First off, Happy 100th episode to the PLL cast, crew and fans! One hundred thoroughly confusing twists and utterly addicting episodes…cheers!
The Liars aren’t exactly in the mood for celebrating though, as the eve of Ali’s return to Rosewood High has arrived. Hanna is too distracted to study with her studly cowboy, Travis, not that she’s ever been that into tracking a planet’s movement. Aria is taking a moonlit walk with Ezra when they happen upon Ali talking to someone in a black SUV. She explains something about her dad’s flunky dropping her off, but it sounds a little strange. Or maybe we’re just trained to believe everything Ali says is a lie, or half-truth at best. A bus pulls up across the street. (Anyone else secretly hoping it was Caleb?) Out steps the very last person Ali wants to see: Jenna.
Spencer is spending the evening with a hippie-haired Toby (Keegan’s words, not mine. It’s very 90’s dreamboat. I kinda dig it.) She is having a hard time believing Ali has changed. After all she’s done for Ali, she still doesn’t know the whole truth. Toby offers some sage advice “We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t believe in second chances, but it’s also ok to let go of someone who’s toxic.” Toxic, huh? Speak of the devil and she doth appear. Or call. Jenna tells Toby she’s back in town and Shana is dead.
After the shocker of Jenna’s return, our Pretty Little Liars meeting commences. The girls are scared of Jenna, in particular what and how much she knows about The Shana Thing. Ali and Aria are paranoid Jenna is out to get them, Hanna agrees. Spencer seems to feel bad for her, saying she’s broken. Emily is lashing out “No offense, but if she’s sad, she can go cry in New York.” Me-ow, Ems! Someone has their claws sharpened! As if they needed anything more to put them on edge before Ali’s return to school.
The next day, Alison gives herself a pep talk while getting ready for her big entrance. She is seriously nervous, but she’s right. She’s been through much worse than this. A few hundred prying eyes can’t be as bad as living life on the lam the past two years. I would’ve picked a more badass outfit if I were her, but the sweet, almost conservative look is a good way to go as well. I’m pretty sure the entirety of the school’s scrutiny can be summed up in one word.
Except for Mona, Lucas and Paige, the former too busy shooting daggers through her eyes to notice Paige bolt at the sight of Ali.
The school day doesn’t last long for Spencer since she’s called to the office before first hour has even begun. Mrs. Hastings is there waiting for her, and drops a doozy on her. Mrs. Hastings is pulling her out of school to go home and pack. She’s leaving her father and is taking Spence with her. Whoa.
Spencer waits until they’re home to persuade her mother to tell her the truth about what’s going on. As it turns out, Mrs. Hastings DID get dropped off at the spa but never checked in. She’s been working with a private investigator to prove/disprove? Papa Hastings’ involvement in Mrs. D’s untimely death. Papa and Melissa said they were at a diner together the night she was killed. The P.I. uncovered that as a lie. It sounds like Melissa is in on this too, and that is the straw that broke the Hastings’ back. It’s nice to see Spence bonding with her mom after all the lawyer speak she usually gets from her parents, even if it is under these circumstances.
Spence takes solace at Hanna’s, if only briefly, to commiserate over her family completely falling apart at the seams. Hanna knows exactly what that’s like from her own parents’ not so amicable split, so she was the right person to turn to. Later, she spends some quiet alone-in-the-van-time with Toby. He is as sweet as always, reassuring her that no matter what happens in her life, she will never be alone. Cuddling quickly turns to some heavy making out…
Despite the rest of the girls’ judgment, Aria decides to go see Jenna. I think she thinks of it as penance for her sins, if she is there for Jenna, it will lessen her guilt a bit. Once she gets to the Cavanaugh residence, she notices the front door is open and walks in. Yes, sneak up on the blind girl. Brilliant idea. She finds Jenna on the floor in her room, sobbing. But instead of saying anything, Aria just leaves. I actually felt pangs of hurt for Jenna…that’s not good. She’s gonna make me regret it, isn’t she?
Aria rushes home and is startled by Jenna appearing at her not-yet-closed front door. For a blind girl, she moves really fast. Jenna knows it was Aria in her house earlier and wants some answers. Aria explains she knows what the loss of a close friend is like, she thought Alison was dead for two years. She just wanted to see how Jenna was holding up. Jenna tried to play tough, but the façade breaks rather quickly. She takes Aria up on her offer of tea and reminiscing about Shana. I’m not sure if this is genuine for Jenna or if she is trying to get Aria to admit what happened. Here’s hoping it’s the first one.
