Welcome back to Pretty Little Liars, a one hour reality dating show where 20 teenage lesbian swimmers must compete for the heart of one super hot lesbian swimmer. Aided only by her shiny-haired friends, this hot lez must decide if contestants get to do the breast stroke or if they’re totally sunk.
This weeks episode involved plenty of dyke drama but no Paige! It was like the old days where the only lesbian story lines we had were Emily feeling uncomfortable around her parents or Maya getting shipped off to reform school camp. Back before we had daily lesbian kisses. A friendly reminder that, yes, gay issues still affect you even if you’re mouth isn’t currently attached to another girl’s mouth.
We open on Hanna doing her best impersonation of the opening from Skins.
She wakes up to the sound of sirens and immediately thinks her mother has been arrested. She runs downstairs and Ashley is asleep outside. Then Ashley pops up like a jack in the box in an orange jumpsuit and shaven head!I shit you not I screamed. I had to pause the episode to get up and make popcorn just to clear my head. It was that scary. It was also all a dream!
Over at the Hastings residence, Spencer skips down the stairs wearing her costume leftover from her brief stint as Teen Mary Poppins on Broadway. The mistress of the house is all about solving Spencer’s little college admissions problem. She’s worried about the time Spencer spent in Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Spencer is unimpressed with her mother’s assessment of her having a “problem.” Mistress Hastings hired a private admission counselor to rewrite all her essays and help her weasel her way in somewhere. This sounds like rich people shit.
Shouldn’t Mistress Hastings and Spencer be a whole lot more worried about how the Liars got arrested last year for that incident with the shovels? I feel like having an arrest record is a bigger problem than a brief stay in a psychiatric hospital.
Starsweep over to Emily’s where that big ol’ lezzie has me officially concerned that if she wears that denim vest one more time it’s going to start growing little tiny Emily clones from all the built up dead skin cells. Actually, Emily is already up and at her computer watching the gay porn. Just kidding, it’s lesbian porn aka Stanford University’s Diversity Statement. Emily’s dad walks in just as she’s getting to the really juicy stuff (the part about the LGBT Community Resource Center) and they talk a bit about the whole town thinking they’re big child abusers.
Papa Fields tries to cheer Emily up about the Dept. Family Services and her busted shoulder by saying this will all blow over soon. Emily is still super sad she can’t move to the Gay Area with Paige, go to Stanford and have big gay sex all over the golden gate bridge. She figures even if she could afford it she wouldn’t get in because she’s, like, totally average.
Emily: Without swimming I’m average.
Papa Fields:: There is nothing average about you.
Emily: You haven’t seen me in bed. Paige usually only orgasms twice and I’m terrible with rope.
The Emily’s dad says he’s going to do whatever he can to get her into Stanford. In Rosewood that usually means shooting someone in the face.
Time jump to school where class is just ending and the students are getting pumped for a big college visit weekend. I don’t recall college visits being something everyone in my high school did all at once, but I also don’t remember there being this many swim team high school lesbians, so maybe times have changed. Teacher Ella is reminding the class that they should use their upcoming college visits to audit classes and suck up to professors. Not to learn to play beer pong, which was of course what every prefrosh does on ever single college visit ever.
After class, the Liars huddle up to listen to Hanna bitch and moan some more about thinking her mom killed Wilden. Speaking of moaning, where’s Mona? I miss that little lez.
The Liars plan out their Super College Weekend Situation while simultaneously talking about the Mocking Jay. Will these story lines intertwine? You betcha! The liars pour over a Super College Weekend Situation booklet which has tons of colleges in it. They quickly discover the area code and prefix of the Mockingjay number are the same as some college in York County. What college are they going to in York County? I don’t know, let’s just assume it’s Krupinski Driving School because that’s certainly in York County.
More importantly, they actually flashed some of the college addresses written in the booklet, and let me tell you guys it was a big fucking deal for me. I’m from Amherst and I go to Brown Med and I almost pissed myself when I saw Amherst College and Brown on this page. It was too exciting. But they did the weirdest things to the phone numbers and addresses. Like 413 and 401 really are the area codes! FYI people in Amherst are really into being “from the 413.” A lot of people get 413 tattoos. It’s a whole thing. But then they did weird things here with the zip codes like changing Amherst’s 01002 or 02001 and changing Brown’s from 02912 to 02312. Most importantly 100 N. University Drive in Amherst isn’t where Amherst College is. It is, however, the exact location of where I got my wisdom teeth removed. I don’t believe in destiny but I’m starting to wonder if I was just meant to recap this show.
