How many times will we see different Liars trespass the ex-partner boundaries and then pull back with immediate regret but in that "sorry, not sorry" way? Hanna grabbed Caleb’s fries and then tossed them back, as if that was a proper reversal. If they were really at a point where she wasn’t allowed to steal some of his carbs, would he want the ones with her dirty fingers all over them? And then Emily getting Paige’s hopes up with that habitual “love you” phone sign-off? Fold in Ezria's “slips” and Toby vanishing because he apparently went off to war after his house blew up, and PLL's last few episodes have all the markings of a period piece on the BBC. Except that we’re in modern-day suburban Pennsylvania.
I wanted to start off by mentioning this because "The Silence of E. Lamb" marked the third time this season that we’ve seen a couple get together after a crescendo of inappropriate remarks, not-unwelcome cheek-grazing, and/or generally skipping rope with the line that separates the zones for platonic friends and erosic lovers. It turned out that Caleb didn’t really mind if Hanna grabbed three or all of his fries, and Hanna doesn’t mind if Caleb is spinning out of control after his experience with ghosts and clinically earnest teens in Ravenswood. Despite both of their better judgements, my dear friends: #Haleb has returned.
What a week for Hanna. The identity implosion that’s seen her make the switch from eating her emotions to drinking them probably foretells some unfortunate consequences in her future (because what bout of repeated teen drinking hasn’t resulted in unfortunate consequences—this is television, after all), but it’s paved the way for her to deliver some great one-liners. This is all especially intriguing now that she’s come to terms with her desire to get Ali out of town/cut Ali out of her life. She still makes it to Alison’s side when needed, however, and I don’t usually work blue but for lack of a better phrase, she’s trying really hard to give exactly zero fucks.
As long as you believe Alison is still manipulating the group, Hanna’s thinly veiled contempt is a riot. “Hanna knows what Hanna means” should be the House Marin words. All of her sarcasm at Mrs. Fields’ sadly cookie-less dinner was spot-on. The fact that she's outwardly ready to sever ties with Alison is vindicating. She hiccupped in her resolve after Caleb tried to verbally muscle Ali and Ali gives Hanna an earful about it, but that might've been less about catering to Ali’s neediness and more about how Hanna doesn’t like to be hassled. By anything, ever.
Now, with that being said, if you believe that Alison has even an ounce of respect for her friends, that her poured-thick apologies and revelations are in any way true, and/or that her old-school/new-flavor HBIC attitude is merely a facade to fend off weaker foes, then Ali’s advice for Hanna to avoid Caleb is pretty sage. He’s in a bad way right now, and maybe the two openly self-destructive characters on this show shouldn’t Sid-and-Nancy it up just yet. But they’re just so darn cute together. He’s the most “unmistake” thing in her life!
With Hanna making people happy by ensnaring Caleb once again and Emily entrenched in Alison drama, it was up to Spencer and Aria to follow through on their new Radley lead. Though it was slightly disappointing.
Don’t get me wrong. Aria at Radley lived up to its awkward promise. Everything she did at Arkham, she did in the weirdest, most uncomfortable way it could've been done. From talking with E. Lamb to even something as simple as laying prints on the table for the art class, it was all bizarre. Not to mention that, out of context, Aria's had a hard time with minorities this season. From murdering Shana to her suspicious side-glancing of Eddie Lamb to her reactions to Rhonda, one could make a photo montage of how Aria Montgomery is as bad for people of color on this show as she was for birds during her Season of Feathers (where her outfits always incorporated something plucked from an animal). To add more creepiness, as Aria tried to escape being caught by Rhonda while snooping in Rhonda's room, she chose to hide under the low-to-the-ground bed. It seemed like way more work to duck under the bar and slide underneath than it would've been to just casually walk out of the room and tell the orderlies, when Rhonda screamed about the thief in her room, that Rhonda was obviously crazy. I mean, she’s at Radley, after all.
The disappointment came with Spencer and Ezra hanging out and all the wasted potential. There was a sliver of hope that Spezra might last out all day as Spencer used her beautiful mind to crunch all the analog data Ezra had sitting in boxes while using her sass mouth to reprimand the dude who’s been watching her and her friends for two years. There was a little bit of the latter, as she reminded him of his enthusiasm for watching other people and, of course, as she threw up in her mouth when he opened the door.
