Pretty Little Liars 419 Recap: Shadow Play, or One With Paige Finally


How do switchboards work? I don’t know! I’m actually a high school student!

Hanna’s being an adult at the switchboard. She talks to Mabel and asks her about the Fitzgerald night-call answering service.

She pretends that Mr. Fitzgerald is her boss and she lost a phone number. She has the woman check if Alison has left a message. Clever clever.


Second couple scene of the night where girlfriends seem soooo over their boyfriends (in contrast to how amazing the same-sex couple is right now). Interesting….

Toby is giving Spencer a lecture about secrets. Okay, Mr.-I-Was-A-For-A-Long-Time. Let’s not throw stones at glass houses. Spencer is talking about how A is made stronger by Ali’s lies, which is totally true but depressing. She talks about finding the diary, and Toby asks why she got that, and tells her to think about it. Poor Spencer is really cracking under all this pressure.

Then Toby grabs Spencer and says, “Down these mean streets a girl must go, who is not herself mean.” and they kiss, because Spencer’s like “YOU KNOW THAT MOVIE, TOO?!”


“Are you a ghost, too?” “I’m a ghost with the most, babe.”

Aria’s playing with some toothpicks at the diner when Spencer shows up. Aria’s freaking out, which seems normal under the circumstances.


She tells Spencer that she’s been seeing Ezra again, where “seeing” means “having the sexytimes,” and tells Spencer that she loves Ezra. There’s definitely a feeling here that she knows she isn’t meant to be with Ezra and that something is up.


Guys, I’ve finally solidified the plan for smashing the patriarchy. Step one: let’s all break up with our annoying boyfriends so this show can only contain women and same-sex couples.

As Aria is figuring out that Ezra isn’t such a great guy, and Spencer is about to tell her that Ezra is A, Hanna comes running up to tell them that she found Ali. Of course it zooms out and goes silent as Hanna is telling them everything of course it does this to us.


Okay, whew, we are not left in the dark. We are all taken to a nightclub where the phone call came from.


Satine from Moulin Rouge called, she wants her outfit back.

Ali steps out of the dressing room and says, “Did anyone see you come in here?” and tells them to get the hell out. Spencer sticks up for all of them when Ali says they are trying to get her killed. I’m glad they all stick together and back up Spencer. Ali tells them to start thinking for themselves. She tells Ali to see how long she’d last without them, that Ali is setting them up for something.


This is a legit reaction, for sure.

Just as Spencer is about to tell Aria the truth about her stalker whackjob, someone shoots a bullet through the window! Hanna runs and turns out the light, which is a move I can’t tell is smart or stupid. They make a run for it, or rather, Ali runs for it and they follow her.


This jacket is FAUX yeti, I wish you vegans would all stop being so sensitive about it.

They end up in a warehouse and argue, and Ali goes to smack Spencer and Hanna stops her. I love that they’re all sticking together for once, and all standing up to Ali.


Always a solid sign of character: backlit and creeptastic.

Ezra starts calling for Aria, and the others tell her to stay quiet. She, of course, doesn’t listen. In the most heavy-handed “Choose your friends or me” manipulation I’ve seen yet, Ezra stands at a car and tells her that her friends are lying, that he’ll keep her safe, and that he loves her. “No one has ever loved you the way I do.”


Ali turns into normal-manipulative-Ali at this point, too.

This scene had me yelling at my television to just tell Aria that Ezra is evil! But no, they let Aria just walk on over to him.


We could liiiight the caaaaaanddddleeeeee.

When she gets over there, it’s Toby, not Ezra. Wait, what? Raise your hand if you rewound this scene. It was Ezra’s voice, wasn’t it? But Ezra is lying on the ground, or we assume Ezra is lying on the ground.


I just don’t understand why you won’t go through the Taco Bell drive-thru for us, Toby. I’ll get you a chalupa, what’s the big deal?

Now it’s raining, because of course it is raining, and Aria is upset that everyone’s been hanging out without her this whole time, you guys.

Spencer is just so tired, so damn tired, and everyone’s telling her to figure it out so they can get on with their lives. She’s afraid of the truth, they say. Toby starts yelling at her to look at the pages.


Toby doesn’t even need to look at the road, this is like an old movie, remember?

“Don’t look at the book, look at the pages!” He’s basically yelling at her. It’s unnerving.


I’m startin’ with the maaan in the miiirror.

AAAAAND we’re in Oz.
Or just color.
Or present day. Or half a second after we jumped in time.
So Spencer just completely lost touch with reality for awhile there and maybe has some mental health issues she should address at a later time.


What I’m saying is, this Spemilanna fanfic gave me some really good ideas for later.

She grabs the diary, remembering that she needs to look at the pages, not the book. She has Hanna and Emily come over to talk about how now the the book is a trojan horse. There are little changes to the pages. Nice catch, Spence! Names of things were changed: a pavilion, a cute girl becomes cute guy… It’d be minor changes they wouldn’t notice if Spencer hadn’t taken photos.

“A doesn’t know that I have the original pictures on my phone,” says Spencer, while I begin yelling, “BACK IT UP ON TWELVE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES IMMEDIATELY.”

Well this sure as hell isn't Syracuse and I'm almost positive that's not Byron, so.

Well this sure as hell isn’t Syracuse and I’m almost positive that’s not Byron, so.

They go to Aria’s house to stake out her porch until she comes back, and Emily calls her while Hanna looks in the window to find Aria and Ezra kissing! Dun dun dunnnnn.


STOPPPPP was also my main thoughts during the flashback scene, A!

In A-land, which is also in 1940, we see Ali’s dressing room and shards of glass. There’s a telegram from A, telling Ali (presumably) to break a leg.

