"Pretty Little Liars" Episode 8 Recap: Monster-In-Law
I have long considered it to demonstrate the perfect trifecta of T-sounding television drama techniques – Torment, Teenage angst, and most importantly of all - Triangles. As in love triangles. As in the three-sided emotional polygon that has been a crux of plotlines since, well, ever. And since this isn’t “Savages”, or Charlie Sheen’s love nest, the same torturous rules apply. This sleeper agent “A” is so scarce, the girls are forced to occupy their time with lingering eyes towards certain (and often, certainly wrong) members of one of TV’s most telegenic cast. But when presented such a buffet of eye candy with manners, hygiene, and nonexistent personality flaws, it’s too hard to choose just one. Trouble ensues. And there you have this week’s episode, “Stolen Kisses.” Oh, that’s not enough of a recap for you? Well, if you insist…
Even though a week has passed in our time, the world of “Pretty Little Liars” moves at a much more glacial pace. This week picked up right where last week’s left off, with the girls dissecting Mona’s motives behind the coded messages, except in different outfits. So one day has passed, maybe? Anyway, they still can’t decide if the website is real, or just another ploy in Mona’s sadistic game. Hanna wanted to believe the best in her ex-bestie, but was forced to admit that the only way Mona is helping them out is if she is scared of an even bigger predator out there. On her way out the door for a hiking trip with Nate, Em gave the girls her blessing to try and hack Maya’s webpage. But not before trying, and failing, herself. She lamented, “I guess I don’t know her as well as I thought I did.”
But Emily and Maya aren’t the only ones in Rosewood who could have benefitted from some couples therapy – just look at Aria and her dad. Not a “couple” in the romantic sense, but still 2 people (the literal definition of couple) who are suffering from some major things left unsaid. Aria won’t even look her father in the eye while they talk about dinner plans. He was only rewarded with eye contact, and not the good kind, upon delivering the news that Meredith got the job at Rosewood High. He offered to man up and tell Ella himself. Aria still glared at him.
Not that she was getting any better looks herself when she walked into Ezra’s apartment yelling “Ok, marine, drop and give me 20!!” only to discover that the person she was demanding push-ups (at least I hope she was talking about push-ups...) out of was Ezra’s Chanel-clad, diamond-encrusted aristocrat mother. As Mrs. FitzGERALD seemed delighted to finally meet “the mysterious girl with the lyrical name,” Ezra shifted uncomfortably in the background. Nothing would delight him more than having his mother leave, so he made up a story about a “thing” that he and Aria had to do to politely tell his mother to get the hell out. She invited them to a benefit at the Osgood Museum the next night, and left so "Ezria" could hash out all the revelations left in her wake, like Ezra’s fake last name, and the fact that he lied to his parents about when he and Aria started dating. Aria was forgiving, though skeptical of Ezra’s anti-mother attitude.
In other parts of town, namely the old boathouse, Emily and Nate resumed episode 385 of Memories of Maya. It’s all they ever really talk about, a pattern that in hindsight probably seemed pretty damn spectacular once Nate mentioned his desire to murder Garrett with his bare hands. Um, say what now? Emily chided her friend, telling him that murder wouldn’t change anything. He said it would change one thing – Garrett would be dead. Sensing Emily’s obvious discomfort, Nate shelved his homicidal fantasies and apologized for scaring her. Emily said he didn’t scare her, and considering all that she has been through, including multiple attempts at her life, he probably didn’t, just unnerved her a little. Nate said he doesn’t want Emily to be afraid of him, and yet again, makes everyone feel a little sorry for him because he is putting the moves on a lesbian. Their relationship takes friend-zoned to a whole new level… like gender-zoned.
Meanwhile, Hanna and Spencer chilled at Casa Hastings, casually trying to hack into a password protected website, because that’s what you do on Sunday afternoons in suburban Pennsylvania, duh! Hanna was running out of patience with the process and Spencer needed to enlighten her that their task was one of intricacy and precision, “It’s not a piñata, you can’t just whack at it with a stick.” If only that was the solution to all technological problems. Spencer requested Hanna’s permission to ask Caleb for help. Request granted. Hanna didn’t request Spencer’s permission to meet up off hospital grounds with Spencer’s old flame, and Mona’s doctor, Wren, when he texted. Would Spencer have cared? Who knows? My guess is minimally, she doesn’t really have any connection to Wren anymore, now that she’s going steady with Toby. Oh wait, did I say steady? Because their relationship seemed anything but stable after Toby blew into Spencer’s house, ready to hulk out over Jason going on the lam, and all of Spencer’s other secrets. She says he needs to trust her, but Mona’s locked up, and Garrett’s locked up, so why does she still jump every time her phone rings? Toby took his anger one step in a more productive direction than Caleb, and decided to get to the bottom of Spencer’s secrets on his own. He has probably already figured out that there is another “A”, which makes him 1) an awesomely attentive boyfriend, however, also 2) seriously in danger.
