Wherein The Liars Pay a Visit to The Clink. The Liars didn’t dither long on whether they should tell Alison what they know about Mona’s death (i.e. the she was planning on faking it to trick “A,” but probably ended up good and murdered for her trouble). The episode begins with Emily, Aria, and Spencer visiting their former bestie in prison. It’s awkward, but also kind of necessary? Alison takes the news like a champ, probably happy to hear that — even though the Liars still consider her their second worst enemy — they at least know she didn’t kill Mona. Baby steps, amirite?
Wherein Spencer Has A Bloody Awful Time in England. Though things are starting to get crazy in Rosewood (aren’t they always?), Spencer is shipped off to London by her mother for that Oxford meeting we’ve been hearing so much about. When she gets to Melissa and Wren’s apartment, neither of them is there (rude!), but their hot, kind, funny, elementary school-teaching flatmate is. Spencer does her best to ignore a very British-acting Colin, too preoccupied with her attempts to check in with the Liars back home, but he somehow convinces her to put down her phone to prepare for her interview.
The interview goes amazingly well...until Professor British Man notices blood leaking from Spencer’s purse. “A” has planted a vial to sabotage Spencer’s interview/airport security check/life. Spence (understandably) freaks out, desperate to head home even with “A”’s “Keep calm and check your carry-on” text still in her phone. Spencer realizes that “A” may have planted something else incriminating in her luggage and has a full-on panic attack while searching for it. Luckily, Colin is there to calm her down.
(OK, crazy theory: What if Spencer and Colin end up getting together during PLL’s rumored four-year college time jump? Yeah, maybe not. Either way, Spencer should enjoy her time an Atlantic away from “A” while she can. If we were her, this is the only time we wouldn’t be having a panic attack.)
Wherein Everyone Asks Mrs. Hastings For Help. With Spencer out of town, the Liars have to go to her mom for all of their legal advice.First, Aria grills her in non-specific terms about her “friend” who may have withheld information about a certain “murder” “investigation.” Mrs. Hastings informs Aria that this “friend” will most likely be in some very serious trouble. The conversation seems to clue Mrs. H. in on how crazy her daughter’s life has become. She visits Alison in jail to ask why her daughter is visiting her. The conversation starts tense, but Ali soon convinces Mrs. Hastings to help her. After all, it could easily have been Spencer who ended up in jail. Also, Mrs. H. seems to like a challenge. While going through the documents for Ali’s defense, Veronica finds something that prompts her to leave an urgent message on Spencer’s phone: stay in England. Does she think Spencer could be arrested? Or worse: killed? Is Mrs. Hastings finally cluing into the extreme dangers of the “A” game?
Wherein Hanna and Aria Meet Their Match. You’d think that, after all of the enemies the Liars have gone up against, they’d be unfazed by a particularly stern nurse, but this is not that case when Hanna and Aria skip school, drive an hour and a half, and try to get into the burn unit to see Cyrus. Aria is convinced that getting Cyrus to talk is the answer to her brother’s legal problems. If he comes forward, then Mike won’t have to. However, Cyrus is not in a talking mood — or condition. He was involved in a serious “accident” that seems to have burned most of his body. Aria and Hanna are freaked out, but Cyrus manages to scroll the word “carjack” on a piece of paper before his visitors are ushered out of the room by the aforementioned nurse.
The mission seems like a bust until the girls realize that Cyrus was trying to write “Varjack,” a misspelling of Paul Varjak, a character from Breakfast At Tiffany’s. If you’ll recall, Alison used the name Holly Varjak, a combination of character names from the book/film, on her fake passport. Could this be the name “A” is going by? Hanna and Aria think it’s a distinct possibility. They will not, however, be able to ask Cyrus any follow-up questions. In one the creepiest moment of the episode/season, a figure swaddled completely in medical bandages sits up in Cyrus’ ward. The mummy-like figure stalks towards Cyrus’ bed. This probably doesn’t end well for Cyrus.
Wherein Aria Inadvertently Saves Mikes Life. At first, we thought it was pretty selfish for Aria to ask Alison not to tell her lawyers about Mike’s Mona murder information. (Say that ten times fast!) Even if Ali agrees to hold off for a bit, it seems crazy not to have Mike come forward given he may be the only person who can keep Ali for going away for a murder she didn’t commit. But when Aria makes the argument that, once Mike comes forward, he will become “A”’s target, it makes a bit more sense. Of course, that logic eventually comes crashing home when Mike’s weight bench comes crashing down as Aria is standing on it, trying to reach a shelf in Mike’s room. As the ever-helpful Andrew points out, the nut and the bolt on the bench didn’t match. If Mike had used this before Aria inadvertently tested it with her pint-sized frame, then the weights would have crushed his skull. This information makes Aria cry with the realization that her brother is not safe. No one is safe. Andrew uses Aria’s vulnerable moment to make his move, going in for the kiss. (Oh, Andrew. And you were doing so well in our judgment.)
Wherein “A” Makes Sure Ali Stays Scared. Man, Alison’s life in prison is depressing. While hanging in the extremely dusty (?) prison laundry room, Ali doodles Mona’s name in the dust. When she returns later, someone has added “told everything” to the doodle. What did Mona have to tell? And who snuck in the laundry room to deliver that message? If that wasn’t enough to put Ali on edge, she also has a tiny barrel delivered to her cell. Inside? A doll-sized version of Alison. “You’re already over a barrel. Do you wanna be in one, too?” reads the message inside. It kind of seems like “A” has finally broken Alison, and with shenanigans like this going down, we totally understand why.
Wherein Hanna Calls Ali’s Bluff. Mrs. Hastings isn’t the only new old friend Alison seems to have lured to her corner. Though Hanna refuses to visit Ali with the rest of the Liars at the beginning of the episode, she has a heart-to-heart with her mother that convinces her to give Ali another chance. It’s totally worth it because Alison delivers the apology of a lifetime...
“I honestly thought that I was helping you guys. Telling you what to wear, how to act, who to like. And then when you stopped listening, I found new people who would. Being here, no one listens to me. I can’t even decide what to wear or what to eat or when to shower. I’m told everything. Everything’s an order. And I never realized how bad that felt. To be on the other side of that. So, I am sorry. Do you think that we could start over?”
Hanna isn’t ready to completely trust Alison again — even if Ali does tear up during her very convincing apology — but she is willing to give her another chance. Her one stipulation: Alison has to be honest about everything. First question: Who is Varjack? The episode ends on that seemingly dull, but actually amazingly brilliant cliffhanger. Well played, Hanna. Well played.
Wherein Emily Makes Some Moves. For most of the season, Emily has seemingly been on her own show. Sometimes, the other Liars go to visit Emily in her world of beauty pageants and lesbian cooking drama because Emily has a good thing going. This week, Emily spends much of her time practicing her awesome dance routine for The Glass Slipper pageant. She is encouraged by a representative from The Glass Slipper Collective, who tells Emily that she is definitely Glass Slipper material and that, if she started earlier, she would have already collected many slippers. We’re pretty sure this is some kind of cult, but Emily seems unphased. Basically, this plotline is about slipping the phrase “glass slipper” into the episode as many times in possible. (Cinderella, out in theaters on March 13th.)
Emily is phased, however, by Talia’s cold behavior following their breakup last episode. It turns out Talia and husband Eric broke up and Talia is homeless. Or something? Emily lets her stay with her for a few days while her mother is out of town, but Talia is obviously going through a lot. She breaks down in tears while Emily is teaching her how to dance, but — don’t worry — Em’s got this. She puts her arms around Talia and slow dances the tears away.
