Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pretty Little Liars: We've All Got Baggage

by Melissa Parkin

Wedding bells and murder weapons. Ah, yes. What else would you expect from the town of Rosewood? As always, the Liars have their plates full, with Emily's eggs being stolen from a fertility clinic, Spencer’s mother coming clean about her cancer, Ezra returning with his newly written book that Aria ghostwrote in his absence, and Hanna finding herself unemployed. You know, the usual.

When a wave of dirty politics hits the Hastings’ Senate campaign, Caleb takes the fall for Spencer after a secret someone uses her IP address to send out damaging reports. Spencer’s mother fires Caleb after he falsely confesses and he is consequently kicked out of the barn. That seems okay with him, because he’s more preoccupied with the suspicion surrounding Spencer’s sister. After all, Melissa’s broken suitcase could be the murder weapon in Charlotte’s death. Plus, Hanna conveniently remembers an absurdly unforgettable run-in with Spencer’s sister back in New York. It's funny how something like this would slip her mind until the perfect time to label Melissa as the next red herring.

Emily meets a friendly face while ordering textbooks at Hollis, only to later find out that he’s an undercover reporter. With this knowledge, she turns the tables and weasels information out of him, discovering that Melissa returned early from London and therefore could have made the infamous call to the DeLaurentis house on the night of Charlotte’s murder. Emily heads out to the diner where the landline originated in search of more answers, only to find the parking lot and building empty. A monster pickup truck then begins threatening her, repeatedly barreling down on the young woman as she tries not to get made into a crushed hood ornament (editor's note: PLL will do this too). Emily conveniently takes shelter on top of a large metal storage container after the truck manages to run over her cell. While up there, Emily just so happens to come across a long metal rod that looks suspiciously like the murder weapon!

But of course, she drops it, allowing the chaotic truck driver to reclaim the piece. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Montgomery asks his daughter to be the wedding officiant for his and Ella’s impending nuptials. Hanna finds temporary work acting as Ella’s stylist. The wedding goes off without a hitch, but all isn’t well for Aria. Obviously, to up the melodrama, Liam assumes the worst in regard as to why Aria wants to stay in Rosewood. Apparently, it never ever came up that she previously dated the literary darling of her publishing house. So when Fitz accidentally drops the histrionic bomb to her new beau over lunch, it racks Aria with unnecessary guilt later on as she officiates her parents’ second walk down the aisle. Then, of course, Liam comes to the wedding, and the two quickly make up over the ridiculous quarrel. The reunion seems sweet until a couple of unexpected visitors show up on Aria’s doorstep following the ceremony. Since Aria’s now officiated, Alison and Elliot come to her, insisting that she marry the pair right then and there. And by the look on Aria’s face, she’s not particularly comfortable with the idea. 

PLL these days is pretty hit or miss. Sure, the series has descended to more of a soap-opera level that forces you to suspend all disbelief at the door, but it can be fun in a campy sort of way. When it’s not so much fun though, it’s really just pure melodrama without payoff. In addition, the transition from past to present in the five year time jump is still rough. The Liars themselves blossomed nicely into their future versions, but the same cannot be said about the supporting players. One in particular: Caleb Rivers. Remember the days when he was the rugged, rough-around-the-edges bad boy?

Yeah, those really are just memories now, because there’s not a single fleck of that guy left. Now, Caleb looks like a polished country club hipster, sporting polos and bright colors. Seriously, what happened to the leather jackets and devil-may-care attitude? He’s now another stuffed shirt in a line of replaceable cookie cutter men. And even after all these weeks, we still have no clue as to what the heck happened between Spencer and Toby. There’s unmistakable hostility on his end, and the destruction of their relationship might help us feel better about the sudden ship between Spencer and Caleb. Answers, PLL. We need answers.   

Episode Rating: C  


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