But the focus quickly shifted from all the puzzle pieces in those boxes to the spy gear Fitz had lying around. Spencer wanted a camera to watch the barn and needed someone to set it up for her, so she turned on that famous Hastings charm rather than that infamous Hastings acerbic wit. I’m sure it’s not the last time we’ve seen those pieces, but I’d hoped for more. It was nice, though, to see them explore a kinship they have: They both want to figure out the puzzle. “Maybe we should put down the puzzles and walk away,” Ezra said with zero conviction. Never, said Spencer. NEVER!
So Aria got the good stuff from Radley (Bethany Young’s notebook of horseys and monsters) that was shoved under Rhonda’s bed, and Sparia went to work on what could be happening. The tie seems to be there: Mrs. D was on the board of directors at Radley that helped cover up Toby’s mom and her great fall, and Bethany seems to have been the only witness to the truth. The theory that the demon in the drawing of Mrs D in the scarf is after her and not domesticated by her appeared to lose some ground here, as the pictures that preceded it in the sketchbook featured Mrs D with some handsome devil horns and the word “LIAR” carved into her face. The book didn't answer who actually pushed Toby’s mom from the roof, or why she was depicted in such a revealing outfit in the drawing, but it did help on the connection front. Around here, we call that momentum.
Still, it’s strange that we have to call that momentum. With the Cavanaugh house exploding, this season felt like it was turning a corner—but this week's action was still pretty pedestrian, and save for the last two minutes, A was really quiet. We’re still trodding along, though not so much in meditation over how Ali will affect the clique. Instead, there's more movement on the romantic angles that substitute for significant activity involving the mystery of PLL's premise. All of which is fine, I suppose. There are a lot of episodes to fill. It just seems off that instead of the explosion being an inciting incident, it was more of a short-lived pinch to keep us awake.
– The Liars were incredibly careless with their band meetings and even individually with strangers. No one thought to check the stalls to make sure Donna LaDonna wasn't hiding in one before coming out with their A theories and innermost fears? Also, Hanna: Loose lips sink ships. Nice touch from A, though, to not send that last message to Hanna herself. Hanna has a lot of ‘splaining to do.
– Mona has notes from Noel Kahn? How is he still in school with the Liars? Isn’t he, like, 40?
– The “Aria is A” theory has picked up some steam with her visit to Radley, specifically with regard to Eddie Lamb. He thought he’d seen her before, and she looked like she'd seen a ghost when she had to walk by him. The implication, if you subscribe to the theory, is that she’s been to Radley before as a patient, possibly for a dissociative disorder, maybe while she was supposedly in Iceland. Still stretching a little.
– OH NO! Melissa has access to dead rats! So that must mean that... we have the exact same information that we had last week (Mona’s crew placed the dead rat in Paige’s locker). Though I did love Mona’s line while Emily questioned her about it: “You can call me a lot of names, but don’t call me an amateur.”
– This is Aria’s Orange Is the New Black. Except, somehow, she comes off even more privileged than Piper (despite the fact that she’s basically an orphan now).
– Now it's Ali's turn for the Beanie.
– How does Emily know Hanna’s cycle well enough to call her out for making up excuses to bail on Mrs. Fields’ dinner party? Is that something girlfriends just know about each other? Or did Emily just ramp up the creepiness factor? Maybe she’s been keeping a log.
– WHY IS THE VODKA OUT AT THE TEENAGER DINNER PARTY?
– The dinner party itself was just an opportunity to let Hanna to wedge in some one-liners and to give Mrs. Fields a reason to tell Emily that she knows Ali’s not telling the truth. Which is fine. “You don’t have to keep saving her” is good advice. But I’m really not sure why Em’s mom making “popovers” meant something as grave as she made it out to be.
– I’m concerned about Caleb’s brownie diet and the disembodied barista who enables him. The boy needs to eat a vegetable.
– Your Moment of A: A is now reading the Fields’ mail, including an invitation to Ella’s upcoming engagement party. A also seems to have extended bitch’s interest from creepy dolls to creepy clown statues. It’s good to see he/she/it expanding bitch’s horizons.
What did you think of "The Silence of E. Lamb"?
AIRED ON 8/30/2016
Season 7 : Episode 10