'Pretty Little Liars' Recap: 'Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Inferno'

January 30th, 2013 11:17am EST

Pretty Little Liars A heartbroken Spencer makes for excellent television, this much we already knew. How great it would be to watch however …I think we undersold it. She goes through so many emotions in this episode – every scene she isn’t in just doesn’t seem to measure up.
Stage 1: Denial and Isolation
We start with Spencer having a sex dream with Toby that goes awry. Articles of clothes are being removed and then the next thing you know, Toby is in full A garb and strangling her. That’s enough to dry out any wet dream. And our heroine (somehow that’s what she seems like) awakens to figure out that reality isn’t much better.
Emily’s mother is now working at the police station, so expect that to lead to a meaningful revelation or false start (maybe both?). But before we dip into that, she delivers a box to Emily from Nate’s family in Chicago. Seems that he was in possession of a box of stuff that Emily had given to Alison – which probably stems from that time he was stalking Maya. So not only will we get a revelation/falsie but we’ll probably also wind up with a flashback. Score!
At the Marin house, Hanna’s mother Ashley has made her return and she’s just as we remember her: with a wine bottle in hand at all times. Ash wants to help her daughter but Hanna’s quick on the defensive and tells her mom all is fine.
Aria meanwhile is getting the latest update on Meredith’s mental state from her father. It’s confirmed: she’s crazy. Byron promises that she’ll never be near them again and he’ll do anything to protect his family but let’s get real, no one believes that right? They spend the rest of their time reminiscing over when he used to care. It’s boring.
On the way to school, Aria gives advice to Hanna and Emily about the importance of telling the truth and seems to completely miss the irony. What they all can agree on though is that Spencer has been absent as of late; she isn’t answering phone calls or barking out orders. When they do finally run into her, she’s dismissive and clearly mid-breakdown but they are all self-involved so they miss the signs.
Minus Spencer, the Liars go to a table outside of school to review the new evidence (from Em’s delivery) and find Ali had a conversation inside of Emily’s biology notebook with someone else. By pulling out their very well hidden talents for graphology they determine that they know the person she is writing to, but can’t pin point them exactly. But there is the mention of a ‘beach hottie’.
Presumably on her way to class, Hanna overhears Paige seemingly making plans with Caleb. The conversation reveals a meet-up time and the news that it was really Caleb who planted the brain in Mona’s locker on her first day back.
Stage 3: Bargaining (Leave it to Spencer to jump ahead)
Elsewhere, in our favorite high school bathroom, Spencer is trying to stop the stream of tears and Emily wants to talk about new evidence that may (but probably not) move them closer to solving Alison’s murder. But Spence can’t be bothered with such trivial things – she just lost love and doesn’t know how to move on without it. “Does “beach hottie” refer to Ian? Toby? And what could Ali’s secret have been,” ponders Em aloud. Spence on the other hand couldn’t care less. She doesn’t want anything to do with this whole mess anymore. But she has to care, according to Emily because in the message is something about Alison and Toby …and 3, 2, 1…
Flashback: Alison visited Toby in Juvie. And we know he’s in Juve because he’s wearing the bad-boy issued do-rag. (I’m trying hard to ignore the stereotype and believe they didn’t want us to burst out in laughter but failingly miserably – not to mention it seemed like Toby was even older then.) Seems Ali was convinced that Toby was behind the A-notes – but he claims innocence and a wish to join whoever was tormenting her.
Spencer reasons that maybe Toby has a reason to hate them. Because it would be easier to think that, right? That it’s all her fault. That she didn’t literally sleep with and fall for the enemy while not noticing his duplicitous nature. The idea doesn’t hold up in her head though and she finally breaks down and tells Emily that she and Toby are no more. She isn’t quite ready to reveal why not though and she’d prefer that Em kept their status to herself for the time being.
Step 2: Anger
The breakdown creeps its way into study group as Spencer continues to isolate herself from everyone else. A text from Aria about the end of her and Ezra sends her running out of the classroom. But not before Ella tries to school her on the rules of high school. Spence ain’t trying to hear all that. She’s got real life issues and this shit just doesn’t fit in the schedule. She needs to go to the park to console a friend.
But instead of Aria she runs into Ezra. And boy does she let him have it. The argument doesn’t even make sense but in true Spencer fashion she goes full-in before she realizes that he has no clue what she is even talking about. She spilled all the beans about the son he didn’t know he had; Aria knowing and saying nothing; and then makes a run for it on her bike
Unable to catch up with Spencer, Ezra goes to Aria’s high school. (See this when you should realize something is wrong. When you have to travel to your girlfriend’s high school to have a conversation with her.) He squeals about Spencer leaking that he has a kid and questions how she could come over night after night for mani/pedi’s and not mention such important information. The whole thing is rather muted and uninteresting.

