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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

Pretty Little Liars – “Moments Later”

“You are freaking out the invalid.”

Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer discuss the possibility of "A" being more than one person.

Can you speak up so the bear can hear you?

Right out of the gate in 2011, ABC Family laid the calendar year’s premieres of Greek and Pretty Little Liars and, while some of our academic critic cohorts watch and review Greek, Matt and I are of different stock and shifted our attention to the lyin’ ladies of Rosewood instead. Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Aria continued her illicit relationship with a teacher, Emily conceded to be in lesbians with Maya, and Hanna got hit by a car after recognizing who she thought was “A.” Oh, and there was the tragedy of a side character dubbing her birthday party “Camp Mona,” complete with labeled SWAG and signage, but only kept reminding me of Who’s the Boss?

This week the show decompressed a little, going over the facts and processing the new information. Matt and I did the same upon the finishing the episode.

Matt: What’d ya think?

Nick: Blergh.

Matt: Haha. Elaborate if you wouldn’t mind.

Nick: I know it was supposed to be a decompression episode, especially after a hiatus, where the girls run over the facts and all the new information they gained from the last episode. But I didn’t really like the tone of the episode at all, at least not for the first half hour.

It sounds ridiculous to say it, but it felt too bitchy and high school. Reminded me too much that I’m a guy close to 30 watching a show for and about 16-year old girls.

Turning point, however, was their Lily Kane moment.

Matt: I blame Spencer for that.

Spencer is awfully upset (see: high and mighty) about Aria and Fitz. She’s had more elicit relationships than any of the other girls.

She is too high school for me.

Hanna too of course, she’s the commentary on popularity, but not this episode.

Nick: Aria is certainly the old soul of the bunch. Spencer was acting her age but kind of rightfully so. Yeah, she’s had her share of old man indiscretions but she really values the academic institution so I understand her being upset over the ethical dilemma. And it’s also understandable why she would also think it’s completely hot (like in a “it’s so wrong” kind of way).

Lucas was the most high school to me. And I like Lucas.

But for a guy that has been monumentally patient with Hanna, he had a hissy this week.

Matt: Cause we’re nerds. He’s relatable.

He did have a bit of a hissy. And I did feel bad for him, but Hanna really was just being honest. She had a lot of human moments this week and Lucas was one of them.

Dealing with Lucas and the odd (at least I found it to be) reconciliation with Mona really showed the inner conflict she has/has been having with the popular girl vs. the good person.

Nick: The fat girl inside.

Matt: Yep. She wants to come out.

Except skinnier.

Nick: I don’t understand why Hanna wants to be Mona’s friend so bad. Outside of their elided history between Alison’s disappearance and Aria’s return to Rosewood, I haven’t really seen the two connect beyond their clique-ish popular roles. This might have been the first time I’ve seen Mona extend herself at all.

Also: I’m super glad everyone is referring to what happened “in the woods” and not “at Camp Mona.” It would’ve made any serious scene in the show comepletely laughable.

Matt: Haha seriously.

I don’t think Hanna wants Mona’s friendship for the sake of being her friend, she wants what it represents.

Mona IS popularity and so Hanna wants what she represents. She’s seemingly equated the two. Being Mona’s friend means being popular so that’s what it’s gonna take.

Nick: So while Hanna took the place of Alison for everyone else, she still needed someone to be Alison for her and that person was Mona?

Matt: Yep.

Hanna NEEDS that person for validation. Alison died. Now it’s Mona. As is defined by the hierarchy at school.

Nick: And by “everyone else” I mean, the rest of the school. Obviously not the clique itself since Alison is the destroyed nucleaus to the dysfunctional cell.

The gaping hole that empties their lives into a self-reflexive void.

Matt: Right.

Nick: Now, the bear: do you think the show could’ve beat into us anymore that the bear is bugged?

Matt: Oh god. Creepy bear.

Now. It was too obvious. The close up on the face with those crazy eyes. Hanna physically turning it away.

Next week they’ll figure it out. That’s how A knew to go into the room when he/she did. Bear cam.

Nick: Do you think “A” is a syndicate?

