Pretty Little Liars / Screen

Pretty Little Liars: “Out, Damned Spot”

It’s pretty impossible to call anything on PLL new or original at this point. It may not be pulling from other sources, but it is constantly pulling from itself. Everything is a retread. When the girls zero in on a suspect, it’s unlikely they’re a legitimate one. All their romance options are going to be shady in some way or another. And now PLL’s flashing back to its early days even more blatantly. Hanna and Ashley are once again having money problems, and Aria’s back to trying to hold her family together as Mike seems to fall further and further down a rabbit hole. 

Let’s start with Hanna, who’s not going to be able to go to any of the schools she was inexplicably accepted to, unless Ashley’s going to start robbing banks again. Her only solution seems to be Terrible Tom, who refuses to help Hanna out because he’s paying his stepdaughter’s tuition and doesn’t want to waste his money on Hanna. PLL has no shortage of awful parents, but my goodness Hanna’s dad is one of the worst. When he shows up, which is like never, he’s awful.  But Hanna’s got other options, putting herself through school somehow or competing in a pageant. And because it’s PLL, we know which one she’s going to go with.

Then there’s Aria, who’s floundering with Mike maybe being Alison’s new lap dog. Lucy Hale’s always handled Aria’s near-hysterics wonderfully well, though we’ve seen this before with her trying to hold her collapsing family together .Her parents are invisible now, but Mike’s withdrawing hundreds of dollars from a five figure bank account, and Aria and Emily (and Andrew) are following Mike to his meeting with “Hank Mahoney” aka Cyrus. Whether Mike’s actually guilty of something is harder to determine, since he certainly did love Mona and seems unlikely to ally himself with the person who killed her. But he’s definitely doing some unsavory things, stealing blood from the blood drive that A’s going to use to pin murder on Hanna, Spencer and Aria (but not Emily because her trip to Haiti excludes her).

Aria’s dwindling grades also has her cheating on exams, and now she has a tutor in Andrew, another one of PLL‘s never seen but apparently existing in the background guest characters. I have no idea why it’s Aria struggling in school and not Hanna, who the show’s gone out of its way to show as not being especially book smart. But apparently Aria got into a college in Savannah and needs her grades to be way better than they are. With her and Ezra on the outs, I geuss Andrew’s supposed to be a new option for her, but like always it’s hard to invest in anything that isn’t Ezria, since PLL doesn’t care to give the same level of development to non-Ezra suitors. But Andrew ends up in the middle of the whole Mike situation himself, driving Emily and Aria and scaring Cyrus away with a baseball bat.

Emily’s own romance situation is also strange. She and Talia are going full steam ahead until Emily finds out that Talia’s married. She explains that she married her husband right out of high school and now they’re having an open marriage. That’s fine and all, but PLL is trying really hard not to talk about the surely shady age difference, and that’s nothing new, but this is still dumb. Emily dating a married woman isn’t the fun sort of scandalous the show usually deals with. It’s reminiscent of Ezra’s baby drama, which had Aria contemplating something weird and resembling stepmotherhood, which was very outside of the usual realm of this show. And though PLL‘s realm may be repetitive and predictable, it works for it, and stepping outside of those parameters is more of a hindrance than a help.

Stray Observations

  • Spencer: “No blood, no cookie. I don’t make the rules.”
  • Spencer and Johnny are still terribly boring, and I can’t wait for Spencer to go to London. I’ve missed Melissa.
  • Are you honestly telling me that the Hastings family bends down to microwave things? Seriously?
  • Andrew: “I take it math and science aren’t Fitz’s strong suits.” There was a lot of shade in that statement.
  • Andrew: “Compared to your exciting life mine must seem…”
    Aria: “Functional. Planned.” Yes, both.
  • Aria: “I am not riding on your handlebars.”
  • Andrew: “What is going on with Mike?”
    Emily: “Drugs.”

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