Pretty Little Liars "Misery Loves Company" Review: Everyone's a Victim

Pretty Little Liars S03E16: "Misery Loves Company"

And you didn't think the plot could thicken.

I mean, the plot is already stupid thick. From the myriad organizations that are out to either exploit or exact revenge on our Liars to the highly suspect authority figures creeping around Rosewood, everything is dangerous. It's no wonder Emily, as Paige put it, is numb to the danger that constantly swirls around her. I'm numb to it just watching.

It wasn't until this week that I realized how much I'd been so lulled to sleep by the formula of the show that I didn't realize what it'd been sneaking in. Last week, we talked about how our perspective has shifted from seeing things through the eyes of the Liars, our perceived victims, to expand to the "A Team" (or "A Army," as they were termed in this episode) so we can see what they're up to when the Liars aren't looking. What at first seemed like a careless erosion of narrative mode seems a little more calculated. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

Last week we also talked about how the boys appeared more victimized, scaredy-cats the whole lot of them. But with two conversations, we see why the expanded point-of-view makes sense. There are more victims.

We learned some information that we didn't know before, like how Byron didn't do anything wrong (probably) and how Meredith is straight-up cray and how Ella might be a bad mother (just check up on the sick kid—just once), a lot of the information we already knew and we just had confirmed. We know Mona and Toby weren't the only ones on the A Team and that they were under the thumb of someone else (probably since the first Halloween special but definitely since the end of Season 2, when a presumed "Vivian Darkbloom" visited Mona at Radley). But hearing their conversation gave us confirmation that they might be bad off, too. They are victims of a different sort: Mona is forever cursed with being the fall girl of the A Team and Toby has to deal with being a hood while being with Spencer.

"They need to understand that she's in charge," Mona said. At first that felt like she and Toby had some scheme to demonstrate themselves as just hatchet men for a mightier, more evil commander and that they're just as put upon as the Liars. Spencer's "minions" is a good term for them: They're underlings for a despicable person who holds something over them. After watching the episode, it probably refers to A finally getting proactive again instead of sitting back and phoning it in. Literally.

But I can't shake the feeling that the Eyes of A (from which we saw more shots than usual this episode) purposely didn't warn Toby about Spencer being around. A was only able to bust up those two through threats for a short amount of time. The surefire way to punish Spencer is to show him as her greatest enemy. That was a broken woman we saw slide down his front door. Though we didn't see Toby for long after the discovery to see where his head is at, you have to wonder if that was an A two-fer there. Shatter the world of two kids with one ill-advised B & E.

Last week's female stoicism also eroded in Aria's basement as she, Emily, and Hanna waited to brain Byron with a lead pipe and a golf club. Aria "Thank the space baby she's not pregnant with a creepster!" Montgomery has spent the last couple episodes sick and drugged by a mad woman, a handsome villain with a methodical and diabolical plan for the Montgomery house. It only further proves my point that Radley is Arkham Asylum and Rosewood is the stomping ground for crazed nemeses and baroque schemes. How else can you explain Mona sipping wine like she just outwitted The Batman?

With Aria shaken by being held captive for days on end, Hanna shaken by being the victim of the first A attack in some time (not counting the Mona fire, which might have been well-intentioned), and Emily living a life of being so shaken that she's nonplussed, the Liars went from cocky to literally backed into a corner with crazed celerity. They went from focusing all their attention on Mona to suspecting everything around them again: Byron, Meredith, now Toby. Hanna is even dubious about what Caleb's up to, though not in it harming her so much as it harming him. It puts everyone back on edge and makes us remember that, even though A maybe seems like she's going to sleep on you, there's still some punch left in her and that uppercut can come at any time.

I feel rope-a-doped. This was an important episode for the series to set up the season to come. Everyone in this town is about officially implicated except Andrew from the academic decathalon and Ella. And maybe she would be, too, IF SHE'D VISIT HER SICK DAUGHTER. I mean, seriously, Ella. Take some time out from knocking uglies with the coffeeshop owner and be around for the kid. Mike's weekend, my butt. This whole show would be moot with some parental supervision.



