Pretty Little Liars season 4 episode 14 review: Who's In The Box?

Review Caroline Preece 8 Jan 2014 - 08:14

Pretty Little Liars returns with an episode that's much improved from the Halloween special. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.14 Who's In The Box?

So it’s been two full hours in Pretty Little Liars-time (and five more if you count Ravenswood) since we learned that Ezra might not be the kindly teacher (sleeping with his student) we all thought he was, and so far the show thankfully hasn’t succumbed to pressure and backtracked a la ‘Toby is A’. I didn’t think they could do the same thing all over again for fear of losing dedicated fans, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been worried ever since he slammed that wardrobe door shut. To be honest, I’m still reeling from the whole thing, and enjoying every second of the new mystery as it slowly unfolds.

Who’s in the Box? was a much better episode than the Halloween special, Grave New World, in so many ways. While there was no Alison and no actual reveal for its titular question, it was still a satisfying hour than welcomed us back to Rosewood without overwhelming us with information. While the answer to who was buried in the garden instead of Ali will most likely introduce us to the much rumoured Courtney storyline from the books, I’d be just as happy leaving it as some kind of thematic point about knowing and not knowing - life and death – that this episode pitched it as by the end.

Now that our suspicions about Alison’s non-death have been confirmed, along with the Liars, it actually lifts quite a heavy weight from the day to day of the show. While it got to the point last year that none of our central characters knew what the heck was going on, just watching the cogs turn in Spencer’s brain as the episode opened was enough to confirm that the mystery-solving can come back in full force. No more swinging in the dark – they know that Alison faked her own death to get away from someone, and that someone is probably the same person who’s been going after them since Mona stepped down.

And every fibre of my being wants that person to be Ezra, mainly because it makes the least interesting thread of the show suddenly the most important. While I’m usually tempted to just skip over the Ezra/Aria interactions in an ordinary episode, now I’m watching them for clues and hints that his (or both of their) intentions aren’t good – well played, show. It’s a big change, and one that the show really needed. It’s even been done without any of those cheesy serial killer looks that Toby started throwing as soon as he was a suspect in season three, and I think that’s mainly down to a well-judged performance from Ian Harding.

The bummer of the episode was the forced Hanna/Caleb breakup, and it’s not the way I think any fans would have chosen to end that romance. While Caleb’s temptations to stray (with a ghost, no less) and general disregard for the goings on over in Rosewood worked to some extent while we were watching all of the madness going on in Ravenswood, it didn’t make much sense in the cold light of the main show. The Caleb we’ve gotten to know over the past four seasons would never leave Hanna and the girls alone to figure out the ‘A’ mystery, and the fact that he’s just skipped town without much explanation feels all kinds of wrong.

But maybe it’s a necessary evil, and their almost-amicable parting of ways at least leaves the door partly ajar for him to return once ABC Family realise that Ravenswood just isn’t working as well as they’d hoped. Now that Ezra seems to have moved his lair to the obviously creepy cabin in Rosewood, there isn’t even much reason for the girls to hop over and stalk their stalker. As long as the show leaves those pesky fantasy rules there and gets back to reality as well, I’m as happy as can be expected. Now it’s out of the way at least, and we can get back to solving the riddle of the other men in the Liars’ lives.

All over our overarching mysteries are still hanging around, but it looks as if Spencer’s dad is now getting involved by trying to get Radley shut down. Also, does Mrs. DiLaurentis know that Ali is still alive, and is she staying with her? I guess we’ll have to wait a while to find out, but that doesn’t make the prospect of season 4b any less exciting. It’s good to have you back, Pretty Little Liars!

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, Grave New World, here.

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