At Hanna and Wren’s coffee catch up, he tells her that Mona is being moved to another facility in New York. These doctors just don’t want the liability for her, since not only is she dangerous and making no progress, she is also now running a drug business, handing her meds off to another visitor of hers. No details on which one, however, because apparently Mona is in her mental facility as she was in walking the hallways of Rosewood high – extremely popular. Hanna asked Wren to talk to Mona’s doctors, see if he could convince them to delay or reconsider Mona’s transfer. Wren was understandably hesitant, but all it took was some flirty glances from Hanna to convince him otherwise. Ill-timed flirty glances, however, as fate decided then for Caleb to walk into the coffee shop and make his reentrance into Hanna’s life for the first time post breakup. Hanna walked up to him, but once he saw that she was there with Wren, he left wordlessly.
Caleb was less taciturn the next day, as Spencer approached him with a safe topic – his car. You can never go wrong talking to a guy about his car. After they reached a point of comfort, Spencer pondered aloud if she might be able to ask him an abstract question about how to get around a protected password. Caleb’s response: “That’s about as abstract as a brick wall.” Nevertheless, he was more than willing to offer his expertise once Spencer explained that the website came from Mona. No matter what had happened between them, Hanna is still important to him, and besides, he’s always down to crush the “Mona monster.” But as Nelly Furtado once sang, “All good things come to an end” and Spencer’s momentary relief was dampened by a text from “A.” It went as such – “Mona’s almost gone, Hanna’s next. – A”
Later, Aria trotted home with Spencer to borrow something to wear to the benefit. I guess Emily’s suggestion of a Hello Kitty T-shirt wasn’t exactly what she was looking for. As they were on the brink of a serious discussion about Aria’s flippant use of the word “frumpy” when describing Spencer’s wardrobe, the girls realized that Mrs. Hastings left her briefcase, and all of Garrett’s files all alone in a big empty house. It was begging to be snooped through. Aria and Spencer happily obliged, snapping away with their camera-phones, and reading Maya’s coroner’s report. The fun and games ended when they came across a witness list, with Spencer’s mom making particular note of a Bart Comstock. “Break him and it falls apart,” Mrs. Hastings wrote. Not if Aria got to him first! Taking note of his listed address, Aria was determined to visit the Mr. Comstock on her way home from Spencer’s.
Earlier in the episode, Emily paid Paige a visit, asking if she could explain why Paige was drugged from her flask the night of Jenna’s party. Paige seemed more withholding than usual, but eventually consented to an afterschool run. Emily ran and ran until she couldn’t contain her emotions anymore. She abruptly stopped and had an outburst of guilt. She wanted Paige to know that she didn’t know the flask was drugged. Paige wanted to know who drugged it, and this Emily couldn’t honestly answer. She explained that she was drugged on the night that Ali’s body went missing, and still hadn’t been able to piece together what happened. Paige could offer a little insight here, explaining that a drunk Emily showed up on her porch at 11 that night, and proceeded to follow her inside and kiss her, before making a run for it when Paige left to get water. Paige called Emily, identifying the call she received around 11 that night, but wasn’t quite able to explain why she hid this from Em for all this time. She felt guilty, felt that she took advantage of Emily that night, and felt even worse when Emily couldn’t remember a second of what, for her, was a dream come true.
Aria showed up at Bart Comstock’s residence, only to discover that it was actually the local movie theatre. She went inside and casually struck up conversation with the sole employee, until he revealed himself to be the very Bart she had been seeking. She gently guided conversation towards Maya, and the police, and discovered that Bart saw Maya get in a police car with Garrett the night that she was killed.
Back at Spencer’s house, she tried once more to hack into Maya’s password protected website, except this time she had a secret weapon, the hamburglar Caleb. Spencer noted his new $400 sweater and welcomed the tech maven to the upper class. How charming. Maybe it was all this positive reinforcement that helped Caleb finally crack the code on Maya’s site and open up what appeared to be a very complex compilation of video blogs.
