Last week, we dealt with a literal fire. Not even the metaphorical fire of PornStarMom’s red hair, but actual flames. Everyone this week is suddenly calling the incident an explosion, but this fire has nothing on the ending of Heathers. Still, I’m not going to correct all of the Liars for making something more dramatic than it actually is. Because, Lord knows I have never done that. Ever. Why didn’t the note that made Meredith enter the burning shed catch on fire? Why has Byron become literally the creepiest? Why doesn’t Aria just move out of her evil father’s home and move in with Mom? Why do I always have so many dumb questions?
I don’t ever expect answers for the many questions I have about Pretty Little Liars, but I’m also never upset. Why ask for solid answers when one show has provided this many hairstyles? I think that’s a really great mentality to live with these days. I think people are a little bored with Revenge this season because everyone’s hair is so consistent. The episode opens with some black-and-white creepy B-flick about finding dead bodies and a severed head in a hatbox. Maybe this is the movie Se7en is based on? The Thing That Couldn’t Die? I feel like I’m usually pretty great about film noir references, but I’m really just riding on Byron’s severed head clue. Spoiler alert on that one, Dad. I’m mad at myself for not being super on top of a bizarre cinematic reference from Team PLL. I hope The Thing That Couldn’t Die is right. Fact checking is boring.
Byron tries to have a great conversation with Aria during her afternoon movie, as in he tries to fake apologize for jumping to conclusions and screaming at his daughter about trying to blow up the girl he had an affair with. Okay. The police have found a real person that lit the blaze! Allegedly! Ever since Garrett’s sad Halloween train death, we haven’t seen the police; maybe they’re on a bit of a vacation. Aria is flinching away from her father and making her eyeballs as big as possible, which must be some sort of animal instinct when Byron the Murderer tries to corner you on the couch. Dad is nuts.
Meanwhile, in the high school’s basement, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna are trying to sneak back into Harold’s janky janitor dungeon and find Ali’s old diary. Harold is currently missing in action. I mean, hopefully Harold isn’t living in the basement… ? Oh. Wait. Caleb already did that. Also, it probably would have been smart to bring Caleb or Toby along for a little protection. Also, it probably would have been smart to bring Caleb or Toby because Emily can’t even find the light switch. Idiot. The best reference to Aria’s missing status in her struggle to escape the evil clutches of her father? “I have enough daddy issues of my own!” Hanna said this. Obviously. In the dark basement, Spencer realizes that someone else is already in the room; Spencer is the smartest and probably has supernatural powers after having sex with her werewolf boyfriend earlier this season, if case you needed a refresher. The mysterious person in the black hoodie runs out. Hanna sees his black sneakers. Ali’s journal is empty – “Keep moving ladies. Nothing to see here. –A.” God, A. What a surprise. The Rosewood K-Mart is completely sold out of black hoodies, I’m sure of it.
Next morning, the Liars reunite at their favorite coffee shop. I’m honestly really surprised someone hasn’t accosted Emily while in the coffee shop about suddenly quitting the hottest spot in town. Aria gets a weird coffee, because she’s a fetus human and doesn’t know how to drink real coffee. Aria shares her freaky-deaky dream from the night before (that movie probably didn’t help) – between lying to Ezra and the drama with her father, Aria is full of anxiety and all of her teeth falling out. I have a recurring dream where I pull all of my teeth out, which is basically the sadomasochistic version of the normal teeth anxiety dream. Oversharing! Hanna has dreams where gum is stuck in her hair, which results in her pulling out all of her hair until she’s bald. Hanna and I, we really are deep kindred spirits. Spencer has dreams where she dresses up as Quailman from Doug. Emily does not share her lesbian dreams, which is unfortunate. Mona arrives, looking really… pretty? What? Did I just say that? Mona claims that Harold was stalking her, and that he rigged the explosion to hurt her. Mona, you’re such a lying bitch. I can’t even look at her, despite her pretty blue dress. I hate Mona. I want Jenna back – she brings the evil you can really embrace.
Lucas and Hanna have a nice reunion, where Hanna lets Lucas know that she recognized his black sneakers from the basement. Hanna isn’t going to tell everyone about Lucas, because Hanna is the sweetest person (when you are her friend). Lucas needs to stop acting so damn paranoid and guilty all the time if he wants to stop the town accusations of being paranoid and guilty. Otherwise, all of those accusations really do line up. Regardless, LUCAS LIT THE EXPLOSION! THE FIRE! WHATEVER! Lucas was trying to scare Mona away. Props to Lucas for taking a matter into his own hands in the most unsafe way possible.
