Pretty Little Liars is so sloppy. Surely it’s not known for its tight plotting, which often gets meandering in its attempt to draw out its mysteries, but it’s not plotting I’m talking about. It’s Hanna. We’re supposed to know that she’s having a hard time because of her all-black wardrobe, her bad black extensions and drinking everywhere (I’ve never known underage drinkers to have so little subtlety), and the show’s taking driving this home very seriously. It’s almost cartoonish, the way they pile everything on her so we know just how out of control Hanna’s becoming. Even Caleb’s living in a box with ratty furniture and a loud television so we know that he’s also struggling.
It’s the execution, not the concept that’s the problem. Caleb dealing with the Ravenswood aftermath and Hanna having a bad reaction to Alison being back isn’t surprising. In fact it’s an important plot point that I’m glad Pretty Little Liars is dealing with, though it just gets more and more annoying to watch. Though the other Liars are finally voicing their concern to Hanna, she starts spiraling even further when Alison has to come stay with her while her dad’s away.
Hanna’s almost completely isolated. Caleb is too wrapped up in his own troubles to be a suitable support for her, Spencer and Emily are too encroached in the A investigation (and Emily’s too into Alison), and Aria’s angry with her after she talked too much to Sydney about New York. And with Alison at her house, even being there isn’t an option. It’s a sad place for Hanna to be in, with the few people who know how she feels about Alison not able to help her through it and other people remaining ignorant. Ashley falls into the latter camp, uncharacteristically unreceptive to Hanna’s feelings about Alison staying with them.
The only person paying a large amount of attention to Hanna this week is Zack. After all these years Pretty Little Liars finally treats an older man hitting on a high school girl as being as creepy as it actually is (which is also wildly overplayed with lecherous lip-licking and knee touching though this is how we’re supposed to know this isn’t romantic like Ezria). But the only reason they’re treating it this way now is because Ella’s in the midst of planning her wedding, enlisting Aria as her maid of honor.
It really is too bad that Zack, who’s seemed genuinely nice in the past, is a creep. It’s also too bad that this is just another piece of Montgomery-family drama that we’re going to have to deal with (they’re second only to Toby’s family drama in being tiresome), and that Aria has such a weird reaction when Hanna tells her about it. Whatever’s been going on with Hanna recently, she’s not a terrible person. And Hanna’s previous drinking hasn’t caused her to make up lies about Aria’s soon-to-be stepfather so Aria blaming her for Zack maybe hitting on her is both gross and just…weird. Throw in Spencer and Emily’s earlier skepticism, and Hanna’s even more alienated than before. The only comfort being drawn from this is that it’s inevitably going to come out that Hanna was telling the truth and hopefully she’ll get a nice apology.
While Hanna’s being hit on by creepy dudes, Ashley’s taking care of Alison who continues to regale people with the tragic tale of her kidnapping. She skips out on school after a night of zero sleep, having heard someone trying to get into the house. You can’t deny how dedicated Alison becomes to her lies which almost makes you admire her when you aren’t angry. With Tanner obviously doubting her story, Alison stages a break-in at Hanna’s house (who knew Noel Kahn would be so handy?), and her story’s strengthened by Ashley having seen him there. But Tanner’s not stupid, and she’s still onto her.
After learning that Jessica used to take Bethany to the circus, buy her gifts and even let her adopt a pony, Spencer and Emily head to the stables. They find Melissa’s hat in one of the stalls and are almost kicked to death by a horse after being locked in by A. It’s a pretty pointless sequence when you think about it especially if A did plant Melissa’s hat there, but it gives Spencer and Emily to scream about, and it gives Spencer a black eye. But I do like seeing Spencer and Emily when they interact, especially when it comes to the mystery side of things. It always seems to heighten their characters. Spencer’s singleminded and often inconsiderate, like when she shrugs off Emily’s anxiety about being around the bothered horse. Meanwhile Emily’s especially cautious and endlessly sensible, suggesting that they leave before “the roads turn into soup” and just take Melissa’s hat with them.
- We’ve gone through several seasons of the Liars suspecting everyone of being A, but none of them suspect Sydney despite her being the person Hanna was actually talking to at the Brew. Even when Sydney lets it slip that Hanna did mention New York to her, we don’t see any followup.
- I don’t care that Toby’s going to be a cop (though why no one considers the pitfalls of that decision is beyond me), but I’m so, so glad that he’s cut his hair.
- Like Toby, I would also love to put his mother’s death behind me. Let it go, PLL. Let. It. Go.
- The only Liar who’s feelings on Alison are still unclear is Aria. Hanna’s obviously not pleased that she’s back, Spencer doesn’t trust her, and Emily’s still got feelings for her. But Aria’s still….Aria.
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