Title: Pretty Little Liars S3.E23 “I’m Your Puppet”
Released: 2013

Good afternoon, ladies and Brian! GUESS WHAT. GUESS WHAT GUESS WHAT GUESS WHAT! I’m druuuuuunk. But don’t worry! I am writing this on Tuesday night, from BEYOND THE VEIL of, you know, whatever separates Tuesday and Wednesday. Bedtime. That’s what separates it!

I’ve already live-tweeted the show’s happenings, but let’s get down to the real nitty gritty, shall we? Is it just me, or was this a piss-poor excuse for a penultimate episode? Where’s the suspense, show? Where’s the gravitas? It’s possible, upon reflection, that I have been too intoxicated to understand the gravitas, but still.

Let’s begin with Aria, who is actually the world’s worst human being. Congrats, Aria! You suck.

Aria is still busy playing house with Fitz and Malcolm and jumps at the chance to prove herself worthy of stepmom status when Fitz can’t pick Malcolm up from karate lessons. I am just so, so confused about not only Alex Mack’s (aka Maggie) lifestyle but also this whole arrangement. I mean, Alex Mack seems to not be able to watch her kid ever, which is cool, busy moms are busy, but what the hell did she do before she moved to Rosewood? Didn’t she have, like, a sitter? Can’t she and Fitz find a sitter in the vast number of under-18 ladies who Fitz hasn’t raped? Is it not possible to find someone even VAGUELY more qualified than Aria in a town where EVERYONE seems to be in either high school or college? Really?

Anyway, so Aria is set to pick up Malcolm after karate class and when she gets there, she learns that Malcolm has already been picked up . . . by an Aria Montgomery. There are just so many things laughably wrong with this scenario that it would take time to detail them all, but let’s just start with a few:

  1. Wouldn’t the karate instructor require a valid photo ID from someone trying to pick up a child?
  2. Wouldn’t Malcolm – who knows Aria – say something? I mean, the kid is like 7 years old. Didn’t Alex Mack teach him about the secret word?
  3. Why the fuck didn’t FITZ give Aria the secret word? Do these people know anything about raising a child?
  4. People still do the secret word, right? Or is that something that has fallen out of favor? We do the secret word in my family.

Anyway, enough about secret words. The point is, this scenario should never be happening, and it seems that everyone in Rosewood is just terminally stupid. But none more so than Aria, who receives a message from A (in the form of an advertisement to the carnival, left in Malcolm’s locker) and then DOESN’T CALL THE POLICE.

I know we give these girls a fair amount of leeway with not calling the cops, because if they called the cops every time A fucked with them, then there’d be no show (although that’s seeming more pleasant by the day). But, honestly. If the person whom you know to be a murdering stalker has kidnapped your boyfriend’s child (or any child!), Aria, then you CALL THE FUCKING COPS. I just can not even, with this girl. I can not even.

So Aria traipses off to the carnival without telling anyone anything, as per uhz. There’s a bit of macabre, but still mundane, spooks and scares, a glimpse or two of ol’ Red Coat, everyone’s favorite hooded Gloved McEvilson and eventually she finds Malcolm sitting on his own in a giant puppet theatre (I wish I were drunkenly making this up), apparently unharmed. And then she . . . doesn’t tell anyone anything about it. ARIA.

But! She does decide that she’s putting Malcolm in too much danger by dating Fitz (I would agree, but probably not in the same way that Aria means) and so she dumps him. I’d take this a lot more seriously if these two didn’t break up every damn season. Sometimes twice or three times!

Emily, meanwhile, stubbornly believes that Spencer is imagining Toby’s death and ropes the other girls, sans Spencer, into accompanying her to the morgue to check out the bodily remains. Really this is just an excuse to get everyone dressed up as candy stripers again, but whatever; it’s legit the least ridiculous plot line of this entire episode. It also gives us another glimpse of Red Coat, who seems to be stepping up her . . . well, whatever it is she’s doing. Hanna and Emily go inside the cold box while Aria guards the door (because she’s A, duh!), and they waver over actually seeing the face of the deceased. I honestly have no time for these children.

Emily figures that they can just look for Toby’s tattoo instead (dumb), so they do, and they see it, of course, but it’s all smudged. Success! It WAS a fake! So then they decide to be brave and look at his face, because I guess since it isn’t Toby, they don’t care about seeing dead people anymore? And . . .. it’s a mask! And the person under it is not Toby, obviously! But I am too drunk to figure out if it’s someone else we know. I have rewatched this scene three times and I have no idea. I probably shouldn’t have had all that wine earlier. Hiccup!

