"It was just hair spray! It was Light Hold!" she yells at him after the break, because they are all just chilling out in the hallway of school in the middle of the night. And so why was he in there? Because he's "crashing," of course, because he doesn't have a family, because he wasn't kidding about his social worker and his foster parents are for the birds, and so this is what he does: Sleep on the Principal's couch. Vend in secret. The girls try to point out that this is dumb on many levels, and already he's close to getting caught, but he just tells them to vamoose so he can go back to bed.
Meanwhile, Emily wakes up in the pouring rain to a mysterious text that sends her running downstairs... And it's Paige, looking like three miles of rough road, crying in the rain and saying: "You have every reason to hate me. I don't even know why I'm here..." It's real sad and really urgent in some way. Emily swears she doesn't hate Paige, but turns out Paige hates herself. Emily can't handle that -- it's like the key to Emily -- and before she can wrap Paige in towels and hugs and forgiveness and make her some tea, Paige is off on her bike, into the hurricane gales: "I'm sorry, Emily. I just wanted you to know that."
Don't get me wrong, that was awesome and really unexpected, but never let it be said I don't appreciate a crazy bitch from time to time. It all just seems a little sudden, watching Paige McCullers totally unspool. Of course, we don't know where this story is headed, so maybe it's just a case of misplaced assumptions. Either way, the actress is so great, and Emily's gift of compassion is always so... inspiring is the word, and I honestly mean that... that I'm sure it'll all work out.
Anyway, at some point last night after abruptly woobifying herself, ol' Paige bit it -- had herself a little tarmac sandwich, watered the old face plant, took a short flight on the hydroplane to Bruiseville -- and so there will be no swim-off. Relay anchor, let's do this.
But first -- and we're coming up on easily ten minutes of swimming footage that aren't making it into the recap, so this is basically the end of the episode -- let's check in with everybody.
Hanna spends some time with Caleb, pointing out the rich girls, because she feels bad that he is the people under the stairs, and because he's willing to trade one answer for one mark. Caleb Quileute, meet Bridget Wu: "Bring her a bottle of something strong and she's your new best friend."
Q: "Where are you from?" (FORKS! FORKS WASHINGTON!)
A: Ding-ding-ding! "A lot of places. Seattle..."
Next up, Lindsay Hoover: "Don't let the Jesus sandals fool you, she's got cash. Her grandfather invented the stapler." Even Caleb is impressed by that. "Wanna get tight with her, grow a hipster 'stache and start talking about the Man."
Q: "Why don't you report your foster parents?"
A: "To who? My social worker? I've had four in the last six months. They can't remember my name. The last one called me Calvin.
Q: "When's the last time you saw your real parents?"A: GAME OVER.
Melissa brings Spencer a giant button for the meet, all giggly about how she's gotta be "super rah-rah" as the coach's wife, and of course Spencer makes that sour face and she's like, "It's a swim meet, it's not even his sport. Jackass." Melissa rises to the occasion and asks why Spencer continues with the anti-Ian stuff, and she's like, "Ask him. He molests." Melissa says, "He is bringing us hot dogs. What kind of a person are you?"
It degenerates from there, and Spencer's like, "He just randomly shows up and marries you after disappearing?" No, Melissa proposed, and was also behind their elopement. She bares her teeth in a very Melissa way: "You have a problem with my marriage, you take it up with me." Except for how specifically Ian is the problem she has with your marriage. "He's not been entirely honest with you, and I'm worried about you." Classic sister warfare, that one.
"Ask him about Alison, about what happened the summer that she was killed." Of course Melissa goes into full-on Elm Street denial immediately -- "Did Toby Cavanaugh put that idea in your head?" -- and then luckily (sort of) Ian shows up with the hot dogs and they get all schmoopy and he's like, "Oh, did I miss yet another fight?" No, huh-uh, we were just talking about Alison. My friend you were fucking all over the southern region of the United States? And then killed?
Melissa sends Ian away and gets up in Spencer's grill: "Look. I've already lost one relationship because of you. You will not ruin my marriage too." Yay! Exactly where I've wanted this to go since the surprise marriage. I love it so much. The only thing Spencer's got going is her 100% credibility. I mean, she's as morally compromised as anybody else on this show, but if Spencer says something you know it's more true than the truth. Take that out from under her, and she's just... Paige McCullers.
Aria explains to Hanna that Emily goes last, because the anchor is always the fastest and can make up for everybody else, and then on Hanna's other side Caleb asks which one was Bridget, again, and there's a hilarious cut to Bridget drinking out of a straw coming out of her purse that is just so cute it's unbelievable, and he takes off. The other girls are like, "Why are we at a swim meet with Caleb?" Because why not, shut up. "Hanna, I like stray dogs too," says Spencer -- from yesterday when she decided this -- "But sometimes they bite." "Well," Hanna says, "He's had his shots. Go Emily!" They point out that Emily is still not swimming, but that was hardly her point.
Paige shows up in time to cheer for Emily as she wins the race, and there's a neat shot of her standing on her tip-toes to make sure Emily sees her in the stands. Spencer takes off to get away from Ian immediately after, and somewhere in the middle of all this A sends Aria a text that Hanna had something to do with the museum scare.
Outside, Hanna finds Caleb going through his shit, which has ended up in the dumpster, and she invites him to come stay at her house. He demurs at first -- assuming that Ashley Marin is the kind of parent who would notice an entire person living in her house, express any interest, or call the authorities about it -- but Hanna pretty much convinces him to come live in her basement. I think that sounds neat! He has all those powers over technology and the phases of the moon and all. And the shiny hair.
Aria comes running up all grossed out like, "This sick freak A is trying to pit us against each other!" Hanna, to her credit, immediately goes, "Yeah, about that." But Aria is being too awesome to stop: "It's relentless! Every time we shut a door, A kicks open a window!" Finally Hanna just blurts it, I gave your mom the museum ticket, and then tries to explain, which: That is fucked up and you would want to hear the whole explanation, except this is Aria we're talking about so she just turns into a tornado of derision and runs off.
"There's nothing A could threaten me with that would make me do that to you! You're supposed to be my best friend! Stop talking and explaining what happened! There's nothing you could say that would change the way I feel right now! Not even the truth, that you are so desperately trying to explain! My kind of loyalty means I cut you off without even bothering to listen to your justification! I gotta go journal about this betrayal!"
(Which is actually what she does, I'm not making a joke. Furiously journaling, thinking, biting her pen, ignoring a call from Hanna, more journaling. It's so rampantly teenaged that my growing affection for Aria actually got a bit of a bump from it.)
Paige is dangling her feet in the water when Emily comes up, toweling off and looking a million. She's like, "What up, crazy? You doing okay? I called like a hundred times to process emotionally with you, as we ladies often do."