Pretty Little Liars Recap: Pretty Hurts

This week, Hanna and Aria look to their friends for help. Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC Family
Pretty Little Liars
Episode Title
Pretty Isn’t the Point
Editor’s Rating

Raise your hand if you thought that the most compelling thing that was going to happen in last night’s episode of Pretty Little Liars was the bumper spot that advertised that A will be revealed in four episodes. Yeah, I’m that sucker, too. Hey, ABC Family, you’re some real tricksters, you know that? But we’re all in this together, guys.

“Pretty Isn’t the Point” seemed like it was going to be all slog. Unlike last week’s episode, we weren’t really given much to anticipate. We were left with a lot of waiting — and a pretty weird montage set to Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj's “Bang Bang” — until a wholly explosive end. This is why we watch this show, though: teen drama that slaps us with a huge, plot-driving twist to ensure we keep coming back. So, let’s just get into this. Bring me your hostile, your sneaky and judgmental: Here is this week's PLL Aggro List. 

1. Hanna and Emily take you there.
A worried Caleb helps Hanna prepare for the Glass Slipper Teen Pageant, a beauty and personality contest she is entering in hopes of winning $20,000 to help with college tuition. If Hanna has any discernible talents, it’s as a junior detective, not as a video-girl-level dancer. Unfortunately, the latter is what she tells her pageant coach she’ll be doing for the talent portion of the competition — after she's already in a bit of hot water for staying silent when asked questions about animal rights and foreign policy. “Judges don’t give out awards to living lollipops,” her coach tells her. “You have to have an opinion on the world we live in.” Sorry, lady, but if you knew your trainee has been continuously stalked her entire high-school career, you might be a little bit more open to helping. Who is willing to lend a hand, however, is Emily, who was a trained dancer from age 3 through the seventh grade. (“My mom was hoping for a ballerina, not a jock.”) Before the two can train aggressively to Jessie J and Ariana Grande’s similarly aggressive singing, however, Emily finally meets Talia’s husband, Eric. They exchange pleasantries, despite Talia having left the Brew for a catering gig, and he assures Emily he’s fine with the relationship ... but only because he thinks Talia is just experimenting. Em just can’t win when it comes to love, huh? Well, at least she's able to dance it out with Hanna, who is very sloppy at first.

A visit from Caleb is not entirely encouraging, not just because of Hanna’s clumsy attempts at choreography, but also because he sees that her stepsister Kate is also on the sign-up sheet for the pageant. Hanna goes into a tailspin and overdoes it with the dance routine, to the point where her coach ends up quitting because she exudes too much anger. She sulks outside of the rehearsal space door, just long enough to hear that her former coach wants to take and train Emily for the pageant instead, and she storms off before she's able to hear Em telling the woman off. Surprise! Talia is here to hang out. Emily explains that she “doesn’t date girls because it’s trendy” and leaves to console Hanna.

At the Marins, after receiving a text from A that says, “Kate won’t win the pageant, but she’s already won your daddy’s heart,” Hanna and Emily conclude that it was Mike Montgomery who tricked them so that Ali could keep the girls in Rosewood forever. (Don’t worry, Hanna. You guys have just two seasons to go. You’ll be able to go on spring break soon enough.) Emily decides to enter the pageant, and win it, so Hanna can have the money, even if it it means potentially becoming A-bait.

Side note: Did anyone else recognize the coach as the hooker from Friends who Monica accidentally hires Chandler for his retroactive bachelor party? How about the stripper from Bob Vance and Dwight’s respective stag nights? From hooker to stripper to pageant coach: the come-up!

2. Angry Jonny
After a bizarre run-in with Toby on the Hollis campus, where he goes to pick up college materials for Jenna (please, God, say Jenna is coming back), Jonny and Spencer spot pieces of their vandalism-mural in the window of a gallery near the school. The gallerist tells them he bought them from a garbage truck hauling the large work, then in pieces, and that it now belongs to him. Back at the Hastings residence, the two decide they are going to break in and apprehend their dismantled piece of art. It all goes quiet and smooth-like ... until Jonny removes the final piece and an alarm sounds, of course. The two flee the scene to a gas station to buy snacks, where they are confronted by a Rosewood police car, which is, of course, manned by Toby. He arrests Jonny, who is quickly bailed out by Mrs. Hastings under the conditions that she keeps his security deposit and he moves out of their garage, “effective immediately.” While Spencer helps him find packing tape, they finally break their seasons-long sexual tension and share a kiss.

