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Pretty Little Liars S04E18: "Hot for Teacher"


Give Spencer some speed and let her figure out the whole anonymous cyber-stalker bully thing in a few days. If there was ever more of a pro-drug message, I haven't seen it.

If Pretty Little Liars must be boiled down to a single conflict, there's no debate that it's Spencer versus A. The other Liars may bumble their way into clues every so often, but make no mistake: Spencer has always been the one pushing everything, connecting the dots, solving the puzzle. Rosewood is her Gotham. A is her Joker. And it turns out that ADHD meds are her cape and cowl.

Yeah, she's a little more jumpy, prone to shouting in the streets, and has eyes like she's been sobbing in the corner of a dusty attic filled with cats for three weeks. But Spencer putting the EzrA pieces together is kind of a big deal for the series, especially with so many "Ezra is A" deniers out there. Not only does it redefine where this season is headed (remember when PLL was basically about a group of exhausted, Ali-hypnotized zombies alternating between "let's write Alison off and move on" and "we love you Alison you should definitely come home and be our leader"?), but gives us a sense of purpose.


It gives us a sense of some movement in this season. It's exhausting watching our protagonists flit from one angry threat to another, bouncing between the same old bits of information or new versions of the same information. I know that's nothing new for Pretty Little Liars, a show that likes to contain most of its progression in a few episodes while filling the rest with red herrings and misdirection. But now we have this tangible enemy to tackle instead of the obscure, part-of-the-ether villain. Without a face to put on A, it's been like watching a bunch of girls fight the rain.

What's even more intriguing about all this is how the show is willing to sell out Ezra. As if Spencer compiling the clues wasn't enough, that old limited third-person omniscient perspective is just about completely shattered now. We used to only see things that happened to the Liars through the Liars. We saw what they saw and that's all the information we had. Then it started expanding to other characters, parents, siblings, Mona. They became victims, too. Now we see Alison and she's a victim. We see Shana and she's a victim. To see Ezra's darker perspective—he who has a spy command center decked out with pictures of Alison in his remote cabin beyond cell reception—is either expanding the circle of victimhood to Ezra (he's being used by A or was used by A and now he's counter-intelligence), or we're nearing the end of the EzrA life-cycle (just like we found out about Mona).

In any event, Ezra is now more gross than ever before. Think of all the gross things you've ever thought about Mr. Fitz (doinking a student, etc.) and put that in the context that he's recording everything. Every moment he's spent in Rosewood has been detailed to him by some minions or via his own surveillance. His proximity to the girls wasn't just because he communes better with teenagers. Yeah. There's definitely video of him and Aria consecrating that sacred ground.


We're at a point where it seems like Pretty Little Liars is asking, "What more do we have to show you in order to establish that Ezra is a bad guy?" Unfortunately, the audience has become jaded to obvious reveals. The fact that Ezra is being sold out so hard almost has a negative effect on people who are still chewing salty bites of red herring. Advancing the case for cynical wait-and-seers, enter Shana. Standing in Emily's room, already intimately familiar with Alison-related objects lying around, she provided answers to a not-especially-sleuthy Em. But the answers seem to point to the fact that the dots they've connected about her are mostly random points of coincidence rather than the outline of any villainous shape.

Shana wasn't intentionally dating Paige to get closer to the girls; that was dumb luck. She also wasn't being a see-you-next-Tuesday to her and her friends because she was on A's side, but because she was testing the loyalty and moral character remaining in the girls after Alison's absence. And, most incredibly, Shana wasn't at Wren's because she's associated with him in any way. She was basically hired off Craigslist to help him pack up some boxes. Apparently he didn't even know that she went to Rosewood High. Everything is a crazy, random happenstance. If you believe it.

So Shana recruited the most gullible Liar to retrieve a wad of cash for Alison. The cynic in me watched Emily hide that fat stack in a bag of coffee beans and assumed that she'd been recruited to join Alison's personal Underground Railroad for privileged white girls. Most of all, it would end up having to be a new set of lies she'd have to tell her friends, because you can't be shadowy if everyone knows your business. In fact, with Spencer and Hanna barking up that EzrA tree, and Aria keeping her Fitz getaways a secret, all the Liars seemed to be hiding huge secrets from everyone else.


The difference is how exhausted everyone seems to be with having to lie all the time. Aria was the mouthpiece for this as she stood up to Ezra, exhausted by the number of serial untruths she had to tell in order to be at the cabin, just before she was quickly manipulated and the table was set for her incredulous reaction to Spencer's accusations. The remaining Liars put that same sentiment into action. Tired of running, they spilled their secrets to each other: Spencer and Hanna about Fitz to Em, Em showing the stack of cash to the others. This isn't the first time the show has hinted at "the truth shall set you free," but for now, these are baby steps to that end.

How in the world Pretty Little Liars went so long without naming an episode "Hot for Teacher" I will never know. But we knew that, when it arrived, it would mark an important turning point for the series. While I'm not 100 percent convinced that the show isn't going to backpedal its way out of this, I'm starting to believe that's because of my own jadedness than what the show is actually trying to tell me. Sorry, #Ezria 'shippers. It might be time to light those torches and storm the castle walls.



NOTES

– Did you guys catch the hip-hop montage for when Spencer took her pills near the beginning of the episode? Pill, water, pop, sip, research. Interesting Requiem for a Dream reference that didn't seem to just stop there. They also showed Spencer rushing around her room on speed (very similar to Sara Goldfarb cleaning her apartment), and Spencer hitting all the buttons at Ezra's apartment building to get someone to let her in (something Harry does early in the movie). I'm just saying, Spence, if Big Tim says all you need to do to get more of those pills is attend one of his parties, don't go.

– Not a whole lot of time spent at Rosewood High this episode, so today's quote comes from Detective Nice Guy's manhandling of Sherlock Holmes: "It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important." Even though it's all of a sudden and it's coming in dribs and drabs, I kind of like the subtle education that Hanna is getting about being sleuthy while still maintaining her childlike adoration for shoes and stuff.


– "It's like a constant barrage of slow jams and lip balm." What slow jams do you think Mike and Mona listen to? R. Kelly? Bruno Mars? Also, Aria is two for two these past couple weeks with the clever zingers. Stop making me compliment, Aria, show.


– Kudos to Brenda Bangs, the unassuming prescription drug trafficker. Spencer was powerless.

– "Sloppy work leads to consequences." Is A going to start razzing the Liars for lifting their essays from Wikipedia now? Seems to be a pet expansion there, Ezra. "I know we've been bullying these kids for a while for all the lies they've been telling, but plagiarism is, like, the biggest lie of all, and we should crush them for it." Wait. OMG, you guys. Do you think A got to Shia LeBeouf?

– "Or were they talking about peaches, and parasols, and Scarlett O'Hara?" Those are the only things we Georgians talk about. Well, those and seersucker suits, eating fried chicken for breakfast, and prefacing every piece of gossip with "I do declare."

– That Aria feed is so super creepy.


– I suppose Alison heading out of town using the last of her money to grab a bus ticket is important. But I'm still trying to understand why any of these girls want her around anyway.

– Your Moment of A: A Hoodie has a bunch of Wren's prescription pads. Maybe the A Team got a tip from Brenda Bangs and decided this ADHD drug trafficking could be the way to finance their new set of doll-sized coffins.


What'd you think of "Hot for Teacher"?


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