Caleb is back! And for his first trick, he gets Hanna's estranged father to admit that Ashley Marin returned to Rosewood in the middle of her epic NYC trip -- but according to him, it was just for a lasagna loan. "You're still on the edges of this," he warns Caleb, but of course Caleb is working to a completely different tapestry anyway, so it doesn't matter. Meanwhile Hanna tones down the 'tude a smidge and ends up finding Holbrook's giant Wall of Clues for all of the different murders and mysteries and stuff. I'm sure it's full of hilarious and wacky details, but I'm equally sure the internet has my back on that so I don't need to do it myself. In the end, Ashley's acting cagier than ever, but they are at least able to take their snarky bitching down to a level of more silent, sad paranoia.
Spencer takes Toby on a tour of Radley so he can see all the awesome spots like where his mother topped herself and where Spencer found personal identification inside a horse in a room full of cribs and giant dolls, but he immediately decides that the whole thing was stupid and that he returned to the A-Team for no reason because he is a stupidhead. Luckily, Spencer is there to analyze the trajectory of her boyfriend's mother's body -- as she was committing suicide by jumping out a mental institution window -- and determines that actually, unless Marion Cavanaugh was (both really bad and) really good at parkour, she did not in fact kill herself and thus, betraying everyone for A is still sometimes a very cool thing to do.
Ella's coffeeshop-owning boyfriend asks her to come with him to Vienna, where it's just coffee and sausages all the time, and even though those are her two favorite things besides her kids, she can't leave. After Aria sees A taking down everybody's mom over the course of the episode, she decides to send Ella off to Austria after all. Good for Ella, very sad for Aria, unacceptable for Jacob. Unacceptable for Rosewood. Without Ella around to keep everybody in line, that place is going into the shitter. I promise you.
The part where she considers the fact that sending Ella away is safer for her mom, but very sad for her, is one of the most uncomplicatedly sad things that Aria's ever given us, and it was very moving. On the upside, we get to see how Karate Jake deals with 3-5 of Aria's least-appealing personality quirks, and he passes with flying colors. Even Aria's amazed how uninterested he is in her bullshit. It's charming. They make each other seem really great. I hope they stay together forever and ever, lol.
Emily's not out of the woods yet, by the way. A took advantage of Pam's understandable meltdown over last week's oxycontin abuse and called Family Services, so now Army Dad is moving back home again and maybe Pam is going to jail for everything that A ever did to Emily? That would suck. Pam tries harder than any person. (Besides Aria.) But maybe this was just to fit in with the "A dicks with your moms" storyline and won't go too far. I mean, she's only been back on the show for about a minute.
The Liars find a mask in Ali's crap and then inside the mask they find another mask and they take this mask to the maskmaker, across Torch Lake, and his main deal is that he has an amazing face that I couldn't stop looking at. And in turn, he finds Emily's face hard to not look at, and eventually makes a mask of her face. So while he is making a mask of Emily's face, Hanna finds a mask of Melissa's face, but it's not inside any other masks. It's just normal.
Melissa is back in town, throwin' her personal brand of chill over all the proceedings, as though she were wearing a mask of her own face, to do three things: One, warn Spencer to get out of Rosewood if she knows what's good for her, Two, throw more wrenches into the Wilden/B-Team/NAT Club connection, and Three, pose a very interesting question at episode's end. Namely, if Spencer knew what she was asking when she wondered if Melissa would pick Ian over her, it's equally safe to say that Melissa knows Spencer would choose practically anybody (Toby, Liars) over her. And don't lie, so would you.
So it's less a matter of mutually assured destruction, and more like they are in a situation that has nothing to do with love or their occasional warmth toward each other -- and everything to do with The Big Sleep, which is the movie Aria and Jake attempt to enjoy at the episode's beginning, and is all about two sisters and which one of them is really the trainwreck.
At first you think it's the party girl, but then later you start to think maybe it's the older sister, because she seems to be in pretty deep with all the gangsters and crumbums they're dealing with looking for the party-sister: She consorts with shadows, on purpose. In a show full of victims but just as full of people who make deals with their eyes open, it's a big thing to think about. Also, that movie is amazing, it was the first black and white movie I ever loved, and Lash Canino still shows up in my nightmares occasionally.
Next Week: Spencer fixates on Melissa, Aria lets A sabotage her relationship, the Family Services saga of Emily gets underway, Holbrook's partner comes to town, and Hanna continues to act super sketch about the Ashley situation.
Toby gave A back her Lair for a folder of possible evidence on his mother's last days at Radley. A parrot was introduced and then vanished again, leaving only a mysterious phone number. Mona got choked out by A, leading Emily to abuse prescription drugs and Aria to hook up with a hot martial arts instructor. PA state police were called in to figure out why the Liars keep killing the cops of Rosewood, and Hanna is obsessed with the idea that her mom is to blame.
Hanna: "My mother is not connected to the disappearing parrot..."
Liars: "But what we do know is that the bird is connected to Ali, who's connected to Wilden, who's connected to your mom. And to us, and to other stuff we don't know about."
A: "That reminds me of a song about bones I will listen to later. Shazam that shit."
Hanna: "So my mom ran Wilden over, so what? Sometimes you run over people. I've been involved in over eleven counts of vehicular manslaughter. It doesn't mean anything in the long run."
Liars: "Emily, have you recovered from your injury, your destroyed future, and your drug problem?"
Emily: "Mostly. I'm building up quite the tolerance, between getting roofied over and over and poisoned through pain cream and carbon monoxide poisoning."
Emily has been back to see Jessica DiLaurentis and pick up bird supplies for a bird that is no longer with us, plus a bunch of junk, all to cover for the fact that Alison had a weird predilection for writing important clues in the margins of her homework and other people's Biology textbooks and neverending-story journals with boundless empty pages in which janitors and hyperadrenalized ninjas can sketch out their latest plans and dreams and dress patterns.
Aria: "My mom's pretty happy with her barista boyfriend. I remember Ezra Fitz."
Liars: "How is your actual new boyfriend, Karate Jake?"
Aria: "He's fine, but it all feels so healthy and low-effort. I feel like we're doing something wrong that I am not feeling constantly endangered. You start to get off on it."
Liars: "I just like the convenience of everybody being here at this one coffee shop in the middle of the day."
Ella: "Oh, Barista boyfriend, that's so wonderful that you've been invited to a castle on a lake outside of Vienna to make pastries. Literally that is what is going on."
Guy: "Would you like to come with me for just under a year? We can enjoy this experience with the other four Americans who were chosen to make pastries in a castle."