‘Pretty Little Liars’ S4E4 Recap: Sister, Sister

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Last night’s Pretty Little Liars featured the return of Spencer’s shady big sis Melissa, more Marin family cop drama involving newbie Holbrook and his partner, Emily dealing with the fallout over her A-related injury, and Aria working through her lingering relationship woes. Not much really happened in this episode, though the audience was given a new and intriguing Alison flashback; the episode focused heavily on character development while nudging the girls toward future A developments.

1. First up, Emily.

After receiving a call from family services, Emily’s father returned home to confront Emily over her various A-related lies. Emily refused to tell her parents the truth behind her injured arm, and their loud argument only furthered their troubles when a neighbor called the cops about a domestic dispute. Also, Emily’s swimming future is still up in the air–the doctor informed her she might need surgery on her arm, which would have unpredictable results on her ability to keep swimming. Thus, her scholarship and Sanford dreams with Paige are also in danger. On the bright side, Paige and Emily are still going strong.

2. Aria

While out with Jake, Aria ran into Ezra’s son outside of a bookstore. Malcolm wanted to know why Aria never visited anymore, and Aria offered him a hasty excuse about being busy. Later, she told Jake the truth about her past relationship with Ezra, and Jake realized she was still hurting. But, instead of being scared off, Jake offered Aria some martial arts-themed advice (which went over her head, but nice try, Jake) and, when she asked if she could call him, told her she could.

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3. Hanna

Though initially brusque toward Caleb’s attempts to help, Hanna eventually softened and let her adorably hunky boyfriend aid her and her mother in keeping the cops at bay. Ashley’s still hiding the truth from her daughter, but she finally admitted to being in Rosewood on the night of Wilden’s death. Also, when Holbrook and his partner (whose name I’ve forgotten) stopped by the bank, they found hundreds of dollars in cash in Wilden’s safety deposit box. Hmm, interesting. Somehow Wilden’s become even more mysterious post-death than he was when alive. I’m not complaining–dead characters on this show have always been some of the best sources for stories. (See: Alison, Maya, Toby’s mother, etc.).

4. Spencer

After tracking down the doctor who helped Toby’s mother, Spencer sent Toby away to confront the man (who was less of a doctor and more of an institutionalized patient himself now, though he did mention a blonde visiting Toby’s mom in the hospital pre-death) and stayed in Rosewood to keep an eye on Melissa. After hatching a plan with Aria involving a sneakily-placed Alison mask left for Melissa to find, the pair of Liars followed Melissa to the creepy mask maker’s place. Melissa dragged a bag–which Spencer briefly feared contained a body–to the lake and began to pull out and smash A masks one by one before tossing the shards in the water. When Spencer confronted her sister, Melissa proceeded to warn Spencer away from digging further for the truth (which Spencer absolutely won’t do, of course) and informed Spencer she’d been trying to protect her from this whole A mess from the start. Oh, and Melissa also suspects Alison’s still alive, as well. At this point, is there any doubt that Alison (or possibly a twin, as the show’s been subtly suggesting for some time) is alive? We’ll see. Anyway, Aria also confronted the mask maker and discovered a whole shelf of A masks, plus the last shot of the episode featured A gluing the rescued mask shards back together, so obviously those won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

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So, what’d you think of the episode? I’m really enjoying Aria and Jake’s budding relationship; it’s nice to see her with someone who’s not Ezra and is also her own age. Plus, Jake seems like a pretty decent guy so far. Should we be suspicious of Holbrook? Right now, it’s hard to tell if he’s a good guy who’s just doing his job, or if he’s another Wilden type, but he’s definitely taken a keen interest in the girls and Hanna’s secretive mother. Speaking of Ashley, how long until we figure out the full extent of her involvement in Wilden’s death? I’m ridiculously curious.

Anyway, see you next week!

 

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Best of: Top 5 Musical Moments on ‘Pretty Little Liars’

Thanks to superb music supervisor Christopher Mollere (The Vampire Diaries) and composer Michael Suby (The Vampire Diaries, as well), Pretty Little Liars is chock-full of excellent musical moments/montages. Below are some of the show’s best, in no particular order.

