Pretty Little Liars Episode 608 Recap: New Romantics

Charles is watching a security feed of the museum when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Red Coat! RED COAT! Sara? Bethany? Cece? Vivian? MONA? On the table is that clown bank where A deposited all those lasagna dollars she stole from Hanna’s house. That was when A was Mona, and this episode was all about “follow the money,” so is that a thing? IS ANYTHING A THING?

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Still more interesting than the last season of Warehouse 13.

Okay, and guess who else is tag-teaming in this episode? Aria and Emily! My heart is alive with the sound of music! Liars being with Liars is the best part of this show! They’re trying to decide what Aria should wear to the gallery opening. Emily says everyone dresses like Aria at SCAD so do it like she does it and enjoy the uniqueness while it lasts. Then, Emily finds Aria’s prom dress in the back of her closet in a bag, which makes her sad for many reasons. The theme of Rosewood prom is Forbidden Forest or something like that, and so she knows what’s in the bag is fully Maleficent with a couple of live crows probably, and also the Liars’ moms got an email from the principal saying they can’t come to prom because every time they show up at a school function — especially a dance — a hundred grown men descend on the place like a swarm of predators.

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I really want to slow dance with you.

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I can’t, you’ll die.

Aria: Do you have a prom date?
Emily: No, but my bloodlust always kicks in at dances, so that’s probably for the best. I think you remember the Great Hay Stabbing of season four.
Aria: Would you like to go to prom with me? I’ll buy you a corsage. I’ll slow dance with you. I’ll get you better than anyone you’ve dated ever has or ever could because I’ve been in it with you, all along.
Emily: I kind of want to go with Sara Harvey.
Aria: Are you fucking kidding me? You know if this had been Hanna asking you and you’d said no, the internet would be burned to the ground by now? It’d be fully District 12 in here.
Emily: Maybe you could ask Clark. He’s one of the few guys who isn’t yet complicit in getting us killed all the time.
Aria: Ezra doesn’t trust Clark.
Emily: 

They flop down on the bed like Aria and Spencer did that time when Spencer told the story about shaving off her dad’s sideburns for a couple of bucks from Nana. They talk about how Emily has leveled up way too high in the game of Lesbian Kissing to be falling in love with a girl just because their lips touched, like at this point she doesn’t even get XP unless she’s fully scissoring. And they talk about how Aria, who defined herself in relation to a man for the majority of her high school career, is cool going to prom by herself and infinitely more interesting when she’s living her life her way and involved in the same show as the other Liars. They laugh, they know each other so well. LIARS WITH LIARS IS MY EVERYTHING.

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McHastings. Please.

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Hanna and Spencer are doing it! After three seconds of plotting, they have waltzed into the Carissimi Group to speak to Rhys Matthews and assess his character/resemblance to any DiLaurentis. Hanna thinks there’s a secret passage behind every bookcase, a secret spy room behind every mirror. However, she doesn’t want to pass up this opportunity to enjoy the fanciness of such a place, so she does order one bubbly water from an assistant. Spencer tells Hanna to cool it and Hanna tells Spencer to stop being rude, and then Rhys Matthews walks in the room legit looking like the perfect mash-up of Jason DiLaurentis’ and Dr. Wren Kingston’s DNA, dressed and talking like Christian fucking Grey. I honest to God thought he was CGI for nearly this whole scene. There is no possible way they found a guy who looks like Jason and Wren’s baby. How? HOW! He has Jason’s hair and chin but his Wren’s eyes and mouth, and at one point he smiles like a puppet Wren is controlling. His cheeks even fold the same was as Jason’s. It’s crazy!

Rhys Matthews: My tastes are very singular.
Hanna: Uh, my tastes are the same as a raccoon’s? I want to return this scholarship.
Rhys Matthews: I like to see your face. Gives me some clue what you might be thinking.
Spencer: We’re thinking we would like to talk to your boss, or get his email address, or that you would say his name out loud to us.
Rhys Matthews: Your body tells me something different.
Hanna: Jesus Christ, every man in this goddamn town.
Rhys Matthews: It’s important that you know you can leave at anytime.
Spencer: Yeah, good call. We gotta bounce.
Rhys Matthews: What is it about elevators?
Hanna: Wait, have you ever fallen down an elevator shaft and survived?
Spencer: Ignore her. We need to go.

On the way out, Hanna sneaky-takes a photo of Rhys and then comments on all the high security panels everywhere and kind of wishes they’d brought Mona along for some black ops.

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Cece Drake? Never heard of her. Can I get you an Americano?

Regatta Gala time! The Liars arrive and mingle with the seventy undercover police officers who are monitoring the place. Aria has completely reversed course and is suddenly panicked about not having a date to prom. Her first order of business is to march up to Ezra and ask him, but he’s here with a date and it’s Nicole from Habitat for Humanity. Aria can’t see that they’re both there because they’re using each other — Nicole to stay in the same town as Emily, so she doesn’t miss her chance to swoop in when her latest girlfriend dies; and Ezra to make the latest middle schooler he’s dating jealous. Aria feels weird, so she dogpiles Clark, who has no friends or family in attendance like a regular old Sara Harvey.

A fierce, amazing bald lady talks about art for a minute and then opens the gallery curtain to reveal the finalists in the photo competition. Aria Montgomery’s name is front and center, but instead of her 50 Shades of Porcelain Dolls photos, it’s four photos of the Liars on gurneys, covered in sheets like dead people, from when they were in the dollhouse. All four of them have hardcore horrific flashbacks.

