Pretty Little Liars "Hot for Teacher" Review: Ezra Is a Creep, Sky Is Blue

By Nick Campbell

Feb 05, 2014

Pretty Little Liars S04E18: "Hot for Teacher"


Give Spencer some speed and let her figure out the whole anonymous cyber-stalker bully thing in a few days. If there was ever more of a pro-drug message, I haven't seen it.

If Pretty Little Liars must be boiled down to a single conflict, there's no debate that it's Spencer versus A. The other Liars may bumble their way into clues every so often, but make no mistake: Spencer has always been the one pushing everything, connecting the dots, solving the puzzle. Rosewood is her Gotham. A is her Joker. And it turns out that ADHD meds are her cape and cowl.

Yeah, she's a little more jumpy, prone to shouting in the streets, and has eyes like she's been sobbing in the corner of a dusty attic filled with cats for three weeks. But Spencer putting the EzrA pieces together is kind of a big deal for the series, especially with so many "Ezra is A" deniers out there. Not only does it redefine where this season is headed (remember when PLL was basically about a group of exhausted, Ali-hypnotized zombies alternating between "let's write Alison off and move on" and "we love you Alison you should definitely come home and be our leader"?), but gives us a sense of purpose.


It gives us a sense of some movement in this season. It's exhausting watching our protagonists flit from one angry threat to another, bouncing between the same old bits of information or new versions of the same information. I know that's nothing new for Pretty Little Liars, a show that likes to contain most of its progression in a few episodes while filling the rest with red herrings and misdirection. But now we have this tangible enemy to tackle instead of the obscure, part-of-the-ether villain. Without a face to put on A, it's been like watching a bunch of girls fight the rain.

What's even more intriguing about all this is how the show is willing to sell out Ezra. As if Spencer compiling the clues wasn't enough, that old limited third-person omniscient perspective is just about completely shattered now. We used to only see things that happened to the Liars through the Liars. We saw what they saw and that's all the information we had. Then it started expanding to other characters, parents, siblings, Mona. They became victims, too. Now we see Alison and she's a victim. We see Shana and she's a victim. To see Ezra's darker perspective—he who has a spy command center decked out with pictures of Alison in his remote cabin beyond cell reception—is either expanding the circle of victimhood to Ezra (he's being used by A or was used by A and now he's counter-intelligence), or we're nearing the end of the EzrA life-cycle (just like we found out about Mona).

In any event, Ezra is now more gross than ever before. Think of all the gross things you've ever thought about Mr. Fitz (doinking a student, etc.) and put that in the context that he's recording everything. Every moment he's spent in Rosewood has been detailed to him by some minions or via his own surveillance. His proximity to the girls wasn't just because he communes better with teenagers. Yeah. There's definitely video of him and Aria consecrating that sacred ground.


We're at a point where it seems like Pretty Little Liars is asking, "What more do we have to show you in order to establish that Ezra is a bad guy?" Unfortunately, the audience has become jaded to obvious reveals. The fact that Ezra is being sold out so hard almost has a negative effect on people who are still chewing salty bites of red herring. Advancing the case for cynical wait-and-seers, enter Shana. Standing in Emily's room, already intimately familiar with Alison-related objects lying around, she provided answers to a not-especially-sleuthy Em. But the answers seem to point to the fact that the dots they've connected about her are mostly random points of coincidence rather than the outline of any villainous shape.

Shana wasn't intentionally dating Paige to get closer to the girls; that was dumb luck. She also wasn't being a see-you-next-Tuesday to her and her friends because she was on A's side, but because she was testing the loyalty and moral character remaining in the girls after Alison's absence. And, most incredibly, Shana wasn't at Wren's because she's associated with him in any way. She was basically hired off Craigslist to help him pack up some boxes. Apparently he didn't even know that she went to Rosewood High. Everything is a crazy, random happenstance. If you believe it.

So Shana recruited the most gullible Liar to retrieve a wad of cash for Alison. The cynic in me watched Emily hide that fat stack in a bag of coffee beans and assumed that she'd been recruited to join Alison's personal Underground Railroad for privileged white girls. Most of all, it would end up having to be a new set of lies she'd have to tell her friends, because you can't be shadowy if everyone knows your business. In fact, with Spencer and Hanna barking up that EzrA tree, and Aria keeping her Fitz getaways a secret, all the Liars seemed to be hiding huge secrets from everyone else.


