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'Pretty Little Liars' recap: 'O Brother, Where Art Thou'

Charles’ birthday party goes awry.

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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

Anyone else breathing a little sigh of relief knowing the summer finale is in sight? It’s not that I don’t love the show — though at this point, my “love” might be better described as Stockholm Syndrome — but I just want to see Charles’ freaking FACE. And even though for six years it’s felt like the Liars were getting “so close” to discovering “A’s” identity pretty much every episode, this week it actually did feel close. But of course, not close enough.

Let’s recount this action-packed episode, boring parts first: A girl named Claire comes around looking for Sara. Emily had apparently spoken to Claire once before—though for the life of me I cannot recall when that scene supposedly happened—and during that past chat, Claire told Emily that for everything Sara gave, she took two things away. Emily is tight-lipped at first and pretends Sara is at work. But I guess something about Claire’s speech (“Sara and I had some hard times, but she was my friend. No one deserves what you went through. I just want to see her.”) changes Emily’s mind, and she decides they can all meet up after Sara gets out of therapy.

They get cookies, and Sara and Claire are clearly excited to catch up. This, by the way, kind of blows up my theory of Sara being Bethany, since there’s someone who apparently knew her as Sara, doesn’t it? Emily is both super jealous, and also probably feeling protective since Claire didn’t have the nicest things to say about Sara when they met before (SERIOUSLY when was that?). She gets angry when Claire invites Sara to stay with her—an invitation Sara takes, explaining that she’s put Emily and her mom out for too long. That much is true, but I’m mad anyway! I don’t know if I just feel sad for Emily or if Sara was growing on me or what (I know—CHECK ME INTO RADLEY!), but I’m a little sad to see her go. Maybe I just like her haircut.

Onto the action: Ali, mysteriously back from wherever she disappeared to last episode, is in the car with her very sweaty, very mad father, who I finally realized looks familiar because he is the human version of Sam the Eagle. Ali begs to know why her father is taking her away, and he explains that they’re going “Someplace safe.” She finds the card from Charles and reads it, without Mr. D even trying to stop her. “He’s alive,” she realizes. “And he’s coming for us, isn’t he?” ALI. HE HAS BEEN COMING FOR YOU FOR SIX YEARS. I thought you finally understood that.

Meanwhile, Hanna and her mother are discussing college, as is bound to happen when you have the only present parent on the entire show. When Hanna was in the dollhouse, Ashley applied to every scholarship out there — which gave her hope, and a reason to look toward the future. This makes so much sense, because the Marins are normal. I guess the Hastings were also kind of active in looking for the girls, but where are they now, huh? Siberia? Mariska Hargitay Lookalike Camp? Ashley should have gotten custody of the other girls years ago. Anyway, she/Hanna won a $30,000 scholarship from a place called The Carissimi Group, which Jason recommended because Mrs. D used to donate there all the time.

Hanna has a strange feeling because the name sounds familiar, so she does some research, and finds out that the group is connected to Radley. In this week’s edition of This Connection Is an Enormous Stretch, But Fine, she learns that “Carissimi” means “beloved,” which she immediately connects to Charles’ epitaph, “Beloved Son,” as if literally every other grave on earth doesn’t bear some version of that inscription. She basically comes to the conclusion that The Carissimi group must have been Charles’ bank account through Mrs. D, and begs Ashley not to take the money, but Ashley deposits the check anyway, because they need the money and she’s not insane. Or maybe she is! That would be a twist. (She’s not. Her crazy days are behind her, I know it.)

Toby is back! From his “police seminar,” which is a real thing that infant police officers get to attend. Spencer is instantly evasive, even though Toby pulls a line like a swanky ’50s detective: “We don’t do secrets, you and me.”

Mike Montgomery is also back! He comes to Aria, freaking out because he hasn’t talked to Mona since she was “dead.” Aria says she didn’t tell Mona not to contact him. He goes to talk to Mona, who feels stupid because her fake-death plan with all the blood vials didn’t really work, and after some very soap opera-worthy dialogue (“Yeah, I’m pissed as hell at you.” “Yeah, it matters.” “Not to me, not now. All that matters is that you’re alive.” “Look at me, Mona.” *kiss*), they decide to give ol’ M&M another go.

Jason is also back! Lorenzo comes over to see Ali, but Jason tells him they’re out of town. “I tried calling her a couple times. She usually calls me back right away,” Lorenzo whines (a little). Jason goes into big brother mode: “I didn’t know you had a ‘usual,'” he sneers. There’s a creepy red balloon bobbing in the background, and when Lorenzo leaves, Jason finds a little blue plastic frog and an invitation for Charles DiLaurentis’ birthday party, advising him to “Come alone or not at all!” My notes at this point in the episode read: “WHAAAAT! What what what what!” so clearly, this was a great scene. PLL is at its best when there is danger around every corner, and this card, paired with Mr. D’s from last week, gives us a definite indication of at least some sort of action!

I am surprised at Charles’ openness, though. It seems like he’s totally fine identifying himself now—yes, it’s to his family, but really, he’s just going to walk around a heavily-patrolled house leaving notes with his full name written out on them? With red, floaty balloons? He might as well walk around wearing an “A” on his back, right? There were cops in the driveway, not to mention a Lorenzo on the porch. No one thought to look at the single red balloon on the porch? AMATEURS!

Ali is also back to her ultimate, crazy self. At the hotel with her dad, she steals his phone and calls Spencer, asking her to make sure Jason is safe and to get him to change his mind about meeting Charlie. Then… she gives her dad decaf coffee AND DRUGS HIM WITH SLEEPING PILLS. Not a normal thing to do to your dad, who is trying to protect you from a deranged psychopath who tried to drown you when you were a baby. And has been trying to kill you for six years. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Why don’t these girls want protection!?

NEXT: Goodbye, tracking devices!