Previously on Pretty Little Liars: Spencer banged that cop who won’t go away. Everybody misgendered Charlotte, including her father, who is apparently Pastor Ted. Charlotte and Lucas were maybe best friends, because everybody on this show is the same age no matter what age they are, except for Peter Hastings who is at least old enough to have fathered the entire town. Aria met with my true love Weird Sydney in a limousine. Ali is pregnant with Emily’s baby, and Emily was happy with Paige for almost an entire hour.
Currently in Rosewood, Emily and Ali have the first of many talks they will have today about their baby plotline. They are heading to the clinic to get blood tests and “sort of explain” the circumstances of the pregnancy, which is a conversation I almost wish had made in into the episode except that this entire storyline is disgusting and I wish it wasn’t happening at all. This particular scene though mostly serves to remind us of the plot and to make us feel a human emotion before they cut to a scene where Aria, napping in the garbage for some reason, gets a facetime call from her own horrifically snapchat filtered face and we lose our souls forever. Aria claims that she will not turn on her friends, and then immediately agrees to turn on her friends.
Spencer heads to the police station to bring cupcakes with zero ingredients to her policeman boyfriend. She says to him “So I understand that you found a finger,” and between that line and her immaculate cupcakes he somehow still resists the urge to propose to her on the spot. In fact, he’s getting suspicious. Which he explains to Spencer and later Ali in absurd detail, but they are both too busy to get wound up about that whole murder rap.
Spencer gets a note from Mary Drake in a wine bottle, and sends one back the same way, and gets another one, this time with a key. Mary Drake would fit in just fine with the other Rosewood moms sending messages by wine. All she needs is a lasagna box for Spencer’s allowance and they would have themselves a family. Spencer goes to meet her, but her policeman follows and is like “How many times do I need to accuse you of this murder before you understand that I am accusing you of this murder?” and I sincerely believe that Spencer seriously considers murdering HIM for a minute before settling on something along the lines of “You are not the first of my police boyfriends to interfere in my schemes. Peace.” But also she’s now pretty sure she left a bad evidence trail at The Radley. When she gets home she finds one last mournful message in a bottle from Mary saying she saw the police, and she is very disappointed. This episode marked the most active parenting Spencer Hastings has ever received.
Hanna’s job this week is to ascertain the disposition and intent of one Mr. Lucas Gottesman. She does that by pushing things around his desk and asking Emily questions like “What the fuck is action figures? Why the hell are comics? Do you think Caleb and I would have cute babies?” as if she is just now realizing that she is friends with a nerd and as if that last thing isn’t the shittiest possible line of questioning to be throwing at Emily today. They find a hand drawn comic signed on the front by “Lucas & Charles”, which is at least the second time they’ve deadnamed Charlotte in the episode, and every time it feels like the writer is shouting BUT THERE’S A REASON, but the reason of course is that the show decided this was their story to tell in the first place and instead of admitting it when they screwed up they have continued to explain themselves deeper down into an inescapable hole an awful lot like the one they put Charlotte in when they realized people were mad at them. BUT ANYWAY. The comic is pretty cool, and they now have what looks to be proof that Lucas is connected to Charlotte, and they tell everybody but Ali.
Aria has two entire plots this week. The first, if you can believe it, is relationship drama with Ezra. He is again headed to wherever his other child bride is being kept, to read her chart or some inexplicable nonsense that her father insists can only be handled by Ezra Fitz. Aria is upset about that because it honestly is getting a little ridiculous at this point. They have a fight where they both make a lot of points in support of their own selves being the worst. Then Ezra legit says “This isn’t about Nicole, it’s about ME” and the sentence went on a little longer but honestly that’s all you need to know about Ezra Fitz right there. The pie or the beer, Ezra, you can only have one. (He will always choose the pie. The beer is too grown up.)
In between fights with him, Aria gets another call from Herself, like, “Hey Me, what’s up?” And Aria is like “Absolutely nothing, is all you’ll get out of me, Me!” And Her Face is like “Are you sure-” and then Aria immediately tells Her Own Self everything that has ever happened on the show and Her Face is like “Slow down! I just want the comic.” So Aria steals the comic and sneaks into Rosewood High at night like some kinda any-Liar-except-Aria and puts it in a locker for less than 5 seconds before changing her mind and opening the locker again only to find that the comic is gone, and in it’s place is a black hoodie. And hopefully some stilts, because Aria is the shortest adult in Rosewood, and who am I kidding her earrings will make enough noise to give her away no matter what.
