Pretty Little Liars "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" Review: The Legend of the Tiger Sweater

By Nick Campbell

Feb 13, 2013

Pretty Little Liars S03E19: "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted"

How Spencer continues to be the best, I don't know. But the rest of the Liars really helped her out this week by lowering the bar of excellence.

While Spencer continued her descent into conniving madness, the rest of the group was not only judgmental (Emily) but also participated in sitcom level antics (Aria, Hanna). And then Spencer jumped on Mona and tried to choke her out.

Of the non-Spencer stories, Emily's was easily the most annoying, mostly because Emily was at her most annoying. I expect that moral browbeating from, well, Spencer, but I don't exactly feel it's appropriate for Emily to huff and puff about exploring sexual boundaries, particularly since Andrew is one of the least suspicious men in Rosewood and Paige tried to drown Spencer. I hear you, Em, this isn't like the Spencer Hastings you know, but take Hanna's advice and cut her some slack.

Her storyline was made more frustrating as she became a passive played in the theater of exposition. Emily's basic trait as a passive character makes her a relative ghost as it is, but we basically could've followed Jason searching for the photo after her hot tip and not missed her at all. The message from A (about Jason needing booze for later) was weak foreshadowing even by A's standards, and I could've done without Emily's whimpering while trying to climb out of the elevator, particularly since normally a physical challenge for an athlete like her shouldn't pose too much of a daring obstacle. What happened to our stoic Emily from when Paige was freaking out? I didn't mind the panic after the elevator fell, but shaking like a leaf when faced with the task of sliding out seemed inconsistent.

But at least Emily was caught up in the A drama. Maybe Spencer is handling enough of the A stuff to cover most of the group, but PLL gave Aria and Hanna a break this week as Hanna pursued a doomed father-son relationship for Caleb and Aria found herself possibly involved in an age-appropriate relationship (the horror!).

I was happy that the Jamie story developed further than Caleb getting excited and him not showing up. The episode constantly hinted that Hanna's obsession with establishing a relationship between Caleb and his real father was due partly to her own damaged relationship with her dad, which was fine, though the show hasn't really worked on Hanna's disconnect with her father in a while. Since she doesn't have a whole lot of A nonsense to deal with, it seems like she has a lot of time on her hands to play paternal matchmaker and, in a story that we all knew was doomed, she reared an ugly head when it was revealed Jamie stole from the collection box. Maybe. Unless Ted paid him an advance from the box since that money is for the church and Jamie is now a church employee. Hanna's horror at Jamie pulling out the be-diced five might have been her using a Jump to Conclusions mat.

And then there was poor little Aria, helping out Cece who was trying to help her out. There's speculation that Cece could be the Blonde in the Red Coat and, to me, this might be the closest thing to suggest that (other than a history with Ali). Very early in the series, A seemed like a guiding figure in their lives, even if she was using slightly malicious methods. The goal seemed to be less about needlessly torturing the girls and more about coaxing them through blackmail to let go of their secrets and live freer lives. Aria hanging on to creepshow Ezra is only holding her back (especially with our knowledge that he's probably maybe on the A team), and Cece helping a sister out by giving Aria alone time with Little Fitz, while not as conniving, is in that same vein.

The kiss they shared was almost welcome to me. A sense of relief that there's light at the end of the tunnel (even if that light is the speeding train of a scorned Ezra) made me feel like there's a future for Aria that isn't just her being part of that dysfunctional relationship. I know there are so many Ezria 'shippers out there but, even if you don't think their romance is super creepy, you have to admit that her obsession with him has done nothing but hold her back as a developing character. Her relationship with Ezra (and her dead-animal fashion sense from early seasons) define her.

And then there's Spencer. There was a fear early on that A found that thing Spencer was afraid to lose and all that effort of making her the force of change in the contract between bully and victim would be for naught. Luckily, the writers kept her true to character. The trick with making such a clear change in direction for someone on the show while still being consistent to the character is making sure one can see the distilled virtues and flaws within the change. You have to still see the prototype. And while the threat against her friends would be enough for Emily, Aria, or even Hanna to cower in shame, Spencer leapt on Mona's throat like a mama bear protecting her cubs.

While Spencer is certainly cunning enough, her manipulative side needs work, and I like that we're seeing her going through these growing pains of being the white-hat version of A. Obviously she has Wren wrapped around her little finger and she came this close to showing an almost nude Andrew her cupcakes, but she has a long way to go before matching the prowess of someone as trained and experienced as Mona.

