Pretty Little Liars "Pretty Isn't the Point" Review: Dance Like Only A Is Watching

Pretty Little Liars S05E20: "Pretty Isn't the Point"

Not every episode of Pretty Little Liars affords us the opportunity to say that someone on the show is acting of high moral character. In fact, PLL trades in its characters acting dubious, not only to lubricate the interest of the audience with sudsy glory, but to further hide the identity of the series' greatest mystery under a pile of red herrings. We've never needed an award for most stand-up individual on the show but, if we did, the winner of "Pretty Isn't the Point" would be Emily Fields.

After last week's strong comedic chops from Spencer, Emily showed a little something of her own this week while dealing with not one, but two moral quandaries, only one of which had even a tangential relationship with A (until we find out that Talia has been working with Paula the Church Gossip and Mrs. Horowitz as heads of the A hydra—that's my theory and I'm sticking to it). Watching her stand her ground despite the uncomfortable confrontation almost made me feel uncomfortable for how out-of-place it was.

We start with the Talia situation where we finally found out why Talia is still married to the poor bloke who lets her flit around with a lesbian high school student. While before Talia led us to believe that she's in some kind of open marriage where they're both just platonic best friends with no indication of romance, she seems to have not told Eric about that revelation. He refers to Talia needing to experiment. Inside dorm rooms and the longing fantasies of unsuccessful middle-aged men dreaming of dorm rooms, women "experimenting" with each other is a sexy right of passage where women try things out to entertain the male gaze. Emily is not interested in the male gaze.

So Eric's pronouncement that Talia is just "experimenting" grinds things to a halt faster than Jamie Foxx can put a hand in your face twenty years ago. What had been a clandestine relationship with a closeted young woman in a loveless marriage was suddenly not so romantic and star cross'd as much as it was a dalliance. With that statement, something important to Emily's identity became akin to sky-diving or showing your boobs at Mardi Gras (happy Ash Wednesday, kids). You do it because you want to try it, not because it's who you are. And that's kind of not how Emily sees things.

Whether Eric's assessment of Talia's orientation is correct or not is irrelevant. Eric is still an active participant in the marriage which means Talia is lying to everyone; you don't get chummy with a lover's mother because you're diddling around for funsies. Kudos to Emily for standing up for herself and telling Talia to stick it. Well, Emily's version of "stick it" which is much less harsh than Hanna's version of "stick it" (which would be "stick it") but does include a lot of furrowed browbeating and complete disengagement. Anyway. Good stuff.

Speaking of Hanna, there's also the secondary confrontation she has with this pageant coach who tells Hanna she's not pageant material. Now, was "enrolling" in a pageant days before the competition a hare-brained idea? Of course it was. When it comes to working under pressure, Hanna's brain is 90% leporid. It was disappointing, however, to see Hanna lock up when it came to answering questions and and to lose her cool in front of the coach. But then, we were also gifted with her to dancing away her frustrations like Brett from Flight of the Conchords.

I mean, it was amazing to watch her seizure in the dance studio like that. Unfortunately, it was also a missed opportunity for Hanna to demonstrate how much she's grown, how much confidence she commands, and, really, the completion of her Bizarro Ali transition as the smart, pretty girl who everyone likes (unless she did something bad to you in the past because you might have been A -- sorry about that). I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know right now if she'll still compete but the show went in this direction where she seemingly won't compete. And it's kind of a shame. I'd like to see our girl Hanna punk-rock her way through a pageant.

But back to Emily for a second because the coach's rejection of Hanna sets the other example of Em being a stand-up gal. The coach pulls no punches, plunging that knife as deep as it will go by slamming Hanna's personality and then offering her services to Emily. It's slimey. And, again, Emily may not be the type that would know where to find a riot act to read someone, but she certainly can leave a wake of guilt and awkwardness. I'm sure the coach felt bad about herself.

Emily then keeps this moral high ground thing going by offering to compete in the pageant on Hanna's behalf in order to donate any winnings to the Hanna Marin Sudden College Fund. Now, I'm supposing we're to ignore Emily's earlier complaints that her family has no money and that her bum shoulder is going to keep her from any scholarships (recall her argument with Spencer the evening they went to Grunwald's sorority party). I guess Emily wouldn't want that money for her own education when someone she cares about also needs it. The fact that Hanna was set up to fail by A (by writing Kate's name in the same general area as Hanna) only makes Emily's resolve stronger to save Hanna.

