Spencer gets a hot tip from one of the Pi (Holes) that Ms. Grunwald lives in a town called Ravenswood now, so off she and Toby go in a BEAUTIFUL TOYOTA to find out what’s what.
And here’s what: Ravenswood isn’t a town so much as it’s a parallel dimension where every diner is the diner Emily was kidnapped from on The Night of a Thousand Nights and every car is from the ’60s just like what Jenna drove Emily around in when she found her roofied at Ali’s empty grave. A million birds are cawing and swooping and the only color that registers in the spectrum of normal human vision is the vibrant whiteness of the roses on the grave where this woman is holding vigil in a black traveling cloak. There are no road signs, presumably because all roads lead everywhere and nowhere, and none of the townspeople will even look at Spencer and Toby in the face. Every shop on the square is an oddities shop, except for the pharmacy which is called Grave Concoctions probably. Dead Man’s Drink is the pub. It’s because the town is famous for birds and graves, it says it right there on the town sign, and the whole thing scares the absolute hell out of Toby. He shivers and shivers and begs Spencer to get in the car and drive them home.
They head on out to Sawmill Road where a grizzled gardener is chopping the heads off of full-bloom roses and fingering the flip phone in his pocket. (The best part of this whole scene is that Toby is aghast at the way this dude is hacking up those rose bushes.) Spencer tries to find out if he’s the keeper of the grounds here at Grunwald Estate, but he says he’s the only one here and he likes to reserve his conversations for the Master of the House, if you don’t mind. Toby stands there the whole time gaping at this fella’s poor shearing technique. He’s so visibly upset that Spencer has to drag him back to the car.
Emily’s brain is so fogged with hate for Shana today that she can’t even figure out her next move, so she goes to Mona and asks to get in on whatever game she’s running. Mona explains that she’s in the exact same position as the Liars now. A knows everything she’s done, everything they’ve all done, and without her RV full of evidence and Bratz dolls and grenades and stuff, she’s basically just waiting to get set on fire like the rest of the Liars. “And this time,” she says, “Maybe no ghost spirits us to safety. This time, maybe we burn.”
Back in Ravenswood proper, Toby knows that he’s got to power through the heebie-jeebies of this place and get Spencer a sandwich and a cup of coffee if he’s going to make the drive back home with her. He goes “Low Blood Sugar Spencer is worse than No Caffeine Spencer.” Which is adorable but not as adorable as Spencer’s rejoinder: “Wow, your girlfriend sounds awesome.” But she’s too distracted to eat anything right now because inside a hair salon she spots The Grunwald.
Somebody mentioned last week how amazing it is to watch Spencer interact with people who aren’t the Liars or Toby, and I’ve never really thought about it like that before, but it’s so true. The Liars and Toby and me and you, we’re used to Spencer’s single-minded mania and complete lack of finesse. It’s endearing to us. We love her. So we make ourselves a kind of the cushion for her, right? So when she slams up against us all the time, we sort of lean into it at the exact correct angle so it feels like a hug or little tickle. But the rest of the world does not know how to handle the way she comes at them, words and eyes and manners crackling like lightning. She bashes up against the world and it dents the world or the world pushes her off like she’s attacking it. She runs at us, she ends up in our embrace. She runs at the world, the world shoves back.
Like Grunwald over here. Spencer walks right into that salon, not even a how d’ya do?, and goes, “Remember when you were physically abusing sorority girls at Cicero College and disappearing for hours at a time in that murder room with the pink phone and the werewolf claw marks on the walls? I think maybe my dead friend — Ali was her name, you probably saw about her murder on the news — spent one full summer calling you in that room, maybe looking to extort you or looking for a safe house or something? Maybe she called herself Vivian? Maybe she landed her plane in your backyard sometimes? Her hair was blonde or brown. Sometimes she was probably wearing just her face, but other times she was probably wearing a mask of her face over her face. Do you know who I’m talking about? I think she might still be alive.”
The Grunwald says she didn’t know Ali’s human form and she certainly doesn’t know her phantom form. And then she hides in one of those hair dryer hood machines until Spencer goes away. Outside, Spencer is like, “She’d rather set her head on fire that talk to me!” And Toby gently puts his hand on her arm and goes, “Honey, I love you, but Tippi is the one who sent you here. A goose chase started by a literal bird. I think you need to eat.”