Previously on Pretty Little Liars, this girl with big glasses on her face came to Rosewood pretending to be Mona’s best friend, which caused both Mike and Hanna to spiral down a jealous rabbit hole. Mike mostly just stomped around in the rabbit hole, while Hanna channeled her feelings into lesbian sleepover flashbacks, one of which was Mona’s Adrenalized Hyperreality origin story. (Plot: Mona wanted Adrenalized Hyperreality. She willed herself to have it. The end.) Also Hanna found a cassette* tape of Bethany Young plotting to murder someone on Endless Labor Day. Johnny came thiiiiiis close to convincing Spencer to become a pig farmer instead of going to college. Aria was awesome because Ezra was Out of Town, which is exactly what she said in her Talmadge essay that Ezra knows is the truth but she still thinks is a lie. And Emily and Talia made out with their mouthparts after whispering into Johnny’s secret-stealing machine.
* A cassette is like a CD** that is shaped like little rectangle that’s the size of your phone but can only hold 12 songs.
** A CD is like an MP3 that lives on a little silver disc that’s the size of a tea*** saucer but can only hold 18 songs.
*** Tea is what people drink when they don’t want to drink coffee because they hate life.
I want you to think for a second about what is the dumbest possible thing you could do in Rosewood, PA besides giving a person in the woods your face or ever talking to a man. Everybody think about the answer and we’ll all say it out loud on the count of three. Ready? One. Two. Three. LETTING SOMEONE HAVE YOUR BLOOD. Correct. Good job!
If you live in Rosewood, PA and are not a ghost like Caleb or a witch like The Grunwald, and so you have blood in your body, the most important thing you can do is guard that blood with all your strength and wit, because: DNA. So of course the Liars go to a blood drive at school and give away one gallon of blood each. Well, all the Liars except for Emily because she went to Haiti to build houses after Maya died and so she’s banned from donating. She tries to eat some of the sugary treats anyway, but Aria and Spencer steal them away, which is for the best, really, because can you imagine what would happen if their blood sugar dropped at the same time? Mayhem, at the very least. Someone would probably die.
Ashley Marin is hosting this blood drive for Pastor Ted but no ladies from the church show up because somehow they know she broke his silver foxy heart. Probably she hasn’t been coming to church and he’s been preaching nonstop from Job. Probably that’s how they know. Also probably they hate her because of the time she accidentally slipped up saying the Lord’s Prayer, like, “Our Savior who art in heaven, Pinot be thy name, thy red grapes come, thy ferment be done, in the bottle in my refrigerator as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily buzz, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven the fake architects who tried to steal back the money we stole from dead old ladies. Lead us not into Rosé, deliver us from Riesling, for thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever. Amen.”
While the Liars are taking away all of Emily’s sweet treats, Mike knocks over a giant metal tray of glass or something, making the loudest CLANG-A-LANG-LANG! noise you’ve heard since Spencer tried to sneak up on Emily and Alison in that warehouse that time. Obviously he is there to steal everyone’s blood.
Aria doesn’t want to deal with that, though! For one thing, Mike threatened to kill her last week when she asked him who he was leaving a sack of gummy bears for down at Face Lake. And for another thing, she’s got a math test. It’s an impossible math test. Not just because math is a satanic ritual, but also because the first question is “Solve for A.” Which, frankly: The limit does not exist. So Aria goes on ahead and cheats right off of Andrew’s paper because that boy is only good for test answers and dealing drugs and getting Spencer to take off her bra. Andrew notices Aria cheating and sort of bullies her into accepting tutoring in exchange for him not tattling on her.
Hanna — god, this storyline is so heartbreaking. Hanna goes to Spencer to ask about getting financial aid for college because she didn’t get any scholarship offers and she’s not eligible for any grants or anything. Spencer takes a look at her paperwork and, lo! It is her shithead father who is making too much money and that’s why she’s not eligible for any monies. I find it very hard to believe that Mona didn’t have a college fund set up for Hanna in the event of her untimely ascension to her throne in the celestial portal of eternity. Maybe we just don’t know about it yet. Mona did love a good treasure map.
