Grand theft auto, computer chip implants, creepy messages, and some serious smooching. Sounds like Rosewood’s in for one hell of a ride…or so you’d think. The show opens up on a rather unintentionally hilarious note. Alison’s father heads outside to pick up the mail and notices an envelope tucked under the windshield wipers of his car. He takes it and finds a birthday card inside. Apparently, he does not like what’s written in it. He freaks and it's hilarious.
From there, the episode takes a turn to the land of fluff and run-time padding. Hanna and Caleb continue squabbling following their “on a break” breakup before rekindling their romance with a hot and heavy make-out session on Hanna’s bed. Emily’s given the chance to go to Thailand for humanitarian work, but she ultimately turns it down to stay in Rosewood with Sarah who she shares a kiss with by episode’s end. Whether Aria and Ezra will get back together is still a matter up in the air, as they share a sweet but awkward moment over the recommendation letter he gives to help her. And lastly, Spencer finds herself in yet another love triangle as her addiction sponsor, Dean, confesses to having romantic feelings for her.
With the melodrama out of the way, Hanna decides to “borrow” Lesli Stone’s car by stealing it from a valet. After the theft, she and Spencer raid the inside of the vehicle to find a laboratory pass for Lesli’s college, along with boxes full of large, unassembled animal cages that could easily fit a human. The girls have Caleb copy Lesli’s pass and break into the lab where she conducts research. As Hanna, Spencer, and Aria scour the empty workplace, Hanna’s head sets off a sensor upon leaning over in front of some metal detecting equipment. “Why am I beeping?” she demands as Spencer tilts her head from side to side. Spencer grabs the handle to the sensor and runs it over Hanna, discovering the GPS tracker implanted in the back of her neck before finding the same in her own. “The bitch chipped us!”
When Mona crashes the party, Spencer and Hanna call out Lesli for all her scheming before Ms. Vanderwaal sets the record straight. Lesli isn’t impersonating Charles and isn’t out for revenge on Bethany Young’s behalf. The real Charles is in fact alive. Hanna denies the claim, showing her Charles’s death records and organ donation certificate. Mona immediately debunks the legitimacy of the documents, pointing out that Charles’s liver, which was supposedly donated, wouldn’t have been viable given all the medications he was taking. The episode closes with Mr. DeLaurentis burying the card he found on his windshield in front of Charles’s headstone….with the letter very conveniently opened up on the ground for the audience to read.
Coming home for my birthday. You should plan a party to die for. Just you.
Where do I even begin with this one?
Not until the last quarter of “No Stone Unturned” are viewers given anything remotely riveting, and those reveals are flawed at best. The rest of the episode can be called filler. Emily’s attraction to Sarah makes no sense. Ezra’s screen time feels unnecessary. And most infuriating of all, Dean’s seemingly sudden infatuation with Spencer destroys a well-meaning character. Not only are Dean’s affections completely inappropriate, since he’s her sponsor, but he and Spencer had a sound friendship. This turn of choice taints his intentions, especially after he declares that he doesn’t care that she’s dating Toby. He just wants to kiss her.
Seriously, how many more guys are the writers going to ham into the script for this poor girl? Just look at Spencer’s track record over the last few months in her life. She’s been dating Toby. She had her fling with Colin during her trip to England. Then she got all chummy with her starving-artist house guest, Johnny. And now there’s Dean. One guy. Please.
This scenario is all the more sinful, because the writers frequently do this with the Liars. They introduce a potential love interest, and then POOF--that person vanishes to be replaced by the next Minute-Man. If these proposed relationships aren’t meant to pan out after just a few episodes, why bring them in at all? Anybody remember Travis Hobbs? No? Remember when Caleb left Rosewood to star that failed spin-off series Ravenswood? Hanna was left all alone until the kind, gracious Travis came along. He became her temporary boyfriend in season four until Tyler Blackwood returned to the show. Then, Travis suddenly vanished from the face of the earth, just like Talia (who was recently linked with Emily) and Adam Santiago (Spencer’s love interest in season one). This frequent treatment makes it hard for fans to connect with new characters. We always expect a quick exit.
Compounding this with the silly opening and Hanna’s unexplainable carjacking, the few redeeming moments in this episode aren’t enough to save it from perpetual yawning. Honestly, how did Hanna even return Lesli’s car after taking it from the freaking valet?
Pretty Little Liars - “No Stone Unturned” Rating: D +