Okay, back to things you guys actually care about.
Outside of school Aria catches up with Ella who is being a total brat. Like outrageously out of character brat. Turns out she’s in a bad mood because she’s decided not to run off to the Vonn Trapp Lodge with her hottie Bakery Boy.
Aria is appalled and demands to know why her mother can’t go on a year long sex romp abroad. She and Ella get in the car where Ella explains that ghost brother Mike, who hasn’t had a moment of screen time in thirty episodes, doesn’t want his mommy to run away. Who’s going to do his laundry or cook him dinner or uphold other pillars of the traditional expectations put on women. What, you expect him to just do the dishes himself?! With his hands? Unacceptable.
Aria thinks her mom should still go. Remember, she wants to get Ella away from A. Ella’s not buying it, plus she thinks Byron will do a shit job if he’s the only parent around. To prove a point she kills a bee. Nobody kills bees like moms kill bees. Aria tells her mom to think on it and storms out of the car in a huff.
Just then, Aria gets a text from A and, quite rapidly, Ella’s car gets filled with bees. I’d almost forgotten that sometimes A makes terrible genuine attacks on the Liars and their family’s lives. It’s not all “eat fifteen cupcakes in public” and “dance with a boy you don’t like.”
We cut to a commercial and when we come back Aria is pacing her room on the phone relaying the story of the bees to Emily. Ella is okay, thankfully, but Aria is in deep peril of being arrested. By the fashion police. Yup, it’s only now that I notice that Aria skirt is made of old neckties. It’s bad. One time when I was playing Beggar Girl #3 in a summer camp production of Fiddler on the Roof I wore a long sleeve shirt as a skirt with the arms tied like a sash. I thought it looked okay until I saw pictures later and then I was totally mortified. I think this is going to be one of those situations for Aria. Except I was seven.
We phone jump over to the Life Cafe where Emily offers another latte to Spencer’s private college admissions counselor. I’m unsure what to call this guy. I think he looks like the Hollis College campus chairman of the Young Republicans. Other suggestions from the team included “president of the Junior Yacht Club,” “Paul Ryan… if anyone remembers who he is” and “fuck it.” That last one was Riese. In retrospect she may have been talking about something else. I’m going to keep it simple and call him Skipper.
Emily: At the risk of sounding rude, what is it that you actually do?
Skipper: I help applicants put their best foot forward and try to get them facetime with people who can champion for them. But honestly most of my work is emotional. People get crazed through this process, they need someone to help them over the hot coals.
Emily: I was referring to straight sex.
Skipper: So was I.
Emily laments the loss of her shoulder and potential swim scholarships. Skipper is not so worried.
He even offers to go through some of the material with Emily free of charge. Probably because he immediately starts flirting with Emily. I swear if Emily leaves Paige for this douche I will stop watching the show. That’s not a dramatic “I’m going to move to Canada” statement, that’s a fact.
Over in adultland, Mistress Hastings comes over to Ashley’s house for a legal meeting. Innocent people just don’t behave like this. Obviously Ashley wants to talk about The Night Wilden Died. Mistress Hastings doesn’t even ask Ashley whether or not she’s guilty. She’s just like, “Bitches gotta stay together. I’m on this shit.”
I know that the Hastings family has a fucked up way of showing it, but I’m starting to think they genuinely are trying to look out for each other. Like when Mr. Hastings thought Melissa killed Alison so he kept burning evidence. Or whatever the hell Melissa has been doing for the last three seasons.
Back at the Life Cafe, Skipper suggests Emily apply to schools with Polynesian Studies majors and even though Emily is interested in Biology. He suggests she fake it to get into better school. He’s a douchenozzle. I’m not really sure if that’s what colleges are looking for, but Emily is as skeeved out as I am.
Spencer finally shows up and sits down with the duo. Skipper is all set to take Spencer to visit Brown University for the weekend. Brown University aka the greatest institution of all time aka the only place in the country you might actually get to kiss Emma Watson aka feminist lesbian central aka the school I go to right now. But Spencer wants to go visit Krupinski Driving School in York County. You know, as a safety. Not to scope out the college. This is the stupidest idea ever.
Can someone, anyone, please tell me why Spencer couldn’t have visited Brown University, home of the Annmary Brown Library which is actually a renovated tomb, and snooped around Krupinski whenever she had some free detective time?
