So Fitz has some shit going on where, it was never really clear to me, but either there was a silent auction and the prize was, or there will be a silent auction which also is: A private book signing and coffee with this famous author Leonard Adams. We're sitting in the lunchroom and one of the teacher ladies at the table is like, "I love that guy!" and then Ella's all fake, like, "I did like that one book of his, what was the title?" Loose Leaf was the title. (If Leonard Adams is actually a character in a future episode, I will do a backflip for this show.) So anyway, Ezra can take as many people as he wants, and Ella is all over that. Is she crushin'? Maybe a little, but like in that coworker way.
The question at the PLL table is, what if Aria was right when she was being a bitch for five seconds and Toby is screwing with them? Spencer takes the Emily role* of being all, "No, I can see his soul, the soft and bright within him." But anyway we want to talk about Hanna and the Artful Dodger (nice; Spencer of course) and how she is always with him now and this very morning was spotted handing him a wet oven mitt.
*(It's kind of sad actually, as somebody on the forums pointed out, that this whole new Spencer/Toby story really seems to box Emily out for no good reason. It could just be the idiom of the show, or the particular episode, but it comes off weird and loose-thready, because of all the times for Spencer and Emily to form an Iorek Byrnison Voltron it would be about Toby, but instead it's like we just met Toby and he's a part of Spencer's storyline and not, you know, a huge part of Emily's entire story. Not sad in terms of the show universe, but just as a viewer it's weird.)
"It was his hat! Why shouldn't I have his hat?" Spencer awesomely points out that Caleb is kind of the anti-Sean but his darkness is a little too dark. As if this show would ever stop telling us how "dark" Caleb is, despite any evidence to the contrary, which further goes to the idea that Caleb is somehow going to sketch out in the future, just like every other guy on this show.
Which is what's so weird about Caleb, because in a literal world of sketchy motherfuckers -- the show might as well be called A Young Girl's Guide To Navigating Teenage Tailhook Hell -- he's the only one that we've had it rammed down our throats that he's a bad guy, bad guy, bad guy, with no evidence. Just zero evidence of this (beyond his hacker stuff, which is itself a force for good not bad and I am sure the show knows that).
I mean, personal feelings aside, even I could see that Noel was a problem citizen. But Caleb? Lotta tell, no show. Which is not something this show usually pulls, which is why I think it's foreshadowing rather than shorthand. (For e.g., if A got her hooks in Caleb I could see him doing massive damage and everybody including Yours Truly being pretty bummed about it.)
Anyway. Hanna, of course, is like, "Caleb is no Arthur Dodger, whoever that is," and they all share a look because of how sometimes Hanna's Hanna.
Aria jumps to Hanna's defense, not just because they are tender with each other right now -- and they are, and Spencer notices, and the whole interaction is just super sweet -- but also because she's the only other one who was there to see him living in the walls of the school and they had that three-way bonding time after Hanna hairsprayed his eyeballs, so she knows he's okay. And anyway, Hanna points out that they all said the same thing about Toby, right down to the middle-of-the-school hoodie-massacre chase-scenes, and see how much they all want to darn his socks these days.
Some hot dude from some show comes in, looking keyed right up and yelling about how he wants to talk with my beloved Coach Fulton. (I've never actually seen that show but I always said if I did, it would be because of this dude, to the point where I recognized his name in the credits. He's a snip of gristle, I love him.) Ezra immediately stands up to defuse the whole situation, and the guy yells about how Coach is avoiding him, and that's how we learn that Space Hottie is Nick McCullers, father of Paige McCullers, haver of crazy hairdos and doer of intermittent drowning attempts.
So to paraphrase, Nick feels that Paige is being passed over not because of her hair but because of the Gay Agenda that privileges Emily Fields over other, less-lesbian swimmers. And the really amazing thing about that is, they cover so much of that ground just by saying it out loud, like how Ella talks about it later and how everybody knows he's a crank and how Pam calls him out (spoiler of sweetness!) for being a "professional victim" that it's like there are so many moving parts that a thing directly about Emily's gayness turns basically into a momentary school-wide scandal about everything but her gayness. Which makes me proud not only of fake Rosewood High School, but again, proud of this show.
Because say what you will, but homophobes are: Gay. It's a cliché, maybe I said this before, not because writers are lazy or liberal but because it's the truth. The hateful person is the one being the cliché, because they are a self-hating gay. I will not say this is 100% true, but I will say it is 75% true and the rest of them were either molested (and think that has anything to do with this, which is two tragedies that didn't need to happen) or raised by monsters. To call the show out for riffing on this very true thing, or to call it out for being "timely," -- even suggest a comparison between this and, say, the Glee stuff -- is to submit evidence of the degree to which you have been sheltered in your life. The world is not TV. TV is about the world.
And so having a story where this Nick dick is a blamer and a whiner and a jerkoff and a crank situates the homophobia and Paige's entire neurosis in the exact right place, which has nothing to do with homosexuality and everything to do with whether or not you are capable of loving other people even though they're the parts of yourself you said No to.
I don't honestly think any of us, even the worst of us, care that much about what goes on in other bedrooms. But I do think that painting anybody monolithically -- as Emily says later -- makes it a lot easier to make things that have nothing to do with it somehow central to it. Like, the fight about gay marriage is something both sides have been fooled into thinking is about gay people, when really it's about how much money our parties are willing to pump into making us think it's an issue by getting our various feelings involved.