Warning: This recap contains spoilers.
“So much for the new normal,” Hanna says over a tense lunch in the Rosewood High School cafeteria. For someone so often painted as not-the-brightest-crayon-in-the-box, Hanna’s remarks can be pretty on point.
This week’s episode revolved around the aftermath of A’s big reveal last week, via a quintessentially “A” text message sent to the Liars en masse: “Did you miss me bitches? – A” Seems pretty crystal clear to me, but the girls are still having trouble accepting that A is either back or had never left in the first place. Emily just keeps repeating “But, but Shana’s dead” and Aria is convinced that A knows all about what happened in the Fitzgerald Theater. Spencer’s theory seems the most plausible: “I think A took a nap and woke up tonight.”
A woke up on the wrong side of the bed, apparently. That explosion at Toby’s house? It was followed by another and the house was completely engulfed in flames. It was reported to be a natural gas link, but the Liars deduce fairly quickly that it was the work of A. Contrary to what it may have looked like in last week’s cliffhanger ending, Toby escapes the house unharmed, though not before giving us the standard hree minute waiting period to find out.
Caleb is another person who has awoken with an attitude problem. Since he and his goatee arrived in Rosewood, he’s been sulking at The Brew and other local haunts, while only engaging in passing (or passive aggressive) conversation with Hanna whenever they run into each other. Which is often. Caleb tells Hanna he’s going to visit his mother in Montecito and I say “What would your mother think” completely unironically. I mean seriously, what does Caleb’s mother think and how is it acceptable that he’s just been rolling solo through Ravenswood and Rosewood (the ‘woods?) for what’s I’d guess is a few months?
Travis is more concerned with the fact that Caleb’s in Rosewood at all. After several failed attempts to connect with Hanna, he tells her he can’t be with her if she’s that distracted. The truth is that Caleb is only part of the reason Hanna can’t focus her attentions on her new paramour. Ali has been staying at Hanna’s because her Dad has joined the ranks of the other parents and is never actually home. That group excludes Spencer’s parents, of course. Spencer runs into her father during a quick trip to the Hastings house and confronts him about why he lied about his and Melissa’s whereabouts the night that Jessica DiLaurentis was murdered.
What we learned: Mr. H may have done some unseemly things in an effort to protect Spencer, but he probably didn’t kill Mrs. D. That would be the elusive A, who sends Ali a gruesome video of her mother being buried. “I buried your mother the same way I watch her bury you,” the text reads. It’s particularly upsetting to Spencer, who was all but convinced that her dad was responsible for Jessica’s death. The Liars rally around Ali — Emily demands that Paige reveal the names of Mona’s partners-in-revenge while Aria works with Ezra to connect Bethany Young — the girl found in Ali’s grave — to Mrs. DiLaurentis. We learn that Mrs. D was on the board at Radley when Bethany was a patient. Spencer works her contacts at Radley, trying to convince her old buddy Eddie Lamb to offer up information about Bethany. He refuses, but is later discovered to have dropped a creepy Mrs. DiLaurentis picture, sketched by Bethany, at Ezra’s door. It’s not entirely clear what his motives are, but the general consensus is that he’s trying to help.
Despite everyone’s efforts, Ali is set on leaving Rosewood and manages to convince Hanna that leaving town is in everyone’s best interest. She makes plans to go to New Jersey, where Noel will pick her up, and stockspiles an astonishing amount of hidden cash for the trip. Her plan is derailed when she stops at home to see her father (who isn’t there) and gets attacked by, presumably, A. The scene evokes Bethany’s sketch of Mrs. DiLaurentis, who wore a prominent scarf in the picture. Ali’s attacker attempts to strangle her with a sunny yellow scarf. Emily figures out Ali’s plan and runs over to Ali’s house to stop her, saving her life in the process. A gets knocked around a bit, but escapes without getting ID’d.
If only there were a detective assigned to figuring out who has been terrorizing teenagers in Rosewood. Lieutenant Tanner is on the case of Bethany Young and how she fits into what happened to Shana. Tanner visits Ezra and informs him that gunshot residue was found on Shana’s body, while trying to get Ezra to connect Shana to his attack. He stays mum. Aria, who gets a lecture from Spencer after confessing that she and Ezra “had a slip,” sits away from Tanner’s view, trying to eavesdrop on the conversation. On her way out, Tanner spots Aria’s leopard print bag and let’s face it, there’s no mystery there.
Looks like Ali’s in Rosewood to stay and a text makes it clear that it’s completely by A’s design.”See how easy it is for me to kill you? If you leave town, I will -A.”
In an effort to unmask A, the girls decide to focus on the Bethany Young connection, with Aria going on the inside as a volunteer. Hopefully, she’ll find out more than Lt. Tanner, who found out just how seriously Radley takes HIPAA compliance.
Tanner eventually makes her way to the DiLaurentis house, where she confronts Ali and Emily about their whereabouts the night Shana died. She insists that Ali and her father come down to the police station for an interview. Is Tanner onto something? Probably. Is she any match for A? Doubtful.
The truth is that A is onto something too. I totally missed her/him.
Lingering questions: How does Eddie figure in to all of this? Is Haleb getting back together? And a recurring, but important one, parents of Rosewood — where are you?