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'Pretty Little Liars' recap: 'Bloody Hell'

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Eric McCandless/ABC Family

Pretty Little Liars

TV Show
run date:
Ashley Benson, Troian Bellisario, Lucy Hale, Shay Mitchell
Current Status:
In Season

There is no doubt that “A” is smart. An evil genius, perhaps. From the jump, it’s been clear that the Liars’ torturer is a tech guru, has the stealth of a top FBI operative, and is blessed with unlimited funds. But after this episode of Pretty Little Liars there is only one logical conclusion that can be drawn: “A” is perhaps the greatest criminal mastermind that we’ve ever seen on screen. Forget The Dark Knight. The Joker has nothing on this shit. Now, the only thing I can’t figure out is why “A” would use these extraordinary gifts to torture four Pennsylvanian teenagers.

In some of the earlier episodes “A”’s presence was a little more believable. Clearly the Liars were always dealing with a brilliant, obsessive psychopath, but it was one that had some root in the real world. Anyone can text from a blocked number, right? But now this anonymous tormentor is trafficking vials of blood across the world, sneaking into prison, and sending text messages in red. DOES YOUR GENIUS HAVE NO BOUNDS, “A”?!

This first stroke of brilliance struck during Spencer’s sudden trip, which I thought would keep her from “A”’s clutches. But wouldn’t you know that the ocean really is just a pond for ol’ “A.” Spence headed to an obvious green screen London for an Oxford interview, and everything was going great until her bag inexplicably started leaking blood. Lo and behold, there was a broken vial in her purse that the TSA somehow missed. Even her ability to laugh uproariously at “philosophical knock-knock jokes” couldn’t have saved that admissions interview. Bloody hell, indeed.

Luckily for Spencer, there could be time to reschedule. The decision to send her away to London was a strange choice, but a quick, unexplained phone call from Mrs. Hastings and Wren’s cute English roommate are setting Spencer up to be there for a while. Maybe Melissa—conveniently absent for her sisters’ first 24 hours in a foreign country—has more cryptic knowledge to impart, and that’s why the writers felt it necessary to send her out of the line of fire. But damn, haven’t y’all heard of Skype?

But “A” is likely still stateside, where the master somehow managed to slip into jail and deliver a needlessly creepy jail doll and a dust-written message to Ali (also, welcome back, girl! Your hair still looks great even though you’ve been in the pen for almost half of a season!). Somehow, Ali doesn’t seem at all disturbed that “A” is moving back and forth between an orange jump suit and the free world, accepting it as part of the bizarre world that she has somehow landed them all in.

But despite her unflappable attitude toward being stalked in prison, Ali does show her vulnerable side in this episode. For instance, she seemed to have completely let that whole “you thought I was a murderer” thing go, swallowed her pride, and apologized to Hanna for how she treated the girls before she herself was locked up at the behest of others. This didn’t really give a lot of emotional resolve to Hanna, who watched her former hero dissolve into tears with no visible signs of emotion herself.

Alison also breaks down and asks Mrs. Hastings, who paid her a visit in jail to try and figure out why her daughter came to see her, to be her lawyer in her newly launched defense: “The Truth.” It’s too early to know if Ali is bluffing about her newfound path to righteousness, but the fact that “A” is sneaking into jail to write dusty messages about Mona seems to indicate that she isn’t behind everything.

Speaking of Mrs. H: In a panic, Aria sought legal advice that vaguely implicated someone she knew (i.e. Mike) for murder. Aria, girl. If you’re going to even hint at something like that you should probably pony up more that $1 to keep her quiet.

Anyway, “A” also managed to dress up like a mummy and sneak into the burn unit of a hospital. Really. Like how does this not sound completely batshit insane to the writers? Do they read their work out loud before they let them tape it? Anyway, Aria manages to track down Cyrus—who she says is their only link to the real “A” now that they are convinced of Ali’s innocence—in a hospital. So she drags Hanna along with her to get the answers about who paid him to frame Alison, thus saving her baby bro from being implicated in Mona’s murder(ish).

Being a new burn victim and all, Cyrus can’t/isn’t able to speak much and thus isn’t much help to the people who ambushed him in the hospital. But he does manage to write down a name, “Varjack,” (pretty legibly, mind you, for being so crispy) before the duo is thrown from the burn unit. Of course, of course, just after Han and Aria are escorted out by the Rosewood equivalent of Nurse Ratched, the person next to Cyrus rises from his or her deathbed, completely concealed by bandages, and menacingly lingers over him as he lies their helplessly.

But Cyrus’ indicated demise wasn’t for naught. In the minute-long elevator ride, Inspector Hanna Marin manages to deduce that Varjack is a Breakfast at Tiffany’s reference spelled incorrectly, which must mean that “A” had never written the name out for him, but only verbally communicated with Cyrus. Because that does seem like the only obvious explanation.

In other less impressive feats, “A” managed to sneak into the Montgomery’s house, try to kill Mike by changing the bolts on his weights, and inadvertently cause Aria to fall and hurt herself and kiss Andrew for first aid.

And, to be sure, “A” can also inadvertently be blamed for Em’s near withdrawal from the pageant because of her involvement with Ali.


Is anyone else’s head spinning? Yes, “A” is always the puppet master of the Liars’ chaotic world, but it usually manifests in one or two really sadistic long-term plots per episode. This time, “A” seemed to be leaving more of a mark. If he/she/it is going to be a more constant presence in the lead up to the big reveAl, I’m going to need to start napping before the show starts.

Even criminal masterminds know when to deal in the art of subtlety. And maybe that is “A”’s fatal flaw.