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Pretty Little Liars 4x16: Close Encounters

In which Shana comes out to Emily…as Ali's oldest childhood friend (natch), Spencer ruins Em and Ali's warehouse reunion, and Aria wears more leopard print. 

Pretty Little Liars 4x16: Close Encounters

We’re in the thick of the season now, Liars. That means PLOT PLOT PLOT and too many jokes to contain to one post. In an effort to tighten up, we’re returning to Caroline’s  v. useful breakdown by Liar to get you the goods.

As always: theories in the comments!


Emily Fields, for believing in Ali when no one else dares, and thus being the first to really speak with her since the reveal that she is Alive.


gifest via showmeyourboobs-a


Emily Fields, for believing in Ali despite four seasons of proof that Ali was ruthless and emotionally manipulative, and despite her own personal growth past Ali in the last two episodes.


gifset via showmeyourboobs-a


Shana (of the costume shop) was Ali’s childhood friend, and she’s in Rosewood to be the public half of Ali's investigation of her own not-quite-murder.


Peter Hastings hires people to cook for him. In his home. And they wear serving uniforms.


Caleb left Hanna for a ghost. Hanna replaced him on speed dial with “Doesn’t Know Enough to Ask Questions” Travis. Aria left Ezra for a kung fu fighter. Ezra replaced himself with Mr. Hyde and started terrorizing the Liars to find (and kill?) Ali. The Liars drove through a dark and stormy night relying on nothing but their wits and an easily re-programmable GPS to get them to the defunct B&B where Ali is only maybe hiding.


…the Liars drive through a dark and stormy night relying on nothing but their wits and an easily re-programmable GPS to get them to the defunct B&B where Ali is only maybe hiding. Oh, girls. This time at least they COME armed. Emily is wielding a hammer and it looks ten times more malevolent than normal. Spencer has a field hockey stick, the Hastings weapon of choice.*

Alas! The inn has been ransacked and there is no Ali to be found. Did she escape?

cap via kissthemgoodbye

Probbbbably not.

The rest of the action takes place the following day, where the Liars (for the most part) go about their own business.

*see, the buried shard in season 2, which Peter Hastings threw into the fire in case Melissa had killed Ali and needed to be protected.

Like anyone does the day after two trips to two Murder Cabins, Emily bops to The Church with a pie for the bake sale. Because The Church is apparently Catholic now, she stays to light some prayer candles. She is startled by Shana(!) who has a message from Ali(!).

Evidently Shana has known Ali since they were toddlers (she grew up next door to Ali's grandparents in Georgia). Ali recruited her for the A team to help find whoever tried to bury her under the Gaze Bo. That's why Shana's been making out with Jenna: for the investigation. "Keep your enemies closer," she winks at Emily. As proof of life, Emily demands that Shana learn the private thing Ali told Emily after saving her from the barn full of carbon monoxide at the end of season one.

Later, the Liars debate Shana’s many revelations in a talk titled: "Shana: Friend? Foe? Foe of friend? Foe of foe? Friend of foe? Definitely not friend of friend, though, right, Em?"

We-ell. The lovely character growth Emily has achieved these last few weeks is regressing. Her giant, tender heart wants desperately for Shana to be telling the truth. So when Shana returns and recites almost word-perfect what Ali told Em when she saved her, Emily believes: Friend of Friend. Our take? Either Ali has an amazing memory, or A has an amazing tape recorder. Anyway, Ali wants to meet Emily tonight…ALONE.

Emily confides in Spencer, but she picked the wrong day to talk to Chief Skeptic Hastings, who has her fill of shady to deal with already and insists that Emily will be walking into a trap. Emily's eyes have taken on a manic glint of lovestruck determination, and she says she’s going anyway. "Don't make me regret being honest with you."

dun dun dunnnn

That night, Shana drops Em off at an abandoned warehouse then drives away, because of course she does. Inside it's dark and full of shadows, and from these shadows steps…Alison.


gifset via pretttliltleliarsquestions


Ali "knows" she can trust Emily, but she's not sure about the rest of the Liars. She obviously hasn't been watching her own show, where for four seasons these girls have done nothing but hold each other upright against the relentless, 360° assault of an insidious cyberterrorist army (also: every male in Rosewood). If you can trust one Liar, you can trust them all.

