UM… Can this recap just be two pages of exclamation points and question marks?! Or just the entire transcript of the Mama Liars’ wine-drunk sleuthing? (Yeah, we’ll get to that.) I’ve said this a couple times lately, but this, more than any other recent episode, is Classic PLL: A gasp-inducing, pulse-pounding thrill ride, just scary enough that you don’t want to watch it alone.
From the first scene, it was clear this episode would have four other stars: the Mamas! ALL of them. In ONE episode. Can you believe it? In a strange sort of revolving-door series of shots, each Liar-Mama pair has pretty much the same conversation: “Sorry you can’t go to prom, honey.” “Ugh this sucks!” “It’ll be fine. You won’t miss much at commencement either.” “Wait we can’t graduate!?” The consolation prize? They get to have a fake prom in the Hastings’ barn — which, as we know, and as they even admit later, is where this whole “Ali’s missing” thing started in the first place.
The girls try to cheer each other up. “Even if we went to the real prom, who would we hang out with except each other?” True. “We already know that Charles had some twisted thing with formals.” Also true: And so did every other incarnation of “A.” These Liars have really short memories.
Despite the cheering, they’re still not thrilled: As Emily puts it, “Nobody wants to put on a ball gown and get splinters in their butt.” (“It’s not that kind of a barn,” Ashley Marin counters. “It’s that kind of a prom,” Emily says. Looks like she took over from Hanna in the sass department!)
Resigned to Barn Prom ’15, they try to scrape together dates. Spencer’s got Toby, Ezra offers to go with Aria (who, side note, won that photo contest and the internship in Los Angeles), Caleb bails because he’s going on a mysterious trip with his dad, and Sara turns Emily down because her friends at her “old school” (how many schools could there be in this small town?) have prom the same night. So, if you’re counting: Two guys, four girls. Well, five if we count Ali, who’s fielding shady texts from “A”/Charles: “Better be at prom. It’s our last chance to dance. Come alone.” But we can’t ever count on Ali to stay in one place, can we?
Spencer, for some reason, is trying to make things right between Ali and Lorenzo — who, like Toby, is suspended indefinitely from the police force for obvious reasons (letting your gf steal your ID while unconscious, and being stoned off of pot candy, respectively). I think she only wants to keep him around to look at him… or is that just me? I’m not ready to lose my candy just yet, Lorenzo! Anyway, this was funny: Spencer tries to make excuses for Ali’s sociopathic behavior. “Stealing that key card was stupid and impulsive,” she says. “But she just didn’t think it through!” I’m gonna stop you right there, Lorenzo says: “Ever since I got to Rosewood, I’ve only heard that she’s a master planner and manipulator.” You got that right. Still, it looks like she’s convincing him.
Okay friends: Now it’s getting good. The Mamas sit in the Hastings’ kitchen, where they’ll be “chaperoning” the girls’ “prom” from a short distance. (What could go wrong?) This is where I want to write down every single line the moms say because they were all perfect. Like Mrs. Fields, who was late because she was chatting up both cops on duty outside. When the other Mamas press for dirt, she says, “These aren’t high-ranking officers, so they wouldn’t know anything.” Right. The police department sends the second string to protect the girls who are murder/kidnapping targets/victims every other day. Sounds like Rosewood.
Someone else who’s had it up to here with Rosewood: Veronica Hastings. Lady opens up a bottle of red wine, convinces the other Mamas to partake, and proceeds to get gossip-spewing, fight-stirring drunk. This is Veronica like we have never seen her, and I loooove it! The Mamas hang out on the front porch with their wine, and Veronica’s secrets dribble out as she seethes with rage about the DiLaurentis family. “Lying is like oxygen to them,” she slurs. “Jason didn’t even know he wasn’t Kenneth’s… Oh gosh, I spilled.” Ella quips: “Not enough!” I can’t believe they didn’t know about the Mrs. D/Mr. H affair this whole time, but there it is. (I think only Ashley knows everything, because she’s the one who talks to her child more than once a month.)
Veronica doesn’t stop there. “I can’t even spend time out here without being reminded of that woman,” she says, in a rage: “That’s where the dog dug her up.” Emily’s mom says, “I completely forgot.” PLEASE, Mrs. Fields, please. You forgot that your daughter’s best friend’s mom was murdered and buried in your daughter’s other best friend’s yard? Oy vey.
The girls, minus Ali, are in the barn, doing absolutely the most realistic thing the show has ever seen them do: They’re sitting on the couch, scrolling through some fake TV-version of Instagram, talking trash. “She’s 85% tequila—and her dress is on backwards.” Lucas took Jenna? Or was he just her driver? This is amazing… until they see a certain familiar face in the background of a picture. Yep: Ali went to prom.
What does this mean? Of course the Liars show up at the freaking prom. Of course. They all look phenomenal—particularly Emily, who is some sort of dark queen, and Aria, who sort of looks like Snow White but I’m digging it. Ali, on the other hand, looks like she’s wearing a figure skating outfit on top with that awful nylon netting.
Also at prom: Creepy Clark, who has been avoiding Aria’s phone calls ever since they saw him at the abandoned doll factory. “You don’t go to school here, Clark,” Aria says. “You’re in college.” But some mean school lady pulls them apart before Aria can finish interrogating him, and she tells Aria she and her pals need to find the exit.
When Ali sees the girls, she’s angry, as expected. “You’re going to scare him away, just like at the arcade,” she whines, then stomps off to continue staring at all the red-caped figures wandering around prom. I don’t know what your high school prom looked like, dear readers, but mine didn’t include any of the following: Caped, masked figures, wrought-iron lanterns by the dozen, stone bridges with moss growing on them, halls of mirrors and even more lanterns, a human-sized hourglass full of sand, just one chaperone. For a town full of abandoned doll factories and one single coffee shop, Rosewood sure has a pretty hefty high school prom budget. (Perhaps they got a loan from the Carimissi Group?)