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Tanner: Dang! Foiled again!
Ella: I am going to murder you right now, and you know what? I won’t go to jail for it! Because these police officers won’t be able to build a case against me, even though they watched me strangle you with my bare hands, because you guys are the LITERAL WORST at doing your job! That guy who steered the Titanic straight into an iceberg and sank an unsinkable ship? Still better at his job than you!
Tanner: If that’s true, how come these photos are labeled “No Son Lindas” which means “They Are Not Pretty” which I know because A left this note for me because of my Latina heritage, which clues I am stitching together right before your eyes to determine that: this is somehow Alison’s fault.
Aria: I’m starting to think you’re A.
Tanner: WELL TUMBLR THINKS YOU’RE A.
Ella: Enough of this fuckery! Aria, we’re going home! If there are bees in my air conditioner, I will come back in here and stab you to death, Detective!

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Her form isn’t where it should be at this age. I really don’t think she has a future as a professional ballerina.

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HANNA MARIN IS THE BEST GODDAMN DANCER AT THE AMERICAN BALLET ACADEMY! WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?

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NOBODY!

The other Liars spy Rhys outside the gallery, chatting merrily on his phone. Emily knows it’s Rhys because Spencer and Hanna showed her the photo on Hanna’s phone and then spent fifteen minutes explaining the ways it wasn’t Jason. The lesbian having straight white male face blindness: realest thing to ever happen in Rosewood. Anyway, once Rhys zooms off into the night, the Liars hop into the car and drive after him.

While all of this is going on, Alison uses Lorenzo’s keycard to sneak into RPD and root around in the evidence room to see what they’ve got on Charles. She’s looking at a whiteboard full of words that could very easily have described her back when she was dead and a boss ass bitch. Also, there are lots of old family keepsakes RPD recovered from the dollhouse and shit Vernon handed over after he returned from his mini-vacay at the Holiday Inn in Out of Town. While she’s creeping, the lights come on and Detective Tanner steps in and goes, “You’ve crossed a line this time, young lady!”

Like, faking your own death, that was annoying. But now you’ve broken into the police station to look around! You have crossed a line!

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I’m an art critic and a dance instructor. When am I supposed to find time to be the police?

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Can I have some of these gummy bears?

Alison mainly wants to know if Tanner & Co. are going to shoot her brother on sight when they find him, and Tanner says yes, which is the best joke I have ever heard. These clowns couldn’t find some bananas in a banana store. Also, what are they going to do? Just start shooting every person they see wearing a mask? The whole town will be dead by Tuesday. That guy in the woods with the faces makes more money than Wal-Mart. Alison is heartbroken, though. Her heart is the only thing that works on her these days. Her brain is tragically out of order.

Outside the gallery, Aria explains her PTSD to Ezra, about how cold she is all the time, and he tells her to stop being so glum; he’s not really dating Nicole. Aria’s still got a few more weeks left of high school. They can get back together until she reaches full adulthood.

The Liars follow Rhys to some abandoned building and then watch as Clark shows up and goes inside. Still reeling from their dollhouse flashbacks at the gallery, they decide not to follow him to their deaths, for once in their lives. But they do realize they have to go tell Aria. It makes Spencer want to throw up, even thinking about it.

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Now how do you feel about turning down Aria’s prom invite, Em?

Lorenzo’s apartment.

Lorenzo: I thought you were here to do my housework and kiss me! But that was a lie!
Alison: Yep, that’s what I do.
Lorenzo: The pain I feel at being betrayed by you, and also the excruciating bruise on my bicep from a tennis ball, is so much more relevant and real than the pain you must be feeling from being hunted down like prey for your entire life! I cannot understand why you would want to see the evidence we have on Charles! We’re doing such a good job keeping you all safe from him!
Alison: True, and obviously I can trust you to use your power for good, as demonstrated by the other policemen I’ve personally dealt with, including Detective Wilden, Detective Holbrook, and Office Garrett, who molested me and my friends and at least one of our moms; and Detective Tanner, who keeps throwing me in jail for crimes I didn’t commit.
Lorenzo: You are the monster in this situation.
Alison: Yes, that makes perfect sense. I’ll go now.
Lorenzo: THROW YOURSELF INTO THE SEA!

Ella goes to Ashley’s to drink wine and talk about how maybe the police aren’t very good at keeping their daughters safe. It’s a conversation they should have had in the pilot episode, but better late than never, I guess. They might enjoy it even more if they make out a little bit afterwards. Just an idea I had.

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Coffee?

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Did you give all the boxed wine and string cheese to your other girlfriend?

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Ellabae, no! You’re my only girlfriend! Hanna fed the cheese and wine to a raccoon.

The Liars descend upon Aria’s house to break the bad news about Clark. On the downside, he sneaked into a derelict building in the middle of the night to meet up with Jason and Wren’s giant human baby. On the upside, if he’s been keeping notes on Aria, it’s only a couple of weeks worth, and nothing like the entire warehouse full of records Ezra has on her. Hey, and if he really liked her — like really, really liked her — that’s what counts in the end.

The Risen Mitten packs his Forbidden Forest prom gear into the back of a limo and hops inside. Red Coat reaches back to give him his ticket to the big event, and drives away into the night. Wolves howl. Coyotes wail. A bobcat screams like a teenage lesbian getting murdered. Or is it a real teenage lesbian getting murdered? No, it’s a bobcat.

Actually, it’s probably both.