Paige makes her return as Worst Lesbian Girlfriend Ever. I feel like Paige and Emily are linked together for life, especially after Maya’s death and the entire lighthouse-kidnapping ordeal. Remember when Paige was setting herself up to be the ultimate villain of the century? Remember when PLL decides that it wants a character to be a new A suspect and makes them as creepy as possible in the span of two episodes? Paige and Emily decide to go to swim team party in the woods, which seems like a brilliant idea since both of their parents are so strict about their nightly endeavors. A PARTY IN THE WOODS. I went to a party in the woods when I was in high school, and it did not go well. Add on the fact that roughly 87 people had been killed in Rosewood in the past three months, and we have a recipe for wild success. Can’t wait for this date/party! I wish swim season would start up again.
Aria’s mother is back! She’s returned to school! She’s trying to convince her students that TMZ is not the only source for news, which is an absolute lie! Aria and her mother have a serious conversation about how Mom drank too much red wine after a party and missed Aria’s first call that Alison was missing. What a horrifying memory for a mother. Lest this episode deal with some honest emotional turmoil, Meredith oversees the conversation and gets shifty eyeballs. Eyeballs and hair, they’re everywhere. Aria’s made some nice understated fashion choices this episode! Unfortunately, Hanna is the one making the missteps. I sort of inferred that Byron got his wife really drunk on purpose, so he could sneak out to do dirty things in the night. That being said, I would love to share a couple of bottles of wine with Mom and laugh a lot.
Spencer is running for team leader of the Brainiacs, know as the decathlon team at Rosewood. I thought a decathlon involved playing 10 sports from track and field? Did I miss something? Am I spelling something wrong? Did I mishear? I mean, if we’re judging the build of the babe-nerd quasi-speaker for this school organization, I’d say that this man is also a star football player. And a model? And Spencer’s new dreamboat babecity heartthrob. Enough on him – Spencer’s rival for new team leader is in the hospital after a tragic bike accident (the black hood!), but she won’t be running unopposed. Spencer will run against… MONA. I don’t understand how Mona joined a smart club and is suddenly running for president the same day, but I guess Rosewood loves giving lunatics a second chance if they wear nice clothes. I would never be that shallow. Also, the weirdly cute mathlete tells Spencer to “put on the Hastings face and spank her.” The “her” here being Mona. Spanking! Fifty Shades of Spencer! Could we maybe get Troian to play Anastasia Steele? The two ladies will have a smart-off at the school the next evening, being quizzed on a bunch of random facts. Hopefully someone is flying Alex Trebek in for this.
The girls grill Mona in the courtyard about her lifestyle choices, and Mona admits that she doesn’t have a phone and is only allowed to use a computer for homework. When Hanna reminds Mona about uploading the sad Facebook pity video, Aria adds – “That was certainly calculating, but I wouldn’t call it trig.” Best line of the episode. That’s all. I was squealing so much for Aria that I’m not even sure how this scene ended. They probably showed Mona chew something that looks like lettuce while looking torn apart.
While the Liars hang out in Aria’s bedroom, Aria mentions that she is green and queasy. ARIA IS PREGNANT. Is there any other explanation for this blatantly obvious and random reference to Aria’s fragile health, even though she clearly has never been sick in life? I imagine Aria’s eyeballs collecting moonlight and healing her body. I love when television writers begin drawing the map for a show pregnancy. It’s always incredible, and “subtle” references to oncoming pregnancy feel like that train in Inception. When Aria goes to grab Aria’s diary pages from the bottom of her boot, the pages are suddenly missing. Hanna begins ripping through Aria’s closet, as if the pages accidently jumped into a different boot. However, it is possible that Hanna is just digging for a nice pair of shoes to borrow from Aria; Hanna’s brain is usually in the right place, which would involve finding new black boots. Byron shows up, giving everyone full-on creep and basically holding a giant butcher’s knife dripping with blood behind his back. Byron brings up Mike, Aria’s sister, and I suddenly wonder if Byron has also murdered Mike. I miss Mike making weird rearview mirrors for his desk in his bedroom and sneaking guns around – what a silly rebel.
Quick notes – Toby has a bad Taylor Lautner haircut, which could be remedied if he would stop leading a double life and take the time to visit a nice barbershop. Lucas is a huge secret superhero nerd, which makes him instantly cuter. I’m surprised Hanna didn’t say something about Lucas’ superhero collectibles (I would have “said something” by kissing Lucas on the lips). Mona is blackmailing Lucas, which I think is something we already knew about. Ezra’s big appearance in the episode comes in the form of chatting Aria, which is kind of adorable. HIGH SCHOOL IS THE MOST SERIOUS THING EVER, WHICH IS I SORT OF FORGOT ABOUT. Like, high school is out of control.
