Okay. Let’s just get this out of the way: I am a 39-year-old woman and I’m completely in love with Pretty Little Liars. My little sister, who’s 16, used to write recaps of the show for Project Fandom and I would load them on the site, editing them and making sure the pictures were sized properly. But I didn’t pay any attention to what the show was about. I just knew that people seemed to like it and according to Google Analytics, it brought traffic to the site.
About two weeks ago I decided to watch the show on Netflix. I’m not even sure why. The next thing I knew it was a week later and I’d watched all four seasons that were streaming and watched the first four episodes of season five On Demand. I’ve decided to cover the show for the website because I’m addicted. And I’m not ashamed.
So, some backstory first: The show is set in a Pennsylvania town and it follows four high school girls (Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer) who were, at one time, pretty close. But everything changed when their friend Alison went missing. When the series begins, a year has passed since anyone has seen Alison and it’s clear the four friends are keeping some kind of secret concerning what happened the night Ali disappeared. They begin to get mysterious texts from someone named A. He or she seems to know all of their secrets and is always one step ahead of them. Could this be Alison? Nope. By the end of the first episode, Alison’s body is found buried behind her own house and she’s been there for a year.
As the series progresses, the girls continue to create bigger secrets in their efforts to protect themselves and their loved ones from A. There are many suspects, but as some start dying and others are proven innocent, the girls begin to believe they’ll never figure out who A is. They thought they’d caught her when former outcast turned popular girl Mona was caught stalking them and sent to a mental institution, but it was later revealed that Mona (and Toby, Spencer’s sometimes boyfriend) was just a pawn in A’s game. For a time, we even thought that Ezra Fitz, the girls’ English teacher who also had an affair with Aria, was the culprit, but he was just following the girls to write a book about Alison, who he’d actually known before she disappeared. For a time we thought A murdered Emily’s girlfriend Maya, but she was killed by a spurned ex.
Then, last season, the show delivered its biggest shock: Alison is alive! Her own mother had buried her, thinking she was dead, to cover for the mystery person who hit Alison over the head with a shovel. Alison had also been stalked by A for months before she “died” and after she was rescued from her premature grave, she went into hiding until she could figure out who tried to kill her and why her mother would cover it up. Unfortunately, someone killed her mother so we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the answers. Now, let’s dive into the 100th episode of Pretty Little Liars.
Ali being back really questions the group’s dynamics. Back in the very first episode, before she was “killed,” Ali told her four friends that their secrets are what will keep them close. And she was right. The whole time she was gone, Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer became closer than ever because they were busy trying to unlock Ali’s secrets and protect their own, sometimes from each other.
Ali returns to school in typical All Eyes On Me fashion, but it’s not the favorable attention she was used to. She hurt a lot of people and most of them aren’t so forgiving. Paige actually leaves school early because “she can’t stand to be in the same room as Alison.” Lucas and Mona deliver serious side-eye from the moment Ali steps foot on campus.
Even her best friends don’t know what to expect, but they stick by her side, bitchwalking the halls with Ali like nothing has changed.
Ali swears she has changed and tries to make amends with a few people at school, including Paige during an Emily-monitored clearing of the air. And speaking of Emily, Ali tries to convince her friend that the kisses they shared before she disappeared meant something to her and that she did miss Emily the most.
But all of Ali’s good intentions are questioned when she’s set up to meet with Mona alone. Mona makes it clear that she wants Ali gone and keeps pushing until Ali shifts back into Bitch Mode and threatens to take away all the popularity Mona has gained. Mona slaps Ali, Ali slaps her back, and it’s like Dynasty for 2014 – and I am here for every second of it. When Ali tells the other girls about the encounter, she leaves out the part about her threats and slap, so it’s no surprise that they feel betrayed when Mona plays an edited video of the confrontation for the whole school and it looks like Ali was the aggressor.
No one is more hurt by this than Emily who, the night before, had slept with Ali. For right now, I believe that Ali is trying to do the right thing. She suspects that Paige, Lucas, Mona, and others worked together to ensure that the girls were otherwise engaged when she was confronted by Mona at the church. I am disturbed by the fact that the characters bullied by Alison before are engaging in their own bullying and not taking any responsibility for their actions – especially Mona who has adapted a “I was only bitchy because you made me be that way” attitude. That’s not to say that Ali is totally innocent either. The episode began with Ezra and Aria spotting Alison talking to a mystery person in a car. She claimed it was an employee of her father’s giving her a lift to his office, but we’ll see.
In last week’s episode, Hanna realized that Mona had groomed her into being The New Alison and she never really grew into the person she was supposed to be. And just who is that person anyway? We’re not sure yet, but clearly she’s rocking some very non-Alison hair.
Hanna bumps into Caleb who is also sporting a new look. He’s all moody and tight-lipped about his time in Ravenswood and since I didn’t watch that now-cancelled spinoff, I have no idea what’s up his butt. After Hanna gets drunk at Lucas’ party (Did he spike her drinks to keep her away from the Mona/Alison meeting? It certainly seems that way.), Travis has to escort her home. Oh, poor Travis. So sweet. So getting dumped now that Caleb is back.
Aria feels super guilty about killing Shana, even though they all believe that Shana was A and that she was trying to kill them. She feels so guilty that she keeps popping up at Ezra’s to talk about it. And he’s just so happy that she’s not talking about the fact that he lied to her for years and that he kinda sorta had a thing with Alison that he eagerly provides a shoulder to cry on.
When word gets around that Shana is dead and Jenna returns to town, Aria decides to visit Jenna and find hers crying on the floor before quietly slipping out. Later, Jenna scares the shit out of Aria when she shows up at her house. She knows Aria was in her room and wants to know what she wanted. Aria says she was just paying her condolences. She offers to listen if Jenna wants to talk about Shana, and Jenna takes her up on it.
Aria is totally going to fuck this up, right? But until then, she’s totally back in Ezra’s bed.
Spencer had more to do in this episode than make questionable fashion choices. She’s pulled out of school by her mother who believes that Mr. Hastings and Melissa murdered Ali’s mother. Somehow this is all tied up in whatever Melissa whispered to her father in the police station and the identity (maybe) of the girl who was in Ali’s grave all this time. They’re going to live in a hotel… for some reason.
Spencer begins the episode keeping the secret of what happened in New York from Toby, but she eventually tells him and they hook up in his truck. Keep it classy, guys.
Am I supposed to know who this Anne Hathaway looking girl on the swim team is? You know, the girl all up in Paige’s and Emily’s faces. The same girl who later meets with Mona and Jenna to plot against the Liars? Because I have not a single clue who she is, but she needs to go. And who the hell pulled up in a car when AnneHathawayGirl, Jenna, and Mona were meeting?
Anyway, Emily is being way too nice to Paige. I thought they were on the outs? Guess I was wrong. One thing I wasn’t wrong about: Now that Ali is back it looks like she is Emily’s new (old?) love interest. They experience a bump in the road when Emily learns that Ali lied about what happened with Mona, but by episode’s end, they’re holding hands.
Everyone’s all paired up and holding hands as the police release the name of the girl buried in Alison’s grave. She’s an escaped patient from Radley, believed to have ran off the night that Ali was allegedly kidnapped. Yup. The police said “allegedly” which suggests that they don’t believe Alison’s story about where she’d been for two years.
The group doesn’t have time to ponder what this means because Toby’s house explodes and while they survey the damage, The Liars get a text.
A is back.