This review contains spoilers.
6.13 The Gloves Are On
It took a while, but A is back, and they’re apparently shopping around for some new toys. As well as a fresh batch of lies to use against our girls, we also have a brand new bunch of characters from which to choose our suspects. It no longer has to be someone we already know, as was the assumption with both Mona and Cece, but could instead pop up from any of the Liars’ new lives. Or from the missing five years, even.
Also, I say A, but really the only clue to a moniker we’ve had so far is the devil emoji with which Aria’s first blackmail text was signed. What do we call them if not A? Maybe B? Or just Ezra, to save time?
It was certainly smart to wait until now to re-introduce A, simply because we needed some time to get to know the characters as they are now. The Liars also needed time to mess up their lives enough to restock their closet of secrets and, surprise surprise, a lot of those secrets are coming from familiar sources.
Take Aria – as with the pilot way back when, she is the first to receive an A message, and this happens almost immediately after she decides to essentially ghost-write Ezra’s second novel without his knowledge. This is an extremely Aria thing to do, and the resulting book will be as much about her and Ezra’s sordid love affair as it would have been otherwise, so we understand why she’s falling into the same trap all over again.
But dear lord, Ezra has surpassed himself this season. It’s a jump to accuse him of murder based only on the fact that he’s day-drinking and saw Charlotte on the night she was killed, but then I operate on the assumption that he’s a psychopath at all times, so why shouldn’t his previous victims do the same?
That said, there’s something about the new dynamic between him and Aria now that she’s an adult that makes all their interactions that much more disgustingly fascinating. She always had a ludicrous amount of power in the relationship given that she was a high school student and he was her teacher, so to see them just remain toxic as ever is weirdly satisfying. Of course she believes he’d kill for her, and of course she’d offer to protect him.
Lucas is back, and he’s exactly what we all knew he’d become. A whiny stalker with money, as opposed to the whiny stalker without money he was back in high school. His initial ‘accidental’ reunion with Hanna was hilarious in how honest it was to the experience of a million previously-unpopular people who’ve grown up to be successful. He wants Hanna to know that the silver jag parked out front is his, and that he owns townhouses in five different countries because, no matter what, girls like Hanna are his motivation for everything.
And now she owes him a debt for providing an alibi for her and her friends, and Lucas has the upper hand. I don’t like Lucas having the upper hand because I’m frightened of how he’ll exploit that advantage down the line. He even offers his previous crush a place to stay, and she accepts, naively believing that he’s there just for her friendship. In reality, he’s probably the new A.
Speaking of ‘friendship’, Spencer is back “shopping out of other people’s carts” as Melissa so charmingly puts it, and we finally know that Caleb feels the same way despite the Hanna factor. This is a hard one, though essentially unimportant aside from the juicy soap opera scandal of the thing, because we as an audience have invested so heavily in the Haleb relationship (and Spoby, I guess, for some).
To add another person into the mix is always dicy (remember Travis? Miranda?) but when that other person is a fellow Liar? That’s untrodden ground, and it’s something I assumed would never happen on this show. But five years have passed, Hanna’s engaged, and Spencer and Caleb have more shared experiences than any of the other current relationships on the show. He was there through it all, and maybe Spencer needs that.
And the important part of this isn’t the potential of Spencer and Caleb getting together, but what it might bring up between Spencer and Hanna. The priority for Pretty Little Liars has always been the girls and their bond, which is part of the reason why this development is so unsettling.
I don’t have much to say on Sara Harvey other than that she is getting increasingly worse and I’m getting less and less sure that the writers are in on it. Is she supposed to be a genuine threat or a figure or campy fun? Does the show want us to support her and Emily as a couple, feel sorry for her or hate her with the fire of a thousand suns? They’re succeeding on that last one, but not much else.
Oh, and Emily’s not actually dying, but donating her eggs for money. If you look at this storyline for too long it’s really, really dark but, with the teasing of the audience and her pride at doing a good deed for some hypothetical couple, I guess we’re not supposed to think that way.
But overall, we’re definitely in uncharted territory. Sometimes the best thing about extended time jumps is seeing where peripheral characters have ended up and, while I’d much prefer to check in on Mona, Jenna or Noel Khan, having Lucas around is definitely an interesting wrinkle. Add that to new trysts like Spencer and Caleb’s, and Pretty Little Liars is already getting the most out of its characters and its relationships regardless of any potential reemergence of the A mystery.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Charlotte’s Web, here.