adult Truth or Dare, which is kind of like scary Catchphrase because you only ask a bunch of serious questions without expecting any answers and make sexy eyes. Not really Truth or Dare, but I’m not complaining.
NEXT: Haleb is back!Noel waltzes into the party with Jenna on his arm. JENNA IS BACK! Noel states that Aria and Spencer have “so many questions, I wouldn’t mind a few answers.” I’m feeling the same way, Noel. Noel picks Aria to play the next round of Truth or Dare, and clearly there is about to be some serious real talk. This PLL version of Truth or Dare is actually incredible because it is hardcore rapid fire. Like, no one takes a breath and no one really answers the questions. PLL is usually slower and more deliberate with its juicy conversations, so I loved playing things quick and loose. I giddy giggled through all of this. Aria asks a lot of questions about Maya, Noel asks a lot of questions about Ezra. Again, no answers.
While Aria and Spencer are dealing with the Penn party, Hanna is meeting A at the restaurant. However, turns out computer genius Caleb sent the A message, just to show Hanna that he isn’t afraid to know everything about her scary life. Caleb clearly realizes that A is back. Caleb and Hanna talk things out in a dark alley, which evolves into the greatest make-out session. HALEB IS BACK. I love Wren/HBD so much but there’s something about Haleb. Something special about Haleb, indeed.
Enough sweet romance, back to the hard liquor party: Noel spooked Aria so hard that she wants to go home. Womp. Wesley picks up Ezra’s phone, and says he’ll pass along the message as soon as Ezra returns. Inside, we’re on a new round of the Truth or Dare: SPENCER VS. JENNA. It’s a beautiful thing. Spencer descends the stairs into the Truth or Dare lair with such conviction and such a convincing side hair swoop that I nearly fell off the couch. Spencer and Jenna begin the “Truth” thing, aka sling barbs at each other. Fast and furious. Jenna and Noel let slip that they did find Emily in the diner, not in the middle of the road. Why is Jenna lying? We won’t find out, because our ladies run out of time! Spencer accuses Jenna of being the gravedigger in front of an entire party, which is nearly social suicide.
In the Bedroom of Suicide, Emily is STILL watching Maya videos and crying. Maya believes Emily was Cleopatra in a previous life, which I don’t entirely agree on, but maybe it’s a lesbian thing that’s over my head. Suddenly, a wild Paige appears by just bursting into Emily’s dark, sad room. Obviously Emily is not ready for a wild Paige, so the two need to have a moment. Paige tells some dumb story about her grandpa’s butt and missing dead people, which suddenly turns really poignant. I couldn’t get past the fact that Paige did decide to wear her collegiate blazer on a Friday night, and paired it with some awful hoop earrings.
Wesley shows up to grab Aria from the party, since Ezra was taking too long. Is Wes old enough to drive? Meanwhile, Eric and CeCe emerge from some mid-party boning, which means Spencer was running around the party looking for CeCe and her Penn application since that face-off with Jenna. CeCe says that she gave the application to Steven during said face-off, but I don’t trust CeCe and I don’t trust giving a college application to someone at a notoriously sketchy Friday night hard liquor party in the woods with crazy wrist stamps. But maybe that’s just me. Wes continues to drive Aria home, and PLL drops the big drama…
Now, PLL drama usually has a creepy-goofy edge, but Wes’ unknown revelation brings in some severity at the end of the episode. Wes, assuming Aria already knows that story, lets loose that Ezra got a girl pregnant in high school… and Ezra’s Mother paid for the abortion. As soon as Aria is back in Rosewood, she confronts Ezra in the middle of the hallway of his apartment complex. Not the best place to fight about an abortion, but Aria is feeling a little crazy. Ezra tells the whole story: It happened the summer after he graduated from high school, Mother Fitzgerald eliminated the baby from Ezra’s future. The abortion was the root of the family break, Ezra adopted his abbreviated last name after turning down his inheritance, and nothing was ever the same. Ezra’s family is awful. Aria realizes that this drama is far bigger than her relationship with Ezra. She backs down. True love.
The episode ends with two weird things. First off, Spencer gets an email after saying Penn received her application. I don’t think Steven would have been able to process the application through admissions at roughly 11:00pm on a Friday night, so I think this is a hoax. Spencer is really happy, so maybe she did have some hard liquor at the hard liquor truth or dare party and isn’t thinking. Or maybe Penn just processes hand delivered applications as a bizarre pace. Secondly, A gets a key from a nice woman that loves cats. Cat figurines are all over the place. Cats cats cats. A cat lady! I have no idea! I loved this episode, I think we definitely need to keep CeCe involved from here on out. Your weekly post-PLL project/big question: Who would you play Kahn edition Truth or Dare with? I’d pick PornStarMom, only because I want to pretend to know all of her secrets but really just scare her into releasing her sex tape. Or something along those lines. Hanna still needs to figure out how to cheat on her blood test, so maybe you can thing up some witty scenarios for that as well.
[Image Credit: ABC Family]