YOU GUYS. It’s finally here! The episode we’ve all been waiting for (particularly me, because I’d love to be able to go to bed before midnight on Monday nights, and next week I’ll be able to!)! WE’RE GONNA FIND OUT A’S IDENTITY!
I’m writing this lead before I’ve seen the episode, so I’m going to take a wild stab at the dark. I don’t think A is Mona (um, spoiler alert? Mona is A in the books.) , though I also don’t think she’s being stalked by A. Mona is smart and sensitive – she saw how close Hanna was to her new old friends, and she wanted to get in on the crowd. I don’t think A is Caleb, Fitz, Toby or Jenna (though Jenna and Garrett are obvs working in collusion. Or were, anyway). I do think A is two people: one who is a student and one who is the bankroll. So I’m wild-stab-guessing that it’s Melissa (bankroll) and Noel (student). And maybe also . . . Alison herself. I guess we’ll find out together!
Spencer’s house! Breaking News! The Rosewood local news anchor is kindly recapping the last few minutes of last week’s episode, plus everything that’s happened in between. Garrett was arrested and charged with Alison’s murder. He’s pled Not Guilty. Jerky Detective suspects that Garrett became a police officer only to cover up any evidence of Alison’s murder. Well, he’s not wrong there.
Ooh, Spencer’s hair is pretty!
Spencer tells the girls that she found out that Jenna was the one who came forward with the evidence that indicates Garrett. Aria thinks it’s all over (drink every time Aria thinks it’s all over. Which is like every before-the-credits scene in every episode since Episode Two. Of the first season. We should probably drink a lot in retrospect.), but Hanna isn’t so sure – Ian’s dead and Garrett’s in jail, but don’t Jenna and Melissa have something to do with all of this too?
Hey, speaking of! Melissa comes in, hungry for fro yo and looking very calm about everything. Melissa is incredibly blasé about Garrett’s arrest and Ian’s murder, going so far as to imply that she and Garrett both knew that Alison was behind Jenna’s loss of eyesight. She moans dramatically over the fro yo some more and then exits stage left to frame Alaric for a crime he maybe did commit. The girls are totally weirded out about her behavior, but then they get a text: “You still have something that belongs to me. Bring it, or one of you leaves in a body bag. -A” Drink! Also: CALL THE COPS. Now is the perfect time to be telling them about how you’ve had your lives threatened REPEATEDLY over the last year!
Then! Doorbell! Man, this episode is action-packed! It’s a messenger with something for each girl – an invitation to the Junior League’s Masquerade Ball with a note from A that says: “Be there when the clock strikes midnight.” Man. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be than a fancy ball filled with someone who’s threatening my life and, worse, members of the Junior League.
Who invites people to a ball being held the next day? That’s some sketchy Bingley-type behavior there.
Spencer wanders over to the window and rather creepily intones that Hide and Seek was her favorite game to play with Melissa. Why? Because she always won. Well, yes, Spence, but that’s probably because you could deduce Melissa’s hiding place by following the weird orgasmic sounds she makes while eating fro yo.
Credits. Necromancy. Family show!
After the credits, the Liars sans Spencer are walking to school. Emily makes a hilarious joke about not trusting Melissa as far as she could throw her and Ian’s fetus. I totally laughed thinking of Emily tossing around Melissa’s fetus like a softball. I’m the kind of person that the Virginia and Idaho legislature are scared of, obviously. Hanna thinks that A’s totally smart and the only person smarter than Spencer is Melissa. Spencer shows up and is horribly insulted by that.
Spencer wants everyone to go through Alison’s bag again with a fresh pair of eyes, in case they missed something, and it’s right now that I realize that obviously Spencer has something cooking, and she’s either A, wanting to divert attention from Melissa by making something up, or some horrid combination in between. Oh, Spencer. Why?
Mona shows up and hilariously summarizes “Blind Jenna’s” romantic entanglements, including “Seeing Eye Toby.” Mona invites all the girls to go shopping with her, but everyone quickly makes excuses. Hey! Annabeth Gish is going to be in this episode! Agent Reyes! You’re back!
