‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap Season 5, Episode 5: Back to school

Warning: This recap contains spoilers

Tonight marked the 100th episode of  ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and it was, quite literally, explosive — and not just because of the old flame that turned up. Haleb, forever!

It also marked Ali’s return to Rosewood High and the resulting emotions/curiosity/hysteria on the part of her friends and classmates.


She’s baaaack. (ABC FAMILY/Eric McCandless)

Anxiety ran high before Ali’s first day back. Hanna confesses to Travis that she fears her classmates view her and the Liars as Ali’s puppets and Travis, bless-his-heart, tells her “there’s no rule that says you have to walk into school with her tomorrow.” (Ha!) Travis, who has apparently not seen the previous 99 episodes, doesn’t realize that old habits — like texting SOS to your teenage friends in an emergency instead of dialing 911 — die hard with these girls.

Hanna was easily my favorite part of this episode. When Aria, Ali and Ezra witness Jenna getting off of a bus and Toby relays that she is heartbroken over Shana’s death, the Liars go into panic mode. Hanna keeps it real: “We blinded Jenna, we killed her girlfriend and she’s back to punish us for it.” Spencer also gets points for her reply: “Said with absolutely no tact, but you’re right.”

The scene with Aria, Ali and Ezra was eerie enough now that we know Ezra knew Ali first and became essentially obsessed with finding out the truth behind her disappearance. Also weird: Ali was also talking to someone in a dark SUV, which she explained away as someone working for her dad.

Ali went to school looking like a celebrity who has chosen an uncharacteristically conservative outfit for their latest court appearance. Sensible Chanel-esque blazer, check. Matching dress, check. Pop of color in the way of a sturdy power handbag, check. The scene outside of Rosewood High was also reminiscent of a celebrity approaching a courthouse — everyone stared and gawked at her. Paige couldn’t even and left the premises. After apologizing to two of her former targets, “Cindy and Mindy,” Ali forged ahead. She confessed that she’d forgotten where the guidance counselor’s office was and asked her friends to take her. Celebs, they’re just like us!

Spencer got paged to the principal’s office, where her mom was waiting. Veronica announced that she was leaving Spencer’s father and taking Spencer with her. Like, immediately. Later, Spencer demands to know what the rush is and Veronica tells her that Mr. Hastings had dropped her off at the spa, but she instead worked with a private investigator to figure out if her husband and Melissa were telling the truth about their whereabouts the night that Ali’s mom was murdered. Shocker: They weren’t.

If Mr. Hastings and/or Melissa had anything to do with Mrs. D’s murder, they probably have more malicious of a motive than Aria, who is still wracked with guilt over Shana’s death. To assauge said guilt, Aria makes it her mission to befriend Jenna, even walking into her house uninvited in broad daylight and saying nothing when Jenna realizes someone is near. Later, she invites Jenna into her house for tea and to learn more about Shana. It escapes Aria that this is beyond ridiculous — even more so than her idea to donate to Shana’s memorial service.

Ezra clearly hadn’t gotten through to Aria, but there appeared to be hope after he showed her the scar from his gunshot wound. “Look at what she did to me. I’m lucky to be alive,” he tells her. Following several incidents where Ezria absentmindedly fell into couple mode — Aria instinctively caresses Ezra’s face, Ezra swipes whipped cream off of her lip – they throw caution to the wind and sleep together. Interesting choice of music there, sound director. It’s a cover of The Police song “Every Breath You Take,” which might sound like a love song at first take, but is actually a really dark song about obsession.

Ali’s first day back at school paled in comparison to the evening thereafter. In addition to Ezria’s, er, reunion, Hanna ran into a very irritable Caleb at The Brew. He seemed to deliver most of his lines in grunts and gave a halfhearted Kanye shrug when Hanna asked why he hadn’t taken her calls. I watch enough TV to know it’s because Ravenswood was full of ghosts and really weird. He later tells Hanna that Travis seems like a good guy and he doesn’t want to ruin what they’ve got going.

Just seeing Caleb has obviously rocked Hanna’s world — she gets very drunk at a party Lucas hosts to introduce his girlfriend who never surfaces — and delivers some of the best lines of the episode, at an appropriately loud decibel.

When Lucas insists to Hanna that his girlfriend is real: “Lucas, you’re doing it with her!”

When Travis says “I think you’d had enough”: “Actually, you don’t know what I think, you don’t even know the half of it.”

When her mom lets her know she’s mad about her getting wasted: “Okay, mother”

Hanna isn’t the only one with Ali-free plans. Emily goes with Sydney (aka new girl I don’t trust) and Paige to a ‘Frozen’ sing-a-long. So basically singing “Let It Go” with at least one person who hates one of her best friends. Paige is so vehement about her dislike for Ali and Ali is so vehement about making amends that Emily organizes a meeting between the two of them so Ali can apologize and Paige can stare her down and say:

“You are a terrible person, Alison, and I hated you for it. I didn’t care if you were dead. I was happy you were gone.”

After Paige leaves, Ali tells Emily that her feelings for her were real, in spite of the one-sided way she had always made it look. After sitting wistfully in Emily’s room, Ali leaves, solo, and finds herself getting trailed by a black car. It got very campy horror story from here — Ali runs into a empty church, list only be dark red candles. She sends the group’s trademark SOS text and soon finds herself confronted by an angry Mona, who says she can prove that the Liars were in New York the night Shana died.

Mona and Ali have an epic argument with Mona telling Ali that “I don’t care where you go or how you get there, I want you gone” and Ali reminding Mona that she almost killed Hanna. “Bu-butt I’m better now, even the doctors say so” Mona stammered, sounding like the stepsister from my all-time favorite R.L. Stine novel.

Ali went back into mean-girl mode: “I made you loser Mona once and you know I can do it again.” All of the background — the music, the creaky church noises — seemed to fade away as Mona slapped Ali and Ali slapped her right back, drawing blood.

Ali summons the girls, save for hungover Hanna, to her house to tell them about her night, replacing the part where she slapped Mona. Emily spends the night and they end up kissing passionately in bed. That Police cover? Still playing.

Things cool significantly the next day when Mona and her “army of losers” confront Ali at school. Turns out Mona has some footage of last night’s argument and has edited out some important details. It looks like the old Ali and the Liars are not impressed.

Ali apologizes profusely and the Liars are kind of meh about it — until everyone is forced together to watch a breaking news report about the girl who was buried in Ali’s grave. It’s Bethany Young, a 17-year-old Radley patient who, we’re told, escaped from the institution the night Ali went missing.

Outside of the press conference, we also learn that Sydney is legimately not to be trusted — she’s part of Mona’s circle, along with…Jenna!

As the Liars (plus Caleb, Ezra and Toby), take in the new information, a huge explosion rocks the neighborhood and blows out a window. The group goes out to see pure chaos — cars overturned and Toby’s house engulfed in flames.

 

(ABC FAMILY/Adam Taylor)
(ABC FAMILY/Adam Taylor)

Toby, likely thinking that Jenna might be in the house, runs toward it, despite Spencer’s pleas that he stay with the group. A chorus of text notifications go off indicating that A is back to make all of their lives miserable.

Lingering questions: Did anyone else notice the look that Ali and Caleb exchanged? Do they have history we don’t know about? Is Ezria back together and public and about it? Has Emily forgiven Ali? Are Hanna and Travis going to just fizzle out now that Caleb is back?

Bethonie Butler is a producer and a reporter on The Post’s engagement team. She oversees online comments and has also contributed to The Style Blog and She The People.
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