I had to watch this episode on a slight delay, because my entire universe forgot to make sure Pretty Little Liars was #1 with absolutely zero distractions. I wish everyone else would understand the importance of this show and would just make sure my life is good to go in front of a television at 8:00pm EST on a Tuesday night. Yet, before pressing play on my (friend’s) DVR, I knew I was in for a treat. I received four (4!!!) separate messages about Hannah’s denim overalls before I even started watching the episode. Needless to say, I’m already shopping for my own pair. I feel like the most viable place to buy quality denim overalls is either Macy’s or Home Depot. I think I already have the same exact flannel Hannah was wearing under her denim overalls. We’ll talk more fashion later.
We start this week’s adventure in the coffee shop, which is always a good place to begin things — it’s a popular location, no one will overhear you talking about big secrets and scary murders, and Aria can try again at making a coffee that a human being can drink (opposed to her wood nymph status). Aria is mourning the loss of Ezra, Aria is forgetting how to dress properly without first having non-physical sex with her older teacher boyfriend, Aria is dealing with a sizable pimple on her left cheek, and the camera begins really far away from everyone. Our girls are incredibly worried about Spencer, because she is wearing no make-up and is still not conditioning her hair. Meanwhile, Emily is wearing way too much make-up and putting more than enough conditioner in her luscious locks. I would say that Emily is the evil sister stealing all of Emily’s magic powers, but we know that Mona is on top of that whole Spencer switch paired with the fact that Emily has zero magical powers.
Jason interrupts this depressing morning coffee date to announce that Ali’s remains are being put in a shiny mausoleum. How quaint. However, all of the tidbits that the Liars dropped into the casket are still missing. Oops, looks like A can still frame all of our pretty best friends. Spencer is coming completely undone — “Are her bones holy relics are something?” Doesn’t that sound like a Hannah quote? Needless to say, Spencer will not be paying her respects. I know Spencer and Jason are half-siblings, but I really do wish that her half-brother would just kiss her on the lips and get it over with. Creepy quasi-incest would definitely push this show to the next level of magic-creepy. Speaking of creepy quasi-incest reminds me of Shakespeare, which reminds me of House of Cards, which reminds me to remind everyone to watch House of Cards on Netflix. You can binge the entire first season in one weekend/sitting. Text me and I’ll give you Dad’s Netflix password.
Hannah and Aria talk about how they need to figure out what to do with the missing gifts from Ali’s casket. Aria does not want to go back to prison, because “one size does not fit all” when it comes to the orange jumpsuit. One Size Does Not Fit All sounds like a great prison drama about a bunch of young fashionistas suck in prison after doing weird things that are technically illegal – maybe serial shoplifting from Barney’s? It’s like Gossip Girl meets The OC meets Jane By Design meets Prison Break meets Oz! Why am I not the development president of ABC? I think Hannah made a masturbation joke about Aria hanging out in Ezra’s apartment, but I also have absolutely no idea what either lady was talking about during this scene. I feel like there’s one scene a week where I zone out and yet also forget how to rewind. Mona shows up acting like Spencer is her best friend, wearing Spencer trademarked clothing and sporting a hairdo that Spencer would possibly put together if it matched her outfit. Spencer is mad, the only natural response in this situation.
Caleb is doing a nonchalant lean in an empty classroom while texting his mother. First things first — there is no way that Rosewood has this many empty classrooms. Every public high school in my state had overcrowding issues and had to deal with overbooked classrooms; Rosewood has an issue where it seems like only one single class meets a day and all the other classrooms are open for secret couple conversations. Second thing second — Caleb is doing a nonchalant lean against the window, and everyone knows that you can’t be a teenager in a high school leaning because THAT IS JORDAN CATALANO. Maybe Caleb is the new Jordan, but this entire maneuver left me really discombobulated. This is something I will have to think about for a few days before landing on any sort of firm feelings. Stay tuned. Caleb’s old family is moving out of their old home, so he’s probably going to go pick up some old stuff. Hannah is definitely a good girlfriend through all, especially because she hates old.
