Last time we visited Rosewood, everything was kind of the worst. Maya was probably dead (bad for Emily, good for us — Maya was terrifying and really rude and looked 42), Mona was unmasked as A-slash-Scary Black Glove, and A’s Sequel-slash-Little Red Riding Hood (her official nickname) visited Mona in the psych ward and revealed that Mona had zero power and will always be fake popular. Sad. Everyone went to a masquerade ball that felt a little Gossip Girl-y for me, but I guess our girls need to have fun. Because their lives suck. Pretty Little Liars was actually scary at the end of Season 2, as evil dolls and psychic children that live in basements are really creepy. The series also gave us a Psycho homage. And that is why I now insist that everyone should be watching this show, because nothing makes sense and everything is the best.
But we are back! It is five months after everything that happened! All the drama! I can’t believe we’re already here. The most obvious change in those five months is that everyone has different hair: Hanna chopped everything off, Aria got mom layers, Spencer stayed the same (because she is the smartest), and Emily stopped conditioning. Also, Emily is an alcoholic. Which is good for us, because that one episode where Emily got really drunk at the dance was so great. Anyway, Hanna is showing off the new vocabulary she learned over the summer while Emily drinks an entire flask and brings up their dead friends. Not the best slumber party.
Hanna falls asleep on top of Aria and there are a lot of candles and the back door is wide open. I think everyone ended up drinking because this is an odd follow-up to their fun little “what did you do last summer?” gab fest. The backdoor of the Hastings’ residence is always flying open in the middle of the night, and sometimes the cops show up there instead of using the front door. This time, the door is wide open because someone escaped — Emily decided to go blackout grave digging, which is way worse than blackout eating an entire pizza. Turns out she wasn’t actually grave digging, but someone was counting on Emily being super drunk and forgetting everything and holding a shovel over Alison’s empty grave so it looked like she was grave digging. Someone stole Alison’s body! That is gross. It is always very windy in Rosewood and there is a lot of lightening. But there is never rain. It’s kind of confusing. It’s also kind of confusing because a lot of times Rosewood looks like Stars Hollow and I keep expecting Lorelai to show up.
NEXT: Hanna’s mom, secret porn star?
Spencer’s Mom, a.k.a. Mariska Hargitay, calls to make sure our Liars are safe. They are faking it out in the lake house. Lying! Everything is okay. Later, Aria magically wakes up from a nightmare at Ezra’s house. It almost felt like a David Lynch moment until it wasn’t. How did she get there? How do all the Liars remember Labor Day Weekend? I can tell you nothing about Labor Day. Ezra wants to make his anniversary with Aria the same day that Aria’s good friend was murdered, which is Labor Day, which is… logical.
Hanna’s Mom, who I am convinced is a secret porn star and still stashes extra cash in the lasagna box, is shopping with Hanna. Hanna has a lot of attitude and her vocabulary is the same, which is kind of disappointing. Hanna’s Mom also has longer hair. Hair is the key to this episode! Everyone’s hair tells a story, just like Aria’s old pink clip-in used to tell a story when we had those flashbacks to before Ali’s murder. Hair is important. Hanna almost steals a big Kim Kardashian necklace, which I’m hoping is an allusion to the rebirth of her sticky fingers. I hope Little Red makes Hanna steal that necklace. Or, you know, eat a punch of pig cupcakes.
Hanna is pretending that she is still seeing the shrink Dr. Sullivan, but she is going to the psych ward and talking to Mona! GASP! I say talking to Mona because Mona just sits there with her crazy psycho hair and blank psycho eyes and does not move or talk back. Hanna is just like C’MON, WHY DID YOU HATE ME. Hanna should really not be in a room alone with Mona. That is bad. That is really bad. Mona deserves an Oscar or something because she is not comatose or super drugged but spies on Hanna when Hanna is walking away. Mona is a genius, though Spencer is still smarter. Hence why Mona is in a psych ward and Spencer did not die. Oops.
(I would like to point out the commercial that popped up here, where Aria tried to convince us that her name is actually Lucy Hale and she sings and hikes and goes on Bing to find the closest flea market. Very suspect.)
NEXT: A call from the unknown!
Caleb and Hanna talk about making something that sounds like Dong Po, which I have never heard of and could either be a weird pastry or a new sex position. Caleb makes Hanna whisper it like 19 times and they giggle. Cute. This entire episode is filled with the Liars convincing people that they were definitely at the lake house when Ali’s body was robbed. Lucas shows up and Aria calls him Boo Radley, because To Kill A Mockingbird is literally the only book they read in high school. (Aria is also trying to show that she is as smart as Spencer, because Spencer had just made a Voldemort reference.) Lucas is sketchy, he knows something, blah blah.
