Previously on PLL: Paige responded to all the shit going on in Rosewood like a normal human being and exhibited post-traumatic stress symptoms. Byron was a total creep and may or may not have killed Ali. Meredith divulged that she knew all about the blackmailing. Toby was super evil and attempted to run Lucas off the fucking road. Hanna cut off all communication with Mona in the most epic way possible.
This is a completely crazy episode. I can’t get over how much happened in these 45 minutes. There are two major developments this week. The first surrounds Spencer and Toby. It’s their anniversary. Unfortunately, Toby has way amped up the evil this episode. He and Mona are planning something, but Toby thinks it’s too soon. Mona says she’s not calling the shots. Apparently, “she” is in charge.
We get a really sweet scene between Toby and Emily, reminding us all that Spencer isn’t the only one who will be devastated at Toby’s evilness. Spencer has plans to make Toby a super romantic dinner in his apartment. She even gets her mom in on the plan. Toby still has to shower at Spencer’s place because we need to see his abs. While Toby is shirtless and wet in Spencer’s room, her mom comes in and talks about this dinner Spencer has to be at tonight. Alas, it’s all a ruse. There’s some adorable banter between Toby and Spencer about a hole she finds in his pocket. This will later be important. Spencer adorably gets everything ready for Toby. She bakes him lasagna in his apartment. She gets something out of a drawer and we get a close-up of Toby’s ID badge to get into Radley.
Aria has the flu and Meredith is the only person able to take care of her, since Aria’s parents suck. Meredith has been a dutiful caretaker, though, bringing her tea and other such things. According to Spencer and Emily, it’s not working because Aria looks terrible. Aria is legit sick, though. The girls are worried about Aria staying at Byron’s house. They volunteer to take her to Ella’s, but apparently Mike is staying in the only spare room. The fuck? Mike can have a different week. Ella should be taking care of her sick child. Aria is apparently starting to trust Meredith. Big mistake, Aria. Meredith gets super creepy in this episode. She hid Aria’s phone from her. She keeps Aria away from Ella. She keeps interrogating Aria about the journal pages, but Aria is passed out. Meredith goes back to school and tells Ella that Aria is doing just fine. Ella said she hadn’t called because she didn’t want to disturb Aria while she’s sleeping. Plus, Meredith has Aria’s phone, so it’s not like Ella will get through to her. Also, Ella is a terrible mother.
Emily and Paige are still adorable. Emily asks if Paige is still considering going to see a professional. She says she has an appointment with someone that afternoon. Hanna interrupts their adorable moment and asks Emily to tail Caleb today because she’s worried he’s going to try to take down Mona. Hanna has her interview and can’t do it. Emily goes to follow Caleb, but just as she’s getting to the point where she sees who he’s meeting, she gets a text from Spencer about the Hanna situation. We, however, get to see that Caleb is meeting Paige! They’re starting an unofficial support group for partners of those who have been terrorized by A. Right now, it’s just them. They decide they need to take down A. There’s no way that will end well. They naively think Mona can’t possibly be watching them. Idiots.
Hanna has a job interview to be assistant to the “hottest designer in Philly.” While getting ready in the morning, she overhears Caleb on the phone with someone. Whoever he is talking to, he says that he won’t let Mona keep torturing Hanna and the girls. Hanna confronts him and he said he was just talking to his mom. Hanna doesn’t buy it and makes Caleb promise he won’t do anything stupid. Hanna gets to Philly and does some last minute primping in a store window. She sees someone who looks like Vivian Darkbloom standing across the street, but the person disappears. When she goes in for her interview, she gets attacked by a bunch of faceless mannequins. It’s creepy as fuck, y’all. The doors all lock and a black hoodie is in the room. She tries to get out, but it’s no use. A bunch of mannequins get shoved at her and as the black hoodie walks out, he drops a key on the floor. The key has the letter A written on the chain. Obvious, much? Perhaps it fell out of the hole in his pocket? Just after, Hanna gets a text from A that says the next time, she’ll be left faceless.
Later, we see a blond woman come into Aria’s room and start rifling through drawers. We, of course, think it’s Meredith, but it’s actually Ali. She grabs a doll out of Aria’s closet and removes the head to put some papers in it. Clearly, this is a hallucination. Or is it? Ali tells Aria that she sees A everywhere she turns and that she’s surprised Spencer hasn’t figured it out yet. She questions Ali about Byron. Ali says she was desperate for the money. Aria goes on to question if Ali is dead and Ali said she isn’t. Ali then tells Aria not to drink the tea Meredith gave her and leaves the room. Next, we see Aria wake up and look over at the doll. She goes to drink the tea and instead throws it on the plant next to her bed. She tries to leave her room, but the door is locked from the outside. She realizes that Ali was right and Meredith is not to be trusted. The next day, Hanna and Emily see Meredith throwing a fit in the pharmacy. The pharmacist is refusing to refill a prescription for clonazepam because it’s a majorly powerful narcotic and she can’t have more without a doctor’s permission. She grabs a handful of antihistamines instead and the clearly incompetent pharmacist rings her up without asking questions. Outside, Hanna and Emily look up clonazepam and realize someone needs to check on Aria stat.
