This review contains spoilers.
5.3 Surfing The Aftershocks
Watching last week’s episode of Pretty Little Liars, I found myself quite hopeful about the show’s future. Sure, the two year renewal is bad news for almost everyone and the way all A reveals have been handled since Mona have been shoddy, but maybe the new, extended deadline for wrapping things up would give the series a renewed focus a la Lost, rather than keep it meandering as it has been for most of seasons three and four?
This episode, Surfing The Aftershocks, was pretty much a mixture of the old and new PLL, with the good stuff mostly counteracting the bad. Alison’s arc remains the most interesting thing about the season, lending a human drama to the lunacy going on everywhere else, and the effect her return is having on each Liar has a lot of potential that hasn’t yet been squandered away. But then there’s Ezra, and Aria, and Paige. There’s just so much mess that the writers are still trying to clear away.
Or a more accurate description might be brush under the rug, since the Ezria arc has gone from creepy to vindicating to enraging to ludicrous in just half a season. The epic love story between a teacher and his student was something I could ignore this time last year, but then the show made it into something so much worse and is now trying to backtrack as fast as possible. Aria being in the same room as Ezra is enough, but to openly confide in him about Shana weeks after the big reveal? Then you have the “scene of the crime” line coupled with Alison’s rousing character recommendation. Sheesh.
But that’s a rant for another time, for this episode was lovingly dedicated to Hanna and her latest identity crisis. Though the thought that she might not be herself just because of a makeover in Alison’s image back in the day didn’t quite land for me, the sentiment that she would now question how she got to this point from the ‘Hefty Hanna’ of old is an interesting one. Ignoring the bad makeup/prosthetics (she still looked absolutely gorgeous), flashbacks to the early days of her and Mona’s friendship have been something we’ve needed for a while. Those two are magic together, and we don’t get enough of them.
Spencer’s hunt for both Alison’s attacker and the secrets her family are keeping hasn’t yet reached a point where we can talk about it, but the look Spencer gets when she’s on a mission is one that every episode would be amiss without. The show has a Melissa problem just as much as it has a Jenna/Lucas/Noel/Wren problem – unavailable actors on a huge, expansive ensemble show like this can really hurt the narrative – but maybe her recent return will mean we get more Hastings drama this year. I also hope it involves Jason, another oft-missing character, as he’s always a welcome presence.
And we know A wasn’t Shana, since we discover this week that Ezra’s iron-clad evidence was as circumstantial as the fact she was following the Liars while wearing a hoodie. She may have been one of the minions, but she certainly wasn’t Big A. That leaves it open to all of our previous suspects, including Jenna, Wren and Melissa, but the altered A tags featuring various unmasked people (so far including Shana, Alison and Mona) suggest that the show really is doing something different with the villains this year. If nothing else, that’s intriguing, and I like that Mona is back in full baddie mode.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Whirly Girlie, here.
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