Well, this episode’s purpose was definitely to build tension—but not to come to any conclusions. Kind of figured this was the point when black-hooded “A” appeared right smack in the middle of the show, as opposed to showing up in the last 10 chilling minutes. (I mean usually the last 10 are chilling. Tonight, not so much.)
Let’s get to it then. We open with Ali in conversation with the Liars, as they discuss why the TV news / police don’t just use age progression software to figure out what Charles would look like now. (Yes. Duh. I think someone brought this up in the comments before, and you get a prize.) “Maybe someone could put a face to the name,” Spencer says, and Hanna, firing on all cylinders as usual, says: “And maybe someone can put a fist to that face.” LOVE IT.
Ali is understandably conflicted about her “brother” the whole episode. She tells more about the arcade birthday party from the home movie: “Charles gave me his frosting. How does that turn into vicious?” Charles (well, “Freddie”) cried when it was time to leave, and said it was the best birthday he’d ever had. But Hanna won’t take Ali getting all sentimental about a sadistic serial killer. “I’m sorry, Alison, this must really suck for you, but I’m not going to sit here and help you give ‘A’ the benefit of the doubt.” Go. Hanna. She tells them she’s only saying what everyone else is thinking, and no one argues—not even Ali.
Hanna continues to take matters into her own hands, as she and Spencer visit The Carissimi Group to try to return Hanna’s scholarship money (oh, and to try to snoop around). At the super secure office, they meet with a “Rhys Matthews,” who tells them it’s unlikely they’ll get to speak with his boss, Mr. Carissimi. Rhys only has a conference call with him once a week. Hanna snaps a photo of him to show the others. This Rhys fella seemed creepy, as all new characters on this show do, but to be honest, I got Drug-Free Dean vibes from him before Spencer and Hanna exclaimed that he “looks exactly like a DiLaurentis.” I guess it’s the eyebrows? I just feel like he can’t be Charles because… he’s good-looking. But hey, for every demented John Wayne Gacy, Jr., there’s a handsome Ted Bundy. Still, it would be too easy for them to come face-to-face with him at the front desk of The Carissimi Group, right?
While Spencer and Hanna are doing some hardcore research, Aria and Emily are having some girl talk about prom. Aria wants them to go as friend dates, but Emily wants to ask Sara. Sweetly, Aria suggests they go as a group. All this talk might be moot, however, because apparently the school emailed the Liars’ parents and strongly suggested the girls skip prom this year. It’s unsafe for the other students, I guess… even though just living in Rosewood seems to up your chances of being randomly murdered by like 75 percent. Although I guess your chances of “rising from the dead” are higher than they would be in a normal town, too: Mona… Ali… Charles…
Aria’s mom (she drew the extra-Montgomery short straw this episode and is obviously the only one to appear, while dad is, at one point, “upstairs” and Mike is at a “sports banquet”) is afraid of letting Aria go to the photography gallery show that comes with being a finalist for that fellowship, but Aria convinces Tanner to put extra police presence at the gallery. This means nothing can happen, because “A” mostly only shows up when the girls are alone and in dark forests or basements…. EXCEPT THIS TIME!
Cut to a scene of black hoodie “A” watching security footage from inside said photo gallery. This is about midway through the episode, which is basically unheard of—”A” never appears this early! But wait, there’s more: In comes RED COAT “A” to sit down next to black hoodie. This. Is. Crazy. Even if one of them is Charles—WHO IS THE OTHER ONE? My money is on CeCe or Mona, but then again, who even knows? Maybe Jason made contact with Charles after the failed birthday party after all, and he put on the red coat (or cape). Jason was absent this episode, so it’s possible. Either way, I think it’s safe to assume this was the “ally” who brought Charles the birthday present at the end of last week.
The gallery is crawling with police, and all the Liars are there to support their formerly pink-haired friend. Too-close Clark is there too, because he’s a finalist as well—although he has no family there to support him. Kind of sad, but mostly scary. Aria asks Ezra to prom “as a friend,” but before he can answer, Emily’s Australian friend Nicole sidles up to Ezra—clearly, there’s something going on between them. Ezra tries to play it off later (“I knew she liked photography!”) but it’s pretttty obvious he’s finally got eyes for someone his own age—despite the raging jealousy he showed over Clark and Aria earlier at The Brew.
NEXT: “A” has a special message…