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Pretty Little Liars S04E04: "Face Time"

Well, if you're one of the folks who's been complaining about answers, that was a big one this week. If you can trust it.

Melissa explaining that her forever shiftiness is part of a grander secret of protection feels like equal parts revelation and complete nonsense. She's been in so many places at the wrong time and her rivalry with her baby sister holds so much vitriol that it's hard to believe that Mel Hastings has been doing anything but contributing to the bullying. Combine that with the fact that she's been acting in concert with Jenna the Liar Hater and Shana the Mysterious Swimming Partner in Crime and simple math seems to prove her assertion wrong. I mean, if that was true, just who are the "bitches" at the cabin Melissa was referring to in last season's finale? Wilden and Red Coat?

I don't know if Melissa is to the plot against the Liars as Troy Barnes is to being Jehovah's Most Secret Witness, in the way that we thought Toby might be trying to take A down from the inside, but she'd have a lot of explaining to do. Like a Mona level of explaining. Like sit all night and talk about what she knows. Letting her run along home doesn't help anyone. At least make a coffee date to discuss why she was wearing an elaborate Queen of Hearts costume on the train and how much Detective O'Creepish loved wearing a dress!

To be fair to Melissa, this episode in particular made me consider the perception of the Liars' in Rosewood. To wit, Emily's family situation is pretty dire right now and it might just be Emily's fault because she's a terrible, terrible liar. She already comes off like a victim of abuse, a meek girl who's squirrely about the details of her life and who makes grossly unbelievable excuses for the evidence that she's still being bullied, both in content and delivery. Then she does things like running out of the house and creating a scene on her front lawn so the whole neighborhood can jump to their own conclusions. Gossipy town that Rosewood is, of course its residents would leap to the "Emily is totes abused" part of their mat. How else could they explain it?


Even Emily trying to explain herself to the doctor came off terribly shady and wholly discredited. Yes, Emily, go to the doctor and tell him the (near) truth, that your parents aren't child-beaters but leave out the detail that you had to save your friends from a revenge-bent would-be killer, and give it to him with all the convincing power of "I fell down the stairs." I'm sure the doctor will really believe you now. What is wrong with telling people that your friends were almost hit by a car and you fell awkwardly when you pushed them out of the way? It doesn't make sense, Em.

Of course Emily's parents aren't the only grown-ups in the hot seat, but at least Hanna isn't doing A's work for her. Ashley continued her season-long theme of being the shadiest, telling Hanna to drop things and that "this won't touch [her]," despite the fact that, obviously, everything touches her because she's right in the middle of everything. But what Ashley has going for her are a couple of people who are far superior prevaricators. Hanna and Caleb can tag-team on storytelling all day while Ashley cries in her room. Or sends out "kisses" messages to all of Hanna's friends. I don't know.

The state investigators are on her six. Detective Nice Guy has teamed up with a detective who seems to be stealing Lois Einhorn's steeze and neither of them are messing around. They ask leading questions in the same way Wilden liked to, but in an actual investigative way instead of being the creepiest creep who ever creeped. Ray Finkle seems to be just as pleasant as Detective Nice Guy, judging from her conversation with Hanna on the bench, and the focus of their investigation doesn't necessarily seem to be that these girls are guilty (even if they dress a little slutaciously), but that bodies keep piling up around them. Which is true. And, to be fair, slightly suspicious. But at least Detective Finkle doesn't come off lecherous. Yet. If she really IS stealing all of Lois Einhorn's steeze, we have yet to determine whether she has a penis (and is, therefore, a suspect herself). Cue "The Crying Game."


I mean, obviously we know that Ashley didn't do anything. She looks way too guilty. And, much like how Emily's parents appear to be horrible human beings who beat their swimmer daughter but aren't the monsters the town's social services are quick to accuse them of being, Ashley's involvement in Wilden's death is probably greatly exaggerated. And someone is going to have to tell the truth before long. Because this is going to be an exhausted plot point quickly. How many different ways can Ashley tell Hanna to drop it or not ask about it or just be vague about what happened that night? It's not a sustainable storyline, so I expect an answer soon. And that answer is almost certainly going to come from Melissa. Right?

My favorite part of the evening was the resurrection of crime-fighting duo Sparia as they concocted the greatest scheme of the season to figure out what's going on: letting Melissa find the mask and lead them to where they knew she'd go upon seeing it. Spencer's narration of Melissa's thoughts was priceless and, if A was spying on Sparia spying on Melissa, I'm pretty sure that's grounds for recommittal to Radley. Spencer is getting crazier and crazier in an interesting way, if not in a cheer-worthy way like she was last season. From the snack-food blocking of the events at Torch Lake to her wily entrance to Arkham After Dark (all the patients and orderlies must have been watching Leno or something) to her glee upon seeing that her plan to get Melissa to lead her back to the "scene of the crime" had worked masterfully.

