Aria does A.D.'s bidding, while Ali and Emily figure out who isn't the baby's father

By Isabella Biedenharn
May 23, 2017 at 11:26 PM EDT

After a week without Pretty Little Liars on our screens, I was looking forward to getting back to Rosewood — until I realized this episode would be full of nightmarish video phone calls that are going to haunt me for the rest of my life. Troian Bellisario really picked a doozy of an episode for her directorial debut, eh?

If you recall from last time, A.D. has lured Aria into working for them by threatening to send Ezra to prison if she doesn’t. This week, Aria gets the first in a series of terrifying video calls while she’s crouched behind a dumpster: When she picks up, the person on the screen is wearing a digitized version of ARIA’S OWN FACE — like the face swap feature on Snapchat but slightly better and way scarier. Their voice is scrambled as they tell Aria they won’t use messengers anymore (bye, Sydney!), and instead will talk face-to-“face.”

At the Brew, the Liars try to decipher the meaning of Pastor Ted’s reveal that Charles and Lucas were friends (somehow they’re more surprised by this childhood friendship than, uh, the fact that Ted was pretty blasé about having the kid in the first place). Everyone is pretty convinced that Lucas has been lying to them and might have stayed friends with Charles/Charlotte over the years, but it’s too much for Hanna to fathom. Don’t you love the selective amnesia these women give themselves sometimes?

Over at the police station, Spencer brings Marco some cupcakes and starts asking about that severed finger from before. (I don’t know about you guys, but I also always bring cupcakes when prompting discussions about severed body parts.) He shares that Mary Drake is one of their main suspects and asks Spencer if she knew Mary and Rollins (sorry, Archer Dunhill) were involved when she requested his help in searching for her. Spencer says she didn’t, and reminds him that she also didn’t know Archer was dead.

There’s still trouble at home between Ezra and Aria, obviously. Nicole’s parents keep wanting him to come back, and he keeps going back every chance he gets. The minute he leaves the apartment, Aria has another call with A.D./”herself.” “Rule number one: Never send me to voicemail,” A.D. says, before asking Aria what Hanna and Spencer were up to the other day when they were looking for Mary Drake. She answers, and when A.D. pries further, Aria says they found where Mary Drake was hiding for a few days, and… they talked to Charlotte’s father.

Meanwhile, Ali and Emily are still dealing with the tiny bombshell that, uh, Ali is probably pregnant with Emily’s child. Ali gets a blood test and it’s true: It is Emily’s baby. There’s a bit of a surprise, though. The father isn’t Archer Dunhill. SO WHO COULD IT BE? Noel Kahn? Lucas? Wilden? Ian? I’m out.

After the Lucas bombshell, Hanna and Emily turn the apartment inside out looking for any clues about the friendship. Hanna also confides in Emily that she’s been thinking a lot about what her and Caleb’s baby would look like — and maybe Emily should try to ask Ali to have her baby, too? The conversation is cut short when they stumble upon a comic — written by Charles and Lucas.

Called Arcturas, it’s about a boy who gets picked on by other kids and his own family (oh wow), and sometimes turns into a shape-shifter called Arcturas to protect himself. “Psychological torture” was also mentioned. Yeah, it’s not hard to read between the lines on this one. And it’s clear that while Lucas might not be A.D., he definitely knew more than he ever let on all these years.

Aria, on her next video call, flat out asks A.D./”Aria”: “Is that you, Lucas? Are you under all that?” Characteristically, the reply is, “Would I tell you if I was?” Of course not; we still have half a season left in this mystery! Aria is given a code — and a mission to steal back the comic and leave it in a locker for A.D. to find. She sneaks into the school and does as she’s told… then, quick as a flash, finds a black hoodie in its place. Will she put it on?! (And if she does, can’t she just be cold? She’s a tiny girl!)

After Emily talks to Spencer about it, too, she goes to Ali and says she wants her to have the baby. One reason, and a pretty good one, is that they know who the father isn’t. So it’s not like she’ll be bringing a Baby Archer into the world. Which is fair, but still… shaky. Emily talks to Paige about it afterward, and Paige is surprisingly adult about the whole thing. Emily wants her to stay (and maybe co-parent the child with her and Ali) but Paige says that leaving Rosewood, finally, is what she needs to do. They’re both doing what they need to do.

Throughout the night, Spencer has been involved in a little game of her own with Mary Drake. Mary left Spencer a message in a wine bottle. (“Need to talk. Please. Mary.”) She writes back, and then Mary leaves Spencer a key. Obviously, obviously it’s to the Lost Woods Resort. I’m so sick of that stupid place! And honestly, it’s one of the least believable elements of the show to me. When it appeared on the screen I accidentally shouted, “OH, COME ON!”

At the Brew, Mona storms up to Hanna wielding an iPad. Apparently, Lucas — or someone using his contact information — has put their fashion studio/factory up for sale before they’ve even had a chance to get the business off the ground. Hanna decides this is the time to let Mona in on the game, and she brings her there. Mona caresses the board in puzzlement and admiration and concludes that it runs on batteries, and that the game board is also sealed — not even the person who made it can get inside. So when the batteries run out, the game is over.

