Warning: This recap contains spoilers.
“This is not the same A who got their jollies breaking into our lockers and leaving nasty notes,” said Spencer, as the world nodded in agreement.
A lot happened in this week’s episode and I’m not sure any of it was good. Let’s be real — the episode was a bummer. Hanna spiraled further out of control, under the influence of alcohol and Caleb. She also dealt with some pretty creepy advances from Zach, an adult who is engaged to Aria’s mother. Spencer and Emily weren’t exactly supportive when Hanna confided in them, but Aria completely lashed out when Hanna told her what happened.
Ali is in a category all her own. The episode started with Ali getting grilled by Lt. Tanner (sans parental guardian, PLL-style) while the Liars sang a half-hearted “What Child Is This” in the choir room. Tanner wants to know about Shana and why she moved to Rosewood in the first place. When Ali reunites with the girls, she discovers that someone has circled all of the As on her sheet music. How original. They even left a note: “Glad to hear you singing. Last time you were all choked up.”
Ali tells Hanna that her father is out of town, yet again, and asks if she can stay with her. Hanna mumbles something about needing to ask her mother. She never gets around to asking, but no worries — Ali takes it upon herself. Hanna returns home to find Ali giving Mrs. Marin the same sob story she tried (in vain) to sell to Emily’s mom. It moves her enough that she offers Ali the special bath salts and her (surely decadent) guest towels. Hanna, clearly annoyed, meets up with Caleb to drink whisky straight in a parking lot.
That’s where things took a really strange turn. Hankering for a tuna melt to coat her whisky-filled stomach, Hanna goes to The Brew, which is closed in preparation for the wedding rehearsal dinner. Zach offers to make Hanna a sandwhich to go and, seeing that she’s sloshed, makes an alarming comment about liking bad girls. Ugh. Not even Hanna’s amazing mispronunciation of the word quinceañera could cut the creepiness of that comment, especially after Zach proceeded to put his hand on Hanna’s back.
Hanna proceeds to spend the rest of the evening drinking with Caleb, but is so troubled by what occured with Zach that she asks Caleb to call her a cab home. She shows up to school the next day, looking like she rolled out of the passenger seat of Caleb’s car, because she did. When she tells Emily and Spencer what Zach did they say all of the wrong things: Were you buzzed?Are you sure you weren’t reading into it? Hanna says she’s sure Zach’s actions were inappropriate, but Emily and Spencer warn her against telling Aria.
Fueled by Bethany’s telling sketches, Aria is so wrapped up in finding out more information from her Radley contacts that she blows off her mother’s dress fitting. When she shows up at Radley looking for Eddie, a delightfully grouchy nurse tells her that Eddie no longer works there. “Are you here to fingerpaint or speed date the orderlies?” OK, that was the sunshine in an otherwise dark episode.
Aria sneaks into Big Rhonda’s room and manages to slip the sketchbook under the mattress, just before Rhonda bursts through the door. She doesn’t look happy. Aria bribes BR into hearing her out with a root beer and a bag of chips. Aria explains that finding out what happened to Bethany may provide the answer to what happened to Mrs. D.
Aria learns that Mrs. D signed Bethany out and gave her gifts, including a pony named Custard. We learned that Aria texts like someone who just got one of those smart phone things. BIG RHONDA SPILLED BIG BEANS. CALL ME. Emily ignores it like the sensible person she is.
Emily has been doing her own investigation, by way of damage control for Hanna’s blabbermouth. She tries to find out what Sydney knows about New York and drops the hint that she and Hanna have never been there together. Sydney strokes Em’s ego with an offer to become assistant coach for the swim team, but throws her off when she mentions New York and how Emily must have seen her dad’s yogurt shops when she was there. Despite the fact that “officially,” Emily and Hanna were never in New York. Officially.
Emily teams up with Spencer, armed with the intel that Big Rhonda passed along. They visit stables to find out if Mrs. D and Bethany ever went there. Looks like they found a match — and some clues. Mrs. D asked Bethany to call her Aunt Jessie and she freaked out. Would that make Ali and Bethany cousins? Is that too easy? Spencer leaves no stone unturned and asks the equestrian coach, Declan, if Ali ever tagged along. The question confuses Emily, but it shouldn’t — everyone is a suspect at this point.
Spencer and Emily find something even more curious — Melissa’s riding hat. As they try to figure out why Spencer’s sister would have gone up there, they find themselves locked inside the stall with a freaked-out horse. The horse starts kicking its way out, clocking Spencer’s eye in the process. Spencer and Em manage to escape. At least Spencer has Toby to comfort her. She gives Toby her blessing as far as joining the police academy.
Come to think of it, these girls — and their families — could use a friendly face in the ranks. When Ali tells Mrs. Marin that she was too scared to sleep (in Hanna’s closet, no less), Mrs. Marin takes the day off and offers to take Ali to dinner. As they’re getting ready to leave, an intruder comes into the house, leaving a butcher knife. Tanner shows up to take a statement and grills Ali again. Mrs. Marin comes to her defense and admits that she’s worried for Ali’s safety and the safety of her daughter.
She’s certainly right to be worried about Hanna, who has another run-in with Zach. He touches Hanna’s leg and slips her his number. Hanna decides to tell Aria, despite the warnings of their friends. Aria dismisses the claim and calls Hanna out for drinking. Of course, this will only make the situation worse. Aria does seem suspicious of Zach, so maybe there’s hope. My money is on Ella and Zach not making it down the aisle.
Will it be because of Zach? Or A? That much is unclear. But let’s not forget that A isn’t the only mastermind in town. There’s Mona, yes. But there’s also Ali, who confesses nonchalantly that she asked Noel Kahn (the different “A” that Spencer spoke of) to break into Hanna’s house.
“I need someone who mattered, like Hanna’s mom to stop questioning what happened to me,” she tells Emily and Spencer. Horrified, they ask why she would put Hanna’s mom through that.
Her reply? “Well, it worked didn’t it?” Noel Kahn aside, we may be dealing with a different A, but it feels like we’re dealing with the same old Ali.
Lingering questions: Are Hanna and Caleb going to get an intervention soon? What’s with the creepy Zach plotline? Why was Melissa at the stable? Are Bethany and Ali related? Does Ali know more about Bethany than she’s letting on?