Pretty Little Liars' Halloween Special: Answers Like Full-Size Candy Bars

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Pretty Little Liars S03E13: "This Is a Dark Ride"

"Everyone is messing with us. You can get a varsity letter in messing with us."

It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that the goal of this show isn't so much to tell the story of girls caught in an elaborate bullying plot as it is to make benign artifacts of youth give you nightmares.

We already have all the creepy dolls (and then burlap sack Dollface costume) but now we listen to Mona humming children's songs while painting a papier-mâché doppelganger in an echo-y room and watch a Harlequin set on choking girls out. I'm just waiting for the episode where they stumble on A's secret, creepy Easy Bake Oven cache.

Last year's Halloween episode, "The First Secret" revealed so much that I wasn't even sure it was canon. We saw all the major members of what we now know is the A-Team and an explicit history of the ever-mysterious Di Laurentis family. After I watched, I said to myself, "Surely they didn't give us all those answers in a single episode. Right?"

They did. And "This is a Dark Ride" dispensed with the secrets, too, albeit in a much more straightforward kind of way. Like Garrett spilling his guts until he—well, spilled his guts. The big mystery of the episode set up in the promos, that SOMEONE WOULD DIE, was pretty much sealed when Garrett word-vomited everything he knew and uttered the line, "I'm going to disappear and I'm never coming back." It was like he'd never watched this show. You don't say you're going to disappear forever. That means you're getting cut.

What we learned, however, was that Garrett didn't kill Allison; he pretended to kill her so the blind girl would think she was dead. We also learned that Allison and Byron talk to each other like peers or adversaries, meaning that Byron needs to stop dabbling with conniving blonde girls (not to assume that Byron and Allison were—ick). Why Allison wanted to fake her death just for Jenna is intriguing and, somehow, that explanation was left out of the word vomit. You'd think Spencer would've been curious, but she was distracted. I mean, without the Dollface mask, his outfit did kind of make him look like an adorable little teddy bear.

Other clues: Paige and the Harlequin showed up in the same place at the same time (to further prove she isn't part of the A-Team), Jason and Lucas are besties (I suppose Lucas has recovered from being all emo), the police need to start profiling costume party guests who dress up in full masks, NAT is slowly (very slowly) dying out, someone is buried in the Di Laurentis backyard (or was that just a ploy to latch onto the zombie craze?), there might actually be a body in Allison's murder case (I'll believe it when I see it). Also, Ashley sees dead people.

That last one is compelling. This isn't a show that dips into the supernatural. Sure, the A-Team seems to be magic, what with their seemingly endless funding and omnipresence, but Ashley seeing the ghost of Allison's presumed-murdered sister from "The First Secret" might have been a little much. Kind of like Ashley's outfit for trick-or-treating children. A little slutacious for the pastor, no?

The other supernatural thing: Ezra showing up. Well, it's supernatural if you don't think he's implicated with the A-Team somehow. Though I lead a staunch campaign against Ezria (it's gross, you guys, for real), I still hold out hope that Ezra is not teamed up with Mona to bring these girls down. A student-teacher relationship is already kind of creepy, but it's way worse if it's intentional and worse still if it exists to carry out someone else's high school vendetta. His ghost-writing interview having to be on Halloween is about as convenient an exit for Ezra as the stray nail and screwdriver for Aria's escape. Please, Ezra. Have a shred of dignity.

"This Is a Dark Ride" was a fine Halloween special with enough clues to tide you over until January 8 when we'll once again probably get a decent premiere and ages of suffering through some A filler hijinks until the next hiatus. This was a good mixture of PLL's patented ham-fisted exposition with precious high-level information and opportunities for Hanna to drop some one-liners. Which is all I can ask for in an episode.



NOTES


– What I never ask for in an episode: musical interludes on a show that's not a musical. It felt like Adam Lambert sang for a quarter of the thing and then had that silly part where he talked with Aria, asking her all kinds of questions and giving her an opportunity to write her name on the window (expert foreshadowing). Like you care if she's sitting by herself. Stay out of it, Adam Lambert.

– Back in the first couple seasons, basically, if you had weiner, you were a suspect. Pretty Little Liars demonstrated the softer sides of the boys this past half-season: Byron was way less creepy, the show built up the Spencer/Toby romance, and Caleb became way less mysterious and more trustworthy. Of course, the writers dashed all of Toby's non-creepy credibility in the last two episodes by making him a member of the A-Team and painting his severe features with evil. Did you see his face during that hug after the opening? That was all malevolence. Although the slide into Spencer's house like Kramer was not nearly as intimidating.

– Clifford Yourdley is a name just dumb enough to be important later, isn't it? "Playing dress up for your man on Halloween is one thing. You do it any other night and you end up on an afternoon talk show." No, baby, costumes are not why you would end up on an afternoon talk show.

– Okay, the costumes. Hanna as Marilyn Monroe: obvious. Daisy Buchanan I also got (though would Ezra want to be Gatsby or Tom in that situation?). Was Spencer's completely uninspired costume supposed to be Lauren Bacall? (She did deliver that famous line.) And I'm just going to say Paige and Emily were dressed up like the man and a moon person from Le Voyage dans la lune. If you know better, tell me all about it in the comments.

– Roswood's City Services department is pretty much the worst. Teachers are sleeping with their students, breaking out of Arkham Asylum is as easier than Ferris Bueller getting a day off, and the cops can be thwarted from stopping an assault just by a dude pushing them back. Under what authority does Jason get to make an officer stand down? "You know what? Let's let this poorly choreographed fight thing play out." Paige appears to be finally accepted into the group. Spencer thanked her. Paige said it was her pleasure. It must seem like so long ago when Paige tried to drown Emily in the pool. Now they're just amazed to be together! Because murder-suicide seems like one of Paige's moves.


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