The Liars visit Elliot's lair…and oh, great, Sara Harvey's back
Credit: Freeform/Byron Cohen

If I missed some details this week, I blame PLL’s costume department. Aria’s outfit was so chic, such a wild upgrade from her high-school tutus and skulls, that I was very distracted. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to this week’s episode, which was full of plot twists, “burner apartments” (apparently the new phrase we’re using for “lair”), and homecomings I was not looking forward to.

The first homecoming, though, was a good one: Ali’s finally out of the hellhole known as Welby, and who finally helped her escape? Her loving (well…) aunt, Mary Drake. Welby is apparently walking on eggshells around Ali (let’s pretend sanitariums can walk) because they’re worried she’ll sue. And she probably should, since it turns out Rollins emptied all of their joint bank accounts and Ali’s Carissimi Group shares. Girl is broke. All she has now are her friends and her suspicious aunt, whom she’s not sure she can trust. Aria is on Team No Trust, as she eloquently argued: “She worked with him — in zombie makeup!”

Luckily, this is Ali we’re talking about, and she wastes no time in confronting Aunt Mary: “What I don’t understand is how you could agree to help a stranger drive another person insane.” Mary says she was vulnerable, he was manipulative, blah, blah, blah — oh, and since she hated Ali’s mom, she figured Ali was also a jerk and apparently deserved to die. Sounds stable! Mary doesn’t seem to know much more about Rollins; Ali tells her it was a fake identity and he wasn’t a real doctor. But it’s hard to know what Mary really knew and what she’s pretending not to know… so we’ll have to get a verdict on that later.

Meanwhile, Emily is waking up from a long date with Pot Girl Sabrina, but realizes she’s late for an exam at Hollis. The evil professor won’t let her in the room at all — but later, Emily gets an email from the school. She got a 92%! Or, someone did. A second later, she gets a text. “Thank me later, ungrateful bitch. — A.D.” WAY HARSH, A! But also, way nice? What reason could this person possibly have for helping Emily? And as the Liars discuss later, what could Uber A possibly expect as repayment?

Over at the writers’ den, Aria is typing away as Ezra comes back from a trip. He’s acting a little strange, but quickly explains that he stopped in New York to visit Nicole’s parents and tell them he and Aria are together. I guess that’s a nice thing to do, but you and Nicole weren’t married or anything… I mean, whatever. Apparently they were happy for him, and Aria thinks it’s just great that he went. “It felt wrong keeping a secret from you,” he says. Why does that make me feel like he has another? Well, he is keeping something else hidden this week, but we’ll get to that.

At a coffee shop, Hanna and Spencer overhear some cops talking on their radios. After all these years, they’re down with police codes, so Spencer knows they’ve found an abandoned car — basically, it’s all about Rollins’ case. She theorizes the cops must still think he’s alive and on the run, because they’re withholding details in the paper.

More detective work: They find out, via Elliot’s burner phone, that he knew Allison didn’t kill Charlotte — so he can’t have been taking her somewhere to kill her. Apparently Mona thinks the number the phone had texted belongs to another burner phone — so who owns that one? Jenna? Then they learn Elliot didn’t just have a burner phone, he had a “burner apartment.” Not sure if that’s really the appropriate phrase, but it’s kind of hilarious (especially if his plan was to set fire to it once he didn’t need it anymore, ha!).

Another phone, another fun time: Aria is at Ezra’s when she hears his phone ringing and digs it out of a duffel bag to check it. The name on the screen? Nicole. Like, Dead Nicole. Eerie! Aria picks up, but it’s just sounds in a different language from a market or something. Mistake? Calling from the great beyond? Or might Nicole actually be alive, as I’m sure all of us have suspected? No one stays dead on this show. (Except Maya, unfortunately.) Emily says a cousin once used her dead father’s phone to call Emily’s mom, so it could have just been an accident. I’m not buying it — but Aria does and deletes the record of the call, ostensibly to save him the pain of seeing it.

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Spencer is wandering around looking for Caleb, and even Hanna tries to help her brainstorm some of his old haunts where he could be hiding. Finally, she gets desperate and heads to the police station to talk to Toby. “Is he staying with you?” she asks, before reading his expression. “No, but you know where he is.” Toby says Caleb just needs time to think, but Spencer’s his friend, too — he can tell Toby she stopped by. But Spencer doesn’t want that. Just as she’s turning to leave, who does she run into? Why, her steamy makeout partner from the bar: Det. Marco Furey! He looks happy, if confused, to see her, but Spencer pretends they’ve never met, so he catches her drift and doesn’t let on. On the way out, she sees his badge… How’s this one going to play out, Spence?