Talia and Emily ride bikes through Koatohee National Forest, just rolling through at a leisurely pace, chatting idly about whatever early-dates thing. It’s a nice visual because I’ll bet if she was riding bikes with Paige in the woods it’d be a race because Paige is never not full-on McCullersing everything, and never not challenging Emily to be even better than she already is — and with Talia, it’s a breezy thing, a not-heavy thing, only the words and not the million-billion things underneath the words. They pull up at the spot of Talia’s first kiss. Fourth grade. A boy with the face of a frog. Talia didn’t like it. She wants to know about Emily’s first kiss. (Ninth grade. Girl with the face you seen on every person wearing a mask in this town. Emily loved it.) But Emily doesn’t want to talk about that.
Talia: Okay, that’s cool. Too intense. I get it. Um, so what’s your biggest fear?
What Emily doesn’t say: That my boobs are dark magic and everyone who touches them dies. The hole in Spencer’s back yard where 50 percent of my girlfriends end up buried. Sports cream. My mom. Buildings that come to life to murder me. (Schools, greenhouses, barns especially.) Dolls. Fashion shows. Chinese food. Hoodies. Cops. Cars. Mushy squash.
What Emily does say: Here’s a kiss on the spot of your first kiss! A redo!
Talia: I have secrets too, you know.
Emily: As long as one of them doesn’t kidnap Paige and stuff her in a trunk, I think we’re good.
Emily: I don’t want to talk about that.
Ashley is sitting at home in the dark, clutching her wine, fretting about the fate of her relationship with Pastor Ted. Turns out she told him yes, she’d marry him. And also yes, she boned Jason DiLaurentis. He didn’t ask about that second thing, but Ashley told him anyway. This is the state Hanna finds Ashley in when she arrives home, and because she is Hanna, she stuffs her college acceptance letters and financial aid info and hopes and dreams down into her purse and sets to work preparing dinner and mending her mother’s broken heart.
Date night! Aria and Spencer talk on the phone about how girls rule and boys drool, and also about how Aria will keep an eye on Mike if Spencer will promise not to turn him over to the police or pit wolves or whatever for stealing their blood. (Aria doesn’t really believe he stole their blood.) They make smooch noises into the phone and hang up and then the opposite of a smooch noises shiftily shifts into Spencer’s kitchen. I am talking about Johnny. He tells her he booked a gig painting a mural at Hollis tonight, in the middle of the night, and she should come along for fun and wear all black and gloves and not tell anyone where she’s going and no flashlights.
I feel like, at this point, the only way any of the Liars should be allowed to hang out with anyone outside of the Core Seven (Liars plus Toby, Caleb, Paige) or the Liars’ Moms is if they get written permission from Hanna and it’s for a prescribed meeting situation. Who, how long, in what well-lit place. Johnny would not pass Marin Muster, I guarantee you that.
But Spencer’s going with him because he’s dangling that no-college carrot in front of her face and she is flat done being fucked by the system.
Aria answers Mike’s cell phone and it’s jail calling for Hank Mahoney. Aria marches right up to Mike’s room shouting about, “And who is Hank Mahoney, huh? Is that the person you’re leaving gummy bears for in the woods? Is Hank Mahoney some weird code name that really means Hanna Marin? Is Hank Mahoney Alison, dude? Because I know you had a fight with Mona the night before she died and that Alison is a wizard and I can’t piece together why that’s any of Hank Mahoney’s business or what it has to do with you stealing blood and walking around dressed like Toby Cavanaugh right now, but maybe that’s because I lost a pint of blood earlier!” Mike slams the door in her face.
Inside his bedroom, Mike Gchats Hank Mahoney about how he’s got the goods and the goods is blood and he’ll bring the goods to him tomorrow. Remember when we thought Mike was A+, but he was just depressed? What if this time we think Mike is A+, but he’s just involved in some kind of blood doping scheme? Remember when he lived under the porch and ate Doritos?
