Pretty Little Liars has spent Season 3 tiptoeing around a lot of big drama, mainly putting Rosewood back into place in the aftermath of the Mona revelation and the Maya death. I’m not saying that PLL has been dull; I’m just saying that PLL has spent a lot of time looking back. All that kind of changed in this episode. I mean, we were given a nearly cohesive central storyline with very few tangents and a lot of creepy camera angles! Plus, the Liars spent some time talking about their hair and talking about clothes, so this was sort of a Greatest Hits episode. I’m not kidding. This was my favorite episode of the season so far, only because it flew with so much weird lesbian tension that I want to happy-cry and scary-vomit at the same time. The beginning of this mess shows Hanna dressing for school and/or the horrifying side effects of hallucinogenic drugs — Hanna doesn’t own a single skirt that falls below her mid-thigh, so she has to wear a peasant skirt from her stint in the school production of Mamma Mia! to hide her knife wound from last week.
I need to get honest about some things. First, Hanna does musicals? That’s a thing? I feel like Season 1 featured a school play, but Spencer was the ringleader on that? I could also be making that up. Second, there is no way a high school would allow a production of Mamma Mia!. That musical is about a lot of old sex on an island in Greece. Not appropriate. Sort of like when the high school in the 90210 reboot did Spring Awakening; I’m pretty sure this is now Season 82 of CW’s 90210 and everyone is a low-rent prostitute and Ryan Lochte guest stars next season.
Ted the Pastor comes in to talk to PornStarMom, and reveals that he found a thumb drive while cleaning the church; the thumb drive contains weird videos of Hanna and the other girls, so Ted wants PornStarMom to take a look before they give it to the police. This is the thumb drive that Spencer threw at Ian during the season one finale. FULL CIRCLE. Jenna would basically kill everyone in the world if the police got their hands on those videos. There are some really great shots during this scene, and I don’t know if PLL started hiring different directors or if there are actual hallucinogenic drugs involved here. Mystery.
The center of this episode is the relationship between Emily and Paige, which is becoming more confusing/scary/beautiful/magical/alien. Now, I detest Paige but I love whenever PLL acts like Season 1 was actually a thing and the Liars have to grapple with events that have actually occurred. Emily and Paige are having the most uncomfortable coffee date ever, which was probably triggered by a horrifying girl riding her bike directly across the shot. Like, this bike-riding girl in the purple shirt was the most startling extra in the history of all of television. However, Emily finally fesses up to the whole Nate macking, which Paige already knew about. Paige flipped over trashcans when she first saw that kiss. Paige has rage.
NEXT: Paige is a psychotic bitch, and Spencer goes into hardcore Nancy Drew mode.
All of a sudden, it is Ezra’s birthday and Aria is in Ezra’s apartment at maybe 5:45am. Ezra was up late writing an email to Maggie, a.k.a. the girl with Ezra’s high school bun in her high school oven. Did that bun/oven thing work? At school, Aria is shuffling a bunch of papers while Spencer says a lot of words; Aria is trying to figure out how to say “happy birthday” to Ezra, only without the big “happy” party. Spencer offers up some vital help by just saying “birthday.” Spencer is on tonight, you guys! CeCe appears in the middle of the school, which is weird because she is 22 and understandably hotter than everyone else.
CeCe is putting up flyers about her fashion boutique, which Spencer was supposed to help out with. Spencer does not forget anything, and I don’t remember these boutique plans, so I think CeCe is making things up. Regardless, Spencer agrees to wrangle up some sort of gang to help out. CeCe then spots Emily and Paige, asking about their relationship; clearly CeCe is not traveling in the right circles, because I have a feeling everyone in all of Rosewood just talks 24-7 about the only lesbian couple, especially with Dead Maya in the equation there. It seems Ali and Paige had a lot of old drama, in which Ali gave Paige the nickname Pigskin because of weird bumps on Paige’s thighs. OKAY. CeCe says Paige is a psychotic bitch, and Spencer goes into hardcore Nancy Drew mode. Hooray. We are getting into the Ali vs. Paige war, and Emily is obviously pro-Paige. This will get ugly.
