Pretty Little Liars: Develop the Negatives

Pretty Little Liars S03E05: "That Girl Is Poison"

Well, we were bound to hit a snag at some point. After a great start to the season, Pretty Little Liars stumbled on Tuesday with an episode that spent way too much time on the show’s weak points. I still have faith in the season at a whole, but we could have done without much of “That Girl Is Poison.”

If I’m going to start with the positives, it was great to see Jenna take control of her situation again. I loved the idea of a birthday party where everything came to a head. But that didn’t really happen—and that’s about all that worked for me. Everything else, from the awkward reintroduction of characters to the Katy Perry product placement, was more annoying than entertaining.

I’m not really sure where it all went wrong, but this episode took a whole lot of missteps at once. The character of Paige is a real problem; in “That Girl Is Poison,” she came off as clingy and unpleasant. Yes, she was drugged when she freaked out at Emily, but we don’t know this girl enough to care when she’s being so obnoxious. Paige comes and goes as the plot requires—that’s the downside of having such an expansive cast of characters—but Pretty Little Liars can’t suddenly ask us to give a crap about her, or to believe that Emily does.

Nate isn’t quite as bad, but again, here’s a character we met briefly who is now popping up again because the story needs him to. I get that this is how PLL; we’ve got an ever-shifting roster of suspects and frenemies. Maybe this episode was just particularly overstuffed, and that exposed its faults more. Like, “That Girl Is Poison” was bursting at the seams, and oof, those seams weren’t pretty.

What about Ted, the love interest who was foisted on Ashley? In any other episode, that probably wouldn’t have bothered me. It’s not as though PLL is a subtle show. But when there was already so much going on, and so little of it was working, I couldn’t believe we were getting another stilted introduction. Sure, Ted’s a silver fox, but I think we could have held off on him for a while. We’ve got enough relationship drama to go around.

Speaking of, the romantic side of things this week was a mess, and I’m not just referring to Emily and Paige’s weird renewed courtship. Spencer and Toby had one scene together this week, and all it did was remind everyone how little they have in common. What happened to the chemistry? Plus, if they’re still holding off on sex, Toby’s shirtless physique is no longer as meaningful as it once was. While I understand that Toby is trying to keep his distance from Jenna, it was weird to have him so off to the side. Is he really just going to show up when Spencer needs someone to make out with?

Even my go-to couple, Aria and Ezra, were a waste of time this week. I think the age difference and the fact that they met when Ezra was Aria’s teacher are enough impediments to this relationship: All the conflict that’s being introduced now feels fake. Suddenly Aria is worried about how much money Ezra is spending? Why? This is a real-life adult relationship problem, sure, but it’s not something PLL needs to focus on, especially when there’s so much else going on. Besides, Ezra got another job and suddenly has money again... so that plotline was entirely pointless, instead of just being a little odd.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. After a week on hiatus, “That Girl Is Poison” was just frustrating. The only part of the story that felt relevant was Lucas and his camera bag—did he take the photos of the girls at Alison’s grave, and do those pills mean that he drugged Emily? It sure looks like it, and I’m enjoying watching this once-stable guy go off the deep end. But that was all a footnote to the rest of the episode. Develop Lucas’s negatives, then we’ll talk.


1. Should Paige and Emily get back together, or is Paige dead weight?

2. Why is Jenna trying to seduce Nate?

3. When will Wilden pin the grave tampering on one of the liars?

Comments (12)
Sort: Latest | Popular
First of all, am I the only one who thinks that Maya is still alive? I'm usually not one for theories in TV shows, but that's just the kind of show this is. Nothing is ever as it seems, and they're always throwing wrenches in just for the heck of it (people who have also read the book series should know what I'm talking about). So I would definitely not be surprised if Maya popped up in the future and was all "I was never really dead! Psych!"

Next, can I just say how much I like the actress playing Jenna? There's just something so...creepy about her whenever she comes on the screen. Whoever cast her did a great job (and I gotta say, there were DEFINITELY some casting mishaps on this show).

Overall, I've seen better from PLL. Here's hoping next week will be better! From the preview, it looks like it might be decent. Who knows?
no no you not. Maya is alive. Her death was bad and when you kill somebody off perminately writers need to have some sort of ending. Maya still had some secrets to her. I have a theory that Maya is not Maya, I'm thinking witness protection program relocation with a new identity. Because i assume since Maya has friends in San Fransisco then she is from San Fransisco, who would move from San Fransisco to a small town called Rosewood. Am I just being Crazy?
Paige and Emily should get back together, why Jenna simply to get under the skin of Emily , as for Wilden IMO he is clueless as BEN from the Secret Life as for the episode at hand I was not frustrated at all
I agree with all those supporting characters popping in and out: Nate, Ted, Paige,... Not feeling one of them. It just looks like Paige is hiding something, that makes her interesting, however I really do not hope she killed Maya. That would be a total misstep! For the rest I also agree on the relationships on the show. I was really shipping Ezra and Aria, now not so sure. Toby and Spencer together were never my favorites and this episode really showed me why, it's so fake and they really don't feel like a good couple.

Besides these few notes I still liked this episode. The plot was okay and I'm so digging the new coffee shop, it's so cool! Also the new Garett, Jenna and Lucas storyline really kept the episode going so I was quite pleased at the end. I can not wait till next week!


1. NO! Paige was acceptable in the first season, but now she really is dead weight!

2. I don't know, but she shouldn't, cause I want Nate leaving, RIGHT NOW! Such an annoying character, not productive for the show at all!

