Pretty Little Liars season 4 episode 3 review: Cat’s Cradle

Caroline recaps the action in this week's sluggish instalment of Pretty Little Liars...

This review contains spoilers.

4.3 Cat’s Cradle

We’re getting into the sluggish, slightly uneventful stage of Pretty Little Liars that occurs every season and, for those obsessed fans who keep up with the clues and hints throughout, episodes like Cat’s Cradle are always a slight disappointment. The good news is that there seems to be a reunion going down in Rosewood, with parents actually parenting and boyfriends doing the stand-up thing but, with absolutely everyone acting shady so close to home, we know the familial unity can’t last.

First up is Ella, who hasn’t been seen since around half-way through season three. It’s just a fly-in visit, however, as her boyfriend asks her to go with him to Austria for “less than a year.” She obviously didn’t get the memo that Aria and Mike (remember him?!?) won’t at all be okay with Byron taking care of them as her daughter says, but I guess Holly Marie Combs’ exit is more to do with behind-the-scenes stuff than actual story planning. The writers have, however, woven it quite seamlessly into the show, as A texts Aria suggesting she’s behind the mass parental exits this week.

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Emily’s mother also makes an appearance, and discovers a couple of the secrets her daughter has been keeping from her. It was only a matter of time before the authorities questioned the Liars’ extensive time spent in hospital, and now the Fields family are under scrutiny for apparent abuse. Is this entirely down to A and her meddling? Who reported them and who is the social worker now peeking into their lives? Either way, it’ll be great to see the real world invade these girls’ worlds for once, and fun to see them try to defend what’s been going on for three years.

Hanna still doesn’t trust her own mother, and Ashley sure isn’t doing anything to divert her suspicions over Wilden’s death. She definitely wasn’t in New York on the night in question, and now Hanna knows it, but I still sincerely doubt she actually killed Wilden. Caleb appeals to Hanna’s long-absent father this week and he tells him that Ashley visited him on the night of the murder. Now, his gun is missing, and he assumes that his ex-wife used it to kill the cop who had been terrorising her family for so long. Now that daddy is back in the picture, of course, he’s also a suspect.

Spencer spends some time away from the girls this week as she helps Toby uncover the truth about his mother. They break into Radley with all of the skills learned from Mona last season, and discover that Toby’s mother couldn’t possibly have jumped from the window she’s said to have. Nothing I saw confirmed this but, as its television, I’ll just take Spencer’s word for it. The question is, how much does Toby’s mother have to do with A and her team, and does this cover-up suggest a larger conspiracy inside Radley? It’s obvious that something isn’t right there, and maybe Spencer will have to fake a relapse to get back on the inside.

Meanwhile, because they still haven’t learnt to stop following leads in the middle of the night, Aria, Emily and Hanna head into the middle of nowhere to track down the maker of the Ali masks. It turns out that Alison herself had created the first and A had adopted it later (more evidence for the ‘Red Coat is Alison’ theory), and the Liars sans Spencer head out to question the guy. Not a lot is learned for the visit but Hanna does find a Melissa mask in the store cupboard – did she and Alison visit the workshop together? Either way, Melissa knows something’s closing in on her, and seems to be acting protective over Spencer for once.

Next week Spencer starts demanding answers from her family, and Melissa snaps, while Hanna continues to protect her mother from whatever crime she may or may not have committed. See you there!

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Turn of the Shoe, here.

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