Pretty Little Liars "Cover for Me" Review: The Education of Miss Aria

By Nick Campbell

Mar 05, 2014

Pretty Little Liars S04E22: "Cover for Me"

One of the questions flavoring the crap sandwich that is Ezra being the creepiest lurker ever is how could he not know who A is? If he's been watching the Liars for so long, and in such great detail, how could he not have seen the people peeking into the windows and spying on the young girls he was also spying on?

It turns out that he has a theory, which seems weaker than what he should have considering his intense level of surveillance. Instead of doing something or warning the girls or even casually casually saying something back when Aria was basically living in his carefully curated apartment, he nestled it in his manuscript and asked Aria to read it... after they broke up. After she found out he was a creepster. After she'd stood in the wreckage of that carefully curated apartment brought to pass by her own hand. "I know you're still super mad about me completely betraying you and generally being a sick f$%k. But could you read my book? There might be answers to some of the lingering questions you have about who's still ruining your life. Other than me, of course. I could just tell you, but then who would read my book? And if you want to give me some feedba— oh, go f$%k myself? Okay. Great."

The hypothesis is that Mrs. DiLaurentis, mother of Alison, keeper of the House of D, is A. While that doesn't sound completely out of left field, one has to wonder about the direction. Of all the people who've been suspects over the years, from Jenna to Melissa to Wilden to Ezra and everyone in between, the grieving mother has never really stood out as a character who could mastermind an elaborate bullying plot so much as she's seemed like a grieving mother who was still in denial about what happened to her daughter. That denial, of course, is completely founded given that Alison is still wandering around, but it didn't seem like Mrs. DiLaurentis necessarily knew that. Also, like Hanna said, "Does she even know how to text?"


But it's plausible that her previous insistence on keeping her daughter's "memory" alive and the revelation that Mrs. D might know about the Spencer Shovel Incident (if it actually happened) could at least provide a motive, despite an apparent lack of skills to create opportunity. Spencer immediately jumped on board, since her drug abuse has basically made everything she's ever thought or concluded subject to allegations of her being an unreliable narrator. When was the last time Spencer came to a conclusion based on an uninspired A prank and something so vague as Mrs D mentioning clean sheets? It's preposterous.

But that's where Spencer's at right now. Her memory betrays her. She doesn't remember things clearly and she's afraid that she's piecing together the puzzle using the circumstantial inferences and insinuations of others. Maybe she did do something to Alison that night. Maybe she did chase that blond cherub through the woods and pummel her with that convenient shovel. Maybe her parents have been covering for her all this time to save her from a murder rap while letting Hanna's family constantly take the fall when all things Alison DiLaurentis comes up.


Alison IS alive, however. Spencer's own blood-spattered "memory" might include Spencer taking Alison out with a spade, but the fact is that, whatever happened that night, there's still some doubt that she bonked Alison so hard on the head that it exploded, and then reconstituted the skull enough to drag Alison out of the woods and over to the Backyard of D so she could bury her, still-breathing, in a shallow grave where Grunwald would later find her. Again, plausible, but it seems unlikely, even for this show. And you would assume Grunwald's dead, crazy eyes would cast some of her clairvoyant creepiness on Spencer, given the fact that she probably knows the whole story. Because of said clairvoyant creepiness

The fact that the Liars are trusting Ezra is just as ridiculous, but Aria is a more enlightened woman now after a weekend of getting under someone to get over someone. Hello/goodbye to Riley, the tall-haired guitarist who happened to be standing next to Aria as she began her weekend of boozing and boning the memories of Ezra away. No one could blame her, and she could certainly have done worse than this guy. I mean, at least he's (supposedly) the same age and probably doesn't have video surveillance on her at the moment. Although that's probably a question she should broach with all potential lovers, given her history of steamy encounters with beautiful strangers. 1. Have you ever dated Alison DiLaurentis? 2. Are you currently watching or have you ever watched me sleep using a portable video feed? 3. Do you own a sweater vest? A "yes" to any of these questions should be a dealbreaker.


