“Pretty Little Liars” recap (1.18): Just a rat in a cage


Warning! I am going to make a guess about who “A” is in this recap. Don’t read it if you don’t want to hear my (awesome!) theory.

There is nothing — listen to me when I tell you this, nothing — more satisfying than a teen drama going metaficitonal with the school play trope. Gossip Girl did it with The Age of Innocence and it was one of the best hours of television ever. Serena as May, Blair as Ellen — I mean, come on. And Pretty Little Liars has been flirting with framing itself in various classics all season — To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Gatsby — but did you ever meet a more apt one-to-one than Alison de Laurentiis and The Bad Seed’s Rhoda Penmark? It makes me never want to sleep again!

Also, of course, it’s a chance to dress Spencer up in another costume. The braids were good, but I think they really missed an opportunity to trot out some white patent leather Easter shoes.

So, Mr. Fitz has decided that between teaching at Rosewood’s Center for Incurably Criminal Adolescents and dating a student and working on his short stories, he needs a hobby. And that hobby will be a producing a play about a sociopathic child who goes around killing her classmates for giggles while charming the pants off everyone else in town. In the ’50s it was all Nature Vs. Nurture about The Bad Seed, but Mona’s frames it a little better for the purposes of this show: What’s the difference between being naughty and evil? (Just off the top of my head: Murder is a good dividing line.)

Caleb Letto is still sleeping in Hanna’s basement, and also he is eating all of the dairy products in the Marin household. Cheese, milk, butter. Yogurt, probably. Ice cream. Sour cream. Whipped cream. Eggs. Hanna’s mom is all, “It’s like Alison never even bullied you about carbs.” And Hanna’s like, “She also never warned me that my boyfriend didn’t have a d–k. Hey, can Caleb Letto move in?” Ashley gigglesnorts because Caleb Letto is proletariat, OK? And yes, the Marins are thieves, but who among the bourgeoisie isn’t, really?

Being forced to share a bed/tent/shower is another one of my favorite story tropes, and so I just ate it right up when Hanna was forced to hop in the tub with Caleb when her mom left home and then came back home looking for mascara. Hanna sneaks a peek at his goods, too. You know, just checking to make sure they’re present. And then she can’t make eye contact with him for the rest of the week.

Except for when she’s bullying him to “crack the code” of JennaBot’s blind person phone. See, because Spencer convinces Toby that he doesn’t really need to be alive, and why not just start stealing s–t from JennaBot’s room to prove it. Toby takes her phone because somehow that’s the key to the 214 Braille mystery from last week. (Actually, the key to 214 is in Ian’s pocket, AMIRITE?) But the rocket science of cracking a blind person phone is light years beyond the rocket science of cracking a regular old cell phone of a girl at Juvie Camp, so Caleb can’t do it. Toby limps back home and returns the phone to JennaBot’s room and thinks he is never going to see any action that isn’t animatronic.

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