Emily thinks she should also check it out, but she sounds marginally more enthusiastic. Skipper changes his plans and sets up meetings for Spencer with the heads of all of the best Krupinski departments. Her meeting with the head of the Braking Department is at 9am, followed by meetings with the heads of the Accelerating Department and the Honking Departments at 11:30 and 12 respectively.
At home, Aria actually runs into Mike! I wasn’t joking when I said he hadn’t been around in thirty episodes. That’s an exact number! The boy didn’t make a single appearance in season 3! I’m shocked they were even able to get this actor back on cast.
Aria wants to talk about why Mike won’t let their mother go on her orgy-fest vacation, but Mike is super distracted just killing it at Candy Crunch.
I really thought this was going to be one of those things where Aria asks Mike why he said Ella couldn’t go and Mike was going to be like “What? I said do whatever she wanted.” But nope, actually Mike really loves his mom and wants her around. It’s pretty cute.
Plus Mike thinks Aria only wants her mom gone so she could start sleeping with Fitz again which is, while slut shaming and not actually true, probably kind of conceptually true. All the Liars sort of want their parents out of the picture so they can continue to do whatever they want all the time.
Also Aria pushed Mike and I didn’t like it.
Starsweep the Marin household where Ashley is unimpressed that Hanna isn’t going on college visits like the rest of the student body this weekend. Hanna insists she’s going to The Art Institute, which could mean FIT in New York or it could mean some yet unknown fashion school just outside Rosewood. I sort of hope the Liars all end up in New York City and we can go kinda Glee on the situation. And then Emily can finally join that lesbian colony in Tribeca with Santana.
We interrupt this fantasy with a telephone call from Mistress Hastings. Ashley takes the call in the next room for a little privacy. Hanna picks up the other receiver and listens in.
No details, but things are looking grim in the police case against Ashley. Things are also looking grim for Hanna’s manners. Eavesdropping on other people’s phone calls is so rude! She could use a trip to Miss Piggle Wiggle’s farm.
Four commercials for The Fosters and three commercials for auto insurance later, Hanna is on a new phone call with Aria. Hanna wants to know if Aria thinks Byron would cover for Ella if Ella were… I don’t know… being investigated by the police. You know theoretically. Hypothetically. Not that that’s going on with her parents. Just for example. Just for a thought.
Aria’s a little confused as to why she’s receiving this phone call and not Caleb.
Unfortunately because it’s last fall in Rosewood Caleb is actually at A-Camp up in the mountains with no cell service. Don’t worry she’s not jealous. Hanna and Caleb have an understanding that what happens at A-Camp stays at A-Camp.
Hanna’s panic isn’t just over the phone call, her mom’s muddy shoes are missing too! And her closet door is locked! What could be hiding inside that closet? Hopefully it’s Spencer.
Lesbiansweep to Emily’s where she’s packing for her college visit to Krupinski. Emily’s dad offers her some cash for the weekend. It looks like a couple hundred bucks actually. This is the part where I act indignant and pretend that these parents give their kids too much money, but actually I’m 25 and my mom still gives me gas money when I come home. So. Emily on the other hand is genuinely shocked by the money. I have no idea what this scene is about but you know that it’s coming back later. Nothing on PLL happens by accident.
Over at Aria’s place, Byron is sitting in a newly discovered desk in the living room composing the next great American novel. Or maybe filing taxes. Aria asks Byron to convince Ella to go to off on her nudist colony retreat.
Aria tells Byron that Ella is only staying because she thinks she has to and doesn’t realize what she’s giving up.
She reminds Byron that Ella still cares what he thinks about her and it’s important that he help her on this. She’s all teary and stuff. Now I can’t remember if she’s being genuine or lying or projecting or whatever.
Can I be honest with you guys? I feel like I can because we’re such close friends now. I’m sort of bored of the grown-up story lines in this episode/series of episodes. I don’t really care what happens to Ella or Ashley for that matter. I only care about when Paige and Emily are going to steal away for the next kiss or if Aria is going to replace Ezra with an even older even dweebier boyfriend.
Fortunately the next scene is all Spencer and Emily at Krupinski. Emily continues to chat up Skipper and asks him about “sorority scholarships.” Is that a real thing? He asks her out to dinner to “look over some scholarships.” She says yes. I am creeped out.
Spencer tells Emily to cool it with the flirting because no one in the whole wide wide world would ever want to go to Krupinski anyways. Spencer is being a snob. Emily is uncomfortable. Luckily, Spencer redeems herself by wearing the cutest bandana ever.
