“Pretty Little Liars” recap 3.18: Bienvenue, Dark Lord!

Because she was so helpful the last time, and definitely didn’t get Emily trapped in a barn and carbon monoxide poisoned and molested by the ghost of her dead girlfriend, Emily returns to Dr. Ann for some therapy. “You may have heard I killed a guy” are the actual words that come out of Emily’s mouth, but Dr. Ann says what she really heard was that Emily and her new girlfriend were kidnapped and very nearly murdered by the murderer of one of her dead girlfriends and that Emily did what anyone would do if Batman was tied up in the other room. Shay Mitchell is really great in this episode. She’s essentially playing four different Emilys — past life baby dyke Emily, present life Hufflepuff Emily, secret PTSD Emily, and hypnotized murdering lunatic Emily — and she brings it hard on every one of them. Secret PTSD Emily says there’s nothing heroic about ending the life of a living, breathing, human being, and that she can still feel the crunch of his guts and see the evil glow extinguishing in his eyes. Therapy Ann is like, “One idea I have is I can hypnotize you and make you feel less shitty about what you did.” Emily thinks that’s a swell idea.

Speaking of battery acid: Spencer is sitting in the dark surrounded by physical manifestations of Toby’s betrayal and listening to Madi Diaz’s “We Threw Our Hearts Into the Fire” album, specifically that song “Burn,” which is hands-down the Spencer-est song of all time. First of all, it’s about this really elaborate game of hide-and-seek, which we already know is Spencer’s favorite game to win. And second of all, it’s like, “Come out, come out wherever you — oh, holy shit, are you about to run over me with your car?!” Anyway, she looks through Toby’s stuff and plops down in Toby’s rocking chair and calls up her PI and tells him to find the A door, dollars be damned.

Hanna has talked Caleb into sorting through the stuff leftover at his childhood home and it makes me love him more than I thought possible. Care Bears and Pound Puppies and Glo-Worms and picture books: Little Caleb had toys and a home and no idea that all that stuff could be taken from him, without even a warning or an explanation. Lying awake at night in a foster home wondering what he did wrong, without even the comfort of his own stuffed animals. No wonder he didn’t want to come back here. On the plus side, Hanna is working some overalls and a plaid button-up because of course she bought just such an ensemble in the off-chance that she ever ended up rummaging around in a barn looking through her boyfriend’s old Golden Books. Hanna mistakes Uncle Jamie for Caleb’s actual uncle, even though the actor is way too handsome and has way too much dialogue to be anything other than Caleb’s dad. Hanna tells Caleb to stop being so frowny and really get into the spirit of reliving his most traumatic memories, a trick she apparently learned from Dr. Ann.

To wit: Dr. Ann has hypnotized Emily into thinking she is in a safe place, no small feat considering the fact that Emily is lying on a couch, unconscious and and unarmed and unarmored, in the teen girl murder capital of the world. I guess the plan here is that she’s going to get Emily to relive the night she murdered Lyndon James, but the whole time she’ll be cooing at her that it feels so good to stick a guy in the gut with a shiv, and when she wakes up she’ll still remember it in vivid detail, but she’ll feel better about it? This actually is almost a thing some psychiatrists are trying on PTSD patients these days, only they’re asking them to recall their most traumatic memories while feeding them pot brownies and MDMA and stuff. Because neurologists have only just learned that memories aren’t really like movies. They’re like plays: They change subtly with every performance. You never remember the actual thing that happened to you. You really only remember remembering that last time you remembered. Which puts a nice little spin on all these Ali flashbacks, huh? Even the ones that don’t involve crossed wires about gravedigging.

OK, so Emily tells Dr. Ann that she’s there in the night that she did the murdering. The murder weapon is there also. But oh hell, it’s not a pocket knife. It’s a shovel. And double hell, it’s not Lyndon James. It’s Ali. Hypnosis Flashback Emily raises up the shovel and clubs Ali over the head, while Present Day PTSD Emily asks, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, if she could please wake up now. I love that even in her most harrowing moments, Emily possesses the politeness of a Canadian. She breaks out of the hypnosis when she sees a flash of red light, and Dr. Ann is like, “That is not how they said this was going to go on the psychology website page message boards.” Emily finally remembers that Dr. Ann is the worst therapist in America and jets out of there.

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