Emily is nearly in tears as she pleads with Ali to help them find A so that she can come home. “Go to the police!” she suggests…



images via analyzingathatdbenice and PLL Wikia

"…or to your parents!"

image via crazylittlemona

Ali would totally have laughed at Emily's hi-laaaarious jokes, but they are interrupted by Spencer knocking whole shelves over. Ali flees to the kind of elevator we imagine paranoid rich people have in their safe houses, disappearing behind several layers of slamming metal doors.


gifs via twistedlittleliars and heyashaley

When the doors finally re-open, Alison is gone. The hatred Emily glares at Spencer could melt right through the polar vortex.

Spencer, obviously, doesn't believe Nice Ali is for real. She thinks Ali knew Emily was pulling away from the group and is using this to manipulate Em and divide the four.


gifset via plldailly

Emily does not, cannot, believe this. Spencer is so sorry. “It’s not enough,” Em spits. And it really, really isn’t.

Spencer has had a busy day of skepticism and meddling. The morning finds her lounging at Toby's, where she’s surprised by her father. “How’d you know where to find me?” Spence asks. HA. Like Peter Hastings cared where you were. No, he came by to see Toby. Surprise!/?

He finally gives one explanation for recent cageyness, at least: Jason DiLaurentis fell off the wagon (i.e. down another elevator shaft) and Peter and Mrs. D have been getting him into rehab. Skeptical Spencer can see through this explanation, she just isn't sure what's on the other side.

Then Toby walks in wearing only a towel. Awwwwkward.


gifset via plldailly

Or just leave them off, whatever!

Also news: Peter has reversed his crusade against Radley, claiming there isn't enough evidence to shut them down after all. Radley is offering Toby's family a settlement: they will pay the Cavanaughs a bunch of money if the Cavanaughs never mention the covered-up non-suicide again. Spencer continues to believe that if she could only get all of the information, things would finally make sense, so she urges Toby to investigate before signing. Her edges have softened after years under A’s tender care, though, so this actually feels supportive, not crazed.

Later, a private chef cooks dinner in the Hastings Manor as Spencer and her dad rehash the same fight they've been having for the past three episodes. Peter is “doing what is best,” in this case for Toby’s family. We are not sure he knows what that phrase means. Spencer obviously does not believe him, and when she rifles through his briefcase she finds a piece of paper informing us that…Jessica DiLaurentis is on the board of Radley Sanitarium. (Um, HOW did they not discover this already? Did no one google Radley?? GUYS.)

screencap from abcfamily.go.com

Seriously, it’s not like this is a private redacted document. It’s RIGHT ON THE LETTERHEAD.

When Spence confronts her dad (“Is this why you’re shutting Toby down? Is Jason even in rehab? IS HIS FACE EVEN HIS REAL FACE??”) he sounds exactly like a politician when he says it has "nothing to do with the facts of the case." Spencer calls Toby to warn him not to sign the settlement, but he already did. For Toby (and his dad), some truth is enough. For Spencer, it never will be. Between this and Emily, Spencer has not had a good day.

gif via abcfamily

Toby, if you didn’t want Spencer to be this invested maybe you should not have yelled at her about this very topic every episode for the first half of the season.

You know it’s PLL when a character having a week “off” means they get to suffer through the, like, seventy stages of grief following a major break-up. As in, get to ONLY suffer that. No being run under by A. No having murder weapons planted in their closet. Just good old fashioned climbing out of heartbreak.

We can tell Hanna is sad because her hair is flat. Also, she is purging half her closet while Spencer and her mother look on, aghast. “That won’t get rid of memories of Caleb,” they warn.

gif via plldaily

Later, Travis shows up to “retrieve” his “umbrella,” and we learn that since he left the Marin house like 12 hours ago the basement flooded and Ashley singlehandedly hauled everything Caleb ever touched while living there up to the entryway—including a pool table. Travis stays to play/flirt, and when they hug goodbye, Hanna sneakily turns it into a kiss. When Nice Travis pulls away, Hanna immediately averts her eyes, and says, “I know you’re not into me like that.”