Inside school, Hanna and Caleb are secret IMing across their computer class. I don’t think anyone takes computer class after their mandatory HTML class freshman year, but I am also now remembering a weird IMing system on my high school computers so I’m going to shut up. Hanna and Caleb have to keep things on the DL from A slash Jenna slash the world. Their love is too dangerous but also too beautiful. I love Caleb’s forehead scar, basically because I love all kinds of facial scars. I am already in love with you if you have a facial scar. Tweet me a picture of your facial scar and we can elope, like, in eight minutes.
Nate catches up with Emily and legitimately acts like they have been dating forever. Nate understands nothing and Nate needs to leave as soon as possible. Nate is overly aggressive and I really don’t like that behavior around my beautiful lesbian! Emily gives Nate the cold shoulder and speeds away on her bike, because Nate is clearly a crazy dude. Beware. Meanwhile, Aria has teleported to Atlanta or wherever Maggie works (it is not Atlanta); Maggie is giving us big grin realness, pixie cut realness. My assumption that Maggie had an abortion was clearly wrong, because Aria finds out that Maggie has a son. Aria is losing her cool, as she will never be happy with Ezra because they must deal with the most severe drama that any inappropriately aged couple has ever had to deal with. Also, Aria loses at pretending she wants to be a first grade teacher. Aria, you look like you are probably 19 but maybe 14. Maggie’s son, Malcolm, has a very square head.
NEXT: Why’d it have to be snakes?Hanna runs into Jenna outside of school, and by “runs into” I mean that Jenna is sitting on a bench eating cherries out of a Tupperware container. Jenna also puts on her sunglasses mid-conversation. Am I getting Lolita vibes, Jenna? Hanna fesses up about the thumb drive videos and promises that she is not trying to ruin Jenna’s life. Hanna then has to deal with Nate, who is basically stalking Emily before being sidetracked with the knowledge that Jenna faked being blind for a very long time. Oh, right, Nate was in love with Jenna for 27 minutes and wants revenge. Hanna nicknames Jenna “Helen Keller” (original), and Nate screams, “Don’t pretend you don’t see me, girl!” Suddenly, Nate is using street slang from The Wire.
CeCe can’t stop talking about Pigskin, err, Paige. We get a nice flashback from when CeCe was hanging out with Ali in Rosewood, which makes no sense because Rosewood is tiny and the Liars had never met CeCe. Ali wrote Paige a sexy, “moist” (Ali’s choice word, not mine) note from Emily’s stationary, and catches Paige placing a reply note in a secret location that is located in the middle of the town. Very secret and hidden. Ali promises to destroy Paige by unveiling Paige’s sexual preference to her very religious family. I normally enjoy Ali’s extreme bitch shenanigans, but this behavior totally crosses the line. You don’t out a confused high school lesbian. You very much do not do that in my book. That crosses the line.
I have no idea what’s happening inside CeCe’s fashion store, but it looks like CeCe has promised free clothes to all the girls that help set up. I think. Also, the dressing room section of the boutique is literally as large as the actual shopping area. There is a giant Buddha statue glaring at everyone’s clothing options, which makes for maybe not the most welcoming shopping experience. Someone locks Spencer in a changing stall and dumps a skinny black snake in there, and Spencer almost dies. The snake is so skinny but I understand Spencer’s real fear. Spencer does not die because CeCe finds Spencer and attacks the snake with a mannequin’s limb. CeCe is my new favorite because she throws down. I love a girl willing to attack a live snake.
Spencer thinks Paige planted the snake, as a snake is a snake is a snake. Taking a break from the shop, Hanna is wearing a really cute fake crop-top tank with a raccoon on it, and Spencer is just hurtling all of the anti-Paige evidence at Hanna. Hanna and Spencer return to the boutique, where CeCe executes a perfect endorsement of TRESemmé Dry Shampoo. CeCe is making weird clothing options for the girls, but thankfully Spencer puts on a beautiful black lace skirt and Hanna wears a blue beach dress. The girls are just killing it, except there is no audience for these clothes. Womp, two thumbs way down.
