Pretty Little Liars "Surfing the Aftershocks" Review: The Secret to Becoming Unforgettable

By Nick Campbell

Jun 25, 2014

Pretty Little Liars S05E03: "Surfing the Aftershocks"


We need to talk about Hanna.

We're in a Countdown to #Haleb so we can expect some monumental things for Hanna in the coming weeks once her ghost-romancing ex-boyfriend shows up to explain how complicated things were and that we should all just never talk about it again. But this week was a decent-sized breakthrough when it comes to her identity and the effect Planet Alison has had on her orbit. It was the kind of thing I'd hoped we see from Aria since she broke up with Ezra but, to be fair, she's kind of going through her own thing right now, deciding if she's actually a murderess. Well, of things that aren't birds.

Hanna's realization of what Mona did for her stitches together that uncanny audience feeling of Alison and Hanna's similarities and Mona seeking out the meekest of the Liars to be her friend. While we've basically had the idea all along that Hanna and Ali being superficially alike was intentional, we may not have known that it was Mona that put her on the path for that specific purpose of creating a likeness.

Mona was obsessed with being part of the clique and was gripped by Alison just as much as the other Liars, even in her disillusionment of being kept at arm's length by her "loser" monicker. So when Alison left, Mona had a chance to make a new Alison, a better Alison. She had the technology. And that technology turned out to be Spanx.

So the meekest little Liar turned into the better version of Alison: cool, likable, charismatic, and, best of all, tolerant of Mona. But there was a small detail that's missing from all the flashbacks we've seen with Alison and the Liars. We know who Aria was, the pink-streaked rebel, independent and artsy. We know who Spencer was, the overachiever who was bad with people. We even know who Emily was, the squirrelly, closeted athlete. Hanna was nothing but quiet and willing to take the abuse of her peers. It's a hole in the storytelling. They didn't flesh her out despite the fact that she's now a fan favorite. Now they've plugged the hole by detailing that Hanna doesn't really know either.

That's how Planet Alison most affected her orbit: after years of being the "me, too" of the group, she was clay to be molded and Alison was the ideal shape. Now that Alison is back and doesn't seem to have the same pull over everyone (unless they're named Emily), Hanna has the opportunity to look at her life, how she was mistaken for Alison and so ready to pretend to be her, and think, "What the hell am I doing?" Alison is not a person you want to be. You do not want to be the girl that people are hunting down because she was a jackass. You definitely don't want to be her now, all emotionally-scarred and traumatized from keeping one step ahead of the long arm of A. So, if the end-game of your creator was to be Alison, and you suddenly realized your autonomy, wouldn't you also need a change? A hair change is fine. Just don't change too much, Hanna.

Speaking of the storytelling itself, though, they also did an interesting thing with Jason this week, specifically, our theories about Jason. It appears we were right where they wanted us to be. In the season finale, we talked about how Jason is the only logical person to have knocked out Alison with a big rock since Mrs. D wouldn't really try to protect anyone else. So sound, our logic, right? I mean, talk to me three months ago and I would've said it was airtight. Outfoxed the show. Sorted. And then Emily and Hanna came up with the exact same theory. So, obviously, we have to be wrong.

Spencer cajoles her way through the episode with a pace we haven't seen in a while. She was actually borderline rude about everything, even after she came to terms with the fact that her parents might have done her solid even if she didn't need it. Papa Hastings was nothing but nice throughout the episode (which is, of course, suspect) and Spencer kept raking him over the coals. The sad part was when he brought home pretzels and he asked if his daughter wanted some. She says "sure" and it looks like they might have a civil conversation, maybe some father-daughter bonding time. But, instead, Spencer brought her Abbie Carmichael swagger to their countertop meeting. There was so much third degree that I almost identified with Melissa when she joined the party, a woman who is making it a difficult to be on her side, what with crazily swinging from being a loyal family member in cahoots to keep the Hastings safe to someone unnecessarily cutthroat and mean when talking to her sister. I guess that humanizing period is over.

Spencer is digging up the secrets, though, as you would expect her to. Hanna and Emily also have their own sleuthing squad but they don't find anything from the weird transient-looking dry-out house leader (or Arnie) that honestly is of any importance except that Jason used to eat A LOT of pizza. Three times a week? Hokey smokes. How did Jason keep his manly figure?

