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'Pretty Little Liars' recap: 'To Plea or Not to Plea'

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Eric McCandless/ABC

Pretty Little Liars

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
7
run date:
06/14/11
broadcaster:
ABC Family
genre:
Drama

How do you do homework in prison? How do you excuse a week’s worth of absences to flit off to London? How do you keep your grades up when you’re stalking lawyers with your ex-boyfriend? When do you find time to go to class between working at a coffee shop and digging through the trash of mystery men? Most importantly—can’t we just drop the whole “high school” story line with the Liars?

Seriously, in Pretty Little Liars if you aren’t getting threatening notes in your locker or having an affair with a teacher, what is the point of high school? The focal point of the Liars’ world has shifted far away from Rosewood High. There is no swim team anymore. There is no French club. There are few plot points to root the gang there other than a sexy tutor and a pageant that Emily may or may not be out of the running for (is anyone else clear on if that is done? Did Talia blackmail her back into the pageant, or is she just into ponying up cash? I hope she’s back in, because I miss hearing Ariana Grande play eight times in an episode). Even seeing the Liars back in the lunchroom feels jarring at this point.

But we know we won’t be running into Hanna in the girl’s room anytime soon. Lt. Tanner finally found the blood that “A” planted on Mona’s clothes, triggering a warrant for Hanna’s arrest. So will Ali finally have an ally in the slammer? Don’t count on it. Judging by the death glare that she gave Alison as she was being led in, Hanna still believes that Ali took the plea deal and named her as an accomplice.

And it did look like Alison was going to name Hanna and craft a confession to Mona’s murder. Alison has had a rough go on the inside, like Orange is the New Black kind of rough, but minus the loveable characters. Finding a note scrawled on her cell wall instructing her to take the plea seemed to send Alison over the edge, but at the last minute she decided not to drag Hanna down with her.

But anyway, when—and I say when because she absolutely will, somehow, dig her way out this—Hanna gets out of prison, she will go back to high school. Because going back after you were thrown into the slammer for killing your former best friend, all while believing you were put there by your other former best friend, seems totally normal.

Han also dealt with high school right of passage—lying to your parents. After Mrs. Hastings dropped by the house to warn Mrs. Marin about Ali’s plan to name Hanna as an accomplice, Hanna came clean to her mom about why she was visiting the storage unit. At this point, I bet Mrs. Marin is waxing nostalgic about the days when she was dealing with Hanna’s drinking problem. 

And Spencer? How does she not have a truancy officer after her by now? She’s skipped across the pond to interview for colleges  flirt with cute English boys stay out of the line of fire of possibly being named Alison’s accomplice in murder. To be fair, she’s been trying to get back stateside since she landed in merry ol’ England. She’s been too busy gallivanting with Colin, the conveniently hot roommate, to notice Melissa and Mrs. Hastings’ plot to keep her tucked away from possible allegations.

Not to say that this trip is keeping Spence out of trouble. After a night of Shakespeare and pints (God, that is soooo England), Spencer and Colin lip lock in the living room. What does Colin or that kiss accomplish? Yes, it shows that she and Toby are pretty much done. But couldn’t the charming artist back in Rosewood have done that? No, macking Colin was not the plot point that brought Spencer to England. There will need to be one more twist that makes this whole UK trip worth it, and something tells me it won’t be Oxford.

NEXT: Another ‘ship runs its course [pagebreak]

Then, of course, there is Aria, who due to her relationship with her former teacher was robbed of her high school experience completely.

That being said, can we have a moment of silence for Ezria?

Okay, but thank God that is done.

Yes, Aria and Ezra finally call it quits after half a season of ignoring each other. Ezra, with his infinite older-man wisdom, finally realized that his high school GF was right and they should break up now rather than waiting for Aria to go to college. Watching their last moments as a couple wasn’t at all bittersweet, though. Their distance this season has made it all the creepier seeing them together, even in fleeting moments. Something about a statutory rape situation will do that. So seeing the end of Ezria, a Pretty Little Liars cornerstone couple, was kind of a relief.

But it doesn’t seem like our favorite English teacher will be disappearing completely. Aria and Emily had him back on “A” snooping duty this episode, helping them stalk Mona’s former lawyer who lead them to what they think is Varjack’s hideout. Ezra is, after all, one of the only people that Aria has scratched the surface with on all of this “A” craziness.

Even with a relatively quiet episode, Emily can’t reclaim the normalcy of swim team practice and high school loves. Talia is inexplicably absent from “To Plea or Not to Plea,” leaving Em plenty of time to charge fearlessly onto the property of Varjack, the only person who could lead the Liars to “A.” Her courage is admirable, but when she has no intriguing subplot to go on, hero might be Emily’s only card to play.

The Liars world would be more believable if they had already left the high school nuance behind. Would it have been that hard for them to quietly graduate and carry on life in Rosewood, trying to shake the lingering presence of an anonymous puppeteer? There is something unsettling about the fact that the show, for the most part, completely ignores the fact that they are still slogging through the last stretch of their education, then sloppily blends high school struggles into the mix.

Let’s talk about your last semester of high —it’s an emotional roller coaster that rarely makes any sense. And at Rosewood High, that sense of absolute confusion and futility is amplified. I’ll give show writers that the latter half of your teenage years is a bizarre period of life that after years and years of reflection I haven’t properly pieced together. But throw all of the woes of Pretty Little Liars into the mix? I think it’s time to drop out. 

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