This review contains spoilers.
4.20 Free Fall
Smart Pretty Little Liars fans, by now, have developed a limbo state of anxiety about the direction of the show, with absolutely any outcome now just another plot development and not cause for ranting, throwing things or, conversely, celebration. The minute Ezra entered that lair in his cap and jacket, slamming the wardrobe door in apparent psychopathic rage, there was scepticism about what the real story would be, and whether the writers would ‘pull a Toby’ as it is now universally called. This episode, Free Fall, was the big #AriaFindsOut hour and, if the show is indeed been building up to anything at all, it was possible that this would be a significant turning point.
But, though it does fundamentally change the central romance of the show, Aria’s character and the dynamic of the four girls, the subject of whether Ezra is ‘Big A’ is still very much up for discussion. Do we believe his story about the true crime novel he was writing about Alison? Does this automatically mean that he can’t also be the person terrorising the girls? And, even if Alison did lie about her age, does that halt the moral dilemma of a college student getting a 14-year-old girl pregnant, and then knowingly starting a romantic relationship with her 16-year-old friend two years later in the name of journalism?
The inherent issue with Ezra’s character has not only been put in the spotlight this season, but it has been acknowledged by the writers and pointed out to those more naïve fans. This long game the show has been playing with Ezra character and his romance with Aria might be something constructed after the fact (the writers have admitted that he didn’t become A in their minds until the beginning of season three) but, watching it now, it really is a marvel. As a twenty-something fan, it’s easy to forget that the majority of Pretty Little Liars’ audience are young girls, and the notion that their loving, ‘epic’ romance could be deceptive and abusive is an admirable one to throw out there. The moral of the story is – don’t sleep with your teacher.
As surprisingly convincing as Lucy Hale was in the pivotal moment in which Aria finally opened her eyes, the episode, again, belonged to Spencer. Parallel to this big A-related story was Spencer’s slow decline into drug dependency, something that has been brewing ever since she tried to solve her first mystery while still doing her school work, and that ‘intervention’ between the four girls was probably my favourite moment of the episode. The notion that this has happened before, and wasn’t just a plot by Ezra/A to set her up and divert attention, means that Spencer is now a suspect in Alison’s disappearance, and the ‘big secret’ that has been teased should be on its way soon.
So what do we know? Unless the writers have completely lost the plot and gone power mad reading online theories, there’s much more to Ezra’s story than what he told Aria here. The pages of that unfinished book are probably a good place to start looking for answers, but A has those, and it looks as though Spencer will be out of the crime-solving game for a while just so she can get some much-needed sleep. That leaves Hanna and Emily to deal with things, which doesn’t bode well, and I wonder whether Mona – with her newfound affection for Mike clouding her judgement – might rejoin the Liars and team up against EzrA?
This was the week we were all waiting for but, in typical Pretty Little Liars-style, it was an extremely small step forwards and a couple of steps sideways. I’m glad that Aria and Ezra are now no more, that Aria can finally find the motivation to start being more active in the story and, with hope for a return from Caleb now that Ravenswood has been put out of its misery, it could soon be all hands on deck in the Liars vs. A war. But who was in the blonde wig at the zoo if it wasn’t Spencer? And why was Ezra’s basement empty when Aria checked? This is far from over and, if I were going to bet money on it, Ezra’s confession was only a minute part of the whole, sordid tale.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Shadow Play, here.
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