‘Pretty Little Liars’ Recap: Who’s the Dead Body?

Pretty Little Liars

Last week I wished for a dead body. This week? We received a dead body! Naturally, Pretty Little Liars had to keep the details a little nebulous, but a dead body is a dead body nonetheless. We also got the best work by the show’s hair & make-up team, along with the best scenes an actress has ever delivered on this show. Remember: going full crazy wins you awards. Or something. I mean, buckle up. However, we have to run through three Liars dealing with serious drama and one Liar being an absolute idiot before the goodies.

The episode begins right where last week’s left off: Spencer decides to tell the ladies that Toby is A, even though Hanna is missing from the briefing. Aria and Emily are completely shocked by the fact that Toby is evil, even though I thought it was pretty obviously that Spencer was dealing with much more than simply a horrible break-up. Especially since this was a severe break-up that she couldn’t talk to anyone about. Instead of talking, she stopped washing her air and started attacking people like she was off her meds. Hmm. Interesting. I mean, Aria has a lot on her plate with this baby and Emily is just straight-up dumb.

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Meanwhile, Hanna is dealing with her own secrets: Hanna and PornStarMom/Ashley are concerned about Creepy Detective Wilden’s missing body. Hanna and Ashley decide to keep the body a secret, as they don’t want to deal with all of the drama. It’s mainly Hanna who doesn’t want to deal with the drama, and Ashley lets her teenage daughter convince her into this sort of thinking. Great parenting. We get creepy police lights spinning outside, and it becomes clear that the Marin ladies are probably making an awful choice with this secret. However, they’re in this together. I adore this team. Why does everyone keep everything a secret? Why doesn’t everyone realize that every secret in Rosewood ends with a fire, a dead person, blindness, severe falls, everyone knowing the original secret, Spencer forgetting to condition her hair, and Aria wearing spike earrings with eyeball-enhancing contacts?

Spencer, Aria, and Emily discuss how Toby must be 100 percent evil, but Emily is not on board. You can see her attempt to harden and develop her own parallel explanation, but her features make you realize that Emily has no serious emotions or facial movement. It doesn’t hurt that Emily is still so damn beautiful. Spencer belittles everyone: “I am smarter than all of you, I have thought of every single possible scenario and there is no way Toby was ever good or ever loved me.” Sound reasoning, Spence. Spencer’s biggest piece of evidence is the fact that Mona is in New York for a smart people convention, so Toby had to be the one that locked her in the steam room/expensive suburban shower thing. He just had to be the one!

REAR WINDOW BREW. I love when we enter this outrageous coffee shop, I love when the coffee shop continues to grow, and I love when PLL decides to show us the front of the shop so we get the obvious Hitchcock reference. Emily decides it’s smart to give Toby a call, and thankfully gets his voicemails: “Toby, it’s Emily. I really want to talk to you. I need to talk to you.” Smooth, Emily. Very smooth. Emily steals the key to Toby’s loft, because Toby used to work at the coffee shop and therefore they still have his spare key in a glass jar. That seems unsafe but this is Rosewood and it’s not like anyone has ever been murdered, LOL.

Off to the Liar having the most boring week on record – while everyone else is dealing with the life-threatening situations, Aria is… babysitting. Malcolm and Maggie are in Rosewood because Maggie is obviously preparing to move to the World’s Safest City; I would never raise my toddler in that godforsaken town. Also, did Malcolm grow considerably? Like, what’s with the hair? I think this poor child was severely recast or I’m dealing with crazy memory issues. However, everyone on this show is dealing with crazy memory issues so maybe it’s not so bad. Everyone plays with Malcolm’s train set and looks cute. More on this riveting storyline to come! I know you just can’t wait!

Since Emily had Toby’s spare key handy at the coffee shop, she decides to go all Nancy Drew with Hanna in tow. Hanna doesn’t feel like searching for clues about Evil Toby because she’s too worried about Creepy Wilden and the fate of her mother; Hanna sits on the couch and watches the news. For a show about lying, all of the Liars are pretty awful at lying. Exhibit 9,432: Hanna telling Emily that she’s just watching the news because she wanted to check the weather. Wrong. Toby suddenly has parents (???), so Hanna thinks Emily should check in with them regarding Toby’s disappearance.

Lucy HaleAria is scared of the Maggie-Malcolm-Ezra dynamic. Aria is bad at pretending to act like she has a maternal bone in her body and instead seems like a fun-scared new babysitter. Aria is hired to watch Malcolm for an hour as a babysitter. Malcolm falls off the bed during that hour and must go to the hospital. Aria discovers that she is bad at being a “mother.” No one is surprised. Malcolm needs to toughen up. Like, Jesus H. Christ – why are we giving the worst subplot on any television show currently on air to the ever-disastrous Aria and Ezra? Babies on teen soaps are supposed to bring all the drama, not weak adventures in babysitting resulting in chin scrapes.

