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