A lot happens in the boutique: Caleb sneaks into Hanna’s changing stall to give a secret kiss to his secret re-girlfriend while Emily arrives with Paige. Oof. CeCe is very much Team Anti-Paige, but Emily is distracted by a nice purple dress and Paige is distracted by trying to befriend Spencer. Paige breaks a mannequin finger, which clearly demonstrates homicidal tendencies; Spencer and Hanna dig through Paige’s purse when they’re alone, but Emily catches them and storms out with her lover.
During this whole bit, Aria is having a very awkward birthday dinner with Ezra. Aria and Ezra’s brother are being creepy and whisper a lot, while Ezra is kind of oblivious to this whole thing. Aria needs to catch up on the Ali vs. Paige creepy business instead of dealing with illegitimate children! Aria will solve all later, especially why Maggie won’t tell Ezra about the baby now that everyone has reconnected. Ezra’s brother Wesley is giving me some weird creepfactor in his purple polo. There’s also a moment in here in which PornStarMom destroys the thumb drive that Ted found in his dirty old church, but the episode gives this scene a lot of minutes when it should have been three minutes.
Big lesbian drama alert. Emily makes tea on the stoop to apologize to Paige, and Paige reveals that she does have a history to unload: Ali was a bully, and almost drove Paige to suicide. Heavy, and incredibly sad. Suicide is never the answer! It really does get better! I am not joking. However, I am always distracted during Paige’s big emotional scenes because she literally has the worst wardrobe on television right now. Yes, even worse than Debra Messing’s infamous Smash scarves. Paige, those hoop earrings need to be tossed into Ali’s (empty) grave. Immediately. Throw them away. Do not let the PLL cameraman to zoom in on them again.
Speaking of earrings and Ali’s grave (GOD, sometimes I have really good transitions, you know?), Spencer found Aria’s other red earring while digging through Paige’s purse. You know, the earrings that were in ALI’S GRAVE. Paige is not sane, Emily is not safe. Paige goes inside to wash her face when a wild girl appears in Emily’s yard! I was hoping it was Maya, but we get a good replacement: Jenna. Jenna came to warn Emily about being wary of the people in her life. Jenna is genuinely worried for Emily. Jenna gets in a taxi. Paige ignores a call from Spencer on Emily’s phone. Paige is a scary whore who should never have been trusted. Paige is the enemy. I hope Paige is the enemy and this does not twist again next week, unless the twist shows that Nate is the enemy and Nate brainwashed Emily with evil drugs.
Our A clue shows the Black Glove picking a song on a jukebox (I believe it was the Temptations’ “Smiling Faces Sometimes”)… and a SECOND Black Glove also stands at the jukebox! Black Glove #2 wants to dance with Black Glove #1, but #1 really isn’t having it. #2 is sad. Aww, Black Glove #2! My favorite A credits clue in a very long time. I was upset that this episode didn’t offer a single scene at the coffee shop, but we did get CeCe AND Jenna AND a lot of lesbian stuff. My favorite lesbian drama is probably Wild Things, the god-awful yet truly amazing 1998 “thriller.” It’s so inappropriate, but all lesbian drama is good drama. Remember that mantra. I would like to note that Shay Mitchell,who plays Emily, live tweets weird stuff from @shaymitch with the hashtag #PLLaywithShay. Cute PLLAY on words, my dear. #PLLaywithShay was the top trending top in the United States by 9am EST. We are part of the revolution. Also, Troian Bellisario (Spencer, @sleepinthegardn) said that her scene with the snake was the most fun she’s ever had on set. So much knowledge on the Twitter! AND OMG NEXT WEEK IS THE SUMMER FINALE SO I AM GOING TO END THIS RECAP BY SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS AAAHH!!! Bye.
[Image Credit: ABC Family]