by Melissa Parkin
Ummmmm…what was that?
Out of all the crazy and creepy things seen over five seasons, the opener to this particular episode doesn’t just take the cake, when it comes to weird--it takes the entire bakery.
While caught in a nightmare, Spencer roams Radley Institute’s desolate halls, crossing paths with a feral young girl. Frightened, the mysterious youth (Maggie Ziegler) runs inside an old tiled room and begins…performing an interpretive dance? Yep. Between her long plastered locks, raggedy old gown, and contorted movements, the whole display is quite unsettling. When Spencer finally awakens, she can’t shake the feeling of familiarity. She turns to Aria for help-- without much luck.
Aria wants to focus on moving forward. Sadly, how Ms. Montgomery goes about doing so, over the course of the episode, is rather idiotic. When hunky artist, Clark, invites her out to a local junkyard to take some vintage photographs, she jumps at the opportunity. Really? You just escaped a madman’s lair, and you’re running off with strangers to a creepy remote location? Did your parents not teach you the importance of “stranger danger?”
While scouring the junkyard for some good shots, Aria notices a hooded figure lurking nearby. What does she do? She tries chasing the perp into an abandoned shed, which luckily happens to be empty.
Again, are you serious, Aria?
Honestly, what was she going to do if she did run into “A?” Beat him up with her Nikon? Blind him with her flash function?
Thankfully (and despite Aria’s idiocy), something of use comes out of the trip. As it turns out, an unsuspecting Clark captured something of particular interest in one of his photos. Though the person’s face is still obscured in the image, the hooded figure sports a particular set of assets.
Could “A” really be a girl?
As this notion is combed over, Hanna finds a surprise guest waiting for her at breakfast. Mona, who is apparently taking styling tips from Jenna now, has regrettably returned home to Rosewood and dreading every minute of being back. Given that she faked her death, and framed Alison for her murder, she knows that she has her fair share of enemies to deal with. The one she doesn’t see coming? Leslie Stone. Apparently, the possibility of being charged with perjury, not to mention an accessory in faking Mona’s death, makes Leslie about as huggable as a porcupine right about now. She calls out Mona, even calling her the B-word, and warns her to stay away.
On the other side of town, Mrs. Harvey apparently wants her daughter to come back home, and Emily’s none too thrilled about the prospect. All Sarah’s mother really wants is the money that comes with exploiting her daughter’s situation. Convincing Caleb to lend a helping hand, Emily works towards getting Sarah legally emancipated. Sadly, not everyone is finding it so easy to move forward. Struggling with her recent pot vice, Spencer decides to drop in on an addiction meeting. She runs into her former-sponsor, Dean. Finally having someone to talk to about her struggles with substance abuse, Spencer finds her way back onto the right track and kicks her habit on the spot.
With a clear mind, she decides to take a trip to the recently closed Radley Institute with Hanna by her side. The girls wander the basement, hoping to find any evidence regarding Charles’s stay, and they discover the tiled room from Spencer’s dream. Inside, they find medical records confirming Charles’s death, including a list of organ donations. Archetypal to a creepy asylum, things go bump in the night, prompting the girls to abandon their investigation. Heading back through the corridors, the pair hears a ruckus coming from behind one of the doors. Spencer looks for anything to arm herself with (something a smart person does, Aria) and grabs a metallic crutch. Hanna pushes the door open and Spencer steps inside, ready to swing. She stops though at the sight of finding Mona clutching a stack of hospital records.
Tired of all the games, Spencer pries the mystery file from Mona’s hands as Hanna demands to know why she needed to steal her own records from Radley. Surprise, surprise. The records don’t belong to Mona. They’re Leslie’s. It seems that Ms. Stone had been a patient in the facility for years, which is where she met Mona, and possibly even Charles.
All the Liars reconvene at Hanna’s to discuss their findings. The fact that Clark’s photo confirms a female is behind the hooded sweatshirt makes Leslie a likely suspect. The fact that she shared a room with Bethany Young at Radley…well, you get the picture. Mona breaks the news to Leslie that the Liars know about her past, in which Leslie blows a gasket. The show closes with “A” constructing a doll-sized wing made of black and pink hair.
“She’s No Angel” steers PLL back on the right track following last week’s rather lackluster episode. Leslie’s history definitely makes her suspicious, perhaps a member of the “A”-team, but it seems too easy, doesn’t it? The enigmatic Sarah Harvey on the other hand leaves much room for speculation. She’s already cast a spell over both Emily and her mother, and now she’ll be working for Caleb, so who knows how long until she charms him over as well? The pacing plays out nicely, and the episode holds viewers’ attention with compelling information and suspense, enough that we can all overlook Aria’s poor judgments. Well…almost.
Pretty Little Liars - “She’s No Angel” Rating: A -