As big as it is that Melissa has been cleared of all A charges by her own admission and by A herself (we're going with "herself" since Toby seems to gender her female, though I don't think for an instant that it's a "she" over a "they"), it was the only real answer given in the dual mystery of "Who is-A?"/"Who killed Alison?". There was a flashback to the last time Lime, Rosewood's resident artist creep, saw Alison alive (doo-rags must have been really big in Rosewood a few years back) and witnessed her get into a black sedan. So either she had an accomplice that day, someone was threatening her for money, or Rosewood got Uber way before everyone else.

But Melissa not being A is a big-enough revelation for one episode, even if you always suspected that she seemed too guilty to actually be guilty. It's opens up another avenue of insight into the A cabal, even if she wasn't a part of it. Melissa has been on the fringes of it for more than three seasons now, and you have to assume that, at some point, her perspective will help the Brain Trust figure some things out, like how deep the rabbit hole goes. So let's look forward to a gathering of minds when Spencer and Mona— hey, where the heck is Mona?


NOTES

– I'm glad that Emily was holding her arm like it's actually injured this week.

– Do you know the Muffin Man?

– Toby really needs to be around other Liars when he's on-screen. I don't care for him to be alone while trying to get through a scene that involves human emotion. It's like watching a Real Girl doll ascertain the history of her parents: uncanny and unbelievable. We also didn't get a whole lot of information except that his mom was visited by a dangerous blonde girl. But you could've expected that Ali or a blonde member of the A-Team was all up in that.

– Malcolm arrived to save Aria from her terrible plotline! Was I supposed to feel something for the Jake thing blowing up? I would've understood more if Jake was an agent of A trying to get in there but, if he's really disappearing (for now), what was all that for? To establish that Aria isn't over Ezra? Also, how is Aria going to quote literature on occasion and then not understand the hurt/injured meathead analogy? Over your head? Come on, son.

– There's something to be said for the spying reversal. Sparia spying on Melissa with a camera through the window is interesting, particularly because they are the two Liars the internets suspect most of having been in on the A thing from the get-go. The moment also helped us feel something for Melissa, since she was seen in the same peeping tom light that we frequently see the Liars in. She looked honestly victimized. Important for the coming revelation.


– Your Moment of A: The Hoodie fished out one of the masks and is gluing it back together. I don't know which person it is because none of the masks are at all recognizable to me, but I assume Melissa was breaking the masks of herself. Also: why do the Hoodies like to keep pictures of creepy dolls everywhere? And how does this show plunge to new levels of disturbing doll imagery every season?


What'd you think of "Face Time"?

Next Episode

AIRS ON 8/2/2016

Season 7 : Episode 6

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how do u watch it
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Just how many odd things was Ally doing before her death? How unfortunate was everybody to have known such a strange, strange girl.
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Did Melissa all but admit to killing Wilden?

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The mask was definitely Melissa. They're not super recognizable (especially not the Allison one) but what was up with the Aria ones?
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Staff
From Aria's talk with Lime later, I'd assumed those where Emily's masks she found. Although they all look like Lex Luthor/a bald Bond villain, too, so who knows what they're actually supposed to be.
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Okay, is the glass at Spencer's house seriously soundproof? All I could think of during that scene was "Umm...you are the least sneaky people on Earth, and Melissa is the most unaware of her surroundings." Also, how come they don't yet assume that part of the A-Team is near them at all times? I would be on guard always.

And is it just me who is having trouble telling who the masks are supposed to be? Without the explaning dialouge I would have no idea. Maybe I'm just terrible at faces?!?
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I honestly thought this season would be a bit different with Mona in the Liars' gang but after three episodes the writers managed to get rid of her (where is she by the way?) and to go back to where we were last season. It's funny but even with Melissa's revelations I felt like I didn't learn a lot because I don't care who killed Wilden and I know A isn't Melissa, it would be too obvious. In the last season finale we discovered (or at least had the confirmation) that Ally might still be alive and yet instead of focusing on that, we have to deal with the death of a cop no one cares about.

