In Rosewood, blood is about as thick as... water.
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

Family dynamics aren’t easy to navigate for most of us, but the Liars & Co. have situations that make your awkward Thanksgiving dinners look like a laugh riot. Think about it: Spencer spent the better part of three seasons believing that her sister was out to frame her; Toby’s affair with his wicked stepsister sent him down a spiral of crazy; Caleb is, for all intents and purposes, an orphan. And now Aria and Hanna are going through their own familial betrayals. In Rosewood, blood is about as thick as… water.

But luckily for Mike, blood can be used as some sort of currency! He ends up handing over vials of his sister’s, Hanna’s, and Spencer’s blood that he stole from a blood drive to Alison’s pseudo-kidnapper Cyrus. Luckily, Emily’s Haiti trip precluded her from donating, which is either really impressive long-term planning from the writers or a meticulous detail that absolutely no one would have picked up on.

For someone who has been such a quiet character in this show, Mona’s death has really drawn Mike out—with a vengeance. Suddenly he is making withdrawals from $18,000 checking accounts, visiting Alison is prison, and—sharing his deceased girlfriend’s penchant for incredible hidey-holes—handily turning his protein shakes into nooks for blood vials.

It’s at least nice to see that Mike’s new role as a sketchball is going somewhere. This season plotlines have been introduced and dropped on a whim, but this chain of events, though slow on the details, is setting him up on the wrong side of this whole ordeal. I can’t imagine what Montgomery family breakfasts are like right now, what with the kids spending their nights spying on each other.

Speaking of awful family, Hanna’s newfound college dreams might be thwarted by her father, who is choosing to pay for his stepdaughter Kate’s education over Hanna’s. If he had a good enough year to where Hanna couldn’t squeeze a dime out in student loans from FAFSA, I’m going to go ahead and venture that he could put two kids through college. But Hanna leaves the office ambush brokenhearted, yet again, at the hands of her father, and with new ambitions to enter a beauty pageant to raise money.

So none of Rosewood families stack up to the Beavers, but while Hanna might need to figure out another way to pay for college, there will almost certainly be some absurdist explanation as to why Mike appears, at every turn, to be working with “A.” It’s the same Hastings debacle replayed through Aria and her younger brother, and at the end of the day they can hold hands, sing songs, and pretend like they never thought the other was working with a murderer. Yeah, not paying for your kid’s school when you have the money is an asshole move. But your little brother helping someone frame you for murder? That’s dark, even by Pretty Little Liars standards.

NEXT: No one does a holiday like the Liars

But the Liars always have their respective love interests to lean on in these troubled times, right? Well, not really. If you were looking for something to capture the romance of Valentine’s Day, Pretty Little Liars didn’t give it to you. Because the season premiere was set in mid-February, the lack of candy hearts and flowers makes sense. Still, I was expecting some sort of romantic feel to fuel us through the weekend celebration of the world’s worst Hallmark holiday. Instead, it seems like the girls’ love lives are spiraling.

Aria somehow hoodwinks a gorgeous guy that she was cheating off in a math test to tutor her, drive her to stalk her brother, and then defend her when said brother’s business associate, Cyrus, chases her down on a motorcycle. All of that is well and good, especially because Andrew’s dimples are maybe the most adorable things that have crossed the screen in all of television existence, but what about Ezra? Meanwhile, he is back at his bookstore giving Hanna heartwarming and completely platonic life advice. Ugh, Aria. Teach me your sorcery.

Like Aria, Spencer also has a questionable outing and absolutely no face time with her boy toy. Jonny, who has become extremely comfortable just letting himself into the Hastings home, invites Spencer to help him with a mural he’s doing at Hollis. And what does Spencer do when she finds out from the front page of the paper that he wasn’t actually commissioned for the project? She gets briefly pissed and then thanks him for the good time. As if Spencer and Toby didn’t have enough of their own troubles to deal with, what with him being a cop on his own girlfriend’s investigation, this little crime of passion will inevitably come back to haunt Spence.

Emily, who had been sitting pretty with a new hot sig-O and relatively “A”-free existence this season, was rocked by the news that Talia has a husband. Yup. Who for some half-baked explanation she can’t divorce even though he knows that she is into women. Although apparently Emily’s ongoing high school trauma has at least given her the understanding to accept the bizarre with open arms, so the scene ends in them holding hands on the front porch.

The only one safe this episode is Hanna, and likely because Caleb was MIA. Sort of. All we see of him in “Out, Damned Spot,” is through “A” watching footage of the dynamic duo plotting to steal Mona’s body from the storage unit. Let’s hope that Caleb is really willing to make good on his promise to follow Hanna to jail, because with “A” dropping her blood on evidence, that could be a real possibility. High school relationships have really changed.

Moral of the story? In Rosewood, count on no one. No matter if you’re walking into awkward quality time with family or spending Valentine’s Day weekend with a box of cheap chocolates you bought for yourself, count your blessings that your rebound girlfriend isn’t married or your brother isn’t seemingly trying to frame you. And if that is happening to you, may you at least be blessed with the same lustrous hair as the Liars. That seems like an appropriate consolation.

Episode Recaps

Pretty Little Liars

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.

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