At CeCe’s boutique, Spencer is explaining that she probably isn’t going to be able to wrangle any of the other Liars to help with the trunk show: “Emily’s kind of mad because I told her what you told me about Paige which you and I both knew I would do, and Hanna usually takes Emily’s side on these things, and Aria is off dealing with drama of her own making, like usual.” I’ve never really thought about that before, but maybe that’s why “A” never goes after Aria: She’s making shit as bad as she possibly can all by herself. CeCe’s like, “OK, but check out this flashback about Pigskin.”
Ali and CeCe were relaxing in CeCe’s car, talking shit about high schoolers and the various ways they squeal when they are being waterboarded. Ali was like, “OK, listen to this. I nicked some of Emily’s stationary and wrote a full-on love letter to Pigskin, told her I wanted to scissor with her and whatever. I told her to write me — Emily, I mean — back and hide the note on the sandwich board that is right in front of us at this moment in time.” Paige wandered up, her head tilted down, her eyes to the ground, not daring to look up at anyone or anything. She hid the note under the sandwich board — and out pounced Ali! She grabbed the note and explained the ruse and promised she would ruin Paige’s life if she stepped out of line ever again. “I own you!” she shouted as Paige’s face tried to calculate all the things she’d just lost, all the things she’d dared to believe could be hers that had never even existed.
Jeeeesus. Talk about reframing the narrative. Paige’s story is like if you woke up with your nose pressed against an impressionist painting. Like this incomprehensible disarray of squiggles that makes you feel really unsettled. If you moved the painting away from your face a little bit, the light and shadows would play with the colors and shapes and you’d feel more easy about the whole thing. A few more feet away and the painting would start to resemble something familiar. Water? Is it water? No, a little more distance and you’d realize you were looking at a reflection of the water. And if you ever could take a full step backwards, see the whole thing in frame, you’d just go, “Oh. Ohhhh.” That’s what it’s like learning Paige like this, in glorious reverse.
OK, and Paige and Emily are studying on her bed and Emily’s thinking about what Spencer said earlier, so she goes, “Hey, Paige. Remember when we went on that karaoke date and I told you I had been in love with Ali, and you didn’t flinch when I said her name like most people do, and you explained it was because you didn’t really know her? Is that still pretty true? Because my friends maybe think …” Paige narrows her eyes and wonders a couple of things out loud, like why Emily’s friends are talking about her and not to her, and how come Emily’s flask was poisoned that night when only her friends were around, and isn’t it weird how she always manages to get GLASS IN HER HAIR or murdered by a talking doll on her friends‘ watch?
And, I mean, valid for sure, but Girlfriend 101, McCullers: Do not position yourself in opposition to a girl’s best friends. It’s never, ever gonna end well for you.
Emily goes, “I can’t really explain to you the depth or breadth of chaos that I have been through with those three, but what I can tell you is there are ways only they are ever going to get me, protect me, and you gotta deal with that knowledge and fast.”
Paige does deal with it. She suggests they hang out and get to know each other better.
Aria is preparing Ezra’s birthday dinner in the kind of haze one sucumbs to when one finds out about a probable step-child that is one half of one’s own age. Into this haze wanders Wesbian, who, like his brother, is a Feelings barometer. He senses something off with Aria, so she tells him the whole story. Maggie’s classroom, her bob, how you can be a teacher in the country and still hook-up with randoms at bars — oh, and there’s a seven-year-old kid in her class who was legitimately wearing a plaid button-up and humming Tegan and Sara.
Spencer and CeCe unload a bunch of boxes from a UPS truck, and CeCe plucks one out for Spencer to try on for the trunk show, but you know how Spencer is when she has latched onto a new suspect: She’s not paying any attention to anything but the way to make her accusations sound most impressive. She types out such a one to Hanna as she wanders into the dressing room to disrobe. She’s just tap-tapping away on her phone — “… and her parents belong to the club and I know I’ve heard her dad mention something about them owning a shovel …” — when one of the UPS boxes starts hissing. Hissing and thrashing. Hissing and thrashing and HOLY GOD, THERE’S A SNAKE IN THAT BOX. The snake slithers out, peeps Spencer, and starts striking at her! Spencer screams and screams and dances around on her tip-toes. The door is locked from the outside, and mercifully CeCe arrives before the snake eats Spencer whole. What happens next is that CeCe Drake picks up a mannequin leg and beats the snake to death. That’s a true thing. Not a thing I made up like I sometimes do. Literal snake. Literal mannequin leg. Literal beat down by Ali’s doppelganger.
If someone ever tells you there is a show better than this show, punch them in the face.