Speaking of the upper class, Aria was in for a real shocker at the benefit when she learned that Ezra’s grandparents weren’t just the 1%, they were the .001%. That’s right, they had money money. Ezra explained that when he cut the “gerald” off his last name, he effectively cut off his family too, disinterested in their wealth and their guardianship. He wasn’t keeping Aria away from his family, he was keeping his family away from Aria. It seems for good reason too, as Mrs. Fitzgerald soon came over to Aria and temporarily feigned interest in her family life, which was really an ill-disguised passive aggressive attack on her son’s unsuitable girlfriend. She partially blamed Aria for the disintegration of her parent’s marriage, and entirely blamed her for Ezra’s unemployment. Wait, if Mrs. Fitzgerald knew all the details of Aria's life... is she "A"? Just kidding... kind of. Refusing to accept that Aria has no motives on her son besides love, Mrs. Fitzgerald flat out offered to pay Aria to leave him. It was all so reminiscent of Julie-Cooper-“dragon-lady” on the “OC” many moons ago. There really is only one way to combat evil rich parents like that, go all Emily Thorne on their asses walk away, which is exactly what Aria did.
Wren’s request on Mona’s behalf was a total failure, leaving Hanna only two options: 1) let Mona leave, or 2) channel Elle Woods and convince the board herself. Now, if this was any other character on television, option #1 would be the obvious way to go, Mona tried to run her over with a car for heaven’s sake! But I think we all know that Hanna chose #2. She got in front of the board as if she was giving a presentation in history class on the Civil War – no charisma, no confidence, purple flashcards in tow. The unconvinced expressions of Mona’s doctors stirred Hanna into an emotional and heartfelt speech about her understanding of Mona’s anger, and how she knows that it could have easily been her in that place. She knows that Mona would’ve defended her, so that’s what she will do. Mona needs support to get better, and sending her off to New York alone will never help. While she was slowly winning over Mona’s doctors, Hanna was unknowingly winning someone else over too – Wren. His face said it all as he admiringly stared at Hanna during her speech, and in case you weren’t sure just what his face said, let me make it clear for you: I WANT YOU.
After catching up with Nate at the boathouse at night, Emily realized that despite her inebriation she really did want Paige that night… and she still did now. Em found her lady love poolside in her backyard and explained that she hasn’t even been thinking about being with anyone since Maya, but now she realizes what she has been looking for – Paige’s lips. The two shared a kiss poolside, initiating a romance that is sure to drive Nate even crazier.
At the Aria-less benefit, Ezra confronted his mama about what she said to make Aria leave. Her response? “Maybe it’s past her bedtime.” Ouch. Ezra sassed his mother big time, telling her that she could endow as many museums as she wanted to but he wasn’t fooled, there is not a generous bone in her body. Double ouch.
As one parental relationship fell to ruin, another was seemingly repaired as Byron found Aria sitting alone in distress over what she had done to Ezra’s life, and by association, her parent’s marriage. She felt like a wrecking ball. He explained to her that no one could ever be harmed by having her in their life, and she emptied the rest of her tears in her father’s shoulder. Aww.
As Aria and her father came together over sadness, over at the hospital, Hanna and Wren had a hard time fighting back their feelings as he told her that her testimony won the board over unanimously. Mona’s transfer was postponed indefinitely… yay?! Hanna’s hormones broke free and she propelled herself into a face-first kiss with Wren, who took this opportunity to act so adorably happy and bashful that it was hard to understand why Spencer ever let him go… or none of the other ladies ever picked him up. Snatch that up, Hanna!
Later, the girls (minus Emily, enjoying an impromptu swim with Paige) tried to sort through the videos on Maya’s blog. Most were just thoughts, or random videos of Emily, and the girls felt like they were seriously invading someone’s privacy. Just as they were about to call it quits for the night, Hanna clicked on a video seemingly filmed right before Maya’s death in which she seemed scared and explained that she needed to stop being a coward and face her fears… cue the lights of a police car pull up next to her. Was this Maya’s last message?
In our final “A” scene, the serial stalker paid a visit to the bank, and left with stacks and stacks of cash.
Are you getting tired of “A” seemingly do nothing but play with money? Did you sense the chemistry between Spencer and Caleb? Does “A’s” threat seem so much less credible and scary since Hanna prevented Mona’s transfer? Is anyone else loving the new, ultra determined Spencer this season?
Next week, Spencer goes all Rottweiler on Jenna’s nonsense, and Caleb can’t seem to stay away from Hanna as a game of truth or dare takes some crazy twists.
Reach reporter Kelly Hanelt here.