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Pretty Little Liars S04E03: "Cat's Cradle"

It was high time for a Scooby episode.

The first two episodes of the season were dominated by A bullying the girls and the girls suffering the consequences lying down. But, in a season that seems determined to provide a slow trickle of information to quell the increasingly grabby masses, we needed an episode where the Liars struck out on their own and started getting some answers. Not necessarily to mount an attack on A, but to sort out what they have. Unfortunately, Mona was M.I.A. But I guess that's necessary, since Mona would've no-doubt been able to shed so much light on everything the girls tried to Nancy Drew. And that's just too easy.

To further increase the handicap, the Liars were split up: Spencer and Toby had their own adventure and the Other Liars Brain Trust put themselves in unecessary danger.

Toby has been extra whiny about his dead mother lately, which unfortunately doesn't suit the boy—he's at his best when he's brooding in the woods or shirtless, so these fits of crying and pathos are painful to watch. But not really painful in a way that makes you feel feelings; this week it was more because the tears and surrender Toby exhibited throughout the episode were awkward, like he wasn't sure how humans are supposed to behave in such a situation.

Spencer is still around to help him, though, despite the fact that he's an embarrassing mess and that he just sold out all of his friends by giving A the Hatemobile in exchange for his mother's Radley jacket. Spencer, who is intimately familiar with throwing her friends under the bus for the silliest of reasons, worked with him to figure out a way to make his deal with the devil work out in his favor, to get some closure on a death that's barely been mentioned. The only way to do that was to return to Radley. When Toby expressed concern about Spencer at Arkham again, Spencer basically said, "We have to go back."

There was no new information to come out of their adventure at Arkham except that Spencer picked up a bunch of tricks during her brief stint on the A team, plus some concrete evidence (literally) that Toby's mom didn't leap to her death from the window described in the jacket because of a terrace/building flourish that wraps around the building. Although, from what I saw, it only disproves that Toby's mom didn't just trip out the window. It's not like she would've jumped and fallen on a pile of garbage a few floors down like Ted on Scrubs. I'm fine with there being foul play involved, but nothing here necessarily proves that there was.

While Spencer's steel-trap mind was basically on vacation this week, the Other Liars dealt with their own burdens, both alone and together. Hanna's unfortunate situation was just an extension of what is turning out to be her season arc: Ashley's involvement with Detective O'Creeply's untimely demise. Another father's gun went missing, which seems be an old trick from the A playbook (remember when the Hastings gun went missing?) and it's all too simple that Ashley would be the one to shoot Wilden. All signs point to it, which means it can't possibly be her. That being said, she's got a lot of 'splainin' to do.

The thing is, Hanna's in a suspicious headspace, especially since she bore witness to everyone she knows being implicated in Wilden's death. Detective Nicey-Nice seems to be okay (did he not get the memo that all adult males need to be played pedo?) but the Homeland board connecting the population of Rosewood like so many dots isn't reassuring, and no one would blame Hanna for being a little paranoid, especially when her mother is being ridiculously shifty. I mean, most of the grown-ups on this show are outlandishly shady, but Ashley is really putting it over the top. You have to assume she's also being bullied by A directly, instead of by proxy through her daughter.

Speaking of people who are shifty, Jake definitely got the memo about being as creepy as possible. He has that "Nate" vibe about him: suspiciously available and all too eager to ingratiate himself. Though he seems completely dead behind the eyes, I maintain that the only reason Jake would be ramped up so quickly is that he intends only doom to the Liars and theirs.

But Aria's more important story—outside of her horrifying choice in men—is that her mother, the forever-absent Ella, had to be convinced to go to Vienna for (almost) a year. While I assume it's more of a business thing than a planned story point, it does seem to be a common theme that A (or the universe) is trying to get all the parents out of Rosewood.

The only message from A in the episode was to that effect, sent to Aria (has she always had that janky phone?) when Emily and Pam had their fight in front of the school. Ashley's being handled, Ella is vanishing from the screen, Not Mariska Hargitay has been missing for months, and now Emily's mom is being put through the wringer for suspected child abuse.

