Boo Radley, Lousy Fathers, and Homecoming

Pretty Little Liars Season 1, Episodes 4-6
Keegan Allen, Pretty Little Liars

The Liars and their Secrets

A steps up their game in these episodes from just sort of taunting the girls with their secrets to actually outing some of them. They are also all dealing with various personal matters that force them to make decisions about what kind of person they want to be.

Aria is struggling to decide whether or not she should tell her mom about her dad’s affair. We find out that Alison wanted Aria to tell her mom but clearly she never did. Similar to Alison wanting Spencer to come clean to Melissa about kissing Ian. This is an interesting point about Alison because she had so many secrets of her own but pushed her friends to be honest. Why? These secrets didn’t really affect Ali. What does she get by making her friends tell the truth? Did she want to see people get hurt? Once Aria finally decides that she will tell her mom, she is too late as A has beaten her to the punch. A sends a letter to Ella about the affair and the fact that Aria knew about it. Aria could just step aside and let her parents deal with it but she is still putting herself in the middle of it all. She sees herself as an adult and thus on equal footing with her parents, but thinks that Mike, who is only a couple years younger than her, is too young to understand. Mike knows their parents are fighting but not what about. Though they aren’t exactly keeping it quiet, if he just like listened for two seconds he could figure it out.

Spencer is having a reckoning about what it really means to be a Hastings. After her history teacher submits her stolen essay for a writing contest, and she wins, her father is thrilled. As a reward he asks Spencer to play doubles tennis with him and an important client. This is how the Hastings say “I love you” so Spencer is honored. She is finally getting the kind of praise Melissa gets. Of course, it was Melissa’s essay. But Peter asks her to purposefully throw the game so that their clients win, which Spencer is pretty uncomfortable about but she wants her dad to like her so she does. Then Peter almost gets Alex fired by blaming him for Peter forgetting to make a reservation at the club for lunch. When Spencer asks if Alex will get fired, Peter literally says “who cares?”. He got what he wanted and that is what matters. Spencer is realizing where the priorities of the Hastings lie. Appearances matter more than substance. She admits to her dad she stole the essay, knowing that he won’t turn her in because that would be embarrassing to the family.

Hanna too is learning the truth about what a tool her father is. He calls her for the first time since he walked out on their family and tries to make it sound like he wants to spend more time with Hanna. Despite walking out on them, Hanna still really wants her dad’s approval. She borrows clothes from Spencer so she can look more mature when her dad sees her for the first time. But really he is just there to deal with the Sean’s car situation. He tells her she is a great girl but just “overenthusiastic” which is a nice way of saying impulsive. He then surprises Hanna with his new fiancee, Isabel, who is nice enough and future stepdaughter, Kate, who is terrible. Basically Hanna and her mom are being replaced by more boring versions of them. Without Alison in her life and her gradual shift away from Mona, Hanna is starting to want to be a better person. Not just an Ali remake. She went too far with crashing Sean’s car and is just in general kind of over it all. She starts being friendly to Lucas, someone that Alison used to call “hermie”. She even defends him to Mona.

Emily is also making friends in unlikely places, though in her case it is Toby, the Liar’s current number one suspect. Toby doesn’t hate Emily, even though he should. Though Toby is majorly creepy in these early episodes, he is mostly just misunderstood. He encourages Emily to not care what other people think because you can’t control that. They start to bond over shared music tastes. She wants to be his friend but is afraid that the other girls won’t understand. So she has to make the decision to either do what she wants and be his friend, or let other people’s opinions determine who she will be friends with, and who she will date.

Mysteries and Shady Characters

The Liars current number 1 suspect for both Ali’s murder and ‘A’ is Toby/Jenna. And they have verifiable proof. Not really, but they like to think they do. They have some circumstantial evidence and evidence for a motive but no actual proof. Toby has a tattoo on his hip that says “901 Free at Last”. Which is possibly the dumbest tattoo one could get, but that is not an actual crime. September 1st is the day that Alison went missing so they take the tattoo to be a reference to being free of Ali, because he killed her. They also find out by breaking into a Jenna/Toby’s therapist’s office that Toby and Jenna used to be getting it on. Which is gross because they are step-siblings, but again not illegal. However, they learn that Alison knew this and used it to make Toby take the fall for Jenna’s accident. This is Toby’s motive for killing her, or as Aria says “proof”. Toby doesn’t help his case though by being majorly creepy at the homecoming dance.

A is starting to show just how far their reach is. Spencer gets the idea to block all messages (in any form) from unknown numbers/email addresses to keep A from being able to get to them. But oh how naive they are. Immediately upon doing so, one of the Ali is missing fliers comes blowing in the wind and lands at their feet. On top of the flier in big red letters it says “ding dong the bitch is dead”. “A” still finds ways to get to them, planting the photo booth pics in Emily’s textbook, filming Spencer and Wren, dedicating a song on the radio at the exact moment Hanna is in the car, filming the girls from inside Spencer’s closet, and finally writing on Spencer’s mirror in Jungle Red lipstick (the shade that Alison wore and now Jenna) that “it won’t be that easy bitches”. They realize that resistance is futile so they unblock A. “A” is always watching and the sooner they realize that the better. My favorite A move is when they replace all of the fortunes in the fortune cookies they get with their takeout with the message “Lions, and tigers, and bitches oh my! There’s no place like Homecoming”. There is also a fantastic A-tag at the end of Episode 6 (“There’s No Place Like Homecoming”) where A repaints the population on the “Welcome to Rosewood” sign to be one less. As the series goes on, A only gets more impressive with the things they are able to pull off. The Liars still suspect that Toby and Jenna are A though again no proof other than holding a grudge.