Also one think that always annoyed me with this show is how much prejudices the girls have against guys doing unusual jobs. I don't get why a guy doing masks seems dangerous and creepy to them and it's not the first time the writers use that trick. In fact every time they meet someone who has an unusual job and met A, he's presented as creepy and potentially dangerous. I'm getting tired of this cliché.
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I really hope that this season will give us a few answers, because I can't make sense out of it anymore. Is Melissa one of the bad ones? Or not? And if not, how to explain all those shifty things she's done...
I don't know, but they all kinda look really guilty to me. I mean, if I was that lady detective, I also would've immediately seen how suspicious Ashley and Hanna were in how they acted. Sometimes, I'm like, "Are you kidding me show? STOP ACTING GUILTY WHEN YOU'RE NOT!" Here's to you Ems, the shiftiest of all shifters.
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I don't have a clue of anything anymore, so much has happened, everything is so convoluted you can't make sense of anything. They add more people to be suspicious of every season. There's too many characters, too much has happened yet we still can't make any sense of it. I would stop watching but once I watch a show I have to see it through
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I feel the same...I still watch it just to see it through but really I don't try to come up with ideas, or analyze anything because it's just to messed up and weird and without any logic. I understand that you cant say who A is because well that is what the show is about, but you have to give some REAL answers, and why the make so many episodes?? every season is like 25 episodes and they only have like 2 months breaks...you could improved the story reducing the numbers of episodes, so some times it wouldn't feel like a waste of tv watching.
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I agree, this kind of show would work better with 13 episodes per season. I still like watching it but there's a lot of useless episodes.
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I really don't buy that Melissa was doing everything to protect Spencer. Melissa is not that type of sister, she is way too competitive and selfish.

I hope that the Wilden storyline doesn't go on too long, I don't really are who killed him I'm just glad he's gone.

I still enjoy the show but I kind of wish that that this was the the last season so we could get ALL the answers. I feel like the whole Alison/ A thing needs to finish soon, its been dragged out too much.
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Hey. Emily's terrible acting actually helped the plot for once. Kudos.
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Whatever ending this show will have, half of the things that have happened so far will not make any sense. If Melissa turns out to be good, then all the bad things she and her buddies have obviously done over the seasons will not go together with her motivations. On the other hand, if she turns out to be bad, then all this "protecting and helping Spencer" talk will obviously be crap.

The same goes for A. What is her deal? (I think we can safely conclude A is a she.) If she is bad, then all the times she has saved the quartet from being destroyed, killed, arrested and what not, do not make any sense. If on the other hand A is there to somehow protect the quartet from some other dark power, why all the mind games and attempts to destroy their lives? Then there's a third option: that A is just toying with them and their lives, causing havoc just for shits and giggles, but without the intention of totally destroying them. That doesn't make any sense either. Sometimes the girls could have been really hurt, with the potential for a fatal outcome, which would put the "light teasing angle" into question. And other times A has let fantastic opportunities to screw with them pass, even though she should have taken advantage of them.

I have to give credit to A for one thing though: she sure is crafty! Always copy-pasting, gluing, carving, sewing, etc. It's really admirable how she spends a lot of her free time practising her handicraft skills. She would make an excellent domestic goddess.
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I agree with you that A's intentions are murky. She started off like some kind of malevolent morality police, encouraging the Liars to tell the truth about things in their lives by giving them ultimatums: be honest or do this horrible thing so I won't be honest for you. Once Mona was usurped from being leader the A Team (Red Coat is who they're all afraid of now), the goal shifted and it's hard to tell to where it shifted. A's end game is either to tear the Liars down or just a sociopathic need to torture Alison's friends.

And, yeah, Hoodies are really crafty. I'm pretty sure in order to be one you have to be in A Scouts for a while, earning merit badges. I'm saying Hoodies are basically gender-neutral Webelos.
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Maybe A watches a lot of Martha in her free time
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Maybe Martha is the one bank-rolling the entire venture.
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Maybe it isn't a coincidence that Marth-A went to prison?
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I'm really starting to hate Emily. Everything she does is pathetic. Especially Paige.
Do not like this new Toby storyline. He was far more interesting as A.
What was the point of Jake? Like really? That whole thing was dumb.
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I agree with you on Emily.
I agree with you on Toby.
I agree with you on Jake.
Think this show doesn't know what to do anymore?
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You're right there, Ted.
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Toby cannot show emitions. Melissa was good this week though.
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this episode was better than the last two, which isnt really a compliment...
those masks are awful! they dont look like anyone they're supposed to...
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Sorry, I just had to post this ^ XD

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I think the mask that Melissa broke was supposed to be Wilden's, and maybe the reason she was so afraid of him is because he's the one who pushed Ian down the bell tower and faked his suicide.
It was fun finally hearing someone on the show bash Rosewood's finest - they really aren't real police, as Caleb said, and it's nice to see detectives actually doing their job. However, as funny as the comment about the girls' outfits was, that Nice Guy Cop saying he would've liked to have seen girls wearing short skirts when he was in high school came off a little inappropriate, since it seemed like he was ogling the girls when he said it.
Finally, thanks for linking to the Troy/Abed rap - love Community and it made my day.
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Staff
I totally forgot about how they were just to make Detective Nice Cop creepy by having him comment on the girls' outfits. They might make him pedo yet.

