Man, Lucy Hale is awesome. Just firing on all cylinders tonight, in another Buckley Dreamboat performance that's so dazzling it's almost enough to make you wish Aria Montgomery could find happiness.
Ella (hi!) brings in Aria's old babysitter -- now a famous New Yawk writer-lady and played by my beloved Alona Tal -- to demonstrate the possibility of a non-Rosewood existence, and hooks her up with Ezra in a way that manages to be slightly menacing. Of course all Aria can do is perseverate on this woman Simone and her age-appropriate wiles -- even though everywhere people are getting murdered and run over and A is still fucking up everybody's lives -- to the point where even Ezra has to roll his eyes.
Maya's phone has been reprogrammed, just like her mind -- oh, and FYI it turns out in a deleted scene that she had a history of drug use, which is why her hippy parents flipped so quick, if you were wondering -- but luckily Hanna has a heretofore unknown but strangely tense relationship with this bizarre slacker-hacker narc of the Quileute Tribe, and he's willing to adjust Emily's phone to get through the roadblocks. I don't know much technology, but it's all very hand-wavy and Zero Cool and leads to many excellent hacker conversations. Not so excellent is the convo with Maya, who is taking to her brand new cult like a duck to creepy, crazy water and sending Emily off the deep end.
Spencer's laptop with the Ian footage has gone missing, and only Ian could have taken it, so there's a lot of Thin Man, classic Spencer-stomping hardcore no-bullshit action for her. (Appropriately enough, Spencer is dressed like a thin man the entire time. Her outfits are getting to be like if Blair Waldorf's clothes had a baby with Scott Fitzgerald's clothes. It's so shocking and so very hot, but never fear: Aria's clothes still come out slightly ahead, with the usual brazen touches of mental illness.) She also crosses sneaky paths with Hanna's narc friend, so I guess he's here to stay. I just wish every boy on this show were played by Noel Kahn, and then we wouldn't have these problems. No: Every boy on every show. That would be pretty cool.
Everybody looks especially delightful this week -- even Ian, still doing his Sinister Julia Child routine -- which is nice because they're having a danceathon, like in Stars Hollow or the Dust Bowl days of olden times. It brings Ella and Byron together (she rocks their encounters hardcore, of course), but more importantly it's one of the most luxurious visuals I've ever seen on this show. You could watch this dance with nobody talking and still be getting your money's worth, so gorgeous is it. The lights, the projections, the music... It's how I've always wanted my birthday to look! But with way more molesters, obvs.
Not so nice for Hanna, anyhow, since she's having no luck finding a job at even the weirdest boutiques, and must rely on A's bizarre generosity one horrible soul-crushing task at a time. Next up: $200 a pop to dance with poor old stalker Lucas...
And that's when everything goes impressively bugshit.
Before you know it Emily's drunk as hell and bitching out Hanna for stringing Lucas along (like Ali did with her), bitching out Ian for killing everybody or whatever, Toby's unfair lo-jack, and stumbling around the place like a gorgeous zombie. Hanna's over here getting dumped by Sean and rescued by poor old sweet Lucas, who thinks this is a teen movie where she finally loves him, and not actually the disgusting prostitution that it is. Aria tries to eat Simone's face off and Spencer's stealing a dance with Ezra to keep Aria from embarrassing everybody, only to get pulled into dancing with Ian so he can threaten her with certain death if anybody finds out he molested her... I mean, it's intense. Annnd fabulous.
So back at Spencer's, Hanna agrees with Drunk Emily that she was acting horribly tonight --but doesn't explain about the cash money because we're not talking about Ashley's stealing thing -- and then finds Spencer's laptop randomly on the coffee table. Needless to say, the Ian video has been wiped... But there's a picture of Alison heading merrily to her death, with somebody following behind. And in the little thing at the end, and it's even creepier than normal, Ella smiles warmly at A as she hands over that leather jacket/gloves combo in coatcheck, because they totally know each other.
Next week: A finally detonates some landmines, leading to what looks like (but is probably in all fairness not) a full-on Girl War between the Liars.
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So you know how there's two kinds of nuclear reactions when you shove a lot of nuclei into one location: Fission, where they explode, and fusion, where they get all screwed up. Either way, lots of power in there. It's a synthetic hothouse and the things can't help but interact.
And you know how the nuclear family as a unit was only invented like two hundred years ago, and our "classic" nuclear family in America is really just a dividend from the interstate highway system, isolating these mother/father/children units from each other and shipping the old folks off to sad Hoarders episodes or even sadder old folks' homes: A synthetic hothouse, where the things can't help but react.
The rise of the poltergeist coincides with the invention of the nuclear family. So do eating disorders. We've already talked a lot about the psychic energy bouncing around teenage girls, and why it's such a big deal: Because teen girl sexuality is the most important commodity in the entire universe, and must be controlled. Put that into a reactor like the synthetic nuclear family, and you get this show: Every man is a predator, and every girl knows for a fact that there is something horrible and dirty inside her. Everybody is unimaginably alone, because everybody carries this secret, and since we don't talk about it, we have no idea that everybody on earth feels this way.
Spencer's always carried the football on this one, which is why I'm bringing it up at the very beginning because of what she's about to say -- and because this episode, even for this show, never stops staring right at this idea -- but consider each of the Liars' families in nuclear terms: Aria's family is in total fission, and she's looking for a teacher who'll sleep with his students. Hanna's family is the definition of fission, and she's doing okay considering her mom is just as much of a child as she is. Emily's mom is showing the pressure of being locked up in a house with her daughter's sexuality, while her dad gets to pat her on the head and then run back into war.
Or consider the Cavanaughs, in their Grey Gardens reactor: Jenna, who's willing to do everything to trap her brother in there with her, and Toby who is becoming a ghost himself.
In every case you see a major truth happening, which is that our family psychodramas link us back to antiquity, but only circumstantially: This fusion's one good effect is that it forces the archetypes out much faster and culturally we have to deal with them faster and better. We don't have time to make up fairytales and sand them down to truth over generations, because we're looking it in the face all the time, so we have TV shows and cultural phenomena and memes instead. We're crazier, but also healthier, if you see what I'm saying, because we see it happening and have to account for it in every transaction: Freud, like astrology, is completely invalid but always correct.