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.