NEXT: Ali gets a visitor…

Across town, Jenna shows up at Ali’s house, but is awfully surprised to hear Ali’s voice at the door. She quickly spins a tale about trying to see how Ali by asking her husband instead of actually visiting her. “He doesn’t live here anymore,” Ali says. Jenna feigns innocence: “Did something happen?” Ali keeps pushing, asking how she and Elliot know each other, and then says Jenna’s mistake was trying to convince him that Ali killed Charlotte. “You haven’t been well. I think you’re confused,” Jenna says. She seems cool and confident now, not like she was caught in a lie. Wonder what makes her think she has the upper hand? Ali tries to grab it, flashing one of her cards: “The next time you call Archer, tell him I said go to hell.”

“Maybe he’s already there,” Jenna quips. Do we think she knows he’s dead?

Aria and Emily finally make it to the burner apartment, and boy, is it in bad shape. Grubby dishes all over the counter, busted furniture. A revelation is made: “It’s like Rollins was two different people.” You think?! Ladies, that is literally the only thing we know about him. The only thing.

They pull down the Murphy bed, and, obviously, a plaster head rolls out. It breaks a bit in the fall, but a collage on the wall tells them what they need to know: Someone is pretending to be Darren Wilden. We already knew about this, of course — but do we know the extent of it?

More hunting yields even more finds: Blank passports and plane tickets in the dirty sink water in a Ziploc bag (it was a cover!), a highlighted copy of Twelfth Night belonging to Archer Dunhill. (For the non-Shakespeare buffs, this is the one where Viola impersonates her brother Sebastian…sort of like how Cece was a woman but was also once Charles? There’s something here. Also, funny tidbit, in the Amanda Bynes movie She’s the Man, based on Twelfth Night, Viola and Sebastian’s last name is Hastings. Clue, or totally reading into random trivia?)

Of course, they knew the cops were on their way — but lucky for them, when a cop finally showed up, it was good ol’ Toby. He’s hilariously exasperated, though, and when he asks if they touched anything in the apartment, they don’t even try to lie: They just guiltily gesture toward all the evidence they found, and Toby makes a facial expression like a disappointed dad who just caught his kids drawing on the wall with a Sharpie. He gives them five minutes to get out. I love Toby for this, but let’s be real: How has he not gotten fired?

Now for a scene straight out of my nightmares (and a really bad movie). Sara Harvey and Jenna sit at the Radley and recognize each other (Jenna by feeling Sara Harvey’s gloves and saying “You’re Sara Harvey.”). “I think a few of the girls you know are a few of the girls I know,” Jenna says. How…flirty? They become fast friends because of this, and while ordering a drink, Sara Harvey asks, “Are you a sour girl?” Jenna says, “Well, I can be.” I can’t handle this much evil, but apparently we need to get used to it, because the Terrible Twosome happily traipses around Rosewood for the rest of the episode. They are definitely not making any effort to hide their friendship.

Later, after Ali and Mary Drake bond over a song that Mary and Jessica’s mom used to sing to them about not being able to trust men (hmm, they both should have remembered those lyrics a couple months ago!), Ali gets a call from Detective Furey at the Rosewood P.D. He wants to fill her in on the Elliot case, and he chastises her a bit for not reporting the loss of…all of her money. He seems very kind, but also committed, and he promises they’ll find Rollins. In fact, he says, they already know he was last seen in…Baltimore? A credit card was used under his alias and he rented a car, all of which was apparently caught on camera. The camera zooms in on Ali and her hearing seems to blur. Is this the start of a panic attack? It isn’t really fully explained, and then she snaps out of it. But either way…Baltimore?

When the girls convene later, they discuss the new development. “We deliberately pointed the cops toward Philly,” Spencer reminds them. So it appears someone else knows what they did and is possibly shifting the plan. They also can’t figure out Sara and Jenna and wonder whether Sara is keeping an eye on them. Jenna, for one, just extended her stay at the Radley — seems like her earlier chat with Ali must have changed her plans.

Aria has to jet out of the powwow early, though, when Ezra texts her to meet ASAP at the Brew. She goes up to his apartment, which is covered in candles, and he’s wearing a nice, crisp suit. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yes, it’s the #PLLProposal! But of course, it’s PLL, so we can’t have an answer right away — Aria just looks shocked, but we have to wait until next week to hear her answer. Which is likely to be the perfect time for Nicole to show up alive somewhere, don’t you think?

A couple other things showing up at the bottom of the hour:

  • The coat Emily secretly handed over as “evidence” that Ali killed Charlotte, freshly dry cleaned and hanging back in Ali’s closet with a note: “Your friends gave me your dirty jacket. But I couldn’t find a shred of evidence. – A.D.” This surely won’t mess with the group dynamic, right?
  • Noel Kahn joining Sara and Jenna for a drink at the Radley (Sara’s surprised, Jenna isn’t). I don’t know about you, but I definitely can wait to see what’s in store from these three. Can’t wait to have nightmares all night long!

So here we are again, Liars: Full of questions. Is Elliot/Archer really dead? Is Nicole really dead? Will Aria marry Ezra? What kind of plan could Noel, Sara, and Jenna be hatching? Are you a sour girl?

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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