Pretty Little Liars "Turn of the Shoe" Review: Dead Birds Sing No Phone Numbers

Pretty Little Liars S04E02: "Turn of the Shoe"

Why are they foisting Jake on us? He went from kind of douchy impediment for Aria meeting up with Holden to possible rebound love interest in impossible time. From the short time we've spent with him so far, he's been only a machine for delivering the kind of on-the-nose but unknowingly poignant jokes adults not in the know (read: Ella) make about the situations the girls are in. And it seems like they really want us to want them to be together even though (1) he's awful and (2) that would set some sort of land speed 'shipping record.

Love Boat holds all the 'shipping records by sea.

I'm not saying that I miss Ezria, obviously. Because I think Ezra and Aria are better for each other as characters and for my stomach apart. Ezra has given off a far less pedo vibe in these two episodes (his time with Spencer is only marred by the context of history, not by what he actually does) and Aria is finally getting into a storyline that doesn't lean heavily on a man.

But at least with Ezria, particularly in the beginning when there was still the element that Ezra might not be a total creepshow and wrestled ethically with dating his student, there was some sort of electricity and a build. Ezra and Aria sat at the bar and talked about their hopes and dreams and it made that leap from two strangers ignoring the fact that Aria was at a bar to a couple of good-looking kids rounding bases in a bathroom possible. Banter: the lifeblood of this show that makes it more palatable.

But this Jake character. He can only be really lame and fizzle quickly as an ephemeral distraction while Aria learns some story-important self-defense or a doom that we'll roll our eyes at during every appearance. I'm really hoping for the former. If only because I want to see Aria cut A down with a karate chop and don't want to see another Rosewood creepster squirm his way into the cast. We have enough, thank you.

Jake aside, the episode itself was a bit more satisfying than the season premiere, mostly because we're starting to chug on some important themes for the season. At least we can hope. Aria taking self-defense because she views herself as the new weakest link, the "smallest" one, is a nice way to (hopefully) begin to focus on her instead of with whom she is creating sacred ground. Spencer has to finally deal with the fact that the events of being bullied and chasing a phantom who turned out to be partially teamed by her boyfriend is taking a toll on her academic standing. Emily and Paige continue to develop their hare-brained scheme to not only get into the same elite school on a full-ride for swimming (when was the last time Paige swam?) but will also get a cute dorm room together. And Hanna. Well, Hanna just continues to be the best.

Hanna's always been awkwardly and awesomely confrontational, so telling off Shana with absolutely no provocation is par for the course. I also really like how Hanna swipes the parrot to show her friends and then just leaves it with Spencer but she couldn't be bothered to take care of it (or just take it back to Jessica's place). But now she also has to tangle with the fact that her mom is implicated with Rosewood conspiracy, what with her muddy heels and general ambivalence to glee that Wilden is dead. Ella and Ashley seemed to be the last on on this Ali Wagon for Rosewood Grown-Ups, and, since the Halloween episode where Ashley saw dead people (maybe), we've been waiting for some amount of guilt to rain on the Marins. It was either going to be guilt or Ashley was going to start her own spin-off where she becomes a medium.

Of course, Ashley's guilt might just be because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, victim to A's ever-expanding bullying portfolio. As we watch her tap out texts and reacquaint herself with her OTP, all the wine, you get the feeling she's probably involved in some way with Wilden's demise but that she isn't an independent agent.

While the dominoes are slowly being put up, I'm still missing what I hoped would be the end result of having Mona within the Liars' clique: Liars on the attack. Other than Hanna confronting Shana to the soundtrack of Aria's embarrassed pleas, everyone is still quietly suffering A's lingering presence. Some of that has to do with the group not trusting Mona still and I applaud the show not dismissing the deep-rooted mistrust. But what does Mona have to do to win them over? Even getting strangled seems like it could be a ploy if you think about it. The fact that A is basically supernatural doesn't help the belief that everything about Mona's victimization is staged. My hope is that something happens soon so that Mona can be fully incorporated into the Liars system and she starts to put together a plan of attack while Spencer lays it all out in snack food.


