Pretty Little Liars – Recap & Review – Dead to Me

photo: abcfamily

photo: abcfamily

Pretty Little Liars
Dead to Me

Original Air Date: Feb 5, 2013

Lauren A – Senior Reviewer

Red is the new black. In a really nice follow-up to last week’s amazing episode, this week’s PLL shows the Liars engaged in some true psychological warfare. I’m so impressed by how the show is turning around from TV candy to true television.

Em’s under hypnosis, Aria is under the younger Fitz’s spell, and Spencer is hiding some pretty little rage under that mop of curls (obviously frizz = distress). Throw in Hanna and a pair of overalls, and it’s clear the Liars are teetering over the edge.

Jason lets the Liars know Ali’s remains will once again be interred, and he invites the girls to bid adieu to their friend a third time. Spencer flat refuses, and the other Liars start to realize her breakdown may not be due solely to heartbreak like they thought. When Jason says the items the Liars placed in Ali’s casket are still missing, the girls get a little nervous that they can still be traced back to the night Ali’s remains went missing. Emily is particularly concerned when she goes to visit her mom at the police station (read: spy on Det. Wilden) and finds Ali’s notebook is gone, but one of the postcards she left in the casket has made an appearance – with a bright red A-note on the back. This is one of 25 postcards from the casket (wish you were here?) to be exact, which means it may not be just Aria’s season for torment after all. Twenty-four suspicious notes to come? I’m game!

It’s Spencer’s “A-game” that seems to be off, at least that’s what Mona says when she corners Angry Spencer in the hallway at school. Spence’s face here is awesome, especially when Mona brings up Toby. Spencer slams her locker in Mona’s face, and makes it clear that she’s not playing any more games. It’s “he loves me/he loves me not” that Spence really wants to play, which is what she tells the PI she’s hired to track Toby. The PI informs Spence that Toby has made the switch to cash, purchased a butt-load of hydrangeas, and skipped town. Spencer forks over another $500 to the PI to learn the story behind the A key and makes it clear that she’s hoping to find the key opens a door to a thousand yellow daisies to prove Toby’s love for her.

For someone who started out on the show as a homeless orphan, Caleb has family coming out of the woodwork. He tells Hanna the aunt who gave him up to the foster system is moving to Australia. Hanna encourages Caleb to go clean out the aunt’s house and meet his uncle (brother to the aunt and Caleb’s father). I sincerely hope the only reason this storyline was even explored was so that we could see Hanna in overalls, in which case it’s completely worth it. The couple goes to sort through old junk, and Hanna starts to think the same thing I was thinking the whole time: this “uncle” has to be Caleb’s father. When she tells Caleb her theory, he balks.

Meanwhile, Em is worried the note on the back of the Parisian postcard is threatening to kill her if she goes after Wilden. Luckily, even Angry Spencer can’t stand to see French butchered like that, so she clarifies (beautifully, actually): “Stop digging. The police already know it’s YOU who’s capable of murder.” This drives Em back to Dr. Sullivan’s office. Well, her new office. I hear most people recommend a change of scenery after being tortured by a teen psychopath. Emily couch-whines that she’s tired of being branded a hero when she really just feels like a murderer. This is actually a beautiful scene, much like Spencer’s breakdowns last week. A may be raising the stakes, but I love that the writers and directors are, too. Emily’s description of how she feels is another of the most genuine and terrifying moments of the show so far. This could be why there’s such a stark contrast when Dr. Sullivan suggests hypnotherapy. I literally yelled at my computer, “WHAT?! Where did THAT come from?!”! Emily, however, couldn’t be more into the idea.

Side bar: Emily’s exchange with Spencer pre-Dr. Sullivan is really beautiful. I think Emily is the best of the friends in this Liars’ circle. The other girls are always bringing up their own problems, but Emily is a good listener. And, she is quick to offer Spencer a lifeline by explaining that there’s potentially another explanation, even when things look really bad. Coincidentally, she uses the story of Paige and the girl at the bar to let us know Paige is trying to track down the owner of the Queen of Hearts costume, since the girl Hanna saw Paige with works at the costume shop. Side bar to the side bar: Spence looks nervous that this girl could reveal Toby’s secret.

Aria makes herself cozy at Ezra’s apartment while he’s off meeting his son. She’s surprised when Ezra’s brother Wes shows up, but she figures one Fitz is better than none and hangs out with the kid. Wes takes a mysterious hang-up call at Ezra’s apartment, and then later gets into a street brawl with a guy who chases the two down on the streets of Rosewood. Wes explains that the angry guy was his physics teacher’s husband, and that he left school because he (in an attempt to rebel against his pretentious mother, never mind the fact that he pretentiously uses an antique typewriter) crossed a few lines back home. Of course, Aria is impressed. Nothing like another inappropriate teacher/student relationship to win the heart of a Montgomery!

It’s kind of (not at all) what Hanna and Aria discuss as Hanna gets the scoop on Wes. Hanna says she also wants Aria to give up the casket earrings so she can destroy them with her Ouija board piece and make sure A doesn’t have anything to hold against them now that Ali’s remains are back. But Aria’s not ready to do that just yet…

Back in Dr. Sullivan’s office, Emily is ready to spill the beans on the events at the lighthouse. I felt like Dr. Sullivan had an ulterior motive in trying to glean these details from Em. Why else would she suggest this treatment, and why else would she be working so hard to coax information from Emily? I think she’s still linked to A somehow. However, the real surprise here is Emily’s hypno-vision to the graveyard, sprinklers, and her holding the shovel. Ali is there and says they shouldn’t be there, that it’s dangerous. Em backs Ali into the freshly dug grave, and hits her over the head with the shovel. For a while, I thought Dr. Sullivan was actually planting these images in Emily’s head. And, for a while, Emily freaks out that she’s actually the one who killed Ali. After Emily leaves the doctor’s office, Mona comes by for a visit and brings an orchid. It’s creeps-ville all around.

The Liars gather at the DiLaurentis mausoleum to say their third good-bye to Ali, sans Spencer who’s off letting herself into a dingy apartment with the A key to find not a single yellow daisy or hydrangea in sight. (Insert Hanna’s line of the night. Love that girl.) Suddenly, Spencer barges in and outs Ali’s pregnancy to Jason. Why not? She has nothing to lose! A best friend? Gone. Her boyfriend? A Hoodie. And her sanity? Questionable.

Now it’s really clear to the Liars that Spencer has gone wheels-off and can no longer handle the stress of A and a breakup. I can’t help but wonder how far this will drive the rift between Spencer and the other girls. And, at the same time, I love that wheels-off Spencer is actually the most practical of the Liars right now. Why keep hiding? Let’s call A’s bluff! I love it!

Spencer leaves Ali’s new grave to visit Lady Cavanaugh’s resting place, where she finally finds Toby’s hydrangeas. She vandalizes the marble with the A key. The other girls run out to chase after an upset Jason, and Emily realizes she mixed up her nightmares at Dr. Sullivan’s office – the flashback with the sprinklers was really to the night Em was drugged and Ali’s grave was dug up. The girl in the red coat was there – a blonde. And Em knows she’s the one in charge. Hanna brings up the idea that Ali might actually be alive and driving this whole thing, but Aria is pretty sure that’s not the case. Could it be CeCe? Or Meredith? Or Kate? Who else is an obscure blonde we’ve met in the show? Either way, it’s clear that Miss Red Coat is calling the shots.

Who do YOU think is in the red coat? How far into the deep end will Spencer go? And how often have you heard Emily Dickinson and Santa Claus referenced in the same sentence? Leave your Two Cents below!

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