NOTES


– "Fear cuts deeper than a sword." That's from Game of Thrones, though modified slightly. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, since the line from Book 1 is "fear cuts deeper than swords." It's something 9-year-old Arya Stark learns from her swordfighting teacher. So maybe it's fitting that Mona says that before heading out to battle, muttering what has to be one of A's top five creeds.

– Hey, look, it's Spencer's mom! I like it when Not Mariska Hargitay makes an appearance. It makes me think this case would be solved by SVU in no time. Benson would milk the Liars for information, Stabler would put the squeeze on all the highly suspect dudes in town, Munch would cough up some wit-filled information, and Ice T would try to act his way out of a paper bag. Chung chung!

– When Meredith started acting all shady, did you think, "Oh man. If Meredith is a suspect SHE MUST HAVE A PENIS!" Me, too.

– I'm glad the girls called out how dumb the "faceless" text was. A, if you can't craft a clever threat, don't bother sending one at all. You're better than that.

– I'm glad to see Caleb and Paige are forming a coalition. There's not a schemer among them to combat what equates to manipulative artistry in Rosewood. Maybe Paige could almost drown A if they ever run into her. Team Burgundy Hoodie and Jean Jacket!

– Now all the Liars have had dreams about Alison giving them information, Emily and Aria under duress. I don't have trouble with a subconscious helping a character put the pieces of a mystery together but Alison tends to blur the lines of what a character already knows and what a character would actually learn from Alison being there in front of her. Although she did say "knowledge is king" was said by some old fart. I choose to believe that old fart is Kool Mo Dee.

Comments (35)
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I still cannot understand if Alison is alive.
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Are we sure Meredith was poisoning her before she started giving her that special brew? She was drugging her to get the pages and she didn't know she had them until after their encounter at the coffee shop (it had already been established that Aria was sick then) and she gave her the drugged drink afterwards to make her "feel better"
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it was good episode
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This episode was very very very good! I have been waiting for Spencer to find out about Toby. But it seemed weird to me that he didn't even seem shocked that she found out. I hated the last scene with Spencer at the door, but I am surprised she went there alone to try to talk to him. The entire Aria/Meredith story was ridiculous in my opinion. Why did NO ONE in Aria's life check on her in those few days? If I was sick and did not answer my cell phone my Mom and friends would be busting down my door. And why was Meredith crazy anyway? What was wrong with her? I can't wait to see what happens now and to find out why Ezra is going to break up with Aria.
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She went there alone because she couldn't resolve in her mind that the man she loved had actually betrayed her. She didn't want to believe it, and the despair and shock that caused resulted in borderline suicidal levels of throwing caution to the wind. Because she especially can't resolve that Toby would hurt her. And she'd probably accept that death in her current condition in order to put her out of the misery he's inflicted...it's a climactic tragedy, I can't wait to see the next episode to see where they both are emotionally.
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This was a great episode. The plot indeed thickens.
Just one question though? Was it Mona who was terrorising Hanna in the boutique shop and dropped the key on purpose so Spencer would find out about Toby? Becasue it didn't look like that key was dropped, it kind of looked like it was thrown. Would kind of explain why Mona was sitting in Toby's apartment smirking and drinking wine like a mentaler while Spence sobbed outside on the fire escape. And also, were those keys Spencer had not working or did she just not bother opening the door fully?
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I think Spencer wanted to rush into the apartment to confront him, but stopped herself from opening it all the way because she didn't really want to hear the truth because it hurt too much.
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no it fell out of his (Toby's) pocket, they made an effort to show it had a hole in it and Spencer said she could fix it for him.
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Oh thanks! I too thought Mona had purposely dropped the key, setting Toby up... knowing Toby would have to look for it... and perhaps that Spencer wasn't really at the dinner... I guess Toby's just not very good at being "A". Maybe he doesn't WANT to be good at being "A'.... for the love of Spence... lol.
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Oh yeah, I remember that now. Would have preferred if Mona had orchestrated that whole thing, still don't want to believe Toby is bAd!
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From all the Marlene interviews I've read, Toby is definitely bad... I mean, lead "A" doesn't seem to make sense yet, but Toby makes all the sense in the world... the girls blinded Jenna and blamed him and he had to leave for a year and was ostracized. I don't blame him at all for hating the girls. But I think there is still a part of him that is good and a part of him that is attached to Spencer. We'll see what happens, but I think he will redeem himself somehow.... perhaps if lead "A" instructs him to go too far... he'll warn the girls....
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Not Mariska Hargitay... LOL!
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I have to say "Misery Loves Company" restored my hope in PLL. It was good, scary episode.

