An explainer at the beginning of the episode tells you what is happening, which is inordinately helpful even if you've seen all the previous episodes. The town of Ravenswood signed a Pact years ago that traded five children's lives for that of any Ravenswood soldier in danger. When Miranda and Caleb showed up in town -- being descendants of the first victims -- they threw everything off, and now that Miranda's dead it's only her uncle Collins's jar of her hair that's keeping her around and on the property. When she broke the jar, she escaped to that Max Hell dimension Caleb died saving her from. Another historical couple, Thomas and Esther, entombed themselves in the hopes of bringing Caleb and Miranda back, which I guess led to their reincarnation.
What we learn this time is that Thomas Rivers and Esther Collins were their parents, which is double-sad considering what happened once their kids were dead. Through several of Remy's dreams -- fraught with demonic and ghostly interference that mostly involves eyeballs and terrifying real-life scarecrow attacks, but helped by her mother's experiences with lucid dreaming -- we learn pretty much the whole story, if you can believe it:
A preacher named Gabriel Abbadon brought the Pact in question to the town council, Esther bailed but the rest of the men signed it, and then Gabriel delivered the signed Pact to somebody in a Collins hearse (!) before abruptly turning into an unkindness of ravens and screaming his ass off into the night sky. Typical Ravenswood preachers, always doin' that.
Also, whoever is running Little Demon Girl Max and Dillon has the power to put them in a "Grinder," which of course is the best part, because nobody wants to end up in a Grinder. (Least of all Max and Dillon, with their beautiful ungrinded faces.) So Dillon, at Max's behest, spends the episode trying to sow dissatisfaction in Olivia's relationships, resentment and suspicion of Collins's motives toward her family, and in the end he swipes her v-card with (I think) Max hanging around, eating ice cream and being the bomb.
Miranda doesn't know how to deal with Caleb's dual admissions -- that he broke up with Hanna, but not in order to be with Miranda, who is a dead person -- so she hurls herself into solving the mystery of the hair-jars, thinking that will be a way to convince Mrs. Matheson to stay away from Collins, because even a Black Widow shouldn't be dating draculas that keep hair in jars. This means her story is mostly about trying to haunt the shit out of The Grunwald in order to locate them, and getting attacked at every turn by a Scary Smoke-Monster Heat-Wave Ghost that lives in the mansion's air ducts.
At first it seems like The Grunwald is using the Heat Miser ghost as an attack dog, but later she saves Miranda from getting flayed by it, and then in the awesome end scene, she summons it with candles to assure it that she still loves it. As in like, Bygones. Sorry I yelled at you for eating another ghost that tormented me all day but I was getting really irritated by ghosts in general and I wanted to get back to my knitting. Oh, and there's this massively satisfying face-off between Grunwald and Olivia where they vibe at each other in this restaurant, and it's hard to explain why, but it was fantastic.
So: A lady puts her eyeball in a cup of coffee, I forgot to mention that. Scarecrows falling out of trees on you like the jagulars of the Hundred Acre Woods. Old white guys consigning other people's kids to death in the relentless pursuit of war profiteering. An evil preacher who is sometimes ravens. Grunwald is psychic friends with the central air conditioning. Collins feels entitled to swan around the Matheson house when nobody's there. Miranda still thinks Caleb's life is all about her even though in reality that is not even a little bit true. Olivia will not die a virgin, unless it turns out that Dillon is actually another ghost or monster that doesn't exist, in which case I think the bylaws state she still is.
Next week: The answers continue rolling out on what I am starting to think is the best television show of the modern era, as Ravenswood PD investigates some creepy knife-related goings on at the Matheson house, Miranda pries into Grunwald's relationship with the Smoke Monster, and Caleb deals with Uncle Dad's surprise arrival. Also, Remy is weirded out by her raven-y dreams, and Olivia quote "tries to keep it together," which, good luck on that one.
I never really did have a handle on the Ravenswood situation so I am grateful that, coming back and paired with PLL, they gifted us with a little Caleb River voiceover about what the hell is going on with this show. Are you ready for some info? Like, did you know:
- In 1917 the Ravenswood Town Elders signed a secret Pact
- Since then, no soldier from Ravenswood has ever died in active combat
- But the price for this ongoing miracle is that for every war, five teens must die
- Such as Original Miranda and Caleb, who were teens who died
- And maybe were reincarnated thanks to Thomas & Esther's suicide entombment
- Which maybe also means they can do a curse-reverse and reverse this Curse
- And also a jar of a ghost's hair will keep it on your property
- But if they break that jar and leave, they might get tricked by fake moms
- This is the first time that happened also
Did you know those things? I didn't know any of those things. Literally my job to know those things, missed 'em all. Kind of intuitively felt that some of them were true? But like, I wouldn't have placed a five-dollar bet on any of them being true for sure.
Caleb and Miranda were knockin' boots, old-timey style, when they heard a strange music and went to investigate. Lo but there was a weird cabin and night was falling, and they did see all manner of conveyances parked outside of it. "That's my father's automobile!" Caleb said, gamely method-acting by saying the word super-weird, as a nod to the era, as though he had never before said that word because of it just being invented. "And that is my mother's horseomobile!" Miranda agreed. Inside yon cabin, all kinds of shit was going down.
Preacher: "Let's sing a song on page 36 of your hymnbook before the Nathaniel Hawthorn business begins in earnest..."
Esther: "This isn't right! No hymns, no devil's bargains!"
Menfolk: "Esther, this is man's business! Take several seats!"
Esther: "But it is about children! Specifically five of them, teens, or what we call in the old times 'middle-aged.'"
Menfolk: "Moms are stupid. Stupidly trying to not sacrifice children to the Elder Gods."
Esther: "Moms can't help it! War is dumber than moms!"
Preacher: "It is true that war is a beast. It consumes the young. I offer a way to save mothers' tender hearts. Except for five of them."