It’s time for the midseason premiere! Also known as the first episode I’ve ever gotten to watch live. It’s so exciting. Sorry for the delay in getting this up. Life happened. The recap for Mona-Mania should be up shortly after this one.
Previously on Pretty Little Liars: The girls went to the Bates Motel…er, the Lost Woods Resort in hopes of finding out about Vivian Darkbloom, but Creepy Desk Clerk Harold said the hotel was where people go not to be found. Aria found out about Ezra’s long lost child with Alex Mack and decided not to tell Ezra. Garrett found Spencer on the creepiest train ever and said he didn’t kill Ali, but someone definitely killed Garrett and then put him in a box with the kidnapped Aria. Homewrecker Meredith is coming to teach at Rosewood. Finally, in a scene that broke everyone’s heart, Toby was revealed as the latest member of Team A.
The major development in this episode is that Mona is back at Rosewood Day. She decides to break the news to Hanna by sneaking into her room and watching her sleep, so her judgment still doesn’t appear that great. Although Hanna agrees to support Mona at school, the other three girls aren’t quite convinced Mona doesn’t still want to ruin their lives. Considering the last time some of them saw her she was creepily speaking in code to dolls, they’re probably justified in that. Spencer wants to use Mona for information about Garrett and the rest of the NAT Club, but Aria doesn’t see why Mona should be trusted. Adding to the reasons to distrust Mona is the fact that she’s buddying up to Jason. Caleb is still a pro hacker and managed to get a transcript of a meeting between the school and Mona’s parents. Once the girls find out Mona was lying about being forced to come back to Rosewood and realize she actually begged to do so, they trust her even less.
Things get worse for Mona at school when someone pins a cow brain to the corkboard on the inside of her locker with a steak knife. It also doesn’t help that she then walks the cow brain down the hallway to the trashcan and dumps it before turning around with the knife still facing outwards. It’s a lot easier to convince people you aren’t homicidal when don’t have a knife raised in a motion like you want to stab them. It’s even worse when literally everyone has their camera phone out recording the whole incident. Emily and Aria worry they’re going to be blamed for the cow brain and kind of feel sorry for her, but Spencer has no sympathy.
Mona decides to appeal to the sympathy of the student body. She posts a video online detailing her issues with bullying and what it was like growing up. She tries to convince her peers that she’s all better. Unfortunately, most of the school seems to buy this. Granted, most of the school has not been stalked and tortured by Mona, so they’re probably a little more easily forgiving.
Creepy Desk Clerk Harold is apparently Rosewood Day’s latest janitorial hire. Emily and Hanna decide to go down to the school’s creepy basement in order to find Harold. They find out that he has a whole bunch of Mona’s stuff in his office and are sufficiently creeped out by that. At the school-sponsored charity run, things get super dramatic. The girls break into Creepy Harold’s office and find Ali’s diary on his desk. In it, they find entries referring to Byron and the circumstances surrounding Ali blackmailing him. They hear someone coming and Aria rips out the pages from Ali’s diary. They narrowly avoid being killed by Harold and his rusty bolt cutters when Toby seemingly comes to their rescue, but you know he was probably up to something nefarious. Sure enough, the storage shed then bursts into flames. Unfortunately for the girls, especially Aria, Meredith was inside the shed when it went up in flames. Although she’s okay, Byron is pretty sure Aria and her friends had something to do with getting Meredith to the shed when it was supposed to catch on fire. Apparently, someone left a note for Meredith on her clipboard that sent her to the storage shed. Thus, Aria is convinced A set them up.
Now for the girls’ individual storylines.
Emily’s dad is back in town and has cracked down on her security. Emily doesn’t take the new security features very well and resists them at every turn. Considering Emily was nearly killed in a lighthouse a couple months earlier, her parents are probably completely justified in keeping her under lock and key. They might be going a bit overkill by calling her every hour at school, but I can understand it. Emily switches her phone with her dad’s so that she can shut off the house alarm and sneak up to the school to spy on Creepy Harold during the race. It does lead to a conversation between Daddy Fields and Emily about why she won’t let him in, but it’s pretty much one-sided. Emily’s not big on communication at this point.
Aria doesn’t want to believe that her dad is a total skeevy creeper who potentially killed her best friend. At the beginning of the episode, Spencer is trying to convince her that Byron is super suspicious, but Aria is having none of that. After all, it is hard to think that your dad is an adulterous murderer, so I understand why she has some problems dealing with it. As the episode progresses, however, Byron gets creepier every second. Aria starts to question Byron about his thoughts on Ali. By the end of the episode, Byron is just standing outside Aria’s bedroom door, listening to her conversations. Aria also can’t quite deal with the fact that Meredith is now her history teacher. Seriously, that’s just awkward. It makes things worse when Meredith takes away Aria’s phone while she’s in the middle of a text about how horrible Meredith is. She’s also all wrapped up with guilt over not telling Ezra he has a kindergarten-aged son, but I really don’t care about that plot development. It’s the first time I have ever legitimately not cared about the Ezria relationship. It’s just such an unnecessary twist.
Spencer is all about the idea that Byron knows something about Ali. However, she does not suspect that Toby is a member of Team A and is still adorably in love with him. That reveal is going to be heartbreaking, especially since Toby is continuing to get in Spencer’s pants. Spencer keeps asking Toby about why Jenna switched schools and what he thinks happened to Garrett. She is also really concerned about the budding friendship between Mona and Jason. Spencer tries to warn Jason that Mona is cray cray, but he wants to judge for himself. By the end of the episode, he seems like he might believe Spencer, but he then cuddles up to Mona once Spencer leaves his house. Jason also has some sort of mysterious wound on his side.
Hanna’s grandma is staying with her for some reason, but she is one of those adorably wacky grandmothers who shares convoluted stories of troubled family members and uses really folksy language. Her and Caleb are no longer hiding their relationship, since they realized their covert skills needed some work. Lucas is being super shady about things. He comes to Hanna to give her the remainder of the money he owes Caleb and is super sketchy about his leg injury, which we later learn came from Toby trying to run him down with a SUV while Lucas was skateboarding at night.
Best quote of the night: “If Mona sneaks into my house after midnight, I’m sleeping with a crowbar under my pillow.” – Aria
Most hilarious scene: Hanna’s grandma hijacks the microphone at the run to sing the Star-Spangled Banner, just because. To cut her off before she starts the second verse, the principal just shoots the starting gun.
Let’s end with the new questions that arise from this episode. Why did Toby try to run over Lucas with a SUV in the middle of the night? Why did Mona weirdly sniff Lucas after the cow brain incident? Have Lucas’ parents just adopted Caleb at this point? How does Team A have so much disposable income? Why does Emily climb out her bedroom window even though her house is empty and the alarm is disabled? When did Jason and Mona become BFFs? Is Jason involved with A? Why did the black hoodie person sabotage that random kid’s bike?
Next week: Hanna confronts Mona about whether she is still A. Byron gets creepier. Paige and Emily go through the woods with a flashlight.