***SPOILER WARNING: this article includes several major plot points!!***

1. The Opening Credits

How could anyone discuss the show’s music without mentioning Pretty Little Liars‘s opening credits, complete with the perfectly appropriate theme song “Secret” by The Pierces? I couldn’t find good video of the credits, but you can hear the song yourself, below.

2. Maya’s Death

After a traumatic night in Season 2’s finale–during which the elusive A was finally unmasked–the core four returned home to find one more gut-wrenching shock waiting for them: the discovery of murdered Maya’s body. The song “Suggestions” by Orelia Has Orchestra played over the heartbreaking final scene, as poor Emily went from stunned disbelief to crippling grief, and her shocked friends tried desperately to comfort her.

3. Ghost Train Arrival

Though season 3’s Halloween episode was notable for its musical guest star, Adam Lambert, the episode also featured a subtly cheeky moment where the Liars & Co. arrived at the ghost train and revealed their previously-secret costume choices to one another while Mikky Ekko’s “Who Are You, Really?” played in the background. The song fit well with the cute and fun moment as Hanna channeled Marilyn Monroe, Spencer and Toby imitated Bonnie and Clyde, and Emily dropped jaws in a stunning Barbarella costume.

4. Ezria’s Kiss in the Rain

After hitting a huge obstacle in their relationship–revealing said relationship’s existence to Aria’s parents–Ezra and Aria found themselves in the midst of an impending break-up until Aria phoned Ezra to meet her, and, after several tense moments where it didn’t seem like he’d show, Ezra finally drove to Aria and kissed her in the rain. The Rescue’s achingly-lovely song “My Heart With You” played as the camera circled the soaking but happily reunited pair. The song can’t be found on iTunes or Amazon, but Noisetrade’s offering a free download here.

5. Wilden’s Funeral

In the season 4 premiere, MS MR’s “Hurricane” played over the PLLs’ arrival to recently-felled enemy Officer Wilden’s funeral. Their appearance was for personal reasons rather than a desire to respect Wilden’s memory–A had planted false evidence of the girls’ involvement in Wilden’s death somewhere in his open casket. How perfect was that shot of the girls, clad in their funereal best, walking down the sidewalk together?

Double Bonus: 

Spencer and Toby’s reunion during the season 3 finale, set to Lana Del Rey’s “Ride.” (Song begins around the 1:55 mark.)

The official beginning and ending of Aria and Ezra’s relationship, both set to the song “Begin Again” by Measure while the duo stand in the high school stairwell.

Let me know your favorite musical moments from Pretty Little Liars in the comments!

‘Pretty Little Liars’ S4E2 Recap: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Photo Courtesy of ABC Family (abcfamily.com)

Though plenty of drama happened within each of the girls’ lives, last night’s Pretty Little Liars did little to further this season’s plot; instead, the episode set up various story strands for each liar that hint at promising developments for incoming episodes. “Turn of the Shoe” wasn’t a bad episode, just a slower-paced one than the show usually offers.

The episode opened with the core four ruminating on A’s intentions when Mona interrupted. The girls immediately went on the defensive–despite Mona’s recent efforts, the girls are still far from trusting. Hanna even blamed Mona for planting her mother’s cell phone on Wilden’s body. In frustration, Mona offered to take the girls back to her trailer lair so they could rifle through her things for more clues. The girls agreed, but unfortunately Mona’s peace offering had vanished. Angry, Spence and Hanna drove off, but Aria and Emily stayed to watch Mona. Within moments after climbing in her car, Mona was attacked by a masked A, hiding in her back seat, and nearly strangled to death. She managed to escape, but A commandeered the car and attempted to run Mona AND Aria down. Luckily, Emily managed to pull them to safety, but poor Emily injured her arm in the process by slamming into a rock.

1. Hanna 

Ashley returned home from New York, but brought a new secret with her. Hanna found her mother’s best heels hidden in a kitchen cupboard with a toothbrush. When Hanna confronted her, Ashley delivered a flimsy excuse about attempting to clean the shoes herself and jumped to the defensive. Later, she tried to pitch the shoes, but A was watching and scared Ashley by blowing out the porch light. In angry frustration, Hanna confronted Shana with Aria at the coffee shop and demanded answers, to no avail.