At Hollis, on the dilapidated part of campus, Spencer and Johnny set up a ladder and get to work on his totally legitimately commissioned art installation. He talks about how he’s not good at choosing girls who are interested in dating him and she talks about how she is good at literally everything. He paints, and then he goads her into painting. She falls off the ladder, he catches her and stares deeply into her eyes until she blinds him with her headlamp. This clown is like if a John Hughes movie mated with Will Schuester and they left their baby to be raised by a colony of feral cats in Williamsburg. I hate him so much. He’s so proud of himself, like he’s inspiring Spencer to follow her truth by tricking her into committing vandalism. And I don’t care about the vandalism. I love when A spray paints all over shit. It’s the smug, insufferable Johnny Knows Best thing he’s doing. I hope Emily stabs him.
Speaking of which lesbian rage, she’s just cleaning up at the Book Shoppe while Ezra does paperwork, and because she has been trained by Spencer these many years, she can’t help but sneaky-peek at what he’s reading in case any of the confidential employment files contain information pertinent to keeping them out of jail, or are able to inspire flashbacks to information it would have been useful to disclose to the group in season one.
She does not peep any of that kind of data. But what she does peep is Talia’s last name, which is not the same as the last name she told Emily, because she has two last names, because Talia is married.
Emily plays it cool the next day at work, refusing to confront Talia with these new truths until Talia tries to feed Emily some plum pudding and Emily bites the spoon in half. Talia’s like, “Oh, hey now. Are you okay?” And no! Emily is not okay! She does not understand how a person can say they like her, can smooch her on her face, and the whole time be married and not telling her about it! It’s no “I’ve been faking my death for two years,” in terms of secrets, but Emily is very displeased.
She only gets angrier and more suspicious when she sees Mike withdrawing $400 cash from bank account with $18,000 in it. If that’s the college fund Mona left Hanna, Mike, I swear to God.
In the local paper the next day, Spencer is shocked to find a front page story about vandalism at Hollis College. Usually, it is a front page story about a teenage girl being murdered. Well, she marches right out into the yard and lights into Johnny about how she is always — literally every single second of the day — one step away from going to jail for first degree murder. Okay, and when that is your life, you cannot also add charges to your record for defacing public property. He’s like, “I was just trying to help you learn to ‘color outside the lines.'” And she’s like, “Shove your metaphors up your butt!”
Andrew shows up to tutor Aria in “math and science” because “Fitz” isn’t very good at those subjects. That’s what Andrew says. “Math and science.” And “Fitz.” Aria is distracted because she can’t stop thinking about how jail called her brother, and her brother is a blood-stealer, and her brother leaves candy for strangers in the forest, and her is phone dinging with messages from Hanna about her brother. Andrew grabs her phone away from her and tries to make it into some kind of physics question and then reads her texts right off the screen.
Where is Caleb? Where is Toby? I have had it with these new dudes! I am not going crazy. This is not my lesbianism talking. Johnny is awful and that little move by Andrew would cause him to go home with a hook-hand if he did that to me!
And just as I wish for that, Emily comes bursting through the door, wide-eyed and frantic! Where is your knife, girl? Sadly, she has no knives. But she does have information about the zillions of dollars Mike has in the bank. He drives away real fast before they can question him, and since Aria refuses to ride on Emily’s bike handlebars, they recruit Andrew to drive them on a stakeout.
Hanna tries to talk to Ashley about how her dad makes too much money for her to get financial aid to go to college, but Ashley tells her not even to try to talk to him because the terms of their divorce were: Absolute Abandonment. But Hanna has to try anyway. She goes to her dad’s office and he tells her he cannot pay for her to go to Ballard because he has promised horrible Kate — who alcohol poisoned Hanna one time, and Mamaw Marin yelled her her like an angel would — that he will pay for her to go to Dartmouth.
Ugh, that’s it. Everyone in the invisible jet. We’re going to live on Paradise Island. #EndOfMen (Except Toby and Caleb.) (And Holden. I liked that little hobbit.) (And Mr. Fields.) (Travis was good, too. Travis can come with us.) (Actually, no. Everybody out of the invisible jet. This is all Johnny’s fault.) #EndOfJohnny
Spencer is in the middle of drafting an email to Melissa about how she needs Wren’s help to get into Oxford, when she receives a text from Emily telling her to come to their stakeout of Mike.
