‘Pretty Little Liars’ Recap: Church Hymns, Crazy Pills, and a Creepy Detective

Pretty Little Liars recap

Pretty Little Liars pulled a lot of slow chess moves this week, so I feel like we’re putting all of the pieces together for the finale instead of delivering the big boom now. That being said, we got some amazing Spencer scenes, some more stupid Aria stuff, and a hilariously sweet Olympic superstar (nope, not the Blade Runner. Too soon?).

The episode opens on Melissa’s hair looking bad as she tells everyone that Spencer is “missing;” Melissa interrupts the courtyard that sits at the center of Rosewood High, which seems to be the only place where students actually hang out at this school. We all know that Spencer is actually at Radley, but everyone else is a beat behind. Mona is watching the girls freak out from her compact makeup mirror. Evil is all around us. Luke Skywalker is letting loose his Wilhelm scream. Anne Hathaway is still practicing her Oscar speech. Taylor Swift is crying. Got a secret, can you keep it?

Spencer is playing cards alone in her crazyroom, pretending that her name is Jane Doe – she has a lot of relatives, the long line of Does! Spencer is clearly pretending that she has no idea who she is, but we all know that Spencer is far too intelligent for this brand of bullshit; basically, Spencer is smarter than Rosewood’s infamous little mental institute. I still don’t understand why this insane asylum is lurking in good ol’ heartwarming suburban Rosewood, but I guess I’m not a master in the whole business of building insane asylums. Regardless, Spencer has a chin bandage and is really selling the whole amnesia thing. Spencer’s hair is really dirty. Spencer puts the pieces together and realizes that she’s in Radley – MONA MONA MONA.

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The other three girls are all whispering about Spencer in an attempt to locate the derailed bestie, but Hanna’s outstanding outfit and Emily’s super glamorous straight hair distract me from such trials and tribulations. Aria is wearing one of the 98 skull shirts she owns so she doesn’t win an award this episode. Spencer gets a break from this competition because you can’t pick your wardrobe in the loony bin. Spencer is playing solitaire in her room, which is actually the No. 1 cause of self-induced insanity. These people at Radley sure know what they’re doing!

Hanna and Ashley/PornStarMom hang around at home. They eat carrot sticks, they wish they were eating pretzels, and they look through the paper to see if Wilden has turned up dead/returned from vacation. I don’t think Wilden’s vacation would appear in the local newspaper, but we have no idea what kind of stories this paper runs. This is Rosewood after all. I hope there are a lot of stories about the local church camp where teens are sent to recover from the addiction to marijuana (rest in peace, Maya). I want the episode where Emily gets really drunk at the school dance because she’s upset about Maya. Drunk Emily is the best Emily in my book. Hanna thinks that salted carrot sticks would make up for pretzels, but I think the Marin girls need to indulge in some goodies to stress-eat about dead creepstar.

Ezra is still wearing the plaid I liked from last week… Which I didn’t like enough for him to wear again this week… Everyone is wearing the same outfit from the end of the last week’s episode, which I’m not entirely happy about. MORE FASHION MEANS MORE CRAZY! The use of these outfits to bridge the grab from last week to this week is great for Hanna’s body and Emily’s hair. I know that we change outfits eventually, but I feel like Aria usually makes 74 wardrobe changes an episode. Ezra and Aria talk about the baby drama and being happy together. They hug. We snore. Ezra needs to kill someone or let us know that he’s hiding his mother’s body in the freezer – anything except being excited about this child.

Spencer’s playing the piano in the asylum common room – it’s just like the high school’s courtyard, which is a great place to socialize that features no fun socializing. Beautiful! I feel like we’re retreading some American Horror Story: Asylum material here, and I would have really liked a crossover episode of sorts between these two bonkers show. I really want the cast of America Horror Story: Asylum to record a Harlem Shake video featuring the Liars; it would be the best video ever recorded and also singlehandedly wipe everyone’s memory of the whole Harlem Shake fad. We could at least have Spencer playing that Sister Jude’s French jam. Doctor Sullivan arrives, and Spencer whispers: “Olly olly oxen free.” I think this is some sort of thing from hide and seek, but I don’t full remember what it means – you found everyone? Everyone is allowed to come out of hiding? I think this was a weird reference from Spencer, and I think she sent some mixed messages about how the game of hide & seek ends. That being said, Spencer is smarter than us. Maybe she was starting an Illuminati chant to unleash the demon trapped in her hair.

DETECTIVE WILDEN IS ALIVE! Obviously. That’s not surprising, PLL. We all knew that Creepy Detective wasn’t just going to just show up dead on some riverbank in the middle of the never-ending forest. Wilden instead shows up alive while Hanna and Ashley/PornStarMom chat with Ted at the church; Ted is hanging up a really insightful sign for the ladies of Rosewood: “Commit a crime and the world is made of glass.” Emerson quotes outside of a church! How exotic! Wilden talks about going fishing, and Hanna pees down her entire beautiful skirt because Wilden is creepy.

