by Melissa Parkin
With the realization that Alison was framed for Mona’s murder, the Liars (minus Hanna) do the unthinkable. The three confront the Queen Bee herself in prison and . . . ask for forgiveness? Apparently in Rosewood, borderline sociopaths deserve an apology after false accusations are made, even if everything else that has ever come out of their mouths has been a lie. After all the emotional torment they suffered at Alison’s hands, are the Liars forgiving or what? Thankfully, Aria stands as the voice of reason, pointing out the absurdity of the situation. Alison’s been about as loving and caring to the girls as a wolverine.
To only make matters worse, the Liars throw Mike under the bus by confessing to Alison of Mona’s plan before she was murdered. This new knowledge not only sets up Mike to become a hostile witness for Ali’s defense, but it also puts a massive bull’s-eye on his back in the fight against “A.” Aria turns to Mrs. Hastings for legal advice, and she comes to the horrifying conclusion that charges could be brought against her brother, if he’s forced to confess on the witness stand at Ali’s trial.
|ERIC MCCANDLESS/ABC FAMILY|
Things thankfully aren't nearly as devastating for Emily, but it’s still eventful to say the least. After Emily reconciles with Talia, her on-again/off-again beau quits her job at the Brew, separates from her husband, and subsequently crashes at Emily’s place. Geez, hasty much? That girl would be dangerous at a bidding auction. With her impulsiveness, she’d walk away with every item, and an empty bank account.
The talented Ms. Fields continues to show off her killer dance moves as she practices for the Glass Slipper pageant. Talia crashes the rehearsal and the two share an intimate moment that soon gets interrupted by Clare, a pageant coordinator. Clare tells Emily that her connection to Alison jeopardizes the pageant. Talia doesn't take kindly to Clare’s “suggestion” that Emily should drop out of the competition, and she implies ramifications for Emily’s mistreatment. Break out the cat claws.
Aria seeks out Hanna’s help in confronting Cyrus Petrillo. As it just so happens, Mr. Petrillo was recently hospitalized after an “accident” occurred while working as a mechanic. The girls go to visit him, discovering he was severely burned. Aria pleads with the bound and bloodied A-team member for any information on what happened to him. He only manages to scribble a single word on a gauze package--“Varjack.” Here, the plot only thickens. Considering Alison’s adoration for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it only seems fitting that “A”’s new alias would be inspired by the character Paul Varjak. Cyrus’s spelling also lends another helpful hint. He clearly hasn't seen the name written out to know how to spell it correctly. This implies that he’s conducted business with “A” face to face. A very determined nurse forces Aria and Hanna out of the burn unit before they can get anything else out of Cyrus, leaving him alone to recuperate…or not. After the room empties, a fellow burn unit patient (who’s conveniently concealed by bandages) rises from a hospital bed and stands foreboding over Cyrus.
At the worst moment possible, Spencer gets whisked away to London for her interview at Oxford. Everything goes swimmingly, until “A”’s handiwork bites her in the butt. A mysterious vial of blood, planted by “A,” breaks in her purse, and leaks all over the chair in front of Spencer’s interviewing professor. She flees from the interview and freaks out, only to receive a text from “A” threatening to tamper with Spencer’s carry-on luggage on her flight back home.
Aria does a little detective work in Mike’s room, and something stuck to his dartboard catches her eye. She climbs on top of Mike’s gym equipment, to reach the note, but the whole setup collapses. Crashing to the floor, Aria’s met with a concerned Andrew charging upstairs to her rescue. As he makes sure she’s alright, he takes a look at the contraption and something particularly alarming draws his attention. Apparently, the nuts and bolts on Mike’s weightlifting equipment don’t match up with one another. If the youngest Montgomery had used the device, the weights would have unquestionably crushed his skull. And now we understand the purpose of “A”’s visit to his bedroom in the previous episode. Aria’s emotions get the best of her, at the heart wrenching revelation. Andrew goes into full-on Prince Charming mode, bandaging her beaten foot before planting a kiss on her. Awww. I still don’t trust him. Can you really overlook his “All the President’s Men” plot reference: receiving messages, an all-knowing shadowy figure? Be smarter than that Aria.
“A” truly has eyes everywhere. Alison receives two threats from the notorious evildoer, from prison! How exactly does this evil mastermind pull off all these elaborate scenarios? When you can’t even give an inmate a magazine, how do you get a creepy doll inside? Even in the midst of all the drama, Hanna finally surrenders into visiting Ali; Alison actually apologizes to her! Hell may have just frozen over. The show closes with something in the DeLaurentis file catching Mrs. Hastings’s attention. This warrants a call to her youngest daughter, with a plea for Spencer to cancel her flight back home. Uh-oh. Whatever this development may bring, it’s certainly going to give Spencer some alone time together with Wren’s charming flat-mate, Colin. Ooh-la-la.
“Bloody Hell” certainly raises the stakes for the upcoming reveal, but with the exclusion of Alison’s scenes, the episode does meander a bit with the relationship portion of the run-time. With the exception of Andrew, where are the rest of Rosewood’s familiar male faces? Caleb’s M.I.A., Ezra’s been conveniently out of town or off of work (despite running The Brew), Toby won’t show up unless someone’s being arrested, and newbie Jonny apparently is too busy finding more holy shirts to wear. There are so many potential love interests for Spencer that she’s not just having her cake and eating it. She’s practically inhaling several others. Slow down there, honey. You’ll get a tummy ache. Alison’s confession to Hanna, however, hits every high note. Alison finally discovers just how uncomfortable it is walking in someone else’s shoes, and finally hearing the Queen Bee admit to her previous wrongdoings is the moment fans have been waiting for. Is there redemption for Ali after all?
Pretty Little Liars: “Bloody Hell” Rating: B