So the title of this episode makes me feel guilty about my English education. We had to go see Sense & Sensibility (and present our ticket stub for credit), but it’s not like we even studied Pride & Prejudice, which I’ve never read (I KNOW. I’m reading it now because of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and because I totally want to read Gay Pride & Prejudice but feel like I need to try the original flavor first).
My point is, I get that the title is a reference to James’ Turn of the Screw, but I’ve also never read that, so yeah. Although Wikipedia tells me that “the true brilliance of the novella comes with its ability to create an intimate confusion and suspense for the reader.” I, uh, guess that’s a good description of PLL?
Previously: Wilden’s dead body was snuggling with Hanna’s mom’s phone, Mona hid her lAir in an effort to win the liAr’s trust, which Toby subsequently unhid, Alison’s probably drunk mom is back in town, and Aria and Ezra broke up three times.
We open on the girls in the Rear Brew with Spencer giving a demonstration of craft day in Radley. Or as she calls it “recreating the geography around the lodge to see if it’s even possible that the person who jumped out of the plane could rescue you three from a burning building.” I love that the three girls are represented by cherry tomatoes. OK, if you were Spencer what would a sugar snap pea represent?
While Spencer sculpts, the girls debate whether or not Ali is alive. Before Spencer can finish her food scale drawing, Mona shows up and in a desperate attempt to finally win the girls’ trust offers to take them to her lAir. Which is of course gone!
The liArs don’t believe Mona when she insists that it wasn’t her who vanished the lAir and they storm off to their respective cars. Emily and Aria hang back for no reason other than to witness Mona get attacked by a masked A in her car. Mona manages to enter a hyper reality and roll from the car as A speeds off in it. Emily and Aria immediately rush to Mona’s aid and A tries to run them down. Emily smashes her shoulder into a rock, but don’t worry, I’m sure she’s got some leftover muscle cream somewhere…
Awesome Mom Ashley Marin is back in town unloading all the rotten food from the fridge. You cannot convince me that she is going to actually make something with all the food items she takes out, because we all know that Ashley orders her meals or takes them liquid. Hanna tries to gently question Ashley, who proceeds to act shady: conference room with no windows, long drive home, Wilden had more enemies than friends, yada yada, use a plate to peel that orange…wait, what? Is that a thing people do? Am I totally uncivilized?
Hanna pulls out Ashley’s phone and the look of terror on Ashley’s face when she asks Hanna where she got it is totally enough to convince me that she killed Wilden. Hanna lies that the phone was in the mailbox. Ashley brightens and says she must’ve left at the front desk when checking out of the hotel and that the hotel must’ve messengered it over (what sense does that even make?? How do you “messenger” something across state lines?). She lauds the “honest people” still around, while Hanna looks crestfallen to realize that her mom is not one of them. I too feel dismayed.
Meanwhile at Spencer’s giant house that no one but Spencer lives in, the mail has arrived and it contains the dreaded thin envelope from UPenn.
In what is just but one of this episode’s “making it all about me” Aria moments, Aria is wearing a shirt with giant possibly Aria lips on them. Like seriously, all they’re missing is the off-center hush finger. Fashion!
The girls spot Shana and Hanna immediately goes into super aggressive mode. She lets Shana have it for not showing up to Wilden’s funeral with Jenna. When Shana plays coy as to her friend status with either of them, Hanna awesomely reminds her of “the groggy scumbag you and Jenna scraped off the road the night he was hit by a car.” And then she turns on a heel and is out. Hanna, I love it when you’re sassy!
At school, which apparently starts after 10 AM considering all the things the girls usually get up to every morning, Paige continues to plan the Donuts, Diners and Driving tour, which apparently now also includes Dorm Rooms. Also, HAHAH what college are they going to again? That “dorm room” is bigger than my apartment. It also contains a nicer couch than my apartment.
Emily thinks that the floor plan is very nice, though the beds are a little far apart. Jeez, just get a king, you’ll still have enough room for a coffee table and an entertainment unit. But she hasn’t heard from the Stanford coach yet. Luckily he’s going to be here to watch her swim at the next meet, where her bruised shoulder will totally be no problem.
Spencer, meanwhile, has still not made her way to school yet. She thinks about ditching it entirely but Toby doesn’t want breakfast because it’ll interfere with his “job” and text messages. Spencer calls him on his bullshit. You’d think this would be a major red flag to Spencer. I am still not really getting how she can trust him again. I am also now afraid that he is the one who strangled Mona and caused Emily’s plotline this episode!
Finally all the girls are in school, taking their only class, taught by Ezra Fitz. No wonder Spencer couldn’t get into UPenn. Which she now confesses to Ezra, who looks like a deer in headlights, like he has JUST NOW realized that teaching is more than randomly suggesting books to read and sleeping with your students. He offers to help her with her essays for non-UPenn schools. Well I guess he keeps getting hired as an English teacher so he must know something about writing. I am doubtful.