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Spencer has the same conversation every minute she spends at Radley, to the extent that I’m already over this poorly lit building. Like, everyone needs to shut up and just let Spencer deal with her problems. Sullivan asks a pretty important question: “What happened in the woods to make you not want to be Spencer?” Toby Cavanaugh is dead. Toby Cavanaugh is maybe dead? We have no idea if Toby Cavanaugh is dead because we never had the chance to see Toby’s face. The grandest mystery of them all is the Toby body; everyone thinks Spencer is crazy because there is simply no body in the woods. Spencer needs to survive this 72-hour evaluation, prove her sanity, and make it out of Radley alive. Pray for Spencer.

The three Ladies not spending time in a mental hospital are doing their thing, chatting about their lonely companion in the mental hospital – Melissa tipped everyone off that Spencer is in the hospital after Doctor Sullivan found her tickling the ivories. I wish I could say more funny things, but the whole Spencer-trapped-in-Radley plot is really bringing me down. To liven up the occasion, A texts Hanna, which causes Hanna’s phone to beep; no teenage has their phone on the noise setting, so I think Hanna needs a little help in navigating her phone. Also, Christian Borle’s ringtone on Smash is the same tone as my alarm, so I always have really weird physical responses to his phone ringing on the show (i.e. narcolepsy, seizures, crying, hiding, etc).

Pretty Little Liars recap

Hanna’s inability to make her phone “cool” is irrelevant because A sent Hanna a little picture – a screenshot from the video of PornStarMom and Wilden getting ready to duke it out in the forest. Hanna only seems creeped out for roughly 14 seconds, so I think we’ll be fine on this one. Remember when A used to send the most outrageous texts? Those were the days! I think they had someone in the writers’ room solely working on future A texts; that writer is my soul mate.

Spencer finds out that her sweet male orderly is named E. LAMB; E. Lamb was also the name on the badge that granted Toby access to Radley for Mona. Turns out the “E.” at the beginning stands for Eddie, and he’s kind of a babe! It’s about time that this show adds a strapping black character that doesn’t end up as a fake cousin plotting murder. Eddie and Spencer become fast friends, having conversations that a male orderly definitely shouldn’t be having with a mental patient; Eddie definitely has a connection with Spencer, and might be her ticket to sane freedom. Elsewhere in the mental ward, I keep thinking that Doctor Sullivan looks like the mother of Paige; can I write that twist ending for after Paige’s murder? The genesis of evil.

Set the scene: EMPTY CLASSROOM #788, another situation where there is no class in a Rosewood classroom. This school is going to go under very soon if those empty classrooms aren’t careful, because there is no way these students are receiving a real education. Parents are revolting all over Rosewood in my dreams, which will lead to an inspiration spinoff film-of-the-month about parents changing the Pennsylvania school system; Rosewood will no longer stand for dead teenagers and poor schooling! Everyone deserves a strong English syllabus that includes more than one novel a year! Anyway, Aria’s parents are trying to manipulate a situation where Aria and Ezra have to break things off. The use of this baby as leverage is ruthless. Byron is back to being quasi-evil. Such evil this episode. Evil is good.

Emily looks super fabulous in her leather leggings and immaculate hair (I think it’s been all this time away from Paige) as she walks into the coffee shop to meet Shana… and MISSY FRANKLIN!!! For all of those that hibernated through the entire summer, Missy has four Olympic gold medals and she is only 17. Yes, Missy is better than you. Deal with it. Missy is putting her healthy teeth and giant stature to work while hanging out in Rosewood. I grew up swimming, and continued to swim all through college, so Missy Franklin is huge stunt casting for my PLL universe.

This scene makes zero sense and feels like the show before it started dealing with mental hospitals and too many tears, but I’m so happy this happened. I bet Missy Franklin had a big viewing party tonight; at least it was better than those zany Ryan Lochte primetime cameos. That beings said, Missy’s coach would never let her visit a nonchalant town where teenagers always turn up dead; way more dangerous than the oft-banned ski vacation. Also, Shana from the Halloween shop spells her name SHANA. I looked it up. That’s an awful spelling. Emily and Shana are starting to become friends – Shana is also a swimmer! Swimming unites. Swimming wins. Are any of these girls going to college next year? Is that on anyone’s radar?

