Hanna has an identity crisis while Ali loses her nerve in this A-less world

By Chancellor Agard
March 11, 2015 at 04:35 PM EDT
  • TV Show

This week’s Pretty Little Liars offered us our first look at an A-less world (for now) and what that means for the girls… spoiler: It’s not that much different. For one, the girls still devote themselves to endless Nancy Drew-like activities, only without interruptions by A’s mocking, and at time threatening, texts. “Surfing the Aftershock” didn’t feature any major character deaths like the first two episodes of the season, but it did show the characters reflecting on this world without “A.” This is especially true of Hanna, who spends most of the hour realizing that she’s lost her sense of self. The fact that the episode did not end with a creepy sequence told from A’s point of view is indicative that things are a-changing. On that note, let’s see what the girls have been up to, shall we?

Several days have past since Pepe the dog found Mrs. D’s remains in Spencer’s backyard. Ali doesn’t handle it well; she becomes reclusive—it seems her years on the run trained her to be alone a little too well. On the day of Mrs. D’s funeral, Spencer is quick to point out the unfortunate irony of the situation: Ali is getting ready to bury the woman who buried her alive. Just when you start to think the DiLaurentis family is normal…

Because this is Rosewood, the girls don’t have the luxury of waiting until after the funeral before getting back to the latest mystery: who buried Mrs. D. Emily thinks it’s Jason, a possibility that Spencer rejects, and Aria thinks it might be “A,” but the other liars reassure her that “A” is dead and no longer a problem. Spencer says that she’s more concerned about Mona and anyone else who knows that Ali lied to the police. But before the girls can finish their conversation, Ali finally appears—always a vision—this time in the same dress her mother wore to her funeral. That’s so five seasons ago Ali.

Back at school, Spencer tells the girls to act like things are normal. As is wont to happen, the girls implicitly agree that school is not a priority, but disagree about what their priorities should be. Emily thinks they should be worried about the police punching holes in Ali’s story and finding out what happened to Shana, whereas Spencer is more worried about the people who know Ali lied—Mona, Noel, and Ezra—and suggests that someone, i.e. Aria, talk to Ezra to make sure he’s got his story straight. Naturally, Aria refuses. (But that resolve doesn’t last long). Meanwhile in another hallway, Emily runs into her ex-Paige and the two share a fairly awkward moment, which is made slightly more awkward by a new girl on the team named Sydney Driscoll (Chloe Bridges), who keeps staring at Emily. Sydney is a fan of Emily’s (who isn’t?) and she asks for her help with swimming. Are we finally over Paige??

NEXT: References to old Italian families, flashbacks, and Ezria!

We are treated to our classic Pretty Little Liars scene where one character asks questions and the other character gives very cryptic answers courtesy of Spencer and Melissa. Here, the conversation includes Melissa comparing the Hastings and DiLaurentis families’ relationship to that of the Medicis and the Borgias, Spencer asking why Melissa lied about seeing Toby when she was London, and Melissa giving a response that’s basically “because I felt like it.” Before leaving, Melissa advises Spencer to spend a little less time worrying about Ali now that she’s returned from the dead and more time worrying about herself. Spencer also shares a similarly tense exchange with her father when she ask him to stop Melissa from suggesting that the police look to Jason as a suspect in Mrs. D’s murder. No dice.

Ever the good friend, Hanna takes Ali to the funeral home to pick up her mother’s items. In this little scene, we get some more insight into Mrs. D’s exceptional(ly crazy) brand of parenting. Don’t all mothers take their kids to constant funerals? In addition to that insight, we also get a tinge of jealousy from Ali which triggers the first of several flashbacks to Hanna’s life right after Ali disappeared. The first one shows Mona, no longer dressed as Loser Mona, approaching Hanna outside of a cupcake store and telling her someone needs to take Ali’s place now; she promises to tell Hanna the secret of becoming unforgettable. Very deep, Mona. In another flashback, Hanna recalls when Mona was helping her upgrade her look following Hanna’s weight loss and it’s clear to all of us that Mona was trying to create Ali 2.0.