More than one person I mean, brought together by — something — to bring these girls down?

Matt: Only because of Gossip Girl this season haha.

A is definitely more than one person. That was clear even before the girls thought of it. But a group? I like that idea.

Nick: Like it’s not just one of the people they think it is. It’s all of them.

Matt: But so far we haven’t seen any evidence of the girls destroying anyone else’s lives other than Toby and Jenna.

Ah. Somehow all of these different people the girls screwed over join forces into some Legion of Doom to terrorize them? Interesting.

Nick: That’s the thing that bothers me most about the show. I need to see more of these girls actively screwing other people over. Other than their association with Alison, it doesn’t seem these girls have done much in the way of hurting others.

Unless Melissa is “A.”

Matt: Well Spencer has taken like every guy that her sister has dated.

Right, that’s where I was headed.

She could be Lex Luthor and Toby and Jenna are The Joker and Manta Ray.

Respectively.

Nick: I don’t know if the Joker is creepy enough for Toby.

Matt: Toy Man then?

Nick: I can roll with that.

Matt: Are teenage girls who are presumably going to read this have any idea what the hell we’re talking about right now?

Nick: You said Joker. They’re thinking Heath Ledger. That’s all they heard/saw.

Matt: Shame.

So can we talk about Aria and Fitz now cause I bet we’re on opposite sides of the spectrum on this storyline knowing your thoughts on LUX.

Nick: Yeah. Now, granted, Fitz isn’t as horribly disturbing and gross as Mr Daniels on Life Unexpected. And they do a better job of dealing with the ethical torment and drama arising from their complicated situation. But it’s still not good. I can’t really root for them as a couple. It’s still bad news. Also: Lux and Aria’s relationships share one annoying component — they both started way too quickly for either of these teachers to not be able to walk away.

Matt: But isn’t that the point. It’s about love.

Matt: They don’t want to walk away.

Nick: I mean, making out with a girl in the bathroom shouldn’t make Fitz hopelessly and tragically devoted to a girl that can ruin is life.

Matt:BUT SHE’S A WRITER.

Nick: Right. And as soon as she walked into her classroom and he saw her, said “Holy crap,” and tried to move on, he should’ve been “well, that sucks.”

Not, “Let’s see where this goes.”

Matt: I call love again.

Nick: Not after a stint in the bathroom.

Matt: He fell in love with her, making it hard to walk away.

The thing here though is take away the student/teacher aspect and it’s a legitimate relationship.

Their breakup argument? His thoughts on her parents relationship. That’s something any couple could fight about. It had nothing to do with their age.

I root for them cause they’re real. Other than the fact that he could lose his job and go to jail and she could be marked for life,, everything’s cool.

Nick: The teenage girl I can see falling that quickly. A teenage boy I can see falling that quickly. A grown-ass man with responsibilities and physically able to get intelligent women his own age that wouldn’t have parents screaming statutory rape at the next PTA meeting? Come on, son.

Matt: We don’t know how good he is at picking up women. Where’s the older woman that’s interested in him to throw a wrench into the relationship?

Fitz could suck. He may HAVE to prey on nubile high school girls.

Nick: Exactly. Why isn’t this guy dating? Why DOES he continue to prey on a 16-year old girl with goo-goo-eye-impaired judgement? I think Aria is attractive and definitely the most well-rounded person in her immediate group of friends. But I really struggle with rooting for a guy that can’t keep his hands to himself in that situation. Hints at something more deeply disturbing.

Now: I get that their relationship has grown since the beginning and I would have believed it more had it blossomed into something they couldn’t control. But, from the very beginning, they continually made bad decisions. I also appreciate that Aria pushed away from the table a couple times, too. Makes more sense.

But it doesn’t seem like dude’s even getting laid (probably the best for both of them). The fact that he would continue to pursue this thing despite the horrific consequences on his life (“Hi, I’m Ezra Fitz and I am legally obligated to tell you that I’m a sex offender.”) demonstrates something in him that makes it so I can’t root for them to make it.

Matt: Understandable.

There has to be something to why he was so gung ho about this, something deep rooted.