Aria is apparently pretty upset with herself for trying to be the good Samaritan at her own risk, and shows up on Ezra’s doorstep with pie (A pastry in a not-pink box! A rarity in the TV world.). She explains what she did. Ezra once again tries to put her mind at rest by making clear Shana was not a good person. She meant to do serious harm to Aria and her friends. He further illustrates this by showing Aria his bullet scar. (Hel-lo Fitz abs!) Aria must have a weakness for either scars or abs because she lifts his shirt up to look at it again. Within the next few moments, they are both standing, gazing intensely at one another, then kissing. What comes next was probably the hottest Ezria has ever been. They’re practically tearing each other’s clothes off in a passionate frenzy and that last shot of Aria…dang, girl! Get it!
Hanna and Lucas seem to be rekindling their friendship. He mentions he has a girlfriend from Philly coming into town tonight, he’s having a party, she should definitely come. Um, a girlfriend, Lucas? Pretty sure that’s a thin lie easily poked through when there’s no girl there for her to meet, but ok, we’ll go with it. For now.
After her talk with Spencer, Hanna heads out with Travis to get coffee before Lucas’s party. Who’s that behind her in line? That back is eerily familiar. The two girls between them inexplicably leave the line right in time for Hanna to turn around and see–
CALEB!!!! Caleb is back!
Hanna is astounded by this stroke of luck as much as the audience is, although I’m sure a fair few of us were also audibly squealing. I don’t blame her, Caleb is looking devilishly handsome with his new haircut and general Johnny Depp-ness. Hanna, of course asks why he’s back, why he never called, completely ignoring the poor barista shouting her name. After he gets mouthy with some jocks, but never answering either question, he notices Travis’s name on one of the coffees and looks totally dejected. He points out her coffees are ready, but when she turns around, Caleb is gone faster than Angel (a vampire for those not aware) on a stealthy day.
Hanna is definitely not going to let this go, though. She is clearly battling some conflicting emotions. To combat this, she does what most people do, drink lots of alcohol to drown her sorrows. She’s drunk dialing Caleb while at a party with her current boyfriend. Yikes. Lucas plays the enabler by giving her some of his drink too. Hanna asks to meet the mysterious girlfriend and Lucas tries to evade the question. Sober Hanna has little to no tact, so naturally, Drunk Hanna just blurts out “Is she even real?” He pawns it off by saying she’s definitely real, with emphasis on the eyebrow wiggles, if ya know what I mean. Nudge, wink. Her loud as heck “Lucas! You’re DOING it with her!” almost made me choke on my Diet Coke laughing. Either Lucas is boinking Mona (which I doubt) or he likes to pretend his hand is a pretty little thing from Philly. Travis saves Hanna from nearly knocking over the Magic Punch table and carries her out. He is clearly not amused with her drunk shenanigans, but maybe he should be more concerned she spent the night calling her ex.
Mrs. Marin manages to get Drunk Hanna into bed, amidst Hanna’s ramblings to stop making the room spin. She tells Hanna she’s mad at her, but being as she won’t remember tomorrow, they’ll discuss it then. Before leaving, she asks what would make her act like this and Drunk Hanna has no qualms admitting the reason is that Caleb is back.
After Hanna has a day to get rid of her monstrous hangover, she finds Caleb in the park with a six pack of beer. What a rebel. She asks him why he never returned her calls. He says he didn’t want to screw things up for her and Travis. She asks if that’s why he came back. Caleb doesn’t answer but the look on his face is plain: I came back for you. (Also, my show got canned.) They briefly discuss Miranda but I tuned out the second her name was mentioned. Caleb did make an insightful remark about Hanna’s new hair, “Did you change your hair because Ali is back?”, proving just how well he really knows Hanna.
Emily is still hanging out with new girl Sydney, who invites her to come to a Frozen sing-along (Is that a thing? Like Rocky Horror but Disney?). And, as usual, Paige isn’t far behind. She admits to Emily how hard she’s taking Ali’s return to school, that just being in the same room as Ali makes her sick. Emily’s response is the girl we all know and love. She tells Paige that she hates seeing her like this. She is one of the bravest people she has ever known, she’s not going to let her forget that.
In a plot twist, Emily has brought Paige with her to see Alison, to let them have it out so they can be at peace with one another. Ali did say she wanted to make amends with those she hurt so this is an excellent place to start. Ali delivers a heartfelt apology; Paige is brutally honest about her feelings, which Ali really needed to hear. Maybe she will take it to heart this time. It’s not clear whether they actually came to some sort of truth or place of forgiveness. On this show, odds are good, probably not.