In possibly the most romantic scene this show has ever done, including Paily by the pool, Mona Vanderwaal finally meets the game. She lays her cheek on it and inhales its scent and knows it like a kindred soul. She is so tickled when it tries to stab her, almost proud even. The things she says! “I can’t hear a fan, but I can feel where it’s warm.” “The heart of the thing is mechanical.” She finds so much life in mayhem and it is a wonder to watch. If this show ends with Rosewood collapsed like a hellmouth with a lonely island in the middle where Mona is calmly sipping a glass of wine, I’ll be alright.
Hanna is less enamored with the game than Mona is. She brought her there for help. She asks Mona to help her play the game, and Mona is like “Hanna Banana do you REMEMBER the me that was into this stuff? I am a danger to myself and others. Also I’d be marginally less aroused by this machine if there was a Me on it.” But Hanna is like “Counterpoint: Imagine how you’ll feel if you BEAT IT?” And man, Hanna Marin knows how to get to Mona. The heart of the thing is mechanical.
Okay, the real stuff. The Emily, the Ali, and the Paige. These scenes were loaded this week, just so tense and sad and awful. This was Troian Bellisario’s directorial debut for the show, and it was a real plot monster, but these scenes were framed in these isolating ways and filled with heavy silences and just treated exceptionally well, and they are all the most open and honest conversations anybody on this show has ever had. They anchored the episode.
First, Emily and Paige have a half-talk about Ali’s pregnancy, where Emily tells her who the “father” is but not that it’s likely her own egg. Paige is sympathetic. But then Ali calls Emily and confirms it’s Emily’s egg, but that her horrible husband that they all murdered is not the father. Ali asks Emily what she should do, and Emily says she can’t tell her that. Then Emily gets drunk at Spencer’s and tells her she wants Ali to have the baby, but it’s not her right to say so. Spencer is honestly very supportive and attentive, considering she had her eye on a Mary Drake wine message the whole time. Then Emily goes to Paige, and tells her the actual truth, all of it, and that she wants to raise this baby if Alison is willing. And Paige listens and does not get mad or passive aggressive or anything but resigned to the fact that Rosewood is just not a place for well adjusted adult people. “This is the third time I’ve said goodbye to you. I’m never gonna say it again.” They kiss in a sad way a whole day after they kissed in such an easy joyful way. She’s going to Iowa.
BUT FIRST. She goes to Ali’s room and wakes her up from six inches away from her face in the middle of the night like she heard Mona did to Hanna that one time and is like “YOU SHOULD REALLY LEARN TO LOCK THE DOOR”, but she’s not being spooky, she’s just being that same girl who rode her bike to Emily’s in the rain to confess her entire life. And she gives Ali the chance to confess her entire life, and Ali does. And her entire life, the life this show has left her with at this point anyway, is the way Emily Fields looks at her. Paige also accidentally calls Ali a terrible person and says “You’re gonna have a beautiful baby!” which are both so embarrassing and inappropriate and Paige my babe, you are forever looking for that coconut cupcake in my heart. Get you to an Iowa. Unless you are A and your grand plan was to convince Ali to keep the baby for some nefarious reason, because that’s what happens. Emily goes to Ali, and Ali says she’ll try if Emily will help, and Emily will always help because that is what makes her Emily. THE HEART OF THE THING IS MECHANICAL.
These scenes were honestly very good, and very affecting. But. I just really hate this storyline, guys. I hate it so much. I hated mystical pregnancy every time it happened to Cordelia Chase, I hated it on Jane the Virgin even though it is the catalyst for that entire show which I love. The only time i ever loved it was on The Cosby Show where a man who is a rapist in real life gave birth to giant sandwich and a bottle of orange soda. I don’t like to see motherhood treated like a punishment. I don’t like how there’s always somebody around to talk a pregnant woman into knowing what’s best for herself. I don’t like storytelling where they take away all agency from somebody then give them one choice to make and proclaim them emancipated. Ali was Galadriel. Beautiful and terrifying, everywhere and nowhere. And now she’s just a girl, and this show has forgotten that that is the most powerful thing she could ever be. And I am as disappointed as a Mary Drake whose secret daughter is dating a policeman.
At the end, Spencer is at the airport having a drink with Wren. Ezra is there and apparently doesn’t know Wren, but I have always been 100% certain they are brothers in some kind of pedophile fraternity, but there’s not enough show left to tell that story. Spencer tells Ezra she’s digging for info on Charlotte from Wren, and to please not tell the police. Ezra is like “I prefer not to ever speak to police or adults, don’t worry.” Ezra goes home to Aria, and I think they both lie to each other, and I think I don’t especially care. The end tag is A bleep-blooping some more Aria Face because she missed a Skype call with Herself to make eye contact with Ezra.