“Pretty Little Liars” recap 3.21: Dead, Deader, Deadest

Spencer is at home staring at things, like she does, when a knock on the door indicates the delivery of some wormy chinese food, or a crate full of bossy murder-dolls, or an invitation to play hide-and-seek at a masked ball, or — oh, it’s just your average funeral wreath talking about “With Deepest Sympathies” and a card that says, “Loose lips sink ships. Sayonara, Spemily.” Spencer calls an urgent meeting of the Liars at the Brew to discuss the various ways she has accidentally arranged for all of their murders to happen today. Emily’s like, “Well, don’t feel responsible if it happens to me because I’ve upped the ante on my own life by engaging in an all out missing persons investigation on Toby.” She and Spencer squabble for a second before Aria alerts them to the presence of Mona Vanderwaal at the coffee counter.

Spencer marches over and smacks her latte out of her hand and says, “However serious I seemed when I was throttling the life out of your tiny body a couple of weeks ago, multiply that times infinity and that’s how resolute I am when I say this thing to you: If you hurt my friends, you won’t believe what I do to you, even while it’s happening, you won’t believe it. Mona. Listen to me. It’ll be Biblical.” Mona smiles sweetly and asks Spencer if she needs to borrow some meds or needs a ride to Wren’s house or anything, and then she leans in and whispers in her ear, “Keep those orchids out of sunlight or they won’t make it through the night.” (Again with the flower motif this season! When we tuck this thing away in three weeks, I’m going to write an essay called “She Loves Me: Spencer Hastings and the Odd-Petaled Orchid.”) Mona literally stares through Spencer and then through Hanna, right to Emily, and then smirks and walks away. It’s terrifying on a couple of different levels, but mostly this: We’ve seen what happens when you cut off the head of the Scooby Squad. Can you even imagine what would happen to them if you cut out the heart?

And so here we are again with The Sweet Life of Aria Montgomery. Emily: About to get killed by A. Spencer: About to kill A. Hanna: Trying to find/dispose of a dead body/police car. And Aria’s rifling through some toys to take to Ezra’s, and her big conundrum is lying to her mom about how she might as well take all this stuff to Goodwill now that Mikey moved to Out of Town forever.

Emily takes Hanna’s advice and hits up Cavenaugh Manor. Goddamn, I miss Jenna sitting on this porch playing her flute. There are ten million newspapers scattered everywhere, which indicates that Toby does not live here anymore and neither does his family. Emily’s getting ready to go or bust out a window or something when Toby’s truck pulls up, but it is not Toby who is driving it.

(This scene on the porch is some of my favorite directing on the show so far. I actually didn’t know someone was going to die in this episode, I hadn’t seen any promos, but I had a real sick feeling the whole time I was watching, and after I rewatched it I realized a lot of it was down to these tricky angles and games the camera was playing with me, distorting perspectives just enough to make me feel uneasy. It’s very smart. Melanie Mayron also directed “Eye of the Beholder” last season, which had some of my favorite full-length, ground-up shots of the Liars, but it’s easy to forget that part because it’s also the episode where Aria flew a plane. Also, of course, Jonell Lennon brought it hard with one of the darkest, tense-est scripts we’ve seen.)

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