We pick up where we left off last episode, Ali having just admitted she employed Noel Kahn to scare the bejeezus out of Mrs. Marin to Spencer and Emily, with Hanna joining soon after. The girls are none too thrilled at this revelation. Emily doesn’t seem to know what to think, while Spencer is livid. She accuses Ali of going rogue, sneaking out at night. At first, Ali tries to get Spencer to quiet down, “You’re a little loud.” to which Spence replies, “You’re a little crazy!” Ali can certainly dish it out, but man, can she NOT take it. She gets super defensive, questioning their loyalty to her, how Noel is the only one who has her back. Uhm, I’m pretty sure all four of these girls have been coined Pretty Little Liars for a reason, Ali, and that reason is you. They have lied for her over and over again, while she is busy with her own agenda.
Hanna decided she needs a drink after Ali storms out in a huff. She pulls out her flask and takes a swig. Spencer admonishes her, which sets off Hanna on a tirade about the Ali invasion in her own house. “Even the doorknob smells like her.” Spencer’s eye issue must have hit her funny bone, because her “Why were you smelling the doorknob?” made me gigglesnort, which is just not as adorable as it sounds.
On the way home from Hanna’s, Emily thinks she hears Ali’s voice, so she stops to listen. She peers around the corner to see Noel Kahn himself (he finally appears!) hanging out in his car, casually listening to Ali’s medical exam tape on blast. Em accidentally makes noise which scares the little weasel off.
After yet another paranoid tangent by Ali at school the next day (in which she says everyone should be following Hanna, not her), Spencer leaves school early to go to the eye doctor for that nasty stable wood still stuck in her eye.
She first makes a quick stop at Caleb’s cabin, feeling it’s time someone stepped in to open Caleb’s eyes to what is really going on. The cabin is a mess, the pans may need to be named considering the amount of fuzz growing in them. Spencer tries to point out their downward spiral, but it’s met with deaf ears before she mentions Zack. That gets Caleb’s attention, but Spence realizes Hanna didn’t tell him about the scumbag and refuses to elaborate. Spencer asks what happened in Ravenswood, which has struck a nerve, setting Caleb’s defensive side off. Spence retreats, seeing she’s hit too close to home. She instead says what the entire PLL fandom has been thinking these past few weeks. “I’ve always thought you were the best thing to ever happen to Hanna and it really hurts to watch you guys fight with whatever is eating at you. But you guys used to draw strength from each other and now…I don’t get this.” Caleb plays it cool, but it’s clear her words have finally hit home.
Spencer finally makes it to the eye doctor, where they immediately dilate her eyes, making everything blurry. She sees TWO Jenna’s across the front desk, but can’t figure out if Jenna has an evil twin or if her eye drops were also laced with acid. Those of us with clear sight can tell it’s Jenna and Sydney, though why they’re dressed alike is anyone’s guess. Spencer calls Emily once she gets into an examination room. After she convinces Emily to get there ASAP, she turns to look at the eye chart to see “Can U C me yet? -A” Of course, -A felt the need to take advantage of Spencer’s eye problem.
Emily has been busy meeting with the athletics director to accept her new job as assistant coach. During the interview, she notices the locker assignments books on a nearby shelf. After the director leaves, she sneaks back in to look up Noel Kahn’s locker combination. She manages to make it to Noel’s gym locker unnoticed, steals his car keys and slinks out. Her next step is to rifle through Noel’s things in his car, finding a stack of pictures of Ali while she was supposed to be kidnapped, along with the tape recorder. She takes them, turns Noel’s keys into lost and found, and goes to meet Spencer.
Emily makes it to the doctor’s office in time catch the two Jenna’s leaving. She immediately recognizes Sydney, calling her out in the middle of the office. Jenna turns up the attitude, while Sydney seems genuinely ashamed to be caught. Jenna fields every question Emily throws at Sydney, which prompts Spencer to add a bit of attitude herself, “When you ask the organ grinder a question, you don’t really wanna hear from the monkey.” Jenna gets the last word before she leaves, remarking she isn’t the one they should be nervous around.