We know that Emily's many personality quirks and bruises are systemic of her bullying, which makes for another case here to start telling the truth. Obviously, the show wouldn't be called Pretty Little Liars if these girls could tell the truth and be done with everything. But it's painful to (1) watch Emily lie (she's terrible at it), and (2) see that someone as basically supportive as Pam (now that she's come to terms with her daughter being a... a "swimmer") is being needlessly audited on her parenting abilities. Well, at least we'll be able to see Emily's parents in the same room together.

And that leaves the adventure the Other Liars Brain Trust went on together, in the dark. After dealing with so many shady characters who are tangentially involved with Ali's life among the shadows, you would think the girls would learn not to go weird places by themselves late at night, but nay, they also go anyway and submit themselves to the rigor of whatever creepshows they find in the dilapidated "workshops" where they find them.

This time it was Lime the artist who made a mold of Ali's face (how they recognized it as Ali's is a mystery to me), and it was all too scarily familiar to me, reminiscent of the death masks from Carnivàle (look it up, kids). They all looked especially frightened to be there without someone like Spencer to sic the creeper, and Emily let him make a mold of her own face, which seems like too much information for a character like him to have. He said she'd make a great Medusa, who is a monster, so... thanks? What's more is that they didn't really get anything from him except what we could already assume were context clues: a bunch of masks were made and the physical representatives of the A team tend to wear them when they're not running around as Hoodies. Then Hanna found a mask that looked like Melissa (I guess?), and it was confirmed that if Melissa isn't A, she's got some weird ish going on.

A Scooby episode isn't exactly a breather, but it isn't exactly action-packed either. It's more of a time for us to piece together the clues and for everyone to catch up in case people missed some of the rapid-fire details along the way. "Cat's Cradle" was slow and especially un-informational if you've been paying strong attention to the clues. So it was another sleepy installment, and didn't progress the story, but it did give everyone time to put things together.


NOTES

– They seemed to exhaust all the banter in the opening of the episode rather than peppering it throughout the hour to spice things up. Hanna was particularly on-point, as usual: Ashley just "hit [Wilden] with her car a little" and "Just because Mona said it doesn't mean it's not true." Although my favorite line of the night did come much later, between Spencer and Aria: "Vienna is a long way to go for strudel." "Depends on who the baker is." You saucy gals.

– Caleb's back. He's doing stand-up, manly things. Meh.

– "They whose guilt within their bosoms lie imagine every eye beholds their blame." This is the latest in a theme of quotes suggesting that the blame is on the Liars themselves for everything that happened, and not on the people they're blaming for their problems. This quote in particular is from Shakespeare's "The Rape of Lucrece," about a woman who is violated and commits suicide, and then her paraded body incites the overthrow of the status quo to establish the Roman Republic. Interesting allusion for a town where Ali's death keeps coming up.

– Melissa was especially creepy in this episode. Something's about to go down with her and she's trying to spare Spencer, or so it seems to me. My guess is that Spencer won't catch the hint until it's too late.

– Who is this new A who signs her messages with "kisses" before A? It's disconcerting.

– Your moment of A: a hoodie looking at Emily's injured shoulder while listening to a record (pulled from a pretty sizable vinyl collection) of "Dem Bones." Touching vinyl and an X-Ray might be the only time the secret hoodie wearing gloves has ever made sense.

Next Episode

AIRS ON 8/2/2016

Season 7 : Episode 6

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To think that an almost adult ― who's pretty much an elite athlete ― would allow her smaller, almost middle-aged mother inflict that kind of damage is laughable. I'm not hinting that Emily would strike her mother back, just that Emily would be more than capable of blocking most attempts her smaller, older mother could deliver. The rest of the Liars' mothers are bigger than their daughter IIRC, so those mothers "might" be able to inflict damage on them, but Emily and her mom? Nope!
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I just remembered something - on the whiteboard of detective's theories, under Wren's photo it said "Dr." Kingston, the title in quotation marks. Does this mean he's not who he says he is? All the work he's been doing at Radley and the constant presence around the girls has certainly seemed fishy.. Maybe he's a con man, or lying about his identity? He can't be lying about his med school degree, right? I mean we saw him working at the hospital, not like he could fake performing a surgery or whatever.
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Your review was hilarious, and spot on with all the girls typical idiotic moments. I think my favourite line of the night was when Emily said "I'm not doing well on the lie detector this week" hahaha it's sweet to think they she thinks she's a good liar any other time. Oh Emily, you really are the weakest link.

