Pretty Little Liars / Screen

Pretty Little Liars asks if Alison is A in “No One Here Can Love Or Understand Me”

Have I ever mentioned that Emily’s my favorite Liar?

She is.

Emily’s had the strongest character arc since the show’s premiere, going from timid to outspoken in the course of its four seasons, gradually growing into her backbone and becoming capable of standing up for herself and her friends. Perhaps her biggest obstacle to this growth has been Alison, and by bringing her back, the show created a potential stall in Emily’s character due to her own residual feelings for her first love. She’s been the one who’s the most invested in Alison, the most willing to believe her claims that she’d changed her ways, the one who defied various people in her life pointing out that Alison couldn’t be trusted.

After last week’s episode, Emily’s not only dropped Alison, but she’s done a complete 180. Now she suspects that Alison’s A (even Spencer isn’t doing that) which isn’t the “bad thought” Spencer thinks it is. It’s one of the most logical conclusions the group’s come to in a long time, and Emily’s pushing it the hardest after their trip to the police station is derailed by another A-machination. Security footage showing Alison leaving Hanna’s hospital room back in season one makes them decide against talking to Tanner because no one will believe them when they say they didn’t know Alison was alive.

It sounds very much like another excuse for the show to drag out its own premise, but I digress.

With that avenue blocked, Emily focuses on getting to the bottom of Alison and Cyrus’ connection. She’s the only one who voices her suspicions about Alison and Cyrus working together. Factor in Alison suddenly being able to leave town with her father after A said she couldn’t and the video ominously saying “we’re all in this together”, and it’s looking likely that Alison’s had more of a hand in A’s recent events than any of the girls expected. Seeing Emily try to put her life back together after giving up on Alison is almost sad. She gave up on her relationship with Paige because she believed so fully in Alison and her cries for help, and now her attempts at damage control might be too late since Paige is going to showings of black-and-white movies with someone else.

My second favorite Liar is Spencer who’s had a less cohesive journey but still has some bright spots. Specifically hers and Melissa’s relationship. It’s been been sloppily executed at times, with the show veering sharply to one end of their complicated relationship before going to the other with no room in between. One minute Melissa’s accusing Spencer of trying to ruin her life by hooking up with Wren and accusing Ian of murder, etc. The next Melissa’s burying people alive because she thinks Spencer killed them.

I’m hesitant because PLL loves backtracking on everything, but if Spencer having attacked Bethany (thinking she was Alison) and Melissa burying who she thought was Alison, sticks then it makes last season’s awkward foray into Spencer’s addiction worth it. All last season the show implied that Spencer had attacked Alison while high, perhaps killing her, only to stop short. It was obvious that Spencer wasn’t Alison’s killer, but if a mistaken attack on Bethany Young led Melissa to bury her, it adds an interesting dimension going forward. Neither Spencer nor Melissa intended on killing Bethany, but they’re the reason she’s dead, and now they have something in common that isn’t their taste in men.

It’s actually moving to see Melissa confess all to Spencer, even if it’s via video. The show does keep both Spencer and Melissa in the scene, even going so far as to have Spencer behind the camera as if filming the video herself. It’s a nice technique, though still cheesy, since it does impart the importance of the moment, especially as a defining one for Spencer and Melissa. Though they appear onscreen together, they’re still separate. Melissa’s back in London, and Spencer’s in Rosewood. Even after a major breakthrough’s been had in their relationship, there’s still something between them. Even now Spencer may be forced to show the police the video to save herself and the Liars, as Tanner suspects that they killed Bethany, but what will that mean for her and Melissa? Nothing good, since Melissa will surely be charged, and Spencer’s not going to feel good about condemning the sister who accidentally killed a girl to protect her.

But even with this, it doesn’t look like it’s all that bad. I doubt we’ll be seeing either of the Hastings sisters in orange anytime soon, not when the Liars are now suspecting that someone certainly planned on Bethany taking Alison’s place in the grave (hence her outfit being identical to Alison’s). So even if Melissa did kill Bethany, I’m sure we’ll be seeing someone else take the ultimate fall for it next week.

Hanna and Aria are the ones having unfortunate seasons. Both were promising at the start, but it’s hard to say if Aria’s inability to escape PLL‘s limiting Montgomery scope is better or worse than Hanna being dragged down by Caleb’s post-Ravenswood trauma. Though Hanna’s on board with Emily’s suspicions about Alison being A, she’s too distracted by Caleb’s issues to do anything about it. And in the end, we could have just stuffed Caleb’s Ravenswood history into a webisode and been done with it.

But poor Aria, trapped in a neverending story. She’s always retreading something. Ezra, her parents. This week it’s Mike and Mona. We’ve done this all before, Aria voicing her (rightful) concerns about Mona’s close proximity to her brother and threatening to ruin her relationship with Mike in the process. Luckily (and surprisingly) this episode actually makes some forward progress in this regard, giving me confidence that we can stop talking about it.

Mona and Aria have a very nice and very genuine chat about Mona’s feelings for Mike (she wonders if he really likes her because she’s not nice, and he should be with someone nice), Mona’s intentions in forming her Army (to protect herself) and what’s next. It’s the future part that’s the most interesting. Mona has more insight into Alison than anyone else. She’s diabolical enough to anticipate Alison’s next steps, and she has the experience with her to know how far Alison will go, and she issues a warning to Aria: that now that Alison can no longer rely on them, she’ll target them next.

And she’s already begun. Tanner’s investigation is still ongoing, and Cyrus’ sudden disappearance only made her more suspicious, but now someone’s willing to be forthcoming with her, and it’s Alison.

Stray Observations

  • Please, please, please have Alison be A. It would be perfect. That’s what the girls assumed in the pilot, before the body was found. Please, PLL, please. The title of this episode makes me think so since it’s totally something Alison would think about herself and then use to justify her crappy behavior.
  • Keegan Allen’s acting has really improved.
  • ABC Family is so hilariously awful sometimes. I rolled my eyes at them plugging Ouija in-show.

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Pretty Little Liars asks if Alison is A in “No One Here Can Love Or Understand Me”

  1. Pingback: Pretty Little Liars: “Don’t Look Now” | Channel Chelsea

  2. Emily’s my most favourite Liar, too, not just from a narrative point of view but also because she’s probably the only Liar who actively hungers and believes in a good, “normal” life after all this is over. I never understood the Emily hate. She’s the one with the biggest heart out of all the Liars and she just want to see the truth and good in everything while hurting the least amount of people. Emily got to be brave and hard and outspoken without losing her capacity to love, and that’s a really important thing to exhibit in a world of “strong/scorned woman” tropes.

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