The dynamic of Pretty Little Liars hasn’t changed much since the beginning: Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily are always going to be friends, even when their parents or local law enforcement try to keep them apart. That’s fine—they work well together, and the show wouldn’t be the same without our core four. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to switch things up every once in a while.
Tuesday’s episode of Pretty Little Liars, "The Remains of the A," was all about playing with the pairings, which is something the series could stand to do more often. There are so many characters—why not find new ways to have them interact? It’s a nice change of pace from watching Spencer and Toby make out, with all due respect to their boring-ass relationship. (Seriously, do something already. Ugh.)
The best pairing of the episode was brother-and-sister team Jason and Spencer. These two are long overdue for some family bonding, especially when they have a common goal. It’s creepy to think about Jason as part of the NAT Club—and the fact that he didn’t film any of the girls doesn’t make it any less repulsive. But the guy has obviously turned over a new leaf, and he has relevant information. I enjoy Pretty Little Liars the most when there are more characters in on the mystery. Even if they only have bits and pieces, you get to see them put their heads together and actually make some progress.
But I also dug Hanna and Toby, despite the fact that she was just using him as a distraction. This season Toby has felt especially superfluous, so just seeing him away from Spencer was an improvement. He’s also a lot sharper than he sometimes comes across: He realized pretty quickly that Hanna and her friends weren’t telling him the whole truth. While I don’t particularly care about what strife this causes in his relationship with Spencer, at least it’s given him something to contribute.
It’s too soon to say I liked seeing Emily and Holden work together, because they haven’t done much yet. But Holden’s mysterious wrist stamp and his vague allusion to seeing Maya mean he’s got more information to give. I wouldn’t say I’ve missed Holden, but it’s nice having him back—once he stopped being a love interest for Aria, I began to appreciate his nerdy charm. And hey, he must be going to the right parties if he was mingling with Maya and whoever took Emily to that coffee shop.
But, okay, you know what creeped me? Wilden putting the moves on Hanna. He’s always had some gross sexual tension with the girls, but this was really crossing the line. Tell me if I’m reading into it too much—I don’t think I am. How else are we supposed to interpret what he said about Ashley knowing how to solve problems while Hanna only knows how to create them? If you’ll recall, Ashley solved the Wilden problem by sleeping with him. Inappropriate, dude. There’s only one dirty old man allowed on this show, and his name is Ezra.
And in keeping with the pairing theme, a couple brief notes on relationships, both new and old: Aria and Ezra need to step things up, as their conflict once again got resolved in a single episode. It looks as though Ezra’s hiding something, which is good—I can only take so many cute photo shoots before I seriously lose interest. As for Ashley and Ted, I’m glad Ashley met a guy (albeit a pastor), but this all kind of feels like a distraction. There’s still too much happening on Pretty Little Liars for me to get invested in a relationship that doesn’t have any bearing on the plot as a whole.
Overall, "The Remains of the A" was an improvement over last week’s episode. The plot moved backward in a way—Spencer and Jason’s scheming only ended up helping Garrett get out of jail. And now we’re down a suspect with more unknown blood in the mix. But that’s okay: This mystery is never going to be easy to solve. The most important thing is that we have fun along the way.
1. What unlikely character pairing would you like to see Pretty Little Liars try next?
2. Why did Holden suddenly get nervous when talking about the traveling party?
3. Where did Ezra really get that money?