Earlier in the season, Aria is trying to move on from her relationship with Ezra, and she asks him to let her solve a brother-related problem on her own. He tells her: “I can’t be the one to swoop in and comfort you, but it kills me.” Later in the episode, he does save the day for Aria, telling her: “You know there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you, right?” Again, this is somewhat swoon-worthy in the moment, but seems a bit calculated in retrospect. We think that Ezra genuinely loves Aria, but we also think he uses his powers of manipulation to prevent Aria from moving on with Jake.
Found, but lost (Season 4, Episode 12)
At the time, this scene of Aria running into Ezra at The Brew’s poetry open mic night seemed sweet. Now that we know what we do about Ezra, it seems creepy and somewhat manipulative. In the scene, Ezra mentions that one of the poems read reminded him of Aria’s short story, “Found, But Lost.” “I always thought it was about Ali,” Ezra prompts. Is he trying to get information out of Aria about Aria’s continued existence? At this point, Aria doesn’t know that Ali is still alive, but does Ezra know that? This interaction is manipulative without even taking into account Ezra’s other presumed motivation: getting back together with Aria.
Love at first sight (Season 4, Episode 12)
Mr. Fitz isn’t beyond using his class lectures to sow the seeds of romantic reconciliation in Aria’s brain. In Season 4, Episode 12, he gives a Shakespearian-themed lecture that is a thinly-veiled attempt to get back into Aria’s heart: “The Tempest considers the magical quality of love at first sight. The love between Miranda and Ferdinand is a force of nature, a love that reunites torn countries and sets captive spirits free.” Points for effort, but we have some serious problems with Ezra using his position of authority to try to woo Aria.
The whole thing is very complicated (Season 4, Episode 16)
Things get tense between Aria and Ezra in Season 4, Episode 16 when Jake sees Ezra yell at some blonde in a car. When Aria confronts Ezra about it, he tells her that “the whole thing is very complicated” and: “Maybe Jake misinterpreted what he saw, or he’s trying to make me look bad so you’ll re-think your decision.” We saw the confrontation, so we know it was pretty violent, which means Ezra is the one who is twisting the truth to get what he wants.
You need to put me first (Season 4, Episode 18)
On the most recent episode of PLL, Ezra convinces Aria not to ditch their romantic cabin weekend half-way through by telling her: “If what we have is going to last, you have to start thinking of me as the person that you are closest to.” Aria is sick of having to lie about their renewed relationship to her friends, but Ezra tells her: “Maybe being torn between me and your friends isn’t such a bad thing … I know it feels like you are growing away from them, but maybe this feeling is you and me growing closer.” Nope, Ezra. It feels like lying, and Aria shouldn’t have to choose between you and her friends. And don’t even get us started on the chickpeas!
Are there any instances you can think of when Ezra manipulated Aria? Sound off in the comments below!
Catch the next episode of Pretty Little Liars on February 11, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Kayti Burt is a contributing writer for Wetpaint Entertainment with a penchant for all things pop culture. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!