Thank you as always and forever to Nicole (@PLLBigA) for the screencaps. Follow her, end up like her.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1348 articles for us.

105 Comments

  1. Your “facts” against Ezra aren’t even true, Heather. “Stalked her for 2 years”, it hasn’t even been 2 years since the pilot episode on the show. So that makes no sense. And it’s kind of hard for him to intervene and help about A when he didn’t even know about A? He also kind of got shot to protect all of them. Hate him, whatever. But you can at least stop making up bogus “facts” and stop pretending like he’s never done anything to protect and help Aria.

    • Are we watching the same show?

      Heather your recaps are amazing and make my week! I look like a crazy person at work, sitting in my cubicle hysterically laughing. Thank you!

    • Aw, man, Kay, you’re breaking my heart defending Ezra. Look, the timeline is irrelevant. On this show, in general; but with Ezra, specifically. Because these are the hard facts:

      He seduced an underage girl with the full knowledge that she was: a) underage and b) that he would be in a position of authority over her in less than 24 hours. He did that with the intention of exploiting her for information about her dead best friend so that he could profit by writing a book about her death. And then, without Aria’s knowledge or permission, he recorded her and her friends at multiple locations for a significant period of time out of a command center that looked like an NSA sting operation. He watched awful shit happen to them and he didn’t do anything to stop it.

      It doesn’t matter how long Ezra did it. It doesn’t matter that he’s tried to protect Aria and her friends since then. He preyed on her and stalked her. Those are the facts. I didn’t make up the story. I’m just repeating back what happened.

      I love Ian Harding. I have mad respect for him. But Ezra Fitz is a predator.

      • I actually really really hope they reveal that Ezra is Big A and always has been. As much as I despise him, he’s still a much more interesting villain than all the other creepy white dudes that have been on the show. And like you said, I think that’s largely because of Ian Harding. He’s just a better actor than a lot of the pretty boys that have been on the show. But also, I want him to be the main villain because I don’t want this show that I love so much to let him get away with what he did.

        • Yeah, that’s me too. I love this show so enormously and it has been such an honor to write about it all these years as the culture has shifted in such revolutionary ways — but god dang, it’s going to upset me so much if Ezra comes out of this thing with Aria on his arm, like some kind of hero. The writers miscalculated worse than I’ve ever seen writers miscalculate if they thought they were going to be able to redeem him after revealing that he’d known who Aria was all along and also stalked her. It rewrote the entire show from the beginning; you can’t walk that back.

          I think Ian Harding would like to play that too. He must be bored out of his mind right now with what he’s working with.

          • I don’t think ezria is (god help me for even using the term) endgame. I think the miscalculation by the writers was that ezria’s 5b-6a storyline needed to come BEFORE the ezrA reveal. ezrA needed to be the final nail not the first of many.

      • The timeline is relevant, how ever absurd the way time passes on the show is, Ezra’s stalking activities are entirely located within season 4, no other season. He came with a plan to write the book, but he abandoned it pretty quickly, it retarded only after he and Aria broke up.

          • Heather, don’t be downhearted (re: Tumblr and the Ezra fans). The thing you wrote before and re-posted there about Ezra and rape culture and tv was like the best piece of writing about television I’ve ever read. My guess is that everyone who sticks up for Ezra is young. Like, super young. None of us understood all of the complexities of the rape culture we were newly trying to navigate back then. Not like we do now. It’s almost like Stockholm syndrome when you’re young. It’s like “It’s fine. I’m in control. I said IT’S FINE.”

            Or to put it into longform, it’s like: “So I’m fifteen and I’m not really equipped to navigate the complexities of liking the fact that that guy wants me because if a guy wants me I must be f*ckable and therefore valid and also I have actual sexual feelings of my own but ANYWAY. And I’m also feeling really uncomfortable with the way it feels like said guy wants to take control or is in control of the situation. And I only just grew these boobs like 3 years ago so will guys stop looking at them? But don’t really stop looking at them because that would mean I was ugly and unwanted. And all of that is enough to deal with without the fact that you’re yelling at me for liking Ezra Fitz and the thing is if Ezra is a predator than a lot of the guys I’ve met so far are too and there’s no way I can face that because that means I wouldn’t have been as in control as I have told myself I’ve been, and I just want things to be simple so I’m going to pretend that they are.”

            Oh, wait. I was trying to cheer you up.

            Well, all of Ezra’s Children someday grow up. And we work really hard to cast off the bullshit we internalized during puberty and some of us go gay and we read a lot of feminist stuff like Heather Hogan’s PLL recaps and pretty soon we’re the Dumbledore’s Army of Happy Queer Feminism and it’s somewhat thanks to you. So thank you for that and for everything you write. Ezra’s Children will thank you too, someday. Just not yet.

          • I’ve been wanting to talk about Ezria for a while now. When the show just started, I couldn’t for the life of me understand what the big deal was about the age difference; he was such a puppy dog back then, the picture of harmlessness and innocence, sweet, sensitive and seemingly respectful. I remember Heather including photos of Ezria’s future children in one of her recaps; they were all puppies with big teary eyes. And I remember how Heather once said that the show was making every effort to let us know Aria was in charge and nothing would every happen between them that she wasn’t 100% okay with. But then they changed that, the writers went and rewrote that whole storyline and the relationship was altered irrevocably. When that happened, I think we were all forced to acknowledge the fact that the Ezra we were served before was in fact an unlikely character and a very dangerous fantasy to entertain. And as that was happening I was reevaluating my high school experiences, and it suddenly occurred to me that when I was 15 (and attempting to be a normal high school girl) I dated a guy who was 21. 21! And NO ONE in my environment thought to object. No one thought that was the slightest bit inappropriate, let alone downright creepy. After a few months of dating, he told me you were expected to have sex with a guy once you have dated him for three months total. I laughed to his face – thank heavens I didn’t fall for that – but I continued to date him because all my friends were exposed to this type of pressure, they all had to navigate the treacherous waters of dating a guy as best they could. So my friends and I just laughed at this attempt to coax/convince me into having sex (at 15), and I continued to cope with his sexual demands and expectations, his relentless attempts to undress and touch me. And he was just one of many young men and boys who behaved this way.

