“Pretty Little Liars” recap (3.11) — Downton Grabby

 
 

Back at Hanna’s, you have never seen Spencer hopped up like this. It’s like she dialed it to eleven, drank two gallons of coffee, chased that down with one of those movie theater-size boxes of Chewy Sprees, gave her own self electroshock therapy, jumped out of an airplane without a parachute, landed with summersault, ran around the block ten times, drank two more gallons of coffee, and then tried to explain the snake thing to Hanna. She’s like, “Do you understand that I said the words ‘snake’ and ‘Paige’ in the same sentence, and literally three hours later I was being attacked by a snake. I’ll tell you another thing, and you’d better listen good, because all of the girls that have died on this show have been girls Emily has loved, and who do you think would have been more jealous of those girls than old Pigskin? That’s right, Hanna. I said ‘Pigskin’ and don’t you flinch. Don’t you even think about flinching. It’s like Dumbledore was always saying: Fear of the name increases fear of the thing. And we’ll be the next to go, I’ll tell you that right now. First Ali and Maya, now us. You ever think about why she does all those sports and rides that bike everywhere? You ever think it’s because she’s training for a MURDER DECATHLON.” Hanna’s phone rings a couple of times during Spencer’s nuclear-level meltdown and the idea that it’s Wren just makes her want to jump out of more planes more times. But it’s Emily. She can’t find the L.J. pocket knife that was in Maya’s bag in Noel Kahn’s murder room. When Hanna hangs up, Spencer goes, “And who has unfettered access to under Emily’s bed? Pigskin, dude! I am telling you!”

The last time Spencer went after somebody this hard, it was Toby, so expect her to start selling off more of Melissa’s shit next season to buy Paige a new carbon fiber road bike.

Spencer finally drags Hanna to the trunk show, but she’s having the same problem there that she had getting dressed at her house that morning: Nothing long enough to disguise the shrapnel in her thigh. She passes on a body-hugging purple number and goes for a full-length sun dress. While she’s trying it on, Caleb sexily kidnaps her and sexily explains that he talked to Ashley on her behalf about that thumb drive, and then he sexily eye-sexes her and they sexily make out against a wall, which is their new thing, I guess, and I heartily approve.

Paige and Emily show up and CeCe claps her hands because it’s just like what Emily said before: Ali loved dog fights. CeCe ushers Emily to the back to try on the purple dress and Paige adorably, awkwardly asks Spencer if she can help do trunk show things. They start placing rings on mannequin hands and Paige tries so hard to open herself up to Spencer, like she really does just lay something so vulnerable out there, about how she’s trying to figure out her style as she figures out who she is on the inside, like maybe she doesn’t have to be afraid of being a little more masculine in her presentation now that she’s not quite so terrified someone is going to accuse her of something she’s not ready to admit. She says she’d like a fresh start with the Liars, for Emily. And Spencer’s eyes are wild the whole time, darting around and accessing escape routes in her mind and calculating which wire to cut if Paige is, as she expects, armed with a body-bomb. Paige is so nervous she breaks the pinky on one of the mannequins. She’s like, “Heh.” And Spencer is like, “Yeah. HEH.”

Hanna emerges from the dressing room and tells Paige to go help Emily change into the purple dress and Paige has never moved so fast in her life. As soon as she’s gone, they snatch her bag and start rifling through it and find something that makes their eyes light up like only evidence can. What happens next is Emily walks out of the dressing room and the purple dress becomes The Purple Dress, and even Hanna’s eyes bug out of her head a little bit. But Emily doesn’t stick around and allow herself to be properly admired. She sees that they’re tearing through Paige’s stuff, so she snatches it away despite Paige’s feeble protests to just let them do it, and Emily drags her and her handbag out of that boutique.

What they found was not the knife. What they found was that earring Aria put in Ali’s grave.

Things at Ezbian’s are going equally awkwardly. Wesbian has stopped by to drop off a gift, so he stays and helps Aria cook dinner. She spills all the secrets about Maggie, but before they can decide what to do, Ezbian himself shows up and says he talked to Maggie. The catch: She didn’t tell him about Malcombian. Ezra and Wesley can’t decide if they should tell Ezra or if by telling him they’re threatening Maclombian’s inheritance. It’s very tricky and it’s Ezbian’s birthday after all. I mean, what bad thing has ever happened when one of the Liars waited just one more day to tell a secret to a loved one?

Emily and Paige sit on Emily’s front porch drinking tea, and Emily is gracious enough to give Paige all the space in the world to be pissed off at her friends. But if anybody knows what it feels like to be free after years of hiding, it’s Paige McCullers, so she’s like, “Listen, Emily. I did know Ali. And she knew me. She knew I was gay before I really even understood that I was gay, and she relentlessly tortured me with it. However much shame I felt on my own, however much shame I felt knowing how my family would react, it was nothing compared to the way she twisted and turned it and made it look like the ugliest, most loathsome thing a person could be. The only thing I hated more than myself was her. And the only reason I am alive is because I am a competitor, and I would not let myself lose by disappearing.”

What Ali took away from little braided, khaki-shorted Paige wasn’t just the idea of Emily. What Ali took away from Paige was hope. We thought we knew the distance Paige traveled, we thought it was poolside bullying to midnight synchronized swimming, but really it was from actual hell to here, on Emily’s front porch, wrapped up in Emily’s arms. I mean, that’s one of the things Dante said right up front: Hell isn’t the opposite of love; it’s the opposite of hope. Imagine Paige, back then, thinking for one shining moment that she wouldn’t be alone anymore. That there was someone who liked her, someone like her — and then having Ali snatch that dream from her hands and spit on it like it was something disgusting, something to fear. And then one day, years later, seeing Emily kissing Maya, and that spark flaring inside of her again. After that note, after that day, how many times had Paige purged herself of the desire to kiss Emily? Because hadn’t Ali shown her that such a desire was vile? And here was Emily — Emily, of all people! — kissing another girl like it was nothing to be ashamed of? Can you even imagine how that would fuck up your head? How inexplicably hopeful you would be, how angry that you even still possessed the ability to hope, how jealous that someone else was kissing her when it was all you’d wanted to do for as long as you can remember?

That’s where we met Paige. That’s where we walked into her life. Caught between hope and hate and terrified out of her mind. 

Anyway, Paige goes inside to wash her face, and Jenna wanders up. She spots the two mugs on the front porch and gets real squirrely. She’s like, “Be careful who you spend time with, Emily, for real. And if anyone tries to give you a scented candle, you run like the wind.” And then she packs her bags into a taxi and drives away.

The Risen Mitten plays a little ditty on an old fashioned jukebox. Then the Risen Mitten reaches out and grabs the hand of another(!) Risen Mitten. They do-si-do left, allemande-right, honor their corners, and dance off into the cold, forbidding night.

I want to thank you guys for being patient with this week’s recap. As I mentioned in the tweet post, my sister has been in the hospital and it’s been a relief to both of us for me to spend some time with her without worrying about recapping. So thank you. Also, of course, a giant thanks to my dear screencapping partner Maggie (@margaretrosey) who was so worried about Paige this week, she accidentally got herself too drunk to #BooRadleyVanCullen.

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