Fitz’s apartment. The girls are all there, fulfilling Fitz’s wildest perverted fantasies. I guess . . . Aria’s using his apartment while he’s out finding a new job? She very domestically pours everyone tea and complains about her love life, again, some more, forever. Hanna gets a text . . . from Mona, who has run into Caleb (Hanna used Caleb as her excuse as to why she couldn’t hang out). Mona’s word choice – “I spy a Caleb. But where’s Hanna?”- is suspiciously A-like, but I think that’s just because Mona’s been impersonating those A texts to belong to Hanna’s in-crowd. Caleb calls Hanna as well, which she ignores before dramatically flopping on Fitz’s bed. Hanna, that’s gross for many reasons, not least of which is that Fitz’s is bed is covered in some sort of Navajo-esque blanket which I’m 99% sure smells like patchouli and corn chips, but mostly because that bed is where Aria and Fitz have Fitzed. Which Aria tells all the girls about with a big ol’ smile on her face, so I guess last week WAS the first occasion of the Fitzing. Also, Aria, if you just got Fitzed by your overage boyfriend who is MOVING AWAY because your relationship got him fired, why are you so happy? Trust me, the Fitzing could not have been that good.
Spencer, going through Alison’s things, finds a pen for a place called “Dougherty’s Landing.” Which is an air strip in the middle of nowhere . . . which coordinates with the torn postcard they’d found earlier. They decide Alison was meeting someone at a hotel near the air strip.
Just us girls, hanging out at our friend’s overaged boyfriend’s apartment when he’s not home!
Next thing you know, it’s dark and stormy and the girls are driving and nearly hit a . . . something! Streaking across the road! Creepy! And then the girls show up at a super creepy Bates-esque motel. Oh man, I’m already getting weirded out. I’m totally going to hurt my abs by clenching, I can tell. A stranger knocks on the window and asks if they’re checking in!
Commercials. Miss Piggy stars in an awesome Pretty Little Liars-inspired commercial for The Muppets. Oh, Piggy. YOU would have called the cops already!
Show! Creepy Weird Motel Stranger is a fan of taxidermy AND has a framed photo of his mother on the walls. Oh, great. Break out the pearls and rocking chair, I guess. I’m not taking a shower tonight.
Spencer tries to get the Super Creepy Weird Jumpy Motel Clerk to talk about Alison, but he declines to tell tales. “You check in at the Lost Woods because you don’t want to be found.” And that’s why your car ends up at the bottom of the lake, too!
Outside, the girls walk to room 1, where they think Alison might have been. They don’t notice the shadowy figure following them. The girls search the room for clues. I search Aria’s outfit – a Rocky Horror Picture Show shirt with ONE mesh long sleeve? Or just an unfortunate shadow – while she wonders what Alison could have wanted to hide. Spencer wants to sneak into the office to look at the registration book, and Aria (no mesh sleeve, as it turns out) goes with her. Spencer is hilarious in her approval of Aria’s bravery.
The two sneak into the motel’s office while Hanna amps the obligatory Psycho references up to 11 by deciding to take a shower. There’s a shot-by-shot take of the shower nozzle coming on, which I actually appreciate. Though now I just wish I were watching Psycho. Emily, meanwhile, goes outside to take a phone call from Maya, leaving Hanna in the room alone. Smart! Em can’t hear Maya- there’s bad reception.
In the office, the girls find that Alison checked in – as Vivien – to Room 1 on the morning she went missing. Outside, someone sneaks past Emily to creep into Room 1. So creepy! But his/her desire to go Mama Bates on a showering Hanna is thwarted when a phone rings. Hanna steps out of the shower to take the call . . . but finds no one there and the door wide open. Cue the Strings of Increasing Panic!
Commercials. Oh, hey, there’s this movie coming out this week that you may have heard about. It’s called The Hunger Games and I’ve heard it’s just like Battle Royale except, like, toned down for American audiences.
Show. It’s now . . . daytime? They stayed here all night? Okay, I guess. Spencer’s relating to the other girls that Alison first stayed at this motel on the same night she was meant to meet A in Brookhaven. Coincidence? Um, maybe? Maybe it’s a convenient resting point on the way to Brookhaven? Maybe she picked up a townie and wanted to do it with him? There are several viable scenarios, really. From the next room over, someone (Gloved McEvilson? Or the hotel owner?) spies on them through a small hole in the wall. Spencer needs Aria to stand guard while she returns the motel’s ledger to the office. Team Sparia!
Meanwhile, Hanna tells Emily all about her costume plans for the party, much to Gloved McEvilson’s delight, I’m sure. She’s going to be Juliet and Emily is going to be her date! Then! The girls have to get out of there in a hurry, cause Creepy Weird Bates-esque Motel Guy is back!
Which is good! Because it gives Spencer time to see Toby! Toby’s clearing out the fire-charred wreckage of the DiLaurentis house and is not interested in talking to Spencer, who is sweetly trying to apologize again. Spencer cries a little and tells Toby that he doesn’t have to be the guy that won’t let anyone in. She drives off as Toby gets a phone call . . . from Annabeth Gish!
Kiss and make up, you two!
