Here’s how I know “The Bin of Sin” was kind of lackluster: The whole time I wondered what Jenna Marshall was doing. Last we saw Toby’s naughty little stepsister, she and Sydney were Ali’s masked companions at the Christmas ball — but, as they revealed to Emily, they were only accompanying her for their own self-preservation and wouldn’t feel safe until Ali was behind bars. What might have been keeping me in the episode this week was A's complete absence. Before this week, “Over a Barrel” was the most A-free PLL episode we had seen, but this one goes entirely without the Liars’ omniscient terrorizer. Really, where is everyone, for that matter? Where is Cece Drake? Where is Detective Holbrook? How is Holbrook still totally messing up the Liars’ lives without having appeared even once this winter season?
It looks like he’ll be back next week to torture Hanna a little bit, but she’s the last of the girls who needs that kind of stress. If you recall from last week, the crew found the storage unit containing a ton of evidence from Mona’s murder — and a barrel possibly holding her body — and that the lease was made in Hanna’s name. This week, Hanna displaces Spencer as Rosewood’s Benson to Caleb’s Stabler and goes to investigate the unit herself, landing her on the PLL Aggro-List, natch, for the second week in a row. (The Marin women cannot keep themselves off of this list! Mrs. Marin is safe this week for quitting her job working for Jason.) Find out who — or what — else made the cut below.*
1. Officer Holbrook doesn’t even need screen time to keep it caustic in Rosewood.
We don’t actually have too many concrete facts about Holbrook’s transgressions — aside from having previously played tonsil hockey with both Ali and Hanna — but this week he's an ever-present omen for the Liars. Early into the episode, we find Toby studying Ali’s case file — which Lt. Tanner thinks he's reading just to prep for the trial — in which he discovers it was Holbrook who verified her post-abduction lie detector test was truthful. We all know Ali lied her face off when she took it! This is not one of those PLL mysteries! We already have the facts and we’re voting Holbrook is sus as hell. In the course of his research, Toby also discovers that Holbrook has been a little bit disingenuous about his sabbatical, and that his father, to whom he is supposedly taking off work to attend, is not actually sick. These findings only help to support the theory that Holbrook may have assisted Ali in Mona’s murder. (The viewers and Toby are not the only ones to believe that, either, but we’ll get to that further down the list.)
2. Hanna goes on an inAuspicious wild goose chase.
Knowing the storage unit is leased in her name, Hanna is determined to get all of its contents out of the room and destroyed — even the barrel that might house Mona’s remains. She rents a dolly and a van, gets a drill to break the lock, and ultimately convinces Caleb to accompany her. (He only acquiesces because he doesn’t believe she’ll cut the security camera cords.) The rest of the Liars are already a little bit on the outs with Hanna, who reveals to Emily and Spencer that she visited Ali in a few weeks back. It gets worse when Spencer sees the lo-jack pinpoint of Mona’s laptop move on her phone’s GPS. The girls follow it to an abandoned manufacturing plant for something called Boo Boo’s Ice Cream, where they search for Hanna and Caleb, presumably to get them to do the right thing (whatever that is in their morally ambiguous universe). But surprise! Hanna and Caleb haven’t even gotten into the unit yet. We’re to believe Holbrook has stripped the unit of everything but the barrel.
Back at Boo Boo’s, whoever has taken Mona’s personal effects has also recorded the conversation that Hanna and Caleb had plotting their takeover of the storage unit. The laptop plays the video on a loop in a room in which Spencer and Aria get trapped. And guess what? The ice-cream plant is still in working order, and said room is about to fill up with liquid nitrogen.
You guys. STOP GOING INTO PLACES WHERE YOU CAN BE CONFINED. YOU HAVE BEEN ANTAGONIZED FOR FIVE SEASONS OF A SHOW. LEARN SOMETHING. PLEASE. One day there won't be an extraneous Liar there to magically break down the door and save you. When that day comes, no amount of #SaveSparia hashtags is going to get you out of that kind of jam.
Speaking of getting out of jams, Toby and Tanner show up to the storage complex while Caleb and Hanna are retrieving the dolly to remove the barrel from the unit. When Hanna gets nervous, I just want actress Ashley Benson to tap into her Spring Breakers character’s persona and just get it in. You killed Gucci Mane, girl. You can stand up to little crybaby Toby and the lady who used to do the anesthesia on Nip/Tuck. (See how boring this episode is? My suspension of disbelief has been appended.)
3. Lt. Tanner is getting it in, though.
Tanner has been a bit of rabble-rouser since she first appeared in Rosewood, but this week she finally asserts herself as the boss bitch she wants us to believe in. And let’s be real here, Toby the cop being in pseudo-cahoots with Spencer and Caleb is completely off-brand. Tanner reminds Toby that he took an oath and that he needs to reveal any information he has about Ali, the girls, and Caleb, or else he could get into serious trouble. It’s clear after he and Tanner make their own visit to the storage unit that Toby is starting to lean more toward the police force and away from his friends. At the unit, they actually open the barrel and are immediately smacked with a stomach-churning smell. It is probably a dead body, most likely Mona’s. Tanner also finds blood droplets on the floor near the barrel. Back at the precinct, she tells Toby that if it matches Mona’s DNA, the Liars and Caleb will be the first to be questioned because she no longer believes Ali acted alone.
4. Aria’s college letter finally comes to bite her in the Ass.
Here’s something we learned from A’s absence: When A's not around, the girls can still sabotage themselves. This week, Aria succumbed to the fear that A would somehow pass her Talmudge letter to Ezra, putting their relationship on shaky ground. In one of her only mature moves on the show ever, Aria hands it over to Ezra and lets him read it for himself. While he is initially nonplussed and laughs it off, he realizes that she might be resentful of him if they stay together while she’s at college and he interferes with her “adventures.” So he pretty much breaks up with her because he ... doesn’t want to make her life suck? Think about this, though: Mr. Fitz, Aria’s life does kind of suck, and not just because of her parents’ crappy divorce or because her brother dated Mona right before she was murdered or because she’s dating an ersatz pedo. It is because of A! And until now, we didn’t think A was going anywhere. So unless that little hospital plot twist to make us believe you’re not a part of the A-team was a sham, stay in her life, dude.
5. When will the PLL social-media team give it a rest?
I admit, I almost threw something at my television when #SaveSparia scrolled across the screen. Have we always been giving these girls weird portmanteaus? I don’t think so. Sparia is especially bad. How about I start calling the Liars Emilariannaer? Spemilannaria? Didn’t think so. But that wasn’t the worst of it. What about that super-bizarre, throw-you-out-of-the-episode scene of Ali in jail, where her internal monologue opines for a second chance to maybe be nice to Mona back in her nerd days? What about when they didn’t show us whether or not in Ali’s fantasy world she would actually extend some kindness to Mona? What about when it cut to commercial and asked you to go to PLLRevealed.com to see Ali’s decision? Too much, PLL online strategists. Don’t you know how many of us olds watch this show? We don’t have time for this. We will always be #OneStepBehind (WHICH WAS ALSO A HASHTAG FROM THIS WEEK).
*Honorable mention goes to Talia, who is less neurotic this week than she has been and totally reveals that she is crushing on Emily. Now I kind of ship them. Let’s get it, ladies!