The difference is how exhausted everyone seems to be with having to lie all the time. Aria was the mouthpiece for this as she stood up to Ezra, exhausted by the number of serial untruths she had to tell in order to be at the cabin, just before she was quickly manipulated and the table was set for her incredulous reaction to Spencer's accusations. The remaining Liars put that same sentiment into action. Tired of running, they spilled their secrets to each other: Spencer and Hanna about Fitz to Em, Em showing the stack of cash to the others. This isn't the first time the show has hinted at "the truth shall set you free," but for now, these are baby steps to that end.

How in the world Pretty Little Liars went so long without naming an episode "Hot for Teacher" I will never know. But we knew that, when it arrived, it would mark an important turning point for the series. While I'm not 100 percent convinced that the show isn't going to backpedal its way out of this, I'm starting to believe that's because of my own jadedness than what the show is actually trying to tell me. Sorry, #Ezria 'shippers. It might be time to light those torches and storm the castle walls.



NOTES

– Did you guys catch the hip-hop montage for when Spencer took her pills near the beginning of the episode? Pill, water, pop, sip, research. Interesting Requiem for a Dream reference that didn't seem to just stop there. They also showed Spencer rushing around her room on speed (very similar to Sara Goldfarb cleaning her apartment), and Spencer hitting all the buttons at Ezra's apartment building to get someone to let her in (something Harry does early in the movie). I'm just saying, Spence, if Big Tim says all you need to do to get more of those pills is attend one of his parties, don't go.

– Not a whole lot of time spent at Rosewood High this episode, so today's quote comes from Detective Nice Guy's manhandling of Sherlock Holmes: "It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important." Even though it's all of a sudden and it's coming in dribs and drabs, I kind of like the subtle education that Hanna is getting about being sleuthy while still maintaining her childlike adoration for shoes and stuff.


– "It's like a constant barrage of slow jams and lip balm." What slow jams do you think Mike and Mona listen to? R. Kelly? Bruno Mars? Also, Aria is two for two these past couple weeks with the clever zingers. Stop making me compliment, Aria, show.


– Kudos to Brenda Bangs, the unassuming prescription drug trafficker. Spencer was powerless.

– "Sloppy work leads to consequences." Is A going to start razzing the Liars for lifting their essays from Wikipedia now? Seems to be a pet expansion there, Ezra. "I know we've been bullying these kids for a while for all the lies they've been telling, but plagiarism is, like, the biggest lie of all, and we should crush them for it." Wait. OMG, you guys. Do you think A got to Shia LeBeouf?

– "Or were they talking about peaches, and parasols, and Scarlett O'Hara?" Those are the only things we Georgians talk about. Well, those and seersucker suits, eating fried chicken for breakfast, and prefacing every piece of gossip with "I do declare."

– That Aria feed is so super creepy.


– I suppose Alison heading out of town using the last of her money to grab a bus ticket is important. But I'm still trying to understand why any of these girls want her around anyway.

– Your Moment of A: A Hoodie has a bunch of Wren's prescription pads. Maybe the A Team got a tip from Brenda Bangs and decided this ADHD drug trafficking could be the way to finance their new set of doll-sized coffins.


What'd you think of "Hot for Teacher"?


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  • tahaniassad1 Feb 16, 2014

    I don't think Ezra is a! that's just too easy, they only want us to think that he's a, and there's gonna be another surprise! maybe he's a secret cop or something.

  • KateSullivan Feb 09, 2014

    So...I found myself almost yelling at Spencer (and the show) that it probably should occur to Spencer that she has someone in Ravenswood who would believe her seems like he has the most legitimate beef with A and has the skills to investigate and to the show..you have an avenue for either a brief or permanent return of Caleb. Or hell that could be a use for Toby since aren't he and Caleb best buds and you could suck Toby into the Ravenswood drama (Olivia might like a non demonic romantic distraction). But yeah while I want the show to commit to Ezra as A and I will travel if you want to put a giant red herring in the girls way but I sort of feel like we are setting up either a counter intelligence A or maybe a reigningin by Uber A of a former minion. And we laid the groundwork or the show hammered the square peg in a round hole by having Alison say she thought she knew who was threatening her but was wrong. Did anyone else notice Aria was missing from that photo? Like in case the show says yes Ezra is A to provide an explanation for why Ali never tried to warnAria.

