Is there some sort of rule in the Pretty Little Liars universe that when the mystery heats up the emotional stuff has to be especially dull? Maybe it’s because there was real action and detective work in this episode, but I majorly wanted to fast-forward through everything not involving Noel Kahn’s cabin. Yes, even Ella’s budding relationship with hunky Zach.
But like I said, the mystery stuff was all great: It feels as though we’re actually building to a resolution in the case of Maya’s murder. I’m thinking we might even find out whodunit by the end of this season—even if Ali’s murder and the mystery of the second “A” remain unsolved. I’d actually prefer if Pretty Little Liars tied up one loose end instead of leaving so many threads open, but I realize the show is pretty set on its juggling act.
I was glad that Noel volunteered the security footage: Even if he’s not directly involved in Maya’s murder, he knows something’s going on. You get the sense that all of these characters, whether major or minor, are somehow connected. I might get annoyed when Pretty Little Liars jumps around too much, but I do feel like the writers have some idea of how everything ties together. Now, whether we’ll see that anytime soon is anybody’s guess.
The scene with Emily and Hanna at the cabin was also great—it brought back the horror movie feel of the Halloween episode. The girls keep talking about how much worse this “A” is than Mona, but so far, I’m not really getting that same sense of terror. Pretty Little Liars needs to up the thriller factor with more scenes like the one in the cabin. Creeping the audience out is sometimes just as important as giving us answers.
But the rest of the episode was kind of a bust. I mentioned Ella and Zach, who are certainly cute together but taking up way too much screen time already. It’s a noble effort by the writers to integrate Ella into the story; so far, however, she’s just taking time away from the stuff we really care about. The adults on this show work best when they’re trying to insert themselves into the mystery. Their romantic foibles frankly aren’t relevant to the bigger picture.
Even the important relationships dragged for me, though. I’m still not sold on Emily and Paige, perhaps because Pretty Little Liars is being so aggressive about shoving it down our throats. Paige still strikes me as really unbalanced, and her behavior in this episode only underlined that. I will say that is was a brave and probably controversial choice to have Emily kiss Nate: She’s become a bit of a lesbian icon, and no one wants to see her “turn straight.” But she’s young and sexuality is a spectrum, and dammit, Nate reminds her of Maya. Is it really that weird that she’d turn to him in a moment of weakness (Incidentally, I still think Nate is full of crap. Who wants to bet that he’s responsible for the big betrayal they keep teasing?)
My increasing impatience always starts to get to me when Pretty Little Liars is on the air, but it doesn’t have to be this way: The show seems to either stall while waiting for a big reveal, or ramp up the action leading to a killer finale. "What Lies Beneath" gave us a little of both, and I just wish the writers had stuck to the darker elements.
Which reminds me—best line of the episode? Noel Kahn’s “It’s kind of hot that you think I’m capable of murder.” He is kind of sexily evil.
– Are we spending too much time on Ella and Zach?
– How long until Hanna buckles and starts making out with Wren?
– Who grabbed Maya from behind?