Pretty Little Liars recap: Charlotte's Web
This show has always been dark — um, what’s the Rosewood death count again? — but this new season feels darker, in a way. Maybe it’s because the girls have more outside problems than just some faceless demon texting their phones, or maybe it’s just hard to watch them get pulled back into this sick town from the healthy lives they’ve been cultivating for the past five years. Or maybe it’s because Sara Harvey doesn’t seem to be going away, and that girl makes my skin crawl like no one else. She’s worse than Jenna, I swear.
We begin this episode with the girls gabbing, still wearing their sexy black funeral dresses. They ask Hanna when she told her fiancé, Jordan (more on him later), about Rosewood, and she says, “When I knew I was falling in love with him.” Aria can’t say the same about opening up to her new boo, Liam, though. Then things get a bit tense — Aria says she has to get back to work in Boston; she can’t lose her job. The others are all, “Uh, like our jobs don’t matter?” (except Emily… More on her later, too). Hanna reminds Aria that the police are going to ask them about “that night” — a.k.a. when they all got wasted at Chateau Radley — and Aria reminds her that they were all together. No one left the hotel!
One problem, Aria: Hanna’s not an idiot. When she woke up at 3 a.m. “to hydrate,” she saw Aria leave the room and knows she didn’t come back anytime soon. Hanna confronts Aria alone, but Aria just says there’s nothing to tell. She just went to her car. A likely story! Another likely story? Sara Harvey isn’t on the suspect list because she apparently had some selective memory loss. Also, for some reason, she’s still wearing those gray gloves she wore at the funeral and still has that fella doing things for her — even things like signing her name. What in the world happened to that girl’s hands?
Ali gets some facts about Charlotte’s death from Lorenzo, and they’re not pretty (get it?): Not only was Charlotte’s neck broken, but her fingernails and hands had been wiped clean. Oh, and the cops are looking particularly closely at the people Charlotte targeted. Which makes sense but is also TOTALLY UNFAIR because…remember how Charlotte locked them all in a torture dollhouse and the Rosewood PD still released her? Okay, just making sure we’re all still on the same page.
And now for some lighter fare: Time to meet Jordan! Hanna’s fiancé not only looks about 10 years older than everyone else on this show including Ezra, but he’s also British, which means he’s very obviously filling a hole our dear, sweet Wren left when he returned to the motherland. He has access to an estate in the Hamptons, got Hanna a bunch of different New York cuisines delivered to their hotel room, and overall seems to be a great guy. (Despite looking suspiciously old. No, I can’t get over it.) Most importantly, it does seem like Hanna really loves him — girl was smiling ear to ear when they were together.
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Aria, meanwhile, is off to do some damage control. She shows up at Ezra’s (who is not looking too healthy, by the way) and tells him, “We didn’t see each other the night Charlotte was killed. You did not call me. We didn’t walk or talk or leave the hotel.” Which means they did all of those things. Very, very fishy.
Here’s something that’s fishy in a much sadder way: Emily is getting “treatments” at Hollis Medical Center, and the nurse administering the injections is surprised to hear that she lives in California but is getting treatments here. She highly recommends staying in town, and Emily seems ready to comply: “I just…really need this to work,” she says. Is it chemo or what? Can’t the girl who’s suffered the most actual tragedies get a break for once?
Ali decides to have a dinner party with all the girls because her house is empty and lonely. (What happened to Mr. D, by the way? Was that explained in the premiere? Can somebody help?) Everyone’s down to attend except sneaky little Aria, who zips back to Boston to work. Hanna and Jordan offer to bring plenty of booze (because THIS IS FREEFORM and the girls CAN DRINK NOW, in case you forgot), and Spencer and Caleb plan to go…while continuing their not-so-subtle flirtation this week.
In Boston, we meet Aria’s bespectacled beau, Liam — her co-worker at the publishing house. That girl loves a forbidden romance, doesn’t she? He asks about “Ezra Fitz,” which at first made me think she had told her new dude about the old flame, but actually he was just asking about Fitz as an author they publish. He seems to know Fitz was Aria’s teacher, but that’s about it. When Aria tells their boss Fitz wants to give back the advance, boss lady wasn’t having it. She tried to put Liam on the case, but Aria stepped up and said she’d try again. Sure you will, Aria. Boss lady seems to have no sympathy for the fact that Ezra’s girlfriend is most likely dead in South America, but that’s business, I guess!
And now for a familiar face: Pot Girl! Apparently she’s been managing The Brew in Ezra’s stead. When Emily can’t get money out of the ATM (because she doesn’t have any), Pot Girl loans her some. Not sure if this is another instance of “Emily’s been single for 3 minutes so we must bring in a girl to instantly fall in love with her” or she’s just being a friend. But she does tell Emily that she used to have cancer (casual small talk) and that, whatever Emily’s going through, she needs to lean on people for support. Obviously, Emily has not been doing that. But this looks like more evidence — plus the pills that spilled out of her bag last week — that this beautiful creature actually might have cancer, doesn’t it? Poor Em.
NEXT: Spencer senses something familiar…
So here’s something fun: Remember how the police found out that stuff about Charlotte’s body, the clean fingernails and broken neck? Turns out it sounds pretty similar to an old criminal case…which Spencer wrote a paper on at Georgetown. Could it be that while the girls thought they were safe in their disparate corners of the country, some new “A” was actually stalking them the whole time? Spencer’s worried about how this could look for her mom’s campaign (the political blogs are already stamping “murderer” on Spencer’s face), but she shouldn’t bother herself with such trivial fears. The reality of this situation could be much, much worse than a little state senate campaign.