  • NicholasCampb Feb 10, 2014

    Saying #BooRadleyVanCullen is a non-demonic romantic distraction might be pushing it. Jury's still out on whether he's human or a vampire.

    But, I hear you. How obvious they're making it that Ezra has surveillance on everyone makes me feel like they're setting us up for Ezra being the NSA of good intentions and fighting against an Uber A with a reformed Mona and an able Mike. I'm sure we'll get that answer sooner than later.

    Aria's in the photo, by the way, just poking in on the bottom right hand corner. Ali couldn't get a picture where Hanna wasn't drooling on the couch?


  • KateSullivan Feb 10, 2014

    Oh, looked too quickly. Another thing I was yelling at Spencer that she finally figured out? The fact that his birth name is Ezra Fitzgerald and I think it was like two seasons ago that we met his brother and his mother and learned he had altered his name to shed the family stuff.

  • NicholasCampb Feb 10, 2014

    I think that's something we knew and Aria knew but did she share that with the other Liars? If so, that's a HUGE plot hole -- that they'd probably back-pedal out of by saying Spencer knew but she didn't recall it until she needed another name to look up Ezra's holdings. It's the benefit of keeping vague narrative perspectives and even more vague story points.

  • MarleneAnna Feb 08, 2014

    First and most importantly Ezra is a creep, like seriously. I cannot stand the sight of him without thinking SOMEONE FIGURE THIS CREEP OUT !! All that expensive equipment (cameras & spyware) in his basement & all around like someone please choked him to death. Poor Aria getting manipulated by Ezra Fitz. He has her wrapped around his fingers & he worked the lines so well. I feel so sad for Aria. She is going to get her heart broken so bad.

    Let's talk about how the writers love to break Spencer down. They are always treating her the worst. Give her a break and let her be happy. Also, where the HECK is Toby to help her through her rough patch, SERIOUSLY !!! Spencer is always being nosy and in this case I am so glad that she got a chance to tell Hanna and Emily that Ezra is A. He is so conniving.

    I might be the only one that loves Gabriel & Hanna. They don't even have to be a couple because of course I will always be #TeanHaleb. I just like they're friendship.

    So, at the end I am assuming that Allison is coming back to town?! I still don't know how to feel about her because she plays TOO many games.

    Then, Wren Kingston?! What the heck does he have to do with anything?!?!?!

  • LadyJaye13 Feb 08, 2014

    I don't actually care at this point how hard they try to sell it, Ezra isn't A. I might be on board with the counterterrorist Ezra but not the he is definitely A one.

    I like the relationship between Hanna and the cop but I also don't think that's gonna end well.

    Did anyone notice the creepy looking older guy that was behind Hanna and Aria in the hall at school right when they started talking about the cop? He appeared out of nowhere and looked to me like he was following them and eavesdropping. Or I'm paranoid.

    Yet another episode that ended with me wondering why the hell I'm still watching.

  • NicholasCampb Feb 09, 2014


  • ark1317 Feb 07, 2014

    So, what I think is...

    - So Shana, the one that came ALL THE WAY FROM GEORGIA, double-crossing everyone, playing undercover agent for Ali, gets so scared that can't possibly say to Ali Emily has her money. Why bother coming at all? Especially since everything she's done is a coincidence LOL.
    Most important, if Shana is the one closer to Ali, why the hell chase her off when A could quietly spy on her until led to Ali?

    - Why is Alison not wearing a wig, or change the color of her hair? A's looking for her and the police' looking for Cece, I really wouldn't go all blonde on a bus heading god know where.

    - It's some episodes that Hanna's been more clever, I really like that and oddly I like her relationship with Gabe :D
    Also I still think Wren's "almost" Uber A and that he's the one operating on Hanna at the dentist's.

    - I stand by what I thought since the EzrA reveal: Ezra is A's real enemy, they were totally study buddies at Hollis'.

  • CaitlinRice Feb 06, 2014

    Crazy Spencer just makes me happy in all her incarnations. Seeing exhausted, driven, drugged-up Crazy Spencer is just as awesome as "I've just given up" Crazy Spencer. She should just stick around more.