Again, while it was bold for them to venture out without Spencer why was it necessary to go in the middle of the night to the cabin in the woods and then go in to meet a strange man who makes creepy masks? Girlies, I know you're a bit out of it at times, but don't you even learn from your mistakes? Or just use common sense.

Ashley should start acting less shifty, it's getting to be a bit too much. However the scene of her standing in her bathroom was weird as F. don't really know what was going on there. Similarly with Caleb just rocking up to see Hanna's dad who asked him if he really wanted to get in the middle of this. Oh Tom, you have realised how much more "in the middle" of this the entire town has been.

Question. Why is Radley empty? Convenient that no one was around at all, worst mental institution ever...seriously they should consider changing management. Also since when have we ever cared about Toby's mum?

Ella can leave with her boytoy, but it's this Jake guy thats a shifty little bugger. While I despise Ezra he was at least less obviously suss.

Anyway another episode has flown by with more questions than answers and a great level of comedy. I want more!
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OH I forgot to add that I feel so bad for Emily's parents, they're really the only decent ones in Rosewood even though their daughter is an idiot, so it's sad to see Pam getting messed with.
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Agreed, Emily's mom has easily been the most present parent on this show, actually parenting her child, seeing how Emily's been doing, trying to help and so on. Ashley as well, but she seems to get into more A related trouble than her daughter, so with all the added problems she doesn't actually have much time to parent.
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WHY is PLL so addicting???? I'm confused it's not suspenseful or scarey.. so whats the addiction????
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Shirtless Toby.
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My goodness, THIS is what I live for. THESE reviews make my day -my week!- SO. MUCH. BETTER. I laughed so hard while nodding all the time I was reading... You sir are a genious (the Not Mariska Hargitay was my favorite line)...
Down to bussiness: If any of you remember one or two of my many comments about this show, you'll know by now that while I still watch it weekly and eagerly await for this piece of literature to make my day, I have oh-so-many issues with this show.
Let alone absurdities, what I'm talking about is exactly what happened in this episode: NOTHING, basically.
It wasn't action-packed (those I'll forgive), it didn't reveal any relevant piece of information, and the Scooby gang asked and was answered what are considered contextual questions. Emily should take at least an online course about asking relevant information because WHAT THE HELL. I won't even bother to explain my frustration about that.
THIS that you guys realized happened this episode, this basically absolutely NOTHING relevant whatsoever is what I've saying it's been going on for the last 3 seasons (I'll spare season 1)... Ugh...

In another news, Melissa Hastings was the creepiest individual of Rosewood the entire episode. I would have been afraid of her, even if we were related. Actually... ESPECIALLY if we were related...
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Also, forgot this important detail: WHAT THE FUCK IS SHE WEARING?! award of the week goes to Spencer EXTREMELY long green dress beccause that could have covered me up from head to toes.
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Did I completely snooze out of last week episode because I could swear Emily hit her head in that swim match or whatever and was taken to the hospital , did I imagine that because that's gotta be a world record recovery from a head injury she didn't even had a scratch or a bandage over her head , nothing!! not even a Barbie band-aid.

And what's up with this jake guy I didn't even know it was his name after reading this review the all time I was thinking why he's this guy in the scene and I agree he definitely has dead eyes and no personality whatsoever and it's gotta suck for aria she finally has some screen time without ezra and what does the writers do stick her with some random dude .

Also I thought caleb's jacket was kinda girly , it looked like it belonged to one of the girls I don't know…maybe it's the hair.

Just a thought but isn't it weird for Ashley benson to call her tv mom by the same name , it's goota be confusing on set , I don't know why I was thinking of that , just another random thought from my crazy head. going to sleep now.

