“Pretty Little Liars” recap (5.01): The Rise of the Vanderarmy

Rear Window Brew. Mona is watching a local news story about how Alison DiLaurentis’ spirit has found purchase in a human body once more and now she is on the run with those girls who keep going to prison for shovel possession. Mona is dressed like Black Widow but with more eye-makeup. Her eyebrow does that amused little uptick. “Well, now,” she says. “This changes everything.”

The Liars arrive at the hospital in shifts, which is supposed to mess with A’s head, even though A’s main thing is being everywhere and nowhere, so of course she is (and isn’t) spying on all the little sub-groups at once. Alison arranges a fake page to the emergency room, knowing that A will follow her. She ducks out into the dark night and weaves between taxi cabs and jazz musicians, while A tails her, while the Liars — sans Aria, who remains behind to monitor Ezra — tail A. Ali runs to a dark, abandoned park, which makes you wonder if she stayed alive all this time by sheer dumb luck. A arrives and menaces her. And then the Liars arrive and menace A. And then like one hundred As arrive and start whispering rude things and dancing all around the Liars like some kind of ritual sacrifice situation. Like prom for boogeymen. Like a hobgoblin dance troupe. It is truly spectacular.

After they’re done doing the jig, all the As zig-zag off in different directions. Ali is like, “Well, hopefully we kept Ezra safe and Aria got to smooch on him a little bit.” And Emily is like, “I hate everything.”

In Rosewood, Mona continues looking fierce as hell, making phone calls about how it’s time to mobilize, while Lucas stares out the windows of their new lair, hoping Caleb will come back from Ravenswood and share bunk beds with him some more. I love that Mona has the infrastructure in place to call to arms an army in half an hour, in the off-chance that any of her sworn enemies return from the fake deaths she coerced them into dying. Lucas is like, “I thought you said there’d be a lot of people here.” And Mona is like, “Relax, man. I just posted the meet-up deets to our website page. Give it a minute.”

Peter Hastings is just sitting in the complete darkness in his kitchen, all unshaven and grumpy as piss. Melissa finds him there and tells him she’s going to tell Veronica and Det. Holbrook the thing she told him, so that Spencer will have a reason to come home. He grabs a bottle of whiskey from the kitchen counter and scowls, talking about, “If anyone finds out what you whispered in my ear before season six, I’ll eat my briefcase.” She scowls back because he’s correct and also because that’s her main face.

SASHA PIETERSE, IAN HARDING

Ali leads the Liars to The Fitzgerald Theatre, a place she and Ezra used to come and eat peanut butter sandwiches and pretend to be themselves pretending to be different people. Ezra’s family owns the theatre, of course, and when Ali found that out, it made her like him even more because it meant he was as good at making up shit as she was. She stood up on the stage one night and said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely puppets.” He said, “Players, I think you mean. All the men and women merely players.” She smiled at him back then because he had a cute little head and wasn’t secretly filming her in her underwears. Patronization she could handle. Accidental pedophila, she was OK with that too. But she shook her head and said, “No. I meant puppets.” And a janitor interrupted them.

Hanna finds a real live shotgun on the stage, which Spencer makes her put down immediately because Chekov ain’t no joke and that’s the second firearm Hanna has handled tonight. When Spencer’s stomach growls — what? she hasn’t had anything to eat since that petit four at the bridal show — they raid the snack bar and laugh about Freaky Foodies, a show about people who eat couch cushions and dryer sheets. They’re like, “Ali, don’t you love Freaky Foodies?” And she’s like, “Yeah, I love to marathon it in the free time I have from hitchhiking with truck drivers to get away from the mother who buried me alive.” She splits to make a phone call to some friends who’ve been helping her out along the way.

The Liars feel sad that she’s shutting them out, no less than four hours after they were almost shot with a gun by A and trampled to death by a herd of dancing As. They’ve sacrificed for her too, you know. Instead of dwelling on it, they talk about what they’ll do once Ezra wakes up, reveals the identity of A, and their omniscient emotional torturer is carted away to jail forever. Hanna’s like, “I’ll probably take up a sport, field hockey maybe. I like the skirt and I’m pretty fucking angry, to be honest, so hitting people with sticks sounds fun.” Spencer goes, “Sleep probably. I haven’t been to sleep since the pilot episode. What about you, Emily?” Emily smiles gently. “Well, since my life not being in perpetual mortal peril is a fantasy on par with Lord of the Rings, I guess I’ll say, ride a unicorn into space and have a picnic on the moon with Katharine Hepburn.”

ASHLEY BENSON, TROIAN BELLISARIO, SHAY MITCHELL

They drift off to sleep thinking their delusional happy thoughts.

At the hospital, Aria is juuuuust about to fall asleep when a familiar form appears in the waiting room. It is Shana Costumeshop, looking sexier than all get out, talking about how Ali sent her here to check on Aria. Aria is like, “You drove her from Rosewood to be my watchdog?” And Shana is like, “That sounds much more convincing than saying I drove her from Georgia, so yes, we’ll go with that.” She tells Aria to close her eyes and go to sleep and she’ll take care of everything. After Aria closes her eyes and goes to sleep, Shana covers her up with her mammoth-fur jacket and sneaks away…

… to Ezra’s hospital bed, where Aria finds her and flips out. But not as bad as Ezra, who wakes up and freaks so hard that he goes into full on cardiac arrest. Shana casually gliiiiiides out of the room while Aria screams for help.

A leather-gloved hand wakes up Ali, but fear not! It is no Risen Mitten! It is that ephemeral enigmatic, that mannequin maniac, that soul-trading sister: Cece Drake! Ali is like, “OMG, how did you find me?!” And Cece is like, “Because we spliced our brains together that one summer to drive your mom crazy; you don’t remember?” Ali does remember. Her fondness for Cece flares up, and not just because they look alike. She gives Cece her plane ticket to France or wherever and since they’re face/hair twins, they agree that she’ll get through customs no problem. Never mind that she’s using a dead girl’s passport. Noel asks them to make out. They think about it. But they decide no, there’s no time, even though they’ve both totally stared down the mirror and thought about how awesome it would be to make out with themselves.

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