Ian, A Phone Hacker, and Druggie Boot Camp

Pretty Little Liars Season 1, Episodes 13-15
Ryan Merriman, Pretty Little Liars

A really starts to get into full swing in these episodes and because of it we are beginning to get some insights into how A works. A clearly wants to divide the Liars. In Episode 15 (“If At First You Don’t Succeed, Lie, Lie Again”), A tries to pit the Liars against each other by making Hanna choose between helping her mom and helping Aria. “A” wants to use all of these secrets to destroy their friendship, hoping that when it comes down to it they will choose to save themselves over their friends. But what A is perhaps unintentionally doing is bringing them closer together. The common threat of A is what made them all friends again in the first place. They didn’t spend the last year investigating Alison’s disappearance. They only started doing that when A started giving them clues. Why does A want the Liars to know what happened to Ali? Are they giving them just enough to make them go crazy trying to figure it out? The more they learn, the more questions they have. A is very effective at giving their lives a general sense of anxiety and paranoia. Overall these girls are not bad people, but A is turning them into liars and forcing them to make bad choices.

The Liars and Their Secrets

As with the previous chunk of episodes, Hanna and Emily are once again getting the most substantive plot lines in these three. Overall the show does a decent job of rotating through which of the four are getting the most plot, since there just isn’t enough time in any given episode to give all of them personal storylines and deal with the various mysteries. Once again all of Aria’s plots are about Ezra and Spencer is busy taking on the majority of the investigating. At this point A doesn’t really have much on Spencer, other than her need for answers.

Hanna on the other hand is currently getting the most pressure from A. If anyone finds out about the money Ashley stole, she will go to prison and Hanna will have to move in with her terrible dad and his new family. Hanna is feeling guilty about losing all of the money and A is using that to make her do some pretty terrible things. First A is just a total bitch to Hanna in Episode 13 (“Know Your Frenemies”). She makes Hanna eat six piggy cupcakes in one sitting, in downtown Rosewood in order to get some of the money back. This cuts right at Hanna’s deepest insecurities and reminds her of a time she binged an entire pie and Alison taught her to throw it back up. While this is happening there are some mean jocks just watching her and laughing.

Then in Episode 14 (“Careful What U Wish For”) A offers Hanna money to dance with Lucas at the dance-a-thon. She spends the whole night begging Lucas to dance with her, much to Sean’s annoyance. Hanna knows how Lucas feels about her and knows that she is leading him on. She feels terrible about it but the consequences of not doing it are too much for her to risk. Then finally, in Episode 15, A gives Hanna an extra ticket to a museum opening in Philly that Aria and Ezra are going to, for Hanna to give to Ella so that she will discover them. She does it but then tries to correct her mistake. But due to skipping P.E., Hanna gets detention and can’t stop Ella. Luckily Caleb is also in detention but uses his hacker skills to get out and uses his extra time to do some good for Hanna and messes with Ella’s car so she can’t get to Philly.

Hanna and Ashley do finally catch a break, maybe, when Ms. Potter suddenly dies of a heart attack right before she was supposed to come back to her safety deposit box. Is this a coincidence? Or is it A’s doing? If it is A’s doing you can bet there will be a price to pay.

Meanwhile Emily is dealing with her mom still being a bitch about Emily being gay. Pam also really hates Maya. She snoops through Emily’s room when she isn’t there and finds Maya’s bag, which she also snoops through, and finds a joint. This is just the ammo Pam needed to get rid of her. Apparently Maya’s cool, hippie parents are seriously opposed to pot and they send her off to like some Christian, juvie boot camp. Her parents also restrict her cellphone to only be able to take calls from certain people, and Emily isn’t one of them. Luckily Caleb has arrived with his phone hacking business. He is able to get Emily to be able to call Maya but when Emily does talk to her Maya is distant.

Without Maya, Emily is ready to get back to focusing on swim team. I guess with everything going on she took some time off from the team but is back and better than ever. The coach is thrilled and fellow teammate Paige is initially as well until she realizes that Emily is going to steal her spotlight. She makes a homophobic comment to Emily who handles it pretty well. But when she tells Spencer about it, Spencer decides to take matters into her own hands and tell on Paige. Which of course makes Paige think that Emily told on her. So to get back at her, Paige almost drowns Emily in the pool.

Mysteries and Shady Characters

While the rest of Rosewood is certain that Toby killed Alison, the liars have fully moved on to their next suspect, Ian. “A” sends the Liars an extended version of that video, this one showing that Ian was the guy Alison was seeing and it shows Ali falling to the ground, showing just her hand clasping dirt then going limp. The Liars believe that this is the moment she died, except Hanna who thinks they are just having sex. Spencer is ready to bring that video to the cops but is nervous that it is a set up, something they really should consider. Anything A gives you always has a motive.