Meanwhile! Jenna is quite happily driving and applying makeup and meeting someone in a park! Jenna looks so old without her glasses. She gives the mysterious person something (it looks like fabric – maybe a costume?)and then tells him/her that the girls will all be at the party. S/He knows what s/he needs to do!
Speaking of the party! It’s time for it! Everyone’s dressed up and agree, absolutely, not to give up A’s phone. Hanna walks around and, hey! Caleb’s there! Dressed as . . . well, not really Romeo, unless Caleb thinks Romeo does part time work as a cat burglar. Hell, maybe Caleb does think that. I’m not convinced he can read. Anyway, it turns out Mona helped him find a costume, and Mona sweetly forgives Hanna of being a giant bitch for the thirtieth time this season. Damn, now I’m suspicious of Mona again!
Oh, good, Aria’s brought the circus tent with her.
Hanna and Caleb walk off and just when I’m thinking that the only secret Mona’s hiding is that she’s got the hots for Caleb, Spencer approaches her. Spencer makes like she’s got Mona “all figured out” – but she just means that Mona’s a great friend. Oh, okay. So Mona is definitely A. Right? Mona’s got way too much attention at this rate. She’s A. Yes? Mona and Spencer talk about Alison’s bitchery a while and Mona mentions that she last saw Alison alive in Brookhaven, at the same vintage store that she invited the girls to yesterday.
Hilariously, not only is there a flashback (drink!) at this, but it totally has the noir side-sweep of frame changes and is vaguely sepia-toned. I love this fucking episode so much. Mona runs into Alison – in her Vivien disguise – and Alison tells a super dorky, super sweet Mona that she’s watching someone from across the street. Mona wants something in return for keeping her secret- to be popular. Alison writes her phone number on the edge of the Lost Woods Resort post card and tears it off, which explains where the tear came from! (Also, important to know that the part she gives Mona is the part with the actual name of the Motel on it.)
In present day, Mona declares that she didn’t know who Ali was looking at. Then Spencer stupidly tells Mona that Alison knew the identity of A!
Is that a champagne fountain??
Elsewhere, Aria gets a text and starts wandering through the crowd into a secret corner of the room, because she is a stupid moron. Jenna follows her!
Commercials. Katniss, Peeta and Gale try to convince us that The Hunger Games and Pretty Little Liars have a lot in common. Oh, I hope not.
Show. Oh, Aria was just looking for Fitz, who has come back to the school he used to work for to hang out with his underaged girlfriend. They kiss, which sparks a whole scene of romantic, flowery bullshit. GET TO THE KILLINGS AND STUFF. Hey! Maybe Pretty Little Liars is like The Hunger Games!
Em gets a phone call from Spencer, who is on her way back to the Creepy Motel. (except, she’s not driving! Who is she with? Mona! Oh, great idea, Spence. Great freakin’ idea.) Spence tells Emily her theory – no one has rented Room 2 at the hotel since before Alison died. Why did Ali rent Room 1? To spy on whomever was in Room 2! Meanwhile, Emily spies Jenna talking to someone in a suit (Toby, maybe).
Creepy Motel. Norman Bates is chatting with Spencer about his stuffed dead animals while Mona finds the key to room 2. Norman Bates is being played by someone I swear I know, but I can’t figure out who.
Mona and Spencer open Room 2 and are shocked . . . by whatever they see.
At the dance, Aria and Fitz are dancing, but he’s ruining it by being all creepily romantic and taking off their masks. Then they kiss, in front of everyone. The hashtag informs us that #EzriaGoesPublic. I hope it’s soon followed by #FitzIsArrested. Also, didn’t they go public in the high school parking lot on the last day of school?
Meanwhile, Emily is like the only person who is more concerned about maybe dying than she is about romance. Until Kat from 10 Things shows up, that is!
At the motel, Room 2 is COMPLETELY FULL of clippings of Alison and, presumably, the other liars. It’s completely creepy. There are dolls with blonde hair, newspaper articles, hundreds of blown up photos, wigs, tons of creepy shit!
Dance! Kat from 10 Things is wearing a super cute suit and telling Emily that she really likes Emily and that she’ll be there for whatever she needs. Aww, you two girls! Kiss already! Kat from 10 Things has crazy parents and is vaguely swim-crazy and is STILL miles better than Maya.
Room 2. Mona finds sketches of a Black Swan costume- she and Spence think it might be A’s costume! God, it’d be hilarious if Toby is dressed as the Black Swan. Or maybe Dean Pelton from Community is actually A? Mona calls Hanna to tell her to be on the lookout.
Dance. Hanna sees someone in a Black Swan costume. But her face is masked!