Her weekend with Riley in Syracuse was a glimpse at the post-Ezra Aria, and the future looks bright (for us) after having lamented her being so one-dimensional while she was with Fitz. Everything that happened to her, all of her development, is wrapped up in her relationship with him. While Spencer became a badass and Hanna became a flawed cool girl, Aria stayed exactly the same: a romantic walking around blind to the obvious red flags. Credit her with lines like "Bitch can see," but for the most part, her entire existence was for this betrayal, and now that it's happened, we might be able to see what Aria is like without Ezra as a crutch. Yeah, it's with another dude. But the power structure seems to favor her just as much as it does him. When he left early, the show didn't cave to some melodrama where she felt abandoned again or tried to draw out the weekend so she can forget Ezra. She just smiled, kissed him, and figuratively said "Later, bro."

And that's good stuff. That's a side of Aria that's been missing, that "mature" side that Ezra used to rationalize doinking a teenager. He prattled on about it for years, but she never seemed any more mature than her peers. This episode was one of the few times where we saw some complicated individualism from her. She stood up to Ezra and told him that he needed to leave town. She even stayed firm when he had the balls to say they can work things out. You have a vast spying network and were considering selling the life stories of a bunch of high school girls for your own fame, Ezra. It's time to find some new young children to stalk. I hear Malcolm is doing well in Seattle.

The point is that, even though Ezra is a dick who couldn't find the time to tell Aria the identity of the spectre of doom that constantly haunted her and her friends while he and she were consecrating sacred grounds all over the place, she was able to compartmentalize it enough to tell him to leave while simultaneously recognizing the value of her ex-boyfriend's advanced-level stalking. You may not have had Mrs. D on your A list, but with Ezra firmly not A (for now), there's a bit of a suspect vacuum, and with two episodes left in the season, you can probably safely assume that this revelation is closer to the truth than the others. They even started really ramping up her creepiness in this episode. It must be true!



NOTES

– A quick note about our Greek chorus, Hanna and Emily. Even though Hanna went on her first date since Caleb started chasing ghost tail and Emily confronted both Ezra and Mona, it still felt like both of them were enumerating what the audience should know by now rather than pushing their own stories forward. Emily's confrontations were a reiteration of betrayal (her monologue with Ezra about how entangled in her life he was while also being creepy on the side) and sitting shotgun to a soliloquy (Mona talking about her break-up with Mike wass less about him and more about the murky yet "big" get for her). We ended with Hanna putting the pieces together that Paige is the anonymous tipster from last episode but, for the most part, this was a pretty Sparia-focused hour.


– Welcome back, Detective Tanner. Both she and Holbrook were hot on the trail of whoever left the tip rather than doing any due dilligence on the tip itself. Hey, you two. Maybe dial back the hard-boiled banter ("Something doesn't jive." "I think the note is legit.") and start doing some investigating outside of the high school. Seems like someone didn't get the memo that we aren't in a 1940s black-and-white picture anymore.

– Spencer on lockdown post-rehab (for three days) means no phone, no technology, no seeing anyone else except for the new live-in drug counselor and poor dialoguist Dean. He made her run and drink green stuff. By the way, this is the Spencer look Aria was talking about in the noir episode.


– Is Toby actually in London, or is that letter from Wren/Melissa?


– The most unrealistic event to happen in this episode was that Aria raided the minibar and didn't get any flack, despite having absolutely no source of income to help pay for it. That's just ignoring basic tenets of television.

– The farewell note from Riley was a free Beat Up a Jerk coupon. That's sweet. And yes, Aria could probably take Ezra in a fight.


– "We don't have any cheesy puffs." Hey, everyone! Emily made a funny at Hanna's expense!

– Em standing behind Mona while she was pulling out in the Jennamobile is a baller move.


– Why did Mrs D have to swing out like a vampire in that last scene?

– Your Moment of A: Black gloves snip some stray threads from a wedding dress and then zip it up like a corpse in a body bag. Would've been cooler to use the Billy Idol original of "White Wedding" instead of that wan cover. Would've been cooler to use Billy Idol as the hoodie. Hey, is Billy Idol available?


What'd you think of "Cover for Me"?


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  • Llostris Mar 11, 2014

    I totally buy it that Mrs. D is A. She creeps me out. She could play murderess in a slasher movie.

    So will Spencer go to jail for attempted murder in the series final?

