Camp Mona, Lasagna Money, and Noel Kahn

Pretty Little Liars Season 1, Episodes 10-12
Ashley Benson

Mid-Season 1 things are really starting to ramp up. The Liars are becoming a close-knit group again. At the beginning of the series they all had a secret that A knew about but the others didn’t. Now, all of those secrets are out (at least within their group) and newer, more serious ones, are taking their place. The stakes are getting higher too. Hanna gets run over by a car for trying to figure out who A was.

The Liars are also beginning to learn that no one can be trusted. There are multiple sides to everyone and people they used to think were good may have a dark side. This is a common theme in the show and it really starts to be explored in these episodes. When the evidence is all pointing to Toby killing Alison, Emily struggles to accept it. She got to know Toby and he was always so nice to her. He was a good friend. Maya tells her that the Toby she knew is not the Toby that killed Alison. That both sides of him are real. Of course, Toby didn’t kill Alison, but that theme is important.

Noel Kahn is another example of this. Aria used to have a huge crush on him. He seems to genuinely like her and has been good to her so far. But Noel has many sides to him. When Aria defends him to Ezra she tells him that Noel likes old movies and is really smart. But he can also act like a dumb jock in the same scene when he chest bumps some of his fellow football players. He seemed to care about Aria but then he turned on her when she dumped him for Fitz. We are also seeing that he has a dark side. Hanna asks Sean who he thinks Noel is when he isn’t around? Everyone has parts of them no one knows about.

The Liars and Their Secrets

Hanna and Emily have the meatiest storylines this block of episodes. Hanna and her mom’s money problems are getting worse leading Ashley to make a choice that A will hold over them. Hanna also gets hit by a car for thinking she knows who A is. Emily comes out to her parents and it doesn’t go well, especially with her mom. Spencer’s plots are mostly about Ian and Melissa. Aria is pretty much just dealing with her Noel vs. Ezra love triangle.

Emily’s dad, Wayne, comes back from Afghanistan and he seems much more dialed in to Emily’s emotional state than her mom. He can tell she is hiding something and in general seems more comfortable talking to her dad. She comes out to him first but Pam had already received the pictures of Emily and Maya kissing. Neither of her parents are very supportive but Wayne at least is open to hearing Emily out and giving Maya a chance. Pam is straight up just homophobic. She tries to make nice with Maya with a family dinner but hearing about Maya’s unconventional family just makes matters worse. And Pam tells Emily that her being gay makes her sick. And with Wayne going to Texas for his next assignment, Emily is going to be having a rough time at home.

The Marin house is in danger of being foreclosed if Ashley can’t start making her mortgage payments. An old woman, Ms. Potter, comes to deposit a large stack of cash in her safety deposit box, and makes a point of saying she is the last of her living relatives and that she won’t be back for an entire year. On her way out, Ms. Potter takes all of her butterscotch candies, so Ashley takes her money. She keeps this from Hanna, but her lasagna box hiding spot was pretty short sighted. Later when Mona throws a surprise party for Hanna at their house, the money goes missing. A has it and is going to start returning it to Hanna, but only if she does what A asks. So now A has something much bigger hanging over Hanna than a shoplifting charge.

Hanna is also dealing with shifting friendships. As all of the Liars get deeper in the A world/investigating Alison’s murder, it gets more and more difficult to have meaningful relationships with people outside of their inner circle. They are constantly having to lie and ditch their other friends to deal with these threats. Hanna has to ditch Mona on her birthday because of her money problems, as well as new evidence in Ali’s murder coming up. She can’t tell Mona why she is ditching, so Mona assumes she just doesn’t care about her anymore now that she is friends with the Liars again. However, after Hanna gets run over by a car while attending Mona’s birthday party, after she had been uninvited, Mona forgives her. On top of all that Hanna has Lucas who has become a good friend to her wanting to be more and not very gracious about Hanna’s rejection of him.

Spencer is feeling guilty about ruining two of Melissa’s relationships, even if Melissa doesn’t know about the first one. So when Ian returns she encourages Melissa to give him another chance. Spencer and Melissa make an effort to bury the hatchet but that can never last. Melissa goes for coffee with Ian and then in like less than a week, elopes with him. Spencer is very suspicious of how fast this is and when she learns that Ian may have had a thing with Alison, he is moving to the top of her suspect list.

Mysteries and Shady Characters

The police, and pretty much everyone else in Rosewood, are convinced that Toby killed Alison and though he tries to run, he is arrested and charged with her murder. Toby tells Emily that he is innocent, he had met up with Alison the night she disappeared to thank her for saving him from Jenna (by blinding her and sending him to reform school). Jenna had been forcing Toby into a sexual relationship with her, not the other way around. September 1st was the day he was free of Jenna and that is what his tattoo refers to. Though he may have a believable explanation for Emily, his guilt in the eyes of the police is not looking so good. The video they received of Alison is from the night she died and she is wearing a sweater that belonged to a mystery boyfriend. Toby lent his sweater to Alison because it was cold, but he is not the one on the video. However, Someone, A, plants that sweater with Alison’s blood on it back in Toby’s closet which is what they use to arrest him. Emily wants to believe Toby and the other Liars are also starting to let up on the Toby is A/Alison’s killer theory. They are starting to consider that A and Ali’s killer are not necessarily the same person and the suspect list for both is starting to grow.