            It took me a long time to realize how messed up this all was and how not okay it was. Like queer girl says below “if Ezra is a predator than a lot of the guys I’ve met so far are too and there’s no way I can face that because that means I wouldn’t have been as in control as I have told myself I’ve been, and I just want things to be simple.” It’s hard as hell to face the truth of what has happened to you while you were being told everything was fine and normal, even though it felt depressing and dangerous and incredibly invasive. It’s profoundly unsettling to come face to face with the truth of how affected we are by the stories our culture tells us, to the point where we’ll suppress our genuine response in favor of a socially acceptable one.

            Which is why the corruption of the Ezria storyline was such an important development, and why I am so grateful for it and to you, Heather, for writing about it and influencing the way we perceive predatory behavior. You are making it harder for rape culture to thrive, and you’re my hero for it. Thank you! I know it must be hard to face such staunch opposition, but trust me when I say you’re making a difference by speaking up for so many of us.

        • Different Amy here, you are technically correct Serah. Ezra is a hebephile not a pedophile. He preys on teenage girls, not children. Not really an improvement in my opinion but still different.

      • Ezra is a lot of things…Pedophile is NOT one of them. Pedophiles prey on pre-pubescent children. People throw the term “Pedo” around like it’s an adjective. It’s beyond wrong and wildly incorrect.

        Ezra essentially stalked 4 teenage girls. He, as Heather pointed out, got into a relationship with Aria knowing who she was, when eh met her he knew who she was and how old she was. He pursued her anyway. Ezra knew about A. He knew that someone was after the girls. That is why he had a theory that A was Jessica DiLaurentis. Instead of truly helping the girls by going to the police, he instead continued his “research” and surveillance. He KNEW Alison was alive…and said nothing. Meanwhile, a family mourned their very much alive daughter and a family who had actually lost their daughter had no idea what happened to her and had no opportunity for closure. Him taking a bullet while A was there is in no way redeeming of the thing that he has done and quite frankly continues to do.

        The problem is that Ian Harding is such a good actor, he can take a reprehensible character like Ezra Fitz and make him endearing.

    • Lol yes, because “stalking them for most of their junior year and all of their senior,” is just so much better. Add another 3 months of stalking, and he’d be a true criminal, but this? Nah, all good. Ezra is such a sweetheart.

    • Ezra specifically aside, this brings up something I always wonder about: what show are the straight girls watching?

      Like the official PLL twitter has been really active the last few days and one of the things they posted was a GIF of Ali and Lorenzo kissing and it just made me wonder what in the world it would be like to watch PLL and be shipping Aria and Ezra, or Ali and Lorenzo, or, I dunno, like, Emily and Cousin Nate. Because from the very beginning, when Ashley Marin SLEPT WITH A COP TO GET HANNAH OUT OF A SHOPLIFTING CONVICTION (like how serious is a shoplifting charge in Rosewood? Was Hannah gonna face death row?) it feels like every guy on this show has been a predator, or taken advantage of the girls, or turned out to be in cahoots with A, and with all of the things that PLL’s story says about men, none of them are “trust them and live happily ever after with them.” It is all about the problem that occurs for girls because everyone tries to take away control of their own lives and their own bodies and their own minds and like what if you’re watching that show without that metacommentary and it’s just a whodunnit with hot guys on it? What in the world would that be like?

      • “What in the world it would be like to watch PLL and be shipping Aria and Ezra, or Ali and Lorenzo, or, I dunno, like, Emily and Cousin Nate.”
        “…what if you’re watching that show without that metacommentary and it’s just a whodunnit with hot guys on it”
        Questions like this make me so happy to be gay and feminist.
        Sadly, I think that most straight teenage girls relate to the show in this way. I don’t have any real evidence for this, but I think the show had to try to “redeem” Ezra because Ezria fans lost their shit.
        It has to be really challenging to write a show that has so many different audiences who experience it in such different ways. Like how do you balance the fact that your queer viewership HATES Ezra when your young, straight viewers think he’s so dreamy?

      • This is a SUPER INTERESTING QUESTION because I literally have no idea. I once watched one episode with my nine-year old cousin, and even she found most of the boys very boring and told me Emily was her favourite Liar (I have high hopes for this kid!) Even the one straight girl I usually watch PLL with thinks Ezra and Lorenzo are total creepers (though she admits that they are pretty to look at, despite the creep factor).

      • As one of those straight girls that you are wondering about.

        I have “shipped” Hanna and Caleb (age appropriate and other than him getting some info for Jenna (was it Jenna?) which he quickly shut down he has seemed to have been on the up and up) I think they both hold the power equally and he seems to really adore her.

        I have loved Toby and Spencer together (again if all is what it seems he joined the A Team only to protect her). This has been a good match. Although damn, Spencer as done her fair share of kissing other male types instead of him.

