Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Spencer went on an Adderall bender that led her to the Heart and the Huntsmen where Ezra Fitz was enjoying a dinner of boysenberry pie and Board Shorts Ale, the bizarre combination of which was a particular favorite of Ali’s older lover/probable murderer. Hanna noticed Spencer was buggin’ so she followed her to Ezra’s apartment, a place Aria Montgomery has visited one hundred bajillion times without noticing the whole joint is rigged with every kind of surveillance equipment. Ezra took a timeout from kidnapping Aria to drug Shana Costumeshop and drive her to the edge of town where the Rosewood population sign instructed her to skedaddle before she ended up working that great big Halloween party story in the sky. And Ali, broke and broken, got on a bus heading who knows where in the middle of the night.
Spencer and Emily and Hanna have sneaked into Rosewood High on a Saturday morning to rifle through Ezra’s shit hoping to find some kind of hard evidence that proves he’s A, like a tube of poisoned sports cream or a stash of masks or a crafting kit full of beads and human teeth. Mr. Fitz has left them a message on the backboard, a quote from Richard Enfield in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: “You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others.” It’s relevant, but I wish he’d written out the whole thing because Enfield finishes by saying that it’s always innocent people who get hurt when you go poking your nose into stuff that’s none of your beeswax, so if it looks like you’re heading toward Queer Street — for real, that’s what he says: “Queer Street” — you’d do well to walk fast in the other direction.
So, you know, Spencer Hastings’ motto in complete reverse.
When they find Ali’s diary in Mr. Fitz’s desk drawer, they move out speedy-quick, but not before peeking back around the corner (which is, as you know, one of my all-time favorite Liar moves, right after reading texts aloud in unison) and see Mona dipping into Fitz’s classroom and leaving with an armload of file folders. Back in Spencer’s kitchen, she’s just snorfling up a storm while freaking out about how she’s finally make a correct accusation. Too bad it’s the most damning one ever, and will ultimately lead to either Aria’s death or broken heart.
Every time Spencer sniffles, Hanna glares at her because of how she knows Spencer is a Ritalin junkie now. There are four clues before them:
1) This diary, which was in A’s Ravenswood lair and then in the Liars’ possession and then at Ezra’s cabin and then in Ezra’s desk at school. Emily thinks they found that thing awfully easy, like maybe it was planted there.
2) Shana is missing. One second she was popping out of phone booths and getting all up in Emily’s nut about late night warehouse meetings and money laundering, and now: nothin’. Hanna would like to know more about her, while Emily would like to know as little as possible, especially the parts where Shana’s parts touched Paige’s parts.
3) The email addys and phone number written on the paper rubber-banded to Ali’s wad of cash. Spencer wants to send out some emails and see if they hear anything back, and figure out who that phone number belongs to. Unfortunately there are no Tippi the Birds around for her to rely on, so she’ll have to use Google to do her research.
4) What the heck was Mona doing in Mr. Fitz’s classroom on a Saturday? Snooping, planting a bomb, destroying evidence, delivering documents to His Royal A-ness? They are shocked, just absolutely shocked, to realize that freezing out Mona after she saved their assses and single-handedly got Ashley Marin released from jail caused her to go back over to The Dark Side.
They leave Spencer alone with her pills, hoping to figure it all out tomorrow. I mean, Aria’s safe at least for tonight, right? She’s definitely in Syracuse with her dad.
LOL, JK. She’s totally on her way home from Ezra’s murder cabin, jib-jabbing about this new short story she’s writing. She legit goes, “Heroes aren’t what they used to be.” And Ezra is like, “Right? What a bore. What we need is more Dexters. But like a Professor Dexters, you know? Serial killers working in classrooms.”
At home, Spence pops some more pills and watches a few minutes of The Narrow Margin, a 1950s noir film about how some cops are good cops and some cops are bad cops and some cops are decoys of people seeking justice so the actual people seeking justice can go about their business without getting shot in the face. She whispers, “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean…” which is a thing Raymond Chandler wrote in an essay one time before he wrote The Big Sleep and then — boom! — she looks at her reflection in the window, and she’s black and white and somehow even more stunning.
This episode is a marvel in so many ways, the main one being: a 45-minute eyeballgasm. The lighting; the textures; the costumes; the set design; the immobility of the camera, causing the actors to dance with one another and with us in a way we haven’t experienced before. I’ll never be able to say enough good things about it, but I will say watching “Shadow Play” reminded me of how I felt when I watched TV when I was a little kid, back when it was magic.