So this is it.
This is the last episode of the third season of Pretty Little Liars, the season that sent the show from popular fad to mini–cultural phenomenon. During this season, real-life Aria graced the cover of Cosmopolitan, real-life Hanna starred in the future cult classic Spring Breakers, and The Atlantic wrote a piece about how the show “reinvented the slasher.” Great strides for something that once wasn’t even the most popular show on ABC Family.
But this episode also represents the end of something else. These recaps.
I think I’m done. Even though Season 4 will start with a bang on June 11, 2013, I don’t think I’ll be going along for another tour. I don’t know if I have it in me for another 53-month season. Consider this my Jay-Z at MSG Fade to Black moment, in the sense that it’s time to call it quits, but you never know.
While sad for some (my editors and my immune system are popping bottles as we speak), let’s use this time to revel in the insanity that is this show for one more episode. And what an episode I can only imagine it will be.
From the previous episode, we know that Spencer has accepted Mona’s invitation to be on the -A team. It was bound to happen; you just had to assume it was going to be drunk Emily who caved first. Out of Radley, she invites her fellow/onetime Liars over to her house for a little brunch.
To cover up what’s actually going on with Spencer, apparently her parents are throwing a soiree for her return from what they’re calling “exhaustion.” Spencer asks the girls to show up for support. Her LIFELONG FRIENDS tell her that they’ll do anything for her. Spencer’s response:
“I was counting on that.”
This is so bad, Spencer’s going to kill her BFFs.
Back to the -A lair, and Mona walks in while some other hooded, gloved character types schematic-like things into a computer. We see Mona pull out the same invitation Spencer gave her ex-friends.
“We like your plan,” Mona says, making it seem as if it’s Spencer in the hood. Who knows at this point?
The Liars talk about potentially using Malcolm to get to Mona, which Aria smartly shoots down. Shana wanders into the hallway, which catches everyone off guard. Hanna takes a babysitting flier, and then Aria sees Ezra shaking the hands of high school administrators. Ezra and Aria have a quick chat in the hallway, but Aria walks off.
After a very long zoom into a house, we see someone talking creepily inside.
FAKE BLIND JENNA. MY GIRL’S BACK.
She’s stressed, saying that she needs to see whoever is on the other line ASAP. As this is happening, however, an -A figure stands outside, texting a number:
DON’T CALL OR TEXT THIS NUMBER. TRUST ME.
As -A pushes send, Fake Blind Jenna gets a text and tells the person on the other line she has to go. When she goes to the window to look outside, no one’s there. Obviously.
Aria and her dad get into a mini-argument over Ezra, which ends in LORD BYRON telling his daughter that Ezra did, in fact, get the teaching job offer in Rosewood. More Ezra news: He’s looking for a babysitter and guess who he’s interviewing:
This will NOT go well. Poor Malcolm, just growing up in a treacherous world, surrounded by secrets and lies.
Next, Fake Blind Jenna walks noticeably toward someone:
She tells this person that “they all” will be in the same place on Friday, meaning the Liars.
So Jenna’s still bad. Damn. But who’s being bad with her?
NOOOOOOOOOOO SHANA NOOOOOOOOOOO.
They’re partners in crime and possibly also in love with each other. Messy, evil, but also quite poetic. Also, in case you’re counting, PLL is 2-for-2 on black characters being evil. Ugh. Can’t win ’em all.
After this, an emotional scene between Ezra and Aria blah blah blah forever blah no one has ever cared blah HOLD UP.
OUTFIT. OF. THE. CENTURY.
She looks like the cutting-room floor of the Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper factory that exists in the storage room of every dELiA*s.
God bless her.
After this, we enter a diner, where an -A hooded character is in a booth, scrolling through pictures of Fake Blind Jenna on his or her phone. Someone else walks in and the waitress says “It’s seat yourself, pretty eyes.” So, I guess it’s Jenna, because of her whol—
This is the moment the entire season has been building toward. And when Spencer lifted up her head, he did not think it was Spencer.
ABC FAMILY — WE KNOW DRAMA.
They both are claiming to be in on it to protect themselves/the other, but no one really knows how to trust anyone anymore. Eventually, Toby gets up and says Spencer needs to follow him.
Next is what looks like a meaningless scene between Hanna and Malcolm at the babysitting party, but then Hanna tricks Malcolm into playing “guess who” with the people in his phone, to figure out who kidnapped him. As we just learned from Spencer, it was Spencer, which is going to be super awkward when Hanna finds this out.
Next, Emily’s going on a run at night, because she’s always trying to die, and sees Melissa sketchily knocking on house’s door. After it opens, she walks in and says:
“I do understand, but those bitches are going to be at the lodge at nine.”
“Those bitches” = Emily, Hanna, Aria. The lodge = Spencer’s party. The people on the other end of this conversation:
At this point, everyone is on the -A team but the pastor.
Spencer ends up following Toby to his hideout spot, which Mona apparently doesn’t know about. They start getting all emotional, and then:
One has to believe they both have razor blades hidden under their tongues, but for right now it seems pretty genuine.
After Malcolm finally finds the Spencer picture and shows Hanna, who then tells the Liars at the same time Emily tells them about Melissa + Shana + Jenna, thus leading them to believe Spencer’s on the -A team, WE GO BACK TO THE SEX PARTY.
After another blah blah Ezra-Aria scene, we go to the swim meet, where Spencer shows up and spots RED COAT.
How convenient, though, that the swim meet is against the Red Devils and EVERYONE’S WEARING RED HOODIES. Luckily, she keeps an eye on her and tracks her all the way to the bathroom. Tapping her on the shoulder?
HANNA IS RED COAT.
Well, no. Her ex-friends trapped her, to prove whether she was actually -A team or not. This was an amazing trap by the girls, which proved that Spencer must be acting all evil for another reason.
THE LIARS ARE BACK TOGETHER. ON THE SAME TEAM. SO IS TOBY. YES.
And, as they noted, for the first time in the history of the show, one step ahead of -A. Finally. It took 17 years.
The plan is for Mona to think nothing has changed, as if the Liars are still planning to show up in their fancy garb. But they’re really going to sneak into the house and wait for Red Coat to show up. By the way, RED COAT TRAVELS BY HELICOPTER.
The Liars + Mona are in the house, and then someone lights a fuse and the house catches on fire.
And then Toby gets knocked out.
AND THEN MONA TELLS THE LIARS THAT SHE’S NEVER EVEN MET RED COAT.
And then, suddenly, the Liars, once seconds from burning to death, are now outside, laid out. Hanna opens her eyes:
ALI LIVES AHHHHHHHHHHHH.
BUT THE HOUSE BURNS IN THE SHAPE OF AN -A.
Spencer, Hanna, and Mona all saw Ali. So they aren’t crazy. Ali is alive. Ali is -A. But why did she save them? WHAT IS GOING ON?
Following a scene in which the car from the lake is now on the street and the video inside shows Shana and Jenna helping Wilden up, they then get a text. All FIVE of them.
AND THEN THEY OPEN THE TRUNK.
The final scene:
Great run, everyone. Thanks for reading. My heart can’t take this anymore.