This review contains spoilers.
5.8 Scream For Me
When Pretty Little Liars has its morals on straight – which happens about five times per season – it’s a truly disturbing depiction of how the world sees teenage girls like Alison, Aria, Hanna, Spencer and Emily, and how they must see the world in order to survive. This episode, Scream For Me, was sadly more about how the Liars have come to see each other, no doubt brought on by the return of their manipulative fifth member a matter of weeks ago, and it’s no more comfortable to watch.
When there are unseen forces working against them, knowable bad guys operating in the shadows and general teenage angst to be dealing with, they have each other’s backs, but the moment one of them breaks ranks, that support system crumbles. As Aria put it, when you’re all living on a knife’s edge and just trying to get through each day without getting murdered/arrested, a weak link can be incredibly dangerous, and the rest of the group see Hanna as that weak link right now.
The alcohol-fuelled co-dependency storyline going on with her and Caleb right now is straight out of the teen drama handbook, something that shows revert to when they need to teach a character a lesson or want to indulge in the aftermath of some trauma but, on Pretty Little Liars, it’s a response that makes a lot of sense. The writers are clearly trying to address Ravenswood without actually addressing it, and that means Caleb has to go off the rails for a little while – taking Hanna along for the ride is the logical way to reinstate Haleb.
But if Hanna didn’t know how precarious her position as one of the Liars was, she does now. No matter how much the others girls appear to have accepted her as a human being rather than the stray nerd Alison brought into their midst, she’s still Hefty Hanna to them. They’re channelling all of their pain, frustration and anger over Alison’s continued manipulation of their lives into Hanna, the girl who more or less took the place of head Liar in Ali’s absence, and she doesn’t deserve it – whisky or no whisky.
And all of this happened without A even lifting a finger – Zach’s wandering hands were enough to incite fresh chaos in their lives. Ella’s previously lovely fiancé is merely the latest Rosewood adult male to fall prey to the Liars’ feminine wiles, but his apparent lack of A-connections makes it that little bit worse. It’s a tired cliché this show has created for itself, but we know by now that Pretty Little Liars isn’t shooting for realism in its heroes or its villains, and feels like a way to push Hanna further into her issues, rather than shock her out of them.
The rest of the episode was so ho-hum that it’s hardly worth talking about – Aria discovered that Mrs DiLaurentis used to take Bethany to the stables to see her bribe-horse, Custard, and Spencer and Emily have a run-in with said horse. Looking for an adult advocate that the police might listen to, Alison also played a pretty smart game with Ashley by sowing the seeds of danger throughout a day before hiring Noel Khan (mentioned every week, but not seen since the premiere) to break in. Smart, in an evil kind of way.
Oh, and Toby wants to become a cop, which is the best news we’ve heard in years – for his character and the Rosewood police department. Spencer may have laughed in his face – priceless – but if the show can push this through in an unrealistic timeframe before he gets shot or stabbed or strangled, then I’m completely on board. These characters are all in their senior years (right?! I don’t even know anymore), and they’re going to have to graduate eventually, so putting Toby in the police department is a smart move ahead of that time.
Next week, the girls start wising up to Alison’s ways and Spencer threatens to slit someone’s face open – obviously. See you there!
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Silence Of E. Lamb, here.
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