Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pretty Little Liars: “To Plea Or Not to Plea” recap & review

by Melissa Parkin

To plea or not to plea. That certainly is the question of the hour. Detective Tanner pegged Hanna as Alison’s partner in crime, convincing the D.A. to offer a plea bargain for Ali’s confession. So long as Ms. DeLaurentis admits to killing Mona and naming Hanna as her accomplice, Ali will receive a reduced sentence to fifteen years in prison with the possibility for parole in ten. Given Alison’s innocence, she scoffs at the deal, until her lawyer lays out the facts. Her chances of acquittal are slim to none. If she loses, she’s facing life in prison. Mrs. Hastings gets wind of this development and hurries over to the Marin’s, informing Hanna’s mother of the ordeal.

Emily seeks out Ezra’s help in trying to uncover the true identity of “Varjak.” James Neilan, the attorney who delivered Mona’s posthumous letter to Hanna during the Christmas special, knows something. Ezra agrees to pay him a visit, calling out the lawyer for his involvement in Mona’s murder. Fitz presses him for information, but comes up empty-handed. Aria meets up with Emily, who’s waiting for Ezra outside Neilan’s office. Given that “Ezria” is on what Ross Geller would call a “break,” this leads to an uncomfortable run-in between the separated couple when Ezra exits the building. Thankfully, Fitz managed to rattle Neilan’s cage enough, because the attorney soon rushes out from his office with his cell to his ear. He tears off down the street, and the trio hops into Aria’s car to tail him
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

They eventually come to a gated piece of property deep in the woods. Emily takes off out of the car just as Aria receives a text from Andrew. The distraction causes Ezra and Aria to arrive at the front gate after it closes, but Emily managed to slip inside beforehand. Now, all alone, Ms. Fields approaches a cabin, seeing Neilan enter the premises. Clearly flustered, Mona’s former attorney empties out the safe inside. Emily takes advantage of the distraction and begins sifting through the garbage left outside. She comes across a receipt from Tony’s Pizza that includes the name and number of Varjak.

Meanwhile in London, Spencer goes against her mother’s wishes and re-books her flight to head back home. Melissa, however, encourages her to stay. Some strings were pulled and Spencer gets another interview set up for St. Andrews. The sisters finally make amends and agree to a fresh start. Succumbing to her new plans, Spencer decides to lighten up. She enjoys her much needed break away from Rosewood with Wren and Melissa’s flat mate, Colin, keeping her company. The Englishman invites her to see a rendition of Hamlet with him, and the pair go out for drinks afterward. They banter, then kiss once arriving back at the flat.

Sadly, Hanna’s not sharing in her good fortune. Ali receives threats insisting she take the plea bargain, and her unwillingness gets her roughed up behind bars. Finally reaching her breaking point, she decides to go through with the deal. Caleb races over to Hanna’s house, informing her that a warrant has been issued for her arrest. In a state of panic, Hanna prepares to run, but Caleb convinces her otherwise. She must come clean with Tanner about “A.” That’s the only way she’ll get out of this. With all the threats from “A” still on her phone as proof, she agrees. The two go down to the precinct to confess to Tanner, but just as they’re about to speak with the detective, Hanna’s phone goes on the fritz. “A”’s trusty skills with technology emerge in the form of a hack, wiping out all the messages sent from the blackmailer.

The other girls inform Spencer of Hanna’s arrest, and they receive a message from “A” calling for a clean slate. Flipping through the texting history, they all discover that “A” hacked each of their phones as well, and any evidence they had is now gone. Ali refuses to sign the plea bargain, making Hanna’s future look a bit brighter. Unfortunately, Hanna gets put behind bars anyway, but to everyone’s surprise, it wasn't Alison’s doing. Mona’s blood-covered clothes were discovered by police, and forensics revealed a sample of Hanna’s own blood on the sweater.

“To Plea Or Not to Plea” falters more frequently than it delivers. Melodrama reigns supreme over the story-line, filling a majority of the run-time with utter fluff. The entire hour recap can be summed up in a single sentence: Aria breaks up with Ezra and Hanna gets arrested. The End.

The fluff filling the run-time only points out what everyone already figured was going to happen. Aria’s relationship with Ezra hasn't show any progress for a number of episodes. Aria’s decision to end things seems more like a mercy killing than a bombshell. The same goes for Spencer. As of recently, her relationship with Toby has been about as smooth of a ride as sitting in the back of a school bus going down a gravel road. The way that both girls handle their rocky relationships is the problem. Love triangles are never the answer to resolving conflicts. If Aria naturally gravitated towards Andrew, and Spencer found herself swept off her feet by Colin or Jonny after an official break up, then all’s well. Technical cheating on both their parts is a bit too bitter to swallow, especially when the couples in question have been together for numerous seasons. Everything falling apart all at once reads as pure melodrama—not a natural progression. And let’s not even get started on the recent build-ups suddenly hitting brick walls. The entire story-line with Mike’s involvement in Mona’s murder gets wiped out entirely five minutes into the show. With only two episodes left to the #BigAReveal, things better shape up and fast.

Pretty Little Liars - “To Plea Or Not to Plea” Rating:  C


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