Meanwhile, Hanna tries to unlock her mother’s closet. It’s a pretty serious lock too. Not just the type you pop open with a wire clothes hanger but the kind you need a skeleton key for. Fortunately Hanna rolls a natural 20 on her D20 for her thievery check and it pops open! Not too surprising, Hanna is awful good with her hands. Also she should probably forgo college completely and become a locksmith.
She opens the closet and inside are… clothes! Oh and a gun.
Now, normally Hanna would call Caleb but he’s at A-Camp, remember? So she calls Aria. When Aria doesn’t pick up she calls Spencer. Well at least we know the pecking order. Shocking that Emily is so low based on their natural chemistry. Maybe this is sort of like real life where you don’t call the girl you like first because you don’t want her to know you like her. Or maybe you don’t call her because you’re just playing hard to get but maybe she’s also playing hard to get and then no one gets anything and then she move to Michigan and starts dating someone else. For example.
Spencer doesn’t really have time for Hanna today, though. She’s too busy being blindly self involved.
She’s also becoming increasingly insensitive to Hanna’s growing anxiety. And increasingly hilarious.
Spencer hangs up on Hanna before she can tell her about the gun. Hanna doesn’t even try Emily who would totally listen! It’s gotta be the playing hard to get thing. Instead, Hanna puts the gun in her purse. She is so going to shoot herself in the foot on this one DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!
After she hangs up, Spencer returns to the task at hand: figuring out the Mockingjay phone number. Because everyone knows that nerds rule the world, Spencer finds the most stereotypical nerd guy PLL could possibly costume. He looks about 40.
She wants him to help her figure out where the Mockingjay phone number is from. Nerd Guy doesn’t want to help at first because he thinks Spencer has crazy eyes.
For the record Troian Bellisario is a beautiful goddess from heaven who certainly doesn’t have crazy eyes. But if Spencer were real she definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely definitely would.
Eventually, though, Spencer weasles out of him that the phone number is probably a house on Frat Row. I gag because I know that means we’re going to have to go to a TV frat, which is only marginally better than going to an actual frat.
Oh and then this happens and it’s awesome.
Elsewhere, substantially later in the day, Ella and Byron have an outdoor coffee. Byron tells bee-sting-covered Ella that she should go to Europe to do something nice for herself. He says things like “We always wanted to go to Europe” and “You’ve been given a second chance!” This marks the only time I’ve ever really liked Byron.
Emily and Spencer walk down Krupinski Frat Row in cute little dresses. Little does Emily know how many times she is going to be told to make out with other girls for shots that evening.
Here’s the thing though: Spencer thinks this is a fact-finding mission. That they’re going to go up to every frat guy they see and ask them if they ever saw Ali. Not for Emily though. For her this is a try-to-get-a-sorority-scholarship mission. Again, is that really a thing?
Does Emily know that she’ll almost definitely have to pretend to be straight to even join? Unless there’s some new lesbian sorority I don’t know about. If Emily doesn’t know about that Spencer sure as hell does. She points out that she noticed that Emily hasn’t exactly been out this trip.
Honestly Emily probably should just be out throughout this whole process. Especially now that she doesn’t have a sport scholarship or a coach telling her to be “family friendly” (read: in the closet) she should probably see if she can get some sort of LGBT youth scholarship.
Actually the conversation gets kind of ugly. Like ugly the way only arguments between really close friends can. It also kind of turns into the worst kind of combination of slut-shaming and class fighting. It’s pretty clear that the stress of college combined with A is bringing out the worst in the both of them.
Their fight is interrupted by some sorority girls singing about boys. Do sororities normally sing or is this a Pennsylvania thing?
Back in Rosewood, Hanna tries to sneak out of her house with the gun. When Ashley busts her she claims she’s going to meeting up with Emily and Spencer at Krupinski. Even if Hanna were actually going to do a “campus visit” with her friends, you’d think Ashley would be pretty suspicious that she heads out just for the night. Probably that’s not the part of campus Ashley wants her to see.
Inside the sorority party Emily chats up the Most Uptight Girl Ever.
It’s your pretty standard “You have to be a girlie, rich, white lady to get in” talk until Emily notices a mask and on the wall. The sister tells her that it belonged to the old house mother. The the sorority sister calls the old house mother a witch with a B and it seems like a big deal.
Downstairs, Spencer shows Alison’s picture to every person she sees. No one recognizes her. Which is odd since Ali’s death made national news.
Additionally, Spencer is completely grossed out by every guy she meets. It’s sort of annoying because I can’t tell if Spencer would react to all college guys like this or if she’s just being outrageously elitist. I don’t have the heart to tell Spencer basically all college guys and all frat houses are the same, coast to coast, regardless of supposed school prestige.
