Spencer's living at Aria's -- thanks to her parent-related blowout last week -- but heads home for a quick meet with her dad (Spencer's Dad is still the hottest dad) when Jason surmises that Alison was bribing Mr. Hastings about her brother's bastardy. This turns out not to be the case, but it does afford Jason and Spencer a fairly beautiful moment together in which they agree that the reason they're both so sketchy and confrontational is because of their shared "wiring." In the end, and after many kick-ass one-liners, she asks Jason for a loan because...
Vivian's contact from last week is an elfin, vulpine cutie named Jonah, and she was using his position at a cellphone store to track down A. When Alison vanished, he went unpaid, so now he wants to stick the Liars with her bill. And they may have to pay any given amount, because he did eventually figure out who was hounding her before he got fired...
Which probably was also A's doing, considering how much A gets around. In this episode alone, she: Sends Byron to Philly to track down Aria's secret hideout with Ezra; sends Detective Wilden and Garrett after Caleb with a court order; and has stashed his computer with some stolen school records (Mona clue?).
In the process of investigating the missing Page Five (stolen by Jenna and Garrett), Wilden also finds a picture of the Liars, dressed up as candy-stripers (during Emily's bout with HGH) to steal the autopsy report. Seems he's still on the case to proving they killed their friend, but after an icy reunion with former lover Ashley Marin, that part might get back-burnered for now.
The computer stuff, silly though it was, was definitely also the most exciting thread this week, as Caleb and Hanna throw around tons of made-up hacker terminology ("They'll never get past my firewall!" and "Keep decoding this phone!" being two classics) in pursuit of a deadly chase in the last act: Just as they're forcing Caleb to open up his computer, Hanna's able to hack into it remotely and clear the decks of all the bad files by decoding the meaning of his password, which includes references to the first night they did it. It is really sweet, and funny, and contains the best exchange of the night:
Spencer: "Erase it all! Ctrl-A! Ctrl-A!"
Hanna: "That's what we're trying to do!"
Spencer: "No, Hanna! Press Ctrl and A!"
Meanwhile, Emily's fresh off a triumphant return to the Sharks, and Ashley throws her a team party at the house. This is a wise move, since it frees up all the other Liars to have their own storylines without making the girls seem isolated, but it also increases the pressure on Maya, whose parents have found another joint in her stuff. Threatened with True North*, Maya's panicked and ready to run for San Francisco, but of course Emily can't accompany her, for reasons that are classified, so it's a bittersweet sort of ultimatum they must end on.
*(Also, Maya was talking to Jason on the street in the middle of the day -- and who's the other person we know that once kicked the old Mary Jane? It would be fascinating if he was her secret ex-boyfriend/stalker, assuming that storyline comes back, but also kind of sucky for everybody. Thanks in advance, Maya.)
Shockingly, the most bracing storyline comes to us via The Aria Show. It doesn't start out too promising -- Ezra wants to take her out for French vegan food, the better to discuss his job plans and demonstrate his resentment for her at the same time -- but quickly turns around once A sends Byron a note to tell his suspicious ass exactly where they're going to be...
Or would be, if not for a surprisingly elegant, even elegiac, twist: Seems the reason Holden's parents are so paranoid about his Fight Club activities is because he was born with an abdominal aortic aneurysm that could pop at any time, and they want to keep him safe. Aria, of course, draws the grody parallel to her relationship, but I think it's the real message that touches her heart: That whether your doom comes in the form of a ghost stalker or a congenital deformity, knowing it's there is not a valid reason to give up living.
These girls, and Holden, are dealing with the prospect of their mortality in a way nobody this young should never have to, and that's a terrible thing. So when she ditches her date with Ezra, the plot result is that Byron never sees Ezra -- although Ezra spots him, and jumps a foot in the air -- but the reason she stays is to watch somebody fuckin' fight. And I found that really beautiful.
Anyway, Next Week: Mona gets the A treatment, Vivian Darkbloom's secrets continue to unravel, and stupid Aria falls off a roof.
Aria called a mysterious number, bequeathed the Liars by Miss Vivian Darkbloom, and got a mean girl, but later on her boyfriend called back and set up a meet. Holden was in a Fight Club and possibly dealing drugs, or both, or neither. The connections between the (Spencer) Hastings household and the (Alison) DiLaurentis household were fraught and dubious, and Spence finally found out why: She and Ali share a brother, Jason, which I'm betting is why they changed the guy who plays him, to look more like them both. Caleb was under suspicion of both A and the NAT Club -- and unbeknownst to the Liars, NAT charter members Jenna Thing and Officer Garrett stole the fifth page of Ali's autopsy in order to clear their own names.
Of course, the second Emily got back on the team they won whatever world championship they're fighting for this week, in the neverending Hunger Games that is the Pennsylvania Swimming League.
Who is happy to see this is: Everybody.
Who Emily's excited to share it with is: The Liars.
Who brought a glittery posterboard sign that looks like it was made by Ed Gein's brain-damaged cousin who is still in elementary school is: Maya.
Who passive-agressively allows herself to get pushed out of the celebration moment is: Again, Maya.
Who cares is: NOBODY!
Where the team party at: Casa Marin. Just stay out of the pasta cabinet and don't get run over.
Hanna & Caleb: "Our conversation is too mortifying to relate. The gist is that Caleb has a WiFi hotspot."
Liars, meanwhile: "It's going to be weird later today when we meet that guy from inside Vivian Darkbloom's coat."
Aria: "Spencer, don't get mad but my mom was kind of wondering why you live with us now, so she called your mom. I must admit I also wonder why that is."
Spencer: "It is a complicated but fairly central thing I would be smart to explain to you at this time. Therefore, I will act sketchy instead."
Garrett & El Hombre Popular: "Caleb, we have a court order to impound your laptop. Somebody, clearly A, put a bunch of school files on it while you were sleeping at Challenge Day."
Caleb: "It is important for me to know my rights because there is a dark day coming for Internet culture. Therefore, take my impenetrable laptop. But you'll never know my passwords, because they are within my wolfen mind."
Hanna: "This seems like a bad idea, just giving the NAT Club and the guy who still thinks we killed Alison your laptop that contains video of the NAT Club killing Alison."
Caleb: "Hacker arrogance uber alles."