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Pretty Little Liars S04E21: "She's Come Undone"


Everything that was thrown at us before "She's Come Undone" aired was about Aria's anger dance through Ezra's apartment. The episode promo climaxed with the brunette cherub sitting among the detritus of Ezra's life and the wreckage that didn't make her feel any better. ABC Family's suggested hashtag was #EzrasPlace. And, honestly, it might have been the best thing to ever happen to Aria for our benefit.

While Pretty Little Liars' fourth season has thus far been about how these Liars are losing their personalities and their lives to A and all things Alison, Aria didn't really have much to lose because she's about as interesting as cardboard. The only thing that made Aria intriguing in any way was (1) all the birds she must've killed offscreen in the first couple seasons to make so many feather-festooned outfits, and (2) that she was dating Ezra, a high school teacher who wouldn't let societal boundaries get in the way of luring newly minted consensual adults into his lair of hack hipsterdom.

It's all that she was. Her flashbacks with Alison are incredibly tame, and never lead to any self-discovery, at least not in the ways that they do for the other Liars. Her contributions to the ongoing search for their bully are mostly reactionary. While everyone else has gotten more interesting (even boring ol' Emily), Aria's kept busy by staying exactly the same.


A lot of people, in the comments section here and beyond, have noted that this relative stasis means that Aria must be A or at least A-friendly. And, honestly, there may have been no greater case for that than the opening conversation of "She's Come Undone," where Aria told her friends what transpired on the ski lift, possibly spending a small amount of time convincing them that yes, there is a ski lift in the area and you can just get on and ride whenever you want. They came to terms with the fact that Ezra probably isn't A because that would give him too much credit. He's just a struggling writer who saw a way to exploit his questionable choices and rationalize his interest in blossoming young women, who channeled his energy into researching the student body. But then, Emily asked, if Ezra has been ogling them for two years while piecing together some sixth-grade-level sentences for a book, how could he not do something about the b'hoodied syndicate peering into their windows?

Aria immediately asserted that Ezra never loved her, but that doesn't seem correct. While I conscientiously abstain from the AriA debate, I see how the conspiracy theories could start whirling around the idea that Ezra knows about A and wanted to be close to its epicenter to find out what happened to Alison. It might not be hard to justify that Ezra did have an ounce of humanity in him, that he did have an affection for Aria, that he just couldn't find it in himself to take down the woman he loves. The fact is, he singled out the girl who seemed to be the least influenced by Alison and invited her to partake in some bathroom shenanigans. If you're trying to seduce one of the Liars, why Aria? Why not appeal to Hanna's boy-craziness? Why not just engage Spencer academically and avoid the whole questionable ethics thing altogether? Why Aria?


The line in Ezra's journal about Aria not suspecting a thing set her off for a reason. She is, to borrow an unfortunate nomenclature, Suzy Clueless, a young woman traversing her own special oblivion. There are horses with actual blinders on who think she needs to pay more attention to her environment. If she took a Sex and the City quiz, she'd be a Carrie 90 percent of the time and a Charlotte if she cheated. Despite the rash of self-importance that fuels Pretty Little Liars, Aria takes the crown for her ability to remain so self-centered that she can ignore unbelievably glaring red flags. Ezra using that against her was enough to snap her out of that spell. So she trashed his place, flipped the tables, couldn't make herself open cabinet doors when she had an opportunity to smash the glass with a lamp.

Eventually she was sitting among the smashed twigs of furniture and the contents of several dozen file folders, realizing that she wasn't just surveying the wreckage of her relationship with Ezra but everything that'd happened to her before him, before Ali's disappearance, before there was any trouble on the horizon. She was gazing at a visual representation and extensive analysis of her immediate history. There was no better time to leave it all behind. It go. It gone. Bye bye. It's time to get clean.

