Was this the most A-free episode of Pretty Little Liars ever? Despite one minor appearance (which we’ll get to later), it seems that Hanna’s visit to Ali in the clink last week was fruitful. The Liars seem to think that Detective Holbrook is still in cahoots with Ali, continuing to hide Mona’s body and planting evidence to get the girls in trouble. Even Jason DiLaurentis thinks so, which he admits to Aria over an impromptu lunch at the Rosewood Grille. But this episode was more about in-house meddling and the continued goal of finding out where the hell A is keeping Mona’s dead body.
This episode is called “Over a Barrel,” but let’s not take it too literally. Every Rosewood resident is being held over one, whether it’s about matters of the heart — and last night provided prime shipping material for anyone who’d like to see some of the PLL couples shaken up — or where to go to college. (This is going to be worse than when Blair Waldorf didn’t get into Yale, huh?) So who was the boldest? Let’s find out in this week’s Aggro-List.
1. The Brew's cash register becomes sentient.
Aria is safe from the list this week, but her over-the-top college essay is probably going to follow her around until Ezra finds out she used their relationship to get into college. While accounting for a coffee refill, the receipt printer at the new Brew releases more than just a record of the 50 cents it costs to re-up: Aria's entire letter to the Talmudge admissions counselor — and Ezra’s ex-fiancée — Jackie Molina comes out with it. An added postscript printed in red reads: “This kind of lie will stay on your permanent record. - A.” Later in the episode, Aria contemplates calling Ezra and coming clean, but resists. A’s already tried to kill Ezra in the past, so maybe A should cut him some slack and let Aria do it herself. She has to pay for the awful, dated hair feathers she wore for most of the episode, anyway.
Any strident PLL fan knows that each episode comes replete with some set of ridiculous hashtags. In “Over a Barrel,” a new single-letter ominous being called H appears. Has to be Holbrook, right? H asks to meet Aria at the Grille for a chat but never shows. Jason, who is also being stood up at the restaurant, invites Aria to eat with him, and they discuss why he turned Ali in for Mona’s murder. Mid-lunch, Aria gets another text from H: “One hour, Maple and Prescott.” The H texts send Aria on a mini goose chase, leading her to a flower shop where she’s given a bouquet. She is told to hand-deliver it — to the Marin house. When she arrives, Hanna takes her upstairs. The card attached to the bouquet says, “Last night took me by surprise. Glad I stayed for dessert. -Jason.” “Since when does your mom bake?” Aria asks, but — bum-bum-buuuuum, Hanna is the one who has sent the flowers! Hanna is H! (Has anything been solved so quickly on this show?) Still, it’s a little bit murky as to exactly why Hanna would do this. She is definitely pissed at her mom for last episode’s tryst with Jason, plus Pastor Ted is back in town and has some big news for Mrs. Marin. But the sham bouquet is also what leads Hanna to reveal her prison visit to Aria. She explains that that’s why A has given it a rest, because she asked Ali to have A back off. But could this be the Ghost of Fat Hanna Past trying hard to emulate Ali once again?
3. Mrs. Marin ain’t the marrying type.
I still don’t believe Hanna would craft such a cutting card if she didn’t think there was a possibility that Pastor Ted would see it. Early into the episode, he and Hanna have a chat about his intentions with her mother. He wants to ask Mrs. Marin to marry him, and he wants the three of them to be a family. We know Mrs. Marin has a hard time with men and that Hanna wants her to be happy, but after the Jason Incident, this doesn’t sit well with her. Still, the family dinner and proposal go forward, even though Hanna tries to alert her mother that it’s coming. Underneath a big peanut-butter cookie — the thing Mrs. Marin and Ted shared the first time they met — he is hiding an engagement ring. Now, I know this is a man of the cloth and he puts a high premium on making those kinds of vows before God, but bruh, maybe talk to her before you buy a rock? Mrs. Marin tells Ted she needs some time to think, but it seems like their relationship is over. If Hanna is starting to get this buck, though, it might be good for Mrs. Marin to have the extra attention to spare.
4. Caleb and Spencer can’t quit.
The Liars all receive mysterious Mona messages from the grave, but hacker extraordinaire Caleb discovers that it’s an alert coming from a lojack on her laptop. Mona’s computer security skills were on par with Caleb’s, if not better, so he is certain that his ability to track it to a storage space was intentional. Ultimately, Spencer and Caleb go down to the apartment building where it’s located, and, using a shim to get into a space with an easier lock to crack and crawling through an air vent, they're able to get into the space. There, they find Mona’s laptop but don’t touch it because the room is too pristine, despite containing evidence bags full of bloody clothes.
But that’s not the worst of it. Elsewhere, they find a hazmat suit and a barrel. If your TV tastes extend past teen stuff, you're probably getting some Breaking Bad vibes here. Along with it, they find antacid tablets and denatured water. Spencer explains that the right combination of those two with water can act as a specimen-preservation liquid for any kind of vertebrate, but that if you mess up the ratios, the specimen turns “into sludge.” Caleb asks if Mona is “either being pickled or dissolved.”
The two decide that it’s too soon and the evidence isn't concrete enough to bring it over to Toby, but that they can find out who has the lease on the apartment and storage space. (A Rosewood High teacher who lives in the building says a blonde girl lives there.) But what Caleb finds out is that the apartment is under Hanna’s name, and she is likely being framed for Mona’s murder.
5. More trouble brews at the Brew.
It seemed like Talia, the chef Ezra hired to replace Emily as caterer in last week’s episode, was a bit of a pedant, but this week I’m not so sure. She gripes about idle hands after Emily tells Talia she’s putting the cleaning supplies in the wrong place, and she taunts Emily for the hole in her shirt. She even wants to suggest to Ezra that they should have to start wearing uniforms. But I am pretty sure that this is actually Emily’s opportunity for some older-lady love. While Talia doesn’t know that Emily’s ex is a girl, it seems like she has a hunch, encouraging Emily to stop wearing the shirt — “How can you [feel brand-new] when you’re carrying your relationship on your back?” — and then baiting her with questions about Ezra’s “cute buns.” I’m calling shenanigans on the “cute buns” comment. There’s a backroom rendezvous in Emily and Talia’s future, but it remAins to be seen exActly whAt TaliA’s intentions are. Could she be responsible for Aria’s college essay popping up at the coffee shop?