“Pretty Little Liars” recap 4.11: Dancing Away with My Heart


OK, and while all the line-dancing is going on, red coat is surveying the scene from the barn balcony, completely conspicuous in her standard issue mask/blood-colored cloak. Emily and Spencer spot her and run after her through the crowd and out of the barn and finally are forced to conk the hayride driver over the head with a shovel to steal his truck to chase her down. But as Spencer is wrasslin’ with the stick, she and Emily notice something crawling up through the hay like a snake or a shark or something, just slithering toward them in the most spectacular fashion. Emily, the seasoned murderer of the two, hops out and snags a hoe and starts maiming the hell out of that hay, just trying to chop up Red Coat into a hundred thousand pieces. It is the most deranged thing we have ever, ever, ever seen any of the Liars do. Like more crazy than Spencer’s hair in Radley. Emily is possessed. Her eyes. Just kill kill kill. She doesn’t manage to bludgeon Red Coat to death, but she does fish her actual red coat out of the hay.


OK, and now let’s talk about Paige McCullers. What she is wearing is pure fashion fanfiction. The vest, the navel-bearing flannel, the chaps, the hat, the motherfucking belt buckle. She looks sexier than anyone has ever looked on this show, possibly sexier than anyone has ever looked on television, and she came to this hoedown even though Emily stood her up because she punches defeat in the balls and she wasn’t going to sit around in her room crying all night. Not when this outfit was in her possession. Emily stares at her forlornly for half the night, but not forlornly enough. She should have rushed her and begged Paige to forgive her, but it’s been a day, and we know that. Crawlspaces, that flashback, red coat swimming through the hay. Finally, she has a second to breathe and she walks right up to Paige and says she doesn’t want to have the mushy squash. Paige goes, “Are you drunk?” (When you’ve roofied each other as many times as these two have, it’s always good to check.)


But no, Emily is not drunk. She says she wants to dance with Paige before they turn off the lights. Right now. In this moment. She means it literally and she means it metaphorically, but she still doesn’t know how very close she’s skirting to a lifetime of mushy squash remorse. Her shoulder; her parents’ finances; her growing, gnawing, nearly-incandescent anger about the random unfairness of life; the narrative other people have forced onto her; her own constant murder: She’s letting all of those things dictate her actions and she’s so full of guilt and so scared of hope that she’s pushing Paige — and Paige’s great gift of finding a way to win, no matter what — away. And let me tell you something about Paige McCullers: You find a girl like her once every 25 lifetimes. The people who make us happy are never the people we expect, so when we find them, we’ve got to treasure them. You hear me, Ems? There are other vegetables at the buffet, but on this planet, there is only one Paige McCullers.


Pretty Little Liars does a pretty remarkable job juggling all the things they have to juggle to make this show work. The love stories, the friendship stories, the mystery, the mayhem, the sphere of relationships that rotate around each Liar. I mean, really, every Liar has their own world that revolves around them: parents and love interests and other friends. The show has finite resources, of course, so it’s fun to giggle about how everyone’s parents are always in Out of Town and Noel Kahn and JennaBot disappear for months at a time. The main thing is always going to be the Liars, and I like that and that’s how it should be. But if I could have one Pretty Little Wish, it would be to see Paige get incorporated into the larger Liar universe.

One thing this season has toyed with is pairing up characters who haven’t really shared time together before. It’s a Joseph Dougherty special. He’s very good at it. And it would be amazing to see Paige and Spencer trying to work together (in their field hockey uniforms?) to solve crime, or Paige and Hanna trying to find common ground because of how they love Emily. Paige is like Spencer and Mona in the sense that she is fully charged and so at the edge of herself all the time that you never know what she’s going to do. It’s just so rare to see a character like that on TV, and for that character to be a queer women with one of the most emotionally resonant and satisfying growth arcs of all time? I just don’t want to end up with the mushy squash, you know. I’m not speaking as a shipper. I am speaking as a lover of stories that matter and characters that make the world feel brand new again.


Anyway, Paige and Emily two-step to Lady Antebellum’s “Dancing Away With My Heart,” which should spawn some gloriously angsty fan fictions between seasons. And they are lovely, and they are adorable, and they are the sexiest, and — oh, OK. Time to talk about Ezria again? Cool.

Aria goes to Ezra’s apartment to hear about Malcolm. He feels so relieved she’s there but totally shitty because he knows she shouldn’t be there. Or, well, that’s how I feel. Maybe he already killed Malcolm and Maggie and ran them through the woodchipper like he did with Jackie Molina. I don’t know what goes on in that beautiful head of his. Of all the awesome things to be spying on tonight, A chooses the most boring one. She listens at Ezra’s door, peeks through Ezra’s keyhole, and is Cece Drake. YES.


The Risen Mitten knits tiny Liar dolls and tiny clothes for the tiny Liar dolls and then she stabs the stuffing right out of them with the same knitting needle she used to almost blind Aria earlier in the day.

My screencapping partner Maggie (@margaretrosey) has been traveling around the country being awesome all summer and I have missed her more than words. But she’s back now and that’s why these screencaps are so much better than they were last week and so follow her on Twitter and show her your love.

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