Now that their one class is done, Emily and Hanna chat on the phone while rummaging through their respective houses. Emily is on the lookout for a heating pads or some drugs she can take that totally won’t have horrible repercussions. Hanna just seems to want to snoop and is rewarded by some very muddy Manolos in a hotel bag. Well at least now we know that Ashley was in NY for part of the time. And maybe she just had a carriage ride through Central Park that went wrong? Maybe?
Aria recognizes herself as the new weakest link and decides to actually do something about it: take self defense lessons (aka have a new hot-for-teacher romance). Jake tells her they can begin tomorrow at 11. Aria says, “That’s perfect because my only class tomorrow is at 2!” Just kidding, she didn’t say that, she said, “Perfect.” Maybe it’s Friday and there is no school tomorrow? I am perpetually confused about what day it is and sometimes even what time of year it is with this show!
Like it apparently is the time period whereby early admissions decisions have already been made but no one else has even applied to college yet? What time of year is that? Wikipedia tells me that early decision notification is mid-December. I know I haven’t lived in the US for a few years, but I totally don’t remember East Coast Decembers looking like that. Also, is swim season just continuous? Are there other sports at this school? Or is it a one-subject one-team kinda place?
Hanna is ten pages into The Grapes of Wrath, her first book since The Very Hungry Caterpillar, when Ashley comes in to pick up Hanna’s laundry. Reading about a dustbowl reminds Hanna of dirty shoes and she confronts Ashley. In the guiltiest possible way, Ashley snaps that they’re just shoes before telling Hanna to finish her book. Oh noooo.
AHA, and we have a time and day check! It is Saturday morning at 10 AM, and Hanna’s horrible pants from last episode have friends.
Just then, Alison’s mom notices the sun glinting off of Hanna’s shiny leggings and many metal appliques, and calls her over. Hanna lies that Jessica’s done a lot with the place. Jessica claims that whatever’s living under the porch undid all of her work from yesterday and the camera switches to watching them from inside the house. You know, we never did learn who was staying with Jason back in the day…was it alive/dead Ian? Or alive/dead Ali? I love how once Jason was discovered to be a Hasting that made him seem less suspicious to Spencer instead of more.
Jessica introduces us to Tippy, Alison’s grandmother’s bird, which does a mean Ali impression. Showing once again where Alison got her charms from, Jessica tells Hanna not to worry because she doubts Alison taught the bird “Hefty Hanna.” This lady is poison.
Aaaaand we’re back to not knowing the time and date because although Hanna claims it is Saturday at 10 AM, both Spencer and Fitz are in the only classroom in Rosewood High right now, discussing Spencer’s newest college essay. Did Ezra lose his apartment and just move into the school? Or is he afraid to be seen in public with another student?
Ezra thinks that perhaps Spencer should tone down the crazy in her essay and leave out some of the more juicy details of her recent high school past. Spencer doesn’t want to lie — she wants someone to be impressed that she’s come through a friend dying, being bullied, having a mental breakdown, to find the strength to leave dried macaroni crafts at Radley for crafts with French fries and cherry tomatoes at Rear Window! She leaves that last part out, but you get what I’m saying here, right?
Meanwhile at Rosewood Dojo, Aria appears to be wearing wedge heel sneakers. That is all I took away from this scene.
Jessica DiLaurentis tells Hanna that while she didn’t see Alison’s remains up close, she recognized Alison’s yellow blouse. Which leads us to the best Alison flashback ever: Ali tries to get permission to stay at the beach house by herself for a few days, saying that the liArs will come stay with. She claims their group is falling apart and that they need this sleepover.
Jessica refuses and then the most awesome/horrible thing happens. Alison breathes in through her nostrils and then makes the most intense grimacey face ever. OMG guys, she’s totally going to set fire to things with her mind. I told you this was like The Craft! I’m so excited!
Apparently Alison is able to hold her breath long enough that she eventually passes out. Ok, maybe she’s not a witch, but girl is evil. Watching Jessica flip out about it in public while Ali glares is amazing. Jessica backs down and agrees the girls can spend one night. Ali exhales and gives her triumphant charmed bitch smile.
I like having Jessica DiLaurentis around because you can see exactly how Ali became such a monster. And with that little story, Jessica gifts Hanna a bird.
Back at the Dojo of Fake Judo Instruction, Jake ignores the little bell that says time’s up, so they can try it once more, with feeling. The feeling of Aria’s lips on his. Aria is simultaneously in and out of control of her body. Embarrassed, she runs out and into her car. Ugh.
