thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Pretty Little Liars Roundtable: “Never Letting Go,” Season 2 Episode 6

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on July 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm

This week, Phoebe is in Australia hanging out with kangaroos! The amazing Melissa agreed to fill her recapping shoes to discuss terrifying videos, A-conspiracy theories, and insane fashion choices. She also suggests a social activity to rival the awesomeness of glamping: do read on.

“The Bitch Is Back”


Sarah:  Yes! I started feeling like A’s approach to Alison is very contradictory (which has always been true). Like, on one hand A is pretending to BE Alison even though we are pretty sure (?) she is dead, on the other hand, A haaaates Alison and calls her things like bitch and monster and evil.

Melissa: Right. I think A has some identity confusion with regards to Allison. Part of what was so awful about the video is that it first says “The Bitch is Back” and calls Allison a monster, but then A turns around and identifies as Alison with the slide: “My dresses, my rules.” So I wonder: does A hate Allison, or does she just like torturing the girls, and being awful about Allison publicly was an easy way to humiliate them and exert more power over them?

Sarah:  I feel like there are a lot of possibilities, depending on who A is, for how A feels about Alison. If A is Mona for example, the dualism makes sense because Mona would both have some hero-worship for Alison (and thus like being her)  and also hate her (because she was so mean to her). But then, if A is more than one person, that could also explain why there’s so much contradiction.

Melissa: Yes…if A is more than one person, it would also make sense. And Jena could have a similar worship/hate complex, though I’m growing skeptical about her…what happened to her and Cop Loverboy?

Sarah: Yes, good question! I think this is two episodes in a row they’ve been absent. And Jenna in the fashion show would have been awesome; she is FIERCE. Which also wait, can we talk about the fashions?

On the Catwalk of Craziness

Melissa: Hahahaha, the hilarious fashions.  Like…Hanna’s weird hippie-tribal outfit, complete with headband?

Sarah: But WHAT WAS UP WITH THE ARIA-SPENCER DUO FASHION? You know the look I mean, where Aria was like a goth witch and Spencer was like a goth Little House on the Prairie person?

Melissa: This? Yeah, super strange.

Sarah: These are not outfits!

Melissa: Also, when they came out for the second walk and all had their hair suddenly teased, I laughed and laughed. Come on, ABC family – haven’t you watched Top Model? There is no time for hair changes backstage.

Sarah: Right??? I was wondering about the logistics of that too


Sarah: It’s so confusing!  And also because, remember Mona’s glampover where Aria and Emily are so mad about their hair? THEIR HAIR LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THAT IN THIS FASHION SHOW.

Melissa: Good point. The whole fashion angle seemed quite abrupt to me, actually. Like, where did Ali’s sudden undying passion for fashion come from?  It was the least believable Ali flashback yet, I think.

Sarah: Yeah I think you’re right! I know we’ve seen them trying on clothes together before in a giggly-friend kind of way, but here we were supposed to believe she was like a Fashion Maven versus trying on different shirts from Target with your pals.

Melissa: Yes! I was with the girls on this one – it was pretty darn weird for Mrs. DeLerentis to be like, “I’m going to have 3 bloody marys. You girls unwrap some dresses from my dead daughter…and wear them in public, please!”

Sarah: Hahhaaha

Melissa: Because it’s not like Ali designed them; it sounded like she found them online in the flashback. So, “Please wear these items my dead daughter got on E-Bay. Maybe you could wear Hanna’s E-Bay purses, too.”

Frenemies and Flashbacks

Sarah: HA!  But I thought the flashback was interesting in that it reaffirmed Ali’s relationships with the girls (namely Hanna and Emily), where Ali is semi-flirting with Emily/trying to draw her crush out and then negging Hanna on how she couldn’t fit into her dress. I think Ali had both closer and far more complicated relationships with those two.

Melissa: That’s a really good point. We’ve seen that she was afraid of Spencer; and she seems to have just had a strange relationship with Aria, mostly involving knowing about her dad while also being into older men.  But we’ve seen moments of tenderness and harsher cruelty with both Emily and Hanna.

Sarah: Yeah! I agree 100 percent.  I think Spencer and Aria may have both represented more competition, potentially? Spencer because she’s the strongest; Aria because guys seem to like her almost as much as they liked Ali.

Melissa: I agree. I think that Spencer and Aria both fit in better in the past – Aria had been taught to think for herself, pink hair and all; and Spencer had been taught to fight for what she wanted.  Emily and Hanna had built-in insecurities.

Sarah: Very true.

