by Melissa Parkin
Secrets are unearthed as relationships unravel. After Mr. Marin refuses to help Hanna with her college tuition--since he’s paying for her stepsister’s in full--Hanna takes the only route she can. With her eyes on the $20,000 prize, Hanna recruits Emily to help her with her dance routine for the Glass Slipper Beauty Pageant. The two rock out to Jessie J’s hit “Bang, Bang” during their training, but Hanna’s bubble gets burst when Caleb informs her that Kate (yep, that same evil stepsister) joined the competition as well. Refusing to let the revelation derail her, she dedicates herself to the routine until she’s reached perfection.
An assigned beauty pageant coach arrives to ascertain her talent, but during the run-through, Hanna’s anger finally gets the better of her and she snaps. The coach bluntly informs Hanna that she lacks the allure required for the pageant, but hints that Emily may have a shot. Hanna only later discovers that “A” is the one who put Kate’s name on the pageant roster, to psych Hanna out. Being the best friend that every girl wishes she had, Emily selflessly steps up to the plate and agrees to enter the pageant to win the prize money on Hanna’s behalf. Unfortunately, that kindness isn't met with equal benevolence. Talia’s husband makes an unexpected stop by the café, catching Emily off guard. She finds relief in Eric telling her that he’s aware of the girls’ arrangement. That liberation quickly goes up in smoke as he refers to Emily as a part of Talia’s onetime experimentation. Ouch.
The pair goes out on the least covert break-in in history as they stroll up to the front entrance of the closed gallery and pick the lock. Sure, ski masks scream foul play in the eyes of casual observers, but you guys couldn't do anything to help conceal your identities? Two words, folks: baseball caps. And would wearing gloves be asking too much? Given Spencer’s recent brush with the law, littering the crime scene with fingertips is just begging for trouble.
Surprise, surprise. Someone reports the incident to the police. This clumsy Bonnie and Clyde duo make their getaway in Jonny’s van, but 5-O catches up to them. Can you guess who their confronting officer is? Toby, of course. How convenient. Spencer pleads with him to cut Jonny a break, but he refuses. The cuffs are slapped on Jonny, and Toby demands that Spencer walk away. Apparently, Detective Tanner is hoping to use Toby’s relationship with her as an advantage in catching the Liars in whatever way she can, explaining Toby’s recent cold-shoulder. Mrs. Hastings bails Jonny from jail, before kicking him out of the barn. He breaks the news to Spencer, and Jonny even steals a kiss. Uh-oh. Is a new “ship” in the air? “Sponny,” perhaps?
Things only get more complicated at the Montgomery residence. Given Mike’s new Mr. Hyde mentality, the Liars decide to take a look through his bedroom. As they scour the place, Aria finds a woman’s necklace in her brother’s gym bag. Spencer recognizes the design, pointing out that its pattern is actually Morse code with the words, “I’m With You” on it. Andrew does recon for Aria as Mike continues to act weird, following him out to a tree near the Vanderwaal property. He stores something inside it, but Andrew can’t get to it without being noticed. Aria checks it out later, finding a vial of blood inside the stashed bag. Mike confronts her, demanding she hand over Mona’s blood. Aria refuses, and the vial breaks as she flees from the property. Hysterically screaming for her father as she races inside the Montgomery house, Aria comes to the horrifying discovery that she’s alone. Mike is right on her heels and ends up cornering his sister.
As it turns out, those Liar theorists who suspected that Mona was storing away her own blood before she was “murdered” were right. The late Ms. Vanderwaal was planning on framing Ali for her faux-death in an attempt to draw “A” out of hiding. Mike suspects the tables turned on her though, as he truly believes Mona was killed by the infamous blackmailer. All his weird late night ventures were actually scheduled meetings Mona had arranged for the two; she hasn't shown for any of them. “A” closes out the show by prowling through Mike’s bedroom with a bloody wrench in hand. Seems someone else has made their way on this baddie's naughty list.
The chemistry this week finally takes the show back on the right track. Emily’s distrust in Talia is well deserved, and hopefully this insight will open her eyes to the possibility that Talia could be working for the “A”-team. Honestly, is anyone really sold on her? A beautiful new face that seems too good to be true, only for her to reveal a web of deceit…yeah, there’s nothing suspicious there, right? The newly paired Spencer and Jonny definitely show more promise than the previously mentioned lovebirds. Sure, Jonny may not own a shirt that isn't riddled with holes, but the guy does make illegal activity look fun. He actually seems to inspire the artistic, more carefree side of Spencer. It suits her. Seriously, this girl’s wound up tighter than a boa constrictor with the Hastings’s academic demands bearing down on her. With only four episodes left until the #BigAReveal, things are definitely shaping up for one explosive discovery.
Pretty Little Liars: “Pretty Isn’t the Point” Rating: A