When dinner starts, it seems to be going well enough — except Ali freaks out when Spencer moves the flowers she bought for Charlotte. Jordan charms everyone from Caleb to Spencer, and Spencer tells J that she and Caleb reconnected in Spain, when she was studying abroad in Madrid and he was backpacking across Europe. Later, she and Caleb reminisce about that time fondly. A little too fondly, even. Apparently they went to a bullfight together (where Spencer cried), and then Caleb made it up to her by sneaking some bottles of sangria into a park, where they stayed up and watched the sunrise. Um, who thinks that night — which they both told each other was the best one they had in Europe — might have resulted in a little more than just “watching the sunrise”?
Hanna and Caleb, meanwhile, seem so healthy it’s almost infuriating. Last week I thought Hanna still loved him, but this week, it didn’t seem like it as much. She tells Caleb, “When you left for Europe, I wanted to focus on my career. I wasn’t looking for another relationship.” And he doesn’t seem mad, just tells her, “You seem happy.” She says, “I am” (and looks like she means it); he says, “I’m glad” (also looks like he means it); and that’s that. Do you hear that sound? It’s the broken pieces of my heart, shattering even further into tiny piles of dust. Have they really moved on so quickly? (Trying to remind myself it’s been at least three years for them, but it’s not helping.)
Ali, always quick with a surprise, makes everyone hold hands around the table to say grace. Guess she stayed religious during these five years? Maybe going to church with Lorenzo? Ali thanks God for food and friends and then prays that He’ll help the police find Charlotte’s killer, him or her. Was it a message to the Liars, they ask? “Not us,” says Hanna. “But Aria, maybe.” Spencer reminds Hanna that her mother is, conveniently, the manager of the hotel, so it wouldn’t be too hard for Hanna to look at the security camera footage.
Emily and her long-suffering mother are at The Brew, and when Mrs. Fields sees an alert from Hollis Medical Center, Em lies and says she’s applying to grad school there — which is a lie because we find out later that she failed two classes in college and lost her scholarship, then never went back. Mrs. Fields reminds Emily that she could use her huge inheritance from Dad’s death to pay for school…but judging from that ATM experience earlier, it looks like she may have already spent it. It’s hard to watch the web of lies grow even wider, but then we’re distracted by something: Emily sees Aria going up the stairs in The Brew to Ezra’s apartment.
Ezra’s apartment would look normal for a frat boy — dishes in the sink, pizza boxes forming a cardboard “Leaning Tower” — but for a grown man, it’s definitely a sign that something’s wrong. Aria asks about the book, and Ezra gives her a flash drive — it’s as far as he got. Work talk aside, Aria cuts to the real chase: “That night, after we saw each other… Where did you go after I went back to the hotel?” After he very guiltily says, “What are you asking me?” Ezra tells her, “Home, Aria. I went home.” Ezra, you are acting more suspicious than you did when it turned out you were “A” for a solid two(?) episodes. Not only that, but he seems to have multiple motives: 1) anger that Aria’s emotional, honest testimony at Charlotte’s trial didn’t stop them from letting her out; and 2) even worse anger about good people like Nicole getting kidnapped while horrible people like Charlotte get to walk free.
Hanna, Emily, and Spencer gather to watch the footage: And yep, there’s Aria leaving the hotel around 3 a.m. and coming back at 4:30. Charlotte’s expected time of death? Close to 4 a.m. — which doesn’t look good for our girl. Aria finally explains what really happened when the girls confront her together: Neither she nor Ezra could sleep, so they went and walked around. She wanted pizza; he reminded her that they’re in suburban Pennsylvania in the middle of the night, which I found very funny, being from suburban Ohio, which is basically the same thing. But MORE IMPORTANTLY, those dopes walked right next to the church, where they watched Charlotte get out of a white SUV and go inside. Then Aria got into a cab to head back to the hotel, and Ezra…didn’t. Oh boy. The dude is seriously unhinged.
“He told me he went home afterward, but I don’t know,” Aria tells the girls. “He was so angry.” And what’s worse, she says he can never look her in the eye when he’s lying, and when he told her he went home? No eye contact. As if that weren’t bad enough, Spencer brings up her paper: “I think I told him how to do it.” Meaning, the murder. Yay!
And for the concluding montage of scenes:
- Emily visits her father’s grave for the first time and tells him about flunking out of college. But who shows up silently in the graveyard and just stares at Emily? SARA F—ING HARVEY. What does she want?! What is under the gloves?!
- Aria looks at news reports of aid workers being found dead. There seems to be very little hope for Nicole.
- Hanna DELETES the security cam footage that could incriminate Aria. I get why… And of course she did it… But here they go again, doing things that the venerable Rosewood PD would not be too happy about.
- Ali has Lorenzo over, and says, “Last night, you asked if I thought my friends had anything to do with Charlotte’s murder.” He asks, “Do you want to change your answer?” And Ali gives a firm, “Yes.”
- OUR NEW MYSTERY PERSON puts flowers on the fresh grave next to Jessica DiLaurentis’s (Charlotte’s, probably?), and their chauffeur says, “I’m sorry for your loss, sir.” Could be a clue, but given the whole Charlotte/Charles/CeCe thing, I don’t think gender is even a clue anymore. Still… Jason? Mr. D? Mr. Hastings?
We’re a solid two episodes deep now — what do you guys think of the season so far?
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.