NEXT: Mamas Take Action…
Back to the Mamas: Veronica still won’t stop! “As if it wasn’t bad enough this bitch tried to steal my husband, but her sicko son had to bury her in my backyard. This deranged freak tried to frame my entire family!” It’s about time one of the parents cracked, honestly. And for all she’s been through, it makes sense that it’s Veronica. Mrs. Fields gets this devious, gossipy tone and starts spinning out theories like she’s sitting around the fire at Girl Scout camp: “Maybe somebody else buried Jessica out there… like her husband. From what I heard, it could be revenge…” They’ve got all their wine-armor on, so Veronica goes fully drunk college girl on them—”Maybe we should ask him!”—and leads the troop to the DiLaurentis house. This just turned into Freaky Friday.
So they’re sneaking around the DiLaurentis house, trying not to leave fingerprints, while Veronica is screaming, “KENNETH! It’s Veronica! I have a QUESTION for ya!!!!” They see a glass of scotch by an envelope for police evidence, and inside is the photo of Mrs. D with Charles and Jason. As the information is sinking into their buzzed brains, who should appear but RHYS from Carimissi! (My notes here are “WHATWHATWHATWHAT HOW IS IT ONLY 830,” so this appears to have occurred halfway through the episode.)
At prom, Spencer is still weirdly obsessed with saving Ali this episode. Isn’t this usually Emily’s job? “You didn’t get his text,” Ali explains. “It wasn’t threatening.” I mean… “Come alone” feels threatening to me, especially when it comes from someone who tried to drown you as a baby, but sure, think what you want. “I need to ask him why. What did I do to make him hate me?” I’ll tell you: You are whiny. You are the type of person who drugs her own father—her only living parent—without a second thought. Also: You were the kid who got to live at home and have a life, while he had to live at a dilapidated asylum trapped in the 1950s. Is that enough of a “why”?
Pause for a love check-in: Sara showed up at the dance for Emily (aww), Caleb showed up for Hanna (double aww), and Toby is dancing with Spencer. Ezra is dancing with Aria, but when Aria says she doesn’t want him to follow her to L.A. (she saw a flight confirmation flit across his phone screen), he admits he’s actually going to Thailand with Emily’s hot Australian friend from Habitat for Humanity. And Caleb wasn’t being totally shady: He just got a big-time IT job in New York, which pays enough money to cover rent and Hanna’s tuition. I think I see where they’re going with these two storylines for the time jump…
Now back to Momville! Rhys is interrogating them: “Is Mr. DiLaurentis here or not? Are any of you part of the family or not?” Is this Charles playing, “Are you my mother?” or just a concerned foundation employee who probably hasn’t gotten paid in a while? Rhys gets no answers, and leaves. Or maybe he doesn’t? “I think we just met Charles,” Ella says. The moms discuss how much DiLaurentis DNA Rhys may or may not have, until the basement vent starts jiggling.
Because they haven’t been around their daughters enough to learn from their mistakes, they decide to investigate: With Veronica leading the way, of course. “ARE YOU HERE? I want to talk to you,” she yells. Subtle! They head downstairs aaaaaand…. “A” locks them in the basement. “Why didn’t any of us bring a phone?” Veronica moans. Don’t worry, V — if you had brought one, you either would have lost service, gotten hacked, or had something mysteriously smash your phone by now. There’s really nothing you can do in the presence of “A.” Also, I am terrified. Another hilarious Mrs. Fields quote: “We had one job tonight. One. To keep them safe.” That’s been your job for a few years, too… but if it’s easier for you just to feel guilty over one night, go ahead.
After an evening of Ali looking around like an idiot, Charles is tired. “My, what big eyes you have,” he texts Ali. “Use them.” She looks up and sees the scariest red cloak of them all (there’s basically no face—this looks like if Little Red Riding Hood got reincarnated as a Dementor from Harry Potter). Ali follows him, and Clark (!) follows her, flashing the gun on his belt. Yep, those of you who knew Clark was an undercover cop get 10 cookies each: You were right!
Of course, they all waste a whole lot of time because the boys have to play hero and confront/stop Clark in his tracks, whereupon he gets super frustrated; Toby is like “I’m an officer,” and Clark is like, “SO AM I, you idiot.” He doesn’t say “You idiot,” but he definitely thinks it, and then he runs off to try to do his job. Meanwhile Emily turns to Aria and says, “You really had no idea?” That cracked me up. Let’s remember, Aria is the one who dated a man for years without realizing he was gathering research on her and on all of her friends the entire time. I guess the “brilliant idea” lightbulb over her head must have burnt out a long time ago.
Ali is lost in a creepy mirrored Wonderland, and “A” slinks up behind her, covers her mouth, and drags her away. (Meanwhile, Lorenzo catches up to the gang just in time—for nothing!) Ali is shrieking and running through a hallway. “Where are you taking me? Where are we going?” she cries. Then softens: “Please, Charles, talk to me.” He takes his hood off, and Ali says, “Oh my god.”
And of course, with that—the episode is over. Give me all your “A”/Charles guesses right now! Wren would make sense because he’s an old face, but he’s just been around for so long. Cece’s gotta be involved somehow. It’s hard to remember who we could suspect who isn’t dead. Did Ian die? Holbrook isn’t dead, right? Garrett’s definitely dead… Is Jenna going to be important again? Paige? Mariska Hargitay? Maya? And, oh yeah: Mona? She hasn’t been around for a hot minute.
The options are endless… but next week, we’re supposed to get our end!!! I just hope the Mamas stay involved. Maybe we can get a sequel episode with a Dad Club.