Also: I basically have that rap running through my head on a weekly basis so it was good to put it to some use. Have you heard Dan Harmon do it? http://www.nbc.com/community/video/inside-regional-holiday-music/n2818/
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This episode was really good i have nothing to say about it except:
- I think that A might be also blackmailing Melissa and her team.
- I think A is an adult because detective creepy was working for him/her.
- i really don't know who killed detective creepy but the main suspects are: Ashley-A-Melissa
- The guy/gal in the sedan, could be detective creepy?, the car looked like Wilden's, but i am not sure, but i think the plates was HJ-1254Q, does anyone keep a record for the car plates in PLL or know the plates for Wilden's car??
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Another week of Ashley being super shady, I don't like it. Why wouldn't she tell Hanna what she did that night? It's starting to get on my nerves.. I really hope this storyline comes to an end, it makes Hanna look stupid for no reason. Ashley has always had this way about her to keep her daughter at a distance. She claimes it's for safety and whatnot but Hanna just desperately wants a parent.
In other news, I didn't find Jake to be as useless as last week. I liked that he wasn't oblivious to the whole Malcom situation and Aria had to spill the beans. A character that asks the right questions is always on my good side
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I find it hard to believe,that no one saw,who Red Coat is,since how they desribe it,there should be around half the cast around that house in season finale: Mona,Aria,Emily,Hanna,Spencer,Shana,Jenna,Wilden...maybe I forgot someone. Toby also? Anyway,with all of them spying on each other...nevermind,show has so many crazy plots going on,I don't even know which way is up or down on this show. I just go along with it,because why not?:P

Hanna is the only one,who pushes for answers this season,so I guess next season Emily will be the only one pushing for answers?
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I love the crazy ride this show takes us on every week, and Spencer continues to be hilarious!
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I definitely didn't believe the Melissa reveal. Melissa has every right to hate Spencer and the Liars. Spencer kissed/stole multiple boyfriends, Ian died, she lost her baby all because of this craziness. Also, why would Shana and Jenna ever want to help Melissa save/watch out for the Liars?
Hanna and Caleb are the best tag team duo. They work so well together and aren't afraid of much.
Emily is the worst liar. I can definitely see her being taken from her parents.
I believe the glued back together mask was of Melissa.
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"Also: why do the Hoodies like to keep pictures of creepy dolls everywhere? And how does this show plunge to new levels of disturbing doll imagery every season?"

Ha-ha! May be because it's hilarious? XD

I have to agree with everything. We did get some answers but Melissa protecting Spencer sounds like a whole lot of nonsense. They are always of a disagreement on something. I just don't feel like Melissa is telling us the whole truth. Does she really care enough for Spencer in order to protect her?

I also found Melissa and her mom being sort of rude to Spencer. That scene was very odd!

Finally, my favorite liar this week (much like last week) was Aria! Now that Ezria is no longer a thing, I don't know why but I love Aria to death. The last week's scene where she begged her mom to follow her dream and be "passionate" was awesome. This week Spencer and Aria investigating together was also great!

Note: I still hate Hannah, and I find her storyline/her mom and Caleb extremely dull! Hannah being a jerk to Spencer/Aria was not cool.
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I dont know why you hate Hannah so much, she is the only Liar who actually acts like a real person would in this type of situatuon. She is doing everything to protect her mother because she's the only family she has left. She's also probably pretty sick of A ruining her life so she's trying to do some damage limitation.
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It's not just because of this episode that I hate her, it's been a long time coming.

She's always worried about her mom or Caleb, it comes off extremely narcissistic. It's just annoying the hell out of me. The other liars have families too! < But they are not treating their friends like trash.

Hannah's treatment of her so called "friends" is simply inexcusable. I just want to reach isnide my TV and shake her and to tell her to stop being so self-absorbed.
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Staff
I don't feel like Hanna is any more self-absorbed than the rest of the Liars. Her storyline involves the person in her life that's always been her partner in fending off the world after her dad left, so I give her a pass on being one-track-minded. Aria was the same way about Ezra, Emily about Maya, and Spencer -- well, Spencer almost sacrificed all of her friends last season for Toby. At the very least, Hanna is the only one willing to stand up to some of the creepers in Rosewood and her one-liners are stellar when she's given the chance to deliver them. Don't Hanna Hate. Hanna Congratulate.

The bottom line is that they're all painfully self-absorbed. Their being insular and self-obsessed are some of the major themes of the show and probably why they have so many people willing to don the Hoodie.
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I totally agree with you Nick.

It might feel like I'm singling out Hannah, but I've commented before on the other liars selfishness as well. Although, Hannah's snappy tone, and the way she treated her friends is what made me most annoyed this week! <
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