Pretty Little Liars Recap: Season 5, Episode 16 — “Over a Barrel”
On tonight’s Pretty Little Liars, Spencer and Caleb tried to stay one step ahead of “A,” but the villainess may already have the whole game rigged. The episode-ending revelation that the storage locker that potentially holds Mona’s pickled/dissolved body is rented in Hanna’s name does not bode well for the Liars’ fate. How many Scrabble points can you get for the word “doomed”? The Liars are going to have a lot of time to answer that question when they’re playing board games...in prison.
Wherein Hanna attends the most awkward proposal ever. Personally, we would never want to be invited to someone else’s proposal. That doesn’t ever sound not awkward. But Hanna’s presence at Pastor Ted’s proposal to her mother less than 24 hours after Ashley slept with Jason DiLaurentis has got to take the cake — or should we say peanut butter cookie? — for most awkward proposal third wheel ever.
Why oh why didn’t Hanna give her mom the heads up that Ted was planning on proposing?! Perhaps Hanna was partially punishing her mother for putting her in such an unfortunate position? (What? That’s the kind of thing teenagers/people who are not teenagers do all the time.) Either way, the scene that saw Hanna lying her head on her mother’s lap in comfort was one of our favorites of the episode. Ashley and Hanna may not always see eye to eye, but they have one of the most honest, loving relationships on this show (granted, not that difficult) — and what may be one of our favorite mother/daughter relationships on all of television. (There. We said it!) In this moment, Hanna is not trying to give Ashley any answers or tell her that everything is going to be OK, but she is reinforcing the promise that she will always be there for her mom, no matter what. They are a family, even if the ridiculously sweet Pastor Ted doesn’t end up joining #TeamMarin.
Wherein Aria goes on a wild Holbrook chase. Oh, Aria, how you wasted this episode doing exactly what “A” wished of you! The stylish, self-indulgent nonchalance with which the Liar followed Holbrook’s (or someone claiming to be Holbrook’s) texts was Classic Aria. Rather than fess up to Ezra that she wrote an essay about regretting their relationship (which, to be clear, would be a totally justified feeling, especially after all of his dishonesty) to get into Talmadge College, Aria agrees to meet up with Holbrook. Since the Liars still think Alison is “A” and that Holbrook is helping her, Aria plans to convince Holbrook to stop helping “A” sneak excerpts from her essay into The Brew, aka Ezra’s new business venture. We have to say: the stakes on this one seem pretty low. If Aria’s explanation that she manipulated Jackie to get into college using a few white lies doesn’t float with Ezra, then she could always pull the You Lied To Me About Dating My Then-Dead BFF and Spying on Me and My Friends and Writing A True Crime Novel card. Ezra owes her one (or a million).
Holbrook doesn’t show at the proffered lunch meetup spot, but Aria does run into Jason. The two decide to grab a bite and chat about Alison. They swap theories about Mona’s murder, and it kind of seems like Jason is pumping Aria for information? She doesn’t seem to notice, gabbing to Jason that the Liars think Holbrook and Ali are working together. Loose lips sink ships, Aria! When she gets another text from “Holbrook” asking to meet across town at a flower shop, Aria dismisses herself, but doesn’t find Holbrook there either. Instead, she is asked to deliver flowers to Ashley Marin. This is where Aria’s incredulity finally kicks in, and she chooses to show the flowers to Hanna rather than Hanna’s mom — and thankfully so! They include an incriminating note allegedly from Jason thanking Ashley for “dessert.” (Ew.)
Wherein Spencer and Caleb visit the Breaking Bad set. While Aria is busy with the harrowing “A” task of delivering flowers, Spencer and Caleb spend their time trying to track down Mona’s body. When Spencer gets a text from Mona, she is understandably freaked out. But it turns out it is just an automatic alert sent from Mona’s laptop to the Liars — aka another clue to help Team Liars solve Mona’s murder. Spencer and Caleb follow the laptop’s GPS to a creepy storage unit straight out of Breaking Bad. There are hanging sheets of plastic and everything.
Even more troubling? All of the apparent evidence carefully preserved in bags throughout the space, i.e. bloodied clothes that may have been worn by Mona when she was murdered. There’s also a barrel and the substances needed to either a) preserve or b) dissolve Mona’s body. Before Spaleb can find out which terrible fate befell Mona’s corpse — or if Mona’s corpse is even in the barrel — someone turns out the lights in the storage unit and our brave, yet reasonable detectives get the heck out of there. We’ll have to wait until next week (probably) to find out if Mona’s pickled corpse is in that barrel. However, we do find out thanks to Caleb’s hacking that the storage unit is rented under Hanna’s name. Uh oh.
Elsewhere in Spencerland, things are not great with Spoby. PLL tricks us into a false sense of shipping security with a Spoby Scrabble game a la the one that led to their first kiss, but things soon get tense. Not only is the possibility of Spencer going to college in Hawaii (or somewhere else equally far away from “A”) a complicated prospect for their relationship, but Toby freaks out when he sees (read: takes Spencer’s phone without her permission) a text from Caleb alluding to their detectiving. Toby doesn’t want Spencer to do anything that could put Team Liar in danger. In fact, he expressly forbids it. Before he storms out, Spencer sarcastically agrees with his dictum, but we all know how Spencer deals with orders: she snaps them in half and rebuilds them in her own image, better than before. Basically, she does whatever she damn well pleases...even if it means not going to college. That’s right, new Hastings guest house tenant Johnny suggests that Spencer doesn’t have to go to college (and five generations of Hastings roll over in their graves). Maybe Spencer won’t be wearing flip-flops and attending lectures next year after all...