Aria is just hanging out in Ezra’s bed when… Wes arrives! Wes, Ezra’s cute but mildly creepy little brother! Wes makes up some lie about needing to move out of the dorms due to fumigating, because we all know that no dorm building in the United States has ever been “fumigated.” I’m getting the vibe that Aria and Wes could do the dirty later this season, but I also got the vibe that Aria was pregnant when her father’s batshit crazy ex-mistress was actually poisoning her. So that happened. We’ll see where this goes; I feel like I’ve become really bad at predicting the direction of this show. Shocking, I know. Wes will be living in Ezra’s apartment and typing on Ezra’s typewriter.
Spencer meets Miles, her incredibly creepy private investigator, in a literal alley. Like, the two of them are hanging out near a dumpster in a dark alley. Miles has been tracking Toby’s credit card, in which he bought a bunch of hydrangeas and then switched over to cash. Toby bought a bunch of mildly pretty flowers and then got wise to the fact that his incredibly intelligent girlfriend might be tracking him. Spencer needs to hand over another stack of cash before Miles will investigate exactly where the A key leads, but she needs a day or two to sit on things — does she want to know what’s behind that door? Spence is a wreck. Troian is selling every scene with conviction, such that I’m kind of down with the downward spiral. If only it didn’t hurt my heart so much. Sigh.
Emily heads to the police station to meet her mother for dinner, because Emily’s mother is now a police station worker. This development during last week’s episode was so completely bizarre that it took me a few beats to remember exactly what was happening. Mom is a champion at doing nothing, because Emily has no problem in pulling Mom away from “work” to grab an early dinner. I feel like Mother of Emily is just filing cold cases in the basement or something terribly boring. Maybe she’ll pop up on Blue Bloods! I have no idea what this woman’s name is, and I would look it up except I’m still fuming over the time we spent together when she wasn’t hip to her daughter’s lesbianism. Mom complains about eating Corn Nuts for lunch (literally the worst vending machine snack in the history of vending machines), and the picture of Creepy Detective at Cape May is missing from the bulletin board. This episode is a such mess. Emily notices a postcard of the Eiffel Tower amid Mom’s things, grabs the card, and sees a message from A on the back. IN FRENCH. A, girl, you fancy!
Emily’s “friendship gift” to Dead Ali consisted of 25 postcards — A has 25 chances to kill Emily! Emily knows absolutely nothing in French, and Spencer speaks French like a glamorous Truffaut character; the message says something about being capable of murder. “Wow… that sounded so much better in French,” whispers Emily — she’s right, because French makes everything sound worthwhile and vaguely romantic. Spencer is getting ready to throw away all of her old Toby pictures, but Emily makes a “big speech” about how sometimes there’s another explanation for what’s going on; she sites Paige’s visit to the lesbian bar as an example (Paige is trying to get to the bottom of the costume rental from the Halloween train murder, not “mingle”). However, Emily, sometimes your evil boyfriend is really just evil. I hope Emily’s optimism pays off for Spencer in the end, but I think we won’t get there till the end of the season. Keep Spencer on that nice slippery slope for now.
Emily decides to go back to the smart therapist that was kidnapped by Mona and forced to have a horrified conversation in the diner from Twin Peaks. This scene simultaneously pays homage to In Treatment and Gossip Girl, where a young girl confesses to her therapist while also screaming about how she killed someone in her past. I hope everyone has seen Mia Wasikowska’s episodes from the first season of In Treatment, because that right there is some truly gripping television. The therapist, Doctor Sullivan, immediately considers using hypnotherapy, while Emily screams — “…HIPPOS?!! I KILLED SOMEONE!!!” Emily sure has a lot of guilt.
