There are times with Pretty Little Liars where you have to just let go and let God. Which, loosely translated, means you just have to accept that you are never going to keep all the balls in the air that this show wants you to. Sometimes, a look at Carla Grunwald, stern house mother from the Gamma Zeta Chi photo that A has for some reason, will just have to be mysterious until some kind editor throws a scene explaining why it matters into a “previously on” segment. The same, I am sad to say, goes for the mysterious “Board Shorts.” Who is this guy again? He’s probably Admissions Coach Brendan, but it’s hard to be sure when there are just so many things to keep track of. This is why the occasional clearings of the air—as have happened this season with Mona and last week with Melissa—are so helpful, because there are just too many things to keep up with.
Fortunately, an episode that may remind audiences how much they don’t know also boils down one of its main plots to perhaps the simplest story in all of crime fiction: woman finds gun, woman tries to get rid of gun, woman gets caught with gun. Leave it to Hanna to get to the heart of the matter. In fact, let’s tackle the girls in the order of how simple their stories were.
Hanna: First of all, that cold open—with Hanna’s nightmare about finding her mom sleeping on the sun porch only to discover that all her hair had fallen out in an eerily similar visual style as one Kimberly Shaw—was perhaps the greatest kickoff scene in the show’s history. It also set a fire under Hanna to prove her mom did not, in fact, murder Wilden. Ashley is still looking outwardly guilty as hell, which only serves to make her more likely innocent due to the rules of television. But Hanna doesn’t know that, so she breaks into her mom’s locked closet and finds a gun wrapped up in a purple silk scarf, perhaps the most feminine and elegant way to make oneself look incredibly guilty of a crime. Hanna then, of course, hauls ass to Cicero College, since bringing the gun to Spencer and Emily at a sorority party is the best idea she can think of, and THEN rather than just wait around the party to be puked on, she heads to an insufficiently remote corner of Greek Row to bury it and is promptly busted by the cops. Not the most successful week’s work, but certainly one that got straight to the point.
Aria: Meanwhile, Aria spends another week almost entirely divorced from the “A” plot. She’s too busy haranguing the men in her family to give Ella a break and encourage her to go to Austria with her wicked hot boyfriend. Of course, if Aria isn’t gong to chase the “A” plot, the “A” plot will chase her. Or at least her mom. While A pumping bees into Ella’s car is merely the second-most horrifying bees-in-the-car moment on TV this year, it’s certainly terrifying. TOO FAR, A! Killing people and framing others for murder is fine, but I draw my line at bees.
Spencer: With Melissa enjoying “beautiful but cold” London (Spencer: “Sounds like a perfect match”), Mother Hastings wastes no time getting to the business of rehabbing Spencer’s tarnished image. Which means hiring Brendan the Admissions Coach to talk her through an array of second-choices, including Brown. Once the gang figures out the phone number prefix for Cicero College matches the number that they got off Ali’s parrot (still the reigning champion for the title of Best Television Thing of 2013), Spencer decides that a campus visit is in order. Her all-business attitude as she marches down Greek Row with that trademark determined scowl is superb, underlining the fact that not only is Spencer too world-weary to fit in with her high-school contemporaries, but she’s also fixing to stand out among immature college students too. But the true highlight of the episode comes when she barters with a certified geek in order to get a tip on where the phone number came from. He distrusts her—naturally; she’s got all the trappings of a Fake Geek Girl—but he ultimately points her in the right direction. “A Lannister always repays his debts,” she thanks him. “You would like the Lannisters,” he scoffs. Man’s got a point.
Emily: Poor Emily. She’s really going through a crisis of self, and none of her friends even have time to notice. It’s like Season Four of Buffy all over again! Spencer mocks “podunk” Cicero College, not realizing that a scholarship there might be Emily’s only shot at college. Emily also decidedly attempts to flirt her way into Admission Coach Brendan’s good graces, though the way she denies doing any such thing to Spencer gives the impression that even Emily doesn’t entirely know what she’s doing in this scenario, which is refreshing and exciting. Lord knows Spencer’s more interesting when she’s wound so tightly that even she doesn’t know why she’s doing something.
Mona: Places Mona might have been this week: Riding horses with Hannah’s step-sister? Walled up inside the sorority house for her insubordination? Attending a festival screening of G.B.F. with Ali?
- “We just need to reposition you.” “Mom! I am not a sofa!”
- Ashley officially retains Veronica Hastings as her attorney. I do love it when the parents collaborate.
- Poor Chad Lowe. Hauled out to give his ex encouragement to run off to Europe with her boy-toy of a significant other.
- Between Hanna, the gun, and the dozens of dippy sorority girls and frat boys, we were so close to a Spring Breakers reunion I could taste it.