What's strange is that, just before Spencer leapt into action, it almost seemed like Mona and Spencer weren't even having the same conversation. It was just one of those cartoon battles where the characters pull out bigger versions of their guns to intimidate the other. It left me with the odd feeling that Mona doesn't know how far gone Spencer is, like she's out of touch. Well, she's in touch now.

"What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" wasn't a seminal episode and maybe the closest to filler as this show gets. But any episode that ends with Spencer pouncing on someone is at least worth watching.



NOTES


– I get that you're hurting, Spencer, but what's up with the cat sweater? You look like a rec center art teacher.

– The question shouldn't be, "Why are you Mapquesting Amish Country?" It should be, "Why are you using Mapquest?" Is Apple Maps THAT bad? When Emily stopped the strip trivia session, am I terrible for thinking, "But, Em, you like cupcakes"?

– Yeah, you should totally make fun of Hanna's decorum and then make out with her at church. Caleb is like school in the summer: no class. OH BURN.

– Glad to see that Bruce, the scary watermelon baby at Cece's boutique, is still adorning the walls. When Aria was asking for something round that could go in the photo, I really wanted her to suggest a watermelon. Just some recognition as to how weird that thing is. Why does no one address the watermelon baby?

– The obvious big question from this episode asks where Jason disappeared to after being incapacitated by the elevator crash. How did he abscond from the hospital? Was he taken? Who on the A Team could carry him? Toby is a strapping young man, but Jason isn't exactly a fragile waif.

– The final hoodie scene where they played spin the bottle with spirits might be the most surreal of all the final hoodie scenes to date. Even more than when one of them was trying to eat french fries with thick winter gloves.

  • Comments (62)
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  • stofeu Feb 18, 2013

    I wish we could get rid off Ezra's bashing for hooking up with Aria, I get that he's older and she's a student, but her parents know now & decided to do nothing, who are we to judge???? I hope you'll never have to go through this kind of impossible love story & that there won't be people judging like prudes: once there're feelings the brain goes blank but you must have a heart to understand that! I'm done with people mowning about this relationship, it's a show not real life u all :)

  • itsmemadie01 Feb 22, 2013

    Ezra is one character with no redeeming factor whatsoever, it's not the actor but it is a horribly written character. And I do not agree that parents (in reality) should agree that a student (underage for that matter) will have sexual relationship with a teacher. And you know why people bash Ezra for that because demographics of 12-18 girls watches this show and if I am a parent I will be disturbed as well that this kind of relationship is portrayed as OK... no it isn't. People go to jail for that...

  • alcalde Sep 26, 2013

    She's not underage; as in most states, in Pennsylvania the age of consent is 16. And Ezra has not been her teacher for quite some time, nor did the relationship start as a student-teacher one. And Ezra puts up with Aria's flakiness, which makes him a saint. ;-)

  • stofeu Feb 22, 2013

    who said that parents should agree about this particular situation???
    I certainly didnt'!
    the show never said this type of relationship's ok & I didn't either.
    it's been repeatedly described as misplaced on the show but it's been dealt with it by the characters, so I only wish that us viewers stopped talking about it.
    in REAL LIFE, this is unspeakable & I totally agree since I'm a teacher, but in the show it works somehow because it's fiction, so let's go on with our lives. if my students told me this relationship's so great I'd definetely object to that & recall it's a fiction but fortunately I'm never talking about tv shows in the classroom. I'd always insist on the fact that relationships have to be between ppl of appropriate age: 15yo with 15 yo 30yo with yo & so on

  • itsmemadie01 Feb 22, 2013

    In one of the psychology classes I took before it was made clear that popular culture does have an effect on children. You cannot tell people that they cannot raise they brows on this matter because it is wrong, not just because it is a dysfunctional relationship but it is legally and morally inappropriate. People get upset over this because it is portrayed as okay. So if we romanticized student-teacher on television makes it acceptable? To end this let me share with you what my art teacher taught me as a kid, people think that we can create art but it is a mere expression of our passion, cliche as it may sound
    we all have that little obsession that our lives will somehow mimic
    art. We all have seen this in Dateline before.

  • Chocolatier Feb 17, 2013

    I'm so over Ezra on this show...used to like them together but I agree Aria needs new love interest, and Little Fitz is cute AND age appropriate (I just wish they'd let him speak in his british accent, wouldn't go with the plot but it is so hot!). Hannah's Caleb/Jamie storyline is boring, I can just see her accusing him of stealing from collection but Pastor Ted having paid him. So silly.