Emily is getting ready to leave, but when Ali asks if she can come along, Ems says no, she invited Paige. Oh, ok. Sure. Ali decides she needs to get something off her chest before she goes and apologizes to Emily as well. She’s sorry for making Ems think their shared kisses were one sided; they weren’t just for practice. Obviously, this is brand new information to Emily, information that changes the foundation of their friendship. Ali tells her she doesn’t have to say anything, but she thought she should know.
While Emily is out watching Frozen and recapping Jenna and Ali’s hatred for each other with Paige and Sydney, Ali sneaks off alone to go who knows where. Yeah, that’s a great idea when you know there’s multiple people out to get you. A car starts up behind her and follows her to the church, where she tries to hide. There’s a rustling in the back of the church, but inside of fleeing, Ali goes to investigate. It’s just the shutters, so she closes them. Only to turn around to a fuming Mona. It’s a battle for the title of Queen Bee. A battle fought with razor-tongued acidity towards one another. Ali throws out the fact that she made Mona popular, she could easily take it away again. Mona slaps her. Ali retaliates but somehow leaves a cut on Mona’s cheek. She must really need to file her nails. Ali insists they don’t need to do this, to just leave her alone and leaves.
The little liars converge back at Ali’s place so she can recap what happened with Mona at the church. Except she leaves out all the harsh words she said and that she slapped her back. Oh, Ali, won’t you ever learn? These girls have gone out on a limb for you time and time again. STOP LYING. Or you’re not going to have the few friends you have now.
Emily elects to stay with Ali for the night to help calm their nerves. They discuss what Ali told her when she pulled her out of the barn. Emily is her favorite, she was the hardest one to leave behind. They go to bed, but Ems can’t sleep so she asks Ali if she’s awake. She turns around in reply, but instead of saying more, Emily goes for it and kisses Ali. She returns the kiss and Emison is born. Shippers, we have lift off!
(Side note, the song playing between the cuts of the Emison and Ezria get-togethers was a pretty rendition of Every Breath You Take. That song has always creeped me out for it’s serious stalker vibe, but it’s surprisingly accurate for the PLL world.)
The next day at school, Malicious Mona has turned the tables in her favor. She videoed her argument with Ali. With some key modifications thrown in, she has shown it to most of the Rosewood student body. The liars are quick to defend Ali until they see the video themselves. Uh oh, Ali, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do. The girls get Ali alone in the bathroom, where Ali tries to talk her way out it. She felt horrible about the things she said, Mona honestly slapped her first, she won’t underestimate her again. The others are having none of it. Ali points out that Mona is a diabolical fiend when it comes to elaborate set-ups. While all that is true, the girls still don’t believe her. What do you expect, Ali? I feel bad for her, as she is telling the truth now (Finally), but can you really blame them after the million times she’s cried wolf?
Mona has a little meeting with the other evil geniuses of Rosewood, which includes Jenna and…Sydney?! Oh boy, is every transfer that ever comes to this town gonna be connected to Jenna somehow? Jenna and Sydney are reporting back to Mona, it seems, telling her the girls no longer blindly follow Ali, they never again want to feel like they’re her dolls. A car door slams and someone else joins the party, but we don’t get to see who. That’s not a good sign.
Ali later tries to gain Emily’s trust back by apologizing profusely. She even tries to kiss her, but Emily shuts that down real quick. She is betrayed yet again and she can’t just forgive that. They are interrupted, however, by Breaking News on TV. They have discovered the identity of the unknown girl who was buried in Ali’s grave.
The entire gang is summoned to the Dilaurentis house to watch the news together, including all five liars, Toby, Ezra and Caleb. (Did anyone else notice the strange look that passed between Caleb and Ali? Don’t tell me she dated HIM too? That’s a plot twist I hope to never see.) The girl’s name is Bethany Young. She was a 17 year old patient from Radley Sanitarium, who escaped the same night Ali was thought to be kidnapped. Before we can learn more, the windows erupt in a shower of projectile glass from a massive explosion.
The gang heads outside to witness what the heck just happened. What they walk into looks like a scene straight out of War of the Worlds. There’s ash and smoke everywhere, several overturned cars glowing in flames, and a house ablaze. It’s the Cavanaugh house. Toby rushes inside to see if anyone was at home at the time of the blast, despite Spencer begging him not to. Then it happens. Five text notification tones go off in perfect synchronization. We aren’t privy to what the message says, but it’s pretty clear.
A is BACK, b***hes, and looking to make up for lost time! In the coda, we see a new lair being set up, with a dollhouse and a matching Alison doll very much intact. Looks like a new A era is about to begin. Are you ready?
Who is the new A?
How do Jenna and Mona know Sydney?
Was Jenna in the house when it exploded?
Are we going to get Haleb back on track?
Find out next week!