"Pretty Little Liars" Episode 3 Recap: Risky Business
I bet you are wondering right now, what does “Pretty Little Liars” have to do with a 1983 Tom Cruise movie about prostitution and a glass egg?
Well, on the surface, not much. However, as our little liars get deeper and deeper into the resurfacing “A” mystery, they are delving into a very risky business. This week brings three of our top contenders for the position of text-savvy-psychopath to the forefront – Jenna, Lucas, and Melissa. And before the hour is up, at least two are looking innocent and one more evil than ever. How did such a transformation take place? Let’s dig in.
At the start of the hour, the girls were huddled together on school grounds, playing out their best “Mission Impossible” type surveillance like a bunch of overdressed kindergarteners during recess. Despite being privy to the distinct knowledge that Jenna is packing all five senses, they stand directly in her line of vision and do not use their inside voices. The new plan is to send Aria into enemy territory, armed with a keyboard, years of honed snooping abilities, and a set of good running legs in case things get too risky. For some reason Jenna has established a façade of trust between them, the perfect opening for Aria to dig up all her dirty little secrets. Haven’t they learned better by now? Those things are safer for everyone buried in the ground.
Just as their “I’m talking about secret stuff” voices got so loud it was borderline unbelievable that the rest of the kiddos in the hallway hadn’t turned to stare at them, Lucas provided the perfect distraction, being chased down the hallway by an angry Vice Principal yelling something about permanent records. Hanna follows. Despite all his suspicious behavior, and newfound disregard for hygiene, Hanna is genuinely concerned, like a good friend. We all know this can only agitate Lucas further, since he has never thought of her as only a good friend. His current problem, however, is a VP letter to his parents, discussing his recent attitude shift, which is negatively impacting his social interactions and grades. Lucas, so overwhelmingly frustrated by the fact that “impacting” isn’t a word (which, by the way, it is), and by other secrety things, lights the letter on fire and drops it in the trash. Well, at least he didn’t litter? Caleb comes to Hanna’s rescue and the two flee the scene of the arson for some Starbucks and to negotiate Caleb’s intervention with Lucas in exchange for Hanna’s ceasefire on the Mona front.
Caleb upholds his part of the bargain, tracking Lucas down to the chem lab for some bro catch up time. It went like this: “Dude, you tried to set fire to my girlfriend.” “Yeah, sorry about that, I was being ground down by a trivial bureaucracy.” All pleasantries out of the way, Lucas tells Caleb to mind his own business, and that he is the least of Hanna’s worries right now. Caleb reveals his knowledge of the Mona/ “A” business but Lucas warns that she is just the tip of the iceberg. “A” isn’t so much ancient history as current events. And, in a metaphor of titanic proportions, Lucas warns Caleb that “Icebergs turn over…they just roll over and bring up all that buried junk. You don’t want to get too close when that happens.” A threat? No, an observation. But my spidey senses tell me it is more a warning than anything else.
Meanwhile, a clash of all characters whose names begin with E is brewing as Emily discovers she aced her makeup test, despite failing to fill in half the questions. She confronts Mrs. Montgomery (Ella) about the score, promising that she did not cheat and that someone must have tampered with the test. Slyly, Mrs. Montgomery assured Emily that she understands and now she needs Emily to understand, the grade is accurate. Emily takes her moral dilemma to Aria, who explains that her mama’s protective instincts have been running on overdrive since the divorce. But this does nothing to assuage Em’s fear that it is all just another secret to keep, another secret for “A” to find out and use against them. All too prescient, Aria is later apprised of her mother’s meeting with the Vice Principal on account of an anonymous student letter accusing her of grading based on favoritism.
