Pretty Little Liars recap: 'Over A Barrel'
Will the Liars ever exchange their tumultuous life of near-constant murder plots for nights at the library? Let’s be real. The question of college is increasingly imminent with our fabulous foursome, but this season is setting them up to stay in Rosewood forever. Foiled plans and roadblocks drag the collegiate dream further from their grasp, but promises the hope of another season without having to procure some half-baked explanation on why they all ended up at the same campus with “A” there, too. We all have to make sacrifices, and for the Liars that means forgoing four years of partying for the sake of the show.
Although we’d hate to see the girls split from the hellhole Pennsylvania suburb, they really deserve a break. Can you imagine how fabulous they would look in impeccably assembled outfits in their school colors, heading to a football game without a care in the world? Or how ebullient Hanna would be after she aced that physics test she insisted she could never conquer? The Rosewood crew each displays individual talents that I think a four-year degree and a few frat parties could sharpen. But if the plot continues in this fashion, the Liars and their boys won’t be studying anything aside from “A”‘s next move.
Let’s do a little counseling. If, indeed, they can ever leave, they can skip the career center and head straight to enrollment. Their sleuthing and scheming over the past five seasons have given plenty of clues on what they should study.
Aria: With a few strokes on the keyboard, Aria managed to elevate herself from the wait list to admission at Talmadge. Naturally, English or rhetoric seems to be the best choice for the bookworm. The only problem is that all of her short stories seem to circle around to bite her in the ass. Somehow, her appeal to Talmadge, which hinged on the idea that her high school career was ruined by her relationship with Ezra, managed to appear in its entirety on a receipt for 50-cent coffee. In Ezra’s coffee shop.
But she needs to work on her reasoning. If you’re going to be a writer, there needs to be a degree of analytical thought, of which Aria, apparently, has none. When she is lured to a meeting with “H,” who she assumes is Detective Holbrook, she foils that plan by grabbing lunch with Jason and gabbing about his sister. Meeting with Jason, who ultimately led to his sisters’ arrest, when you’re supposed to rendezvous with the guy you suspect of helping her does not seem like the wisest decision. Common sense isn’t always a strong suit, even with the brightest of candidates.
Unfortunately, it seems that Aria’s only college option was given to her by Ezra’s ex, and a potential hook-up to Vassar, brokered by the very guy whose relationship she turned into a leg-up, only reminds her of the betrayal.
Hanna: Damn if her outfits aren’t on point, even under duress. Who can balance a perfect milkmaid braid, denim, and mesh sleeves all while witnessing a failed proposal to your own mother who just slept with your sociopathic ex-friend’s brother? Hanna, that’s who. Seriously, not a hair out of place while stashing mystery flowers delivered to her mother, then heading back to the kitchen to watch a peanut-butter cookie catastrophe unfold. Fashion seems like the obvious choice for Han, who is generally unaffected by any of the absurd situations she often finds herself in. But even she looked a little flustered when Caleb told her that the storage space that could very likely have Mona’s remains stored inside was rented in her name.
But Hanna, who the show has recently and inexplicable revealed could be a secret genius, seems to be letting the college plans slip. She explained to her mother that her college visit was cut short by a migraine, even though we know it was actually a bloody knife. That might fly with your preoccupied mother, Han, but a college professor won’t buy that for a second.
NEXT: About those other Liars…
Spencer: Honestly, Spencer is a college adviser’s nightmare. Her interests and intelligence knows no bounds—science, literature, philosophy. You name it. But as her real-world experience shows, her true talents lie in detective work. She always seems as if she is one step ahead of the other Liars at all times, constantly frustrated with their inability to keep up. But let’s put her on a forensics team rather than open investigations. Sure, she can spin the most minute details into an elaborate hypothesis on the inner-thoughts of a murderer. However, her curiosity gets the better of her far too often. For example, when she and Caleb break into the storage unit they traced with Mona’s reactivated cell phone, she magically knows the chemical combination that could serve as preservative for a dead body. That is impressive. But she also only barely stops herself from opening the barrel, putting her prints all over it. It’s only a matter of time before she gives in, ultimately playing into exactly what “A” wants.
But Spencer has the most first-world college nightmares of them all. She has college acceptance letters (the University of Hawaii? Really, Spence? We thought you were an Ivy girl!) sitting on the coffee table, but refuses to open them. Her self-sabotage is pretty hard to sympathize with, especially in light of Aria’s continual college rejections.
Emily: Wait, actually, what the hell does Emily like to do aside from swim and talk about how much she misses Paige? From the past few weeks, I don’t know if I could name one thing she’s expressed any interest in. I know it isn’t cooking, that’s for sure. She totally blew her shot as Ezra’s cook, replaced by a very capable caterer that she resents the hell out of. But it seems like her sour disposition toward Talia, the new cook Ezra hired at The Brew Part Deux, seems to be replaced with something much sweeter. Could this be a new love interest?
Anyway, back to college. Emily doesn’t seem too concerned with her educational future, and seemingly without explanation. With the others, there are subplots that could eventually derail all college plans. But for Emily they don’t even seem to try and set it up. At one point, at least, Emily was concerned with her education, but I guess her academic career is only important when it brings her and Ezra closer so she could sniff out clues.
She could eventually work her strength back up and become a swim coach, so perhaps physical education is in her future. Until then, maybe Talia will give her some sort of phys ed, amirite?!
Alison: Oh, yeah. Her. At this point, it looks like Ali won’t ever make it out of prison. For the first time since her incarceration, Ali didn’t appear in the episode at all. Honestly, it was a little refreshing. Alison’s reintroduction to the group was always a bit clunky, and not because of that whole, LOL-whoops-sorry-you-thought-I-was-dead-but-I’m-really-not-hey-be-my-friend-again bit. The chemistry that developed among the four without her was too strong for Alison to cut through in subsequent seasons. And it’s not as if the show needed a warm-and-fuzzy reunion. Even as a force that the Liars are rallying against, she doesn’t really push the plot along other than she is alive.
Mona, for example, was in constant love-hate flux. Alison only exists in a realm of passive hatred, but her character is dynamic enough to evoke any strong emotions. Ali is just as useful as the unknown “A” for a target to hate, neither enhancing or detracting from the story itself. Her absence from the episode in its entirety is testament to that.
But, hey! I heard they have degree programs from behind bars.
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.