“Pretty Little Liars” recap (3.05) — A Prayer for Paige McCullers

At school, Spencer and Emily cower in the courtyard and squint hatefully at Jenna and tally all the horrible things she’s done to them over the years. Spencer is like, “When you add this whole ‘Oh, I’m using my eyeballs to see’ thing to all of the other things, the total ways she’s wronged any of us is zero.” Emily’s like, “I know. What a bitch. I’m going to say something to her!” She acts like she’s just going to storm on over there and accost her in front of everyone, like, “Are you looking?!?!” But Spencer pulls her back and feeds her two clues to calm her nerves. 1) Aria saw Lucas trying to break into a photography studio where she used to work, which is probably where he was skulking off to that night they saw him at 4:00 a.m. 2) Garrett’s getting out of jail to visit his dying mom.

Jenna hand-delivers invitations to Spencer and Emily, and when Emily sneers, “What’s inside?” Jenna goes, “A firecracker. BOOOM! You’re blind. Just kidding, it’s an invite to my birthday.” Spencer says they had a deal, which isn’t really something I remember. I mean, I remember Jenna pleading with the Liars to keep her secret because she’s a victim too, but I’m pretty sure if Jenna had made a pact/blood oath with them, I would have remembered. Anyway, she says probably the most revealing thing about her character, and also gives some heavy insight into the message of this whole show, which I think is one of the most female-empowering things happening on TV right now. She says, “This is the new deal: I feel a lot safer when I am in charge of what happens to me.”

I don’t have time to blather on about it, but isn’t that really the backbone of this whole narrative? Who’s in charge of women and their hyper-charged sexuality? Is it the Byron Montgomerys of the world with their True Love Waits projects? The Ians and Jasons with their exploitation? Society wants to control female sexuality, and when they can’t cage it, or convince women that the sole purpose of it is to satisfy the male gaze, or manipulate women into feeling less than because they can’t attain the “perfection” of a magazine cover image, or press upon women that age-old church idea that their bodies belong to their fathers and then to their husbands, they’ll try to squash it right out of them. It’s easy money, it’s easy politics, and it’s gross, gross, gross. Just think for one second what would happen if every lady you know stood up and said, “This is the new deal: I’m in charge of what happens to me.”

At Rear Window, Emily’s boss tells her she’ll have to taste Paige’s cherry chapstick another night, because he needs a hand working Jenna’s birthday party. Emily goes, “Goddamn, I hate that bitch.” She’s there planning her party with a photographer who has one of those hats you see old ladies wearing when they’re covered in pigeons and singing about tuppens. Having been a victim of surveillance culture in ways we don’t even know about yet, Jenna has decided to hire her own photographer for this party, to document every detail. The photographer is named Laurel Tuckman and she is drunk. She’s like, “Has anyone seen my glasses? Probably my assistant Lucas stole them when he was stealing every other thing from my studio and sneaking in to develop photos of girls digging up graves. Has anyone seen my glasses?” Emily overhears the whole thing and reports it to Mission Control.

Nate comes in and blah blah blah who cares whatever.

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