Warning: This recap contains spoilers.
You’d think after five seasons, our dear liars would have learned certain things. Don’t just walk into a house if the door is precariously open when you go to knock. Don’t go through other people’s trash cans directly in front of their house from which they’re probably watching you. And most importantly, don’t think that finding “A” mean that you’ve actually found “A.” It seems the only lesson to stick with the liars is the gem Hanna’s mom taught her this episode: All cheese melts.
Hanna’s homecoming grilled cheese was probably the most comforting aspect of this episode, which ended with a grim discovery that took us back to PLL’s roots.
It almost looked like the girls had wisened up. At the start of the episode, they return on a bus to Rosewood and manage to convince Ali to stop running. First stop? The police station, where they agree Ali should tell the truth, starting with “the Jenna thing” and the night Ali disappeared. It sounded pretty realistic — they even marched in formation! But the girls were thrown for a loop when Ali tells Holbrook that she was kidnapped. Holbrook is skeptical and shows Ali a photo of her in Rosewood. She lies, unconvincingly, telling him that the girls helped rescue her and hid her in the shed where they used to hang out.
Then her Dad shows up. Mr. D, nice to meet you. Happy belated Father’s Day. After a tearful embrace, Ali learns that her mother is basically missing. Heartwarming moment, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Ali went rogue, minutes after she set foot in Rosewood. Hanna captures the frustration as only she can: “Was I asleep on that bus? When did we discuss kidnapping?”
Next up on the PLL fun tour: Returning home to worried parents, the Rosewood version anyway. Emily and Spencer go to casa de Hastings, where Veronica tells Emily to call her mom who is stuck in Dallas. She chides Spencer for not telling her parents where she’s been nor clueing them in on the whole Alison’s alive thing. Veronica also warns Spencer that Melissa is back in town. “And don’t expect any souvenirs because all she brought back was attitude and secrets.” (“Attitude and Secrets” should be a special edition of this season’s DVD collection). The episode wasn’t all business for Spencer — Toby returned! They kissed passionately to OneRepublic.
It’s a little more ‘Gilmore Girls’ at the Marin residence, where Ashley asks Hanna why she didn’t tell her about Alison and wonders if Ali is actually safe now. Hanna, ever the cheesemonger, seems decidedly more interested in the Havarti than in discussing the manufactured kidnapping story with her mom.
Aria’s parents were oddly M.I.A. this episode, though her dad, Byron, was alluded to by Aria’s brother, Mike. Seriously, Aria, still bothered by her role in Shana’s death, needs parents more than anyone right now. Mike overhears Aria trying to check on Fitz’s condition and starts asking questions. Aria hurries him out of her room in an effort to get some much-needed sleep.
As Emily wraps up an all-too-familiar phone call with her mom, Spencer voices her doubts about their entanglement with Ali. “We’re back on planet Alison,” she laments. “Why is she still controlling us?”
Good question, Spence. She and Emily decide to go next door, where they observe Jason cleaning out his car — in the dark. Ali demonstrates some of the Bear Grylls tactics she must have learned on the run, throwing her cell phone — tucked safely into a roll of toilet paper — out of her window. Emily and Spencer see that Ali got a disturbing text before they went into the police station. “The truth will bury you in a New York minute,” the text reads. Spencer asks who sent the text. Ali stands at her window, looking like something out of Hitchcock movie, and traces a dramatic question mark onto the window pane.
Mr. D stops by Ali’s room and the two share a moment, with Mr. D telling his daughter, “I can’t give you those years back, Alison, I can’t, but I promise I will do everything I can to help you forget them.” A is for Aww. He tells Ali what she already knows: that he and Mrs. D are getting a divorce.
Aria’s sleep is interrupted by creepy nightmares during which Shana and her violin make several appearances. Aria wakes up to hear an actual violin being played outside her window. Hanna calls to tell Aria what Spencer and Emily deliberately kept from her — the content of Ali’s New York minute text. Speaking of creepy…
Jason continues to be shady. Emote, J! Your sister, who everyone thought was dead, has just returned. He opens Alison’s cringe-y door as she sleeps, but doesn’t bother to say anything. Mr. D, who has also noticed his son’s apathy appeals to Hanna’s mom for help. He asks Ashley to read her boss’s work email to see where she might be. Ashley hesitantly agrees.
Emily and Spencer do their own detective work, ruffling through the DiLaurentis’s trash and discovering that Jason was recently in New York (and that he likes quality doughnuts.) Emily puts the pieces together in horror. “If Mrs. D thought that someone else killed her child, who else would she cover for but the other one?” Welcome to the PLL theories game, Em.
The two bring their concerns to Alison, who concedes that her brother has been acting weird, but explains that her father won’t let her out his sight. Alison keeps Emily close by, asking her to walk Pepe, the shelter dog that Mrs. D reportedly ordered. It’s worth noting that Jason wasn’t even moved when the dog showed up. Things are strained between Ali and Spencer and we’re reminded that the two share more than a friendship — they share a big brother. It’s not news, but it feels weird to hear Ali say it in present tense.
Jason realizes the girls are snooping around and he confronts them, pounding on Hanna’s car window and letting them know he didn’t appreciate the information they delivered to his father. After Ashley decided she couldn’t handle the task, Hanna stealthily checked Mrs. D’s email and found an unsent email that read, ominously: I can’t protect you anymore.
Aria is still hearing violins and is increasingly disturbed by memories of Shana. When Emily finds her in the shed, trying to make it look like Ali was actually hiding there, she reminds her that she once killed someone too (remember, Nate?) If it makes Aria feel better, it’s not for long. She has to contend with Mike’s possibly rekindled relationship with Mona, who is playing dumb where Ali’s kidnapping story is concerned and passing out safety whistles to the girls at Rosewood High. Mona taunts Aria, asking about Fitz and whether he’ll “make a full recovery.”
After Ali sneaks out to go to the mausoleum, it’s Mona who confronts her there to confess that she sent the New York minute text and to issue Ali an iced-cold warning. “You’re gonna wish you stayed dead.”
Aria reaches a breaking point and tells Emily that she wants to confess to the police that she is responsible for Shana’s death. Spencer goes to Ali’s house, where she finds the door open and Jason sitting in the dark. Jason confronts Spencer about going through the trash and asks just what the girls are looking for. Pepe barks in the background, leading the group to a dark discovery: Mrs. D buried in Spencer’s backyard.
Amid all of the chaos — the entire street gathering to gawk as Mrs. D is rolled away in a body bag — Ali stands alone in the rain, looking not-exactly-sad and not-exactly-shocked. Jason actually looked more distraught. It’s hard to imagine that Ali will be well-adjusted enough to return to Rosewood High, but (according to the previews of next week’s episode) that’s exactly where she’s headed.
Lingering questions: Who killed Mrs. D? Why is Jason acting so shady? And, to quote Aria: “Who’s the fiddler on my freaking roof?!”