Aria, convinced that her parents are hiding something, engages Hanna in a game of cat-and-mouse that reveals not only Ella and Byron's continuing secret affair (yay!) but also the fact that Cyberwolf Caleb is living in the walls of the high school. By episode's end, Hanna's taken Caleb home with her... Which is good, because she needs a friend once Aria dumps her ass for sending Ella to Philly. (Thanks, A!)
Also making new friends are Emily -- whose stalker Paige shows up waterlogged in the middle of the night, chock full of remorse and crazy and the Well of Loneliness -- and Spencer, who decides she'll be Toby Cavanaugh's home French tutor. Kind of like an apology, but with that Spencer edge where she'll gladly see him dead or maimed, so long as he can help her figure out who killed Alison, and doesn't really take pains to hide that fact.
Note that Spencer still is not entirely sure that Toby isn't a serial killer, but of course that doesn't stop her from being pretty sweet to him, tossing off "C'est la guerre" -- like anybody but Awesome Fucking Spencer Hastings would ever say that in casual conversation -- and wearing not one but two completely different, absolutely insane outfits. (A: Sorceress-Nanny à Go-Go, B: Madeline & Le Mauvais Chapeau.)
Later, Spence and Melissa fight about Ian's creepiness as usual, but then Big Sis drops two bombs at once: Number one, she knows about the kissin' that summer, and number two, she is having a devil baby. Which makes Spencer's desire to see Ian rot in prison somewhat trickier. Then she sees that the French copy of Catcher she gave Toby -- in sympathy for his Graham Greene existence, and which Jenna made him give back -- includes a smuggled clue we'll find out about next week.
There's not much more to say about Emily, because mostly what we got from her was: Swimming, swimming, oddly sexy face, swimming. So much swimming. Two entire shitty sub-Paramore songs' worth of swimming. I don't know who that's for, if it's for jocks or to titillate or what, but damn it was intensive. If you weren't familiar with what swimming looks like, you can now consider yourself fully informed. You have graduated from the Watching Emily Swim University.
But with Em, I think she is going to make Paige McCullers her new Toby Cavanaugh and defend her to the dying breath, because man was Paige a pitiful fucking sight this week. I'm always happy when we learn to love the villain, you know that, but I was kinda hoping for Paige to act like a crazy bitch for at least an episode or two.
Next week: No idea. Everybody's mumbling in the previews but it looks like Spencer wears crazy clothes and Aria bullshits around some more. Oh, and Jenna pulls some righteous shit, no doubt.
Byron's going somewhere secret -- and looking quite nice, to be fair -- which means it's just Aria and Mike for dinner. Mike's feeling like Sausage Heaven, about which we will not be making any jokes, but Aria whines about that, then remembers she needs her dad's pledge for the Danceroony where Emily got wasted and amazing. In his coat pocket is the museum ticket Hanna gave his wife, which is a strange place for it to be, and Byron's every bit as jumpy about it when Aria asks, as his wife was last week.
I was having trouble at this point knowing whether or not Aria was connecting the dots correctly, because everybody's so suspicious all the time that you could really just as easily assume the Montgomerys were A, but I forgot that Aria is a genius and immediately assumes that her parents drydocked in the museum parking lot while she was getting kisses from her pedagogical paramour.
Emily can't find her Chem textbook but Spencer is too busy staring out the window at Toby Cavanaugh's destroyed mailbox -- in its lifetime, it was every bit as fucking creepy as the house in front of which it stands -- and thinking about how Toby deserves a little of her mercy. But since that's a rare currency, Spencer-mercy, she's got to be very smart about where she spends it.
(Also, how come literally everybody lives within sight of Emily's bedroom window? Am I making this up? Do Emily and Spencer actually live in a duplex? I need a map: From Emily's house you can see Maya's bedroom -- which used to be Alison's bedroom? -- and also Toby's mailbox. But then also from Alison's window, you can take a picture of the Barn in Spencer's yard, and from Spencer's house you can see wherever Jason was creepin' last week, which I thought was Alison's/Maya's house also, even though that makes no sense either... All of these facts cannot be true at once, this show is way too smart for that. I messed up somewhere but I can't figure out where.)
Anyway, the first image this week was somebody taking a bat to the Creepy Cavanaugh mailbox, and from what Emily says it's not the first time. "Every time I come home Toby's out there cleaning up some new mess," she says. I guess as long as he's not putting his time at home to waste -- and getting some sun while he's at it. Spencer's feeling pensive, but Emily's not looking at her face so when she muses, "Do you still think that somebody framed him?" Emily assumes she's starting some rabid Junkyard Spencer shit with her.
There's an awkward, badly written transition as to why Spencer is feeling sympathy -- seems being told she bought the Bracelets of Doom, which she clearly did not do, made her understand what it's like to kill a girl, stalk a lesbian and then become Public Enemy #1, forced to Boo Radley yourself into madness in the creepiest house since Elm Street -- but I guess it gets the bracelets expo out of the way. Which would be more useful if they mattered, at all, which they still don't.
Anyway, Spencer gets mad sincere about it, because Honor is her blood and breath and her heart pumps Executive Realness 24/7: "I owe you an apology. Seriously. You believed that he was innocent from day one, and I jumped down your throat. I said some really heinous things about Toby." Of course, Emily has never seen this side of Spencer before and it makes her wicked uncomfortable, so instead of giving Spencer a big old hug -- this is your one chance! -- she just says to apologize to Toby instead. Which would feel almost as good to watch, honestly.
