For whom is the funhouse fun? Perhaps for lovers. For Spencer H_______, it is a place of fear and confusion. She has come to the Rosewood Founder's Day Festival with her family for the holiday, the occasion of which is one of the most secular holidays each year in their sleepy little town, and has been told by both mother and, caringly, sister to avoid Toby C________, age seventeen: A somewhat tangential character to the main narrative being described in this Recaplet, but one upon whom rest many responsibilities, both within the story and within the young man himself, not the least of these in either sense being his crazy-looking face.
What begins as a flirtatious meeting with this forbidden paramour, within the Funhouse of the title, is eventually interrupted and transformed by the interrupting context of the death of one of Spencer's closest friends over a year ago, whose vengeful spirit by turns aids and harms the eponymous Liars as they seek to uncover the clues regarding her murder -- and whose delightful gift of a snow globe to her favorite member of the Liars contains a key which opens a storage container which contains a lunchbox which contains a USB drive which contains footage of the girls dating back years, and which proves that the videographic stalking of Alison D_______ began well before her disappearance, and that her retrieval of this footage -- barring the fact of her horrible personality causing someone to finally crack -- most likely caused her death or disappearance.
But the antagonist in this part of the story will be played by the character A, a black-gloved little wonder who locks Spencer in a revolving door until such time as her sketchy brother-in-law and former romantic partner, Ian T______, comes to rescue her, but only after it is revealed that a previous misadventure in Hilton Head, an island resort town off the southeast coast of the United States of America, has once again been incorrectly explained by Ian and his wife, Spencer's sister Melissa, whom first said and now must recant that she joined him on his journey to this island town. In the end it is Toby's lips that Spencer kisses, in a last-ditch attempt to demonstrate not only for his own sake and that of her family's perceptions, but also in the theatre of Rosewood at large, that she and her lips will not be constrained by their paranoia.
The young policeman who maintains belief in Spencer's innocence in the murder of her friend has been following her, and will now be investigating also her friend Aria M________'s boyfriend and English teacher, Ezra F________. Initials, blanks or both were often substituted for proper names in nineteenth-century fiction to enhance the illusion of reality. It is as if the author felt it necessary to delete the names for reasons of tact or legal liability. Interestingly, as with other aspects of realism, it is an illusion that is being enhanced by purely artificial means. In this particular case, it is Ezra himself who is blanked, erased, smudged from the public record when Aria, having discovered a previous fiancée of whom she had not been made aware, forces Ezra to take pictures with her in which both of them are wearing paper-bag faces over their real faces; i.e., to make the metaphor completely concrete while similarly indulging Aria's need to be a total gaywad at all times.
Wearing a similar paper-bag face, by implication, is the latest of Emily F_____'s beloved lunatics, a Paige M_________, who has taken the step of contacting lesbians for advice about lesbianism and then putting over this act the paper-bag face of disappearing for long stretches, forcing Emily to bond with the new and very lovely S_______ over their relatively non-compromised if shameless tribadism. (S_______'s name recalls also a story by the English playwright M. Somerset M_______, in which a man's inevitable death comes for him regardless of where and how he flees it, but this reference should be considered only tertiary to the story at hand.) In the end, a limit to Emily's compassions is reached, and Paige is once again consigned to the garbage heap of people who have burnt Emily, no doubt to be forgiven by next week with hugs and vigorous hand-holding.
So consigned also is Caleb R_____, a former lycanthrope and charming rogue of the Artful Dodger character subgenre, whose recent betrayals cause a closing of the ranks between Hanna M_____ and her sometime friend Mona V_______, whose vicious loyalties cause her to intercept and destroy a letter containing the phrase "I love you" which Caleb intends Hanna to read before he goes searching for his mother in Flagstaff. Ashley M______, Hanna's mother, discovers within herself a sympathy for Caleb which she has too long denied, but it is too late: Caleb is gone, to Mantua as it were, without Hanna ever receiving his missive. (Mantua here is a reference to the star-crossed lovers of William S_______'s famous tragedy of Romeo & Juliet, in which -- as with the M_______ story above -- the inevitability of the protagonists' death eventually compromises and finally rehabilitates entire kingdoms.)