Emily later runs into Sydney, who desperately wants to explain her side of the story. She says she was a volunteer at the blind school Jenna went to, they became close, she glued Jenna back together after all the trauma Ali caused her. She came to Rosewood to let Jenna know she has someone on her side, she didn’t expect Emily to actually be a nice person. Emily feels like she has been played by yet another of Jenna’s pawns. She gets in Sydney’s face, saying she is going to take the coaching position just so she can make Syd’s life a living hell. “I wanna see you underwater long enough to feel the twinge of panic, when you need air and you can’t get it. I want you feel what it’s like to get sucker-punched.” Yikes, I was actually intimidated by Emily…way to channel early Paige!
Spencer has gone to her family’s lake house to hide the evidence Emily stole from Noel’s car. She struggles to find a decent hiding spot, then hears a creak. We can see in the mirror that behind Spence, the furniture is all covered up, though one chair has a hole in the sheet, just big enough to look through. Also, that chair is strangely human shaped. Spencer senses she is being watched. She turns, notices the sheet’s shoes, grabs a nearby fire poker and lifts the sheet. It’s Noel Kahn. Talk about a new level of creeper-dom.
Noel has come for his stuff, which he claims is his insurance in case Ali ever turns on him. (So much for Noel being the only one on your side, Ali.) Spencer inquires how he got it in the first place. He says Shana sent it to Jenna, Ali sent him to Jenna’s to get it. He nearly became a crispy critter in the Cavanaugh explosion. (Now, I am really confused here. Noel says Ali doesn’t know he has this stuff, I’m assuming he lied and said it burned in the fire. But how did Ali know Shana had sent it to Jenna? Didn’t Jenna just move back to Rosewood a couple weeks ago, before that living in NY with Shana? Shana can’t send things postmortem, so did Ali lie when she said she didn’t know Jenna was in NY? Something is amiss here.) Spencer asks what Ali has on Noel, but he is so over the interrogation part of this, making an attempt to take the fire poker away from her. She slices his hand in defense. Spence insists he isn’t the only one who needs insurance against Ali, promising to protect the evidence. She threatens him again with the poker, which sends him scurrying out the door. Good job, Spence.
Mrs. Marin is still trying to make Ali feel like part of the family, offering to take the girls on a mall shopping spree for something to wear to Ella and Zack’s party. Hanna turns it down (Hanna turns down shopping? That is a definite red flag!), along with the invite to the party. Mrs. Marin pushes it, not understanding why Hanna wouldn’t be there for Aria. Hanna gets sloppy in her clothes throwing, revealing her flask by accident. Mrs. Marin scolds her in the most understanding parent speech ever, saying she understands Hanna’s fear and the need to escape, but she cannot afford to not be in control when a psychopath is still out there. Hanna manages to keep her eye roll internal as she leaves.
Hanna confronts Ali in the choir room, criticizing her stupid stunts, how they affect everyone, not just Ali. Ali acts caring, afraid the group is falling apart, she doesn’t understand why the girls are turning on her and each other. Hanna just walks away, tired of her. Jenna pops in shortly after. Ali expresses her condolences about Shana, but drops the act pretty quickly to ask how Jenna turned Shana against her. Jenna replies she didn’t, Ali did.
At the bachelor cabin, Caleb questions Hanna’s motives on deciding not to go to the engagement party. He knows it’s out of character for her, she loves a chance to eat free food and dress up. Hanna spouts a lame excuse about marriages ending in divorce, which helps Caleb put two and two together. He gently picks her brain about Zack and she admits everything. Caleb is the only person in Hanna’s world who has the right reaction. He believes her, telling her she has zero reason to feel ashamed, Zack is the one who should be embarrassed. Hanna clearly feels horrible. Caleb suddenly decides he should go get some food for them, she should stay there. How Hanna doesn’t see Caleb is about to go kick some serious Zack butt is beyond me, but I say sic him, Caleb!