But while Hanna was finding out she's just been an Alison drone with better dialogue and Spencer was finding out that maybe her dad is a killer, Aria is off suffering the PTSD of being responsible for killing someone. She's confiding in Ezra, which doesn't really add up. I know that they're very close, love of each other's lives, blah blah blah. But it was only a couple weeks ago in Rosewood time that you found out he was a crazy stalker with hidden surveillance all over your life. She's so quick to trust him again. And I know that it's easy to take Alison's advice and do the exact opposite because, really, what the heck does she know, but can you start telling the man who, by his own admission, wanted to publish all of your secrets in a book for his own profit? Forgive and forget but maybe take some time.

But if there's an overall theme to the episode, it's honesty and refusing to just be a couple of satellites in the pull of Alison. Ezra wants to be completely honest with Aria. Aria tells Ezra about Shana. Hanna's on her way to being true to herself. And Spencer has been about nothing but truth since she came into our lives. It seems like only a matter of time before all this honesty is going to bite these girls in the behinds, particularly when their honesty conflicts with the lies they've been spinning. More importantly, though, I'm not sure what we're looking forward to right now. Yes, Spencer is on the verge of outing someone as the person to kill Mrs. D or the girl in the tomb or something. And Mona's got something going on. But there's not a lot to discuss as far as plot goes right now. We're not exactly cliffhanger-y. Maybe that's okay. We have plenty of time. So much time.


NOTES


— The Liars must have a closets dedicated solely to the revealing black dresses they wear to funerals. Where are they getting all these clothes? Are memorial services what gave Cece Drake her start in the competitive Rosewood boutique market? Before switching over to bright clothes and Tresemmé, did Bruce oversee racks and racks of lacy little numbers for casket viewings? Who knew there'd be so much tragedy in this suburban Pennsylvania hamlet that its young women would need endless funeral attire? Cece knew.

— Emily: "Coincidences happen." Spencer: "Yeah, all the time. They grow on trees like coconuts waiting for you to walk under them." Poor, sweet Emily. After all this time you'd assume that believing in coincidences in Rosewood is like rationalizing the tooth fairy. How can the tooth fairy fly with all those quarters, Emily? How does the tooth fairy fly?

— I know I bring it up every week but I really like that Mona is back and openly dastardly.

— Welcome to the show, Sydney Driscoll. If you're one of Mona's Heroes, you are terrible at the stealth game. If you're honestly just another swimmer hoping to get advice from Coach Em, well, that can't be true because we're in Rosewood. Literally everyone is up to something. Except that one kid from the academic decathlon. He just wanted to see Spencer's boobs.

— "Blood is thicker than water ... it can also be very slippery." What does that even mean, Melissa? Because you're also blood. So should Spencer stay away from you, too? Or are you saying that Jason and you are on the same level? Or are you just saying to not clean your floors with blood? I don't know where you're going with that.

— Alison got real scared of that painting. Is that the same one from Breaking Bad?

— In this episode, we also got the origin story of the cupcake-eating torture. It all comes together.

— I didn't realize that Ezra pinning the A title on Shana was so circumstantial. She was following them and was wearing a hoodie? That's your evidence? Anyone can be wearing a black hoodie (like, seriously, anyone—half the town is on A's payroll) and you were skulking around after the girls, too. Can the Liars please just put it together that Shana was not A. Can that be the next puzzle that Spencer solves?

— Spencer: "Crazy around here works on a sliding scale." Amen, sister.

— I say that Papa Hastings was being genial and protective this episode, but there's nothing more creepy in the entire episode than him offering to give Alison a ride home. It sounded like he had an unmarked conversion van waiting for her around the corner. Also: where the heck was Alison going?

— The Paige Saga: I'm over it. Do something with her.

— Aria: "But, here I am, once again. Back at the scene of the crime." Ezra: "There's no crime here. Not the way I see it." There was a crime there. It was consecrating "sacred ground" with your sixteen-year old student. Not to pry, but I'm sure there were multiple crimes there.

— So Mona is definitely watching Hanna get her new color. But who is the other woman behind the frosted window? It looks like someone wearing an Ali mask to me. But maybe it's Alison. Or Jenna. Or one of the vast number of waifish teenage girls that populate the show. Honestly, it could be an extra in the background of the high school. I guess anyone can be A now.


  • Comments (62)
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  • RVC18 Jul 09, 2014

    I really like this show, I just don't understand why they add so much lesbian things to it, no offense. I took me a really long time to get over the fact that Emely was lesbian, and know they also added Ally to the list? I found that completely unnecessary. although I enjoy the mystery that A brings to the show.

  • diana_38822222222 Feb 25, 2015

    This comment has been removed.