Ultimately, that's the message of Pretty Little Liars as we start winding down Season 4B. These are girls who are so ripe for addiction that A doesn't even have to set the pins up anymore for them to be knocked down. For Spencer, "She's Come Undone" was basically a rehashing of last week's episode, where her pill addiction worried everyone and even she was amazed at the how close to the brink she'd come. Aria's arrived at the same desperate place since, without Ezra or even a single untainted memory of Ezra, her life feels empty and meaningless; she subsisted on Ezra like he was her only reason to wake up in the morning.


Even boring Emily has found herself in the middle of a scandal as she falls on and off the bandwagon for Alison. She was very much off the bandwagon of recovery this week as Paige regurgitated all the revelations Emily herself arrived at concerning their cherub-faced friend in the beginning of this half of the season. Paige demanded to know why Em was helping Alison, given her history of being an abominable human. Emily believes Alison's changed. It was essentially a deconstructed "You don't know him like I do!" situation. Paige, bored of this particular pink triangle she's found herself in where one of the vertices has been missing for two years, is trying to help Emily stop being a danger to herself and others. While it's pretty much baiting A or whoever to find Alison by giving the impotent Rosewood PD an invaluable clue, I can sympathize with her desire to forcibly end the nagging torture in her girlfriend's life.

"She's Come Undone" wasn't a breather episode but more of a reinforcement episode. These girls' lives stink right now, and there's no real light at the end of their tunnels. I wouldn't be surprised if this season ended with all the Liars curling up into a fetal position in the various rehabs, mental, and criminal institutions of Rosewood without A even having to do much work besides relabeling a pill bottle. More time to spend with the dolls, I guess.



NOTES

– The Liars all have good reason to give up except Hanna, who's really turning things around right now. In the wake of her boyfriend leaving her for a ghost, she's easing into the role of sage confidante now that Spencer is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and reinforcing a new connection with the painfully sincere and polite Travis. She's out there do-gooding, and not letting the Alison baggage bring her down. Yeah, she impulsively pecked Detective Holbrook on the lips, but he seemed really uncomfortable about it so they'll just let that slide, right? Everything's coming up Hanna right now. She's her own island in the sun.


– Holbrook did look really uncomfortable with the unwarranted kiss from a minor. Not from around these parts, are you, detective?

– A rare episode with both Mama and Papa Hastings. Not Mariska Hargitay didn't come back after that initial scene, but it's such a rarity these days to see the parents actually involved in these girls' lives anymore, let alone both parents in the same room.

– Why was Spencer going through withdrawals so funny to me? Also, why did they make her go to school? Seems like a thing you might want to take a couple sick days for.


– Where is Spencer getting cronuts in Rosewood? The gals aren't exactly in Beverly Hills.

– "If it were me, I would've burned this place down to the ground." Hanna said that, but I'm pretty sure Spencer would be game for it, too, if it weren't covered in so many clues. Oh, Spencer looked like she just wanted to rake up all the clues in the middle of the room and do snow angels. Clues, precious clues!

– I like how Emily had the right idea to take A's pill bottle away from Spencer and say she would destroy them but Spencer the Addict just said, "Nah, I'll take care of it" and Emily was like, "Okay, that's cool. Let's talk about some other stuff that's not about you squirrelling away your addiction in your purse."

– Did Spencer LUX Shovel Alison that night? That was a new aspect to the "Spencer's all strung out on pills but maybe she's hit on some crazy truth" trope. She can't remember what she was doing that night. So was that the pills or the roofies Emily was subject to last season? My gut says Spencer's not guilty, but my gut also says that Ezra is convincing his agent/publisher not to go through with the book on account of his treacly love for Aria. Both guesses are based on assumptions that evidence presented to us outright can't be trusted. Though Papa Hastings and Mrs. D were pretty evasive about the whole thing.


– Your Moment of A: A Hoodie sitting by a quint fire, reading Ezra's mediocre sentences. After reading that tripe, I'd want to burn it and everything else, too.


What'd you think of "She's Come Undone"?


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