        I have loved Emily and Paige and their growth from being too afraid to speak THOSE words out loud to who they have become together and apart. I too would have been pissed if they had written Emily a male love interest to test who she really is.

        I hate, hate, hate, Ali and Lorenzo. I actually do not believe that Alison even knows who she is let alone who she wants to love.

        I love Mona and Mike.

        And finally, I once loved Aria and Ezra. I felt at the beginning they were star crossed lovers in that once in a lifetime fairy tale sense. I felt she called the shots in their relationship. She was strong and had a voice. She had no problem saying no and pursuing him getting what she wanted and needed out of their relationship. When re-watching episodes she pursued him more or as much as he did. I could buy their love… it’s rare but it happens. Then again my mother in her twenties fell in love with my dad who was 26 years her senior. Granted she wasn’t 16 but it happens. The writers were careful with the relationship and I was cautiously okay with it as well. But then came that fateful day we found out the real truth about Ezra and in a nanosecond everything changed for me. I honestly was angry at the writers for thinking they could “fix” this. They couldn’t. I read an article where Marlene said “The writers thought they could redeem him”. She said they promised her they could. Unfortunately they haven’t. At once she was no longer the one who pursued or controlled who they were together. He was a predator. As a straight woman watching this show…I have wondered if it could be done. Could Ezria be saved. What would need to happen. In season 4-6a it has been proved it can’t be done. Even a bullet couldn’t save the betrayal of what they wrote for Ezra. That actually makes me happy. Maybe the writers will have better luck when they come back in 5 years. If Aria decides its what she wants. She has to be in complete control. She has to pursue it. She has to hold all the cards. Even then it may not be enough to fall in love with Ezria again. So there it is. Your average straight girl watching.

    • Okay I’m not saying you should hate ezra, neither is heather H, but it’s been almost two years. And yes he did know about A you can tell in season 1 when noel blackmails him, I think ezra has helped a little but he is most of what this article says he is, is he a good guy? I think he thinks he is and tries to be but he isn’t the greatest at it. I personally think he’s forgivable but no his actions are not justified just because he was shot.

      • Queer girl who lived as a straight girl all her life speaking:

        I find it to be really bull shitty when Ezra gets called a pedophile, particularly from this community. It shows a total lack of understanding about pedophilia and child predators, but mostly it shows a total dismissal of Aria being a capable young person in a totally developed body. By the way, in Pennsylvania, the age of consent is 16. So. Literally the creepiest thing about is that he’s a teacher. Unless you think 16 year olds are incapable of romance, sex, and whatever else heterosexual couples do, I urge you to remember yourself at that age. I’m not pro-Ezria. I think he was disgusting to her and beyond creepy. I 100% believe took advantage of her. However, I think that has nothing to do with her age and everything to do with authority.

        In high school, I was 100% not into dudes, nor girls my age. I only dated men in high school, but had I come out by then, I would have dated women with no hesitation as well. While I didn’t ever enter a serious relationship with any of them, I had nothing but positive experiences from this. I still feel really good about how I handled myself, how I allowed part of my sexuality to explore with them, and how the men I dated treated me.

        When we call Ezra a pedophile, regardless of Aria’s agency, we call her a child. We take away her rightful access to sexuality, feelings of romance, and even her adult fucking body.

        • I agree that Ezra is not a pedophile. And Aria’s body is adult, although at sixteen, her brain still has some growing up to do. Her prefrontal cortext, impulse control etc. still has some developing to do. Working with sixteen year olds when I was 22, it was very very clear to me that they were kids (teens) and I was an adult. The idea of a relationship with any of them would have been totally preposterous.

          Back when I was a high school senior, by the way, I began a three year relationship with a guy who was 25. I now feel that relationship was inappropriate. The imbalance of power was too great for it to be exactly consentual.

          Anyway, back to Aria: from what I understand, although the age of consent in Pennsylvania may be sixteen, it is a felony for a teacher to engage in a physical relationship with any one of their students who is under eighteen.

          So no, Ezra is not exactly a pedophile, but he still committed a felony. If convicted he would have been a sex offender. The age difference — it’s not nothing.

  2. Hanna and Spencer are giving me so much life this season. And I’ve even enjoyed Aria more! But her undying love for a human monster is a bit of a bummer.

    Thank you for the Warehouse 13 diss because that last season was ABSOLUTE GARBAGE.

    And I want Ella and Ashley to have a spinoff series. The Real Moms of Rosewood is the show we should have gotten instead of Ravenswood.

    Excellent recap all around, though. I want that raccoon on a t-shirt.

  3. Aria was so great this episode! I never thought those words would come out of my mouth!

    I also squealed with happiness when Ali swiped the keycard. It was a dark time when it looked like she was legitimately folding a man’s laundry for him with no ulterior motive.

  4. Heather, a wonderful recap, as always. Your comments about Alison this season were PERFECT. Like you, I was SO HAPPY to see her steal the key card and break into the evidence room, it was a bit like she was back to her old self for a second. And then – NOPE! Instead of actually doing something useful, she gets all weepy about a dumb baby rattle. Who the hell is this chick, because she definitely is not Alison “Queen Bee” DiLaurentis.

