thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Pretty Little Liars Roundtable: “My Name Is Trouble” Season 2, Episode 3

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on June 30, 2011 at 6:30 am

Pretty Little Liars: “My Name Is Trouble” Season 2, Episode 3

This week, engagement rings got lost, found and pawned; scholarship offers got forged; Red Delicious apples got rightly insulted; and suspicious characters gained new dimensions.

Best Moments from “My Name is Trouble”

 Sarah: So, just to get the ball rolling: How cool was the shot where the PLLs all burst simultaneously out of the bathroom stalls?

 Phoebe:  Wonderful. That may or may not have been my favorite part of the episode! A little campy and sleuthy at the same time.

 Sarah:  YES totally. And that scene also gave us the gift of Hannah’s pronouncement that shoplifting moisturizer from the mall is “not a life, it’s a hobby”

 Phoebe:  Also, a great moment courtesy of Hanna.

 Sarah: And two things from my notes as I watched the episode:

     Me:  It bugs me so much how people on TV have Red Delicious apples, nobody buys those. Ali, on the TV: “Your family has the worst apples.”

    Me: YAAAAY.

    And also: Emily: “Sometimes when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Spencer: “Why are you talking to me like Ben Franklin?”

    Me: Hahahaha

Phoebe:  That was an awesome moment. The latter that is.  And I totally agree about the apples. Red delicious =gross!

 Aria  <3s Pottery Class & Sympathizing with the Enemy

 Phoebe: What is going on with the Jenna, Aria, pottery class (like in Ghost) story line?

 Sarah  Yeah let’s talk about that! The reason I loved this episode so much is that we saw humanization of some of the toughest-to-love characters including Jenna (and also Melissa and Ali who we can get to later).

 Phoebe:  Interesting … :  I agree about Jenna, but totally didn’t feel that way about Melissa

 Sarah:  But I thought the scene where Jenna is talking to Aria about the light was so moving.

 Phoebe: I thought that scene was moving too, but then also was suspicious of Jenna. And I feel like something was supposed to happen when the lights went off, but then nothing did. But she totally figured it out. (And I would venture to say that she knew as she is quite clever and has her ways, but also likely better at voice recognition than Aria gave her credit for.)

 Sarah:  I don’t think Jenna knew it was Aria. I think it’s more the second in this particular scene, which is what I liked so much. To me, the Jenna Is Creepy storyline is played out. I’m much more interested in the Jenna Is a Person storyline. Ooh and what I loved about the blowing out the light moment is that I felt like something scary was going to happen too, because that’s how PLL trains us—but I think the real reason Jenna wanted Aria to blow it out…

Phoebe:  Was it so she could understand Jenna’s world?

 Sarah: …Was because she didn’t want Aria sharing in this beautiful thing she’d made and infringing upon her in this place that’s supposed to be safe. Like, for Aria to get to see this beautiful light that’s all about how Jenna remembers sight  is a really gross encroachment.

 Sarah: Ooh I like your reading of how it’s about Aria understanding what it’s like to be Jenna too, because I feel like that’s a major problem with the way the PLLs see her, is they can’t put themselves in her place.

 Phoebe:  Yeah I sort of felt that it was about Jenna forcing Aria into a vulnerable position. But I was also certain (despite that it didn’t happen) that something bad was going to happen. Oh and I just got to the candle part as I am re-watching and I think too that there is something about Jenna sharing herself and her sadness, and that you are definitely on to something.

 Emily & the Case of the Fake Letter

Phoebe: Also, what is up with the faking your way into college Emily plot?

 Sarah:  Well I guess I’m still waiting to see how that plays out, but I do like the idea that the lie has taken on a life of its own because the way A works is that you even think about doing something wrong and A makes it happen times a million. What are your thoughts?

 Phoebe:  I agree. I feel like A picks out the worst in each of them … or at least this time in Emily for sure. This is also the first time we’ve seen Emily really be devious. Although she comes around after the serious and heartfelt mom moment replete with baby clothes.