And now the scene that all true Pretty Little Liars fans have waited for: the first Ezria scene following Ezra’s release from the hospital. Aria pays Ezra, who is now using a cane following his surgery, a visit to make sure he’s got his story straight. Ezra knows he promised to leave Rosewood, but, unfortunately, he had nowhere else to go. In their conversation, they discuss Shana, but Aria fails to mention that she killed her in New York. When she shares the news with Ali, the usually inappropriate friend chooses to ignore how creepy the beginning of the Ezria relationship now seems in light of … all we now know. Nevertheless, Ali is proven right about Ezra being a good guy after Aria tells him she killed Shana, and instead of shunning her, Ezra asks how he can help.

Thanks to a drive to Philadelphia (where we learn Jason is innocent), we receive one more flashback: the first day Hanna and Mona debuted their new look at school. We’re treated to a sequence of the two girls turning heads in the hallway as they strut down the hall and show off their new look. This memory moves Hanna to ask Emily about how it felt when she came out. Hanna asks how it felt to go from being one thing to be something different, to which—prepare for the after-school special—Emily replies that she didn’t become something different, but became herself. In a rare, vulnerable moment, Hanna admits that she doesn’t think she’s ever known who the hell she is.

As Emily and Hanna have this heart to heart, Spencer pays Jason a visit and finds him packing. She shows Jason the email that was Mrs. D had started writing, but never finished. From their conversation, Spencer deduces that Mrs. D never finished writing the email because she decided that it would be better to deliver in person, and that the intended receiver might be the one who killed Mrs. D. After asking her whether she wanted to be right or happy, Jason tells Spencer not to trust her father.

NEXT: A change is gonna come.

Having too many flashbacks on the brain, Hanna decides to confront Mona. She wants to know why Mona made her more like Ali even though she knew Ali was still alive. Mona argues that Ali’s departure was a great opportunity for the two of them to help each other move up the social pyramid. Hanna’s upset because she thinks her transformation into Ali 2.0 made her lose herself, to which Mona asks where would Hanna be if she hadn’t given her that Ali upgrade. Hanna says she’d still be herself and Mona replies, “And who remembers her? Not even you.” Ooh, cold, yet true.

Any episode of Pretty Little Liars isn’t complete without a creepy exchange between an adult and one of the kids, and Mr. Hastings and Ali are here to give us that scene. Mr. Hastings just so happens to run into Ali as she’s walking the streets of Rosewood alone at night. Expressing concern for Ali’s safety because her supposed kidnapper is still on the lose, Mr. Hastings offers to give Ali a ride home.

Upon his return home, Mr. Hastings has a heated discussion with Spencer, who thinks its smart to reveal her hand and shows her dad Mrs. D’s email. Before Spencer can get anywhere in her interrogation of her father, Melissa appears, tells Spencer to leave her father alone and rips up the email, which leads to the sisters bickering again. But Mr. Hastings, like the rest of us, is tired of the sister’s arguing and insists that there be no more friendly fire. Melissa suggests that maybe it’s time they tell Spencer their secret, but Mr. Hastings disagrees. Why haven’t these characters learned that keeping secrets does not keep people safe?

The episode ends with Hanna getting a new ‘do because “it’s time for a change” and she might as well be talking about this season thus far. No more A, way more Ali—it’s a brave new Rosewood, but so far the change is good. It was time.

What did you guy think of the episode? Did it look like Mona was talking to Alison at the end of the episode? Who else is over Emily and Paige’s relationship drama? And seriously, what is Melissa hiding?

Four little liars and a being named “A” (who may or may not be the fifth little liar) try to live their lives in Rosewood. It’s complicated.
  • TV Show
  • 7
  • TV-14
  • 06/14/11
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