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Pretty Little Liars S04E17: "Bite Your Tongue"

It was really only a matter of time before Spencer followed in the footsteps of her high-strung, over-achieving forebears. Jessie Spano, you live on in these Liars.

Whatever manner of prescription "study aid" Spencer got from Andrew (who I guess is still reeling from that side boob action he enjoyed during her "nothing to live for" phase), it seems like Ms. Hastings is trying to make up for a stunning shut-out performance last week where she basically did everything wrong. She needed a win, and there's only one puzzle available to her now that Toby is legally bound to shut the eff up about his mom is the diary. So she pulled an all-nighter to analyze Alison's catty diary filled with poor analogies and unfortunate couplets. I mean, it's not like they've had homework since Season 3 anyway.

For all her painful transcribing of the wild loops and pillowy curves that make up the handwriting of every popular American teenage girl, it didn't seem like she needed to cloister up all night to digest the material. We watched her pore over this story for two straight days: squinting her eyes at blurry text from her camera phone, tapping out words and alternate words into her computer, marking up print-outs. And what did she wake up Hanna with at 4am? The name of a bar that was in the very first sentence: The Hart and the Huntsman. "I dropped a bunch of Dexatrim for this?" I imagine Spencer saying.

Luckily for her, she got a break. The story detailed Alison showing her stories to an older man, who complimented her on her voice while eating boysenberry pie and chasing it with beer. I feel like if that's your thing and you like those hops mixing it up with one of the more obscure pie fillings, go nuts. You only get one go on this crazy rock. Apparently, though, the people in Rosewood took umbrage to such a culinary combo, so much so that it was almost a running gag throughout Spencer's adventures in stretched time and space. So what are the chances that she would not only find Ezra sitting at a table at this pub near his alma mater but that he would also be shoveling circumstantial evidence into his face? And Spencer would also find out that he ordered a Board Shorts beer—which, on top of being a terrible name for a beer, is Alison's nom de guerre for the dude who's been following her! Who'd a thunk?

Damning as all this seems, the only real thing we can take from this is that Ezra has an alibi for the horror tropes happening to Emily and Hanna. Call me skeptical, but it's hard to believe that our storytellers would let this much incrimination pile up on one character if he was actually a villain. What began as a told-ya-so dance following the Halloween special has tempered into weariness of a red herring rearing its foul-smelling head, which itself is becoming bitter disappointment that Ezra just likes little girls and his participation in the A Team may be academic.

While he's definitely involved in some way (listening to audio tapes of Alison confessions, texting about obstacles re: Alison), it's hard to pin any level of stewardship in the A Army on him. It's too easy now. He's a patsy. In fact, for all we know he could be plotting some counterinsurgency with Mona.

Mona: the moon of my life. Post-Radley, post-trying-to-get-along-with-everyone Mona is the all-too-rare treat this show is missing among a lot of characters that've been taking themselves way too seriously lately. While she's not especially hilarious or quick with a Hanna-zinger, the fact that she's basically over the Liars makes me smile. She makes some great points, like when she told Aria to suck it up. It's interesting to look at things from her perspective, like how she made that sacrifice to save Ashley but the Liars still couldn't trust her and still couldn't let her join their reindeer games. All of which made sense to we the viewers at the time, but the Liars looks like jerks when you put it like that.

So, instead of begging the Liars for friendship, Mona is going to take a lover and that lover is going to be Mike. Aria's brother Mike. Fat Hanna base-rounder Mike. Shows up in so few episodes that when he does appear you have to make sure the character is being played by the same actor Mike. We know that Mona is running a game and we can't be sure what game that is, but you have to admit that's a baller move. No one gets into heads quicker than Miss Obliquitous Needs Alliances.

With Ezra, Mona, and Mike being part of a shady triumvirate, the pieces are falling together. No, Ezra probably did not haunt either Emily or Hanna while knocking back some Board Shorts and boysenberry, but it makes you wonder if Mona and Mike were the hoodies participating in the common tropes to befall half of our Liars.

Hanna spent the whole episode getting side glances from the viewers as she boasted to reading three James Patterson books in a week and digging for more. I get that Hanna not having to worry about a man right now frees up a lot of her time, but she's gone from struggling to finish any book for school to busting out three a week? I call shenanigans.