Remember how Black Gloves was building a “Deepest Sympathy” wreath at the end of last week’s episode? It turns out the wreath was made for Spencer: “Someone close to you will pay for your loose lips –A.” Spencer seems a little surprised at the gift/message from A, and it looks like these girls really aren’t learning from past experiences. Spencer should also stop taking random naps when someone tried to kill her in her home the day before. Literally. Stop napping. Spencer decides to wake up with a cup of coffee at the coffee shop, where Mona is picking up her pumpkin latte – time for Mona vs. Spencer: Vengeance.

Spencer accuses Mona of dropping off the flowers, while Mona oh-so-subtly threatens Spencer: “Make sure not the leave orchids in direct sunlight – I did once, they didn’t make it through the night.” Indirect threats about flowers are like scary Georgia O. Keefe subliminal messaging. Mona is clearly hinting that someone will pay before the night is through… or is she? Nothing about Mona makes sense to me anymore, to the point where I’m starting to feel like maybe I am Spencer! Or maybe I am A! I never know. Mona seems to be winning a lot of these arguments. If only Spencer would wash her hair…

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Emily goes to visit the Parents of Toby, but judging from the newspapers littering the porch, they were all killed when Jenna took off her sunglasses and discovered she was Cyclops in the new X-Men sequel; this is why Toby’s parents are dead and Jenna has skipped town. Emily runs into Toby’s “friend from work,” who would be cute if it wasn’t for his suspicious teeth! Weird Teeth Work Friend says Toby is gone for a couple of weeks. Emily’s new gumshoe skills tell her something is up, so she continues to sleuth. I’m feeling a Veronica Mars reboot, no?

Speaking of Veronica Mars, do you think that genius private eye show would have survived on the CW in 2013? I like to think that the show would thrive, but I also tend to forget that the CW ruined the structure of the show and tried to water down our favorite teen sleuth for mass consumption. But then I remember Cult. Bleck. I’m sure very few reading this have actually seen Veronica Mars, which means you all need to go out and buy Season 1 on DVD – it’s perfect. Okay. Focus. I’ll start calling Ashley by her given name (instead of PornStarMom) when I feel bad for her — Ashley sees Wilden hanging out in the door of the local pizza shop while wandering a parking lot on her lunch break, so she gets really paranoid that Wilden is alive and well. I don’t like this one bit.

Spencer continues to spiral, noticing that an “E” and the “M” in the “Deepest Sympathy” sash are matte instead of shiny; this clearly means that A is coming for Emily! I am definitely following Spencer’s logic, but Emily is acting like Spencer should be committed and that the girls have never dealt with bonkers conspiracy murder theories. Emily is forgetting the entire premise of the show. PLL is swinging this well – Spencer seems a little insane, but this isn’t too insane for A’s previous shenanigans. I’m worried for Spencer, but I’m also worried that Spencer found something. Emily is unfazed because she was swim practice.

Emily decides to visit her mother at the police station, where they chat about how Toby has always been a little Teen Wolf scary. Emily asks Mom if she can check her email on her mother’s police computer, which is the dumbest thing ever because Emily has an iPhone. Emily’s Mom needs to take a class in how 2013 works (I hope you all read the wonderful Entertainment Weekly article about Pretty Little Liars and the power of social media – if you can’t read, the pictures are hot fire). Emily obviously does not boot up AOL, but instead hacks into the police database – she’s looking for an image of E. LAMB, the name on Toby’s ID for the Radley Hospital for Crazies. E. Lamb’s pictures obviously takes 17 minutes to load, but Emily gets an important text before she sees a face: “Stop looking. I’ll meet you.” IT’S FROM TOBY. Emily is such a sneaky little detective.

Spencer thinks it’s a smart idea to start following Mona, which is an awful idea because MONA IS CRAZY AND TRIED TO KILL EVERYONE. I know everyone thinks Mona is “sweet” and wants to give her a “second chance,” but the Liars seems awfully flippant around the girl that won Lunatic of the Century last season. Here is Spencer’s thought process: “Mona? Oh, I can definitely follow Mona. She won’t smell the stench coming from my hair miles away. Oh, Mona is heading into the woods? That seems really safe! Let’s follow Mona off-trail into the woods!” Everyone is stupid. Everyone should invest in weapons. No one should enter the woods. I could quote Sondheim right here but I’m holding myself back. You’re welcome. I hope Bernadette Peters is A.

Hanna arrives home to find… Wilden’s police cruiser in the garage? With the video of Ashley and Wilden playing on loop? Hanna clearly watches the entire thing; while the video shows Ashley striking Wilden, it also shows Wilden being a creepy asshole and working far outside of his jurisdiction. Hanna probably has no idea what she’s watching – she probably thinks that the television inside Wilden’s car doesn’t change from the same episode of Cops (or is it COPS?). How did this car get from the middle of the woods to the Marin garage? What in tarnation? Help?

