Pretty Little Liars Recap: Season 5, Episode 20 — “Pretty Isn’t the Point”
The Pretty Little Liarshad to face some tough realities in tonight’s episode. Hanna (Ashley Benson) learned that she isn’t exactly beauty pageant material. Emily (Shay Mitchell) learned that Talia’s husband, Eric, will always be in the picture. Spencer (Troian Bellisario) learned that Toby will do his job, even if it means arresting her new douchebag neighbor friend. And Aria (Lucy Hale)? Well, Aria learned that the blood Mike has been stashing in their refrigerator actually belongs to Mona — who was planning on faking her death before she, you know, died. Here’s everything we learned in Season 5, Episode 20 (“Pretty Isn’t the Point”).
Wherein Aria Discovers Mona Was Planning On Faking Her Death. Guys, we actually got some real answers in tonight’s episode about what Mike Montgomery has been up to — and it was so, so sad. Apparently, Mona agreed to help “A” frame Alison for Mona’s murder. We’re not sure what the details were — was Mona going to have to play dead forever? — but the plan involved Mona storing vials of her blood in a mini-refrigerator in her bedroom. Which is kind of awesome. You can take the Mona out of the “A” Team, but you can’t take the “A” Team out of Mona. Or something.
Anyway, according to Mike, Mona had a plan of her own: She would pretend to go along with “A”’s plan, but only to draw her out and expose her so the Liars could finally be safe. Obviously (probably?), this did not happen. It appears that “A” double-crossed Mona before Mona could double-cross “A,” actually killing her. How do we know this? Well, Mona made plans to meet up with Mike several times after her supposed death, but has shown up for none of their rendezvous. Mike now truly believes that Mona is dead, and breaks down in Aria’s arms. It turns out the vial of blood he had actually belonged to Mona. She gave it to him as a promise that she would come back. And Aria smashed it. Because she is often the worst.
What does this mean for Alison? It means that the Liars finally know she didn’t kill Mona and isn’t “A”. It took awhile, but they got there. Mike corroborated Ali’s story that she was lured out of town by Cyrus during the time of Mona’s murder. This is very awkward. Not only because the Liars more-or-less Red Rovered Ali into police custody, but because they have actively destroyed evidence proving Ali’s innocence. Now, they not only know that “A” isn’t behind bars, but that their former bestie is in jail for a crime she didn’t commit — and it is partially because of them. Whoops! We don’t think they make “I’m sorry” cards for this sort of thing.
Wherein Hanna Pulls A Little Miss Sunshine. PLL is at its best when it focuses on the friendships between the Liars, which is why the plotline that has Emily teaching Hanna how to dance for a beauty pageant may have been our favorite thing ever. When Hanna’s newly-hired beauty pageant coach tells her she needs a talent, Hanna asks Emily to teach her how to dance. Because, apparently, Emily took dance lessons until 7th grade and is therefore an expert. Oh, you girls and your crazy plans!
Emily is actually surprisingly good, but Hanna is — well, she starts off OK, but when she gets emotional about her father’s decision to support his stepdaughter over her, her style quickly devolves into one part Elaine from Seinfeld and one part Olive from Little Miss Sunshine. Which is to say all parts awesome. But Hanna’s coach doesn’t think so. She doesn’t think Hanna is beauty pageant material...but she think Emily is. She offers to coach her instead, and Hanna takes off before Emily can stop her. But Em is not put off that easily. She shows up at Hanna’s house and tells her that she wants to do the pageant and win the money for Hanna. Hanna is worried that “A” will come after Emily. After all, she pretended that Kate, Hanna’s evil stepsister, signed herself up for the pageant just to freak Hanna out. But Emily doesn’t care. She tells her bestie: “‘A’ can come after me any day of the week. Anywhere. That’s not going to stop me from helping someone I love.” #Hemily4ever
Wherein Spencer Continues Her Crime Spree. One of the reasons why PLL has managed to succeed narratively as a show after all of these seasons is because it has such strong characterization. We know exactly who Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna are. Which is why when one of them acts too far out of character, it is so noticeable. Spencer’s recent impressionability when it comes to her relationship with Jonny has felt out-of-character for her and somewhat erratic. Two weeks ago, Spencer was considering not going to college. Last week, Spencer was giving Jonny a speech about how she couldn’t get into anymore trouble because she really wants to go to college. This week, she’s following Jonny into exactly the kind of trouble she mentioned she wants to avoid. Admittedly, self-destructive behavior is one of Spencer’s character traits. She sabotages herself when the stress becomes too much. But this has been less of a spiral and more of see-saw. What we’re trying to say is: we’re really glad Jonny is moving out, we hope he stays away for good, and we wanted to throw something at the screen when Spencer’s toolbag of a house guest leaned in for a goodbye kiss.
Jonny’s character seems somewhat manufactured to force a wedge between Spencer and Toby, but Spencer and Toby are doing a pretty good job of doing that themselves. As Spencer awesomely tells Jonny: “This isn’t about you.” But that doesn’t mean Jonny’s pretentious actions don’t bring things with Spoby to a head. Though Toby has been getting on our nerves in recent episodes, we thought his actions in this ep were totally understandable. Jonny and Spencer broke into an art gallery and stole property. Sure, it was technically their art, but this was a super immature (not to mention illegal) way of going about solving the problem. Spencer wanted to make Officer Toby’s intervention about their relationship, but we believed Toby when he said he was just doing his job. He probably should have arrested Spencer, too. Jonny’s immature behavior in regards to Toby just exacerbated how much we dislike him. Bon voyage, Jonny! We hope you move to Italy and never come back.
