Pretty Little Liars: “The Guilty Girl’s Handbook”
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Pretty Little Liars: “The Guilty Girl’s Handbook”

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Pretty Little Liars

“The Guilty Girl’s Handbook”

Season 4, Episode 8

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New theory: Toby is Mona. Mona is Toby. No? Well YOU explain how Toby leaves for New York City this week, and suddenly, Mona is back in the game. Coincidence? Now who’s being naïve? It’s a good thing someone came back to play ball, because a solid half of the Liars are blatantly shirking their A-investigating duties. Ashley is still in prison—denied bail, in fact, and being sent up to Muncie of all places—and it would be nice if the girls all got on the ball and started figuring out how to take down A before any more moms get sent up the river.

So, in order of how much work they’re doing to keep Hanna’s mom from a life sentence ...

Mona: Yeah, obviously. Mona is back, thank God, at the behest of Hanna, who has decided she is going to confess to killing Wilden to get her mom off the hook. And she needs Mona to basically be her Lies Guru, training her in the ways of not just a teenage girl who lies, but a teenage girl who lives her lies. Reminiscent of when Jerry Seinfeld approached George Costanza about how to beat the Melrose Place lie detector. As you probably guessed, Mona is a boss tutor, putting Hanna through her paces and making sure she knows every inch of that confession, down to the feel of the bugs in her hair and the smell of the lake that night. And then, Mona marches her stiletto heels down to the police station and makes the confession herself. Why? Who knows?! Gotta keep those Rosewood bitches on their toes!

Hanna: Pardon the pun, but: A for effort, you know? As is generally the case, Hanna’s heart is in the right place as she’s making insane decisions. Obviously, confessing to a crime you didn’t commit is a terrible idea, but the conviction with which Hanna states her intention to save her mom (props, as always, to Ashley Benson for bringing it) really makes you wish she could go through it, if only so she could be in control of one thing in her life. Increasingly, it seems like Caleb’s only function on the show is to hold Hanna back from doing cooler, more reckless things. A good boyfriend I guess, but his trip to Spinofftown cannot come soon enough.

Spencer: Spence scores lower than Hanna this week mostly because all of her investigative efforts are really for Toby’s benefit, which more and more seems like a pretty selfish rabbit hole to be plunging down. Moms are dropping left and right, careening cars, swarming bees, prison orange—there but for the grace of God (or A) goes Spencer’s mom herself. Maybe now isn’t the best time to make sure that boyfriend has closure. Still, by stealing that file from her mom’s clean-cut new paralegal—Becket, meaning that once again, Spencer has a Backup Guy—Spencer is able to find out that Eddie Lamb is lying about something that happened the night Mrs. Cavanaugh died. Surely this will lead to A’s unmasking!...Right?

Emily: Oh, cut Emily a break. Her mom is falling apart, and she honestly doesn’t seem to think she’s getting into college. But after Ezra convinces her she’s crazy, and she would be a huge steal for almost any college (#EzraCares!), she meets with her apparent old Habitat for Humanity pal Zoe (Rumer Willis!), ostensibly to beef up her résumé, but by the end, it sounds like she really wants to hit Nicaragua this summer. I can’t imagine who would derail those plans!

Aria: Is this whole mysterious situation with Aria’s brother the biggest wheel-spinning operation we’ve ever seen on this show? Particularly given we have once again gone to the well of “strange behavior = secret karate lessons.” But honestly, the degree to which Aria is being kept at arm’s length from the A situation this year is starting to seem intentional. It’s long past time that Hanna shouldn’t be the only Liar making big moves.

Stray Observations:

  • Next week, thank GOD, Jenna comes back, and somebody maybe drowns. Step it UP, PLL.
  •  “A really loves throwing cars at people.” Yes! Like Angelina Jolie in Wanted!
  •  Can we start some kind of splinter group wherein the only thing we talk about is Aria’s comic-panel dress with pointy shoulders?
  •  Poor Emily’s Mom. She looks like she’s headed for a breakdown, between the empty-nesting and losing her job and being accused of abuse and then almost being crashed into in her own living room. Let Nia Peeples cry. She’s earned it.
  • The economics of television are just dispiriting, if the absolutely GROSS Insidious 2 embedded advertisement is any indication. I hate to be the one to tell Lucy Hale, but it’s pretty easy to tell which storyline the producers prioritize the least when you’re the one who gets saddled with telling your audience that Insidious 2 is even more terrifying than the first!

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