Plus, all that mystery novel reading can only get you into trouble. The dental records seem like an obvious thing to check out, but I like that she needed the books to help her adopt her own sleuthing strategy for when Spencer went maverick. It was just an unfortunate time to strike out on her own. Hanna's tooth message is something I've been looking forward to (I think that's the wrong way to put it—anticipating cautiously?) since the promo that aired after the Halloween special for Season 4B. While I'd hoped it was a 12 Monkeys-style tracker that been planted in Hanna's teeth while she was sleeping, the fact that someone carried out one of the main fears people must have regarding that chair (being gas-roofied has to at least be in the top five) and basically put a tightly wound fortune inside one of Hanna's cavities is way creepy. With all the physical invasions A has perpetrated, it's surprising these girls are able to function at all.

Enter soft-shelled, gullible, easily cracked Emily. We've talked before about how all these girls struggle to live their lives under the burden of A, how they've lost their identities and motivation for anything outside of A and Alison. It came through this week while we watched a red-eyed and exhausted Spencer examine the strip of paper she'd just pulled out of her friend's bleeding mouth. The only things that seem to be keeping Aria from completely falling apart are her investment in Ezra, being able to see not-his-kid, and not being eternally creeped out by Ezra saying that everyone gets what they deserve... eventually (seriously, this show is laying it on super thick). And Emily is a total wreck: getting stabby with the scissors, smashing out windows, demanding that her dad Spider-Man up a drainpipe to save her.

These are girls strung out on stress. Their brains seem fried. Suddenly, schoolwork has come back into their lives and it's hard to imagine how they could possibly support the extra weight of their last year in high school. However, the desperation seems to make them more interesting, so we have that to look forward to. We're making our way down an intriguing path. Let's hope it keeps its momentum and Toby doesn't come back to cry about his mom in the next couple of episodes.


– "Some people don't tuck and roll every time I come into a room." That's a fair point, though somewhat diluted by the fact that she just came out of Aria's bedroom. No one seems to be very scared of Mona when she walks the hallways or when she's part of a crowd. After being institutionalized for a list of heinous bullying crimes, you would think there'd be more fallout. Like, "Mona has to move to a new town" kind of fallout. But nah. If Rosewood is about anything, it's forgive and forget.

– "Was Mona here to poop or snoop?" Thanks, Aria, for my new go-to line if I ever see anyone wandering around my stuff while claiming to go to the bathroom. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's going to be sweet.

– I completely forgot about the car crash into the living room.

– Quote on the blackboard: "You start a question, and it's like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden and the family have to change their name." Again from Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this time between two people discussing what happens at Jekyll's house and one basically saying he tries not to think about it.

– More book references: Along Came a Spider by James Patterson (also the name of this week's Ravenswood episode), Secret Revenge by Ivy Dunbar (not real—the second book of the series by Ivy Dunbar that doesn't exist), and the book that Detective Nice Guy suggested (welcome back), The Land of Blood and Ice by Verner Yorsten (which also doesn't exist). How can I add more books to my GoodReads if you keep making up fake titles, show?

– "Drop the cougar crap and tell me why you're after a tenth-grader." Cougars get younger and younger.

– Jesse the new school counselor is just nice enough to be Uber A. I'm just saying.

– Hanna: "You're lucky my mom finished her box of chardonnay." Ashley and wine: OTP 4-Eva.

– I'm not sure what kind of thought experiment the Hoodie in the school taunting Emily was trying to perform by flicking the lights on and off, paying metal on the loudspeker, and reprogramming the LED board to read "Act normal, bitch!" What is normal behavior in a strobe-lit pop-metal high school after dark? In that case, I think jumping out a second story window is the normal thing to do.

– Spencer looked ready to explode her secret about Ezra all over the place when Aria asked about the monster who could do these things. Fingers crossed that that runaway train starts rolling down the tracks next week.

– Your Moment of A: A Hoodie starts shredding all the waiting room lists Hanna tried to steal and uses the shreds as cage liner for Polly the Parrot. The evidence must have been pretty good... for birds to poop on!

What did you think of "Bite Your Tongue"?

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