Caleb goes to The Brew, which is being setup for the party. Zack tells him they’re closed. Caleb gives zero figs about making a scene, getting right down to the business of butt kicking threats. Zack figures he’s the boyfriend. He says he was just joking around with Hanna, she took it too personally. Caleb obviously doesn’t buy it, so Zack gets real, saying he was only acting on her signals, Hanna was just embarrassed, then hands Caleb a note from ‘Hanna” “Sorry I was shy before, I promise I’ll make up for it.” Caleb quickly deduces -A has decided to move this scum bucket’s motives along. Zack says Hanna slipped it in his pocket, but he doesn’t finish that sentence due to Caleb’s fist solidly connecting with his face. Go Caleb! Stand up for your girl! Caleb quips he won’t be back for the party, drops his metaphorical mic and peaces out.
When Caleb returns with no food, instead going to the kitchen to ice his hand, Hanna figures out where he went. She seems a bit incredulous he did it, but of course he did, he’s Caleb Rivers: Best Boyfriend Ever. He shows her the note, she denies it, he knows, they both think -A decided to meddle again.
Aria is with her mom and Tanner, who seems to think anywhere at Rosewood High makes a great interrogation room. Tanner is trying to connect Ezra to Shana, pushing Aria’s buttons purposely to illicit a reaction. She gets one when she suggest Ezra was seeing Shana intimately. Aria defends Ezra to the hilt, saying he didn’t speed date the students. (Nah, one underage bohemian pixie is enough for him.) Ella concludes the “interview”, and tells Aria to take it down a notch.
While getting things ready to take to The Brew, Aria floats Hanna’s name by Zack, saying she won’t be making it to the party. Zack tries to play it cool, but she picks up on his interest in Hanna. Hmm, maybe Hanna WASN’T making up that story about Zack being a douche canoe.
Aria eventually works up the nerve to ask Ella how well she knows Zack, if she has doubts about him. Ella goes right to him being inappropriate with her, which surprises Aria. Apparently, Zack is a repeat offender, there was an ‘incident’ in Austria. Aria admits it wasn’t her but Hanna, finally believing her friend. Ella is heartbroken, calling off the party and the engagement.
Byron (Remember him, Aria’s dad?) comes home while Ella is packing. She tries to explain away why she is there instead of the party, but the truth comes out soon enough. Byron comforts her, giving a sweet speech on how she makes this small world seem so much bigger, Zack doesn’t deserve her. Aww, I’d totally ship them if they hadn’t failed at their own marriage twice so far.
Aria goes to see Hanna at the cabin, where she finds her pouring out their alcohol stash. Aria fills Hanna in on the broken engagement, Hanna feels the need to admit -A helped him along his slimy quest. Aria claims it doesn’t matter, he took the bait. She explains it wasn’t that she didn’t believe Hanna, she just wanted to believe something else more (I don’t really prescribe to that logic, but it’s Aria. Explanation enough.), she just wanted her mom to be happy. She apologizes, Hanna accepts, friendship fixed. Hug it out, ladies!
Ali is with her new adult BFF, Mrs. Marin, after coming back from the cancelled party. Mrs. Marin receives a phone call from Tanner, asking her to bring Ali to the station right away. She does, Tanner reveals they caught the man who kidnapped Ali. They bring Ali into see him through the one-sided glass interrogation room. He know every detail of Ali’s kidnapping story. Ali looks seriously confused, and uncertain what to do, a first for her. Who is this guy? Who’s setting him up to take the fall for Ali’s lie? Is this an -A trap? My head hurts.
Our -A coda finds our black hoodie clad fiend at the eye doctor’s office. The nurse tells them to entertains themselves while they wait for the doctor. -A shows the nurse, who looks a bit afraid of them, earphones and she leaves. -A puts the earphones in and we hear Ali’s medical exam playing back.
Who is this new man claiming to be Ali’s kidnapper?
How will Ali and the girls react to this trap?
Where does Mona fit into all of this?
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