Sarah:  Oh my gosh, I loved the mom’s moment of empathy for Emily so much too–where she starts thinking about how hard it must have been for Emily to feel like she had to hide who she really was or risk losing her mom. So much empathy in this episode!

Phoebe:  I think that was my favorite empathy moment in the episode.

Sarah:  Emily’s mom has really had an interesting character arc

Phoebe:  Yeah I really like how they have developed her character

 Sarah:  Me too. It feels both realistic and thoughtfully done, and I can imagine it being helpful for teenagers who are thinking about coming out to their parents. I think it’s useful the show’s depicting the rockiness that can happen and then showing that it turns out okay. It might help make it less scary I imagine.

 Phoebe:  I also mostly feel like it is not sugar coated, which I appreciated (sort of different from Kurt’s father on Glee). And dealt with their relationship (particularly in a military family) and how it developed in a way that did not demonize the mom but allowed space for her to grow as a character.

 More Lies: Sisters, Ring Pawning, and Truck Buying.

Phoebe: Another weird thing this episode = Spencer trading in Melissa’s ring for a car for Toby.

 Sarah:  Oh yeah! But before we get to that weirdness—so the part with Melissa that I thought was interesting was where Spencer starts talking about how Melissa threatened to beat up the girl who picked on her,  and then how Melissa claims not to remember that even happening. Because on the one hand we see that Melissa has, in the past, had a protective side. But on the other hand, does she actually not remember? Is she just pretending not to remember because she knows she’s not doing a good job of/not willing to protect her sister now?

 Phoebe:  I thought she looked like she remembered, but then denied it. But also, it made me sad for Spencer as we see a moment where they were close (pre various betrayals). But clearly Melissa has lost that feeling towards Spencer and seems to feel quite coldly towards her I think. I am so suspicious of Melissa. Also, why is her old Dr. fiancee back? So sketchy!

 Sarah:  Yeah she is certainly suspicious. But I also want to believe that she is internally at war in terms of her feelings toward Spencer, because that is much more interesting to me than her having turned her back on her sister entirely. And also, why does Spencer hock the ring? I get that it’s to get money for Toby, but it felt like an out-of-character decision.

Phoebe:  Right?! I too felt like it was out of character … And I’m so confused about this whole missing ring situation in the first place? Did Melissa lose it for real? On purpose? I’m so confused … And the final shots of A buying it back. So creepy!

 Sarah:  Yeah why is it BEHIND THE TOASTER?

 Phoebe:  Right?!

 Sarah: Maybe A stole it?

 Phoebe:  And hid it for Spencer to find? In order to pawn? SO confusing

 Sarah:  Yeah that’s a lot of steps for A to have made in advance. I just feel like that is an extraordinarily selfish decision for Spencer to make. It would be one thing if the circumstances were more dire… but Toby needing a car is not exactly life-or-death. Although maybe from Spencer’s perspective it is, because she’s so worried about him being near Jason (and potentially Ian).

 Where In the World Is Ian? And Whose Baby Is it anyway?

Sarah: Which also reminds me: Is Ian living upstairs in Jason’s house? There were like four hundred clues that pointed to yes, which makes me think it’s a red herring.

Phoebe:  Yeah I am super confused as clearly the show is pointing us in that direction. Thus, it feels like it can’t be true! PLL is so tricky!

Sarah:  Right! But why else would Melissa need to buy drugs from Wren? Because that definitely seems like what’s happening. Oh also Jacob from TWOP suggests that maybe the baby is Wren’s! Not Ian’s! !!!

Phoebe:  OOH I actually thought that last night when I was watching…. It might make sense… Although, an odd twist, but you never know with these lady liars

Sarah:  They are so tricky… Okay so if the baby is Wren’s not Ian’s, maybe Ian IS dead. Melissa’s been sneaking out to meet Wren this whole time. But then who’s in Jason’s attic? And why does she need Ian’s passport? Agh I just think Ian is alive which is so depressing.