As she drives she sees Mona chatting with a police officer. Aria freaks out and rolls up, urging Mona to get in the car in a way that totally it seem like Mona is a child and Aria drives a white van. Mona gets in and gives Aria the most awesome glare. Mona claims Aria just messed up her recon mission. She was listening to the Forensic police officer behind the cop she was flirting with, who said that Wilden was killed by Torch Lake…and that he wasn’t alone. His company? Someone wearing high heels! Oh Ashley!!!
Later that afternoon, Spencer is trashing her too-honest essay when Toby comes in. And good for Spencer, she says, “Why are you here? I don’t want to play any more of your games.” That’s my girl! Toby immediately cops to being the one to move the RV (but does not admit to strangling or running Emily down). Spencer is understandably livid. Toby throws down the transcripts of his mother’s last night in Radley as justification.
At the Saturday afternoon swim meet (I guess this is justification for why Fitz is skulking around school on a Saturday?), Emily takes a half a painkiller when Shana comes waltzing in looking for a swim cap. I think she should be looking for a more appropriate swimsuit. Seriously, it looks so flimsy. I feel nervous for a nip slip.
She informs Emily that there’s one more spot on the Stanford team and that she’s going for it. HOLD UP. This girl is not already in college? I’m sorry, I just assumed she swam for Hollis or something. Emily, who is sporting a nasty looking bruise, is so shaken up, she takes the second half of the painkiller.
Spencer has apparently accepted Toby’s justification. She reads through the transcript, which seems to suggest Toby’s mother was getting better and was ready to come out of Radley and rejoin her beloved son. Toby says this doesn’t sound like someone who would go on to steal a key and jump out a window. Ok, while I sympathize here, I really have to question how far back and how deep this A thing goes. Could it really be related?? Aria knocks on the door, and in his best acting yet, Toby cries and begs Spencer not to tell anyone before running off.
At the swim meet, Emily is clearly in bad shape. In an actually horrifying sequence, Emily swims through the water while the lines on the bottom of the pool blur and swirl. And then she swims head-first into the wall. I actually yelled out loud when this happened! Emily, no! She lies there like a dead fish, blood spilling out of her head.
Proving again that she really is no longer the weakest link, Emily still manages to lie even while being wheeled out on a stretcher. The EMT tells her she’ll need stitches and she responds, “My shoulder doesn’t hurt.” Eyes glazed, she claims to have fallen off her bike and asks to finish the race. Yikes.
Back at Spencer’s, Aria completely ignores the fact that she barged in on a sensitive, intimate moment, and goes on and on about Mona. At least she’s not talking about her kiss. Aaaaaand, there it is! The kiss story. Luckily before she can go into too many details (he smells like cinnamon, lord have mercy), Hanna walks in with her creepy bird, saying it could be the clue to who Ali was with in Cape May that summer. Aria drops the news that whoever killed Wilden did so in pumps. Hanna goes white.
To her credit, Hanna immediately goes to her mother (standing in a dark kitchen with a takeout menu — told you she wasn’t gonna cook) to question if she was in NY the entire time she was gone. Instead of answering Hanna’s questions directly, Ashley says, “If you’re asking if I killed Wilden, the answer’s no.” I really want to believe her? But I don’t 100%. And even if she didn’t kill him, I totally believe she was there!
That night, Tippy is driving Spencer crazy singing her song. As Spencer phone stalks Hanna to get rid of the bird she has her big realization: Tippy’s not singing a song…it’s a phone number that Ali must’ve obsessively dialed. My cell phone totally doesn’t make dialing noises at all, it just rings. Do American cell phones do that? Or was she using her grandma’s touchtone?
Meanwhile, while some people are in the hospital and others solving the mystery of Tippy, Aria is setting up a date. Ok, I’ll admit it: Jake’s cute. But I want real things to happen to Aria! How come she’s never been strangled or hit by a car?
Back home, Emily confesses to Paige that she hurt her shoulder dodging A. In a really moving speech, she says how much she wants to get away from everything and just be off somewhere with Paige. Meanwhile, the other liArs attempt to dial Tippy’s number, but no one picks up. They go to double check the song and Tippy’s gone! At the Marin’s, Ashley may or may not be watched as she disposes of the dirty heels. And finally in a total fakeout, A eats what appears to be Tippy but is merely a small chicken. Tippy is alive and well and eating his cousin. Whew, what an episode!
Leave your rants/raves/theories in the comments, and let’s convo!
About the Contributor:
Kate worships Kevin Sullivan’s adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (and has probably seen it no fewer than 100 times) but is still bitter about Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story and refuses to buy that one on DVD in protest of its totally inaccurate storyline. Other obsessions include bunnies (including her own, which she adopted from the bunny shelter, which is a REAL THING in Amsterdam, where she lives) and Pretty Little Liars. In her spare time she plays the clarinet and teaches math.