    And Hanna, once again, being the only Liar to understand what is going on and speak the truth. I know everyone is like “Um, how do you have so much lasagna money that you can afford to give back a $30,000 scholarship!?” but the thing is, Hanna is TOTALLY right. A gives things just so A can take them away. If Hanna were to depend on the Carissimi scholarship to put her through college, she’d find out on September 1st that it had just evaporated from her bank account. That money is never going to actually materialize, and depending on it to pay her tuition is going to leave her with nothing. But Spencer’s plan was kind of dumb. What did they actually find at the Carissimi group, except another indistinguishable straight white guy who is probably just another red herring?

    TWO MORE WEEKS!

  5. I think I saw someone here or on AE awhile ago saying that Aria would most likely sleep with a woman in college and then write a book about the time she was gay. Looks like she’s trying to get an early start on that, but no Aria! Don’t use your friends for that! LOL

    But on a more serious note, her speech about her PTSD was really well done and moving.

    • Not to be obnoxious but that was me. It would be the most offensive thing you’ve ever read. It would be called “my year of lesbianism” and have a picture of her with 1 arm around Emily and the other arm giving a thumbs up on the back with the caption “My best friend is gay!”

      But after this episode I legit wanted them to make out. Or at least cuddle.

  6. Alison spent months in jail and was convicted of first degree murder based almost entirely on a reputation that wasn’t entirely accurate (after all the Alison we know from s1-4 is only half a person. A collection of memories.) I kind of understand why she’s projecting onto Charles “maybe he’s misunderstood and not a murder like everyone thought I was” but it certainly is frustrating to watch.

  7. “The lesbian having straight white male face blindness: realest thing to ever happen in Rosewood.”

    SO REAL. Also, the photoshop jobs this recap were truly something else. The raccoon? The Hanna dancing photos? #blessed

  8. I think Ali makes a lot of sense this season. Anyone, even the great Alison Dilaurentis, would be the same person they were. Is it as entertaining as Queen Bee Ali? No. But it’s realistic.

    I think she simply has questions about Charles. Of course, no one will tell her anything about her brother. Perhaps she blames herself for some of the harm caused, as everyone blames her for everything anyway..at some point she was going to blame herself.

    Lorenzo is blah though. But I’m not sure he’s supposed to be an Ezra type character. Even though he looks old, I thought he was supposed to be about Toby’s age.

    And speaking of, if we have to see Rosewood men, can it be Caleb? I don’t want to see any of the others…ever.

    • And Jason…we need much more of Jason.

      I actually don’t mind Lorenzo. He keeps it pretty real with Alison. Or how she made that whole speech to him at The Brew and he was like NBD…have a burger. I agree that he’s supposed to be around Toby’s age…and the girls are at the end of their senior year so they are most likely 18.

  9. LOL Aria has been fantastic lately hadn’t she? Her whole freezing cold scene gave me chills… This show is always so much more fun when they give Lucy hale material like that, she always dominates it.

  10. OMG, I am laughing so gosh darn hard at this recap. It’s late at night and I’m sitting at the computer with my hand over my mouth trying to stifle the belly-aching laughter that may wake my household. And I am nodding in agreement with these wonderful insights, especially about Allison’s brain, about Liar-Liar scenes being the best, and Ezra being a predator. These recaps, captions and screen caps are an education and an entertainment wrapped with a big lavender bow. Thank you so much, Heather and Nicole.

  11. The Ashley Ella captions gave me life! I too want them to have a series to themselves. Maybe with guest spots from the other moms, dropping by with Empanadas at their engagement party or legal advice on how best to divorce their husbands.

  12. “Regatta Gala time!”- What kind of Regatta Gala starts at night?

    I’m really loving the different Liar pairings we’re seeing this year. Hannah and Spencer being all sleuth-y and hilarious together. Aria and Emily……actually speaking. (Seriously, this feels like the first scene they’ve ever had together just the two to them. I’m sure it’s not, but they’ve definitely never had a more adorable one!)

    I was also thinking a lot this episode about just how muted Ali has become. For half a second I entertained the notion that it’s actually a complete red herring. Like, Alison is just pretending to be clueless when in actuality she discovered who Charles was several weeks ago, and has since teamed up with him to become Red Coat, and she only went to the police station to see how close they were to figuring it all out….

    …but then I remembered that Ali was the one who called the police and told them about her brother in the first place. So, I guess that theory doesn’t make much sense.

    ….but then I remembered this is PLL. Things don’t have to make sense. So I’m torn.

    Whatever is actually the case, I just hope Ali goes back to being the interesting, complicated character I’ve grown so fond of. And that Lorenzo falls off a cliff or something. I hope for that, too.

    • I am on board with your Ali as red coat concept, it would explain her bizarre behaviour, like as if *real* Ali would call the cops. Some sort of A based Stockholm syndrome or maybe it’s a double double cross. Like she’s working with Charles but secretly against Charles by pretending to be this passive person but Secretly a criminal mastermind person but really a vigilante superhero…I’m kind of hoping this is the case now, also that Lorenzo trips on his own ego and injures more than his shoulder. Also lots of art exhibitions/competitions have evening private views for the artists and invited guests, it’s totally normal, why the Liars ever go anywhere at night is beyond me however.

      • Seriously though, I’ve been many to and held a couple…at night…it’s normal. I have one happening a week on Monday from 6-10pm. This is not just PLL weirdness it’s art weirdness.

  13. Emily and Aria are one of my favourite Liar combos, so I was really happy for about 10 seconds about them going to prom together. Also I totally agree with everything you said about Alison – I think she’s one of the best anti-heros on TV, and I have no idea what’s happened to her this season.