The girls reconvene at Hanna’s place to figure out how Mona set her up. Hanna said she applied for this job way before Mona went crazy. Spencer decides it had to have been one of Mona’s minions. Emily suggests they turn over the “A” key to the police, but Spencer is convinced it will just cause more problems and raise questions. Plus, once the police get involved, the show ends because they could competently handle this investigation. She thinks Mona has a whole “A” army and can still ruin their lives. They decide not to do anything until Aria is feeling better and can be involved in the decision.
Spencer goes back to her house and looks at the key Hanna found. Toby comes over to Spencer’s and looks in the windows like a creeper. He brings her flowers and as she’s getting them in water, Toby finds the key. Spencer tells him it’s for Melissa’s storage unit and quickly shoves it in a drawer. Toby tells Spencer he loves her and I officially hate him so incredibly much. Later, when the storm is getting worse, Spencer calls to find out where Toby is. He tells her he’s on his way home and then asks how the dinner is going. We then see a black hoodie breaking into the Hastings home. He goes straight to the drawer where Spencer put the key and starts to open it. Spencer comes up behind, holding the key, and asks if that’s what he’s looking for. Sure enough, IT’S FUCKING TOBY! The jig is up. She throws aside the key as Toby asks how long she’s known. He’s not even trying to hide the fact he’s totally evil. However, Spencer does get in one great slap as she presents his Radley badge. Her mom comes in and Toby flees. Spencer is absolutely distraught and if you didn’t at least tear up, you are heartless.
Meanwhile, Aria tries to get out of her room, but can’t get past the locked door. She realizes she needs to be armed and breaks a mirror to get a shard of glass. Aria gets back in bed, clutching the glass shard. She falls back asleep and wakes up to Meredith standing over her bed, holding the glass shard. Meredith said she didn’t drug her. She just gave Aria something to help her sleep. Then she had to lock her in room so that Aria wouldn’t do something foolish like tell the police about the journal pages. Aria goes to run away, but Meredith shoves her down and we realize Meredith is completely batshit. Aria runs downstairs, but Meredith has cut off the phone lines. Just as Aria realizes this, Meredith comes up behind and clubs her. Shortly after, Hanna and Emily come over to check on Aria. It should also be noted that it is the creepiest fucking storm ever during all this stuff. The girls find the spare key and go into the dark house. They go upstairs and realize something is horribly wrong, especially when they dial Aria’s phone and it starts ringing directly behind them. It’s Meredith, not even trying to act normal anymore. She tells them Aria went down to the basement a while ago to find flashlights and they should all go check on her. No, don’t go down to the basement with the clearly unhinged woman. However, Hanna and Emily can’t hear me yelling, so they follow Meredith to the basement. They at least have the common sense to look terrified, especially once Meredith locks them in. Emily finds a flashlight and says she thinks there’s someone else down there. Sure enough, Aria is unconscious and lying on the basement floor. Later, Aria comes to and tries to convey just how crazy Meredith is. They decide to try to take down Meredith. Hanna says she has no problem “opening a can of whoop-ass on that woman.” Oh, Hanna. Unless you club her with your shoe, I don’t think you’re much help.
They hear a car pull up and realize that it’s Byron. They start to panic that Byron is in on everything. Aria has been so gaslit that she no longer has any idea what she believes. Byron goes in the house to find Meredith staring creepily into the fire. Completely monotone, Meredith tells Byron that Aria knows everything about the blackmail and him seeing Alison the night she disappeared. Byron starts to look panicked, especially once Meredith says she has proof and Aria’s friends know. Byron starts to come downstairs. Hanna and Emily grab golf clubs because this show is so totally fucked up. Byron assures them he is not to be feared and did not hurt Alison. We get a flashback to Byron trying to reason with Ali. He walks away as Ali continues to threaten him. Then Melissa comes out to make a phone call as Byron walks away with Ali still very much alive.
Byron comes out to tell Aria the police went to Meredith’s apartment and it was completely vacated. Aria is still extremely upset and wants to know why Byron never told her about seeing Ali. He said he didn’t want to upset her. She shows Byron the journal pages that she was hiding in the doll’s head. Apparently, Meredith had them all along and Byron was totally a red herring. Byron wants to know why Aria didn’t just come to him, but Meredith had sufficiently gaslit Aria to the point where she no longer trusted her dad. After Byron volunteers to go give himself up to the police, she throws the journal pages in the fire and says she believes him.
We end the show with Spencer going to Toby’s apartment, completely distraught. She knocks on the door and begs him to tell her everything is a mistake. She tries to open the door, but the locks have been changed. She keeps pleading with him, but Toby isn’t even there. Mona is sitting inside in her hoodie, eating Spencer’s lasagna while Spencer falls apart outside. Mona looks very pleased with herself and also completely evil.
Major questions raised in this episode: Who is “she”? Is there any other friendship more adorable than the one between Caleb and Paige? On a related note, just how badly will Caleb and Paige’s attempt to take down A end? How long did Byron wait to report Meredith to the police? Or did Meredith have a fucking moving crew on hand?
Next week: Spencer is totally falling apart. Aria and Ezra implode. Someone takes a blowtorch to doll versions of the girls. Things stay crazy as fuck.