3. Soon! He's suspecting something and Wilden is a jerk, so he'll do about everything to find a victim.

"Toby's shirtless physique is no longer as meaningful as it once was..." <--I want to have this printed on a T-shirt!
Paige has always been the jealous type, I mean hello she nearly drowned Emily just for being a better swimmer. So it's not really all that surprising that her jealously manifested in other ways.

I think the only reason you think the episode was slow was because this episode was a set up episode. Nothing happened because it was setting things up to happen in the future. Like Ezra's money (the first answer they give about a secret [getting a job] is almost never the real answer), Hanna finding the coat at the clothes drive, this new connection between Nate and Jenna.

I'll agree though that the Katy Perry movie plug-ins were annoying, especially when you know the episode was set in Sept but the movie came out in July (like it'd still be in movie theaters).

Also i felt that Toby wasn't there just as a make-out buddy but to explain to people how Jenna got away with pretending to be blind for nearly half a year without their parents knowing or figuring it out.
Ok ep, Jenna is great but quite a few dumb moments.

Lucas takes dodgy pictures and expects no one to find out.

What sort of photographer leaves her equipment and memory cars lying around, lol.

What is the point of Nate, is he just there for Jenna to play with and annoy Emily.

1. Paige needs to leave. She is pointless.

2. Cause she's creepy.

3. Hmm... good question...

First I want to say I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought this episode wasn't that great. Personally, I think not only was this the worst episode of season 3-but in the series as a whole. I've been applauding this show for always keeping me interested and on my toes, and I was rarely disappointed. Except for this week. I was just waiting for it to be over.

Personally I thought Jenna's party could have been a real big thing and all four of the liars should have been there/and maybe splitting up time at the hospital. There was no enough Hanna, and too much Emily. Spencer felt weak, and Aria should have more to worry about then Ezra's eating habits.

If they felt the need for the Aria/Ezra plot they should have spread it over at least two episodes. Having that plot resolved in one felt lame and forced.

Emily needs to drop Paige like a hot potato and go for Nate-or be single for a while. Please.

Spencer did not seem up to par. She didn't feel as sneaky and awesome as she usually is. Personally I think she could have gotten up to that hospital room without Nate making a scene(wasn't that convenient?) And her interaction with Toby was small and sad. He needs to pulled into the plot more this season or he's gonna fade...

Hanna.... oh Hanna.... Caleb better come back soon or I'm going to cry. This girl was barely in this episode, it was depressing.

Also, does anyone else think that maybe the reason Lucas is all crazy is because he just needs his sleeping pills? Lol.

Okay, done ranting. I just hope next week they return to normal epic awesomeness.
I liked how they showed how Emilee got so wasted at the beginning of the season by having Paige get snockered by using Emilee's drug-laced flask at the party, then connected Nate to it through the camera sub-plot. Then Emalee's missing jacket appears at a rummage sale that Hannah was forced to work at (and she was almost busted for stealing trait!)

I think the bad guys made a mistake bringing in Nate - he's barely able to hold himself together mentally.

This show spends a lot of time on dress-up scenes. Seeing Ezra and Aria together turns my stomach, even more so now that they're appearing publicly.
I don't know, I feel like there were worse episodes this season. Honestly, this season as a whole is feeling like a big waste. I realize PLL never really resolves anything so much as it pretends to resolve things but atleast previous years FELT like we were moving towards something. This season just feels like we're running around aimlessly in all directions. The finale set up a huge mystery "who murdered Mya" THAT should have been the focus of this season. Instead, that's not even being addressed because the girls assume Garret did. Mona should also have been utilized way more than she is and after two seasons, I wish Jenna's "non-blind" outing had been done with more purpose than "oops, I decided not to be blind anymore."
1. Paige is crazy people and probably killed Maya. They should get together only so Emily can find out what she did and live that scene in Ace Ventura when he finds out Einhorn is a man. Complete with shower, of course.

2. Because Jenna is kind of slutacious.

3. When A thinks he's ready.

I completely disagree about the episode. The past two (after the season premiere) have felt sloppy and cheesy. Even though the girls tend to be foolish, at least they were written with a little respect this week. The "Let's set up mommy!" storyline from two weeks ago made me gag, the scene where Wilden pulls up to tease Spencer produced nothing but eyerolls, and packing all that information into the last two weeks made the episodes important but crappy. The clues that are revealed this week are more reasonable and operate at a natural pace.

Also Ezra and Aria are gross and I'm glad it's her turn to sacrifice her relationship on account of A.

The biggest gripe, though: how are they going to do an episode called "That Girl is Poison" and not include some BBB?
1. no they shouldn't... tunless it's nothing but makeout sesions for the more pervy among us. dead weight as both a plot device and an actress.

speaking of emily (and earlier spencer and toby) i thought toby and emily had more chemistry than toby and spencer. spencer i liked with the dude who worked at the resort ...and anyone else i just don't buy it. it's either her personality or the memory that she gets around ...with her sisters boyfriends no less.

2. to make nate a relevant character be my guess. token black dude to replace maya much? maya was hardly relevant imo. they tried to hint early on at possible alison connections on which they bailed for troubled emily relationship. when that ran it's course they killed her to get the idea.

3. i assume wilden's the blonde detective? when it best suits story progression or a lack thereof.

i miss quiet pleasant lucas. dude was like his own little ray of sunshine in an otherwise mediocre and droll rosewood and environs.

cast stuffed to the seems? like hannahs dad and stepsister with the big last season lead-in and virtually no appearance this season? but yeah nate's introduction bugs. paige's return bugs. detective blondie's return bugs. but like the kiddies on the show would say whatevs.

i still feel really bad for you for either having to watch this show and try and take it seriously ...or taking it seriously by choice.

Like on Facebook