Is it bad that all this goodness coming out of Emily makes me think that Emily is probably Über A? The show seems to invest so much in making more-or-less innocent people (well, innocent of being an omnipresent, dark-clothed bully anyway) seem very nefarious until they either die or are proven to be crazy creepy stalkers for other reasons. Maybe it stands to reason that the only character legitimately riding a high horse is also the most devious. There are crazier theories out there. Probably.

The latest victim of PLL's propensity for herring is Mike Montgomery and latest suspect against whom the Liars have banded together to bring down. To wit, Mike has been seen doing shady things, hanging out with shady people, and getting shredded like a convict. His sob story to Aria exonerates him (for now) of being a henchman of A and working for Ali. The "Mona's Not Really Dead" theory got more interesting as her blood-letting explains her fainting spell in the chorus room earlier this season (and the bandage on her arm when she fainted) but then might have also been dashed by the idea of a double-cross. Which makes way more sense to me than A offering Mona a fair deal. It's amazing that Mona could trust A (or this A emissary, whoever it was). But, like Jonny says, "chi ama, crede." "He who loves, believes." Mona loved those girls in the end and was willing to believe in all of the pies in the sky to save them.

The biggest reveal of the episode is that Ali probably isn't A. Oops. The Liars should realize that they live in a universe where Occam's Razor is not a thing and that, if they can reach the assumption that Ali is A, she couldn't possibly be. So now they've destroyed evidence that could exonerate her and basically ruined her, or what was left of her that A hadn't already wrecked. I guess that means it's time to start making amends? Does anyone want an omelet? Because there's a lot of egg on people's faces here.

"Pretty Isn't the Point" as a title is almost a dissection of the show itself. It's not about the look of the Liar that gets them into trouble. It's the liar in the Liar, the capacity and willingness to engage in sketchy plans, to operate in the shadows beyond the law, and to fabricate realities as they see fit, that gets them mired. It's also worth pointing out that when the coach drops the episode title in her first interview with Hanna, she follows it up by saying that "you need to have an opinion about the world that we live in." The Liars often do have opinions about the world they live in. It's just often wrong and, occasionally, based on evidence of their own creation.

Hey, at least the plot sped up a little bit.



NOTES

– Should I feel this lonely after realizing no one's ever given me a Morse code necklace?

– Okay, I get that Mike is kind of surly and dealing with his teenage emotions. But, hey, how about you stop texting for, like, a second and look into the eyes of the person handing you coffee. And did he forget how to order things? If you want two cups of coffee, you order two cups of coffee. Not just "some" coffee. It was one thing when absentee parenting was resulting in these children finding themselves threatened, maimed, and coming within a razor's edge of death. But now their manners are being affected. It's unconscionable.

– You knew the kiss from Jonny was coming eventually, particularly with Spencer inserting herself into his life (with his prompting, of course) and that post-coital look she gave the stolen artwork while sitting in the van at the gas station. However, even though Toby is obviously low on my list of PLL significant others, this is a love triangle I won't buy. Mostly because Spencer is being such a brat. Toby is a cop now. Respect his cop-ness.

– Why is Aria asking Andrew to do everything for her? Who does she think she is? They barely know each other. Their closest connection prior to their study sessions was that one time Spencer almost showed him her boobs. Stop asking him to do your dirty work.

– Also, I understand that Andrew hitting on Aria is supposed to be the age-appropriate relationship all Ezra-haters should be rooting for. But does it still feel icky because Andrew looks like he could be the father of a tween daughter?


– Anyone else laugh when Mike flipped the little end table over?

– Texts from Hanna: "Cancel your life this weekend."

– Does Mike hiding things in the knot of a tree make him the Boo Radley in this To Kill a Mockingbird reference?


– Emily and Hanna have always competed for the mantle of Hungriest Liar. Last week with the cookies and brownies. This week with the cheesesteaks. I wouldn't think anything of it if Pretty Little Liars didn't focus on Emily being so happy when food is nearby.

– Spencer showing off all her thievery and B&E skills: "You're new at this, aren't you?"

– Hanna's Best Look of the Night: "Nailed it."

– Emily's Best Reaction of the Night: "Nooooo."

– Your Moment of A: The hoodie comes in, does a couple curls with a dumbbell (?), and then takes out a wrench (???). Also, Mike is reading Thriving on Chaos, which is a book about industrial restructuring that keys in on things like getting employees involved in how the business is run and making sure the customer feels like s/he is interactive and an integral part of a feedback loop. I know we just disproved Mike as A, but that'd be a killer way to restructure the A Team. It's probably a little top-heavy at this point anyway, what with the Hydra.