Mona also doesn’t think Lucas made it because it’s not all computerized (“The heart of the thing is mechanical,” she says breathlessly). Hanna has heard enough: She begs Mona to help her play the game… and win. “You’re the only person who isn’t afraid of it!” she says, to which Mona explains that she’s only afraid because there’s no “Little Mona” at the starting line on the game board (fair). Mona keeps resisting, explaining, “Playing with people’s lives like this is an addition. You’re not dealing with a healthy person. You’re dealing with an addict. I know more about it than anyone…”
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This gives Hanna just the ammunition she needs to use Mona’s weakness (or strength, depending on how you look at it) to her advantage. “Then imagine how you’ll feel when you beat it,” she says. Mona considers.

Aria comes home, and Ezra has packed his bag — again. “Nicole’s parents want me to come to Maine,” he says, explaining that she has a new doctor they want him to talk to, and that it’s “easier this way.” FINALLY, Aria explodes the way she’s needed to, bolstered a bit by the confidence of being A.D.’s right hand. “Easier to pack a bag and get on a plane than just talk to this doctor on the phone?” Aria is incredulous. Is this just going to keep going on indefinitely? “What happens after we’re married?” she asks him. He says he’s figuring it out, he’ll come back, blah, blah.

“I don’t want you to come back, I want you to stay,” she says. “You don’t know what I’ve done for us. What I’ve done for you.” YES, ARIA! Take it there!!! She explains that he just wants to try to fix this for Nicole somehow because he feels so awful that she went through something so terrible, but that constantly going back there and hurting both of them isn’t going to change the past. She makes a very good argument, but he goes anyway and says they’ll talk about it when he gets back. I WISH she had just broken things off with him then, but I guess she’s mature or something.

Meanwhile, Spencer has just been poking around the Lost Woods waiting for Mary, when finally someone arrives at the door with a flashlight. It’s not who she expects, though: Turns out Marco followed her from her house because so many parts of this case seem to lead him back to her. This is true, but it seems like Spencer could wiggle her way out… until he asks if she knew Dunhill was at the Radley bar the night they met. Or… “his credit card was.” We get a brief flashback, and it turns out Spencer used his credit card to buy their drinks by accident. What’s worse? She signed her own name on the receipt. Oh, and remember this is the night she drunkenly told Marco she’d been “burying a body” earlier that night — a joke then… but not in hindsight. My jaw hung open during this scene. Could Spencer really be so sloppy?! I mean, it was a crazy night…

Before Paige leaves Rosewood, she stops over to see Ali. She has one question: Does Ali love Emily? First Ali spins some nonsense about how people don’t like the truth because it’s “slippery,” but then she tells Paige, “I know how I feel when she looks at me… it’s like she sees who you really are… You want to be the person she sees.” Okay, Ali loves Emily. I still can’t buy into this relationship just because it’s always been so manipulative on Ali’s part (until now, I guess). Emison will always feel like fan service to me, even if fans sometimes deserve to be served. I don’t know. What do you guys think? Do I need to just give in and buy a T-shirt?

I guess so, because later, Ali tells Emily she’s decided: She’ll have the baby. She thought about “what it means.” So they’re going to raise it together!

Over at the airport, all the flights are delayed, and Ezra is really frustrated. Then Spencer, who is mysteriously having a drink with a man in a buzz cut, waves Ezra over. “Hey, I don’t think you’ve ever met Wren Kingston!” Spencer says. Did this whole scene feel extremely awkward to anyone else? Not to mention the super abrupt transition between Spencer waiting for her mother at the Lost Woods and getting caught essentially red-handed by Marco, and then suddenly she’s just casually at the airport with Wren to keep him company on his layover? Anyway, Ezra declines the drink, but then Spencer calls him over and says she’s trying to get information from Wren and she’d appreciate if Ezra didn’t tell anyone. “Who would I tell?” he says, as if Aria doesn’t exist. Spencer says she just doesn’t want Detective Furey to find out and tells him to have a safe flight.

When Spencer gets home that night, she finds one last note in the wine bottle. “You brought the police. I understand. Goodbye.” Mary, stop being so dramatic!! Talk to your child! And Spencer, are you astral projecting? Are you apparating? Have you been cloned? How close is this airport?

Ezra doesn’t get on the plane. Instead, he finally, finally goes home to Aria. She apologizes for what she said — well, not what she said, but how it came out (good girl!). “We’re so close, and I’m just afraid of it all falling apart,” she says. He says she was right and he needed to hear it — and only then does he tell her his flight didn’t get canceled, he just didn’t get on it. Dude, why make her sweat like that? Does anyone else wonder if maybe he wasn’t rushing back and forth to Nicole’s family and was going somewhere else instead? There’s one major issue with this conversation, though — it makes Aria miss a video chat from A.D… and you know what they said about missed calls. No. 1 no-no.

The final scene, like all the video calls, is supremely creepy. It shows A.D. manipulating Aria’s digitized face on screen for the calls, and has the voice saying, “I warned you! When I call, you answer. I need you faithful and devoted… or else.” Then “Aria” holds up the folder labeled with her name, and laughs maniacally.

Frantic questions: Did Aria totally blow it, or does she have another shot to spy for A.D.? Are they going to use this technology on another Liar’s face? Is this scarier than a doll mask of your face, or less scary?! Will Mona actually be able to beat the game? Is Lucas evil? Is Mary Drake going to turn up dead? Is the father of Emily/Ali’s baby someone nice or someone creepy?

See you next week, and in the meantime, do NOT try to FaceTime me.