Pretty Little Liars: Damn the Lies, Full Speed Ahead

Pretty Little Liars S03E04: "Birds of a Feather"

It’s official: Pretty Little Liars has never moved at a faster pace. How refreshing after two seasons of dragging our feet to see this show really pick up and deliver answers every week. It’s hard to say whether we’re moving forward to a satisfying conclusion—this is still Pretty Little Liars, so that’s hard to imagine—but at this point, it’s clear we’re at least going full speed ahead.

This week’s big reveals: the identity of the Black Swan, and how long Melissa had been hiding her miscarriage. Once again, I found myself surprised we got answers so fast. Pretty Little Liars must be working with an even more intricate mystery this season—otherwise, how could it justify showing its cards so early on? This is definitely a point in the show's favor: It's less frustrating to watch, but we also get the sense that it’s building to something more. And the stakes feel higher than ever; this new “A” nearly ran Caleb’s mom off the road.

We’re still getting character moments, too, from the lighthearted storyline of Aria trying to set her mom up on a date to the heavier plot of Hanna and Caleb calling it quits. (At least for now. I think it’s safe to assume these two won’t be parted for long.) Sometimes it’s hard to remember the day-to-day life the girls experience when there are such overarching conspiracies at hand, but both are important: I like that the show is consistently giving us big mystery reveals and grounded emotional scenes. Despite all of Pretty Little Liars’ rampant absurdity, Rosewood finally feels real.

If I’m allowed one complaint about this week’s episode, it would be the introduction of the character Nate. I’m just not a fan of the hamfisted “relative of a departed character trope” that TV series sometimes throw at us. It’s a cheap way to stir up emotions for the character we lost, and to shove a new character into the series without really having to earn it. So far, Nate’s defining trait is that he’s related to Maya; now that she’s dead, he’s one of the few connections remaining. But nothing he said or did felt attached to the rest of the episode. If he’s going to stick around, the writers need to give us more to work with.

But back to those aforementioned big reveals, because let’s face it, most of us tune in religiously for the gasp-worthy moments. After being confronted with an errant feather from her costume—and again, kudos to the girls (in this case Spencer) for taking way more of an initiative this season—Melissa copped to being the Black Swan at the masquerade ball. When pressed about the miscarriage, Melissa also admitted that she’d been faking her pregnancy since she lost the baby the day after Ian was found dead. I’m not sure I buy this: Just because Pretty Little Liars gives us answers doesn’t mean they have to be the right ones.

That’s actually something worth considering, as it seems like we’re getting more and more loose ends tied up, but how do we know we’re not being led further off track? There’s a lot more power in telling your own version of the truth than in deflecting—we take tearful confessions at face value and assume honesty, but all of this could just be a manipulation. Do we really believe Melissa? And along the same lines, none of these characters (outside of the core group) are all that reliable: We’ve gotten tips and explanations from Jenna, Lucas, and Mona, but if they’re all still working for “A,” that intel means nothing.

Worse than that, it means more dead ends. By the end of this season, I could be kicking myself for praising the show’s free-flowing information. If it’s all leading us in the wrong direction, what is it worth? Of course, Pretty Little Liars has then nearly impossible task of sustaining a mystery indefinitely—and if messing with us is what it takes to do that, I’m in. As long as I don’t feel stalled, and as long as the show consistently entertains, I’m willing to go along for the ride, no matter how unclear the final destination is.


QUESTIONS:

1. Do you believe Melissa’s story about the masquerade ball and the miscarriage?

2. Why is Detective Wilden asking about the Hastings’ lake house?

3. How long until Caleb and Hanna kiss and make up?

Comments (14)
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I can never figure out the timeline on the show, because a few weeks seems like one season, and then all of a sudden 5 months has gone by... but I think maybe Melissa actually HAD her baby over the summer and is hiding this fact for some reason. Possibly to keep the child safe? Could the baby be Garrett's, and Spencer's mom knows this and that's the real reason she's trying to get Garrett out of jail?

Nate did seem like a pretty awkward character, although good-looking, and he and Emily had some chemistry going on, but it would be a shame if his character is only there to try and seduce Emily, which would probably serve to confuse her for a bit but ultimately she'll reject him, because--girl don't play that way. Anyway, all the twists and turns are hard to keep track of--this article did a great job pointing out that we can't even trust the "answers" we've gotten so honestly from Lucas and Jenna-- Did Lucas really lose $2000 or did he lose the phone? Is Jenna really afraid of someone or is she playing her own game? She IS responsible for putting Garrett in jail with page 5, even though she claimed to not know what it was. I would love to see her become an ally to the group, since someone seems to be torturing her as well, but... she is obviously more cunning and manipulative than her tears show her to be...
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1. No.