Room 2. Spencer finds Alison’s diary, with a page marked . . . with the type of gum wrapper that Mona chews. Spencer’s instantly suspicious! So … a gum wrapper? It all comes down to a GUM wrapper?
Dance. The Liars minus Spencer have forgone their romantic entanglements in order to spend two minutes trying to figure out who’s threatening to kill them. They see the Black Swan walk over to talk to . . . Lucas and Jenna! (P.S. The Black Swan is super skinny and tall, with dark hair. To be honest, she looks like Melissa from the side, although obvs not pregnant. But I don’t think Melissa is actually pregnant anyway, so I’ve decided it’s definitely Melissa.) They race off to follow the Black Swan.
Room 2. Mona comes back in . . . and she’s wearing Gloved McEvilson’s clothes! She hits Spencer and knocks her out.
Mona, you don’t look good like that.
So, wait. Mona was with Caleb yesterday afternoon while someone was spying on the girls. So is Caleb involved or does Mona have accomplices? And who was Jenna talking to? Black Swan?
The Liars chase after Black Swan but she slips out of reach. So they decide to call Spencer, who is at that moment being driven around at breakneck speed by Mona. But Hanna sees something weird! Her phone (that Mona gave her, remember) is set to record every time it’s turned on! Mona’s been listening in on everything Hanna’s said!
Mona is deadpan-talking about how Spencer needs to “earn” being a part of “it.” She admires Spencer! So Spencer can decide to join the “A team” or she can disappear. Spencer quietly answers Aria’s call so that they can hear Mona’s monologue. How could Mona be everywhere? Mona says that they underestimated her and Spencer conveniently mentions their location. The girls go to follow her!
Mona is a super calm psychopath.
In the car, Mona says that Spencer deserves everything she’s gotten, since she stole Hanna away. Also, she has Pa Hastings’ gun! (But sort of maybe implies that Melissa’s on the A Team as well? Maybe?) Mona slams to a stop and Spencer runs . . .but Hanna and the girls are right behind them in Hanna’s car! This drives Mona into a frenzy, and she and Spencer fight . . . and Mona falls over the ledge! YAY!! Just like in the book!
The Disney princess motif is, I presume, intentional.
Oh look, someone has FINALLY called the cops. And Annabeth Gish shows up as well! She left because Mona threatened her son! Hanna is so upset and betrayed and everyone cries and hugs each other.
But then! Mona’s alive! She’s laying, bruised and broken, in the bottom of a ravine, and the alarm on her watch starts beeping for midnight. The camera pans into Mona’s eye . . . and now she’s in a cell, staring at her own reflection. Annabeth Gish narrates that Mona’s hyperintelligence and adrenaline rush fueled Mona’s ability to be seemingly omnipresent. Uh huh. Yeah, right. Mona, for her part, narrates her own feelings in her head. Don’t the Liars know that feeling safe and relieved is what “we” want? So there IS an A-team! Man, why’d Mona have to be the fall girl for it? (Also, I really did dig all the Psycho references in this episode! Does that mean that someone is dressing up like their mother? Maybe it’s Jenna!)
Outside the cop shop, Annabeth Gish tells the girls that Toby was the one who convinced her to come home! And he’s waiting outside for Spencer! And pretending not to love her was the hardest thing he’s ever done! Spencer nearly slaps him but they kiss instead, and there’s SO MUCH LEANING.
Later, the girls are walking home when they see an ambulance going down the street towards Maya’s house. Emily’s mom is outside – they found a body! They think it’s Maya! The coroners roll out a body in a body bag as Melissa and others look on. Oh, yay. The crazy dead lesbian. That’s never been done before!! Emily breaks down in sobs.
Credits. Mona’s in the mental ward pretending to be out of it. She’s got a visitor! And that visitor is wearing a red coat! And Mona did everything that person asked her to!
Poor Mona. One night in the psych ward and she already has split ends.
And that’s IT, you guys!! What did you think?? Did you really think they’d stick so close to the first book’s story? I really didn’t – they’d totally convinced me that everything had been changed. What do you think about Maya’s (possible) suicide? Who else is on the A team*? How did Mona know that someone would come dressed to the dance in a Black Swan outfit, or was Black Swan actually a member of the A Team? Does that mean that Jenna and Lucas both are as well? Who was Jenna talking to at the park? What are your predictions for Season Three? Sound off below, and we’ll reconvene our PLL recaps this June!
* At SXSW last week I saw Ed Sheeran, whose single is titled “The A Team”. That song is about a homeless prostitute who dies of a drug overdose and is not, as it turns out, a song about a girl who passes her A levels, which is the assumption I was operating under.