Other than my love theory.

Which is right.

Maybe we’ll learn more. I’d like to see some Ezra story outside of Aria. It would make him a better character and could strengthen (or dissolve) people’s love of the relationship.

Nick: Unless the story is, “I lied! I’m really seventeen!” I don’t think my “love” of the relationship will strengthen.

Matt: I’m telling you. Throw a female teacher into the mix.

He would HAVE to at least show a little interest as a cover. Especially if she’s gorgeous and throwing herself at him.

Or maybe he even begins to fall for her and has to battle with “I like this woman (keyword there) and this is a more appropriate relationship cause I won’t go to jail. What do I do?”

Nick: You really think he wants to drop some L-bombs on Aria?

Matt: I don’t think it’s that serious yet, but it’s serious none the less.

It’s more “love” on the high school level. Which is exactly how he’s acting.

I do think there are deep feelings there though.

Like I said, she’s a writer.

Nick: I’m going to say that I feel better about Aria and Fitz than I do Lux and Mr Daniels. But only because Fitz doesn’t hide around corners and appears awkward around her parents.

Matt: Can we call them Ezria?

Nick: No.

Matt: I am going to ignore that and henceforth refer to them couple as Ezria.

Nick: Don’t be absurd.

Matt: Moving on from Ezria.

Emily came out. I was surprised, I didn’t think it would be of her own doing this early.

Although it kind of wasn’t since her mom had the pictures.

But I really like the conflict with her parents that it started. Dad doesn’t like it but is willing to deal and mom is just furious.

Highly relatable and topical.

Nick: Yeah, it’s good. Shades of gray instead of the parents in a united front either for or against their child. I thought it was interesting that Em had an easier time choking out that she’s gay than telling her dad, who demanded to know who was making her so jumpy and threatened, about “A.”

When given a choice to either confess her burgeoning sexuality or telling him the driving force in her life, one that commands almost all her attention, she goes with saying she’s in lesbians with Maya.

Matt: Interesting indeed. Maybe it goes to show how she’s growing more comfortable with her sexuality. That’s easier to talk about than A.

Nick: Or that’s just how scary “A” is to her.

Matt: Makes sense. I mean she did just hit Hanna with a car.

And about that: she broke her leg and ankle and has a messed up spleen, but HER FACE IS FINE.

Hottest hit and run victim ever.

Not a bruise or a scratch anywhere above the waist.

Nick: They teach you that in popularity school, how to protect your face. They also teach how to express sarcasm in hair flips.

Matt: Oh I’m good at that.

Nick: You do have such long, luxurious hair.

Matt: Why thank you. That’s sweet of you to say.

So we know that Noel isn’t A, but he knows about Ezria. This could be problematic.

Nick: Well, it’s too soon to really make any real danger for the ill-advised Fitz/Aria relationship. So either Noel will keep his word or Noel dies. Only third option I see is that Fitz is let go quietly and he joins the Scooby gang to figure out who “A” is.

Matt: Hmm. I’d like to see that anyway.

Just continue to show Fitz as one of the high schoolers.

Oh yeah. The ending. Melissa and Ian got married. Ian just keeps re-worming his way into the girls lives.

More and more.

Nick: Ian’s probably part of the syndicate.

Matt: Oh he has to be.

He and Ali had a thing so he has to know all of the girls secrets.

Nick: I’m suspending judgement on that until I learn more later. My initial reaction was that Ian is using Melissa. But maybe they’re in on it together.

What seemed to me to be the more important moment of the episode: the Lily Kane scene with Alison “visiting” Hanna in the hospital.

Matt: A Veronica Mars reference. You have my attention.

Nick: Despite the soap opera feel of the show, I’m 65% sure that Alison really is gone. So the visit is all about Hanna working everything out in her head. What puzzled me is Hanna’s perception that Alison is all about the lies when she has been, in every other instance of the girls’ lives, been about total honesty.

You have to tell your mother about your dad, you have to tell your sister about her boyfriend, you have to tell everyone about your sexuality.

While the girls seem to believe Alison liked secrets because it kept them closer, she really has been much more about insisting everyone tell the truth.