Poor Ali, Sad Flashbacks and Sympathy for Mean Girls

Sarah: ALSO. Let’s talk about the Ali flashback, aka humanizing moment number 4 of the episode! (Counting Emily’s mom.) Especially on the heels of last week’s conversation about how we’d never really seen her vulnerable.

Phoebe:  Super interesting … I thought perhaps it sounded like she had been raped or something bad.

Sarah:  Definitely something bad. I thought that too

Phoebe:  And I think clearly there is something up with the relationship with the grandmother. So now money is involved in a way we did not know about before …

Sarah:  Yeah which also makes Ali stealing from Jason have higher stakes, because maybe whatever she took was blackmail to give her grandmother proof in order to jeopardize Jason’s inheritance.

Phoebe:  Oooh interesting.

Sarah:  Which would also account for why Jason’s so desperate to recover it.

Sarah: Also! a) Isn’t Hanna the best ever in all possible ways and b) what were your thoughts on the her-helping-Lucas plus return-of-dad subplot?

Phoebe:  a) yes! b) I still feel shady about the return of Hanna’s dad. BUT I think the helping Lucas is interesting, as instead of doing what many female characters do (which is just realize that they are interested in a boy once there is competition), Hanna winds up helping him out and helping him get over her. And I am hoping that stays true and that she is serious about being friends with him and can handle that he isn’t giving her the attention anymore.

Sarah:  Yes I agree on all fronts. And I thought the episode related her helping Lucas to her dad in two interesting ways. First because she’s simultaneously trying to help Lucas get over her and move on while trying to sabotage her dad’s relationship with his fiance so that he can go back to her mom—so two kind of opposing storylines that are in tension with each other. But then she brings it together with the line to Lucas about how people change and grow, which is exactly what her mom said to her about her dad.

Phoebe: Yeah that was an interesting moment, particularly awesome as it was juxtaposed against Emily’s decision not to deceive her parents.

Sarah: Oh yeah another good connection! Even though Emily does end up deceiving them anyway, albeit passively. Because if she really wanted to she could be like, Mom, the letter’s not real. Granted it would be messy, but she is going along with the decision A made for her. Which actually goes back to your comment about how A brings out the worst in our PLLs, because Emily’s passivity is probably her weakest point.

Phoebe: Good point. I agree re: Emily’s passive acceptance of A’s fate for her. It just seems silly in these moments where they could escape A, the girls choose to get deeper entrenched/screwed.

Sarah:  And that’s what makes A so much like Ali, to the point where they can’t 100 percent believe she’s dead! Because that’s the power Ali had over them too.

Final Thoughts: Puppy

Phoebe: What happened to the puppy from last week? I’m still a little worried about it …

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  1. I have so many thoughts, but the one that I just have to share is about Jenna. Because I understood that they were trying to humanize her, but it was impossible for me to feel one once of sympathy towards her when her face was looking like CRAZY SATAN MONSTER IN SHADOWS OF SUNGLASS DOOM. Seriously. Phoebe can attest to this – I watched that whole scene from behind a pillow, and I am more afraid of her than ever. Sarah, I know that you are the best at seeing the good in twisted characters, so I am very very sorry: I think Jenna is made of evil and weird faces and sunglasses and manipulative sadness and perfect hair and creepy. I want to feel sympathy for her, but I also want to suggest she get, you know, some glasses with sequins or a light colored blouse or a toy puppy. Maybe she should carry that puppy around, keep it safe from Jason, and look less like a vengeful ghost.

  2. melissa! a) you are hilarious and b) i agree that she is shot to look super-scary in that scene… but i think part of the reason may be because we’re seeing her from aria’s point of view, and aria’s always going to see jenna as sinister — which is cool, actually. it would be fun to do an episode that switched point of view away from the pll so we could see how someone like lucas, say, experiences the world of rosewood.

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