Aria and Hanna now have a scene of such total cuteness that you know it's going to be knives out by the end of the episode. The coffee cart is mobbed, because all the vending machines are on lockdown, because somebody has been doing unlicensed vending in the middle of the night, because somebody is living in the walls of the school, and that somebody is obviously Caleb but they're going to take their time figuring that one out.
Hanna gossips that the alarms went off at 3 AM last night, and Aria -- brain elsewhere, or just lagging from the weight of so much earring -- is like, "The vending machines have alarms?" Hanna, God love her, rarely gets to make the are you in reality retarded face at anybody, so she applies it with mondo strength. No, Aria, the school has alarms. You halfwit. And who would want to live at school? Aria, that's who: "Going home just got scary."
Which explains why she's making less sense than Hanna, and would you like to tell us all about it, Aria? Of course you would. "I found a ticket! In a pocket! Because my parents! Are LIARS! This must relate to myself and Ezra Fitz somehow! For that is all that is real!" Hanna's still totally en pointe, though: "Aria, you're just on a loop."
Truer fucking words, my friend.
Hanna leaves Aria still blabbering about the ticket to go talk to Caleb, and Lucy Hale nails this, like, confused "Um?" as she's walking away. Worried now that Aria will continue to poke and prod at the Museum Gambit until she uncovers Hanna's deceit, it's time to yell at Caleb -- and do some flirting while pretending to yell at Caleb -- about how he's not to talk or tweet or blog or bweet about stealing Ella Montgomery's catalytic converter or whatever it was. "Can I speak now?" he says, which only sets up the starring line of dialogue in this whole thing (apart from the Shusher's "um," which really was just masterful): "Okay, if you must, but it's really annoying." Which is TV speak for: We will kiss next week at the latest.
Anyway, while Caleb is cuting out about how Hanna owes him a secret secret secret, Paige McCullers is shitting her pants again about Emily's swimming skillz. Apparently they have tied and we still don't know who is going to be "relay" "anchor" at tomorrow's "meet." I know maybe three words in that sentence, but never fear: By the end of this episode you will be a wiz of swimming vocab. All of them swimmin' words.
Coach is awesome some more -- how great is it that the team is the Sharks? -- and Emily's all characteristically like, "Listen, we will figure this thing between us out eventually, even if we have to emotionally process unto the end of days," and Paige pulls out a knife and stabs Emily Fields in her gorgeous face one million times screaming "YOU FIGURE IT OUT. I'MA WIN."
Ella -- about whom Aria is still not sure, due to her blatant lying last week about attending the museum thing, plus the ticket issue from this morning -- comes running up with the following bomb: "I was just talking to the Principal about you and Mr. Fitz!" For a moment Aria can hear the sirens, but never fear: Turns out Ezra wants to take the class to see "the Fitzgerald show" in NYC.
I admit I don't know what she's talking about, I was never one for culture, but I guess when that's the only thing you're qualified to teach you want to get as much mileage out of it as possible. Plus, what pedo teacher didn't want to schedule an off-campus trip first chance he got?
They pedeconference, those Montgomery Women, so that Aria can give her mom the third degree about the Affair of the Ticket, and Ella's like, "Sorry, I borrowed your Dad's car, didn't know you needed it. And no, I didn't make it to the show so I guess I'm a liar, sorry about that too. I just had dinner. With a friend. Peace!" and then she disappears into thin air, hands all T-Rexed up like a creeping cat burglar so you know she's lying. I guess this is when Aria figures out Ella and Byron are humpin' around, but she plays it pretty close to the vest, you know, as she does. "Subtlety" is Aria's middle name. Aria Subtlety Montgomery.
Quiet independent study time in the library, where Hanna is reading the violent crap out of a magazine to the point where Spencer has to tell her to chill. Then, just in case she wasn't acting suspicious enough, Hanna peels off to go have a secret meeting with Caleb in the History stacks. He's calling in the favor, due to "two losers" who just bailed on what they owe him, see? "What do you want me to do? Bust their kneecaps?" No, honey. If he wanted an enforcer he'd be talking to Spencer.
(Or Mona! How great would that be? "Listen, I'm really sorry about this? But I'm going to have to fuck up your face way past anything a makeover could help. Hold my purse?")
What Caleb wants, obvs, is a date: "You're the Homecoming Queen, Hanna. You've got a certain rep around here, and I need to borrow some of your cred." Basically, she'll be the shill that demonstrates Caleb is trustworthy -- because there is nothing sketchy about Hanna at all -- to which she responds, "You can't be trusted." Heh. And anyway, she's busy with the swim meet. He touches her hair and laughs about fitting "all of that" under a swim cap -- what the sadsack boys of the Game like to call "kino" -- but she just busts his chops some more and takes off. For somebody with no interest, she sure is good at making boys fall for her.
I know eventually we'll find out who A is, but honestly: Does it matter? It took three years to make people quit caring who Gossip Girl was. And so like the second Hanna's done with Caleb, A texts her all "Yeah, Quileute's staying quiet but what about me?" And Hanna looks all around at everybody on their phones in the Quad -- because kids these days with