The newest suspect for Ali’s killer is Ian. During Camp Mona, Emily and Spencer find the words “Alison loves Ian” carved into a tree. The A-tag of Episode 10 (“Keep Your Friend’s Close”) reveals to the audience that Ian was the mystery guy in the video. Later once Ian has moved all of his boxes into the Hasting’s living room, Spencer sees a Hilton Head tag on Ian’s golf clubs. It reminds her that Alison too had the same tag on her luggage when she returned from visiting her grandmother, the day she disappeared. Spencer had questioned Alison about it and she was very obviously trying to brush off Spencer’s questions.

However, their prime A suspect is now Noel Kahn. The Liars all attend Camp Mona (well Hanna creeps on Camp Mona since she was uninvited) when they get an A message saying that it is a scavenger hunt and A is the prize. The clues lead Spencer and Emily to find the tree that Ali carved into. Aria though of course uses the dark woods as an opportunity to meet up with Ezra instead of helping her friends and Hanna sees them making out in his car. She also sees Noel write on the back of Fitz’s very dirty car the message “I see you”. When Hanna recognizes him she texts the group saying she knows who A is but before she can tell them, she gets run over with a car.

Hanna is fine and still remembers what she saw when she wakes up in the hospital. Aria sees Noel in the crowd of this all-girl party while Hanna is being carted off in an ambulance. She doesn’t want to believe he is A but as Spencer points out, regardless, he knows about her and Ezra and therefore is a problem either way. Aria believes that she has talked him out of saying anything but Noel is not above using his knowledge to his advantage when he asks Fitz to raise his grade on a paper he wrote. When Aria confronts Noel about it, he tries to spin the story in a completely different way. Noel’s shadyness index is rapidly rising.

A new sort-of mystery arises when Hanna is in the hospital. She has a morphine-induced dream (?) that Alison returns to visit her. Alison is very cryptic, in her typically Ali way, telling Hanna that they know more than they think they do about what happened to her. And that “telling the truth to the wrong person at the wrong time is how I ended up where I am”. Hanna has always floated the possibility that Alison isn’t really dead but since she is in the hospital on a lot of drugs, she doesn’t tell anyone about it. But even if Ali is alive, she answers the question as to whether or not she is A when she tells Hanna, “I really should do something about A, that bitch is genuinely getting on my nerves”.

Finally we get Lucas’s admission that he was the one to destroy Alison’s memorial. Not because he is A but because he hated Alison. She was really mean to him and seeing people act like she was a great person is infuriating. One of my favorite aspects of PLL is watching the characters grapple with how they feel about Alison’s death. Objectively she was not a good person and there are a lot of people who are happy to have her gone. Though they may not feel she deserved death, they can’t deny that their lives are better when she isn’t in it.

Romance

Aria’s plan to use Noel to get Ezra to admit that he loves her totally works. She sees Ezra enter the cafeteria while she is talking to Noel, she knows he is looking, and she makes sure to kiss Noel right in front of him. Ezra is very passive aggressive about it (“he plays football right?”). But when A plants a poetry collection in Aria’s locker and points her to a poem Ezra published entitled “B-26” she knows that he does love her, but “lied” to her about it. She confronts him at school about the poem, with the door wide open because these two are not subtle at all. She is mad at him for sending all the mixed signals, but to be fair she never lets him finish a sentence, so how could he. She takes him trying to do the right thing, he has a lot more to lose from this relationship than she does, as giving up on them. But her getting mad at him works because while she is at Camp Mona he texts are that he wants to meet up. He apologizes to her for trying to avoid an inappropriate relationship with a minor. And she tells him this was not his decision to make alone. But again, he has more to lose than her so yes it is. If anyone found out about their relationship she would be embarrassed, he would go to jail. But she doesn’t really care. At least now they have decided to go for it so we won’t have to deal with their back and forth as much…. though they will never not be dramatic.

The other three had much less romance in these episodes as they were all dealing with more important things. Spencer is less lucky in love when A breaks up her and Alex over a tennis camp in Sweden. Clearly the writers decided this relationship was boring so they just wrote him out real quick. Emily has her very awkward dinner with Maya and her parents which Maya is surprisingly okay during. Even if Maya had been perfect, Pam would probably still have been upset. Though Maya didn’t help matters by talking about her hippie parents. Hanna is still dating Sean but seems to be growing bored of him. With all her other drama, she just can’t care too much about that circle of people anymore.

Miscellaneous

  • Hanna asking the girls if one side of her face is fatter than the other – all three give it serious consideration before saying no. The sign of real friends.
  • Hanna has multiple pictures of Sean in her locker, one of which has a conversation bubble above it saying “Hi baby”.
  • Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed
  • The girl that dumps Noel in the flashback party at Hanna’s house is quite possibly the worst actress I’ve ever seen and we don’t even see her face. “That’s it Noel, we’re done”.
  • Now that Aria has come clean to her friends about Ezra, the others are now like studying Aria and Ezra during class. Because they are super obvious.
  • Notable Quotes:
    • Mona: “The first one’s for my bestie. And one for each of you, my bestie’s other friends”
    • Mona: “I’m sure whatever it is I’ll love it. And if not I’ll return it”
    • Alison: “Your always better off with a really good lie”
    • Spencer on Aria dating her teacher: “Part me thinks this is really self-destructive behavior but most of me just thinks it’s really hot”
    • Alison: “I only kill when I need food, or I’m bored”
    • Noel on Sean fighting Lucas: “It’s like fighting a kid who needs a telethon”

Fashion

Aria and Emily get ridiculously big hair at Camp Mona (which is supposed to be a joke). Also Aria’s glamping outfit in general is questionable. Then in Episode 11 she sports a cheetah print sweater, bright purple camisole, and jean shorts over stockings all at once. In Episode 12 Spencer wears a hat/vest combo I’m not even sure how to describe. Veronica’s hair is also not at its best.

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