  • JuanivanderMe Mar 11, 2014

    I have long since thought maybe Jessica D could be involved with the A team.She always randomly drops in and out of Rosewood,always talking about keeping Ali's memory alive,and making cryptic references to Jason and Alison's past.She certainly has the money to fund the whole thing.More so than say,Wren or Melissa or Mona or whoever else.I don't know,it would be cool if she was A,I just don't see her being very tech savvy.

  • sissi23 Mar 10, 2014

    what is the name of cover for that song ?? :)

  • MisterKez Mar 09, 2014

    This episode was kind of boring to me. Spencer is on lockdown, but she calls Toby and answers the text anyway. When she had to hand over her laptop, I wondered is it password protected? Veronica is the type to go snooping and find all of Spencer's notes about A and whatnot, also her phone, which was locked in an easy to pick drawer of all places. There would still be stuff on Spencer's electronics to get her grounded forever. Oh and how long before Spencer hooks up with her babysitter?

    Aria jumps into bed with rebound guy. We may or may not see him again. It is doubtful. Then instead of saying "Just tell me, I don't want to ready your stinking book". She reads 300+ pages in a couple of hours. Spencer I believe could read it, especially if she is on Adderall.

    Hanna on a date with Opie and was only half (if that much) there, would have been a dealbreaker for me. If I were him, I would have told her to call me when she can really be there. She did recognize Paige's handwriting.

    They brought back the woman detective for a couple of throwaway lines and not any real detective work. As Nick and others have said, why did they waste time trying to find out who sent it, instead of picking up the phone or looking up A.D. Inc on the internet?

    Emily's line about the cheesy puffs immediately made me think of Cartman. I wanted Hanna to say something about "I'm not fat, I'm big boned." in a Cartman impersonation. (Hanna is just perfect size, IMHO). Emily standing behind Mona's car was ballsy, but also reckless. Especially after what Mona did to Hanna way back when. Hopefully Emily will dump Paige after she finds out that Paige left the note.

    Mike blaming Aria for Mona's breaking up with him was off. Does Aria just run off to Syracuse and leave Mike without telling him where she is? The reason Mona gave for breaking up with Mike was gutless. It was the same reason Spencer wanted to break up with Toby and Hanna wanted to break up with Caleb, and Caleb used it to break up with Hanna. Will Caleb come back now that Ravenswood is canceled?

    Yes a lot of little things happened, but there was really no suspense. Ezra threw Mrs. D. under the bus. I don't think she is Big A, another red herring. What was in the letter that Toby wrote? How did Mrs D get out of questioning so quickly? How did she get into Spencer's house, especially if it is on lockdown? If babysitter Kol lives in the barn, how did he hear Spencer at 2 in the morning doing laundry? If and when the girls are at school, notice how they immediately put the other kids into a soft focus. I'm just nitpicking tonight.

    I give this a C+



  • uwanaibanga May 20, 2014

    with the letter opener on the desk just waiting for Spencer to pick the lock too. The blogger was wrong about the most unrealistic thing of the show being Aria and Riley wiping the minibar clean with no consequences. It was how easy the letter opener was just left lying around.

  • ch0c0nutz Mar 06, 2014

    is caleb coming back?

  • vcivi Mar 06, 2014

    Aria,
    Really didn't imagine that she is the type that go's and sleeps with another guy, just after a break up. I mean a lot of people do it, but she didn't seem the type for it....even the boy she chose, was very very cute...
    She shouldn't have gone to Ezra and demanding stuff...so childish...get over it....it would be much cooler, if they saw eachother on the streets and she was with that hotty....that would mess Ezra up....

    Spencer,
    The whole thing with Spencer is becoming a bit lenghty and the whole storyline that she maybe has done something to Allie is BS...Allison is alive and well...do you actually think that Allison would ask for help by spencer and the girls, if she thought that they wanted her dead...i wouldn't...
    So where they are going with this, no clue but very annoying..
    Love the new guy who was also in Vampire Diaries...Dean...

    Emily
    Should break up with Paige...maybe she will after she finds out that Paige is the one who wrote that letter, which can bring all four of them in trouble. IF that is called love, then sorry Paige, you can have it ...
    Loved how she tried to help out MIke...and found out more then she came for.