Aria overhears Meredith having a massive fight with Byron, and Aria realizes that something serious is happening. Again, Byron has become the worst character. Aria follows Meredith to, you guessed it, a coffee shop. Meredith caught Byron snooping through Aria’s room, and then digging through Meredith’s purse; he thought it was Aria’s purse, riffling through the belongings to find some papers. Interesting. Byron was clearly looking for those diary pages. Yikes. Aria is wearing a jacket that she probably got as a hand-me-down from Madonna’s daughter at age six. Meredith lets the cat out of the bag, explaining that Byron was with her the night of Ali’s murder – Aria’s father thought Meredith was in league with Ali in bribing/blackmailing him for the big bucks, so Byron was going to talk to Ali about the whole ordeal. Byron is a horrifying man. I don’t think I can say that enough in a single recap.
THE WOODS PARTY!!! Okay, we never make it to the woods party because Paige has a massive panic attack and Emily tries to calm her down by taking a casual walk through the woods in the middle of the night only to find that one of their tires has been severely slashed while they were away until Emily sees a black hoodie watching her and tries to chase Black Hoodie through the woods. Whew. Breath. This Black Hoodie is Toby. Duh. It’s so foggy in the woods at night. I wish I had a PLL creepy fog machine in my apartment. They eventually make it pack to Emily’s place, where the two celebrate their survival of the night with a sweet lesbian sleepover featuring a sweet lesbian kiss in two separate sweet lesbian beds. Emily thinks Paige needs to see a therapist about her panic, which is a smart move!
While all of this is going on, Spencer is facing off against Mona. Spencer looks better than ever in her electric blue jacket, white blouse, hip black pants, neck diamond, and chic up-do. BETTER THAN EVER. Spencer is so so so so so so so so so so so smart. That’s a factual statement. She keeps killing all of the questions while Mona continues to stumble, but somehow Mona is only three points behind after the second round? Cute football-playing nerd is asking the questions, and he’s clearly partial to Spencer. And by “partial,” I mean they should probably have sex as soon as possible. Suddenly, the director of this episode decides to show everyone in a weird porno glow with the bell to ring in the answer taking up 98 percent of the screen – maybe it shows the tension between Spencer and Mona? The sexual friction in the air between Spencer and Cute Football Nerd from Heaven? I get so nervous during sequences like this; I sweat profusely, bite my fingernails, and scream expletives at the television. Suddenly, on the final question (name all independent countries formed when the Soviet Union cracked), Spencer chokes and Mona turns into the smartest person in the world. Someone please explain. I almost vomited I was so upset. I haven’t felt such an urge to vomit while watching television since, well… last week, when The New Normal made it seem like Matt Bomer would have issues finding a steady life partner. GOOD TRY. RYAN MURPHY. GOOD TRY, MONA. Mona is Ryan Murphy.
Spencer has a brain meltdown – Cute Football Nerd tries to kiss Spencer to comfort her (I’m lying, that scene only happened in my head). Toby can’t pick up Spencer because he has dinner plans – an obvious lie. Hanna swoops in to rescue Spencer from Evil Mona’s evil brain game; Hanna also decides to read Mona. Not the “read” where you flip the pages of a book, but the “read” where you face your nemesis and metaphorically rip out their weave. You can also actually rip out their weave. Hanna’s hair looked bad this episode. “I don’t wanna see you, I don’t wanna hear from you, I don’t wanna know you.” Hanna wins.
Meredith and Aria are suddenly a team, and Aria has the flu (if “flu” is now code for “baby”). While the ladies make cute, Byron finishes up some work at his office. A black hoodie watches him leave – MONA. Mona is still up to her old tricks! Believe Lucas! Believe Hanna! Believe Spence! Mona tells her cohorts – “He’s leaving. I’ll call you back.”
Another black hoodie is shown hiding the bad guy from the Halloween homo-train under roughly eight leaves. Someone is going to find those masks, as they are clearly visible under only eight leaves. Everyone needs to start acting smarter, even Spencer. Mona is clearly a KGB agent, because she knows everything about all of the post-Soviet Union countries. Mona also has a lot of money post-insanity, as her wardrobe has been pretty solid. Hanna’s hair looks A M A Z I NG next episode, which makes me the happiest person in the entire world. How does Hanna’s hair change so radically from week to week? How does Spencer not realize that Toby can’t be stuck at a work dinner with his boss when Toby builds outhouses for a living? Lena Dunham gave Chad Lowe a fantastic and hilarious mention during her acceptance speech for Girls at the Golden Globes, which means Chad Lowe is (probably still) frantically calling his agents to replace Tom Cruise in the next Mission: Impossible film. Speaking of the Golden Globes, why didn’t Pretty Little Liars win anything?
[Image Credit: Adam Rose/ABC Family]