A favorite couple hits a milestone... and is Mona hiding something?
Credit: Eric McCandless/Freeform

With four episodes to go (counting this one), it’s about time the season picks up its pace. Fortunately, while this week wasn’t bursting with revelations, the plot is at least kicked forward a bit, with an engagement and a potential new suspect… or maybe a potential assistant? There is one scene, an EXTREMELY random musical interlude, that does the opposite of plot-pushing… but we’ll get there.

We open with Aria and Ezra still in wedding-prep mode. Well, Ezra, at least. He’s signed them up for dance classes, but Aria is distracted. Ezra, silly man, takes this to mean she’s getting wedding jitters. Uh, try “working for a nameless, faceless, blackmailing sociopath in order to keep you out of prison because you are a statutory rapist.” Because of dance class, Aria misses three video calls from A.D., who goes into more detail about the document they’ve been holding over Aria’s head: It’s a police report she wrote but never filed from years ago, and apparently there’s no statute of limitations, so he could still go down for what she said.

Elsewhere, Marco is continuing his investigation of everyone around Spencer (read: Hanna and Caleb) because he couldn’t get that receipt that would put her behind bars. (Which I still think A.D. has.) Hanna and Caleb pretend they know nothing, so Marco even starts sniffing around Ashley Marin. But Ashley’s been through this before: Even though she doesn’t know anything and doesn’t exactly know she has to protect Hanna and Caleb, she doesn’t throw them under the bus or anything. She would never! I’m really torn between being impressed that Marco is the first competent detective the Rosewood PD has ever hired, and being annoyed that he wants to put my friends in jail. (Have I been watching this show for too long?)

The game has been quiet, but Hanna is ready to play. Unfortunately, you can’t just pick up your little player and go — it has to choose you. Aria is briefly questioned about not having a turn yet, but the subject changes when Mona waltzes in. “What’d I miss?” she says, to which Spencer replies, “An invitation.” But Hanna explains that she let Mona in on it because they need her help. Spencer tries to explain that Mona isn’t on the game board, but Mona reminds her who fixed the windshield after Archer Dunhill flew into it, and, well, it’s hard to argue with that.

Later, as the Hastings are packing up their house, Aria drops by to bring them some takeout. It seems sweet… but “sweet” is not in Aria’s wheelhouse these days. Sneakily, she pairs a cell phone with the Hastings’ bluetooth speakers, drops it in an unobtrusive box, and leaves.

Then, a recorded conversation starts playing over the speakers. It’s Mary Drake talking to Mr. Hastings about Jessica’s murder, and how Mr. H and Jessica were actually planing to do the same to Mary. Mr. Hastings freaks out and starts tearing the house apart to find where the sound is coming from, eventually pulling a speaker down from its shelf. But when he leaves… the recording just starts playing from a different bluetooth speaker. Later, he tries to convince Mrs. Hastings and Spencer that it wasn’t really anything, but they’re too smart for that. “It was a hundred years ago!” he says, to which Spencer deadpans, “Six.” Of course, she convinces Mrs. H not to call the cops.

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I have to say, this iteration of A.D. is finally using technology in a scary way again, just like the show began with its creepy blocked texts. Last season’s emojis were the furthest thing from frightening; they were just ridiculous. But self-FaceTime calls and phantom bluetooth sounds? Very real, and extremely terrifying. Someone in my building (?) accidentally (???) paired a device onto one of my bluetooth speakers just last week and it was one of the most intrusive, chilling things ever. And it only lasted a couple seconds before they realized the mistake! Anyway, go A.D. But Aria… when will this stop!?

Maybe soon, if Mona has anything to do with things. She convinces Emily to go see the doctor who impregnated Ali with her, and to do so, they pose as a lesbian couple. (Ali is off this week “visiting Jason in New York.”) When they confront the young doctor about what he did to Ali — for enough cash to pay his med school loans — he says they’re “not here for the right reasons” and sends them out. (Wait, are we watching The Bachelorette? Or is this guy committing catchphrase fraud, too?) Emily thinks they failed, but the outing was productive for Mona, who has stolen a magazine with the doctor’s home address on it… so they can go through his personal mail. They find the evidence they need, then go back to confront him, asking for the name of either the sperm donor or the person who arranged and paid for the whole insemination. Obviously the doctor was never told any names (seriously, ladies: This is not your first rodeo!! A.D. is not going to just identify himself or herself to some sketchy doctor!!!), but he gives them an I.D. number.

Back at the scene of Dunhill’s death (again: really?) Hanna tries to look for the shovels they used to bury him, which she’d just thrown back behind a shed. (After Spencer’s credit card mishap, she’s worried about all the mistakes she probably made.) A cop or park ranger explains that the shovels were confiscated because they might have been part of a crime, and Hanna disappears.