Back out in the wilderness, Emily is meeting Toby in a meat locker garage. I feel like there are giant meat hooks hanging from the ceiling of this place, with giant cows hanging around, but I’m making up my own scenery outside of the frame. Toby is supposed to meet Emily at 7pm; he’s a no-show. How surprising. Everyone on this show is clearly breaking out from their previous behavioral patterns and really bringing the shockers. I will say that this season has slowly but surely put Spencer at the center of everything – this season may as well be called PLL: Spencer. It certainly would get that subtitle if Ryan Murphy was running things and wanted the show to compete under the less-crowded miniseries category at the Emmys; I love hypothetical situations.

Spencer is literally trudging alone into the depths of the forest, acting like it is the middle of the afternoon and she is on her way to church to meet up with her super religious cousins and then grab cheap donuts in the rectory after mass. No, she is strolling through the thick of the forest in the middle of the night. Spencer loses sight of Mona, but finds a body – TOBY. TOBY IS DEAD. Mona kind of screams, “Toby is dead!” before running away like a madwoman. Excuse me – like the madwoman she is. Here’s the thing – we don’t actually get to see Toby’s face (Spencer doesn’t have time to take off his motorcycle helmet), so there’s no knowing that she entire situation wasn’t manipulated by Red Hood and her minions. We got a peek of a Toby waist tattoo, but there’s no saying that Wilden didn’t have the same tattoo due to the fact that they’re secret brothers or once joined a cult together. I’m guessing there’s some Toby-Wilden voodoo afoot, but for now I’ll just pretend like we have hard “Toby is dead” evidence to run with. Spencer has an emotional breakdown in the middle of the forest while the camera spins around her so fast that I vomited from motion sickness. All the Teen Choice surfboards to Troian, please and thank you.

Aria says something dumb about babies. The end.

Emily has been waiting in the meat hook garage for something like two hours, and Toby is still missing. Maybe that’s because Toby is dead! Joke sure is on you, Emily! Emily spots Red Hood trolling around in her rear view mirror, and decides to sneak around the meat hook garage. This place is actually the carpentry workshop where Toby works! At least, I think this place is full of carpenters. Emily is literally just spying around while a bunch of men doing things to wood. That sounds wrong but it’s so right. I don’t know anything about carpenters or whatever is going on here, I’m sorry. Emily spots Weird Teeth Work Friend hard at work! Weird Teeth Work Friend says Toby is not around, but also knows Emily’s name even though she never shared that tidbit – spooky. What a typical murderer tipoff, Weird Teeth Work Friend. Emily has the worst taste in men.

Emily turns to leave, but there’s a red package sitting in the car. Inside the package, Emily finds a little box shaped like a coffin; the note inside: “Toby is no more. –A.” The message is written in blood!!! Run!!! There’s also a pamphlet for Toby’s “funeral.” What histrionics you have, Red Hood. Can we get a scene with a wolf up in here? That’s what I want to see – Red Hood unleashing a wolf on the Liars. Boom. Hanna would punch the wolf in the face.

Hanna calls Aria for backup with the whole police car-video ordeal, and her ingenious solution is to push the car into the local lake. There’s a lot of drama – Aria doesn’t want to help, Hanna is strong enough to push the car in herself, the car won’t sink, the red light turns on during the sinking – but eventually the car makes its way to Davy Jones’ Locker. I think Davy Jones’ Locker is an ocean-only type of thing, but who knows how this will end up in a place like Rosewood. Rosewood might hold all of the answers to Lost at this point. PornStarMom (no more Ashley) noticed that Wilden’s car was no longer stalled in the middle of the forest, so she thinks everything is better. Idiot – that is why you will always be PornStarMom and never Ashley.

Ezra has on great plaid. Aria does not want to interrupt Malcolm-Maggie-Ezra time. Again, THE END. RESCUE ME.

Emmys for Hair & Make-Up, here we come: the next morning, Spencer is catatonic in the middle of the forest. She spent the entire night stumbling around like a lunatic. Her hair is massive. Her face looks dead. Tears are stuck to her cheeks. This is maybe the worst anyone has ever looked on television; the exception is maybe the time when that thing happened to Gus Fring on Breaking Bad and his face looked rough. (I don’t want to spoil this if you’re marathoning the entire show for the upcoming final summer mini-season.) The police/forest rangers will need a psych evaluation on this poor girl. Spencer is broken. Spencer has hit the lowest low. There is nowhere to go after you have been betrayed by the love of your life and then (presumably) find his corpse. That is actually the scariest, most emotionally exhausting experience on the planet. I am presuming all of this, because I have no lived such a situation. Yet.


The episode’s weird clue shows how Hanna could come up with better plans in the future, as someone goes fishing at her handy pound and brings up Wilden’s old police hat. Dumb girl. Hanna, stop trying to protect your mother and realize that you both need to get the hell out of Rosewood. Last time Hanna helped her mother she was forced to eat a bunch of piggy cupcakes in public; while that was humiliating for Hanna, it is a high point for PLL and one of the early examples that this show would be a roaring success. I’m too exhausted to figure out how to end this recap. I want to give Spencer a hug. I’ll probably take some medicine for insane people and sleep for the next 4 months to recover. Goodnight.

[Image Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC Family(2)]

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