Damn, man. That was one of the best hours of television we’ve ever been given. And I don’t mean “we” as in “Pretty Little Liars fans.” I mean “we” as in “human beings on this planet.” I’m going to recap in a non-linear way this week because I want to focus most of my energy on our intrepid little lesbian sleuth.
So, Emily. Frankly, Emily doesn’t have time to deal with A’s bullshit right now because she and Maya have got stuff. They’ve taken their relationship from occasional footsie to making out like the lesbianest thing you have ever seen. And I mean that in every possible way. They cuddle and pet each other’s hair and talk about their feelings, then hardcore makeout with their faces, and then pause to cuddle and talk about their feelings some more. Emily’s feelings are mostly: Bummed about the swim team, excited her mom is still alive, and nervous as hell to reintroduce her to Maya.
The last thing turns out to be a valid concern. Pam takes Maya and Emily to dinner, and Maya acts like an insane person. She starts every sentence with “Well, in prison …” And, “Back when I was doing hard drugs on the regular …” And, “It’s like that time when my stalker from marijuana camp …” And, “Pam, write your list of heroes down on this napkin and I’ll tell you if they smoked weed.” Pam smiles and tries with all her motherly affection not to tip the vial of poison she brought — just in case! — into Maya’s spaghetti. When she excuses herself from the table to fetch the check/splash cold water on her face/punch a waiter in the face to calm her nerves, Emily is like, “What the actual hell, Maya?!” And Maya’s all, “Are you asking if I want a brownie, because sure!”
The next morning, Emily drives to whatever neighboring town Maya lives in to explain that she kind of is freaked out that Maya is bisexual, but only because it means she has to compete with twice as many people. And Maya rightly explains that Emily Fields doesn’t have to compete with anyone; Emily Fields, by nature of being the most best, auto wins every time. Maya guides Emily to her bedroom, which she has decorated like the Under The Sea dance from Back to the Future, and Emily, who hasn’t been allowed in a pool since she was convicted of using HGH and also murder, is like, “I LOVE YOU!” Actually, Maya says it first and then Emily says it back and then they make out better than any lesbian couple on American network TV ever.
You know this about me by now, but I bristle at the notion that I should love TV shows just because of gay characters or lesbian monkey-business or whatever. Important? Yes. There’s no end to the way queer pop culture visibility changes our lives. But awesome? Not necessarily. That’s why this show is such a pleasure. Because there is no gay stuff; there’s only stuff stuff — and some of it happens to be super homosexual.
Like, Emily and Maya’s relationship development in this episode made my heart sing a brand new song, because it was, you know, actual character growth. It made sense for both of them. But also it wasn’t consecrated as a sacrifice at the altar of GLAAD. Do you know what I mean? It wasn’t set apart, pulled out, spotlighted, announced with a PSA, offered up by ABC Family as some kind of one-time gift to keep the gay community from doing that thing we do with torches and pitchforks. Emily’s whole deal for two seasons has been leading up to this episode, these exact moments, and Heavens to Murgatroyd! Scarcely have I ever been more satisfied with my TV!