  14. Just chiming in to say these recaps are my A-number-one favorite entertainment every week. This show is straight-up bonkers in a hilarious way, and the balance you’ve struck of taking the show seriously and also making fun of it is perfect.

  15. This recap was perfect. Beyond perfect.

    I’ve been getting frustrated with Ali’s storyline this season not necessarily because she’s not acting the same as she used to be but because she’s being dragged down by Lorenzo. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of Lorenzo to begin with (please let these girls date dudes who are age-appropriate for once, thanks) but he’s not adding a single thing to her story. In fact, if the writers wanted to keep Ali separate from the Liars for this season, then I feel like it would have made more sense for her to start teaming up with Mona. Because, for one, those two would be magic onscreen together, and, two, they hate each other but would do anything for the Liars so that allows for a lot of character development and ladies working together to protect other ladies stuff.

    Okay, that said, I think Ali’s curiosity about Charles and the melancholy she’s working through isn’t exactly out-of-character. I feel like Ali is starting to wonder how different she is from Charles because she did a lot of awful stuff to the Liars as well. And if he deserves to be shot on sight, if he’s a monster, does that mean Ali is one as well? And I don’t agree with that assessment (Ali is not a monster though she is capable of monstrous things), but I think it’s a logical path for Ali to explore. I don’t think it’s an accident that those words on the police’s dry-erase board could be applied to Ali as we knew her in the earlier seasons.

    But, the thing is, if that’s where they’re going (and I really hope it is instead of trying to make Charles actually sympathetic), then it’s not really coming through. Mostly because they’ve tied her to Lorenzo instead of to someone where all of this would make sense, like any of the Liars or Mona. I am concerned that they’re going to try to redeem Charles. But I think, from this perspective, it makes sense for Ali to be more subdued and less inclined to burn everything in her path to find answers.

    • That makes complete sense what you’re saying about Ali. I didn’t really think about how she might be struggling to figure out how she’s different than Charles, but yeah. That’s absolutely a thing she’d be dealing with, especially with every grown up — including her own dad — beating her down like some kind of slut/monster all the time. She must have a lot of shame swirling inside her, and with no one to identify with. Really, really good points.

      I would like to see that explored more/better, though, because right now it’s not coming across as much more than Alison sitting still and waiting to be murdered.

      • I agree, I don’t think they’re doing a good job with Ali at all this season. She’s NEVER been a passive character, even when we thought she was dead, and so it doesn’t make sense to me why she would turn into one now that the stakes are even higher. Ali may not have always had control over her own fate, but she’s always fought to have it and I wish they would show Ali as the culmination of all of her experiences. Her remorse, her self-doubt, her courage, her ruthlessness, her loyalty, and her cruelty.

        And it’s why I loved that little bit she did with Mona this season and think that Mona would have been a better partner for her than foisting Lorenzo and Vernon and Jason off onto Ali. Because Mona and Ali have walked similar paths, and they’ve both done horrible things. For different reasons and for the same reasons. And they might not like each other, but they’ve both proven that they will do anything for the Liars. Also, it would highlight Ali’s struggles if she was reluctant to keep crossing lines and Mona kept pushing at her to figure out why.

        I’m here for the idea of what they’re trying to do with Ali but I’ve been extremely disappointed and letdown by the execution.

  16. Wow, Heather! It takes a true dye-in-the-wool Harry Potter fan to reach past the outward Santa Clausiness of Dumbledore and see the Machiavelli in him. Your whole critique of Ali is sharp as tacks. Please, someday, in an alternate universe, be an adjunct professor teaching a class on PLL?!

  17. I just wanna note that Aria’s first line this episode is, “Okay, now we are officially out of beans,” because I’ve been angrily laughing about it being included at all in this episode ever since I watched it

  18. Top notch recap as usual.

    My boss thinks I am losing it because I snort-laughed way too loud for how quiet our office is. I was ill-prepared for the dancing Hanna pics.

    Ashley + Ella + Wine + Cheese = 4Eva. This is a spinoff I’d watch weekly, for sure.

    Is the Spanna fic saga going to take the place of the Sparia fic saga now? Because I am not opposed to this.

    Also, Emaria? Armily? What do we call those two?

  19. That Ella and Ashley scene is something I’ve desperately wanted from this show for YEARS. And I noticed that Holly Marie Combs tweeted that next week’s episode is her favorite episode she’s ever done. That is all I need to know. I’m so in.

    I wish Emily’s mom could be involved, too, but I’ll take what I can get.

  20. What if different A’s (red coat, charles, black veil, shana) hate different liars?

    In season 4 Emily got a million things thrown her way (A car! Act Normal Bitch! Possibly tampered with X-rays) wouldn’t it make sense that it was Shana doing that? Because of Paige and swimming? And the mask of Emily’s face with the “Guilty” sign. If you go back and watch the A ending when A pieces back together the Melissa mask A has converses on which signals to me it’s Shana. Shana, through Ali, would have known about Hector.

    Charles definitely seems interested in Aria the most. She’s his most precious “doll”. He wants all of them but really seems to want Aria more. Ezra? A family connection we don’t know about yet?

    When Spencer is being fucked with I always think either 1) Mona or 2) it’s because she’s being too nosy. A is trying to get her to stop looking.

    Red Coat seems to be fixated on Hanna. I’m of the belief Charles wasn’t the one who stole the game from Mona (doesn’t a female seem more end game? Like the one who initially stole the game?) I think he came into play s4/5 at some point. Red Coat ran Caleb’s mom off the road and Hanna was the only one red coat didn’t pull out of the fire. So red coat is sympathetic to the others but not Hanna. Why? It’s the only reason why I don’t think Mona is red coat.

