The episode starts with Emily shell-shocked and Hanna crying like mad, but you don't see who the casualty or casualties are really, so it's kind of on your mind the whole time. Ditto this gun Caleb shows up with in the first act, because you know what they say: Never give a werewolf a gun without at least a ten-day waiting period, or it'll go off in the last act. Mostly what Hanna does all episode before whatever happens is, be awesome.
Garrett's trial is about to start for that murder he didn't commit, which means the entire country's journalists only care about Emily, a teenage girl who dated a murder victim for about a minute, in between rehab stints and manic redecorating episodes. Pam is like, "It's so hard being the First Lady of Dead Girls, but are you sure going to some isolated cabin somewhere -- with that guy who is clearly not Maya's cousin -- is a good call? You know, since you're always getting murdered?"
Emily's like, "I don't have any other friends right now, because my friends are bitches who keep reminding me of how my girlfriend keeps trying to murder and/or sexually assault me every day of her life, so yes." And with that, it is done. Of course once she gets there, she remembers what show she's on, and before you know it he's admitting (duh) to being the stalker and to having cooked up some elaborate plan to hurt Emily for taking Maya away from him by stabbing Paige -- whom he just happens to already have tied up in the cabin they came to, together -- to death. He's very scary, it's well done.
Which would come as a surprise to the other Liars, who are up Paige's absent ass the entire episode fully sure that she is the bad guy of each and every scenario going on. Turns out Nate faked an A text so she'd keep quiet and head into her abduction without a word. After a weird phone call threatening what I thought was a bomb but it never blew up, Emily eventually meanders out into the woods and finds herself trapped at the top of a lighthouse, the perfect place to get stabbed all to hell.
Who else. Mona Vanderwaal escapes easily from her mental institution in a Nurse Ratched uniform, visits a recreation of her old A Lair somehow, gets a weird phone call and says a bunch of inscrutable shit about trying to pin Maya's murder on Paige, and... Wait. Everybody else first. I mean, it didn't make sense to me anyway, but there was some crazy in there that can wait. Aria has an awkward run-in with Babymama Maggie at Ezra's house, but agrees to keep the secret of Malcolm for now. That's the extent of what Aria did in this episode of the show she's on: Ate some cake and agreed to cover her own ass as a favor to someone else. Although I must say Ezra looks fetching in a collegiate hoodie. Plus, Spencer and her boyfriend Toby The Most Trustworthy Person In Rosewood finally had sex -- yes, with his shirt off -- and said they loved each other after a camera-whirling, fiercely passionate hug that only signals death and destruction on this show.
So yeah, the big finish. The SHOCKS, they number three: Caleb and the Liars split up to find Emily (Paige's ass they just leave tied up, I guess) so the Liars are just uselessly wandering Pennsylvania, while Emily's accidentally stabbing Nate to death (SHOCK #1) in the lighthouse and then being comforted by Caleb, who finds her just in time to (SHOCK #2) provide Nate with the opportunity to shoot him with his own gun. While they're wheeling the bodies out (series regular Caleb might "not" make it, Garrett is going free) Emily and the Liars hook back up and all is forgiven. Paige still looks busted and crazy and nobody's interested in hugging her, but thus is the life of Paige I guess.
Did I mention Emily fully killed a person tonight? Yeah. But that's not the real shocker, the real SHOCKER #3 is that we finally meet a second member of the A-Team, who ended up having to abandon their whole entire scheme -- and this could be a legitimate, crazy spoiler, assuming it's not all a ruse to "protect" somebody like usual -- and even drops Mona back off wearing his A-Team hoodie? Why, none other than Toby Cavanaugh himself.
Not the most exciting episode, I guess, but once you've topped "Hanna Getting Hit By A Car Whilst Glamping" with "Talking Dolls Boss You Around & Your Psychiatrist Has Been Buried Alive" maybe it's better to just spend your time judiciously tying up loose ends. I know I'm glad to have the Maya/Paige/Nate thing over with and answered, even if Toby's just the lame ringer/double agent he most likely is. (Frankly, I'm more shocked at how easily Mona got back in game face -- don't Hanna's awesomeness powers mean anything to you?) I guess we'll figure out what the hell happened -- and see if Caleb survives -- with the 10/23 Halloween Special that looks insane, and don't forget to watch the webisodes from now until then, because I have a feeling they are going to be bonkers too. XOXO, etc.
Minutes after her life was flooded by snakes, Spencer took the time to go through Paige's bag when she wasn't looking and ended up finding Aria's earring from Ali's coffin. Emily doesn't know this, because she is pissed at all of them and not interested in what anybody has to say, whether it's Jenna saying to stay away from Cousin Nate or the way Cousin Nate is constantly saying, "I am a crazy stalker" in pretty clear language. Aria took on yet another alias in order to visit Ezra's baby mama, screwing up his life even more than usual. Both Toby and Caleb stopped being polite about the fact that these girls cannot take a damn step that doesn't end in conflagrations and tragedy, and started getting real about that fact. "It's not because you're girls," they basically said, "It is because you are liars and fuckups."
Something terrible has happened! Hanna is crying her eyes out, at some location I don't recognize, and Emily has completely lost the plot, just staring into space looking shell-shocked while a million cops ask her if she knew the dead person.
Cop: "Did you know the victim?"
Cop: "The deceased was a friend of yours?"
Emily: "On this show that is always like the hardest question."
Flash backward to the morning of Garrett's trial for Maya's murder, where the other Liars have gathered to talk about how much Emily hates it when they talk about her.
Liars: "What I don't get is, why does the entire country care that Maya died? She was the worst. And everybody gets raped and murdered in this town anyway -- it's not really news."
Spencer: "As the previous Garrett on this show, I'd imagine that my boyfriend Toby -- a teenager who did not graduate high school -- has taken a high-profile contracting job in Bucks County to avoid this mess."
Liars: "Nobody cares, Spencer. Nobody cares about Toby."
Aria is wearing an electric blue skirt made out of novelty foil and a long black vest over a red shirt with what seems to be either blue cheetah spots or blue... panda bears floating? It's the skirt that really sets it off. It looks like it would make a sound like Xmas.
Aria: "More importantly, this is about me. I lied to Emily that we were meeting up to apologize to her, not the opposite of apologize to her."
Spencer: "We'll cross that bridge when we burn it, Feathers. The important thing is that we shove these earrings in her face so she knows how wrong she is. And that way, she will always do as instructed from now on."