    I'm glad we actually got Hanna and Emily in on the Ezra is A train. That needed to happen. But I'm more and more convinced that Ezra is just a creepy creeper and not A, which is really gonna piss me off. If he's A, then the creepiness can be better explained. If not, he at best is a creepy pervert bordering on pedophile and he doesn't have Toby's abs to fall back on. :)

  • NicholasCampb Feb 09, 2014

    Crazy Eyes Spencer is the character at her finest. When she's content and casual, she's basically just like the other Liars: distracted and kind of boring. She doesn't have the je ne sais quois that makes her different. Robbing us of that part of her is like stealing the pithy lines from Hanna or taking away Emily's furrowed brow. It's what makes her special.

    As far as Ezra being A, either we trust what the show is doing by giving us EzrA on a silver platter (something they've never really done) or we're dupes for trusting our gut on Fitz (because we already thought he was a creep show) and the show is going to use that against us. To me, EzrA makes the better, more complete story, if slightly contentious in content for its target audience. But that might not be the plan.

  • CaitlinRice Feb 10, 2014

    My thing is, even once we knew Mona and Toby were involved, we didn't get the overabundance of "Let's make them look as guilty and creepy as possible" shots. We actually saw Toby doing -A team related things so I felt more inclined to believe it. I really want Ezra to be -A. I think the show loses a TON of credibility if he isn't (even more than they already have), but they're so freaking invested in Ezria as endgame that it's getting harder and harder to believe that it's legit.

  • mcepin3 Feb 06, 2014

    I was wondering and forgot to ask this previous week...how old was Ali in that scene with Ezra? I'd say between 12-14 years old and I'd put Ezra around 25? Because actors are older,I think people forgot,how old Ali should have been,which is really disturbing and creepy.

    On to this week....silly me,I actually thought that "money bag" will get stolen or sold to someone,but Emily actually pulled it off(enjoy this moment Em,this is a praise to you...Lord knows you don't get too many...). And Spencer told Hannah and Emily...wow...should make for interesting episodes to come...once again I thought only Hannah will learn toward end of episode,but wrong again. Good job PLL,good job.

  • LadyJaye13 Feb 08, 2014

    Actually out of all the actors, Ali i the only one that was a real teenager at the time the series started. The rest of them were all already in their 20s.

  • CaitlinRice Feb 06, 2014

    Well Ali went missing right before the girls started their sophomore year of high school which should have made her 15.

  • mcepin3 Feb 07, 2014

    She went missing at that time,but she had to be with Ezra,when she was around 14 or younger,so my guess is right.

  • JazDavies Feb 06, 2014

    Aren't the prescription pads meant to make us believe that Shana stole them from Wren's house when she was there 'packing boxes'?

  • La-Lady Feb 06, 2014

    – I suppose Alison heading out of town using the last of her money to grab a bus ticket is important. But I'm still trying to understand why any of these girls want her around anyway.


    More interesting, why didn't they try to find her before she was "found dead"?

  • mcepin3 Feb 06, 2014

    huh?

  • inbar777 Feb 06, 2014

    o.k so I don't know how they can redeem ezra at this point , if he is indeed another case of red herring , there's just so many evidence that 's piling up against him that it's really hard to think otherwise ,I mean when we thought toby was on the A team he was gone for most of the episodes until it was revealed that he was really in the A team to protect spencer and we never really got to see what he was doing while he was there except for chilling with mona from time to time but with ezra we already know he has a secret lair in his creepy serial killer cabin , he apparently also has a hidden camra outside his apartment , he's watching the liars photos and worst of all he's watching his girlfriend sleeping in a hidden camera in his bedroom I mean if he isn't A/ part of the A team it's still creepy as hell and I don't care if he's doing it to protect aria or whatever excuse the writers are going to use cause at this point, red herring or notthat's just sick , you are one sick bastard ezra fitz.


    Some random thoughts


    When aria was wearing the army jacket in the cabin she looked from the back exactly like emily .


    o.k so shana is basically a horrible character


    I kinda hoped she was dead in that scene in the car


    she's such a bad actor she makes emily "I only have one facial expression and it's surprise" look really good.



    Oh and I loved hanna's shoes BTW.

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