    Black Veil (if she is different from red coat and charles) seems fixated on Mona.The only real A text Mona ever got on screen (I think) was in the 4×01 ending at the funeral. And then the next episode Mona was choked in the car by whom I assume is BV.

    • I think that’s a good observation

      Mona was always fixated on Hanna and Spencer, but it was also always trying to break the liars up..and it was more…childish. The one time she was violent, she apologized for it.

      And when Toby was part of the A team, he was the one that was more physical with Emily..but he also didn’t do any harm. He did things like give Emily a massage and make a creepy message. Which is horrible and invasive but not in the same league as…kidnapping. (And actually, him and Mona warned Emily about Nate.)

      Redcoat seems to hate Hanna especially, but Spencer got it too. The most telling being that she didn’t save Hanna in the fire. (There is a theory that Redcoat is Charles’ girl..and Charles is Wren…so Redcoat goes after Hanna and Spencer because Wren was attracted to them.)

      And Charles seems to go directly after Aria. And I’ll say this, it seems like Aria gets hit the hardest when Aria is broken up from Ezra. I don’t know if it’s because she then gets to be part of the story, or because A wants Ezra and Aria together for some reason. (Although, that has always been the case.)

      • I don’t think Charles and RC have a personal connection. If they do I think BV is the “Ally”. Ally suggests they aren’t close that they just happen to have the same goals. Because we see them working so close I don’t think RC is the ally but she could be.

  21. Loves the recap! All the Ali stuff was so on point and really put into words a lot of what’s been bothering me about Ali’s character this season.

    Also I can’t believe I’m actually shipping Aria and Emily a little bit now. What is the world coming to?!

  22. It pisses me off that the writers are attempting to redeem Ali via church, cooking and laundry folding. I mean… really? That’s how we’re supposed to forget how mean she could sometimes be, this is supposed to make the viewers warm up to her?
    Her mom clothes and her entire storyline are incredibly annoying and dull.

  23. All the plotholes in this show, and my biggest purroblem is someone refuring to Jason’s awful hair as purrfect… Also thank goodness, I thought they’d just furgotten about Red Coat – sometimes I feel like I watch this show and the writers don’t.

  24. Also on the hair furont, Alison’s hair must be natmewrally curly, unless she was somehow curling it whilst on the run – idk maybe she used rags? But in purrison, it was straight… Or maybe she used the same iron she burned herself with to straighten her hair??? I don’t know why I care so much.

  25. Goddammit. Ok let’s try again on an actual computer so my iPhone/A/the Patriachry doesn’t eat the comment.

    Heather, don’t let the Ezria shippers get you down. You fight the good fight and you fight it for them and all of us.

    The thing about teenagers really is the thing that queer girl said – where you think you have all the power and in the end really that’s all it is. You THINK you have the power. I think one of the first and lasting themes this show has (and you’ve said it yourself many times!) is that teenage girls are given absolutely zero agency over their own lives. They’re placed up as objects and demeaned as silly little girls who should just shush like Aria says and let the grown ass men continue to be gross. Every single bit of agency each of the liars have they’ve had to fight tooth and nail for. And that’s mostly because they’re on a tv show written by a queer feminist, not in real life where usually it is much more difficult to do so.

    But as a teenager, it’s so hard to see this reality, because, as queer girl says, that reality is fucking TERRIFYING and being a teenager is already terrifying enough without that added horror.

    Jacob Clifton said this one thing that I have been searching the twop archives all morning for and I can’t find it so I’ll try to shittily paraphrase it:

    He’s talking about overhearing teenagers talk about Ezra at a family party and he wants to ask them these questions about dudes they know, specifically one question that is “Does he make you feel like you’re more mature than all your friends? Do you know that this is something that all teenage girls feel and older guys know this and will use this to manipulate you?” Seems worthy repeating here.

    tldr; Don’t stop fighting the good fight against rape culture and the patriarchy, Heather. All of us survivors are right behind you with torches backing you up.

    • Hey @houstongayshark, who is Jacob Clifton? The thing you paraphrased really hits it on the nose.

      I feel like I am still really trying to post-process my first relationship (it was with a guy seven years older and I was still a teen) all of these years later now that I’m no longer really dating guys and I have some space to look back and see it more clearly. I think the biggest thing that contributes to the imbalance of power in a relationship like that is the mismatch in experience. You can feel “all grown up,” and like that he’s making you feel that way, and special, and chosen, but you don’t have the benefit of any of the experience that actually comes with growing up. And he does. So he’s got the upper hand, always. In PLL that upper hand is illustrated kinda literally with Ezra’s surveillance and spying on the girls and all of that, but in real life, although it’s less concrete, it’s no less insidious.

      Anyway! Man, PLL isn’t just a fluffy teen show, is it? At least not here.

      • Hey girl! Jacob Clifton is a writer who used to write PLL recaps for Television Without Pity! He’s an EXTREMELY gifted writer and I highly recommend his recaps from the first 4 or so seasons which you can buy here.

        http://www.jacobclifton.com/search/label/recaps

        At one point Heather linked to his stuff on gumroad, which is the site that pays him better, but I can’t find that link right now. But he’s great and he’s got such insight on this stuff it’s just really great to read his thoughts on this show.

        I agree with everything you said about how PLL shows the upper hand and I’m glad you ditched that creep who should have never creeped in the first place.

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