Wherein Emily spends some more time at The Brew. OK, we had some fun with Emily’s baking storyline last week, but another week of her sulking in The Brew about her doomed relationship with Paige while clashing with Talia? Boring. Don’t get us wrong: we are all for letting Emily mourn the possible ending (#notgivingup) of Paily. This relationship is an important one, just ending, and torn apart not because of conflict, but distance. However, at least give us another setting. Give us another character dynamic. Emily is literally standing in the same set talking to the same character, new Brew chef Talia, about the same subject: Paily angst. We think this was meant to develop the dynamic between Emily and Talia, but it just felt flat. Plus, we’re not sure who Talia is hitting on: Emily? Ezra? Both?
You know where there were clues?! In that storage locker of clues filled with clue-y clues! Unfortunately, all we got was a quick glance at what may be Mona’s murder clothes and the barrel that may include Mona’s murdered body. Come one, Spaleb! You couldn’t have swabbed something for later analysis?
OK, but speaking of the Set-up Storage Locker, who is behind the set-up? Is Holbrook really the one using it not only to frame Hanna, but keep everything well-preserved until evidence needs to be planted? We really don’t think it’s Holbrook working for Ali, but we’re still loving the theory that Mona faked her own death and is leading the Liars on some wild goose chase for fun.
Who sent Aria all of those texts? Was it “A”? Or could it have been Jason? Did he ever really have a lunch date with Ashley Marin or was he using the excuse to meet Aria and get information out of her? If so, it totally worked. But, if so, that means he also had Aria send flowers to Ashley Marin from himself. Maybe he was just making good use of Aria’s cooperability for personal errands? If, next week, “A” asks Aria to pick up milk for Jason, then we’ll have our answer.
“A” got one of Aria’s excerpts into The Brew’s receipt machine. Not only impressive, but points to someone who has easy access to The Brew. Could new girl Talia be on the “A” Team?
While we’re on the subject of new people who could be on the “A” Team, we’re mucho suspicious of Johnny. Not only did he used to live in Rosewood, but he was grilling Spencer about Mona’s murder and Alison’s part in it. Idle curiosity or another agent of “A”, Ali, et al?
Also, does Toby know Johnny? He seemed to actively hide from him when he came into Spencer’s house, then totally skedaddled. Maybe it was just Toby being rude — it was kind of his thing this episode.
What’s up with this contractor trying to charge Ezra for shelves Ezra and Mike put in? Tell us this is an “A” clue, PLL. We can’t handle the alternative: that this Brew Boss Ezra thing is actually Ezra’s for-real storyline this half-season.
What did Jason and Ali talk about when he visited her in jail? Why is he never going back? Or does he just want the Liars to think that because he is secretly helping his sister? ...This show has made us so paranoid.
OK, we just have to say it once: what if Hanna is “A” and she actually rented the storage container because she is going to frame everyone for everything? Yeah, probably not. But maybe?
Was it Holbrook sneaking into his own office or someone who knows his password? If it was Holbrook, why is he pretending to be out of town? If it wasn’t Holbrook, who could it be?
Other things that need to be discussed:
Paige asked for some space? Um, can we hear more about that please and less about the swim goggles and the t-shirt?
Pastor Ted “dreamed about [Ashley’s] waffles” while he was in Peru? If you weren’t so damn sweet, Pastor Ted, we’d suspect you of crafting the worst euphemism this side of the The Boy Next Door trailer. Still… we’re putting you on notice.
Ezra's professor friend could get Aria into Vasser? Um, that was easy.
We kind of love that, while Aria’s hair is falling out at the thought of not getting into college, Spencer is considering not going at all. How the tables have turned.
“So, your boyfriend's a cop?” “Um, yeah. He wasn't always.”
Johnny is a dumpster diver! (OK, he’s more of a trash diver, but still…)
Alison has tried to call the Liars a few times? Answer the phone, guys! This communication embargo is silly.
“I got some bolt cutters in my car... I like to be prepared.”
Detectives Spaleb continue to be one of the best things about Season 5B. That scene where they basically acknowledged that they are besties now? Adorable. Also, Caleb making a shim out of their teacher’s soda can was epic. Almost as epic as Hanna’s first association with an echoey voice being someone crawling through an air duct.
“I've seen her do things. I've seen her talk people into things…” — Jason, on Ali
“I really would like for you, me, and you mom to be a family. And, if we're going to be a family, then I want you to be all in.” — Pastor Ted, being the nicest guy ever
“I don't know if I'm ready to feel brand new.” Poor Emily.
“Mona was a lot of things. But she didn't deserve this.”
“So she's either being pickled or dissolved?” “Did you really just say that?”
“He's just a really good guy and I like him. And I like him with you, and I don't want anything to ruin that.”
“Actually, you're being a thesaurus, but I appreciate your attention to detail.” #Spaleb
“For a town where some pretty awful things have happened, today, nothing happened … Rosewood is now safe from an abandoned bicycle and an off-leash labradoodle.” — Toby, on being a Rosewood cop
“Do we all get a cookie, Ted, or...?”
“After everything's that happened, I'm not sure I can handle everything as mundane as college.” — Spencer Hastings, on college