What did you think of "Pretty Isn't the Point"?


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Feb 24, 2015
Another awesome episode, but LOL at Hanna and Emily dancing to a song that wasn't even released at the time of the episode. According to the timeline it's around March 2013 in the show. "Bang Bang" was released in 2014.
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Feb 20, 2015
"I mean, it was amazing to watch her seizure in the dance studio like that. Unfortunately, it was also a missed opportunity for Hanna to demonstrate how much she's grown, how much confidence she commands, and, really, the completion of her Bizarro Ali transition as the smart, pretty girl who everyone likes (unless she did something bad to you in the past because you might have been A -- sorry about that). I don't have a crystal ball so I don't know right now if she'll still compete but the show went in this direction where she seemingly won't compete. And it's kind of a shame. I'd like to see our girl Hanna punk-rock her way through a pageant."

^ This. I'm really disappointed that the writers seem to be going this route. Hanna constantly gets the short end of the stick on this show...it made sense for her to try to go through the competition. She really is Cinderella. The only slack she gets cut is that she has the best boyfriend and the best mother on the show (which is significant, but it would still be nice to see Hanna succeed when she has so much potential and has had such a transformation).

Emily is at her best when she's not obsessing over her current romance. She is far more interesting in being the morally strong and compassionate friend that she is. I will agree that it's a little weird that the writers are conveniently forgetting that Emily needs money for college too...I guess we'll see what happens.

Not much of a fan of Talia or Jonny. But Jonny at least was a decent foil for Spencer (Spencer needed a brief moment to consider not living such a strictly planned-out life to truly consider what she wants/needs). Talia is just the next random romance thrown at Emily and it's not really serving a purpose. Here's something to think about, writers - there are moments when teen girls are single and not interested in anyone. Egg is a hopeless case, Hanna has had her reprieves where she has shined and Spencer has as well - why not let Emily shine for Emily?
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Feb 19, 2015
At this point the most logical explanation is that Spencer really did kill Ali and has been in the nuthouse this whole time dreaming everything up. Everything on this show could have only been thought up by a crazy person.
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Feb 22, 2015
Marlene is crazy enough.....
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Feb 19, 2015
Andrew is a filler. I like the actor who plays him, he had amazing chemistry with Spencer. With Aria, not so much... But once again, Aria is probably one of the worse characters written into television.

Hannah is, again, a reason on its own to watch this show. I would totally see a Hannah spin-off from PLL once the show is over (take notes writters, maybe you could do better than Ravenswood this time). The peagant story-line doesn't make any sense, but the dance was right on spot. Hilarious. Now, Em taking over for her? I'm getting a Joey Potter vibe from this plot.

As for A, I already gave up trying to figuring out who that is. I'm getting use to the idea the writters won't show us anything significant intentionally that could lead us to an early discover. They try really hard to point us in red-herrings, doesn't matter if the character lose completely any meaning to the story in the process (as they did with Ezra, not that he wasn't a creep before tho). So well, I'm sticking to low expectations about this suppose reveal we will have in some episodes, so the disappointment isn't as terrible when things aren't what it seems, once again.

The Mike side-story kind of made sense, for the first time. Despite the fact he is hidding blood on a tree -and that he didn't explain those mysterious messages, the necklace, his meeting with Cyrus, or the bank account with 18.000 dolars- I can beleive he is pairing with Mona on a plan, at some level. The fact she fake her own death was sort of obvious before it happened, and I really hope they don't kill her permanently because Jane Parrish is simply amazing. Two more seasons without her would be a drag.

Now Toby, could you please stop been a douche? I never liked you anyways, and even if Spencer is out of the line with her behavior, that doesn't excuse your passive-agressive. Jonny, Talia... Well, I don't even have the words. What an useless waste of TV time. In the mid-time, we barely get to see any real Caleb/Hannah interacton, a couple I actually like.

Amazing recap. Everything was right on top, but mostly the "Pretty Isn't the Point" remark. Also, I'm saving that Hannah gif, so thank you!

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Feb 19, 2015
Guys, Andrew as A? Like, seriously just because a shady character shows up for 5 minutes it doesn't mean he's A in the process. King said it's someone we all know and Keegan revealed it's someone we almost see in every episode... Andrew wouldn't make sense at all
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Feb 19, 2015
Hannah is the best, and that dancing was awesome if I had 20,000 dollars to spare I wouldn't mind giving them to her just for that.
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Feb 19, 2015
I was trying to figure out why they're pushing Aria and Andrew. I mean, these two have absolutely nothing in common. Spencer and Andrew made sense, but the captain of the Decathlon team and the girl who couldn't get into college "because of A" (girl, please)? Seriously? And then I realized it's probably because, while Andrew's character is technically a high school student, the actor that plays him is like, 40. So proper age for Aria.

