“Pretty Little Liars” recap 3.23: I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, we met the world’s most fearsome fighting team. They’re heroes in some outfits and they’re queens. When the evil hoodies attacked, those fibbing gals didn’t cut ‘em no slack. Ali taught them to be ninja teens. (She’s a radical rat!) Spencer leads, Hanna does machines. (Hey, Ctrl+A!) Aria is cool but rude. Emily is a party dude. Pretty Little Lying Liars. Pretty Little Lying Liars. Pretty Little Lying Liars. Liars in some outfits. TOYOTA POWER.

Spencer is folded up in a chair at Radley Institute for the Criminally Insane, staring out the window at a storm, contemplating a good many of her life decisions. Why, for example, did she not take an extra two seconds to lift up the mask on “Toby’s” dead body to confirm his identity lo, those many days ago in the deep, dark forest? Why does she not carry around a Lois Lane-type recording device to collect actual proof of the various murder confessions she hears on a daily basis? Whatever happened to that early admissions application she sent off to UPenn with CeCe Drake in the middle of the night? Is it normal for her to still get tingly feelings in unmentionable places when she thinks about Mona spanking her at Academic Decathlon? How old was she when she first started questioning the existence of Santa Claus and her parents?

Or maybe she has mentally checked into that three-dimensional A-Lair matrix she digitally constructed last season. Maybe she’s in that Shady Pines hotel room trying on wigs and clown masks and setting Bratz-Aria’s clothes on fire.

A familiar Radley nurse announces the arrival of Spencer’s friends, and she might not be happy to see them there, but I sure am. Emily, of course, just wants to confirm that they’re not catching her at a bad time, that her mother relayed their plans for this visit, and thank you for having us over. In fact, Emily’s empathy knows no bounds, and she sweetly listens to Spencer mock and deride them for thinking she’s getting out of here any time soon. And, I mean, you know how much I love Spencer Hastings, but when Emily’s girlfriend was murdered (the most recent time), she flew to Haiti and spent months building houses for those less fortunate than her. On her absolute angriest day, she threatened to show A her boobs and got caught in an accidental roofie loop with Paige McCullers. So the fact that she can extend such compassion to Spencer when she’s acting out like this is frankly a marvel of self-restraint.

Hanna, on the other hand, has a different set of life experiences to draw from, and in her estimation, Radley does exactly nothing to cure people of insanity. She drops the truth like a hot potato: “Look, they found a body in the woods, but it was nowhere near where you said it would be and it wasn’t Toby Cavanaugh — so come here and let me brush your hair so we can get you out of this place before it makes you crazy. Also, roaches.”

Spencer says Radley doesn’t just keep the wackadoodles in, it also keeps the murderers out. It’s quite a bluff. Obviously, she needs to stay at Radley for the subterfuge she’s working, but suggesting it’s an impenetrable fortress is manically laughable on account of every person on the show has broken into this place at least once. But I guess seeing Spencer act scared is enough to mess with the Liars heads enough to buy her a couple of extra days.

She skulks off to her room and the nurse comes banging on the door asking if she wants to say goodbye to her little friends, but Spencer’s too busy messing around with the secret stash of stuff in her pillow to be bothered.

We don’t usually get to see the part of Emily’s personality that comes from being in a military family because she’s spent so much time learning to live outside the conventional ideas she was raised on, but Hanna has moved in and made herself at home by scattering everything she owns, willy-nilly, all over Emily’s bedroom, and the mess is making Emily’s eye twitch. But, most importantly: “Hanna, what are you thinking about, right now?” Hanna is staring out the window looking for any signs of Detective Wilden or his sentient police car. “WRONG!” is what Emily snaps at her, before explaining that today’s thing is not attempted murder or destruction of evidence or thieving uncle-dads or whatever cake-and-baby thing Aria and Ezra will be pulling later on. Today’s thing is Spencer. Getting Spencer home. Getting Spencer healed.

Once she has explained the agenda to Hanna, she explains it to her mother, asking also for Pam to hook her up with some top secret information about the dead body RPD found in the woods. Pam agrees, if it will help Emily get on with her life, and also if she will teach Hanna how to fold clothes.

Aria and Ezra are enjoying an al fresco breakfast downtown, right in front of the carnival that is setting up on the square. They’re sharing a cruller, which: I feel like when you get to a point in your relationship where you’re splitting one single donut between the two of you, it’s time to think about doing some codependency counseling. If a girl I was dating suggested we share one donut, we’d be broken up so fast. Aria’s skittish about them being seen together, socially, after the whopper she told to Principal Haskins last week, but Ezra’s like, “Honey, we did that storyline for two full seasons; I don’t think the audience can bear to return to the tediousness of such a thing.” Maggie calls to ask Ezra to pick up Malcolm from ninja school tomorrow, but he can’t because he has a job interview, so Aria says she’ll do it because her friends are being real downers lately, what with their spirals into madness and incessant talk of dead lovers and Emily even raised her voice yesterday. They’re all so grumpy.

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