Pretty Little Liars / Screen

A returns to Pretty Little Liars in “Run, Ali, Run”

We should have known A wasn’t going to be gone for long. That being said, Pretty Little Liars made a pretty good case for proving how the show doesn’t necessarily need A to survive (though it certainly helps when she’s around). The first few episodes without a cyber-bully to plague the Liars went somewhat well (last week’s in particular), zeroing in on the enemies the girls have who don’t need to hide behind anonymous text messages to blow up Toby’s house. But with A’s return, Mona’s (and Jenna’s, and Sydney’s and the rest of Rosewood’s) vendetta against Alison is put on the backburner as the Liars get swept back up into A’s spiral. 

The question I have, and that the girls have too, is why did A blow up Toby‘s house?Considering no one was inside, and all of A’s preferred targets were a few doors down at Emily’s, there must be some reason A went after Toby’s place, not that we’re going to find out what it was anytime soon. When the police blame the explosion on a gas leak, Caleb suggests that the girls tell who’s really behind it, but they won’t do that because they’re still keeping Aria killing Shana a secret. I’ve talked about the stupidity of that decision before, considering Shana was pointing a gun at the girls when Aria hit her, and that’s a pretty airtight defense. But because Aria’s kept it a secret for so long, she’s even more screwed. Story of their lives, really. PLL‘s always been a little ridiculous, but while the girls keeping their secrets always made some sense (at least from the perspective of teenage girls looking to protect their carefully maintained images and social lives), the escalation of the danger they’re in doesn’t really allow for that kind of suspension of disbelief anymore.

At least Alison’s having a more natural reaction. Though the girls have gotten used to living life dodging A and dealing with the fallout from her various plots, Alison’s grown accustomed to life on the run. She plans on going back to that when A sends her a video of her burying Jessica (which she apparently did with one hand). So despite the contrary opinions of the other Liars, Alison makes plans to leave Rosewood, and Hanna offers to help her.

Considering the identity crisis that Alison’s return has brought on for Hanna, her wanting to return to an Alison-lite existence makes sense. It wouldn’t really make anything easier on the A front, but it would make things easier for Hanna who’s so eager to get Alison gone that she’s willing to drive her away and even gift her with her entire wardrobe. It’s a subtle but effective moment to see Alison being so genuinely grateful to Hanna for helping her despite suggesting earlier that Hanna would rather be contending with her love triangle. It’s an alien suggestion that the girls wouldn’t go along with Alison’s plans, that Hanna wouldn’t be cowed by Alison’s demands. And you can actually see how Alison would think nothing of Hanna’s motives considering how easily she turns cold and demanding when Hanna initially protests then becoming sweet as Hanna does what she wants. From Alison’s perspective, she just got her way again by taking advantage of Hanna’s softer backbone. It doesn’t occur to her that there’s something in it for Hanna.

Hanna’s ulterior motives are more apparent to Emily, who throws off their plans by her sudden arrival, leading to a blowup between her and Hanna about their varying responses to Alison’s return. They’re both clearly biased, though in different directions. Emily’s romantic feelings make her especially invested in Alison sticking around, cuing her staying up through the night to watch over Alison while she sleeps. Meanwhile Hanna’s insecurities have her practically shoving Alison out the door and even leaving Alison alone and open to attack by A, who just about strangles Alison with her own scarf (which is a very Jessica Dilaurentis accessory) before deciding against it and flinging Alison away from her because she’s apparently more invested in Alison being alive and in Rosewood.

There’s also Bethany Young to consider. loathe our return to Radley which hasn’t been fun since Mona was released, but maybe it’ll be a bit different with Aria taking the lead as a new volunteer. Thankfully we don’t have to deal with Wren’s inappropriate feelings for teenage girls or Toby’s dead mother while we’re there (fingers crossed it stays that way) but we do get Eddie Lamb who refuses to answer Spencer’s questions about Bethany but drops off a disturbing drawing of Jessica that Bethany drew at Ezra’s that indicates the two knew each other, and that Bethany was not a fan of Mrs. D. For the moment this plotline is okay, but like other PLL plots it could easily go the way of just becoming an exercise in how many names and random occurrences the show can lob at us and call an explanation, the finer details of which probably won’t matter much come next season.

Lieutenant Tanner makes her return to Rosewood, suspicious of everything the Liars have told her. It’s a treat to see her when she turns up, first at Radley then Ezra’s, then Alison’s house, disguising her suspicions with tight smiles and a delightful tone only to turn her back and scowl at the gall of these people to lie to her so shamelessly (and so badly). She knows Shana shot Ezra, that Alison and the girls are lying about being in Philadelphia, that Aria was at Ezra’s apartment while she questioned him, and it’s only a matter of time before she proves it. She’s far more believable, and formidable, than Sean Faris’ Detective Holbrook, and even though she’s onto the girls’ lies there’s also the sense that she’d be an exceptional ally if any of them bothered to tell the truth at some point.

But it’s called Pretty Little Liars, not Pretty Little Truthtellers. And though I liked the show when it distanced itself from A, it’s obviously at its best when it has the girls coping with her, and it’s nice to see the show back in the swing.

Stray Observations

  • Oh, Ravenswood. I appreciate the show giving its unsuccessful spinoff some closure, but considering Ravenswood’s measly ratings, especially when compared to PLL’s, I can’t see many people caring about it. I watched Ravenswood, and even I don’t care that much so Caleb can hold onto that story however long he wants.
  • “Too good to be true? These past two weeks have been nothing but crap.” This is accurate.
  • I presume Spencer gets her own dishonest habits from her father whose many lies have effectively ruined his marriage with him moving out while Veronica and Spencer move back in.
  • I hope we’re not going to spend forever floating this suggestion of Mona being A again, since she’s already said she has no plans of hiding herself while she terrorizes Alison. Spending time on her in that regard would only be a waste of time, but what’s PLL without its obvious red herrings?

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