Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Ashley and Hanna continued the Bonnie and Cylde routine they started back in season one, but robbing trains and widows had gotten so tiresome they decided to up the ante by killing a police detective and burying his car in a trout pond. Emily drove all around town looking for ways to prove that Toby is not on the A-team, but all she got for her effort was a smashed up BEAUTIFUL TOYOTA window and a tour of Rosewood’s 24-hour sawmill. Spencer chased Emily to tell her to stop chasing Toby, but wound up on a teddy bear picnic with Mona Vanderwaal and every bear that ever there was gathered there for certain because: Boo Radley was dead on the forest floor. She stumbled around in the woods for the whole night, muttering about Horcruxes and hide-and-seek and alphabetizing and re-alphabetizing former Soviet republics before a park ranger found her and delivered her to Radley Sanitorium. Aria, meanwhile, babysat.
Rosewood High School courtyard. Mona is pretending to touch up her makeup, but really she is just checking the safety on the lipstick pistol she acquired when she time-jumped into the body of a Cold War KGB agent one afternoon last week when she got bored and nothing good was on HBO. She peeps the Liars looking more freaked out than usual of a Wednesday morning, and smirks to herself because she knows …
… Spencer is missing. The Liars can’t decide how worried they should be, actually. Junior year, Spencer misses school, just go ahead and assume someone has chopped off her head. Senior year, though, she spends three school days out of five lounging around the house in her Nana’s old cardigans, looking real hard at stuff, trying to get it to burst into flames. If she doesn’t show up this afternoon, unshowered and shouting at Andrew and/or Mona, or if she doesn’t respond to any of their texts, they’ll kick their search into high gear. You know, now might be a good time for these guys to reevaluate the content of their SOS texts. They never say where they are, or what clues they’ve uncovered, or how much they’re bleeding, or what grown man propositioned them for sex, or who it is that is now dead/hospitalized. It’s just, “SOS! xx, Em.” Which: “Something terrible has happened again! Love you!” That is not helpful rescue information!
Well, but suddenly, Melissa Hastings is concerned about the well-being of her little sister, because she shows up at school all frantic and red-eyed and, “You girls always tell each other about your little schemes and hallucinations and kidnappings.” They say they don’t know anything, and you can tell neither Melissa nor Principal Hackett(?) believe them, so they trot off to call the police.
But Spencer is OK. She’s playing cards at Radley Institute for the Criminally Insane like a regular old Mona Vanderwaal. It cannot be said enough times, in enough ways, at enough volume that Troian Bellisario is an absolute marvel this season, and the fact that she will be overlooked for any major “grown-up” acting awards because PLL is on ABC Family is absolutely criminal. If she was giving this kind of performance on an AMC or Showtime or HBO show, she’d be pulling down trophy noms left and right. Criminal, I said. Anyway, Spencer gets a visit from the most gorgeous man in Rosewood: Eddie the Nurse. She asks why she’s there and he tells her it’s because she has amnesia, and also, despite all spooky evidence to the contrary — including that terrifying doll parts hospital we know is in the basement — she’s much better off here than she would be at the county asylum (which is, of course, full at this moment and all moments because this is Rosewood, PA).
After Eddie dresses Spencer’s face wounds and promises to get her some extra tapioca pudding, she goes back to her card game, pausing to smirk at the wall and whisper into the night, “Radley.”
This script by Joseph Dougherty is so masterful that I’ve had perpetual chills running up my spine for the last 16 hours.
After school, the Liars reconvene to talk about their rescue mission for Spencer. Aria Montgomery says some shit this episode, y’all. For example: “Ugh, like I need anything else to worry about right now. Last week, my boyfriend’s kid fell off the bed. This week, I couldn’t find a skull-and-crossbones outfit I hadn’t worn yet, so this is my second time in this blouse. How much trauma can a person be expected to handle?” Hanna can barely even spare an eyeroll before Emily Spencers into action, grabbing them by their shirt collars and explaining the plan: hit up every bookstore in town, every place that sells shovels, visit the graves of the dead people Spencer knew to see if she carved any clues into their headstones. Stay in touch. Stay safe. Do not drink anything out of a poisoned flask or visit a diner in the 1940s and do not, for the love of God, do not even think about getting into a car with Jenna Marshall.