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Someone at Radley used to steal the old badges, so someone inside the hospital was helping the A team – as I mentioned, Spencer and Eddie Lamb are being best friends and sharing secrets! Spencer brings up Mona and Toby. Eddie used to be in the Navy. Spencer learns that she’s staying in Mona’s old room (#monasroom). Mona carved “WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?” in the room’s desk, which triggers a flashback – Spencer, in church with Ali, making fun of Mona as Ali talks about all of the secret diaries she will leave for Spencer… after Ali is dead? Oh, Alison, continuing to have her wonderfully normal high school chats.

Everyone looks very glamorous in the flashback, especially Spencer’s Hair. Spencer’s Hair is a full-fledged character, not just an accessory to Spencer’s outfit choices. Eddie shares that he used to know a Toby – this young Toby had a mother at Radley… Coincidence? Are there any coincidences on this show? Has PLL introduced so many twists that my brain no longer connects obvious connections? Which way is up? What color is the sky? What is my favorite kind of cheese? Do I like Papa John’s or Domino’s?

Random Hanna Quote of the Night: “Nothing works underwater – it’s a scientific fact.” That damn cop car is really going to cause everyone a lot of trouble. The Three Free Liars have an old school bathroom powwow, where Hanna decides that “there’s a downside to being too smart” – mental breaks in the middle of the woods. Mona charges into the bathroom, but Aria is ready to bite back. Aria makes threats about Spencer’s stay in Radley; Aria essentially says that she wishes Mona’s neck had snapped when she flew over that cliff. I miss villains flying over cliffs. I want Hot Nerdy Football Stud to throw Mona over a cliff. Even though Aria is dealing with the Worst Plot Ever, she gets 500 points for this exchange. So proud.

However, the Mona Attack falls apart when Aria is pulled in the principal’s office; the principal looks/talks like a serial killer, with an office full of mahogany and darkness. I’m terrified. Principal Creep questions Aria about her relationship with Ezra, as it looks like Rosewood is trying to bring Ezra back onto the faculty; Aria lies through her tight smile and great outfit. Meanwhile, PornStarMom is plotting a move to NY for work, and she would bring Hanna with her if everything maps out – the Marin girls are intelligent in their plan to escape the horrors of Rosewood. PornStarMom’s Pastor Boyfriend is upset that she would possibly be skipping town so soon, attempting to use the unveiling of the new church bell tower as incentive to stay. Everyone knows that the new bell tower ceremony will be a prime moment for A to murder someone special.

MONA IS VISITING SPENCER AT RADLEY. REAL CRAZY UP IN THE HOUSE. Mona says that Ali was never pregnant, and Mona has all of Ali’s death diaries with all of this information. This is a great placement for the iPad, as Mona has scanned all of the diaries to her handy electronic notepad. Mona is really a villain of the future. “I have the answers, Spencer. I have the answers to questions you haven’t even thought of,” Mona scream-whispers. Mona’s last name is Vanderwall. VANDERWALL – that’s a bad Gossip Girl rough draft last name. Mona makes a stupid jigsaw puzzle metaphor, Spencer threatens to choke Mona again, and everyone compares individual brands of crazy. This is scary. Mona is the worst.

Hanna confronts Wilden like the BOSS. SHE. IS. Hanna has zero fears, but Emily is crying behind a nearby tree and stroking more conditioner into her hair over the tense exchange. Hanna really holds her own against Wilden until he brings up his car… Hanna’s face falls. Hanna realizes that Wilden’s car is at the bottom of a lake and therefore impossible to retrieve. Hanna probably isn’t getting out of this one, but she simply waltzes away from Creepy Detective to the company of her lesbian best friend. Hanna needs to get back to her life of blissful happiness. I would really like a scene of Hanna and Caleb kissing, because I miss the two of them together; however, Hanna’s potential Thelma & Louise spinoff with PornStarMom is really all I’ve ever wanted.

“I’m done. I’ve had enough… How do you keep going when the worst thing has happened? Who do you have to become?”’ Spencer sits in the middle of Doctor Sullivan’s group therapy for Radley patients, and Spencer finds herself explaining her actions to her three best friends – the other Liars, the audience in Spencer’s mind. Um, maybe Spencer really is crazy? Spencer is out of the game. Spencer is exhausted. Spencer is done. Spence is actually, finally done. Spencer has a lot of tears falling down her face, and Troian Bellisario still wins all of the teen awards. Boom.

Black Hood is driving the WORST GIANT VAN EVER, working on some sort of Faust/masked carnival party that’s clearly the focal point of next week’s episode. This is Black Hood’s Ali Van of Death, and Black Hood will clearly use this awful vehicle to run over every wonderful citizen of Rosewood. I really wish I could pick who lives and who dies for season four of this wonderful teen caper, which I think would entail Rosewood being occupied by Hanna, Spencer, Jenna, and Cece. That would be a great show. I would watch that show. I’d call that show Hanna.

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

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