3. Good Cop, Mad Toby
Was #GoodCopBadBF the first moderately clever hashtag in social PLL history? It is at least vague enough to be free of spoilers, like the ultimately totally untrue #EzraIsA from many moons ago. But like the Ezra-indicting hashtag of yore, are we positive Toby isn’t being a bad cop and a good boyfriend here? He is absolutely wrapped around Lieutenant Tanner’s finger throughout Ali’s case — and last night we found out it’s because she is still certain that Spencer is involved with Mona’s murder. He lets her walk away from the burglary charge and stolen goods in Jonny’s truck because he knows Tanner will try and take advantage of his relationship to Spencer: “Don’t give her ammunition; just walk away.” Noble, but Toby might have sent her off for good. 

4. Be like Mike.
Mike Montgomery has been a totally volatile, belligerent weirdo this season, from his Mona mourning period turning into hostile moods to his seeming collusion with Ali and Cyrus. In the episode’s opening, the Liars are scouring through Mike’s room to find any other evidence that he is part of A’s gang. They don’t find much except for a necklace with charms in Morse code. Spencer uses a phone app to decode the message: “I’m with you.” The girls all assume it’s for Ali, and their panic rises. It’s good that Aria accepts Andrew Campbell’s blackmail to tutor her instead of turn her in for cheating, because he’s perfectly too buff for a teen and is clearly into her — in other words, instant safety net. At her behest, he follows Mike to what should be the gym, but is actually Mona’s house. He spots Mike hiding something in a tree in her backyard. Despite Andrew’s willingness to protect her, Aria goes to find out what Mike has stashed away on her own, only to discover yet another vial of blood. She is caught by Mike, who, in the subsequent screaming match, discloses that it is a sample from Mona. They fight, the sample smashes, and Aria runs back to the Montgomery house, where their father is not yet home. Aria’s fear of Mike is immediately quelled when she sees him come in crying. He knows what happened to Mona and he is ready to spill.

5. This one is too big to caption, you guys.
If you recall from a couple of episodes ago, Mona had a friend named Leslie, of whom the Liars were unaware until she came to Rosewood to visit Mona’s mom. Leslie revealed to Hanna that she was on the phone with Mona the night before she was murdered, when she overheard Mike shouting before being promptly hung up on. Mike tells Aria it wasn’t anger, it was confusion; he had caught Mona stashing blood samples in a mini-fridge in her bedroom. A bandage in her elbow pit hinted that the blood was her own. And there’s last night’s holy shit, this was totally worth 52 minutes of nothing moment: We learned that Mona had gone all Gone Girl and staged her own murder, using weeks’ worth of collected blood to splatter around the Vanderwaal house. Because. A. Told. Her. To. 

Here’s the thing about Mona: She was A. Are we sure she isn't still A? It would be awfully dubious of her to tell Mike all about it, sure. But the girl did a hell of a stint at Radley back in the day, and many seasons of the show have proven it’s not the most well-run sanitarium. Who’s to say Mona’s got all her marbles back? Perhaps Aria and Andrew studying the 1906 murder of Stanford White, the first case where a psychiatric defense was accepted, was a little bit of foreshadowing.

The argument against Mona being the new A — although it does nothing to refute the theory that she’s still a total loon — is that she tells Mike she is only setting up Ali to help the other girls. A, with whom she has been in contact but has not actually met, wants Ali in jail and will supposedly protect Mona if she pulls it off. Mona’s grand plan is to find the identity of A and help get the Liars off the hook. Her desire to be popular and loved continues to supersede her common sense. Or is it “continued”? Mike believes that A has double-crossed Mona and killed her, anyway. He and Mona were supposed to secretly meet after the “murder” — thus the coded “I’m with you” necklace — but she has repeatedly failed to show up. The vial of her blood was his only memento of her, and he was hiding out of fear that Aria would find it. He also knows A can’t be Ali because Cyrus had her out of Rosewood the day Mona was reported missing. Doesn’t explain why you have Hanna’s, Spencer’s, and Aria’s blood, though, Mike!

The girls are finally ready to talk to the police — a thing they should have done a long time ago — but are afraid of the consequences they’ll incur for all of the evidence they’ve destroyed.