And then I just laughed for a really long time because these writers...I don't even know.
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Feb 24, 2015
Brandon Jones is 26, which is close to 40. LOL. Lucy Hale is 25.

I find it more bizarre that the actress playing Spencer, is 29. Meaning she's OLDER than Ezra Fitz in real life.

I mean come on; Spencer (29), Emily (almost 28), Hanna (25) and Aria (25) plays high school students, lol. Only Alison (just turned 19) is close to the correct age.
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Feb 19, 2015
Well, one thing's for sure... if we didn't already think A was a douche bag, after he went for that dumbbell, we know it to be a fact. And he's not even a strong one. Way to go for the middle weight there, champ.

Andrew, the man-teen, is my new favorite character. That shot of him creeping on Mike in the woods. Screensaver. Wait, is that weird?

"How would you reverse extinction on today's endangered species?" What a strange question to expect American Teenaged girls to answer. Is the science community so out of ideas that its widening it's hypothesis pool?

Spencer is definitely out of the running for smartest liar. Breaking and entering, theft, vandalism and, I'm sure she double-parked that van at some point that night... You are making this too easy.

And Johnny's totally A.
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Feb 18, 2015
Spencer has been getting on my nerves. "You're only arresting him for robbing a gallery because you're mad at me" Who says stuff like that? It's like she expects Toby to be nothing more than her inside man on the police force.
I'm not buying this Andrew and Aria thing at all. I don't care how cute he thinks Aria is, him agreeing to stalk her brother without a seconds hesitation is just not believable in the slightest. As you said, he barely knows her.
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Feb 20, 2015
Spencer seems to be currently suffering from TVD's well-known Elena-ness, in which she makes everything about her.
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Feb 19, 2015
Way back when Toby first told Spencer his plan to become a cop - after she giggled - wasn't it him basically exactly saying that it would be convenient to have someone in the department to easily get their hands on evidence and what not that got her to agree that it was a good plan?
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Feb 19, 2015
S05, E08 ("Scream for Me"), in his conversation with Spencer, his reasons for wanting to become a cop are specifically this:

"The police in this town are corrupt and someone has to do something about it... wouldn't it be great to have someone on the inside to look at records and paperwork?"

So yeah, I think its fair that she had certain expectations about how this would go. Especially since he has been through all of this with them, knows all the secrets, is usually super frustrated if she keeps anything from him, was even (albeit supposedly fake) an A member for a while...

I don't know. I'm glad he's trying to actually be a good cop and all, and not give Tanner any fuel or whatever, but I think Spencer deserves to be cut a little slack about how she's been reacting to Toby's cold shoulder squareness.

That being said, she definitely needs to cool the getting her rocks off on non-A-related crimes, because, just like she yelled last week, she was already arrested for murder and needs to keep it as squeaky clean as she can.

I was kind of hoping that all of her ranting this week about the unfairness of what was going on with Johnny would make her realize she actually does want to pursue a law degree. She's always sarcastically harping on about "that's the Hasting way" and stuff, but she really is her mother's daughter at heart, she's just a little jaded right now. I'd really like a little of overachiever Spencer from the first couple seasons to come back.
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Feb 18, 2015
Johnny, you're a prick. F*ck off. And take the 2-day veteran cop Toby with you. And Andrew. And Ezra, while we're on this track. In fact take every male character bar Caleb. Thanks.

Also I want to marry Emily Fields.
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Feb 19, 2015
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Feb 19, 2015
While I don't want to marry Em, I totally agree with everything else you said, and I 100% agree that Caleb is the best.
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Feb 18, 2015
I've known Mona's alive for weeks now ...

Talia + Johnny = pointless. Emily and Hanna dancing also pointless.

Patiently waiting for the trial and for [SPOILERS] Hanna to go to jail. I'm only assuming but the rest of the liars will also be arrested for Mona's 'murder' ... we haven't gotten 5x24, 5x25 synopsis yet.

We all agree that Mona's still alive right?

- there is no body
- Mike and the liars assumed she's dead

what if

A is holding Mona captive

and the 'body' we saw

was a wax figure of Mona.
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Feb 19, 2015
What the ef?
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Feb 18, 2015
Please don't share information contained in synopses for future episodes here. It would've been fine if you'd kept the [SPOILER] tag preceding a link. But you didn't have to share the information in that link within the comment. If people wanted to risk the spoiler, they could've just followed the path to the PLL Wiki. You didn't give people a choice. Next time, how about: "Patiently waiting for the trial and for [SPOILERS]."

