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Wednesday, 30 of September of 2020

Pretty Little Liars – “It Happened That Night”

“Last night never happened.”

Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria talk about what Emily remembers from 'that' night.

What this show is all about: schemes, remembering, sleuthing, modesty.

You know, maybe people would stop calling you liars if you stopped doing shady crap.

It’s been five months since these attractive diminutive fibbers unmAsked and committed their bully to Rosewood’s Arkham Asylum but none of them have really learned anything from their trials. Nothing’s really changed for them, other than attempting to convince each other of safety. But not one of them has been able to let go of the trauma and detective work that dominated the last year (it’s only been a story world year?) of their lives.

Well, maybe Aria. But we’ll get to her grossness.

The season premiere is all about the difference between what people say to each other and what they actual think and do. The girls present with the illusion of safety while constantly investigating everything that undermines that illusion. Sadly, their investigations are about the modern-day equivalent of a Scooby-Doo operation.

And something tells me that the new attacks aren’t coming from a person that will blow up in a self-righteous, self-important rage that reveals all the secrets. The girls will actually have to do something this time.

The illusion of safety is a faulty construct for them to believe in, anyway. Mona admitted that there is a contingent out to get the girls and that she’s not alone. So, even with the evidence in the A Lair missing before anyone else could see it, why would they believe they’re safe?

Maybe because none of them have any lies left to de-closet? With people captured for all the crimes that’ve cropped up lately that the A-Team and NAT have tried to pin on the girls and for the Allison’s murder, all that was left for the girls were the personal secrets — and those are all out in the open. Even Ezaria. Which still makes me sick to my stomach. Maybe the illusion of safety is a brave front for the sake of Emily, who’s mourning for Maya is — weird somehow.

In the season finale review, I mentioned how Emily is the Kate Austen of the group, the one that tags along on these adventures. She’s the one that seems to be the most innocent of the group of all activities, before Allison’s death and after. The problem with her character is that she’s the least active. She may be Sporty Spice but she engages with A the least beyond the rare uptick in guts she had during the midseason premiere last January. While Hanna, Aria, and Spencer run around trying to put out fires and stay one step behind their bully, Emily seems to suffer A’s onslaught differently. Granted, she has other stuff going on like being gay in a small town but, because she’s so passive, she’s like dead weight to the group.

That feels even more apparent in this episode when she is the only one still sad during a scene where not only does the mood of everyone around her betray her melancholy but even the soundtrack violates how she feels. Her character is understandably going through something but, because no one else seems to feel that way, she’s out of place. I’m assuming that’s intentional but the feeling that she could be excised and few would miss her probably is not.

For those of you that cry in her defense, I’m not saying you don’t like Emily. She’s a fine character and the more diverse portrayals of lesbian women with successful and hopeful comings-out there are on television, the better. What I’m saying is that she’s not only a mostly non-contributing member of this gal detective agency but also, burdened by the death of the woman she loved, she’s now a liability, an obstacle even. The girls are worried about her troublesome honesty, her state of mind, her downward spiral that could unravel all the shady dealings the other girls are into. If Emily could take off for a little bit, she would be one less thing for everyone to worry about.

And it seems like the new A attacks focus on exactly that aspect. She’s the one that’s targeted to unbury old drama. You know, after the “remains” of Allison are unburied first. From a storytelling perspective, this is how to loop Emily back into the group. Otherwise, who needs her? Just leave her out of everything and she’d be safe.

She’s brought in, though, and privy to the secrets Hanna and Spencer are keeping. Hanna visits Mona all the time trying to get answers from the catatonic, which might not be a big deal but she doesn’t tell anyone about it so it is. Spencer, meanwhile, is trying to map out A Lair from memory by sitting in the room, recreating every detail on her computer. She even including the hoodie wall, which I imagine it was designed to be like the fire department. An alarm goes off (“One of these girls are doing something incriminating whoop whoop!”) and they all grab their hoodies and gloves and slide down a pole into their A-mobiles. I imagine Lucas has a A-wing. Because he’s a nerd. And then they creep about.

The only person that honestly has no investment in the aftermath of unmAsking Mona is Aria. Spencer is obsessed with A Lair, Hanna is into Mona telling her what she did wrong, Emily would probably like to know why Garrett or whoever killed her girlfriend (but isn’t really into digging into it very much as much as she’s into putting scarves on old framed photos). But Aria’s big secret is out. She and Ezra get to be gross together out in the open (well, ish since her parents still aren’t on board — and rightfully so). If Aria wasn’t so willing to be in the mix, she could easily be in Emily’s place of being excised and no one would mind. She could hole up in Ezra’s apartment (ugh) on their sacred ground (uggggh), violating all sorts of sexual conventions together (uggggggggggh), and let these other fools dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.

We’re not supposed to focus too much on Spencer and Hanna’s attempt to relive their year under A’s thumb or on Emily being a liability or on Aria’s terrible ideas. By the end of the episode, we’re supposed to recognize that the game is changing for the girls. The Joker isn’t dead with a locked-up conspirator. Mona is Scarecrow or The Riddler: important but not the head, not the true nemesis. And, as stated in A’s announcement at the end of the episode, we’re no longer dealing in doll part metaphors. Things are about to get real.

And, sadly for them, they are not Batman. Not even with Caleb’s wonderful toys.

Other things:

  • Even Emily’s boozing is out of place. I’m not sure if why the mourning and sassmouth is weird because of Emily’s character, her environment, or because it’s coming out of Shay Mitchell’s mouth. It’s — off somehow.
  • I really hope that “show me your boobs” comes back somehow, like someone in the A syndicate actually does have a little brother and that leads to them cracking the case. This show doesn’t generally deal with throwaway lines as important clues but maybe just this once?
  • Hanna: “If I never see another shovel again it’ll be too soon.” I know I said that Hanna is the Hurley of this show but she’s really the Sawyer. She has the best one-liners and meta-analysis. When she talks about tops with feathers later, she might as well have been who the hell Nicky and Paolo are.
  • Dear Ezra, how about you don’t diminish the death of your girl’s best friend by asking that the date of her murder should be your anniversary instead? Also, you’re a grown-up SO DATE A GROWN-UP.
  • Toby’s abs are ridiculous. And necessary to distract from his creepy face. He’s the Crispin Glover of teen-focused dramas.
  • So Aria keeps Ezra, Spencer keeps Toby, Hanna keeps Caleb, but Maya has to die? What’s up with that?
  • Neon sign outside of the Lost Woods Resort. They seem to really want us to see it flicker. What do you make out of it? TWO RERT? LOSOODS SO? Do I have to do an anagram? How does that place have no vacancy? Are there that many serial killers on the lam in Rosewood?
  • Hanna: “Is it something you want?” And then Mona imagines Allison reading Lolita. Why everyone so gay for Allison?
  • Who’s the new person that texts from a blocked number that doesn’t sign A?
  • Can anyone account for Paige’s whereabouts? Can Maya’s murder be a red herring because Paige is murderously jealous? Pleeeeeease?
  • To their credit, the car with all the doors open was kind of creepy.

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