  • vespa4 Nov 06, 2014

    because representation in the media is actually important.
    Also, there's not actually "lesbian things" in the show. Everyone has their A-storylines and romantic storylines, emily just happens to be gay while she does it. The only storyline that was actually revolved around lesbianism was when emily came out in season 1. Also, i dont see why having other queer characters is unitelligable for you, thats what life is like. Sure some people identify as straight, some as gay, some as bi, some as pan, but there really is a lot inbetween as well. Its providing an accurate representation of what life is like-diverse and somewhat sexually fluid.
    Though, talking about the diverse thing, maybe they should get some other ethnicities in there that arent just white.

  • ch0c0nutz Jul 01, 2014

    isn't it shaUna tho?

  • harvestg Jun 30, 2014

    How do the Liars know when Mrs D was killed?

  • MisterKez Jun 30, 2014

    Best line of the night was Hannah saying "You won't even know we're here."

    Hannah wearing bright yellow shoes to a funeral was tacky, imo.

    Well getting shot did not improve Ezra's moral compass. Aim a little lower next time. He is still a perv.

    Get rid of Paige entirely. I never did like her. Make the new swim girl Em's new girlfriend. Paige can go to Ravenswood for all I care.

    Spencer had some decent one liners, but not the best. I still like strung out Spencer.

    Why do they keep talking about Jenna? I thought she was gone for good. And when are they going to realize that Shana was just a lieutenant?




  • harvestg Jun 30, 2014

    Haha I like the phrase, they can go to Ravenswood for all I care....might start using it in real life!

  • MisterKez Jun 30, 2014

    Glad you liked it. Get the PLL community to start using it for all the characters we hate. Ezra, Paige, etc . . Just remember to give me credit. ;)

  • ogechiwosu Jun 27, 2014

    I have a feeling that in the end, everything will end badly for the girls. I mean, it's back to the beginning, basically: they're all friends with Alison, who has everything revolving around her, Spencer has problems with her family (and Ali made those worse back them and probably will again), Aria has her own issues( her dad's affair last time, Shana's death this time, and Ali is involved in both), Hanna has identity issues (her weight which Ali mocked, and now her Ali-like makeover at the hands of Mona), and Emily is in love with Ali. In the past, their relationships with Alison caused them nothing but trouble and had them disliked by most of the town. Well, history is going to repeat itself.

    Especially once A returns.

  • 24treehills Jun 27, 2014

    Please PLL if you want to make Hannah look fat , make her look fat . Don't just change the lens in the camera and add some ( lame ) make up to her chin . It's embarassing .

  • kevbuffylost108 Jun 29, 2014

    She doesn't look fat at all, they call her Hefty Hanna but all I see is sexy Ashley Benson with a bit of make-up attached to her neck.
    I don't expect the Monica fatsuit or the embarrassing Lee Adama fatsuit but I expected her to look like me, FAT.

  • CaitlinRice Jun 26, 2014

    Well I definitely enjoyed the flashbacks. I think it added a little more to the Hanna/Mona dynamic. Mona knew exactly what she was doing and it adds a little more to her sociopathy. But it's nice to see Hanna realizing what Mona did, and realizing how little she actually knows who SHE is. It'll be interesting to see her journey throughout the season. As long as she keeps her one liners I'm ok.

    Spencer clearly needs a mystery in her life at this point. I don't think it has anything to do with Ali, it's just a matter of her having all the answers and being in control.

    The pacing has been interesting. Things have been happening, but it's been weird not having the constant -A presence. I bet we'll see things pick up with the 100th episode.

  • mcepin3 Jun 26, 2014

    Ezra has never been more creepier until this episode. He literally was praying on Aria's inexpirence. "So young and stupid...which is why you are my type!" :D (he didn't say this,but he might as well have said it) Whole time he was figuring,how to get Aria back and when she told him her secret of killing Shauna,he went like *bingo!!! got something over you...found my way back in..oh to be young and naive... " how can I help?"

  • LadyJaye13 Jun 26, 2014

    I'm done with the show. It is completely retarded now. Aria has turned into the number one entitled self absorbed brat that I suspect the actress is in real life. The who thing is just sloppy now. Flashbacks of Hanna and Ali? Really? Too little too late. She was more interesting dead. These actresses are all CLEARLY too old to be teenagers and yet they keep trying to trick us. Just stop. The show has no meaning anymore not that it ever had a lot.

  • Madelynn1984 Aug 14, 2014

    Woah, how do you know how Lucy Hale is in real life? I mean, I don't know either, but I was just thinking about how hard-working she must be, what with the show, recording her own albums, and being involved with her own clothing line as I read recently. I just don't associate all of that hard work with being an entitled brat, myself. Anyway, if you have some evidence, carry on, but I thought your comment sounded mean.

  • CatAttack93 Jun 26, 2014

    And I miss A! Come back soon bitch.

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