The stakeout is at some dive bar in the woods, and the person Mike is meeting is Cyrus, the guy who kidnapped Ali (or fake-kidnapped Ali; I honestly can’t remember) and but Ali wouldn’t make a statement about it until the police let him go? I think he cut her, though, for real, in a basement. Anyway, he’s also Hank Mahoney. Mike gives him the blood for blood doping and/or implicating his sister and her friends in the death of his girlfriend. If this is some kind of long game for Ali to get the Liars into jail so they’ll be forced to talk to her, bravo. Triple bravo if I can see her face on my TV again.
Ezra is a black hole. Observe as Hanna is drawn away from the main storyline of all the other Liars and coerced into long conversations in which he charms her with tales of when he was just a young, handsome billionaire who’d been cut off from his family, dressed like a hot dog, begging for porridge and spare change on the mean streets of Rosewood so he could put himself through college. And he did! And not only did he achieve a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for teaching the world’s longest curriculum on The Great Gatsby; he also ultimately saved up enough money to purchase more surveillance equipment than the NSA! Hanna claws herself away from his electromagnetic radiation, and on the way out the door, she spots a flyer for a beauty pagent. The prize: One (1) college education!
Spencer: I am here now. What is happening?
Aria: Mike’s giving money to the guy who (fake?) kidnapped Ali.
Spencer: Everybody’s a fucking creep.
Aria’s phone: [Rings]
Emily: Oh, is that Ezra? I told him you got into college in Savannah, by the way.
Spencer: I know you’re probably missing Paige, Ems, but at least whatever is going on in your love life is better than if you were dealing with one of our young men.
Emily: No, stop. Toby is a good guy. I’m sorry, but you’re the one who is being a rat bastard right now, Spencer.
Spencer: That’s not what Johnny says.
They get a text from A with a photo of their blood samples, and realize Mike already skedaddled and Cyrus is about to run their asses over with his little moped. He tells them he doesn’t like to be followed and they tell him all the want is what he took from them and he says he’d be willing to work out a trade and Andrew comes screeching onto the scene with a baseball bat like he thinks he’s Prince Charming. Cyrus rolls his eyes and drives his electric scooter away. (Seriously, it’s so quiet! It’s very funny!) And the Liars glare at Andrew.
At home, Ashley tells Hanna they’ll figure out college and not to worry about it. Bank robbin’ time, yes, ladies? (Yes!)
At home, Spencer tells Johnny she realizes she’s been eating his frozen mac and cheese and to make it up to him, he can have all their trash for his art. “Art.”
At home, Talia is waiting on Emily. See, the deal is that she’s still married to her husband and she loves him, but not romantically, and he knows she’s into girls and he’s okay with it, because they got married really young and their skulls were still a little soft.
Talia: I know, I’m a mess. I get it. You probably can’t even imagine a mess like this one, romantically. You’ve probably never even broken up with your long term girlfriend because she kept accusing you of having secret meetings with your dead girlfriend, and then slept with your dead girlfriend who wasn’t really dead, and then gotten back together with your long term girlfriend who had been bullied into the closet by the dead girlfriend before she fake died.
Emily: I don’t want to talk about it.
They hold hands and feel like maybe they can work something out, scissor-wise, at least until Paige comes back for prom.
The Liars have a sleepover and discuss how they should honestly have just become lesbians and gone to Haiti with Emily that summer when she built houses with Rumer Willis. When Spencer goes downstairs to get some blankets, Mike stares at her from the porch like a creeping creeper.
The Risen Mitten drops Hanna’s blood all over some couch cushions or a flower dress or something. I guess she’s the first one Ali wants to schedule a meeting with!
Thank you to all of you for being so patient for this week’s recap. It’s been a week over here! Also, thank you for always and forever to Nicole (@PLLBigA) for these beautiful screencaps and for all those Hannily dance scenes she keeps posting on Twitter.