NOTES

– Part of me looked at Spencer stacking French fries and carrots and wanted to tell the Other Liars Brain Trust, "Spencer's being weird. Shut up, you guys! This could be worth something!" But then I realized that, to them, Spencer is probably always a little weird. Especially post-Arkham.

– "We never saw a body!" Yes, Hanna. Yes. And it looks like Mrs. D didn't, either.

– Hanna calls the Mobile Lair (Mona's RV) the Hatemobile. More and more Batman-like references.

– The quote on the blackboard behind Ezra is from The Grapes of Wrath: "How can you frighten a man whose hunger is not only in his own cramped stomach but in the wretched bellies of his children? You can't scare him—he has known a fear beyond every other." This reminds me of the Spencer with nothing to lose and it makes me sad to see her basically gone. I miss those crazy eyes.

– "It's good to have a second choice even if your heart is set on something else." At first, this seemed like actual wisdom from Ezra and a relief that he's moving on from jailbait Aria, possibly doing some work to help repair his character. But the context of his history then made it seem like he might be hitting on Spencer. I don't think he was. I'm just saying I could see how one would think that. Ezra wouldn't know what to do with Spencer.

– To be honest, I figured the pills Emily took would lead to a drug test and some repercussions from the school. But I suppose prescribed painkillers probably aren't banned substances. I definitely didn't expect that I would be cringing at the sound of hitting your head against the pool. Ick. Also: What was up with the swimmer POV cam?

– You have to hand it to Pretty Little Liars for trying its best to make a 15-year-old holding her breath feel dramatic. It was still the silliest manipulation Ali has attempted over the course of the show. But they tried their darndest.

– How many of you thought, when the bird went missing, that it was Aria? Show of hands. I did. I figured we were going to see a nice pair of feather earrings and a beak necklace next week.

– Why does Aria think she needs to school Mona on A? Mona was A. I think that gives her a little more insight into what she can do or say with A's spies watching. Go back to your kick-punch-kiss class, Aria.

What'd you think of "Turn of the Shoe"?

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Jun 20, 2013
Did no one else think it was a little sick to feed the bird a bird?
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Jun 20, 2013
A is so twisted. Turning a harmless bird into a cannibal...
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Jun 20, 2013
This episode definitely set up some of the recurring themes throughout the season, and I wasn't as let down as I was by the premiere but I'm still leaving the episode wanting more.

I do like when the show can add little bits of humor, because without it, this would be one depressing show.

I was also kind of surprised that no one really seemed all that bothered by Spencer making maps with her food, cause she used to draw that stuff out or make it on her computer. Seems a little close to the macaroni art she was so happy to be away from.

After Mrs. D's soap opera rules confession, I am starting to wonder if they maybe AREN'T going to go the twin route. Although they still could, it just actually puts some evidence towards them being honest about not exploring it.......
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Jun 20, 2013
This episode was good overall but there were still a few weird scenes. That new Jake guy is really lame. Everytime the show presented us a possible love interest for Aria it drove her back into Ezra's arms. Ugh. I won't believe it til I see it.
I don't agree about Mona all that much, though. The Liars didn't see her get strangled, we did. Sure, the show tries to fool us as well, but a ploy would've worked better if it had happened in front of their eyes..
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Jun 20, 2013
i found this epi boring and lol'ed at spencer's horse sweater
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Jun 20, 2013
What? Her sweater was pretty epic. ^ XD

I wish all of the girls would wear something more teenage appropriate. I mean come on, Aria dresses like a hooker most of the time...XD
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Jun 20, 2013
Is this turning into an animal theme show ? First the pig , now the parrot next week I am guessing a cow with an "A" painted in its body . As if the pig wasn't bad enough now we have a singing parrot who delivers clues in forms of telephone numbers ? Ridiculous ( even for PLL standards ) and used a thousand times . Come on PLL you can do better than that . Don't get me started on the sound effects for the parrot . I did like the last scene where at first it looked like A was eating the parrot . Also Spencer's storyline.
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Jun 20, 2013
I LOVE Hanna but did anyone else think her hair looked a little fake this episode? Like her extensions were wrong?