Romance

Aria and Ezra are a rollercoaster in these three episodes. They are in a grey area since they made out in his car and Aria has been confiding in him about her family situation, something she hasn’t even talked to the other Liars about. They try to have a conversation about it but when Ezra makes the grave mistake of implying that Aria is not old enough to understand the complexities of her parents marriage, Aria gets mad and storms out. Which results in the most painfully awkward classroom scene the next day where they are overtly having a subtextual fight in class while discussing To Kill a Mockingbird. Aria returns to his apartment to yell at him some more, he gives in and apologizes, and then things seem to be okay again. That is just in Episode 4 (“Can You Here My Now?”). In Episode 5 (“Reality Bites Me”), Aria invites herself to go watch Ezra do a reading of a story he wrote and ends up hanging out with him and his college roommate, Hardy, for the afternoon which makes Aria feel especially grownup. Hanging out with two older men at a college bar, she is loving it. Until Ezra gets weird after Hardy points out the mistake he is making. Once again Aria has to defend their relationship and convince him that even if it doesn’t look right, it feels right… and they make out some more. But then she leaves her phone at his place and A takes advantage of this situation to send a text that makes it look like Aria told her friends about them, so he breaks up with her. Then in Episode 6 there is a lot of frustrated looks as Ezra sends all the mixed signals to Aria at the homecoming dance, but ultimately tries to let her go.

The other Liars thankfully have much less dramatic love lives. Emily is happy to be rid of Ben but is still nervous about Maya. Maya gives her a scarf which she really likes but gets embarrassed that people might catch on so she takes it off halfway through the school day. Later she tells Maya that she needs time to process which Maya is understanding of. At the same time she has a growing friendship with Toby, who doesn’t know that Emily is gay and so he is reading different things into it. After receiving pictures of Maya and Emily kissing, Hanna tries to be helpful but just complicates matters. Basically the whole episode Hanna is telling Emily in so many words that if she is gay its fine and she shouldn’t care what people think. She should feel free to like whoever she wants. But Emily thinks that she is talking about Toby. Eventually Toby figures it out and is also very cool about it. Maya however is pissed that Emily went to the dance with Toby.

Things are pretty rocky with Hanna and Sean, though he is being surprisingly cool about the car thing. Though it means that he is getting rides from another girl who ends up being a member of the Holy Roller Virgin Society that Sean has joined. Wanting to make up with Sean, Hanna agrees to go too but she doesn’t really take it seriously. She does end up making a new friend in Lucas though, a nerdy boy that worships her. Hanna and Sean do end up going to Homecoming together but she is constantly ditching him all night.

Spencer is getting attention from two different men in these episodes. Wren shows up drunk to the House of Hastings (fairly) and brings a potted plant. It is not clear if he brought the plant or just took it from their yard. He claims to want to take responsibility for their kiss so that her family will cut Spencer some slack, but they are out of town. Really Wren is just looking for an opportunity to make out with Spencer again. Which he gets, but she tells him she has to stick by her sister, even though they hate each other. But then she quickly moves onto someone else her family won’t approve of, Alex. He works at the club so he is of little importance to the Hastings. Spencer claims her interest in Alex has nothing to do with wanting to piss off her dad, but it clearly does. She brings him to the dance, makes a lot of snide remarks to Melissa about her being a snob about Alex, which 100% makes it look like Spencer is just using him to make a statement to her family. When she is not using Alex as a pawn in her war with Melissa, she is ignoring him to do some investigating. Alex ditches her before the night is over.

Miscellaneous

  • The Homecoming dance is the first of many events where the Liars bring their significant others and then constantly ditch them all night to do some investigating. They really just need to get used to it.
  • Aria and Ezra are not discrete at all. They are talking very loudly in the school hallways during the dance, like anyone could have heard them. Also there is no way the other students aren’t picking up on their vibes in class.
  • And that poor other kid who is just trying to participate and Ezra attacks him for making an irrelevant point, mostly because he was in the middle of talking to Aria.
  • We also get our first SOS in Episode 4. This is the signal to the other Liars to drop what they are doing because something important has just happened. They will literally be in the middle of dinner with someone and just say “I have to go” with no explanation. How does no one pick up on the fact that something weird is going on in their lives?
  • Notable Quotes:
    • Isabel: “I think it would be so much fun for both of you. Going out together on a boat” Hanna: “Seeing who’s coming back”
    • Spencer: “Why does everyone think I’m unfriendly?”
    • Hanna: “But you make me so hot”

Fashion

At this point the girls still sometimes dress like normal teenagers as seen in the opening scene of Episode 4, which includes Spencer with some stacked polos. Maya gives Emily an ugly scarf. Kate dresses like a child. Aria’s looks like she is dressing for a very different event than everyone else at homecoming.

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