Sometimes you get rewarded when you forget to check social media for a few days. Case in point: I was totally shocked when the creepy, ghoulish, dancing girl at the beginning of the episode turned out to be none other than Sia video staple Maddie Ziegler. Her nightgowned demonry seemed like it came straight out of The Ring or The Grudge—meaning some of us can probably expect a chilling encore in our dreams tonight… yay.
The other big news (which you guys have been asking about for weeks!): Mona’s finally back, sporting huge sunglasses and looking eerily like another long-absent character, Jenna. She’s understandably skittish, but still quotable: “They might still press charges against me for being dead when I wasn’t,” she tells Hanna. Actually, this was a pretty quotable episode overall. When Spencer asks Aria what she did with the pink hair dye in the dollhouse, an exasperated Aria says, “Oh, you are giving me cramps!”
Aria and her new photographer friend Clark are getting closer. “I was thinking of taking a ride to the junkyard off Route 47,” he tells her. “Wanna come?” Yes, Aria, when a perfect stranger asks you to go to a junkyard with him, you definitely, definitely take him up on it. (?!?!) She does have a bit of a reason—apparently she could win a fellowship at a magazine in L.A., a.k.a. finally escape the murder capital of Pennsylvania. While they’re at the junkyard, where Clark is taking pictures of Aria taking pictures (again, not sketchy at all…), Aria senses “A” is there and gets spooked. Clark asks her out to dinner, and—in the answer to our Aria/Ezra questions—Aria says she’s not dating for a while. So… looks like she’s not with Ezra. Clark isn’t too surprised at her response, as he recognized her from the news (I REPEAT, NOT SKETCHY?).
In lighter news, Ali and Lorenzo are definitely happening. When Ali hears one of the cops stationed outside her house insulting her (“How many people has she put behind bars?”), she freaks out, but her dad is a little less than sympathetic. Lorenzo, on the other hand, gets a nice ladycop to switch places with the insulter. Toward the end of the episode, he and Ali finally kiss, but not before Mr. DiLaurentis expresses his extreme disapproval and accuses Ali of trying to replace the gossipy cop with “someone your own age,” i.e. Lorenzo. So, another question answered: Lorenzo isn’t supposed to be a predatory cop, I guess just a high school dropout in uniform? Later, in a fight with her dad, Ali sneers, “You gonna bury me at Aunt Carol’s farm, too? Shove me in the ground right next to Charles?” Mr. D seems confused. Put a pin in this scene for later…
Spencer’s addiction subplot is boring so let’s get it over with: She’s eating pot cookies at school, Hanna asks if she’s “buzzed,” Spencer goes to an NA meeting and runs into that sobriety coach guy from last season who lived in the Hastings’ barn, he drives her home and tells her to call him if she ever needs help. She asks him to throw away the rest of her edibles for her. Given that she was sexting Toby earlier and all but told Hanna she was super horny, I wonder if she’s going to call this Dean fella anytime soon.
Emily is still feeling super protective of her wounded little fawn, Sara, who is toying with the idea of going back to her cryptically abusive mother. Not if Emily can help it! They seek advice from Caleb on how to get Sara legally emancipated (I’m having One Tree Hill flashbacks—wasn’t every teen on that show legally emancipated?), who’s like, Uh, this is a very difficult thing, so why don’t you just wait til you turn 18 in two months? That’s not good enough for Emily, so Caleb says Sara can work at his web design company in order to put a job on her emancipation application. It’s basically smooth sailing from there, so, in celebration, Sara decides she and Emily need tattoos to commemorate the occasion. She gets a birdcage, Emily gets a Japanese character that apparently means “courage,” but probably somehow means “A.”
NEXT: The truth about Charles
Now for the good stuff: Hanna and Spencer decide to explore the abandoned Radley, which has deteriorated into rust and cobwebs… No, wait. It always looked like that. Spencer recognizes the creepy room from her dream that Maddie Ziegler was haunting, and almost immediately finds Charles DiLaurentis’ folder. In it, she finds a work order from the courier who transported Charles’ organs. Hanna is confused, until Spencer clarifies: “You can’t donate your heart and lungs and still play Boggle in the rec room. He’s dead.”