1. Aria looked really sick when she was in bed. She was pale even a bit greenish. I expected her to throw up. Good work make-up artist! Also I think it was Lucy Hale's best performance in PLL (so far that is).
I get the feeling in the last episode of the series Aria will end up in mental institution. She's half crazy already. Also I'm happy she's not preggers.

2. Piper you're a bad mom. Why didn't you check on your sick daughter? Shame on you!

3. Poor Spencer. I thought Toby was wearing a hood to protect her. Now it seems he's just crazy/evil as Mona is.

4. Meredith definitely has a "penis". Also she is dealing vampire blood.

5. I'm more and more convinced that Aly is alive and it's all her version of "the lying game".

6. I guess Ezra was the voyeur.
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It's not 'Piper'. It's 'Ella'. Even if they're both played by Holly Marie Combs. :P
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Piper forever!
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Holly Marie Combs will always be Piper for me just as Zachary Quinto is and always will be Sylar. I refuse to call them otherwise. Deal with it.
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You speak as if refusing to treat an actor as an actor rather than the character they're playing makes gives you nobility. I can assure you this is not the case.
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Being defined solely by one role is the worst thing that could happen to an actor. :P
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she will forever be piper in my eyes...
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as scary as this episode can be, there is NOTHING more terrifying than Ella just casually buzzing her daughter's phone and NOT CARING if there was an answer or not, like yeah, whatever, she's sick, she must be sleeping, WHO CARES, THIS IS MIKE'S WEEKEND!!! seriously, creepy as hell
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The scene with Spencer crying outside the door was gut wrenching. I did not expect the episode to be so epic but wow it was great
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Why Toby? WHY?! Even though Toby, IS evil, and such, I think he truly does love Spencer. So this is rather conflicting.

I really... hated Mona for just sitting there, drinking wine and smiling. But of course, isn't that why the writers made her do that?

I think Caleb and Paige are pretty not-evil, so that's a plus. We don't need any more secretly evil boyfriends/girlfriends.

I knew Byron wasn't evil all along, as he doesn't seem like a murderer. I'm not exactly sure why Meredith did all those horrible things to Aria but... Deep down, I knew Meredith was evil, even if 99% of my brain thought she was ok.

I can't wait until the next episode!! Toby, please... do something. :( I loved Spoby, and you had to ruin it by being evil.
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I know a lot of people like to call pretty little liars their own guilty pleasure but I think PLL proved that it is way more than that I'm not basing this on this episode in particular because I think the show has grown a lot from its first season but I thought about how they are going to reveal Toby's secret and it was absolutely brilliant in my opinion because even though we already knew about Toby we never really got to see Spencer finding the name tag and realizing it herself when Toby broke to her house and she was the one who sneaked up on him after she already knew was great because I kept thinking there's going to be that scene when she will discover the truth and her mind would be racing till she will reach that moment of perfect clarity and everything will click and it will involve some camera close up's on her face and maybe she will drop a glass or a vase or the lasagna I mean they could've done the dramatic climatic scene and they choose not to and that's very smart writing in my opinion plus it was pretty heartbreaking on their anniversary and everything I mean she made him a scrabble cake(sigh) … plus I loved the all Meredith and aria reacting scenes from "misery" I mean Kathy bates is way scary then Meredith but Meredith did a great job of creeping me out so keep it up PLL.
More+
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You mentioned Emily being nonplussed by dangerous situations- I would've actually loved to see a similar reaction from Hannah when she was pushed around in the shop. Those girls need to get more angry and show that they can inflict harm on their attackers as well. Spencer finding out about Toby is another step in the right direction, they haven't had an episode this well paced in a while, I loved how things actually happened all through the episode and not just at the end.
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I'm choosing to believe that Ali is alive and that was really her talking to Aria. Maybe she stepped in to put a stop to Meredith who is getting in the way of 'A's grand scheme. Maybe if the Aria is 'A' theory is correct, Ali stepped in to save her.

