Often on Pretty Little Liars—and especially when the major plot among the four protagonists is spinning it’s wheels, which is what’s been happening a lot this season—the side characters can make or break an episode. This particular episode threw a good number of side characters at us, some of whom had been absent for a while. Pastor Ted, for one, returns and makes moony-eyes at Ashley after secretly paying her bail. He’s a good guy, this Ted, but maybe it’s because goodness always seems somewhat suspicious on this show, or because I’ve grown to distrust guys name Ted who date the blonde protagonist’s mother, but I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop with that guy.
Otherwise, we’ve got an assortment of characters who have either burned through their levels of interest on this show (Paige), remain overly aloof to the point of uselessness (Shanna), or are too much of a plot obstacle to care much about (Jake). Even Jenna, who up until now has been a Godsend of malevolence and campy intrigue, feels neutered now that she’s cowering in fear of an unnamed antagonist (though Shanna ultimately points the finger at CeCe Drake).
Then again...there’s Mona. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, thank God for Mona. The girl shows up, drops some much-needed exposition, advances the plot farther than anyone else has all season, and still manages to cry the most genuine tears about how much she wants to help her best friend Hanna. She’s a lunatic, probably, but she’s the only one worth following at the moment. As for the rest of the Liars, let’s tackle them in order of most likely to deliver a Mona-like shot to the season’s arm.
Emily: While Em’s storyline continues to be frustrating—the swimming concerns have resided in that no-man’s-land between relatable teenage angst and deathly boring—I remain intrigued by how edgy she’s been lately. Acknowledging the fact that she and Paige have an expiration date will probably exacerbate that a bit. As much as the show seems to be running out the clock on Em and Paige, the scene where they finally speak their fears out loud to each other was well done. But it’s that wide-eyed shot of Em in bed at episode’s end that has me most intrigued. Spencer was always the most interesting when riding the jagged edge of sanity. Lord knows how Emily will fare walking that same line.
Spencer: Spencer earns second place on this list just for showing up at Em’s surprise party in that yellow blazer. You’re never gonna catch this girl at a moment when she’s not all business. Once again, Spencer is the only one who feels sufficiently motivated to figure out this Alison mystery. She devises the plan to split up Shanna and Jenna, although Aria predictably drops the ball. And while of course it’s a relief to know Spencer wasn’t the one found face-down in the shallow waters, it’s not like Jenna being the victim of that attack gets us any closer to a resolution of any of this.
Hanna: It took me a long time to realize Hanna wasn’t bluffing, and that she honestly believed her dad was her mother’s mystery bailer-outer. I suppose that’s part of Hanna’s character, though: moments of incredible dunderheadness in service of either plot or comedy. This week, it was the former.
Aria: So, okay, happy as I was to see Alex Mack back in the fold, everything on the Ezra branch is quickly withering. If Maggie doesn’t exist as an obstacle for Aria, I don’t entirely see why it’s interesting to see what Ezra’s going through. Despite the fact that Ezra going to Spencer’s mom for legal advice is ripe with possibilities for entertaining one-off scenes. More pertinent, I think, is the fact that Aria is officially involved with this Jake guy, whose mysterious presence outside mere moments before Jenna’s comatose body turns up has me (and apparently only me—wake up, girls) incredibly suspicious. We haven’t had much new blood on the A team this year, so I’m holding out hope Jake is more than a red herring.
- Still trying to get over the fact that we were robbed of the chance to see Roma Maffia hear Mona’s confession instead of that nondescript police officer. Check your guest star budget, PLL.
- Hey! It’s Antonio from One Life to Live as Emily’s prospective swim coach!
- Paige seemes SUSPICIOUSLY unconcerned about Jenna’s fate at the end of the episode, in case you were looking for more suspects.