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Jun 20, 2013
Yeah, this was in her quick brown back to blonde transition so it did look a little odd. Hopefully, they were able to get a better permanent solution.
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Jun 19, 2013
Well, this was an improvement over the premiere episode. We still didn't get ANY asnwers, but I guess I should have expected that. Season1/2 were probably best because the viewers weren't string along FOREVER, and we got more Alison scenes back then...

So, putting all of that aside, I enjoyed the episode more or less. I love the amount of comedy that was done. The scenes I enjoyed the most were Hannah asking Spencer if Melissa was making deals with Satan at D.C. and the expression on Aria's face when Jake mentioned the teacher/student relationship. :) :)

P.S. I still don't like Hannah, she's too self-absorbed. Always thinking about herself, Caleb or her Mom. =.=
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Jun 19, 2013
Why, for the love of God, do people think/believe that Aria is A or, at least, part of the A Team? Can someone please explain it to me? I just never saw Aria as that kind of person and I feel that the writers haven't given us any/enough proof to back this theory up.
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Jun 20, 2013
I totally agree, I still don't get it. Hope they're not pulling a Gossip Girl on us!
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Jun 19, 2013
i honestly thought she was trying to blow her mothers head up (sheldon cooper style) or mind choke her (darth vader style). i was disappointed when she didnt raise a claw hand at her mother.
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Jun 19, 2013
I thought Ali holding her breath was supposed to show she spent her whole life doing it so maybe she didn't get buried alive. She crawled out.
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Jun 20, 2013
Good observation! That thought had never crossed my mind, but it does make sense!
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Jun 19, 2013
Mona spent two years stalking and harassing them; there's just about zilch she could do to actively earn their trust. I wish they would stop trying to push Aria into a new relationship so soon; she doesn't need one to be interesting! If you ask me, Emily is still the weakest link. Brought down not by her damaged arm, but painkillers? That's weak sauce. And I concur; Hanna is still the best.
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Jun 19, 2013
I've yet to see anyone mention this, but, Aria held Emily back after they discovered the Hatemobile missing even when Hannah and Spencer drove off. Aria told Emily to wait a moment and watched Mona's car like she knew something was going to happen.
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Jun 20, 2013
Yeah I thought she actually wanted to talk to Mona without Hannah and Spencer? Or just to see if Mona would do something suspicious...
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Jun 19, 2013
Bwahahahah COME ON. Emily hitting her head after 2 pain killers it's even sillier than Alison's trying-hard-not-to-breathe trick.
I'm not sure it was better than the season premiere. It wasn't worse, but better? THERE WAS A TALKING BIRD WHO SPILLED THE MOST IMPORTANT CLUE IN THE LAST 4 YEARS.
I can't take that very seriously...
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Jun 20, 2013
I would probably hit my head on something after 2 painkillers, depending on what they are.
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Jun 19, 2013
Maybe Emily wasn't taking painkillers. Maybe A-team switched pills with something else...
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Jun 19, 2013
You're not supposed to take anything seriously on that show in order to enjoy it!
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Jun 20, 2013
I know, but there's a fine line between buying everything they do and feeling incredible stupid.
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Jun 19, 2013
Nick Campbell you've always talked about the soup rules and the most important one is :
IF YOU DON'T SEE A BODY THE PERSON MIGHT STILL BE ALIVE !!!!
so when Hanna suggested that i was like (finally someone on the show knows the most important rule on TV and now Nick is of course going to mention it)
and please PLEASE ! let Aria continue with self-defense class and be a FICKING NINJA
someone has to do this and be awesome (can you Imagine Aria taking on A in a fight and winning ? that would be hilarious)
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Jun 20, 2013
I'm picturing a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fight right now in my head and it's hilarious. I wish everyone could see it.
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Jun 19, 2013
Soup rules hahahahaha I love it!
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Jun 20, 2013
Yeah sorry Soap LOL
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Jun 19, 2013
How many of you thought, when the bird went missing, that it was Aria? Show of hands. I did. I figured we were going to see a nice pair of feather earrings and a beak necklace next week.