Some girls might use this as a trick because they KNOW the opposite is true. Not Hanna, not now. Ali’s return is regressing the girls one by one, and Hanna is pressing back against the glass walls boxing her in in the hope that she was wrong. Obviously, she was. Nice Travis may be nice, but he is also a teenager. He gives Hanna what she needs right then: acceptance. Which is a fancy way of saying:

gif via spoby

They totally make out.

…just in time for Ashley to walk in and be shocked anew at Hanna’s break-up strategies. Hanna is sick of everyone telling her what to do: “It’s MY broken heart!”

Later, Ashley breaks Hanna out of her cocoon of weepy music to go pay money to smash dishware against a wall. (GUYS: THIS WAS A REAL THING). And it works! Hanna finds some catharsis, enough to go home and leave Caleb a Final Stage: Acceptance voicemail.

gif via abcfamily

Aria’s morning finds her at Fitz’s Rosewood apartment, instead of the cabin they SPECIFICALLY DISCUSSED making their Secret Affair hideout. Ezra makes a big production about how he has to spend the day in Philly! To see a college friend! Then Jake texts that he’s finally back from his ninja tournament. “Me in the morning, Jake in the afternoon,” Ezra snarks. “Not that it’s any of my business. Also, let me remind you how unfair I have made things for you.” ACTIVATE CREEPSTER GUILT MESMER.

gif via abcfamily  

Aria is mesmer-ed, and plans to break up with Jake.

At the dojo, Jake is pleased to see her. She makes small talk about his busted face (“comes with the territory”) and his busted punching bag (“my lucky bag…and PS I made it to Nationals!”), then says they need to talk.

cap via lucyandlouise

More like Chekhov's punching bag, amirite

“You’re going back to Ezra,” Jake says. “I figured that out like two episodes ago, slowpoke.” He is SAD. She is…not sad. Guilty? Maybe. Definitely, when she goes home to find an engraved necklace Jake sent while he was away.

While Aria is…writing poetry? (she’s certainly not helping on the A/Ali front), Jake wanders through the streets of Rosewood and stumbles upon EZRA, who is not in Philly after all! He is, in fact, screaming at some woman in a car right out in the open. He is a MONSTER and also an IDIOT. He whacks the car violently as it drives away.

via plldaily.tumblr.com

When Aria returns to the dojo to try to give back the necklace (“nothing rhymes with ARIA”), Jake mentions what he saw, and then says he always wondered if it was Ezra she was afraid of. She is SHOCKED. Later, after Ezra weaves lies about how great Philly was, Aria confronts him about Jake’s story. No Philly after all. And the woman was Maggie’s lawyer, Ezra “explains.” Maggie is trying to prevent him from having contact with Malcolm. Which understandably draws Aria up short. Ezra’s justification: Malcolm drama broke them apart once, he didn’t want it to happen again. Logic’s rebuttal: This is stupid. Also, you are not related to Malcolm in any way and only knew him for about two weeks. Again, MONSTER and IDIOT.

So of course Aria makes him a cake. Which he sits down to share with her as the camera cuts to Jake working out his break-up feelings in the dojo, kicking his busted bag and OH SNAP FOOT FULL OF BLADES. That’s right: A filled his special punching bag WITH KNIVES.




gifsets via spezria and prettylittleliarsquestions

In the best of an hour of great cutaways, this reveal is overdubbed by the sound of Ezra laughing his creepster laugh as he kisses Clueless Suzy's face.


In the final scene, A opens a locker and pulls a picture of baby Shana and baby Ali from another copy of The Tempest. A tears the photo in half, separating the two girls, and sets fire to Shana’s side.




A(lexis and Catie)

<-- Pretty Little Liars 4x15: Love ShAck, Baby

Pretty Little Liars 4x17: Bite Your Tongue -->

Alexis.'s photo About the Author: Alexis grew up in Wyoming, where she did NOT ride horses to school, but did write her IB extended essay on the youth of heroism in Peter Pan and Stargirl. In spite of this, she was shocked years later to realize how seriously she loved YA lit (blame the snobbery of academia for the blindness). She now lives in Washington DC, where she reads so much YA and MG she built a whole scavenger hunt around it.