Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pretty Little Liars: “Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin

Skeletons are coming out of the closet, and oh what secrets they hold. As the Liars patch up their recent wrangles with one another, they spot Spencer’s mom outside the Rosewood Police Department speaking with Alison’s lawyers. Mrs. Hastings is now the new paid strategic consultant for the DiLaurentis family. Spencer uses the opportunity to go through her mother’s files to discover Alison’s prison log. Apparently, Aria’s little brother, Mike, visited the Queen Bee behind bars. Aria takes immediate action and spies on him, following him out to a dock where he is waiting for a certain someone. Her sleuthing skills don't prove too proficient though, because Mike is wise to her tailing him. He confronts his sister, and a rather ugly, much darker side of him emerges.
Eric McCandless/ABC Family
To make matters hairier, Detective Holbrook comes back into town after his recent leave of absence. The Liars appear to have caught a break. As Hanna awaits police questioning, Caleb and she witness Tanner suspending Holbrook from the force. A new face also makes an appearance in town in the form of Lesli, a supposed old friend of Mona’s. She seeks out Hanna, and the pair visit Mona’s house. Hanna discovers a cassette tape in one of Mona’s old books, in which Bethany rants about someone suspected to be Alison having her finger wrapped around everyone.

While Aria finds her relationship with Ezra presently on hold, Emily’s taking her romantic bull by the horns. She finally confesses to Talia about her feelings towards her, and the two kiss. Spencer isn't as fortunate. Mrs. Hastings isn't particularly pleased with her daughter’s new mindset. Spencer expresses her current disinterest in attending college next fall, and Mrs. Hastings blames the new house guest, Jonny, for the divergence. Toby and Spencer are still at wits end with one another, and she finds her time spent hanging with Jonny to be a happy distraction.

Later that night, Hanna gets a scare from the local 5-O as wailing lights and sirens signal for her to pull her vehicle off the road. She does so, only to discover that the squad car behind her is vacant. The blonde arms herself with a crowbar as she gets out and investigates. Holbrook corners her, but she overpowers him with a swift blow to the side of the head. He’s more than peeved, because he finally realizes that he was just one of Alison’s pawns. Unfortunately, amid all of Holbrook’s wrongdoings, he’s not the one who’s been harassing the girls on Alison’s behalf. Internal affairs detained him in a hotel room for the past few weeks, meaning the Liars fingered the wrong “fall guy.” Turns out, things aren't looking too good for the incarcerated Alison either. Forensics finally comes back with the result of the bloodstains found beside the barrel at the storage unit, and it’s a match with her DNA.

For one final twist, Mike dismisses Aria’s warning and visits Alison in prison again. Could he honestly be “A”’s helping hand?

Good grief, Charlie Brown. Could there be any more new faces added to the already brimming pool of potential suspects? Between Talia, Jonny, and now Lesli, things are getting confusing and not in a good way. Obviously, the writers are aiming to throw fans off the “A” trail, but sometimes more isn't better. It’s just a headache and a half. Jonny seems harmless enough, which in Rosewood somehow only makes him appear more suspicious. Talia . . . . Where to even start? Are we supposed to find it merely consequential that a gorgeous lesbian of a certain age would just so happen to wind up working alongside Emily, especially when the show hasn't really gone out of its way to establish a wider net of gay characters? Only those who are directly linked to Emily’s storyline are given that characteristic, so whether its mere convenience or suspicious undertakings, it reeks of something manufactured. And then there’s Lesli, the new plot device. Her purpose for the entire episode was to relay exposition. It’s fun to think that this added kerfuffle has a deeper purpose, but it’s not shaping up that way. It just looks like more irrelevant fluff to drag out “A”’s long-awaited reveal. Throw us a bone people. Viewers deserve better than a billionth red herring.

Pretty Little Liars: “Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me” Rating: C -
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