    Also while I like the Spencer is crazy and broken, she needs to channel Mona and start looking good while being conniving and crazy. I don't like her old bag lady look, also a bit of restraint would be nice.

    I thought Cece was the girl in the red coat because if you freeze the scene from Emily's memory at Ali's grave it really looks like her. So she's a fun character to have around but she is clearly pulling some strings and knows a hell of a lot about everything.

    Hoping for some actual progress next week!

  • Colin_Rob_Rock Feb 15, 2013

    Keeping up the Ezra bashing. At least you are consistent.

  • NicholasCampb Feb 15, 2013

    I am that. Also consistent: being creeped out by grown men preying on high school girls.

  • Colin_Rob_Rock Feb 17, 2013

    I meant that he is part of the A team. Being creepy doesn't make you evil. Whenever I see them together I just think that she isn't acctually a High School girl. She's 23 and he's 26. So that make it less creepy for me.

  • NicholasCampb Feb 17, 2013

    Except for Andrew and Pastor Ted (maybe), every male on this show so far has demonstrated to be some part of either Ali's demise or the A Team. Ezra tends to disappear and reappear conveniently (getting onto the train during the Halloween special being the most noticeable to me) and has ties to fortunes that could fund the operation. He's suspicious because of that. He's creepy because he's a grown up dating a high school girl barely within the bounds of legal consent.

    And I'm talking about Ezra Fitz and Aria Montgomery. Ian Harding and Lucy Hale are age appropriate and can do whatever they want. God bless those two good-looking kids. Get crazy.

  • Colin_Rob_Rock Feb 24, 2013

    What about Caleb, Emily's Dad, Hanna's Father?

  • BrookeDsBaby Feb 14, 2013

    What do you bet the head A isn't blonde at all but say...Aria in a blonde wig.

  • stofeu Feb 18, 2013

    Aria'd be a scary A cuz she has all the characteristics of a psycho & looks so loveable at the same time :)

  • Sw33tEscape Feb 14, 2013

    Correction: Paige tried to drown Emily NOT Spencer

    Maybe A put the five in Jamie's wallet and is trying to set Hanna up. They did put that French post-card in Emily's mom's purse, you know the one that Emily had put in Ali's coffin.

    Also, Emily freaking out in the elevator scene is kind of true to her character. She is a HUGE horror films fanatic and just maybe she saw Final Destination 2. I mean this is the girl who when Ian's body went missing went straight to "someone took it to a meat grinder." So it's completely understandable that when being suspended by an elevator and nearly having her legs chopped off (because the elevator took the worst moment to move), she would be freaking out having to climb out of it.

  • Madelynn1984 Feb 14, 2013

    I actually found Hannah's storyline much more boring than Emily's. I can tell that this episode was setting up a whole long boring storyline, which has nothing to do with A and will involve much crying on Caleb's part, and which will occupy much too much of Caleb and Hannah's time. I would prefer Caleb's use in the show to be as Hannah-support or as a member of the Caleb/Paige Hannah and Emily protection team. We don't need side drama about his dad stealing church money. The whole advantage of him being an orphan was that we didn't have to put up with any more "adults" on the show. (They're all a nightmare, and very annoying and/or creepy on this show, except maybe Piper. Where is Piper?) Yawn. Emily's storyline, on the other hand, had Jason, and many bottles of booze, and finding clues, and jumping out of elevators (which, by the way, looked super scary to me.)

    Aria's storyline may or may not have been A-related, depending on your take on Cece. To me, she kind of HAS to be the girl in the red coat, unless I don't know, Mona or Paige or Melissa (or Jenna?) has a blond wig. They don't know any other blondes, and they have gone to a lot of trouble to introduce her this season, without her having much point. In fact, it never even occurred to me that she was just "giving Aria and mini-Ezra some space". I just figured she was straight up putting bottles everywhere and sabotaging elevators. Happy about Ezra's absence and this possible relationship with his younger (thank god) bro, though I'm sure he'll be back. Give me a choice between A) Adult man with a baby dates teenager, or B) Teenager causes trouble, gets kicked out of prep school, goes on the run, and dates another teenager, and I'll pick B) every time. I think the actor who plays Ezra is a total hottie and all, but the writers need to have their heads examined for trying to make us like their statutory rapey relationship.