Meredith being that crazy was irritating but I guess desperate people in desperate situations...

My ice cold heart broke for Spencer, I really grew to love them together and I have been mourning the end of their relationship ever since Toby was revealed as part of the 'A' team. I truly wonder Toby's allegiance though, does he have real feeling for Spencer or was it all an act? And did 'A' orchestrate the plan to get Toby caught to truly hurt Spencer in a way like no other? If so, will Toby realise what 'A' did and try to redeem himself and help the girls out with info on 'A'?

Once again, I have more questions than ever and I am even more enthralled by this show.
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What I think is amazing is all these girls driving around in top of the range cars. If I have to go somewhere I've got to flutter my eyes at my Dad for the loan of his Toyota!
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And they live in a small town, but are always wearing expensive designer clothes. Half the time they look like they set to walk down a runway, lol
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How can we be sure that Alison's really dead again?
How can we be sure that Aria isn't A again?(being asleep for most of the ep doesn't count)
What about the return of the girl in the red jacket behind Hanna?
How can we be sure that we'll ever be satisfied by the show's conclusion?

I guess we'll just have to trust the writers but I must admit this ep kinda put my trust back in them cuz arousing lots of suspicion and at the time bringing the plot further kinda worked, and it had been long since it last did, more or less before season 2 finale episode.

I'm more than ever positive that Mona's cracker but that she's never been A but I must admit I still don't have a real clue who A is, until it happens to be Dan Humprey xoxo PLL
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How would Hannah hurt anyone else, but herself with the way,she was holding that pipe:D At least Byron seems normal again. The way they were making him creepy against his daughter is wrong on so many levels. Is it just me or was that breakdown from Spencer weak? The way it was acted....all these types of crying,being drunk,etc. acts are the worst on tv. I just didn't feel it.
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I think Spencer acted her a**. That was possibly her best scene since the show started.
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Aria's dad seems to have redeemed himself in this episode, well in Aria's eyes at least. However in this show redemption doesn't mean anything, look how Toby came full circle!
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I have to admit, even though I've known for weeks it was coming, my heart still broke a little for Spencer. Troian did a great job and I'm really looking forward to see the journey that she goes down from here.

Is anybody else beginning to wonder if Hanna even has a mother anymore? Where has Ashley been the last few episodes?
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I don't fully understand Meredith's reasoning behind her actions, though. I get hat she's crazy, but was she doing all that (drugging Aria, looking for the diary pages) just to protect Byron because she's so in love with him, or is there something that she doesn't want the police knowing about her either?
And yeah, Ella, your kid being asleep/your other kid visiting for the week are not an excuse for being a terrible mother! Seriously, you trust a woman you basically hate to take care of your daughter? AND said daughter can't stay with you because there's ONLY one guest bedroom? These people...
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yeah i thought Meredith's actions/motive was confusing. First, Byron more or less admitted he found the diary pages in Aria's snow boots. Then Meredith steals those pages from Byron and gives them to Aria - I suppose just to falsely gain her trust. And then has to go through all these crazy means - almost non-stop drugging a young girl - to get those same diary pages (she handed over in the first place) back (because she doesn't really want Bryon/her obsession to get in trouble?).
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I think that's the point though. This show is very big on leaving things open-ended like that so we aren't quite sure what to think of a person's motivations. They've done it with Jason, Jenna, Byron, Toby, and every other person in that town. They'll slowly over time give us a little more here and there to explain it more, but I really do think that as of right now, we're supposed to asking that very question.
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