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Okay, something that's been bothering me for ages and I need to bring up again: remember when Emily got that "very important information" from Shona's little shop of horrors, that was supposed to lead the girls to whoever bought the Queen of Hearts costume? Caleb promised to look into their bank information like half a season ago, and now no one's even mentioning it, even though they're discussing who was with Wilden on that train. Another thought - what if Melissa posed for the Queen of Hearts costume, which is why Mona thought it was Melissa on that train, but really it was someone wearing her face-like mask. That model of her face that Hannah stole had some sort of gold paint strokes on it, which may indicate how the mask she modeled for was supposed to be decorated and vaguely resembled the Queen of Hearts mask.
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I hated Em's mother when she grabbed Em.Not only because I hate the gesture in general but also because Em's mother grabbed her by her already bruised arm!What is wrong with you lady??This show has too many red herrings,too many people acting shady,many unsolved mysteries (can't they just tell us who killed Ian already just so that we be done with it and never hear his name again ?Who cares about that scumbag anyway?),many random characters who had some connection with Ali but not fleshed out enough to make me care.I'm not interested in the show anymore.I don't get A.What is her goal exactly?I understood why Mona and Toby joined the A team,but who is this person and why is she after the liars?BTW her texts are terrible!Speaking of Toby,didn't the writers say when he was revealed to be on the A team that Toby wasn't a good guy pretending to be bad-he was a bad guy?What happened?Too much negative feedback?His storyline about his mother feels so out of the blue and rushed.Is this the writers' way to get us to like him again?It's not working.Is someone on tv . com going to review Twisted?This show is sooo good!
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My thoughts are all scrambled so excuse me if my comment is sort of a mess. XD

- Hannah/Caleb scenes were painfully boring to watch. Why did the writers bring back Caleb? Seriously, he no longer serves any purpose to the story! It's time he left. =.=

- Hannah made me want to reach inside my TV and give her a good beating. Enough with the "A is targeting my mom", "I'm worried about my mom", Boo-hoo A is ruining my life! She has become so whiny and annoying, and selfishly righteous. I can't stand her any longer!@ Enough! =.=

^^^ I officially hate Hannah ^^^

- That Melissa mask looked nothing like her! LOL!<

- I hated Spencer's cyan's flowery long grandma dress. It was ridiculous! Who decides to dress like that? 0_o

- I don't like Jake. He is dull, and boring, and kind of a douche. And I so agree about him being "dead behind the eyes". XD

- No Alison scenes. Not a happy camper.

- No answers were given, just as usual. I don't care aboout Hannah, or her mom or if she killed or Wilden or not. I wish this plotline was already over. =.=

- Toby/Spencer scenes were meh....

- The best thing in the episode was surprisingly Aria. Her scenes with Ella were heartwarming and real.
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My sister and I were likewise perplexed by the whole mask deal (they look nothing like the actresses). It seems to me like the writers put the production crew in an unfortunate position. :/ I agree that this was kind of a sleepy episode; story meat comes in bits and pieces on 'Liars'. BTW; is anyone else looking forward to the Ravenwood spinoff? This show loves flirting with macabre elements (Dolls; Masks; Faust; Puppets; an Insane Asylum) but it can never fully be one with them and Ravenwood is a good chance for the show-runners to really let loose on themes and motifs that they love.
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Really "big shock",that Melissa was there and had mask...come on,wtf...they know Melissa is the one who is behind A-team(maybe better term,part of A-team),so why not just "beat the shit out of her" and confront her for real. That cat and mouse play Spencer and she had was boring as hell.
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Hannah continued to be the best character on this show this week. She's the only one who actually says what she thinks and isn't as oblivious as the other girls to everything that's going on. Her character is really refreshing these days.
I've also started counting ridiculous scenes in PLL's episodes.. This week I found it extremely interesting how Spencer and Toby got into Radley (again!). People just seem to be walking in and out of there all the time. Why even bother and put bars in front of those windows? Toby's "crying" was so embarrasing, I can't even put words to it. That was just some horrible acting. And last but not least, how on earth did the Liars recognize Melissa in the mask? Allison I get, it somehow resembles her, but the Melissa mask was just stupid.
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1. According to the opening credits Holly Marie Combs was a "special guest star". So Piper aka The Worst Mother on Earth is leaving the show for good. Without her PLL will lose for me 25 % of it's charm.