2. Wilden probably got some vague information from Mona but won't know what to do with it since Rosewood police are dumb dumb dumb.

3. If they want Hanna to seduce someone else (Lucas?), a few episodes. If not, probably next week.



Some questions of my own:



(a) Why were Hanna and the receptionist at Radley so sassy to each other? It's because the receptionist is A, isn't she. I KNEW IT.

(b) Who's talking about Maya's death that isn't Emily? Nate complains that everyone is talking about it but I'm pretty sure no one's stopped taking about the skinny white girl that died two years ago.

(c) Hanna is the master of the one-liner in this series and she can't come up with a better handle than HotMamma? What's up with that?
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Caleb and Hanna I give it two maybe three episodes just to freak us out a little, maybe a little flirt with Dr. Ran and they are back together, I just love them so much more than all the other couples on the show.
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Does ayone remember that Maya dated a guy in between or somethin or is it just my imagination.. I mean did she cheat on emily wit a guy in between? If so, could Nate be that guy?
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Er, Nate is Maya's cousin....



Good thought though--we never knew who the guy was who Maya was with and he was stalking her after they broke up... Could it be Jason?
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There was a time when Maya had just come back from somewhere and had nonchalantly said that someone she had dated while she was gone was a guy. She was getting texts and calls apparently from this guy and every time she did she looked a little scared, when Emily asked she said something like it was him not letting go, there was never any answers about who she was talking about, but this is PLL and we know whenever someone is getting mysterious texts it has something to do with A
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1. I do not believe anything anyone says on this show anymore! I love it! Everyone lies!

2. Det. Wilden may have been told something by Mona... I hope she is still trying to take down our four girls! Things have been going a little too smoothly for them so far!

3. Caleb and Hannah will (hopefully) get back together soon! He is wayyyyy too beautiful not to be on the show!



**** Has anyone else noticed the absence of Toby the last couple of episodes? I am seriously needing my Keegan Allen fix! MORE TOBY!!!!!****
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1. I don't believe Melissa, but I honestly can't tell if she's not a good enough actress to sell it, or she's acting in a way that is suppose to make us question whether she is telling the truth.

2. Wilden is annoying, goodbye. Go away. But he obviously has had a tip off about the girls and the lake house and now he is snooping. He's just a way of raising the stakes.

3. It won't be long.
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Caleb and Hanna will not make up , the only way is for Hanna to tell Caleb everything, do I believe Melissa yes I do, Maybe "A" gave an anonymous tip to Wilden about the lake house
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1. It seems like she gave up the information too easily, I don't trust her. Also question, does anyone remember when Spencer pawned Melissa's wedding ring and in return she got that horse shoe, which coincidently was from Ian's murder site...did anything ever happen with that?

2. Detective Wilden is so annoying he needs to go away, I'm curious as to who Jason was writing the check to, it wouldn't be that great if A suddenly got $50k to play with.

3. Caleb and Hanna will make up in 3 weeks time, however I predict that Hanna will seek comfort in Wren. Why can't Caleb or any parent just take a quick look at their girls phones and realise their being blackmailed again. If I was Caleb and I had his hacking skills I'd probably hack into her phone just to make sure she's alright, a bit invasive but based on what has happened in the past I think he should go look.



Great recap, I feel like we're not getting any straight answers from this show, can't wait for something more substantial to appear.
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1. I believe her about the miscarriage, I actually suspected it as the time even though I don't believe that's what she was going to tell her. I don't believe her about being blackmailed to wear the costume, same as I don't believe Jenna was pretending to be blind to protect herself.



2. Mostly likely because he on the track of trying to prove the girls were at the grave.



3. 3 episodes
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I think Nate is pretty clearly up to something. "Forgetting" Maya's parents' address seemed fake to me, and he seemed a little eager to hold on to Emily's thank you note. I'm not sure what his game is yet, but I'm pretty sure we can assume it's more than he's let on.
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Melissa!
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1.Yes and No... a part of me believes her and part of me doesn't. As you say is PLL!

2.Easy, she suspects about the girls...and he will try to connect them with Ali's Body

3.Mmm probably a couple of episodes
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