    Hannah
    She was on a date with this hot guy and all she is doing is texting...not cool Han....then the cops chasing her about the letter...

    It was nice to see in the end that the girls came together...i thought they are all separated this episode...even it cost Spencer more problems...
    There is another season coming, but at some point this has to stop right..
    We want to know who the hell is A, when Allie is coming back, if she does...
    i cannot imagine that they keep continuing with this for ages...it becomes boring..

  • jstitely1 Mar 06, 2014

    I may be in the minority here but I stopped liking Spencer in season 3. All she has done is cry and whine and have a meltdown, get back with Toby, something goes wrong, cry/whine/meltdown, wrongfully accuse someone of A, and the cycle continues over and over again. I really liked the Spencer of season one, she was a tad selfish, but you saw her smarts, that she was driven, she just didn't know how to channel it well. Now, she is just a mess. I get a stalker will do that to you, but outside of Troian's amazing acting abilities it sucks to watch at a certain point. It's the same wash/rinse/repeat they do with Aria in the in love with ezra/insecurities and break up/new guy/in love with ezra again cycle.

  • jman12341234 Mar 06, 2014

    Absolutely not, she's the best character!

  • LadyJaye13 Mar 05, 2014

    Ho hum. I am thinking I am the only one to think it's really bratty of Aria to try and force Ezra to leave town. I'd respect her more if she had him arrested. That seems to be the most fitting but what do I know. I don't find it endearing that she has 'grown up' at all...in fact I feel just the opposite. This makes her look more childish than ever. Sleeping with random guitar guy and being a minor who raids a minibar does the same. Come on ABC FAMILY! Underage drinking is ok? Really?

    I think in general I am losing patience with this show. I am confused about how after all this time Spencer's drug problem is just NOW an issue. I don't find it seamless just writer convenient. I also chafe at the sudden concern displayed by her parent du jour (whichever one they choose to show at the time).

    I love when Mona's a part of the story but I couldn't help but feel letdown by her Mike explanation. I actually like how Emily is doing more than pouting and looking confused lately.

    Oh and about Mrs. D....are we supposed to be thinking that she is really torturing Spencer or is this something that she is hallucinating? If she is really doing it...based on the shovel thing...why NOW?

    Meh. I think it's time for me to give up on this show...overall everything just irritated me.



  • DoesNotEqual Mar 05, 2014

    Remember that we're not talking about the original A, here. Mona was A, but she reminded us (in this episode) that someone stole the game from her. I thought maybe Wren was behind it for a while (remember his pads?), but Mrs. D. taking over partway through when she recovered some sanity and put some pieces together would make sense.

    Plus remember, it seems like we have TWO A's these days: the regular -A, and Kisses, A.

  • AndreaMcCooey Mar 05, 2014

    • There was also an awful cover of a Cheryl Cole song stuck in there somewhere too, which upset me, because someone covering her songs gives her some validation as an "artist", which I don't agree with. She's the worst.
    • I'm assuming the moment of A was to lend credence to the Mrs D theory? Seeing as she is organising a wedding fashion show dealy for charity.
    • Hope Toby went to London for a decent haircut.
    • Is Jenna dead...or.... I honestly don't remember where half the people in this show are at any one time. Mona has her car??
    • On that note, I get that Ella is in Europe with hot coffee shop owner, so Byron is teaching in New York, but Aria and Mike are grand staying at home alone in Rosewood, which is several hours away??? And Byron is able to leave shit in the fridge for Aria when he is hours away from the house? SuperDad?!
    • Go Hanna, she continues to be so awesome. Sleuthing around, figuring out that Paige is an interfering busybody!
    • "Can you make sure a real teacher gets this?" Ooooooh, burn! Good one Ems.
    • I guess this means #Haleb is done for good? Say it aint so!

  • NicholasCampb Mar 10, 2014

    No announcement that I'm aware of that Tyler Blackburn will be back (just butt pictures) but, if he were to return, I feel like PLL would want to establish the Travis/Hanna thing (#Tranna?) first because that's a built-in drama bomb. Chances are the minute the pendulum has swung in Travis's favor will be the episode Caleb finds his way back to Rosewood.

  • nidz89 Mar 06, 2014

    It wasn't a cover, per se - Ingrid Michaelson wrote the song; this was her version.

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