This review contains spoilers.
5.9 March Of Crimes
It was another slow week for A on Pretty Little Liars, with the girls, their friends and their enemies doing a bang up job of pulling at the thread of their fragile lives all by themselves. March Of Crimes saw the fallout from the Zach incident as Ella’s engagement party arrives, as well as the apparent end to Hanna and Caleb’s co-dependent downward spiral (a product, as ever, of a classic Spencer rant) and the outing of Sydney as a potential hoodie in cahoots with Jenna.
One of the biggest developments, however, was the not-so-sudden reappearance of Noel Khan, a character who has been on the fringes of this mystery for five years without ever really admitting to it. He was on to Ezra back in season one, he knew when to get the heck of Rosewood and, now, has realised that Alison doesn’t have friends and allies as much as she has chess pieces in her elaborate game. In other words, he’s a guy you want around, and Spencer might regret making him into an enemy.
But he knows more about Alison’s two years away than anyone else, and the mere fact that he stole blackmail-ready evidence from Jenna’s house right before it exploded suggests the original Liar definitely isn’t the lost lamb she’s been pretending to be all year. To be honest, it’s hard to pin her down given that we’ve seen her be vulnerable while alone yet conniving while in company. I hope it’s not just bad writing, and that the show is attempting to shade her in as a legitimate character rather than the myth she’s been for four seasons.
But then that’s a shame if it takes time away from Emily and Aria, who are the half of the group that have never really felt fleshed out to me. Aria has only recently escaped the black hole of a storyline that was Ezria, though she’s bound to return there at some point, but was right back to her usual outsider role this week while indulging in denial about Zach. Aria, of all people, should be familiar with the tendency of Rosewood men to court teenage girls, but then I guess Ella was right when she said love makes you blind.
Meanwhile, Emily ditched her naive, nice-girl act when confronted with the truth about Sydney. If that outburst was an attempt by the writers to make the girls’ plight a bit less sympathetic – as Jenna has always been – then it definitely worked. If that’s the case, then Sydney was a good idea at this point in the story. At some point, especially now that she’s back in the picture, the Liars are going to have to take some responsibility for the things they’ve done rather than blaming it all on Alison’s negative influence.
These girls aren’t the heroes of the story, nor are they the only victims. That’s why, just as Alison is being pushed out of the group, it’s important to welcome Hanna and Caleb back into the fold. Despite the frustration of seeing those two, the couple that were always our light relief from the ‘is Toby/Ezra/Paige A?’ concerns, self-destruct, it’s never felt particularly out of character. This was a smart way to not ignore what happened in Ravenswood, but maybe dragging Caleb back into the mystery is just the thing to drag him out of his funk.
And they’re going to need all hands on deck, as someone – presumably A – has hired a guy to admit to the fake kidnapping story. This is the return of the benevolent A, ready to help the Liars out just as much as hurt them, so is it another clue indicating Mona? Probably not, since I don’t think she would have stitched Hanna up like that, but Lucas could have. Then again, the by-product of this, destroying Ella’s engagement, smells of the Montgomerys – Aria, Mike and Byron (and, as always, Ezra) are back on the suspects list.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Scream For Me, here.
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