In the end, it is Spencer who triumphs under Cupid's arrows; Hanna whose heart continues to malinger; Aria whose secret romance is once again in danger of discovery; and Emily whose refusal to lie or hate herself will have painful consequences, assuming that she does not get rid of her insane girlfriend immediately and start dating the super-hot girl from the other school. Next week being the end of this particular season of the show, it's to be presumed there will be: Confrontation of Jenna C_______, a blind snakebat torturer of children, the vindication of Spencer H_______, and yet more trouble in what is or will be soon be known as the Most Photographed Barn In America.
Ah, dinner at the Applewood Grille. Nothing finer for a nice loud public conversation about your blackmailing by a serial killer than when horrific stuffed heads and monster mannequins are being set up all over town. This episode is visually stunning, one of the most beautiful to date, but it does sort of strain credibility that the entire town is being turned into this sort of Orgy Of Halloween-Gras for the Founders' Day Festival. I talk about the visual brilliance on this show a lot, the Hopper and Register and the way the colors work, but dang, seriously, some of the scariest shit you've ever seen is just hanging around in the background here, so that scarier other shit can jump out at you the whole time. Back in Stars Hollow it was like, paper stars and maybe some bales of hay. Not Pinhead and the Cenobites and Christina Aguilera masks all over the place.
Liars: "So to recap the last scene from last week, your SPENCER bracelet had some bloody sweater fibers on it. So now everybody thinks that you stashed the sweater at Toby's house to get him in trouble or something, even though that's now the second blood sample that was either inconclusive or came from a rat named Spencer."
Spencer: "Somebody is watching us."
Liars: "Firstly, somebody is always watching us. Secondly, don't be silly, Spencer! You're always wrong about everything despite being about 240% more competent than the rest of us combined."
Somebody: (Is Garrett the Cop. Is totally watching them, standing among a horrible bunch of mannequin monsters somebody has set up to stare into the Applewood Grille, like a reverse nativity scene of those quiet dudes from Buffy.)
The other thing that is going on with the bracelet is, maybe somehow Jenna got Caleb to steal the bracelet -- "He doesn't need an invitation, he broke into a vending machine with a spork!" -- so that she could frame Spencer somehow, because we still think Jenna has something to do with Edna Garrett's Teahouse & Bracelet Concern, but the only reason this comes up at all is because we need to remember that Hanna is feeling terrible about the Caleb thing because she may have literally slept with the enemy, so please don't talk about Caleb or use the C Word if possible. Because the Liars have no patience with each other but especially not with Hanna, they immediately task her with finding out from Caleb for sure.
Mrs. Hastings: "Melissa, tell me all about each of your prenatal vitamins!"
Melissa: "We are the most interesting people."
Mrs. Hastings: "You're telling me!"
Melissa: "Actually, I am telling you. The whole town is abuzz about how Spencer's SPENCER bracelet had fibers on it, and how also the cops searched our house. Once again, Spencer is ruining everybody's lives and should be drowned in a sack like a cat."
Spencer: "Morning, bitches."
Mrs. Hastings: "Morning, sweetie. We were just saying how fun it would be if you, Melissa and the guy you've both dated who has now impregnated your sister were to work all day together at a Founders' Festival booth run by Sean Ackard's mom, the church lady."
Spencer: "Sorry, what part of any of that sounds like a good idea?"
Mrs. Hastings: "The sad truth is that your jury will be made up of your peers, and in a small town like Rosewood that means getting in good with everybody while the good-getting is good."
Spencer: "And since Mrs. Ackard is literally the most judgmental person on the planet, I should kiss her ass?"
Mrs. Hastings: "Precisely. And no more hanging out with that Toby. They'll think you started a club of people who have killed Alison DiLaurentis."