Again, Troian is selling the depressed spiral. She sits in her room, sobbing, looking at old Toby things – this all reminded me a lot of that Emma Stone-Adele skit from SNL, because how can you experience this sadness and not sob forever? Amidst her big tears, Spencer decides to call up Miles; she’ll hand over the $500 Miles needs to track down the door that connects to the key. $500 is the most money ever for a high school senior in the middle of Pennsylvania. Like, Spencer does not have a job outside of being incredibly intelligent — how does she have that much money on her? Where are all the deleted scenes of Spencer making money? Is she making meth out of a camper in the desert on the down low? Is she selling weed out of her garage under a giant crucifix light stolen from the local church? Why can I only think of shows where people sell drugs to make money?
Away from that sadness – THE DENIM OVERALLS!!! WE’VE MADE IT TO THE DENIM!!! THE DENIM!!! DENIM!!! HANNAH!!! I AM SO HAPPY!!! FLANNEL UNDER DENIM OVERALLS!!! WHAT IS THIS SCENE EVEN ABOUT OUTSIDE OF HANNAH WEARING OVERALLS!!! Hannah is in a barn with Caleb and his uncle Jamie, going through the old things from Caleb’s childhood. Yawn. Denim. Hannah clearly thought visiting a large barn meant that she had to be heading to a country-themed rave in the middle of the day, and only dressed appropriately. Back in civilization, where you cannot hang out in your denim overalls, Spencer withdrawals $500 from an ATM (you can’t do that) and gets in a fight with Jason in the middle of the town (you can do that).
BACK IN THE BARN WITH THE DENIM OVERALLS, Uncle Jamie asks Hannah if she’s seen Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel in one of the old book bins, which is also one of my favorite picture books as a kid! I used to always get that book from the library. There’s a picture of the steam shovel digging that I still remember vividly. I’m buying that book to go with my new denim overalls. Uncle Jamie asks, “He treatin’ you right?” Now, you only ask that question to a girl after she’s moved back in with her latent homosexual abusive husband and three kids (like a Brokeback Mountain sequel!). Uncle Jamie wants to buy everyone cheeseburgers, but instead he secretly gives Hannah a picture of Baby Caleb. It’s absolutely adorable. Caleb has achieved a really healthy tan over the years.
Emily is in the middle of her hypnotherapy session, where she remembers sprinklers and her pink running shoes and… HITTING ALI OVER THE HEAD WITH A SHOVEL. This sequence is directed with a beautiful flash of red to denote someone getting hurt, which I personally felt worked with real punch. I feel like Emily made up this memory, but why would I doubt the incredibly well-educated therapist and her methods of hypnotherapy? EMILY IS A MURDERER NOW!!! Emily all of a sudden is convinced that she is a crazy murderer, and that she should be forever scared of the 24 missing A postcards while telling everyone that she 100% murdered her friend. If Emily really did murder Ali, that’s absolutely incredible. If Emily did not murder Ali, I hope she was at least really drunk.
Speaking of the postcards, Emily has a flashback to their origin — Ali and Emily were fake planning a French vacation together during their single semester of French class together. Ali pretends to flirt with Emily while spreading out all of the postcards (not a method of studying, mind you), and the girls weirdly touch fingers. Emily is pretending to study, Ali is pretending to thrust her breasts into Emily’s hands. Ali lacks a lot of subtlety when it comes to fake teenage lesbian entanglements. Are we ever going to deal with Emily’s emotional scarring due to the fact that she was deeply manipulated by Ali and maybe in love? I feel like that would really screw with someone. Who knows. For a teen soap that isn’t Buffy, this show really does love to play around with lesbian tropes.
Spencer meets up with Miles, who explains that the key leads to a grungy door on Mayflower Hill. Spencer and Miles then delve into the most existential conversation ever between a young teenager and her shady private detective. Suddenly, the detective is worried about Spencer’s emotional well-being and what sits behind the locked door. Regardless, creepy investigator turns out to be a really nice guy with a great head on his shoulders and solid emotional advice. Spencer hopes that she will find some sort of explanation for Toby’s actions behind the A door; Miles explains that it’s time to consider letting Toby go if there isn’t an answer that comes with the key.