So that’s all well and good and Emily is once again pleased that her neighbor with whom she exchanged one mixed CD, once, three fucking years ago, is okay. Except! Hot Pam has breaking news! They’ve found a body in the woods! And Spencer’s purse was near it! And they can’t tell if it’s Toby or not because there’s “significant” damage to the corpse! UH OH.

The writers have chosen Hanna to spend her entire storyline worried about Uncle Father Jamie. She isn’t the only one concerned with Uncle Father Jamie’s honesty – it seems that Holly Marie Combs, Child Bride, is on the church restoration committee (why? I have literally never seen anyone in the Montgomery family go to or even think about church) and she tells Hanna that Uncle Father Jamie may have stolen the church bell.

Hanna attempts to warn Caleb of Uncle Father Jamie’s thievery, but Caleb’s hair is full of secrets, and he does not care to listen. But! When Uncle Father Jamie is fired, via telephone, by Father Ted (who he stupidly calls Pastor Ted. Y’all, no one ever made a hilarious sitcom called Pastor Ted.) for stealing the church bell, Caleb has had enough! He tells Uncle Father Jamie that he was never there for him! I would take Caleb’s righteous indignation a lot more seriously if I suspected that he didn’t have to put down his straightening iron for this scene. I wonder what kind of smoothing agents he uses on his hair. (Also, what a dick move, Father Ted. Firing someone over the phone? That’s exactly what Jesus would do.)

But! Of course it turns out that A is behind the whole thing, and Uncle Father Jamie is just another patsy in a long string of Rosewood patsies. Caleb sees this and runs after Uncle Father Jamie to apologize, ditching Hanna. Well, at least we got to see Caleb try to emote. That’s something, I guess.

Let’s just focus on Spencer, shall we? She’s still in Radley and refusing to leave, much to the confused hurt of Ma Hastings, who can’t figure out why her daughter would choose a narrow iron bed over a gorgeous steam shower the size of my entire bathroom. Normally I’d agree with Ma Hastings, but, uh, has she SEEN Eddie? I’d stay too. Ma Hastings is even more concerned that this has something to do with Alison, and reveals a story about seeing Ali with a split lip a few weeks before her death. (Honestly, WHAT is with all these random memories of Ali? Did these people not get together and discuss this stuff when the girl went missing? Or would up dead?) Ali says that a girl hit her, but doesn’t really give out much more info than that, because it is not yet the time to know the secrets.

Spencer is using her time at Radley to try to suss out various goings on in Rosewood’s favorite home for the criminally insane. When Wren catches Eddie offering to play a board game with Spencer, he cautions her that Eddie used to play that game with Mona. And, indeed, the board game seems to be some sort of map for how to sneak out of Radley – it points to a perpetually unlocked window large enough for anyone to get through. Safety first, Rosewood!

But Eddie seems equally suspicious of Wren, claiming that he was the one behind the visitor pass snafu. Oh, boys, boys. You’re both pretty. He doesn’t want Spencer trusting Wren. Hey, Spence, here’s an idea I learned from my good friend Fox Mulder: trust no one.

Spencer eventually finds the basement of Mona’s trash-to-treasures – remember, the creepy doll room? Why are dolls so fucking creepy and why is Mona obsessed with them. Spencer has a hallucination – MAYBE – of Ali coming into Radley. They dance, which is a little weird, since Spencer certainly isn’t Emily, and Ali tells Spencer that she didn’t know her at all. 

Wren eventually finds Spencer down in the doll room and tells her that Mona had a very constant visitor . . . CeCe! In fact, it was Wren who encouraged the visits, hoping that CeCe would be able to explain to Mona how to get over being tormented by Ali. After all, Ali caused CeCe to be kicked out of college . . .

But! That’s not all, folks! Spencer has been shoving her pills under her pillow (side note: why do people waste perfectly good pharmaceuticals that way? Hell, Spence, give ’em to me.), but she has something else to keep them company . . . a black hoodie. YES! Spencer has joined the A Team! (And was likely the one to kidnap Malcolm, I’m guessing.) Is it all just a ploy to get the truth? Or has Spencer finally cracked?

And then, on the credits, we see them wheeling the second, unidentified body into the morgue. The face is covered . . . but Toby’s “Free at Last” tattoo sure isn’t.

Alright, people! We need your thoughts and theories! Actually, looking back on it, I like this episode more than I did while I was watching it. My main problem continues to be Aria – she’s just stupid to the point that I feel insulted about it, you know? Like, when she is on screen, I’m forced to remember that I’m watching a terrible television show. I can gladly and easily forget that when I’m watching Spencer have a breakdown. What did you think of the episode? And what do you think is going to end up happening in the season finale next week?


Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink.