Wherein Spencer Buys Some Ali Insurance. Spencer and Emily continue to be the one-two punch of Team Liar. When Emily overhears Noel Kahn listening to taped convos between Ali and Shana that confirm Ali wasn’t kidnapped these past two years, she breaks into Noel’s car and retrieves said evidence for Team Liar. Spencer takes charge of hiding the evidence, driving out to the lake house. By herself. Because nothing bad ever happens at the Rosewood Lake. After hiding the evidence in a flimsy-looking chest, Spencer discovers Noel Kahn playing Casper under one of the nearby sheets. Wielding only a fire poker and nerves of steel, Spencer gets Noel to reveal he stole the evidence from Jenna’s house only moments before it exploded into smithereens. Coincidence? We think not. Noel begs Spencer for the evidence back — he needs it for when he’s outlived his usefulness to Ali — but Spencer refuses. The Liars need Ali insurance just as much as Noel does.
Wherein Emily Declares Vengeance. When Spencer discovers the connection between Sydney and Jenna during a timely visit to the eye doctor, Emily is understandably upset to discover her new friend and swim mentee is Team Jenna. Sydney begs Emily for forgiveness. She explains to Emily that she and Jenna met when Sydney was volunteering at the school for the blind. Syd claims she moved to Rosewood to give Jenna some support in the wake of Ali’s return. But Em is having none of it. She vows to take the Assistant Swim Coach position just so to keep an ever-present eye on Sydney. Hell hath no fury like an Emily scorned.
Wherein Aria Asks For Forgiveness. Aria is in full-on maid of honor mode this week, as she helps prepare for the engagement party of Ella and Zack. If only she didn’t have that nagging feeling that Hanna was telling the truth about Zack’s creeping. When Aria finally tells Ella about Zack’s inappropriate behavior towards Hanna, Ella reveals that this isn’t the first time Zack has done something like this. Ella calls off the party and wedding, and ends the episode crying in the arms of her ex-husband. Meanwhile, Aria asks Hanna to forgive her for calling her a liar. It wasn’t that Aria didn’t believe her; it was that she wanted to believe her mother could be happy again more. The best friends hug and all is right in the world.
Wherein Hanna Pours Whiskey Down the Drain. After Aria’s apology, Hanna pours the rest of Caleb’s whiskey down the sink. Does this mean Hanna is going to use alternate methods of dealing with “A” game stressors and Ali’s continued use of her bath products? Let’s hope so. It helps that she has a solid support system in place. When Ashley finds Hanna’s flask, she gives her daughter an excellent reason for not drinking: you have to be alert with villains on the loose. Solid advice, Mama Marin. Meanwhile, after a pep talk from Spencer, Caleb starts to get his act together. Kind of. When Hanna tells him about Zack’s advances, Caleb punches The Muffin Man. Best of all, he believes Hanna wholeheartedly, which, after last week’s antics, is probably the one thing Hanna needed the most. Followed closely by repossession of her bath salts.
Wherein Ali Gets a Taste of Her Own Medicine. While Alison may have manipulated her way into Ashley Marin’s good graces, she is still losing control of her web of lies. Lieutenant Tanner is putting the pieces of the Liars’ connection to Shana’s death in NYC together, questioning Aria about Ezra’s connection to Shana. Noel Kahn is taking measures to protect himself from Ali’s nasty habit to doublecross. And, most worryingly, a man steps forward as her kidnapper. Now, we know Ali was lying about having been kidnapped, but who else knows the truth? This man seems to have his facts — or should we say Ali’s lies — straight, probably because “A” has a copy of the tape Ali recorded detailing her kidnapping story lies for the Liars. The episode ends with Ashley asking Ali if the man the police have caught is, in fact, her kidnapper. What will Alison say?
— Ali never answered Spencer’s question if Noel was the person she’s been secretly meeting, and we think there’s a reason for that. Who might Ali be meeting when she sneaks off into the Rosewood night?
— Was “A” trying to blow Noel up in Toby’s home explosion? Is there a chance it wasn’t “A” who set those explosives, but Ali herself?
— What does Ali have on Noel Kahn?! He refused to answer Spencer when she posed the question, which probably means it’s important. Does is have something to do with the “A” game? Does it have something to do with Maya, who stayed at Noel’s cabin before her untimely death?
— Did Jenna and Sydney mess with the eye chart, as Spencer assumed, or was it just a coincidence that they were at the eye doctor at the same time? It seems like, if it was them, they would have kept a lower profile, no?
— Jenna’s words to Spencer and Emily: “How long is it going to take for you to realize you’re nervous around the wrong person. I’m not Alison.” What does Jenna know that the Liars don’t? Because we’re kind of starting to believe her.
— Why did “A” write that note to Zack pretending to be Hanna? Though it caused some serious pain, we can’t help but think “A” did Ella and Aria a favor by exposing Zack’s creepiness before the big wedding.
— How did “A” get a copy of the tape detailing Ali’s kidnapping story? Maybe Ali should have made her copies for the Liars self-destruct upon memorization?
— Who is the dude who confessed to Ali’s kidnapping? Does Ali know him? Is there a chance Ali really was kidnapped for part of her time away? This felt a bit like a play from Mona’s handbook — remember when she confessed to killing Wilden, a crime we’re almost positive she didn’t commit? Could this be the latest and biggest play of Mona’s Army?
— Tanner was asking some pretty pointed (and understandable) questions about Ezra’s habit of dating teenage girls. Does Tanner think Ezra killed Shana?
— Sure, Noel Kahn is a total creeper for hiding under that sheet in Spencer’s lake house, but does anyone else kind of want him to join Team Liar? He’s just so darn handsome.
— We love that Spencer managed to pledge her allegiance as a Haleb shipper while at the same time calling Caleb out for being a terrible boyfriend. Perhaps Spence should go into diplomacy if she ever graduates high school?
— Hanna’s jacket!
— Sydney seemed sincere in her feelings for Emily. And did anyone else detect some romantic undertones in her admission of liking Emily? If so, the correlation between swimmers and lesbians in this town is starting to get a little ridiculous.
— Ella tells Aria: “When it comes to fashion, you are my guru.” Thoughts? Concerns?
— How do we feel about Byron and Ella’s potential reconciliation? On the one hand, that scene between them at the end of the episode was one of the most moving we’ve ever seen on PLL. (You go, Holly Marie Combs!) On the other hand, Byron cheated on Ella and asked Aria to lie about it for more than a year. We’re still not over that.
What did you think of Season 5, Episode 9 of PLL? Sound off in the comments below!
Catch the next episode of Pretty Little Liars on August 12, 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+!