Credit: ABC Family

Pretty Little Liars took a big risk with Season 4, Episode 19 (“Shadow Play”), choosing to depart the real world of Rosewood for most of the episode in favor of an imagined world of film noir conjured up by Spencer's sleep deprived, over-stimulated brain.

Credit: ABC Family

It was a chance for the show to experiment with the way it tells stories. Yes, it was an homage to classic cinema, but it was also a trip into Spencer's subconscious, which means there was an opportunity for the writers to drop clues of a different sort.

Did this experiment pay off, or was this a concept better left on the cutting room floor? Read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's review of the episode, and then rate it yourself below.

Read spoilers at your own risk! For more on Wetpaint Entertainment's philosophy on spoilers, click here.

Honestly, we thought this episode was fantastic, in part because it really did work on multiple levels.

First, it was a well executed take on the classic film noir style. It was fun to see all of the characters dressed to the nines, and the writers and actors effectively captured the tone and rhythms of classic cinema. The directing was top notch; every scene was more gorgeous than the last.

Credit: ABC Family

The writers also managed to tap into the heightened emotions of the genre to bring us some wonderful character moments. In particular, we loved Paige and Emily's plot, which played on the concept of forbidden romance and hidden desire to build to a heart-stopping kiss. We also enjoyed Alison and Spencer's tense interactions. Ali was custom made for the genre; her moral murkiness and love of ambiguous statements played off of Spencer's hyper-determination to solve the mystery perfectly.

Really, all of the characters fit in well. In particular, Ezra was perfect as a creepy noir villain, Toby made a fantastic detective, and Hanna as a man-hating, self sufficient phone operator made us smile.

However, this episode was far more than a throwaway bit of fun. In fact, for an episode that was mostly in one character's head, the plot moved forward a lot. The Liars broke into Ezra's classroom, retrieved Ali's diary, and spotted Mona fetching paper's from Ezra's room, cluing them into the fact that the two might be in cahoots.

Plus, her dive into noir world helped Spencer realize that some key terms in the diary had been changed, which will hopefully lead the Liars to figuring out what parts of Ali's stories Ezra wants to hide. And because we were in Spencer's brain, we have a feeling we were given some clues about Spencer's big secret...

Overall, we give it 4.5 stars.

What did you think of the episode? Rate it below, and then sound off in the comments!


Find Pretty Little Liars spoilers here.

Catch the next episode of Pretty Little Liars on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.

Rebecca Martin is an Associate Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and genre TV expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!