Pretty Little Liars "Hot Water" Review: Bringing a Gun to a Car Fight

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Pretty Little Liars S03E20: "Hot Water"

Rosewood is awash with patrons who speak only in awkward delivery of painful scene-enders, but none of them are as torturous as whenever Detective Creeperson opens his mouth. Wilden contains a near infinite mixture of soapy acting, hostility toward the youth, and an innate quality of perversion and weirdness that I almost feel sorry for the actor. I hope for his sake he doesn't exude what he does as Wilden in real life. It must be a nightmare for him to get anything done, what with all the local area women calling the police to complain about a pervert in the area.

A reviewer can be torn upon seeing Wilden's presence in the show. Torn because if gives you a reason to come up with a bunch of great nicknames for Rosewood's most suspicious man but it also means you have to deal with his character as a serious part of the show and not just the shining example of how the local police force are dumber than the Carroll task force on The Following (and that, my friend, is a low bar).

I mean, how hard did you laugh when Wilden turned around and said, "Oh, and Hanna: See you around" with a straight face? I had to pause the thing.

The poorest man's Detective Lassiter looks to be here to stay, at least in threat, because Ashley hit him with her car. Wilden's escalation from sleazy creepshow to violent fiend was a quick one, wasn't it? Sure, he may sleep with a MILF to scrub a young girl's record clean or haunt the Liars like a poorly suited spectre but this episode forced the character to make the leap across the ravine between creepy and disturbing.

He hounded. He grabbed. He demanded his way with closed-ended threats. He reached for his last ultimatum of a gun and suddenly we're not dealing with the overcast of a police force that doesn't have the skillset to understand all the moving pieces of this mystery but an actual player in Ali's "death." Once Ashley hit him with the car, I was simultaneously surprised the show actually saw this through and disappointed by the fact that, with Wilden possibly still alive, I'm going to have to take him seriously as a character. And, worse, Ashley: Because you didn't kill him, you just made him mad.

Anger seemed to be contagious in Rosewood this week as the depressing plague that is Mother Fitz descended on the town in order to continue her campaign of emotional ruin and manipulation in the lives of her sons and inspire a lot of anger from Ezra. Yes, that means Ezra is back and just in time to let Aria know that being faced with grown-up problems like having a child did nothing to make him consider that his relationship with a high-school girl might be a raging case of Peter Pan syndrome. They're still together, you guys! What a relief! Good thing that age-appropriate Fitz is back at the far away school!

Ezria is a troublesome relationship for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of how it's described even by the characters. The most damning to me is Aria considering how her romance went from "high school to minivan overnight." That she considers dating a man in his mid-20s while she still has homeroom is a little disconcerting. And, yes, I always seem to make time for some Ezra-bashing, but only because the show always seems to make some time to try to convince me that this relationship is a good thing and not a total set-up for disaster. When it comes out that Ezra is the Queen of Hearts, don't say I didn't warn you.

But it's mostly that the show constantly tries to sell me on something that's supposed to be a love story despite the fact that Ezra would be a monster for doing this in any real-life situation. To me, his shady ethics about the amount of necessary separation between adolescent girls and all-grown-up men (which to him is zero) plus his connections to funding plus his convenient absences when bad stuff goes down leads me to believe that he should at least be seen as suspicious. Many disagree.

Speaking of grown-ass men hitting on young, vulnerable girls, Wren jumped on the "what professional ethics?" bandwagon by admitting his reason for visiting Spencer last week was, at least partially, to scam on her while she was in the throes of a break-up. While it's disturbing that Wren is "finally" getting some action from Spencer, no matter how chaste, what's most disturbing is the 180 on how Spencer has been developing over the past weeks.

She's seemingly emerged as a new force to be reckoned with as we've started to see the side of Spencer Hastings we'd always wanted to see from the bullied girls: someone who can play A's game. This week, though, we got a sad sack who has trouble getting herself out of bed or lifting her head from the desk when she actually makes it to school. Spencer spent the majority of the episode burdened by the same weight that we thought was fueling her fire.

Maybe I'm biased because I want Spencer to finally come to terms with a perceived destiny. The Liars, especially recently, have been using each episode's cold open to go over all the clues and threats and this week, when Spencer wasn't paying attention during the first meeting, Aria almost laughably called their conference a brain trust. While there's no doubt that even Emily has been able to pitch in some ideas and concerns about A lately, it's clear they need Spencer to make sense of all the scattered conclusions. They need Spencer to be on her game and I need her to not fritter away all the capital she's earned over the past few weeks. Just tell me the Wren kiss was a calculated move because she knew they were watching. It'll make me feel better.

While "Hot Water" left us hanging with Spencer's development, we're sliding more pieces into place for a fast-approaching finale. Cece ditching town (what about Bruce?), Melissa in the beach mix, and Wilden out there hunting Hanna should provide a pretty strong closing. Hopefully.


NOTES

– The poem on the chalkboard in Ella's classroom was the first line of "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats. There's so much bird imagery in this show between Wren, this poem, and all the birds Aria killed for her outfits in the first season.

– I don't mind the term "Red Coat" for the woman they believe is heading the A Team. But I dread the inevitable episode title "The Red CoAt is Coming."

– Microsoft's product placement on television lately is exhausting. I get that you want to put yourself in real-life situations to show us you can be a replacement for Apple or Google, but no one is using Bing Maps unless they're forced to. No one.

– Regarding the story Spencer told Wren before they kissed: Chekov's paperweight?

– Who knew Rosewood was such a hotbed for attractive girls who like attractive girls?

– I like it when Aria and Spencer reference Team Sparia. It's like the show recognizes all of your slash fiction.

– You know things are bad when Ashley switches from wine to brown liquor.

– Toby as the hoodie that locked Spencer in the shower has to be a red herring. Between Mona (who has a relationship with Wren) and Melissa (who's probably the crayest of cray), I feel like Toby being the culprit is at once too easy and completely against his character.


What'd you think of this episode?

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