Swim Meets, 214, and A Fake Murder Trophy

Pretty Little Liars Season 1, Episodes 16-18
Shay Mitchell, Pretty Little Liars

“A” is starting to get really good in these episodes. They are moving beyond just exposing secrets. “A” knows how desperate the Liars are for answers. They will jump on literally any small piece of evidence without much convincing being needed. They just want to feel like they have figured it out. Spencer goes from being completely convinced that Toby killed Alison to now being dead set on Ian. Now she even sees Toby as an ally. But after getting burned by the trophy set up, Spencer admits that there is still a lot they don’t know. A common refrain of the show is actually said by Caleb in one of the episodes, “knowing the right questions, is better than having all the right answers”. At this point the Liars don’t even know what questions to be asking.

The Liars and Their Secrets

Spencer starts creeping on Toby now that she knows he is innocent. She figures he probably knows things that could help them so she volunteers to be his French tutor and recruits him to spy on Jenna. Spencer is fascinated by Toby. She is just like staring at him trying to figure out what it is about him that is so interesting. Toby sees right through Spencer’s French tutor ruse and is reluctant to help her because he is terrified of Jenna. So he secretively sends her a braille message he found in Jenna’s room. Spencer translates it at first to “bad” which doesn’t make any sense until she realizes that braille uses the same symbols for numbers and letters and the message is actually “214”. Which means nothing to either of them, but it is revealed to the audience that it is a room at Rosewood’s finest hotel, the Edgewood Motor Court.

Once again while Spencer is doing all the actual work to find out who killed Ali, and who is stalking them, the other girls are more concerned with their personal drama. Hanna adopts Caleb who unwittingly helps them get away with stealing Ms. Potter’s money by exposing her “nephew” as a fraud. And the Marins officially get away with stealing money from an old lady. Caleb is really demonstrating his skills for the Liars to exploit later. Ashley and the Liars keep telling Hanna how sketchy Caleb is but she isn’t convinced.

Emily is competing against Paige to be the anchor for their upcoming swim meet. Emily is chill about it, Paige is not. Until she just freaks out, apologizes to Emily, and then falls off her bike so she can’t compete. Paige is having some internal struggles of her own and turns out to be jealous of Emily being so comfortable being out. Paige is also gay but can’t tell anyone. Her dad sucks more than Pam does. When Emily gets the anchor position, despite having the same times as Paige, her dad assumes it is the school’s gay agenda favoring Emily. He comes to the school to accuse them of that and almost makes a scene in the cafeteria until Ezra calms him down (which Ella is VERY impressed by, “it was something to see”). Ella tells Pam about it and Pam is like I can hate my daughter for being gay, but no one else can and she apologizes to Emily for making her think she wouldn’t support her.

Aria is being really annoying in these episodes. She just will not drop her parent’s sketchiness, because she is afraid of how it affects her. Aria does some investigative work to determine if her mom was at the museum the same night as her and Ezra or not. If she had seen them, I guarantee Aria would know about it. If Ella saw her daughter on a date with her English teacher, she wouldn’t just not confront Aria about it. Aria is being so suspect in her questioning and if her parents weren’t trying so hard to keep their own secret, they would realize she is interrogating them about really mundane things. Eventually, A rats Hanna out for almost exposing Aria and Ezra which makes Aria really mad for a day and then she is just over it because she doesn’t want to fight with Hanna.

Mysteries and Shady Characters

Spencer is ALL in on Ian killing Ali, and maybe being A. She is also continuing to destroy her already difficult relationship with Melissa. Spencer cannot hide her disgust of Ian and is constantly making comments about how terrible he is. Melissa believes there is something seriously wrong with Spencer. When Melissa gets pregnant (absurdly quickly) Spencer is further convinced that Ian is a murderer. During all of Spencer’s questioning, Ian tells her that Alison was a “psycho stalker”.

The girls flashback to a frat party they went to with Ali as freshmen. Ian was there and dating Melissa at the time. They later realize they went to that party specifically because it was Ian’s frat. Which makes them question whether Ali and Ian really had a relationship or if Ali was just stalking him. During the party Ian goes upstairs with a drunk girl. Later in the evening, that girl falls down the stairs. They had always assumed she fell because she was drunk. Looking back on it they consider that she was maybe pushed. Was it Ian? Or Alison?