Then, in a classic PLL horror move, they see some sort of bone, or face, in the murky bathtub. But it’s just a Resusci Anne doll, used to help teach people CPR (If you listen to the podcast Radiolab, you might know the semi-morbid story behind Resusci Anne: She’s based on an old, anonymous death mask. I wonder if this willl end up being important at all.) Was it just me, or was there a glint of something else in that tub, too? Hanna and Spencer hear something, and charge forth with weapons raised. It turns out to be Mona, clutching her folder. “Just let me go, I’ll explain later,” she pleads. But once Spencer grabs the file, the truth comes out: It’s not Mona’s, it’s Leslie Stone’s. Leslie, you may or may not remember, was Mona’s friend who came out of the woodwork during her murder trial to throw all the girls under the bus.
Earlier in the episode, Leslie accosted Hanna and Mona at the Brew, saying she believed in payback for the trouble Mona got her into. “I made the mistake of complimenting a stranger on her Dolce & Gabbana stretch pants,” she had hissed, seemingly alluding to the beginning of her friendship with Mona. A bit later, she apologized to Hanna, saying she wondered if Radley might have made Mona even worse. When Hanna suggested that the “nuthouse” still holds all the answers, Leslie advises her to leave the questions to the police. But now, this file folder tells us the truth: Leslie and Mona met at Radley, and Leslie was there long enough to know a certain someone, as well. Charles.
Soon, more concrete clues come to light. As Aria goes through Clark’s negatives from the junkyard, she notices something: He might have caught “A” on camera. She sends the photo of a hooded, and sort of busty, figure to the other Liars (in “square” mode on her iPhone—Instagram ready!), leading to the possible conclusion: “A” IS A GIRL?!
Sara reads the text—and sees the photo—from Aria on Emily’s phone while Emily gets tattooed. “I’ve seen her a couple times,” she confesses. When they went to Caleb’s apartment, she saw someone across the street in a black hoodie, she says, then runs away. When Emily catches up to her, Sara is angry that they’ve been looking for “A” this whole time and didn’t tell her. “We were trying to protect you!” Emily says, as the Liars always say just after their plans backfire. Then an ominous shadow looms behind them…
As the other three Liars go over the new Leslie information, they realize another pertinent clue: Not only did Leslie meet Mona in Radley, not only did she overlap with Charles, but she also roomed with Bethany Young. Is there a cartoon “GUILTY” sign blinking over her head yet? It seems like it, but then again, this is only episode 5… wouldn’t that be too easy? This scene had another great quote, when someone brings up Bethany Young’s death. “Your sister did that,” says Hanna (I think). “No, Melissa just buried her alive,” Spencer corrects. I love this show. I love it. Everyone is immortal and nothing makes sense!
Meanwhile, an apologetic Mona is on the phone with Leslie. “I did everything I could, I swear,” she says. An irate—and yes, pretty unstable—Leslie sits in a car, yelling into the phone: “I asked you to do one thing for me, Mona. One thing! You always screw everything up!” Maybe Leslie is Sara Harvey’s mom? Just kidding. Sort of. Oh also, earlier, Mona left a card for Ali in her mailbox.
Cut to a gloved “A” scene (does this mean it’s not Leslie? Where is Cece Drake right now?), where “A” is gluing pink-dyed hair onto a mini Aria wig on top of a tennis ball. It’s actually very cute. I would die if “A” had an Etsy business on the side of all her/his murder and torture and stalking stuff, because this demented individual has some pretty brilliant dollmaking skills.
Will Maddie Ziegler come back? (Unlikely.) Is Leslie Stone anyone that important? (Unlikely.) Will Clark end up doing something creepy? (Likely.) Is “A” really a girl? (I could see it… though this also goes to a commenter’s point about “A” cross-dressing… it’s not that hard to stuff a bra, trust me.)