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‘Pretty Little Liars’ recap: Welcome to the fun house

March 15, 2011 |  4:30 am


As we careen towards the finale of ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ I can’t decide whether the writers of the show are the world’s best poker players or the world’s worst. On the one hand, every episode of this season implicated a different suspect in Alison’s death: first it was Toby, then Jenna, then Ian, then Jenna again, then…maybe Mona? 

But on the other, this week’s episode was so bad at pacing. No sooner did we learn of another development in the case than the clue was cracked. We learned about the existence of a secret key Jenna wanted from Alison and then, lo and behold, Emily found it. Aria suspected Ezra of leading a double (or triple?) life and then it was all neatly explained away. Can’t a girl have a little bit more suspense? It’s as if "Liars" was rushing to spoil its own surprise party. 

Of course, the show still has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do—or not—in next week’s finale. Spencer’s plotline was by far the scariest and best developed of the night. After some more vague threats from the cops and a stern warning from her mother not to see Toby, what does Spencer do? She sets out to see Toby, of course. It so happens that the Founder’s festival is in town, and, just like dances, carnivals never turn out well for our little liars. Ian and Melissa slip up on their story about Hilton Head, which ruins their secret abortion alibi, and the next time we see Ian, it’s when he’s holding a crowbar above Spencer’s head. As it turns out, he’s not about to bring it smashing down on her skull—rather, he pried it loose from a fun house wall where Spencer managed to be stuck, after getting lost in the fun house looking for Toby. (That must rank among the most claustrophobia-inducing scenes ever shown on television, by the way.) What happened next neatly paralleled the arc of the Homecoming dance episode—while Emily fled from Toby after near-disaster, Spencer ran right into his arms. Hopefully it means she’ll avoid a broken skull. 

In other news, the police are following the Rosewood foursome, which means trouble for pretty much everyone, but particularly Aria and Ezra. I didn’t much care for the whole “Ezra had a girlfriend he almost married in college!” plotline, but it was interesting that they brought in Big Love as a hint. For one thing, a similar teacher-student relationship has been playing out on that show, but with a far less happy-go-lucky arc. For another, now that the police are onto Aria’s comings and goings from Ezra’s place, can it really be long until the whole relationship comes crashing down around them? 

And then there’s the matter of the secret key that Jenna was getting Caleb to snoop around for. Emily, while glowing over the earrings that new crush Samara gave her at the fair, remembered the snow-globe Alison dropped off after her Hilton Head trip. She shakes it and out comes the key to a storage locker. At which point the gang (minus Spencer, who’s still trapped in the wall, of course) tramps down to the locker and finds a lunchbox with a USB drive. What’s on that, you might ask? Why, a creeptastic video of the gang and Alison, taken from the tree outside Alison’s house. That can only mean that A’s stalking predates Alison’s murder. So place your bets: Do you think we’ll figure out anything next week or be left all the more confused? How do you feel about Paige and Emily’s romantic difficulties? And will you miss Caleb?

--Margaret Eby


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Photo: Spencer waits for Toby at the carnival

Credit: ABC Family