Back at the Chateau Hastings (i.e. the creepiest house in all of television), Spencer finds Melissa back from Washington, noticeably devoid of Ian’s demon offspring. While Melissa has never been a contender for Sister Of The Year, her typically cool attitude to Spencer has turned positively glacial. To make matters worse, Mama Hastings barges in to formally announce her decision to defend Garrett Reynolds for free. Her reasoning? She spoke with Mama Reynolds and knows what it’s like to have a child accused of something horrible. While Spencer should have realized that this explanation was probably her mother’s roundabout attempt at showing emotion (besides scorn and contempt) towards her, she is enraged at her mother’s decision to defend the man who killed Ali and Maya. Spencer turns to her sister for support, but Melissa coldly offers, “Any interest I had in any of this ended three months ago.” Later, Spencer finds her sister (apparently now a burgeoning alcoholic) and asks how she really feels about their mother defending Garrett. “Completely indifferent.” Spencer (never one to hold her cards close) accuses her sister of convincing their mother to defend him, and throws evidence of Melissa’s presence in the video taken in Ali’s room the night she died in her face. That’s when Melissa snaps, yelling at Spencer that some people have lost everything. Like she lost her baby, three months ago. Spencer apologizes and says she really wanted to go see her when it happened, but apparently Melissa only wanted their mother around.
After some charming small talk about Mona and how much strain the heart and the mind can bear, Aria’s reconnaissance at Jenna’s house lands her a post-it note saying “H. Cobb, 4:15, Earplugs”. She takes this info back to headquarters (i.e. Spencer’s bedroom) and the girls decide to boost surveillance on Jenna by basically stalking her. Eventually Jenna will slip up, and they will figure out how she pieces into the greater “A” mystery. When the conversation turns to Garrett, Hanna reveals her idea that he might be Melissa’s actual baby daddy. Spencer says it makes sense, her parents would never approve of Melissa marrying a civil servant, and his paternity would be enough to convince Mrs. Hastings to defend him in court. Garrett was warning Spencer about medical records, maybe they weren’t Jenna’s, but Melissa’s.
Because Hanna is a horribly mean girlfriend, or, you know, because she is getting stalked/ threatened by an anonymous psycho again, she goes back to the hospital to visit anonymous psycho #1. I don’t think she is quite prepared for what she finds – a peppy and sassy Mona, on different meds and seemingly back to normal. Mona thanks Hanna Banana for coming to visit her, even when she was quiet, and asks for gossip from around town. Hanna instead steers the conversation to “A”, how did Mona know it hadn’t ended? “You have to be so careful these days. It’s like you can’t trust anybody, not even family,” Mona declares. Show of hands, who thinks that family comment was DEFINITELY about Melissa? As Hanna is leaving the visiting quarters, who does she see but Lucas walking in to visit Mona, as well. Her trouble doesn’t end there since Caleb is waiting outside the hospital to bust her for lying and breaking their arrangement. In the ensuing argument, Hanna accidentally mentions Mona being the one who hit her with a car, which sets Caleb off even further. He wants to know the truth, but Hanna says that the truth is like a big bowl of spaghetti. Has he ever tried to untangle spaghetti? Just then, Lucas emerges from the hospital, and is forced by Hanna to explain his visits to madhouse Mona. He thinks she is faking it, it’s better than going to jail. “It’s better for a lot of people if Mona stays crazy, right?” Despite his terrible track record the past few episodes, something tells me that Lucas might actually be trying to help the little liars, albeit in a roundabout and really creepy way.
The next day, Spencer decides to get to the bottom of the baby mama drama mystery by calling the hospital her sister was in and asking for a copy of medical records. The only problem? There were no records of Melissa Hastings, or Melissa Thomas there at all. Next stop on her Nancy Drew tour of Melissa’s life is a quick call to Melissa’s hotel, where she discovered that Melissa’s vacation presumably cut short by a miscarriage was actually a weekend of spa treatments and restaurant meals, joined by none other than Veronica Hastings.