While people are dealing with big emotions, Aria witnesses Wes punching out the husband of his physics teacher in the middle of town. And by “punching out, “ I mean that Wes hits the man over the head with a pizza box. A pizza box. Since when is a pizza box, filled with only leftovers, remotely heavy enough to knock out an adult male such that a young boy and a girl with incredibly large eyeballs can escape? Turns out, there is no dorm fumigation! Who’s your daddy! Wes hit on his physics teacher in order to get kicked out of school, so the husband has been trying to attack him in broad daylight — Wes admires that Ezra was able to step out from his mother’s influence, especially the influence of the family checkbook. Aria understands nothing.
Hannah shows the picture of Baby Caleb to Teenage Caleb, and Caleb starts crying. Uncle Jamie kept the picture in his wallet all of these years! Caleb is loved! Caleb is family! Hannah is a detective and thinks Jamie is holding Caleb in that very picture! I’m thinking that maybe Uncle Jamie was actually in love with Caleb’s mother, and that Uncle Jamie is possible Caleb’s father. Caleb tries to pretend like he has zero emotions, but we all know the truth. Again, I’m just shooting stars of hope out into the worldwide television universe, but something magical has to happen soon for Caleb. Hannah is the best girlfriend. Between this sequence and the entire thing on The Bachelor where Sarah was sent home early, I’m not sure if my tear ducts will function tomorrow.
Spencer is heading to the A room with the key, and we know something is wrong as soon as the door has poop smears all over the place and hard rock starts playing. The room is completely empty. There is nothing for Spencer. Spencer rushes over to the mausoleum viewing with the Liars. Let’s break for fashion – do these girls know how to put together an outfit for a quasi-funeral? Hannah is wearing a yellow leopard mini-dress (at least she looks good), Emily is wearing a swishy white dress that would be appropriate if she was eloping on the beach in Hawaii, and Aria is wearing an absolutely incredible goth-glam red-and-black sheer maxi dress. Spencer is wearing a potato sack of sadness. Aria naturally wins this round, but everyone still needs to go to a class about dressing for a mausoleum. Hannah hates the Emily Dickinson quote on Ali’s new grave, but all of the quiet chatter ends while Spencer starts screaming about how Ali was pregnant when she died. Then Spencer carves Toby’s name into the marble over his mother’s grave. Such class. Spencer is so insane.
“There’s something really wrong with Spencer” — Aria brings her smarts to the table! These girls have been a little slow on the uptake recently. As the three sane Liars exit the graveyard, Emily flashes back to finish her hypnotherapy memory and realizes that she didn’t actually murder Ali with the shovel – instead, she saw a woman in a red coat escape through the graveyard on the night Ali’s grave was dug up. What an awful hypnotherapy twist. I mean, after the last two weeks, this episode was kind of mess. Marlene King’s name was listed inside the mausoleum, which means she might be dead and therefore no longer dealing with this show — is that some sort of sign for the wonky quality of this episode? Anyway, Emily now knows that Red Coat is in charge of things. Red Coat is Mama A. Red Coat has Mona in the palm of her hand. Red Coat is Ali, alive and well? Seems to be a viable prediction… I’m going to stop making predictions…
The episode ends with a nice young man named Kyle is working behind the counter of a liquor store while Black Hood buys a bottle of whiskey. Does Black Hood even have a 21+ plus ID? Is it real? Is it a fake, purchased over the Internet from China? Your guess is as good as mine on this one, troops. I figure the bottle is for Toby, since Toby would naturally drink whiskey. Honestly, let’s just move on from this bonkers episode (not the worst, but certainly not nearly the best). You can also look forward to Saturday evening when ABC Family premieres Twilight!!! I’ll also be another year older by next week’s episode, which means I’m another step away from the target audience for Pretty Little Liars. Don’t reach for the white light just yet, Old Alex — we need to identity of Mama Red Coat first.
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