Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Shana Costumeshop leapt from rooftop to rooftop to ambulance top in an attempt to exact lesbian vengeance on Alison DiLaurentis and her merry little gang of firecracking bitches, all of whom blinded Jenna Marshall to make her stop molesting her brother. (This was back before everyone killed Alison that one night that one Labor Day.) Fortunately for the Liars, Shana had been stricken with Rosewood Black People Blues, and so a four-foot fall from a stage killed her right to death. In heaven, Shana took the manager position at the Halloween shop, due to her earthly vocational experience, and there she met Maya St. Germain, purveyor of the tattoo parlor situated just down the street. Maya wondered why the store didn’t stock any Alison DiLaurentis masks; they’d been so popular back home. Shana said, “Oh, you can get masks of Alison’s face. You just have to buy them in hell.”
The bus from New York to Rosewood is the opposite of the bus from Rosewood to Ravenswood. On the way to Ravenswood what you do is love a human girl who’s going to become a ghost; on the way to Rosewood what you do is love a ghost who’s going to become a human girl. After arriving back In Town, the Liars tell Ali she can stay now because A is dead and everything is going to be OK and they’re all going to live long enough to graduate high school and nobody is going to get murdered by her own shower or hit by a sedan driving through her living room. Nobody’s going to bury a gun in the backyard of a sorority house using a pint glass as a shovel. Nobody’s boyfriend is going to lie about canned beans. Ali says it would be nice to go home and see her family for a while, but Emily helpfully reminds her “Your mom buried you alive!”* so they go to the police station instead.
(*One of my favorite things this show does is repeat out loud with words the insane things we saw on screen. It just makes it all so much better somehow. Ex: “You may have heard I killed a guy” is even awesomer than watching Emily stab her ex-girlfriend’s fake cousin. “She was living in a perpetual state of hyper reality” is even more amazing than just watching Mona be an omniscient psycho.)
Like the Beatles, the Liars go to the police station, swaggering across the block like Abbey Road, and I guess in their own way they are kind of of rockstars to the RWPD.
It goes exactly as you expect. Detective Holbrook is like, “… fuck me. You look exactly like Cece Drake but are, instead, the zombified form of Alison DiLaurentis, correct?” She says that she is actually the fully alive human form of Alison DiLaurentis, home from being kidnapped and held hostage against her will for two years, and after she escaped (’round about Halloween), the Liars hid her to keep her safe. Behind her all four of the Liars’ faces are like here we go.
I will confess to you that last season’s finale had me a little worried about Alison DiLaurentis because it seemed a little bit like the show was whitewashing all of the stuff that makes her so mesmerizing. Like how she understands the currency of sex and the all out war you have to silently engage in as a woman who has awoken to the truth that men don’t have the right to decide what happens to your body. And she gets the power of controlling other people’s secrets and the danger of storing your own mysteries together in the same place. And she was cruel but that didn’t mean she didn’t love you. And she was manipulative but if you did what she said, she’d find a way to protect you both. She was scared, too, and vulnerable. She was mean. She could hypnotize you and she could break you into a hundred pieces.
So I loved in this episode when she lied about being kidnapped because what it did was tangle up the Liars in another one of her dangerous stories, a thing that puts them all at risk for lots of bad stuff, but she did it because she thought it was the best way to keep all five of them safe. So we get to see her machinations but the actual motivations behind them, and we get to see how it borks up the Liars’ lives, even though her intentions weren’t psychotically selfish.
It’s very smart. Sasha Pieterse is a remarkably talented actor. She took my actual breath away in that noir episode.