What we learned:

– A changed minor parts of the diary.
– …What else can we honestly trust from this episode?

A lot happened or very little happened. I can’t tell. But you know what did happen? Paige and Emily sex. So that’s what I call a good episode.

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Hansen is the former DIY & Food Editor of and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She teaches creative writing at Colorado State University and is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in her free time.

Hansen has written 189 articles for us.


  1. They weren’t martini glasses – they were champagne coupes! It’s a different way to drink champagne. Legend has it that Louis XVI had the glasses designed based on a mold of Marie Antoinette’s breast so when you hold a champagne coupe… it’s like you are cupping Marie Antoinette’s breast. Gay.

  2. I think all of things Tobey said in this episode were more conversations Spencer was having with herself (cause really? Tobey as a detective?). So although Ali is indeed sad and desperate I do also feel like she is desperate enough to be setting them up for something bad. The liars are close to something and that normally means them getting in trouble or nearly killed.

    • I’m so sad to hear that the Erie Canal Museum opened in the 60s because, when I saw the garbage disposal scene, I was sure it was anachronistic and went and looked it up. But garbage disposals have actually been around since the late 20s/early 30s. Oh well, I guess at the very least I learned some history.

      I have heard that a lot of people hated this episode but I actually kind of loved it. Like, let’s be honest with ourselves: PLL usually makes no sense and the actors are mostly very attractive and very bad at acting. The episodes directly before this one were almost painful. I laughed out loud when they pulled a note out of Hannah’s teeth and read it with a magnifying glass. Like, WTF? So when we got a fun trip into Spencer’s (gay) sub-conscious complete with noir-style cinematograpy and 40s clothing and makeup, I was actually so happy. The inconsistencies of the episode were now artistic interpretations of the show/Spencer’s perceptions instead of lazy writing and bad acting.

      In that context, it totally made sense to me that Toby was some kind of weird (and really annoying) detective guy because, as the other Amanda mentioned above, he was like another manifestation of her, pushing her towards the right answer. The only thing that bothers me is that we are somehow supposed to totally forgive and forget that Toby acted as A/lied to everyone/was awful because Spencer loves him, while we continue to hate Mona and doubt her every move. But Mona seems just as trustworthy as Toby to me (and more attractive and interesting).

      Anyway, I am interested to see what they do with the Ezra story line because they are being so over the top about him being A that I just can’t believe that he really is. Like, within four episodes or something he went from being someone who could have normal, empathic conversations with people to sounding like a robot trying to imitate human expression and emotion and failing miserably.

      • Hmm this was not supposed to be a reply but Autostraddle was spazzing out on my computer so I guess that’s cool…

  3. This episode confused me so much.

    I don’t even know what happened. Except that Spencer is now the gayest of them all. Her subconscious(?) not only makes Hanna “president of the man-haters club” and has Aria of all people making vague allusions to lesbianism, but she also fantasizes about Emily and Paige making sweet sweet lady love. And, on top of all that, she continues this weird, (but not unwelcome) homoerotic power game with Ali.

    This show………….

    • I was going to say the exact same thing. “Figures that the only time Emily and Paige have sex is when Spencer’s imagining it. GAAAAAAAAYYYY~~”

  4. OMG! Joseph Dougherty who wrote and directed this episode (and is a huge Paily fan who has written kindle worlds stories about them) sure nailed it! From Ellen Page’s wikipedia bio: “Growing up, Page enjoyed playing with action figures and climbing trees.” As Aria would say, what a tomboy. ;D

    Great recap Hansen! <3

  5. I agree Paige’s outfit is terrible. Her hair though, is totally the hairstyle they gave the “quirky best friend” in the 1940s and in Noir films. I think it’s very interesting they mix the “best friend” aspect of Paige with the total romance- wind and curtains blowing, swelling music, etc. Well played, PLL.

  6. The guy that plays Toby CAN-NOT-ACT. Ugh, this was already cheese but he made it powdered cheese.

    I daydream a lot (without substances) just like Spencers lil, thing – i’m a writer and also very well aware of my mental issues! Gotta use what cha got.

    This episode was all about casual lesbian references to me. And then lesbian makeout parties. And Ashley Benson being perfect.

    Ezra’s not a bad guy, questionable in his methods, but not an enemy. I think he truly loves Aria too, but with things getting too close for comfort with him he’s becoming slightly unhinged bc he’s been able to keep his deal so tightly under wraps. (spoiler i guess: I’m pretty sure he’s either a PI, or just a rouge anti-a protect these girls guy, and has something to do with the real bad ppl).

    This week has been super gay with all the olympics lgbt protests/supporters, gay football player support/ellen page, PLL makeouts.

    • I typically find Toby’s affect odd. I cant’ tell if the actor can’t act or if he’s just like that. Either way him forcing the 40’s manner of speech exacerbated my “OHMYGAH HE CANNOT ACTTTT” feels. He’s the only one who made me feel that way. acting wise.

    • At first I was like, “why is Toby speaking like that when Spencer is speaking normally?” Then I realized that Toby isn’t actually himself in her dream, he’s Spencer’s conscience so I *think* that was a directional move… having him speak/act very 1940s because he/her brain was pushing the “plot” vs. everyone else just kind of in the story as Spencer imagined it. I don’t know.

    • Am I the only one who thought that Toby as a 1940s detective seemed more of a natural fit then Toby as a high school student?

  7. Can someone make a list of eps with Pemily in? Or can they get a canoeing holiday spin off? Basically at this point I just need that.

  8. “Toby” was actually Spencer’s conscience. She was basically bullying herself to the truth. But also, she made out with herself. lolol.

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