As fun as it is to (gently!) poke fun at Pretty Little Liars for having a billion separate conspiracy threads and no real urgency to tie any of them together any time soon, it’s always a relief to hit the part of the season where the show begins to narrow its focus, and you finally can grasp which aspects of the A mystery have a prayer of being solved by the season finale.
In the case of “The Mirror Has Three Faces,” it seems pretty clear now that we’re barreling towards some kind of resolution on the Cece Drake issue. Up until this season, Cece was but one piece of the greater A puzzle. But by the time we got to Shanna’s declaration last week that Cece has been terrorizing her and Jenna, things really began to take shape. This week is full of bright, shining arrows pointing right at Cece, from Aria’s talk with her former roommate, who says that Cece blamed Alison (and her four “she-devil” friends) for getting her kicked out of Penn, to Jessica DiLaurentis’s story about how Ali and Cece would often “swap personalities,” leading to the day Cece checked herself into Radley posing as Ali.
Nobody expects the whole A apparatus to come crumbling down by season’s end. But it seems a safe bet that we’re headed towards some kind of Cece-related climax and soon. A little narrative momentum is exactly what this show needed.
As for the girls, let’s run down everybody this week in order of psychological devastation.
Ezra: Special guest appearance in the rundown this week by Fitz himself! In the hour’s weakest storyline, Ezra discovers—via some very un-dramatic envelope-opening—that he is not, in fact, the father of Maggie’s child. It’s not un-moving to watch Fitz go through the stages of grief before our very eyes, but at this point, he’s so far outside the realm of the main stories on this show that this all might as well be happening in Ravenswood. And unless this whole thing turns into a plot by Maggie to fool Ezra into giving up custody, I can’t see it as anything but the show backing out of a story they got bored with while waiting for Ezra and Aria to get back together.
Emily: Em’s always been an impressionable one, so it’s not surprising that two days spent taking shelter at the DiLaurentis house would have her sympathizing with Mrs. D. The show actually does a bang-up job of making that believable, no doubt with a huge assist from Andrea Parker, who is playing Jessica as more than just the creepy mom with secrets. Emily coming out to Jessica is quite the economical way of letting us see why Em would trust Mrs. D so quickly, and the fact that Jessica is so forthcoming with Spencer and Hanna when they ask her about her past with Dr. Palmer makes her far more interesting than just another character we’re supposed to suspect. Plus, it’s always more interesting when one of the Liars takes up the cause of one of the suspects. Hanna and Mona’s relationship has been a reliable source of intra-group tension, and it looks like Emily’s fondness for Mrs. D is headed that way too.
Hanna: Bad news for Hanna as Veronica Hastings now has to recuse herself from Hanna’s mom’s case because she’s being accused of tampering with a witness (Mona). Whether this is all part of Mona’s grand plan isn’t quite clear (sure seems like it!), but things at Radley appear to be conspiring against Hanna. To my great delight, Wren is back this week, and while I still may or may not be shipping him with Hanna (is it time for Caleb to go to Ravenswood yet? No? How about now?), his secret phone calls and his coloring in a red coat onto his happy-family sketch help establish him as a new creeper to be reckoned with.
Spencer: I remain decidedly un-riveted by the search for the truth of Toby’s mom’s death, but Spencer really is able to make even the most tangential plots seem bearable just by being Spencer. Also, we get to see where Spencer gets her chutzpah after watching Veronica go toe-to-toe with Mona, letting her know just what happens to people who mess with her family.
Aria: As occasionally happens, Aria gets some good detective work done with Cece’s old roommate. Maybe it’s because her face never seems to register a complete thought, but somehow, she gets other people to just unload all sorts of actionable information onto her. Meanwhile, I still do not trust this Jake boy at all. Too perfect. Waiting for that other shoe to drop. (Unless he’s the red-herring that distracts us from the show FINALLY revealing that Ezra has a dark side or a stake in the A business or both. I’ll ride this theory into the ground, people.)
- “Newsflash, honey, none of us are graduating.”
- Two dynamite scenes at Radley this week. Mona brings so much to these confrontations, one with Wren, the other with Veronica Hastings. I could watch an In Treatment-style half-hour with Mona just verbally sparring with a series of adversaries.
- I admit, that scene where we see an Ali-masked Red Coat RIGHT BEHIND Hanna in the mirror? I jumped.