Feeling proud of herself, Aria takes a potty break. She cannot turn the lock and has a panic attack when she sees someone in black wandering around the bathroom. Spencer and Hanna rescue her and Hanna attempts to use her new vocabulary (“Someday, we will all have jubilation”). Aria is the best Liar at almost crying. I am always convinced by her ragged emotions. It is probably her big eyeballs.
Aria’s parents are getting a divorce. Emily and Toby grab tea. Jenna is totally missing in action, probably because she can see and decided to run away from Rosewood because Rosewood is super windy. Jenna needs to return as soon as possible because she is the craziest and therefore she is the best. The greatest scene in the history of PLL was when Aria had pottery class with Jenna. I think I cried.
Spencer is pretending to study for a test that no one else is taking, but Spencer is actually going back to the Lost Woods Resort, a.k.a. the Bateman Motel. Spencer is camping out with her laptop in Room 2, or The Horrifying Ali Shrine That No One Would Ever Want To See Every Again In The History of Ever. Spencer is sitting alone with her laptop and her thermos and UNKNOWN calls and Spencer finally picks up. Spencer has never looked sketchier, but I trust her.
During another Hanna visit to the psych ward, Mona sees Alison wearing her Vivian Darkbloom red jacket and reading Lolita while Hanna is visiting her in the hospital. Normal. Not sure if this is a red herring, where the show is trying to get us to believe that Mona was speaking to her imaginary Alison at the end of the Season 2 finale, but I am not fooled!
Garrett is meeting with Spencer while he is in jail and his hair looks not the best. Literally, the past five months have done bizarre things to everyone’s hair. I think Hanna made out the best because I like her short ‘do, but I guess another death in Rosewood (Maya) made everyone carpe diem and visit the local salon. Garrett says he is innocent, he knows who killed Alison, he knows who took the body. Spencer is smart and walks away. She is wearing a questionable outfit, like she is going to a farm-themed frat party. It is quickly revealed that Hanna is wearing a pink fringe bikini top and Aria is wearing overalls and hooker boots.
NEXT: Best. Text. Ever.
Emily, who decides to go on a run because she has been drinking a lot and needs to fight off the extra little chunk, sees a light blue car. She has brief flashbacks and starts to die when she gets a text: “I bet you remember me.” THIS IS BAD. Basically, Emily repressed a memory about that car. This is Pretty Little Liars at its best — bringing in the most extreme plot twist that has literally never been referenced before and yet will 100 percent shape the trajectory of the next arc. My favorite.
Spencer feels the need to bring everyone to Room 2 of the Lost Woods Resort to show off her summer project: a digital mock-up of the Alison shire that A had built in the room. Spencer has been trying to remember the whole room, since someone took down EVERYTHING. Everyone also lied to Emily about cleaning up the room themselves, so now Emily will probably go home and drink a lot more. Spencer believes that the Black Swan from the Gossip Girl masquerade party is someone to watch out for. Spencer, it took you five months for THAT? Mona told Spencer like 873 times about “Team A.” Clearly, Mona was not working alone. I will give Spencer the benefit of the doubt here because she was stressed and almost murdered and spent a lot of time at the Lost Woods Resort. But still.
Everyone runs back to the Toyota because someone decided to stage a car commercial and test out all of the safety features of the car. They work. But the real reason to bring the Liars outside of the Resort: A certain someone also filled the car with picture of the Liars at the empty grave!!! Lots of pictures!!! Evidence!!! The set-up worked!!! Then, A delivers maybe the best text in the history of A texts (as read aloud by Aria): “MONA PLAYED WITH DOLLS. I PLAY WITH BODY PARTS. GAME ON, BITCHES. –A” BODY PARTS!!! MURDER!!! HELP!!!
A IS BACK. A, the Second? I will still call our new mystery bully Little Red. The episode ends, everyone is crying, and everything is once again the worst after an okay summer for everyone who’s name is not Emily. I am super scared of Little Red and Black Swan and Mona (still).
ABC Family really wanted me to hashtag stuff on Twitter throughout the episode, but I would rather say #thankyouangie, as in Toby’s perfectly delivered line to the waitress at the coffee shop while hanging out with Emily. Caleb also gave a killer line to Hanna: “How can you not talk about us? We’re intimate.” This line was possibly beat only by Emily’s concern with her own recent downward spiral with binge drinking: “I was at this one party and I got so wasted and I don’t even remember being there.”
The Liars are seniors in high school, which means this season will probably also be filled with college angst. Hopefully A has some pull in the admissions’ office at the local college. I’d also really like to know how Maya died. What big answers are you still looking for? Should I even be asking questions at this point? Is Rosewood really purgatory and everyone is already dead? All in all, a solid start to television’s current greatest (guilty?) pleasure with a big new mystery. And new haircuts.