Step 2.5: More Anger
After school, Aria goes to Spencer’s house to talk about the whole Ezra thing. She expects sympathy and an apology. She gets none of the former and half of the latter. Aria doesn’t blame Spence she knows A sent the text as her to Spencer, so it’s all A’s fault. But was it really? Spence doesn’t think so. This falls on Aria’s shoulders for keeping the secret in the first place: A may have pushed the explosion along but Aria lit the fuse.
To say that Aria wasn’t expecting Spence to throw this back in her face would be an understatement. She can’t believe that Hastings wants her to face up to her faults. Mary Poppins this bitch ain’t.
Flash Back Sneak Attack: Ali meets up with CeCe Drake at Camp May. She is late!! As in, pregnant!! She can’t tell the would-be father because if he found out he would kill her though. It’s sad – seeing her, a young teenager playing a game that even women twice her age have yet to master. But this whole scene would have been more explosive – if it hadn’t been alluded to a million times before, right?
And we’re back to our normal programming: Hanna is tailing Paige in hopes of finding her meeting up with Caleb. But she instead finds herself in a bar on ‘Ladies (Only) Night’ being eyed by multiple lesbian hotties. Seems Paige is there for ….a date?! With the black girl from the short clips (that used to work in the Halloween store). They’re too engrossed in their conversation to see Hanna all up in their faces. There is flirting but it’s unclear if Paige is all-out cheating.
Meanwhile Emily takes all her info over to Aria’s house where they decide that they need to tell the cops about Ali being maybe pregnant. This crap never would have happened under Spencer’s supervision! Em heads down to the police station and winds up giving the notebook over to Detective Darren just as Hanna is being dragged in for underage drinking. Her hotness nearly broke up two lesbians and she wound up with gin on her shirt and egg on her face.
She can’t even tell Emily about it because well that would mean revealing that Paige seems to be exploring her other options. So she lies and bemoans her mother’s reaction to her latest eff up to change the subject.
While they’re talking about that – they wander over to Detective Darren’s desk and see that he too was at Camp May!! Could he be the father? Did they literally just hand over evidence to a suspect? Who is going to tell Spencer about this shit?!
Stage 5: Acceptance (Stage 4: Depression is evident throughout the entire episode)
Speaking of Spencer, she is formulating her comeback. She calls a shady guy and sets up a date. Turns out it’s a private detective. She wants Toby followed and the location that the key opens located. Atta girl!!
Back at the Marin house, Ashley just wants to know if Hanna is exploring her sexuality. And if a ‘pink drink’ is code for something gay. It isn’t. And Hanna doesn’t want to talk about anything else.
Aria shows up at Ezra’s house just as he is packing up his car. When first asked, he tells her that they are okay. But he isn’t sure when he is coming back to Rosewood (who else cheered?) and his tears suggest that they really aren’t okay. It’s a sad moment that can’t hold its own weight in light of Troian Bellisario’s masterful performance.
What did you think of last night’s episode? Only 6 more episodes until the season finale!!

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Photo Credits: ABC Family

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