Matt: True. She’s always been honest.

It’s as if the girls are using the fact that Alison knew secrets and that she’s dead as an excuse for their dishonesty.

Nick: And, yet, all those secrets have been outed. Aria’s parents are separated, Spencer’s sister knows about her boyfriends, and, now, Emily has outed herself.

The “you know more than you think you do” part of the conversation is intriguing, especially with the flash-frames of the girls walking around together at night.

Matt: Yeah. So are they so wrapped up in keeping secrets that they’re forced themselves to forget key elements of what went down?

Maybe they had those parts of their brains removed.

Sorry, had to throw in a Fringe (Fridays at 9 starting January 21st. Only on FOX) reference.

They’ve gotten so good at hiding things that they’re even hiding things from themselves.

Nick: I like that she has that “the four of you combined” line. Like they all know a little something that seems insignificant but, put together with everyone else’s recollection, is the whole story.

Matt: I imagine that’s how the second half of the season will play out. They’ll all remember different things and piece it together collectively.

It shows they need each other for more than just support and friendship.

Nick: Now. Do you think Mona could be in the syndicate?

I dunno. Mona seems to have everything she wants now. What reason would she have for doing this?

Nick: Retaliation for years of neglect?

Hanna hints that they both were unpopular until Alison took Hanna under her wing. Mona might have been looking on, jealous, envious, green with some sort of emotion.

Or maybe I just think everyone is involved since it’s basically the only way “A” can do everything.

Matt: Could be. Everyone could be in on it. Everyone could hate these girls.

Nick: One ring leader, maybe, that stirs up bad vibes against the girls.

Matt: Who lost the most? Who has the biggest vendetta? Who is the Lex Luthor?

Nick: I don’t generally think about who the secret killer/villain is in these kinds of series. But I think Melissa might have the most resentment against any one of those girls. Lucas maybe for being referred to as a “hermie” for years.

Matt: I like that theory. And no he’s seen Hanna for more than just a mean girl, fallen in love, and will possibly come to regret his involvement in the near future.

Nick: Maybe Lucas actually had a pretty heavy crush on Alison but, as the main source of evil in his life, put her down and swore to take everyone else down, too, but, in a dual-mind, replaced Ali with Hanna as a crush object. Might explain why Hanna hasn’t received nearly as many threats as the other girls have.

Though I’m just spitballing. Seems a little too convoluted.

Matt: It is basically a soap opera. Nothing is out of bounds. Convoluted is the name of the game.

Nick: I’m new to the game. I’m used to shows like Chuck who couldn’t created a complicated plot to save its life.

Matt: We shall see. We’ll both continuing tuning in.

I really like the show. And not even in a “guilty pleasure” cop-out kind of way.

Nick: It’s still in guilty pleasure area for me. It has potential but I probably won’t be able to make a decision on it until the end of this season.

Matt: Which is a point I try to avoid thinking about because my mind automatically goes to “Where the hell does the show go from this season?”

Assuming A is wrapped up in season 1. If she’s not then the show will seem ridiculous.

Nick: They could take all season to find out who A is and then spend next season taking him/her down.

Matt: I’m game for that. Turning the tables on A. Could be interesting seeing the girls enter extreme bitch revenge mode like that.

Nick: I’m not sure where the legs for this series are either. Which is why I’m suspending judgement.

Matt: Fair enough.

I look forward to seeing the progression of your thoughts on the show as it continues.

Nick: If anything, I’ll keep watching so I can guiltily stare at the girls in their mid-20s (and some in their 30s) playing high schoolers.

Matt: Who’s in their 30’s?!

Nick: Bianca Lawson. Maya.

Matt: Oh but she’s immortal.

Nick: She’s a slayer afterall.

Matt: Super Friends may be over their heads but I hope the young girls get that reference.

At least.

Nick: If not, Whitney Anderson has a whole new audience.

Matt: We can bill her later.

Quick Note: Did anyone else get a feeling that, when Hanna’s mom was driving around with the money, if the cop hadn’t stopped her, she would’ve stopped at a seedy motel run by an absent mother and her son?


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