Talia seems better by the time Glass Slipper Lady turns up at the school to inform Emily that she is strongly encouraged to drop out of the pageant. It seems the pageant judges found out that Emily is friends with Alison, and they don’t think this would reflect well on the pageant. Emily is ready to throw in the towel, but Talia won’t let her. Instead, she blackmails the Glass Slipper Lady to make a contribution to Em’s college fund so that the media/world/beauty pageant authorities don’t find out about this coercive behavior. It might not work, but if Emily gets a check in the mail, Emily will know who to thank.
We haven’t suspected Ezra of anything in a long time, but Cyrus’ note makes us wonder if he wasn’t the one who did this to Cyrus. After all, he is the one who first compared Alison to Holly Golightly, and he was conspicuously absent in a week when “A” was especially busy.
Aria was very insistent that Ali not tell the lawyers about Mike. Yes, this could have just been sisterly concern — or it could have been something more malicious. Was Aria stalling Ali because she is “A” and she needs more time to work things out?
Andrew’s “A”-like description of the All The Presidents Men plot seemed a little too on the nose? Is he on the “A” Team? Could there be something other than hormones behind his wooing of Aria?
What’s with the “A” reveal promo’s multilingual vibe? Will the Season 5 finale be going international? Is this a reference to Spencer’s current stint in Europe? How many languages does “A” know?!
“Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.” The use of this Bible verse seems pretty straight forward: “A” is seeking vengeance against Alison. But why?
Aria gave Mrs. Hastings a dollar for her services. At the end of the ep, “A” is seen putting one-dollar bills into Bibles at Ali’s prison. Connection or coincidence? Alternative: someone is sneaking that money into the prison not to send Ali a message, but to fund her prison break.
Other Things To Be Discussed
“Aria, we formed a human blockade.” — Spencer, on the Liars’ part in getting Ali arrested
“I’m not trying to hurt him. I just might not have another choice.” — Ali
“This family has bent out of backwards to keep you out of [jail].” Ouch, Mrs. H.
“You forgot a parent’s signature.” Oh, Glass Slipper Lady, don’t you know? There are no parents in this town.
Wow. ABC Family is pushing this #GlassSlipper hashtag hard.
Did anyone else kind of want Mrs. Hastings to laugh when Aria paid her one dollar for an hour of her services?
“Do not think that my mom won’t be waiting in duty free just to make sure I get on the flight.”
Even though we know the Liars will never go to an authority figure on this show, Hanna’s suggestion that they just come clean to Mrs. Hastings is so inspired. Do it! Wait a minute...is this theme of asking Mrs. Hastings for help a clue that she may be “A”’s next victim? Please say no, show.
“What do we have to lose?” “Uh, my brother.”
“I heard that your own brother refuses to come here, so why would these girls?” Mrs. Hastings was full of painful emotional quips in this episode.
“Will you by my coach?” Alison asking Mrs. Hastings for help reminded us of this scene, and gave us all of the feels.
Andrew describes his waiting period as “Just long enough to start Anna Karenina. And finish it.” Oh, you nerds and your Tolstoy humor!
There were so many American and British stereotypes at play in the Colin/Spencer intro scene. Colin is peckish for biscuits! Spencer is freaking out about accessing her phone. The tropes! The tropes!
“Why are you willing to go down this road with a guy who tried to run you over with his hog?” A valid and hilarious question from Hanna
Best line of dialogue from the episode goes to Hanna for: “Emily’s already popping and locking my way into college.”
“I’ll have to add that to my list of philosophical knock knock jokes.” The thing is: Spencer probably really has a list.
“No, this is just what it looks like when I pack.”
“Look, I didn’t eat a crayon. I’m just dealing with oversized toiletries right now.”
Ashley Marin and Pastor Ted are engaged! We’re not sure how we feel about this? How do you feel about this?
“See that’s why I need to hang out more. I’m basically a human step ladder.” Andrew has a lot of qualities, but his game needs some work.
“Next time, wear pants.”
What did you think of Season 5, Episode 21 (“Bloody Hell”)? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments below!