After stopping by Emily’s house to check up on her, Hanna ran into Jessica DiLaurentis. Alison’s mom asked Hanna for gardening advice, made yet another reference to Hanna’s previously overweight state, and then presented Hanna with a new pet–a parrot previously owned by Alison’s grandmother that perfectly mimics Alison’s voice.

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2. Emily

With her chances at Stanford in the balance, Emily chose to start popping painkillers for her arm rather than risk missing a swim meet and losing her opportunity for a scholarship. After a locker room run-in with Shana, who insisted Stanford’s last open position on the swim team would be hers, Emily swallowed a few too many pills and swam headlong into the pool wall. Ouch. Even when paramedics were wheeling her away to get stitches, Emily was still begging to finish the race. You have to love her determination, reckless and irrational as it is. Later, Emily finally came clean to Paige about the circumstances surrounding her injury–namely that A had returned.

3. Aria

Afraid for her life after A’s latest attack, Aria decided to begin martial arts lessons with attractive newcomer, Jake (who, according to Aria, smells like cinnamon–yum!). In the heat of the moment, Aria (still missing Ezra) kissed Jake and then fled, embarrassed. During her hasty getaway, Aria spotted Mona chatting up a cop. Aria pulled up next to the curb and called Mona to the car. When she questioned her, Mona insisted she’d actually been eavesdropping on the officers at the station; she learned the lake had been cordoned off because two sets of prints had been found at the scene: Wilden’s and a high-heeled woman’s (Hint, hint, Ashley’s, or so the girls believe. Only time will tell, but Ashley’s not looking too innocent right now).

Later, Jake dropped by Aria’s house (how did he know where she lived? Nevermind, doesn’t matter). He correctly assumed she wouldn’t be stopping by for another martial arts lesson, but told her he was definitely interested in seeing her; the two set up a coffee date. So, how long until Ezra spots the two of them together and gets a mad case of the feels? I mean, EVERYONE stops by Rosewood’s coffee shop, so it’s only a matter of time. And how long until A starts threatening Jake? We’ll see. For now, I’m glad Aria’s got a date with such a seemingly nice (and cute!) guy. Also, Aria’s got a seriously specific type–teacher. Oh, Aria.

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4. Spencer

After realizing Toby’s been lying to her, Spencer forces a confession out of him; Toby tells her he stole the trailer and delivered the lair to A in exchange for a transcript of his mother’s last day (before her alleged suicide) in Radley. However, when the pair read through the transcript, which had never been released to the Cavanaugh family, they suspected something was off with Radley’s story.

Spencer received a letter from UPenn informing her of her rejection (which was somehow more far-fetched than anything else in the episode–how on earth did SPENCER get rejected from a college??). Instead of telling her parents or friends, Spencer confessed to Ezra, who sweetly comforted her and promised to help with the essay for her second-choice school application. Since Ezra and Aria are splitsville for the time being, it’s nice seeing Ezra get some face time with the other liars. Spencer delivered an essay on her mental breakdown to Ezra, who recommended a different approach, as alerting the school to Spencer’s previous mental instability could hurt, rather than help, her chances. Spencer, sick of lying, threw a fit–she wanted to tell the truth for once.

Hanna gave Tippy (the parrot) to Spence for safekeeping, much to the latter’s annoyance. After dialing Hanna several times to complain, Spencer finally realized the song the bird had been singing was actually a phone number. Aria and Hanna stopped by, and Spencer dialed the bird’s number, but no one answered on the other line. When the girls went to check on the bird, they found Spencer’s window open and Tippy had vanished.

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In the last shot, A dropped a cooked bird on her plate, but the bird wasn’t Tippy–A offered some of the cooked bird to the still-living Tippy (A endorses bird-cannibalism, the jerk) stuck in a cage.

And, that’s it! Tons of drama but little plot momentum, though still a pretty good episode. Next week’s episode looks like it’ll be heavier on plot movement, so no worries.

P.S. When is Caleb coming back? I’m sure Hanna misses him just as much as we do!

‘Pretty Little Liars’ S4E1 Recap: Animal Farm

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So, what was in the trunk?