Back downstairs, Emily runs into Skipper. He tells Emily he’s off duty and offers to get her a drink. Emily says yes when what she should have said was “Actually I have to call my girlfriend Paige. Her name is Paige and she’s my girlfriend. Like my lesbian girlfriend. Excuse me.” I think all of us know what’s about to happen. I almost couldn’t force myself to watch it.
Just then, Hanna shows up! That’s right, She actually shows up! I figured she was going to throw the gun in the lake or some similar bad idea. She’ll probably still do that though. She asks Spencer where Emily is and Spencer has to admit that she and Emily broke the cardinal rule of frat parties: girlfriends roll together. For the record that was the first and only time I’ll ever use “girlfriends” to mean anything other than two girls who are in a romantic relationship and have sexy times. I promise to return to using it appropriately now.
Hanna shows Spencer the gun and obviously she freaks out. FYI guys this is what happens when you hang up on people on the phone. Spencer tells Hanna to stay put while she finds Emily. Spencer asks the Most Uptight Girl Ever if she’s seen Emily and she says she went off “with some guy.” I hate everything about this.
Spencer searches for Emily up a few flights of stairs and down a long corridor. She is suddenly bumped into by some very drunk girls who’ve I’ve decided are girlfriends because all girls with their arms around each other on TV are queer until proven otherwise. See! I told you I’d go back to using “girlfriends” appropriately.
The girls bump Spencer into a wall that comes loose and reveals itself to cover a secret room! The room is some sort of creepy hideaway with a 1970s radio and a old pink disconnected phone. Spencer plugs the phone in.
In case anyone is wondering why Aria isn’t at this sweet party, it’s because she’s at family game night playing Monopoly with her brother and parents.
Just then, Aria gets a call from the Mockingjay number. Of course, it’s Spencer on the other end.
The two talk for a minute before Spencer hears noise outside the door. As she goes to exit she notices claw marks on the door. Like someone was trying to scratch their way out.
Downstairs Hanna sits right where Spencer told her. Well for a minute. Some guys spill cheetos on her and she’s out of there. She seemed a lot more comfortable when she was stalking Emily at that girl party. Then again she didn’t have a gun in her purse so many this isn’t the best time to play “What is Hanna’s Sexuality This Time?”
Approximately two feet away from her Emily is chatting up Skipper in the kitchen. Well he’s chatting her up. She’s doing that thing where you become increasingly less interested in the conversation the longer it becomes apparent that a dude is hitting on you. Ugh. Skipper rushes off to get Emily another drink and suddenly Emily spots Hanna out of the corner of her eye. She follows her outside where the party look way more fun and much less legal.
Skipper follows Emily outside and at this point you just want to shake him by the shoulders and be like “Dude she’s obviously not interested in you!” Metaphorically. Violence is never okay. Fortunately we won’t need to resort to metaphorical violence because Emily finally tells Skipper she’s taken.
Skipper: Maybe he’s not making you happy anymore…
Emily: Bitch I’m gay!! DO you see this vest?!
Skipper acts kind of creepy about it but fortunately he doesn’t get aggressive which is what I was scared of.
Meanwhile, Spencer finally comes down stairs only to find both of her friends missing. That’s because they’re both off wandering the woods. Emily is getting stalked by someone in a black hoodie. It turns out to be a guy with silly string. Funny, I don’t remember silly string in the woods. I do remember impromptu Torah study in the woods, but then again I went to Brandeis.
Hanna on the other hand has found a clearing where she decides to bury the gun. How has she not figured out yet that A digs up every single thing they bury!
Liars: stop burying, ripping, sinking, hiding or even good old fashioned trashing things. Stop it! It always comes back. It’s been 3.208 seasons, three years, 233 text messages and six dead bodies and you still haven’t successfully gotten rid of anything. So just stop trying to get rid of shit because it’s never going to work.
Or maybe A will just tip off the cops, who will bust you before you even get it into the ground.
Which is what happens. So we end our episode with Hanna getting arrested for… what I think is the fourth time. It’s weird. It’s like A fucked with the Liars in very specific ways. She screws with Emily’s body, Aria’s family and Spencer’s mind. She takes away the things they had before that were perfect. But Hanna? I guess she doesn’t know what the fuck to do with Hanna so she just keeps getting her arrested.
In the creepy A scene a pours a coup of tea and dusts off a picture of a couple of sorority sisters. Right in the center is the Old House Mother.