2. I fear my beloved Laura Leighton is going to be the next actress to say goodbye :( She will either go to jail or die - I think she was contemplating suicide in the bathroom.

3. Hanna is the only interesting part of the Other Liars Brain Trust. Without the company of Psycho Page, Emily is the most boring lesbian character I have ever seen in tv. As for Aria someone should just mercy kill her. During the talk with Piper she was like: "Go away, I don't want you here" - great...

4. Spencer is behaving like a crazy again.

5. I liked Hanna's "Meow" blouse.

So far I'm not impressed with season 4 of PLL.
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Yeah,every time I see Holly,I call her Piper:D Sad she won't be on show,but I never felt she belonged to this show. From the looks of it,NO ONE really eats on this show,only Piper did(and in no way I mean this as bad thing. I want them to eat. Way too skiny for my taste,but I love Piper,she was/is normal). Others just play around with food or have food in front of them. In this last episode Aria ATE A POPCORN!!!(SINGULAR...just 1 popcorn!!!)
It's a miracle,if anyone eat a fruit or vegetable.
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That "Meow" blouse looked like a copy of Jon Bertelli's poster "Curiosity". I liked it too, though.
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Lol all men are pretty much pedos and that makes the show so much more entertaining. I missed Caleb and I really wish he would stick around more because he is one of the few guys who is not a useless creep!
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The best scenes were the Spencer/Melissa ones. Because at the time Spencer asked Melissa that question, I thought it was cold that Melissa left her hanging on the answer but the juxtaposition is interesting. Not only would Spencer probably choose her friends or her boyfriend over Melissa, she'd probably choose blinding herself with a butter knife over her as well.

Emily is always getting stuff in her hair.
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LOL I kind of feel like neither of them have earned the right to ask each other that. They're not just sisters who don't get along, they're sisters who hate each other and always expect the worst from each other. It's not like "they fight but deep down they love each other." They both know they'd never help one another however, really who would Melissa help? She doesn't have any friends, she's pretty much just in it for herself.
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Their hatred of each other is interesting. They showed in that first Halloween episode that Spencer and Melissa got along very well, their estrangement has only been fairly recent. Melissa probably got ticked at Spencer for making out with all her boyfriends.

When Spencer first posed the question, it was when Ian was living in the Hastings house and creeping her out, so she asked if Melissa would choose Ian over her. The non-answer was telling, and it was also sad because Melissa would have chosen the wrong person. Ian was a creep.

In this case, it's not just "pick your friends over me," Melissa is embroiled in this mystery up to her eyeballs, picking her could very well be the wrong choice.

Also, I'd like to add that I LOVE that PLL apparently managed to woo Torrey back from Vampire Diaries because the story is much better if Melissa is actually, you know, THERE for them to be suspicious about.
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It was kind of a slow episode, I did like the exchange about going to the creepy place on the otherside of creepily named lake in this town where, as I see it, Hanna has taken to her new mold of not taking shit anymore and just doing stuff and then both Aria and Emily are like, but...Spencer's not here...

I kind of feel like Toby and Spencer's story was just sort of a placeholder to keep us aware of things, but only because it will be more important going forward, just not yet.

What was with the disembodied parent voices last night? Like, I really thought somehow Ashley had rigged up an automatic response when Hanna. That was weird. And then Pam remaining totally in the dark when she was talking to Emily about Mr. Fields coming back, okay, I get she might have been crying but, the point then would be that both us and Emily see a glimpse of that to get the impact. I had the thought it just wasn't even her.
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But Hanna is too impulsive. Spencer gets things done, but they're usually somewhat thought out. Hanna just does dumb things without thinking like going to a creepy mask workshop in the middle of the woods. I'm honestly surprised she's still alive. After all that they've been through Emily and Aria were probably smart to want to wait for Spencer, which is the first and last time I call either of them smart.
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I figure she was always likely safest because of Mona, but I appreciate that she like went up to Shaina and demanded answers, is trying to get to the truth fairly blatantly about her mother, and to be fair, even though the lake had a creepy name, she didn't know when at Emily's house that it was a creepy place in the woods.
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