Hahahha, nice.
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Jun 19, 2013
I kept dropping in and out of the episode.That part with Alison just seemed really stupid and they had like a huge close up and for some reason I wasn't laughing about it until now. None of the separate plots interested me only like Toby's did but they didn't expand on it which sucks.
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Jun 19, 2013
I agree that this episode was better than the premiere... More things happened, and I was more entertained!
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Jun 19, 2013
I didn't really like the episode that much, to be honest. Hanna is truly the only character still worth a damn. She's so awesome, there are just no words. But Spencer has been so totally lame ever since Radley. She used to be totally put together, always going at it, trying to build her future with pure academic prestige. She didn't apaologize for being smart and for wanting to do something with that. A has totally destroyed that. And though I commend the show for some actual character development there, I simply don't like what kind of person Spencer has become. A whiny, insecure little ball of misery with a boyfriend who cries all the time. And Emily taking too many drugs after almost having been caught on doping 2 seasons ago? She cannot be that stupid. Her character is still as dopey and naieve as ever. And Aria, silly Aria, do I even need to begin?
No seriously: I love Hanna. She's the best. But this episode wasn't really worth a damn. I thought that scene with Alison holding her breath was the most ridiculous thing ever. I don't respect you when you do things like that, Pretty Little Liars!
More+
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Jun 20, 2013
I agree! Still, Spencer was kind of the weakest link last season, having a mental breakdown because of A's doing, I found her new, insecure traits cohesive with her development!
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Jun 21, 2013
Yes totally: Spencer's development is definitely correct, in the sense that it all adds up. But that doesn't mean I like that development. She's so whimpy now. And even though that adds up, even though that's logical, it doesn't mean I like it.
It's just the whole thing. These 4 girls have basically been "tortured" for almost 2 years now. Of course they should be showing some signs from that. But what I dislike, is the idea that they don't ever seem to learn anything. Keeping "A" a secret: obviously not a good idea. Yet here they are, 3 seasons later and still doing it. And that kind of thinking goes on all the time. With the exception of Hanna, who I feel doesn't let "A" control her life - she has her mom, Caleb and her awesome personality in general which refuses to be all whimpy and teary-eyed - the girls haven't learned a thing. Which BUGS ME, ohmygosh.
I'm sticking with the show for one more season. If I don't get some answers and/or the girls sticking up for themselves, I'm tuning out.
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Jun 19, 2013
I'm sorry but Spencer and Mona are the only characters worth anything on the show. Hanna is full of wasted potential.
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Jun 19, 2013
I maintain that Toby's crying was justified.
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Jun 19, 2013
Ali "holding" her breath was laughable and you could see,she was breathing through nose...epic fail on that scene.
Only Liar that is consistent is Hanna....others are just snooze fest and what show needs them to be at the moment.
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Jun 19, 2013
But she's consistent in the sense that she adds nothing to the central plot and usual just makes snarky statements. She's entertaining but I wouldn't say her consistency is a good thing. She's never even been apart of a major A storyline. She's usually just dealing with her parents or Caleb.
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Jun 20, 2013
Yeah,but let's see other Liars: Spencer is "tough" one,yet she is back to her oldself,crying and pathetic. She should develop as character and stayed this crazy,going after A and so on,after Radley,but no. Emily is athlete and she is even weaker than Aria. Aria just jumps from guy to guy.
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Jun 19, 2013
Yeah, I thought she wanted to start crying or something.
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Jun 19, 2013
"Why, yes, guy I just met who apparently has no other students, I'll be happy to learn self-defense from you, all alone, in this dojo of mood lighting."

And agreed, re: Hanna. I was only half-watching the episode (struggled to get into for some reason; perhaps this is a show that I am just meant to marathon...), but whenever she was on screen, I was amused.
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