“A” completely plays the Liars handing them the “murder weapon” used to kill Ali. In a far too convenient fashion. It is a trophy of Ian’s from Hilton Head and it is covered in blood. They find it at the school, thinking Ian hid it there because no one would look for it with the drama props. They turn it into the police and are completely burned. The trophy is such an obvious fake and the blood was pigs blood. Now it looks like the girls intentionally turned in a fake murder weapon. Hopefully the Liars will soon learn not to jump to conclusions so quickly.

Jenna continues to be just a total creep. She buys something lacy to impress a mystery man. Maybe its Toby. She feels him slipping away. When the charges against Toby are dropped, he has Spencer take him to get the ankle monitor removed. Jenna also seems to be up to something with Ian. He hands her a bag at school, but they wouldn’t really have any reason to be interacting. Spencer gets Toby to steal Jenna’s phone so that Caleb can hack into it and they can determine who she is calling. Caleb says he can’t break into the phone, or at least not quickly.


Aria and Ezra’s relationship gets even more complicated when her parents enter the drama. They still have no clue about them, but both are trying to buddy up to Ezra which is awkward. Ella is subbing at the school and gets invited to a book signing that Ezra and some other teachers are going to. When she mentions it to Byron, she neglects to include that other people are going and he thinks that Ella is into Ezra. So for his parent-teacher conference, Byron spends the entire time shitting on Ezra’s literary taste which gets them off to a bad start. But when he realizes that Ella is not into Ezra he asks him to grab a beer to make up for it. Byron is then like praising Ezra. Even offers to help him get a job at Hollis College where Byron works. Which only angers Aria who sees this as Ezra trying to get away from her. It seems like their relationship would be easier if he was teaching somewhere else, but still in town. But Aria is like why do things need to change? I can stay in high school forever. You can teach here forever. This is happening while Aria is acting as stage manager for the school play Ezra is directing. A position she forced him to give her. Which is a terrible idea. They are so awkward and obvious.

Hanna has a budding romance with Caleb. Who Spencer refers to as “dark”. Caleb finds the weakest of reasons he needs to go on a fake date with Hanna so he tags along to Emily’s swim meet. Then he moves into Hanna’s basement to get away from his foster family. Through some very forced plotting Hanna ends up jumping into the shower when Caleb is in there to hide from her mom. She sees him naked and like eyes him up and down, she is impressed by what she sees. And then she is weird around him for the rest of the episode. Caleb is about ready to bounce after all of Hanna’s weirdness so they finally talk about it and Hanna admits that she is into him and they make out.

Spencer is still single and Emily just has Paige being in love with her. Paige kisses Emily and then tells her not to tell anyone.


  • Sausage Heaven – Mike’s favorite restaurant in Rosewood.
  • Spencer is really into Aria and Ezra’s illicit romance.
  • A hires an exterminator to deal with the “infestation” in Hanna’s basement.
  • A-tag of A putting flowers on Ms. Potter’s grave I think confirms that A killed her.
  • Emily just joins the play because the other three are doing it. It is not clear what she is doing. Hanna and Spencer have parts and Aria is the stage manager. Emily doesn’t audition but is just there at all the rehearsals. They are approaching codependency.
  • The rat A tag is one of my favorites. It looks like Spencer is on the chopping block next.
  • Spencer skips field hockey practice so she can tutor Toby – these girls just like to skip practice whenever they feel like it but they are never kicked off the team for it.
  • Hanna is supposed to be paying Caleb back for helping stop Aria’s mom from getting to Philly, by taking him to a swim meet and telling him who the rich kids are. But she is still making him work for that information lol. Though to be fair she didn’t ask him to do anything.
  • Notable Quotes:
    • Hanna: “I don’t want to be the bad seed’s mother. I wanna be the other mother, the one who’s drunk all the time.”
    • Mona: “There are no small parts. Only parts that don’t make it into the yearbook”.
    • Mona: “I’m having a hard time figuring out who’s evil and who’s just naughty”. I want to point out that Ezra responds to this line in a very weird way. He says “I would think you would know the difference, Mona”. This is one of only a couple instances of foreshadow of a future character development that I will talk about when we get there.
    • Mona: “I think my character’s being totally selfish. I don’t even know how to play that”.
    • Mona is just amazing throughout “The Badass Seed”.


Caleb looks like he bought a hair straightener and its terrible. Spencer wears a lion top with huge sleeves. Aria is really into polka dots and then a tuxedo shirt with hand warmers.

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