A dead pig, bitches.

Though not a dead cop (yet), the animal served as warning, foreshadowing Officer Wilden’s impending death later in the episode. The girls understandably freaked and made to leave, but first Mona retrieved the chip with video of Ashley’s deliberate hit-and-run. And, with that charming cold open, Pretty Little Liars returned! I’m going to keep this recap quick, because it’s just a refresher for tonight’s new episode, by simply highlighting the big plot points that went down.

1. Mona Spills (Mostly) All 

Now a nearly full-fledged member of the PLL’s team, Mona offered a few truths to gain the girls’ trust: she put the cop car in Hanna’s garage but doesn’t know who pulled it from the lake, Jenna knew Shana pre-Rosewood; both fear Melissa, CeCe visited Mona in Radley, but Mona thought she was Alison, Lucas was the one who gave Emily her massage, Mona recruited Toby after he got his out-of-town job, and Mona doesn’t know who pushed Ian off the bell tower but wishes she did. Phew. This was a nice set of truth bombs for a show that likes to skimp on answers. Also, this allowed several previous mysteries to be pushed aside in favor of new ones–a good and promising move for the rest of season 4. Oh, and Mona wasn’t quite finished. She took the PLLs to her trailer lair to drop another truth bomb: Officer Wilden was the Queen of Hearts on the Halloween train. Allegedly, Melissa was the second Queen, but someone erased Mona’s video proof before the second queen unmasked.

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2. Alison’s Alive?

Toby spotted Red Coat’s namesake at the scene of the fire. When he went to retrieve it later with Spencer, the coat was missing. So, is red coat Alison? Half the liars (Mona, Hanna, Spencer) believe so, but the other half (Aria, Emily) are decidedly on the fence. Alison’s mom Jessica moves back into town with all of Alison’s things, then proceeds to set up Alison’s bedroom, prompting the PLL’s suspicion, but we have no solid answers yet. Also, Jason’s apparently down south renovating his grandmother’s place, so he’s out of the picture for now.

3. Relationship Statuses 

Caleb’s still out-of-town, so Hanna’s on her own for a while. Toby and Spencer are good (for now); he’s even cooking her breakfast and monitoring her caffeine intake, though he’s already hiding A texts about his mom from her. Emily and Paige are still going strong, and even planning a collegiate future together at Stanford. Lastly, Ezra and Aria are officially done. After a semi-awkward coffee shop run-in, Aria learns Ezra’s accepted a full-time teaching position at Rosewood again, and Ezra suggests she see other people to ease the break-up. Though Aria initially denies his suggestion, she changes her tune after imagining the principal having Fitz arrested for having sex with a minor. (By the way, thanks for the minor heart attack, Pretty Little Liars.)

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4. The Funeral

After Officer Wilden’s body is found, the girls attend his funeral to retrieve false evidence of their involvement of his murder by A. They find Hanna’s mother’s cell phone planted on Wilden’s body and realize Ashley’s probably a target. Also, a veiled stranger attends the funeral, Jenna has a new man on her arm, and the liar’s meet new cop Gabriel Holbrook (Sean Faris!), who seems like a good guy (for now). Oh, and Jenna later has a conversation with Emily highlighting her fear for her own safety, as well as a mysterious burn on her hand.

Last but definitely not least,

5. A

After dropping a few dead pigs (an animal AND an actual cop) and a threat to frame them for murder  in the PLL’s’ laps, A proceeds to manipulate Toby into delivering Mona’s lair to him/her by holding information about his sick (and dead? or missing?) mother over his head. The veiled stranger at the funeral turns out to be A, who, once alone, lifts the veil to reveal a burned face mask. Lastly, A sends the PLL’s (including Mona) video of them discovering the dead pig and taking the video chip, along with this text: “The truth won’t set you free, bitches. I’m gonna bury you with it. -Kisses, A.”

With Mona on the PLL team and a new cop in town, Pretty Little Liar‘s has managed to feel fresh and new again. Even Ezra and Aria are back at the beginning, in their off-limits student/teacher relationship. Also, the episode finished with the girls huddled together post-funeral, receiving an A text with no lead on who’s watching them–a nice nod to the end of the show’s very first episode.