While Spencer’s storyline mostly annoyed us this episode, it did allow for a moment of clarity regarding Toby’s recent behavior. Apparently, he’s been avoiding Spencer because Tanner wants to use Toby’s relationship with her for the Rosewood P.D.’s advantage. In his eyes, he’s protecting her. We still think Toby is being kind of a jerk and should have just talked to Spencer, but it is totally in character that old Pretty Eyes would choose protecting Spencer over talking to her. Remind anyone of that time Toby joined the “A” Team?
Wherein Emily Dumps Talia. We’re not sure if Emily’s dumping of Talia at the end of the episode will stick, but we were proud of Emily for figuring out exactly how she feels about the fact that Talia has a husband, and acting on it. Em continues to be ridiculously mature for a teenager. This may be why she’s dating a 20-something? We’re still not sure what the age gap between Talia and Emily is, but it felt pretty weird watching a high schooler meet her girlfriend’s husband. This kind of crap isn’t supposed to happen until at least your mid-20s, right? Then again, this is the show that had Aria babysitting Ezra’s 6-year-old not so long ago, so…
Anyway, Emily gets freaked out when she finds out that Talia told her husband, Eric, that their relationship was a one-time thing. Emily is understandably overwhelmed with all of the strings that seem to be attached to her latest relationship. She just got out of a serious relationship, you know? She doesn’t necessarily need this right now. Especially if she’s meant to win a beauty pageant for her BFF. There’s only so much time in the day, and Emily doesn’t seem willing to spend any more of her time on Talia. Her exiting line? “This relationship now has three of us in it, and you’re lying to all of them.” Emily should just quit her job at The Brew and become a full-time life coach, no?
In the tutoring scene, Andrew is attempting to teach Aria about “The Trial of the Century” — aka the prosecution of Harry Kendall Thaw for the murder of Stanford White, his wife’s lover, who was shot dead on the roof of Madison Square Garden. Thaw had a history of mental illness from a young age, including stints at some mental institutions. His darker deeds were covered up by his wealthy family. He was eventually found not guilty of the murder by reason of insanity. Um, could this be another clue that Alison has a twin responsible for similar behavior? After all, “A” did shoot Ezra on the roof of a NYC building. And Thaw’s history of mental illness and cover-ups shares a lot in common with The Twin Theory.
Mike has become a workout fiend in recent months. What is he preparing for? Deep down, does he think there’s still a chance that Mona is alive? Or is he planning on going after Mona himself?
Could “A” have been the one who moved Jonny’s mural from Holbrook to the art gallery? It seems like the kind of thing she would do, but this is a lot of work for a move that might not have paid off.
In the flashback, Mona is talking to Lesli on the phone when Mike comes in. We hear her ask her friend “When did he get the ax?” “A” Team convo or just girl talk?
Mona tells Mike: “I have to earn [‘A’’s trust]. I have to commit to this 100 percent.” Could she still be alive, “committing” to her fake death?
“A” seems to know her way around Mike’s weights in the final scene. Does she have an athletic history? (Ahem, Paige.) And what is she doing with that wrench? How worried should we be about Mike Montgomery?
The show’s promos claim “A” will be revealed in four episodes. Um, for reals?!
Other Things to Be Discussed
Mike bought a necklace for Mona inscribed with a Morse code message? These two were more perfect for one another than we thought.
Talia’s insistence that she and Emily are moving very slowly does not equate with the fact that Talia is having phone chats with Em’s mom, right? No wonder Em was freaked out.
Mike is the definition of an obnoxious customer when he comes to The Brew. First, he orders two coffee even though they’re not technically open. Then, he stares at his phone the entire time. Finally, he blows up at Emily for asking a friendly question.
We can’t believe that Andre agrees to straight-up stalk Mike for Aria. He also tells her that “you know I’m here if you need me.” Um, is Andrew/Aria happening? That a lot of “A” names in one relationship…
We’re not sure how we feel about Hanna’s coach actually speaking the episode’s title, but she did have some pretty good one-liners, including: “Judges don’t give out crowns to living lollipops,” and “You need to feel this on a cellular level.” Is that latter one a social media reference?
“Cancel your life this weekend. You’re dancing with me.” — Hanna’s text to Emily
“She makes you feel like the girl at fat camp who got caught eating a tube of toothpaste … What? It was minty.” Hanna is the best.
“It wasn’t enough that she stole my father and my college money. I’m not gonna let her steal my crown, too.” — Hanna, pulling at the heartstrings
As often as Spencer’s storyline in tonight’s episode annoyed us, her “You’re new at this, aren’t you?” to Jonny was pretty great.
How adorable was it to see Ashley calling Caleb to check in on Hanna?
The PLL Twitter hashtags are usually pretty hilarious, but #GoodCopBadBFF has to be the most ridiculous one yet.
Emily’s face when Hanna’s dancing started getting crazy was THE BEST.
“That was...revealing.” — Hanna’s coach’s reaction to her routine.
“I have lots of secrets.” “Well, anger isn’t one of them.”
Ha! Ezra still doesn’t know about Talia and Emily.
“I’m not into girls because it’s trendy.” You tell her, Em!
“That woman’s not a coach. She’s a Gorgon.”
Mona’s desperation to make her “A” history up to the Liars is really moving and really tragic, if she is in fact dead.
“She convinced me that she would have it all under control. That she would be safe. I don’t believe that anymore.” — Mike breaks down to Aria.
What did you think of Season 5, Episode 20? Sound off in the comments below!