However, someone makes the decision for her and steals her laptop for a day. Spencer believes it must be Ian, but it is more likely A, who theoretically could be Ian. When the laptop is returned the video is gone but there is a photo of Ali from the night she died with the note “Watch your backs. I didn’t”. After staying up all night staring at this photo, Aria determines that the only place the picture could have been taken from was Ali’s bedroom. This elevates Jason to being a suspect as well. Spencer questions Jason about it but he tells her that he has no memory of the entire month of August that year because he was high and busy partying with Ian. So either one of them could have taken the photo.

There is also a shadow in the photo which later is revealed to be Spencer who had fought the night of Ali’s disappearance. They fought about Spencer telling Melissa about Ian. Did Ali want this so she could have Ian all to herself?

Ian’s overall shadyness is climbing. He and Melissa are being very secretive. A sends Spencer a message suggesting that Melissa and Ian got married to give him an alibi. Spencer spends most of her time in these episodes waiting for opportunities to go through Ian’s things. Melissa is already trying to get pregnant, even though they have been back together for like a week, and she is suddenly very chill. Spencer finds this most suspicious of all.

The Liars’ A suspects list is looking flimsier. At first they are all in on Noel being A but when A thwarts Noel’s attempts to expose Ezra, he has to be knocked off the list. They get some new rabbit holes to go down though when Paige gives everyone on the swim team the same style of bracelets that Ali had given them. This leads them to where both the fake Alison and Jenna bracelets would have been made, a creepy old bead lady. Spencer asked who purchased them and she tells them, Spencer Hastings. Which we learn from the A-tag was something that A had told her to say if anyone asked.

Romance

In all three of these episodes, Aria and Ezra are almost found out, because they are not subtle. First Noel threatens to expose them if Ezra doesn’t change his grade. Ezra is too principled to do that so he decides he would rather resign than let Noel tarnish their relationship. However, A ends up saving the day which Aria should be freaked out about, but isn’t.

Then Aria’s old babysitter, Simone, comes back to town. Aria loves her until she starts flirting with Ezra. Ella is super pushing them together too and as a result Aria acts like an insecure, clingy girlfriend the whole episode. How Ezra thinks Aria is so mature for her age, is very unclear. Aria gets very territorial, showing up to Ezra’s unannounced with coffee and muffins. But he can’t stay because he has to go meet Simone. He tells Aria he couldn’t say no because of his secret underage girlfriend. But I mean he could have come up with another excuse. Simone literally just pops up everywhere Ezra is in this episode and Aria is ready to cut a bitch. Aria is two seconds away from physically fighting her at the dance-a-thon before Spencer intervenes and saves Aria from exposing her relationship to the entire school. This entire episode, Lucy Hale is making the greatest facial expressions.

In Episode 15, Aria and Ezra are going on a real date thanks to Spencer. They are going to an art show in Philly where they won’t run into anyone they know. They are so excited they get dressed to the nines for this event and Ezra rents a limo. Though A tries to expose them, Caleb saves the day and it ends up being one of the least dramatic episodes for these two.

The other girls are less lucky in love. Spencer is single for now, something that is a rarity for any of the four girls on this show. Hanna gets dumped by Sean when she spends the whole night dancing with Lucas. That may not be much of a tragedy though since Caleb is already flirting with her one episode later. And Emily loses Maya to druggie boot camp and Pam’s general terribleness. But at least her friends organize a romantic night for them before goes away.

Miscellaneous

  • Spencer’s southern accent is atrocious and also unnecessary. I don’t know why she had to pretend to be southern to talk to the Hilton Head concierge.
  • Hanna’s leg healed miraculously quick, especially considering the way time moves in Rosewood.
  • Hanna knows how to put her mom in a good mood. “More wine?”
  • Hanna: “I am still a virgin. I am not a virgin”
  • Caleb acts like a drug dealer in his first episode but I feel like what he is doing is barely illegal. If at all? Maybe what he is doing for Emily, but to the general Rosewood High population he is like getting them new ringtones? This definitely dates the show quite a bit.
    • I think they wanted him to be a “bad” boy, who isn’t actually bad, so they came up with this stupid phone business. His hacker skills also make him an asset to the Liars which is the more important point.
    • He also has lots of “snappy” lines, like he has got everyone figured out. Oh how he will learn.
  • Hanna: “You know what, just don’t talk about the Beebs, okay? You don’t know the Beebs, you don’t understand the Beebs… or his hair”
  • I know that time in Rosewood makes no sense. I have accepted this. BUT. Spencer says that the bead shop is far away which is why they are eating dinner at 4:30. But he appointment is at 5 and they aren’t in a rush to get out. So its less than 30 minutes away? So it’s not that far?
  • Hanna/Caleb’s shenanigans with Ella’s car brings Ella and Byron back together. So now both Ella and Aria are hiding their romantic lives.

Fashion

Aria’s suspender return along with a heart shirt, she also wears a beanie to a sleepover, Spencer wears more hats and in general is dressed like she is going to a polo match but she is really just at school, Aria has huge earrings that match her shirt nicely, and Paige’s hair in Season 1 is unfortunate.

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