That's how we don't act like a dick on the internet.
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Feb 18, 2015
WHY THE FUCK DID YOU PUT SPOILER HERE!?!?!??! It's meant to discuss current episode,not what will happen in next episodes. FFS what moron puts SPOILER and then spoiler in blue for everyone to see!?!?!?!?
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Feb 18, 2015
My theroy is the writers dislike Hanna's character so the never give her any satisfactions or victories. Aria, Emily, and Spencer have had small accomplishments and kept them. Hanna however keeps getting the rug yanked out from under her. Even the colleges she got into are going to be gone due to the fact that she gets arrested in future episodes
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Feb 18, 2015
Anyone else thought Aria's dad might actually show up? Ashley should probably get some props for being only parent present.

My theory on A is...Aria or maybe Andrew. He was holding that test last week up for what reason? He had to know Aria was behind him and that she didn't know answers,so he was holding his test up for her to see and copy. (btw if I had teachers like that,wo didn't care what students do,I'd f-ing ace every test with A+)
Or A has something on Andrew and forced him to show Aria test.
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Feb 18, 2015
Was the pageant competition signup sheet at Rosewood high, a community center, or some other neutral location? It'd be pretty inconvenient or girls from several different schools to travel to Rosewood just to sign a sheet. Couldn't it have been done online?

For someone who is supposedly really smart and whose boyfriend is a cop, Spencer is really bad with incriminating evidence. First the knife she & Caleb couldn't think of a way to destroy besides putting it in a kiln, now she parks the getaway van right up in front of the building, leaves fingerprints, and goes to a gas station immediately afterward with a fan full of stolen items.

How has Aria not learned that if you're sneaking around in the dark, do not draw attention to yourself by holding a lit flashlight?

Isn't this supposed to be winter since it was just Christmas? Here in PA and most if not all of the northeast the ground has several inches of snow and it's cold as @#$%. If there's no snow in Rosewood and blood stashed in a tree doesn't freeze they should be very close to graduation.

I thought snooty museum curators or whatever try to avoiding pissing off artists they can profit from.

So Mona didn't think a little freezer in her bedroom wouldn't pique someone's curiosity?

"You don't go into the barn when I'm not there, do you?" Dude, her family owns the place. She probably doesn't need to pick a lock to get in.
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Feb 18, 2015
The freezer was hidden in a computer hard drive
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Feb 18, 2015
Apparently three months have passed since Mona's death, and it's spring now.
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Feb 18, 2015
I've always found it so weird that people from the (north/middle) eastern part of the US NEVER wear (winter) jackets in lots of tv shows... :P How can Emily walk around in SHORTS during winter? :O I wouldn't even wear that to work in the middle of summer! (but that's besides the point :Pw)
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Feb 19, 2015
It's one of those Rosewood quirks. Like slow progress of time and vanilla weather all the time. Think about it, when was last time you saw anything about the weather you could use to indentify what part of the year is it? Snow, summer heat, leaves falling, autumn colors....

PLL has barely anything that you can use to identify time like holidays.
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Feb 19, 2015
They should have a hurricane episode, as hurricanes can reach Pennsylvania, though downgraded as "tropical storms". For Christmas all the parents were conveniently separated from their kids. Maybe if they have plenty of notice of a severe storm that threatens their offspring and their home they'll actually be in town. If the absence of the Liars' parents are a cross-section of Rosewood then it would seem that at any given time the majority of parents of Rosewood are out of town.
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Feb 25, 2015
They did have the twister or whatever it was that disrupted the SATs a few seasons ago.
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Feb 18, 2015
You hadn't seen the episode yet when you wrote this 'How did you feel about...' part, had you? :P Red herrings everywhere, whihoo.

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Feb 18, 2015
Emily looked pretty hot during those dancing scenes.
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Feb 18, 2015
no news there lmao
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Feb 18, 2015
I just want to know who a is. Just tell us already!!!!!!
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Feb 18, 2015
It was announced on the official Facebook page that Big A will be revealed on March 24th!
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Feb 18, 2015
it's a clever word play. we won't get Big A reveal. they'll give us a clue ...
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Feb 19, 2015
I'm thinking we might be getting the real thing this time. Though, I have come to learn to trust the saying "I won't believe it until I see it" with this show.
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Feb 18, 2015
That's not soon enough
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