At the Hastings’, Spencer finally finds the burner phone and calls Aria. She wants to just go ahead and tell her mom about the game, but Aria convinces her to let Mona see what she can do about the phone first. Then, back at Ezra’s, he still thinks she’s acting weird because of him — which I guess isn’t entirely false. “Maybe there’s some part of you that hasn’t forgiven me for taking advantage of you and your friends for the sake of a book,” he says. Uh, that and a few other things, dude.
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Marco may be chasing everyone else down, but he hasn’t quite finished with Spencer. They meet in a sketchy location (I couldn’t quite tell if this was planned or not?), and he tells her he’s found out that she and Caleb used to be more than friends… is this why he covered for her? Is this why she was drinking at the bar that night? He goes as far as to ask whether she was interested in him (Marco) just because she needed a cop in her corner, and she says if he has anything real to ask, they can talk in the interrogation room. Is he doing his job and a little pissed, or is he actually more hurt by this whole thing than he’s letting on? Nothing’s worse than a cop with a vengeance…

Anyway, there’s not much time to contemplate this because when Spencer gets back in her car, she finds Mary Drake in the backseat telling her to “Drive.” They get to the Lost Woods (HOW IS THIS PLACE STILL STANDING) and Spencer asks if she planted the phone. Mary says no, but she’s glad Spencer heard it. Spencer says Mary has done some heinous things, and Mary tells her not to judge: “You’d be surprised at the things you have to do to protect yourself.” Actually, Mary — Spencer isn’t surprised at all.

We get a flashback of the beginning of Mary’s confrontation with Mr. Hastings and Jessica. All Mary wants is to see Spencer, but they won’t let her. So to stand up to her bullies and stands up for herself, she takes the pills that were meant to kill her and gives them to her sister. After all this, Mary offers Spencer a second chance: She’s good at staying under the radar, and they could run away and finally get to know each other. “Wouldn’t it be nice to finally be free?” she asks. It’s tempting.

Over at Lucas’ loft (a.k.a. basically Hanna and Caleb’s apartment), Caleb has invited Ashley Marin over for dinner. Ashley admits to being kind of suspicious about them being back together. Did Hanna need his help? But Caleb explains that it’s not that at all — he needed her help to figure out how he felt about her. And what are those feelings exactly? “I can’t imagine my life without Hanna,” he says. “I want to marry your daughter, Mrs. Marin. No bells and whistles: Just the two of us exchanging vows.” Hanna is happy! So am I!

Of course, PLL can’t have a high without a very strange low… and suddenly we cut to a black-and-white scene of Aria in a toilet paper veil, Mona singing, and Ezra getting punched repeatedly in the face, all in a fake jail that’s ripped straight from some high school theater production. Oh yeah, Mrs. Hastings is there, too, calling Aria a “selfish little bitch” when she asks for forgiveness. Look, I love musicals — even bad ones. I saw High School Musical live in concert (when I was a little too old to do so). But this was ridiculous, and not in a fun way. Just a waste of time — and VALUABLE time, when we literally have a finite amount of minutes left to get answers! Judging from the response on Twitter, I think most people felt the same. WTF?

It all turns out to be a nightmare in Aria’s mind (that part was obvious), but when she wakes up, A.D. texts and says, “You’ve waited long enough. Your reward is downstairs at The Brew.” She searches the place until she finds an envelope under a table with a big puzzle piece inside and a note reading, “CONNECT THIS. YOU’RE ALMOST THERE.” Mona is standing at the counter, putting sugar in her coffee, and she and Aria exchange a wave. She’s really making herself conspicuous here, too. Does Mona have the same deal with A.D. that Aria does? Did she drop the note, or is she just keeping an eye on the girls? Whose side is she on? Frankly, if they make Mona A.D. again after all this, I’m going to be angry.

In another scene that I loved but was probably a waste of time, Caleb and Hanna pitch a tent in the woods and exchange cigar wrapper “rings.” It’s a throwback to the scene when they lost their virginity, which I’m particularly fond of because I loved Hanna’s outfit (black lace American Apparel bodysuit! Okay, now who’s wasting time?). I think we can consider this their official engagement, since, er, I don’t think a non-ordained ceremony or cigar-wrapper rings are legally recognized in Pennsylvania. I did love Caleb saying, “I would marry you right this second if we could find a bear that was licensed.”

But back to the matters at hand! Spencer returns home to her parents, who are reading Mary’s letter — the one, Spencer told Aria earlier in this episode, that makes her cry every time she reads it. Mr. H tries to tell Spencer Mary is manipulative and that he was trying to protect his family from a deranged sociopath. Spencer says it wasn’t Mary, and Mrs. H seems ready enough to believe her but asks who did plant that recording. She also says they won’t be moving to Harrisburg, and she’ll have to give up her state senate seat. She may not have committed the crimes Mr. Hastings did, but she stayed married to him, and she can’t take that job knowing someone might be about to rip it away from her at any minute.

Spencer returns to Mary and says she can’t go with her, and Mary understands. “She’s your mother, and you’re lucky to have her,” she tells Spencer. Spencer reminds her that she needs to forgive herself for everything, too.

And for the final scenes: Aria puts the puzzle piece in the game, and her “grand prize,” according to the game-phone, is right behind her. It’s the police report, I think. That’s nice of you, A.D.!

Emily goes to Mona’s to give her the burner phone Spencer found (that Aria planted) to see what she can figure out. Emily also made her own progress in the paternity investigation and wants to show Mona what she’s found — possibly the agency where the donor was from. Mona brushes her off and shuts the door behind her, sitting down at her computer. Behind her? A complex wall of documents — including a map/blueprint of Liar’s Lament — that could either be part of her private investigation, or… her A lair. As if the photos and newspaper clippings aren’t enough, she also has the muddy shovels from Archer’s burial stashed in the corner. But did she swipe them to protect Hanna & Co.? Or because she’s using them as blackmail and working with A.D.? Hopefully we find out soon.

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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