    I love Spencer so much, and I like she and Wren's interactions, and love it when she attempts to strangle Mona in a room full of people. :) If it weren't for her storyline, this episode would have been kind of a bust for me. But seriously, what were they thinking with that sweater. Just because she's sad and hurt doesn't mean that Spencer Hastings would even OWN something that hideous. I could understand moping about in a hoodie (Not Black) or some kind of non cat-adorned sweater, but. . . Haha, I love how she doesn't have time to shower or pick reasonable clothes, but she's still juicing carrots or something. When I'm sad, I still generally find time to shower, but choose comfort food over juiced carrots. Just me, though. ;)

  • Loralee_jk Feb 14, 2013

    Whoever TEAM A is, they will have ALL appeared in Season 1

  • BrookeDsBaby Feb 14, 2013

    The writers dont even know who all of the A team is. Trust me, they're writing it as they go along.

  • sraley2 Feb 17, 2013

    There are writers for this show?

  • Loralee_jk Feb 14, 2013

    wait, srsly??? The WRITERS don't know??

  • Colin_Rob_Rock Feb 15, 2013

    The Actor who played Toby knew since early on that he was part of the A team.

  • Loralee_jk Feb 15, 2013

    YA! They did that w gossig girl too

  • sodapopgirl721 Feb 14, 2013

    so no one;s writing about the lying game this year? that makes me sad...

  • Alastor7800 Feb 13, 2013

    I think they've made a good thing with the blond's identity, last year I thought it was too obvious that Mona was A because she was the one who was always on screen but had no intrigue and so she became very easy too suspect (or maybe i've seen too many cop shows and became less easy to surprise, i don't know...)
    But this year there are four blond girls on the show, Hanna, Cece, the crazy girlfriend of Aria's dad and Alison. I think we can cross off the first one because it wouldn't make any sense which means that they're four possibilities for the show now :

    Introducing a new character so late in the season (i doubt it it's the easy solution)

    Cece is the girl in red which is the obvious solution and so I don't think it's her because PLL likes this kind of twist, in fact I bet that in the next episodes the girls will all become suspicious of her until they realize at the very end of the last episode that they were wrong.

    So for the show I think it would make sense that Alison is the girl in red because she's supposed to be dead and so she's the one we expect the less (and I never believe the death of a character in tv unless i've seen the body) an that would be a big twist and would generate quite a buzz.

    The crazy ex girlfriend is also a possible choice because it's the revelation no one is expecting and she hasn't been on the show for a while now (which is always a good way of surprising people when she finally pops up from the writers hat at the very last moment!) but in the same time this character seems too off-centered from the main intrigue and I don't think it would make a great effect on people.

    So it might not be PLL best episodes lately but I still find it suspensefull and addictive and they're aren't many "thriller" tv shows I can say the same about lately.

  • chris17blue Feb 13, 2013

    Hi! I'm so glad Nick wrote a review this week. I aboslutely love it! I agree with almost everything.

    "And while the threat against her friends would be enough for Emily, Aria, or even Hanna to cower in shame, Spencer leapt on Mona's throat like a mama bear protecting her cubs."--

    This is why I absolutely adore Spencer, I think that she have completly lost her mind but even so, this was my favorite scene on the show ever. The whole conversation was so beautifully done, Janel/Troian really stepped it up this week. I can't believe how talented they both are!!! I think Mona was a bit surprised by what Spencer did. Then again she said it best "and who is looking cray cray now Spencer".. When she said "Do you still have any friends Spencer", I got chills! I love you Spencer <3 <3

    "Of the non-Spencer stories, Emily's was easily the most annoying, mostly because Emily was at her most annoying. I expect that moral browbeating from, well, Spencer, but I don't exactly feel it's appropriate for Emily to huff and puff about exploring sexual boundaries"---

    Okay this is my take on this. All Emily was saying is that Spencer have changed, and she have tried being supportive before but Spencer keeps pushing her/and the rest of the girls away. I don't think she is being overly judgemental, I think she said it best about Spencer not having monopoly on pain and that everyone has been hurt at one point or another. I never found Emily annoying. She wasn't upset that Spencer was going to show her "cupcakes" to Andrew, but she was upset it's completly out of character for Spencer to do so. She doesn't understand what's happening to her.

    P.S. I'm now 90% sure CeCe is the woman in the red coat (A's team leader).
    P.S.S The final scene leads me to believe A isn't done torturing Spencer, but the bottle landing on Aria -- IS IT FORESHADOWING MAY BE ? For her being part of A ?

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