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Pretty Little Liars S04E07: "Crash and Burn, Girl"

A while back, we had the beginning of the Significant Others Brain Trust, a consortium of teens who cared enough about the Liars to launch their own investigation into A with the intention of bringing peace to their loved ones. It was a party of two, Caleb and Paige, mostly because Toby was busy foot-soldiering for A at the time and Ezra was a pedo creep. (That last part doesn't really have anything to do with Ezra's involvement in the SOBT, but it bears mentioning.)

It seems like ages ago that Caleb and Paige put their feminine faces together to bring Shana into our lives, with Paige as the bait. So far that's amounted to very little, since Shana seems to elicit no information but can always been seen in the wrong place at the wrong time. She's not so much instrumental to any cause, but she's always around for general suspense and possible malevolence.

Meanwhile, Caleb has traded in his swimming partner (where did Paige go?) in what should be an upgrade but turns out to be kind of a lateral move. After being part of A's Majesty Service, you'd think time as a Hoodie would've provided some insight and hands-on knowledge about how A operates, but he tends to only regurgitate things we already know because we pay attention to Mona when she speaks. Toby's input notwithstanding, between the two of them, they've put together a Homeland board (people in Rosewood really love those things) filled with clues and timelines. It took some teamwork and a little bit of brooding (which is what these boys do best), but they finally go to the bottom of something.

Or, well, they lowered their elevation a little bit. No one ever gets to the bottom of anything on this show.

The all-boy incarnation of SOBT put the screws to one Nigel Wright (they do kind of look like cast members of Teen Wolf and/or Vampire Diaries, after all), who owned the lighter that Toby found, and who was the pilot of the flight that brought Red Coat (who he said was Watermelon-Baby-Lover Cece Drake) to the Liars' whole-house bonfire. It was a very similar revelation to what the SOBT found when they discovered Shana, someone who's definitely connected but not necessarily the spooky character they were looking for. Although Nigel does have a penis, which makes him extra suspicious. It's a win for the SOBT and good work that even Spencer can recognize.

Despite "Crash and Burn, Girl" starting out really silly, the regular Liars' brain trust also enjoyed a bit of success this week (kinda). The episode's teaser was probably one of the more hamfisted ones of the season (series? I'll stick to season), with Emily dropping cornball bombs all over the place. "The Brew can't deliver the one thing she really wants: her mom" made me cringe, and her dialogue didn't get much better from there. It was a general continuation of Emily holding the title of Worst Liar lately.

Honestly, the Fields wouldn't have any trouble if it weren't for Emily and her shenanigans. If she isn't hollering for no good reason and running off to make them look dysfunctional, she's copping important evidence that she feels she and her friends would be better at investigating than the professionals at Rosewood PD. Granted, so far the Rosewood police have proven themselves to be about as effective at law enforcement as first-graders with badges they got out of a cereal box, but you have to wonder what you're going to find at a combed-over Wilden's place that isn't a trap set by A.

The point is, Emily does wrong things and they constantly bite her in the arse. Getting her mom suspended and thereby implicating her in Wilden's case (because of the nature of the evidence) was about the worst thing she could have done to her mother. And then a car drove through the living room.

There's no real reason, in my mind, for this to have happened. It seemed way over-the-line even for higher-stakes A. Perhaps A was upset because, since Emily was being so self-destructive, A didn't have to do much to put the doom cloud over the Fields estate (a tip-off to the detectives that the Wilden key was missing would've been all it took). So A sent a car through the window and aimed it at Mama Fields just to flex some muscle. "I will bring you down! You will not bring yourself down! Stop stealing my thunder!" I'm waiting to see how the Fields fall into Ali's past and, therefore, become targets. Byron, yeah, he was being blackmailed and basically busted up his marriage with indiscretions. The Hastings are basically the collective devil. Ashley Marin—nothing's been proven yet, but I'm willing to bet that she's been involved with some shady dealings. But the Fields? Their only crime, as far as I can tell, is letting their daughter attract madness to their lives.