After Aria discussed her mother’s grade fudging with Ezra, he sought out Ella and told her that he understood. Keeping your personal life and work life is awfully hard when you’re a teacher (especially a teacher at that high school). Emily offers to go to the Vice Principal’s office with Mrs. Montgomery, feeling guilty that a favor for her could get her friend’s mom fired. They are met in the hallway by a giggly Vice Principal and Ezra, who exonerated them both by claiming he watched Ella grade Emily’s test. An overzealous tutor? More like a vigilante teacher-tutor who, despite being an extremely nice guy, is terribly ethically misguided for someone in the teaching profession. Either way, the case of the cheating E’s has been put to rest. Ella wants to why he lied for them, and Ezra explains that from a teacher’s perspective he knows why she did it. And they used to be friends. These explanations won’t work so well on Emily, who later confronts him angrily about her exasperation with everyone’s continued pity towards her. Ezra gives her the same test and tells her to pass it now, to prove to herself that she is capable.
Earlier in the afternoon, Aria and Hanna have a stakeout outside Jenna’s house, waiting for her 4:15 H. Cobb business. They follow the taxi that takes Jenna to the center of town and discover 1) that Jenna is driving the light blue Chevy that Emily remembers from that night, and 2) H. Cobb is a gun shop. As Jenna gets ready to leave, Hanna walks in front of her car, effectively blowing all of Jenna’s lies upon lies out of the water with the snarky line, “Wow, Jenna, what a sight for sore eyes.” Jenna later explains to the girls that she has been able to see since the first operation, but has been playing blind to keep herself safe. Someone tried to light her house on fire, and when people believe you can’t see, they get careless. She admits to having Emily in her car the night Ali’s grave was dug up, but not for the reason they think. She was going out of town late at night to enjoy being a normal girl again where no one recognizes her when she saw Emily in the middle of the road, drunk and crying about Maya. She took her chances of Emily remembering and tried to drive her home, until Em freaked out at a stoplight and ran out of the car around 12 – 12:30. She tells the girls that they have to keep her secret, since she is still a target. They ask who is targeting her, and she replies that if she knew that she wouldn’t have to hide.
While the girls were interrogating their “A” suspect, Caleb paid a visit to veteran “A” Mona in the hospital. Over a creepy game of cards, he harshly tells Mona to stop messing with Hanna. She calls them a lovely couple. Caleb, never one to play mental games, knows that Mona is laughing at them all in her head. He informs her that the real joke is that he will be able to walk out of there tonight and she isn’t going anywhere. Mona leans in to Caleb, tells him he is a lousy kisser, and starts screaming hysterically until she is held back.
When Spencer returns home from their rendezvous with Jenna, she sees her mother gleefully pouring over evidence for Garrett’s trial. Spencer sasses her mama big time, icily telling her “I’m so glad you’re enjoying yourself.” In the argument that ensues, Spencer tells her mother that she knows about her going to the resort with Melissa. Did her sister tell her? “Melissa wouldn’t tell me if my hair was on fire.” Such a perfect statement to sum up their strained sisterly relationship. But now, Spencer is holding her mother accountable for answers and wants to know how long she knew Melissa was faking her pregnancy. Her mom has suspicions, but wasn’t certain until she went to the hotel. Spencer wants to know when Melissa actually lost her baby, and when her mother doesn’t answer, she walks away, leaving their family even more shattered than it already was.
Mona, lying in her bed late at night, sings to an empty room the Stephen Foster song “In The Eye Abides the Heart”, the lyrics go as such: In the eye abides the heart; Every pure and tender feeling; All emotions worth revealing; Through the eyes their charm impart. All this, while holding a queen of hearts card from her earlier game with Caleb. Uh oh, does Mona carry a torch for Hanna’s boyfriend? Like she said earlier in the program, “Awkward.”
In our departing “A” scene, we see “A” in works to put together another toothy accessory to taunt the girls with. As “A” pours him/herself a glass of vodka before returning the bottle to a freezer that holds a body bag.
Ali’s body certainly wouldn’t be in a body bag if it was taken from her grave, so is this really her? If not, who the hell is it? Does the vodka point towards newly alcohol-dependent Melissa? After falling for Mona’s victim routine last season, should the girls be weary to trust Jenna’s story? Or are we about to have a fifth little liar on our hands?
After an oddly quiet “A” this episode, I have a feeling they are gearing up for a full dental frontal assault next week. Brace yourself for the preview below.