Speaking of daughters causing madness in the lives of their parents, I know I said Ashley Marin probably did some bad-wrong things in her life, but how much evidence would be stacked against her if her daughter didn't have to get out of a shoplifting rap? Would she have ever gotten involved with Wilden? Would there be "tension" there to provide Ashley with motive? Now, orange is Mama Marin's new black and even the magical Hastings double-team can't seem to lawyer her out of trouble. Although, to be fair, Not Mariska Hargitay didn't really get Garrett out of jail until Ian's "suicide" confession, so maybe they're not exactly amazing attorneys.

But Hanna's depression, which I think has been spot on for the last few episodes, kept her out of the Liars' reindeer games this week as she dealt with real issues and real feelings, not just the constant anxiety of what A will do next. To me, that's the interesting thing about A raising the stakes, particularly this season. There's so much more fallout. Spencer felt it at the end of last season when she learned about Toby being a hoodie. But this season has seen the unmitigated destruction of reputations and families. It's not just cyber-bullying anymore. This is the stuff that conditions a woman to calculate revenge. And I can't wait for the montage where Hanna goes Rambo on someone. She's already got the one-liners and a penchant for confrontation. Hanna Marin: First Blood.

Overall, I think "Crash and Burn, Girl" was a little sillier and cornier than other episodes this season, but there was a small bit of movement which fans of the show but enemies of its plodding will appreciate. And a car drove through the front of a house! What?! Someone's been catching up on House during the off-season.


– Briefly, let's go through Aria's storyline. Mike's defense for crushing Connor's car is that his lacrosse stick is thin and that means, I'm guessing, that he couldn't ever lift a bat or a pipe or a sledgehammer. Lacrosse players are known for having absolutely no upper body strength (they aren't) and Mike has always been on the up-and-up (he hasn't), so that makes total sense (I'm lying, it doesn't). However, Ezra's right in that there's not really anything the principal can do, since it didn't happen on school grounds, there's been no history of bullying from Mike, and Hackett's accent is ridiculous when juxtaposed with these childish fools. I like how this situation was resolved (because the school really has no jurisdiction here), but I do not care for the tension between Ezra and Aria. Ezra can disappear for a little bit now, right?

– It's also worth noting that Ezra got his only taste of backlash for dating Aria and it was Hackett accusing him of having bias toward the Montgomery family. Yep, that's definitely the same as being called loose and suffering the embarrassment of an entire school slut-shaming you with anonymous text-messaged propositions. Completely balanced.

– Credit to Hanna for coming close to pulling a Madame Defarge. My total knowledge of A Tale of Two Cities comes from that Simpsons scene where Mr. Burns has a bunch of monkeys typing and one comes up with "the blurst of times." I like it when Hanna pulls out a little bit of knowledge to show she's not a total idiot.

– Competition for best line of the night! Hanna: "This isn't Hogwarts. There are only so many hallways and classrooms." OR Spencer: "We're not literally digging for clues." Who do you choose?

 Just so we're clear: Aria isn't creeped out by an older man scamming on high school girls, but she is creeped out by porn with tame titles like Lord of the G-String? "What do you want to watch tonight? Jimmy Kimmel or boobs?" That's a pretty easy choice. Jimmy Kimmel's probably doing another video with Matt Damon right now!

– The rotten meat: for the Liars or for Wilden? Is it actually something the police missed, or was it planted there by whoever was watching the Liars through the window?

– Caleb's grifting ability let him snatch that phone right out of Nigel's pocket. Where would you be with your absent father now, Caleb?

– Seriously, why did Emily still have the key at the end of the episode? Just put it on her desk when she's not looking and it would all be over. That would be it. You're the worst, Em.

 One quick note about the Bunheads cancellation: Could you guys watch the shows I like more often? The loss of Michelle and her proteges from my life stings. And I blame you. Okay, it's probably not your fault. But it's definitely your friends' fault. Let's give them all the stink eye for not watching.

– Your Moment of A: Hoodie fills out a $50 gift card for Emily to a home improvement store. Double insult, in that A probably sent that car through the window and is insinuating that the damage must only amount to $50 because the Fields are so poor and their house is so terrible. Okay, it's probably not that, but that was the first thing I thought of when the gift card dollar amount showed up. The duct tape will be useful, though. You can fix anything with that.

What'd you think of the episode? 

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