Melissa: So Ali had to get dirt on Spencer and Aria – involving Ian and Aria’s dad – but she could toy with the other girls more. But also feel safer around them, to have feelings.

Sarah: Right, because the only times Ali has seemed at all human are with Hanna and Emily.

Melissa: Right. It seems like since they are less of a threat, she can sometimes let them in; but she can also be soooo cruel with them. We did see her be a bit human with Spencer that one time she came over late at night b/c of the party at her house…but even then, she didn’t really let her guard all the way down.

All Happy Families Are Alike; All Rosewood Families Are A Mess

Sarah: Yeah – which also brings us to another interesting question raised in this episode:  What’s the connection between Mrs. DeLaurentis and Spencer’s dad, and how does that relate to her dad wanting her to stay away from Jason?

Melissa: Yes! And does it involve how Jason knows nothing about the day Ali died?  I was excited about that plot twist, because Spencer’s dad has been a bit of a cipher up until now.

Sarah: Right!! Me too. I think this is very intriguing   Here is a conjecture: What if Spencer blacked out parts of the night that Ali died, similarly to Jason, because I think we’ve had hints of that? Since Spencer was the one who comes back to the barn looking for her and tells the others she’s missing. And what if Jason’s blackout and Spencer’s blackout are because BOTH of them were somehow involved/witnesses to Ali’s death?

Melissa: Have we had hints that Spencer blacked out too? I’m so worried that Spencer is involved, by the way, because I just love her so much!

Sarah: Not really, but I think there is the potential there, since it seems significant that she was gone.  I definitely don’t think she’s guilty  of any kind of wrongdoing; it’s more that I think she may have seen something she can’t remember.

Melissa: Ahhhh, yes. I could see that. Also, remember that picture of Ali that someone (Jason? Ian?) took, where Spencer’s shadow is behind Ali?

Sarah: Yes!

Melissa: That might suggest that there was a moment when they were all in the same place at the same time; we’ve had trouble placing that photo in time.

Sarah: That would make sense in terms of why A seems particularly bent on framing Spencer,  if Spencer was witness to something that even SHE doesn’t know the significance of yet

Melissa: Good point. A is doing a good job of reducing the credibility of potential witnesses:  Tobey, Spencer, and Ian have all been framed… And those are the only 3 people we know for a fact saw her that night after she left the barn. Oh, and gave Jason that note.

What Does A Want, Besides Tory Burch Boots?

Sarah: You’re so right!!! It’s interesting, because my instinct has been to believe that A wants the PLLs to catch Ali’s murderer, but this seems to indicate that A is Ali’s murderer/partners with him or her.

Melissa: Right! But that makes me think that A either killed Alison…or is protecting whoever killed her. So…just playing around….if Jenna/CopBoy (whose name I forget) are A…would that make sense with these new questions? Oooh, maybe A wants the girls to think that (s)he is interested in finding the killer…but misleads them constantly, so that people like Ian get bumped off. Or,  I just had this thought, which is only semi-related and probably crazy: WHAT IF THERE ARE COMPETING As? I have been variously convinced that Jenna/Cop and Melissa/Ian were A…what if they’re doing battle?

Sarah: WHOA

Melissa: Unlikely, but…I KNOW Melissa knows more than she lets on. I just know it.

Sarah: Interesting! And maybe one pair of A is that actual killer-A and the other pair is trying to lead our PLLs TO the killer-A

Melissa: It’s so hard when you live in a town where everybody has crazy secrets. Because maybe Jenna/Cop just want to keep the Tobey thing quiet. And maybe Ian just wanted to keep his videos quiet. Maybe they all look like A because they’re guilt of other things but none of them are A.

Sarah: That’s another excellent perspective,  because certainly everyone, including our heroines, has things they don’t want to come to light. Emily, Aria, Spencer, and Hanna could all look pretty bad if viewed from a non-sympathetic perspective too. They’re only the heroes of this story because they’re OUR heroes.

Redeeming Everybody

Melissa: I bet Mr. Fitz did it.

Sarah: Sometimes I worry about that. Or that Caleb is somehow involved. Which would be terrible, because I love him.

Melissa: NO, not Caleb!  I love him too. Really, the boys are too attractive on this show. Except, I’m not really into Jason…but you know who is?!?!?

Sarah: Aria???

Melissa: Right?

Sarah: She has got the HOTS.  I find their chemistry more believable than hers and Fitz overall, I must say.  And the age difference is still intact, keeping up the younger girls-older guys theme.

Melissa: I totally believe their chemistry. And, annoying as it is, I totally believe that, after nearly ruining her life and Ezra’s, now that Aria can have Fitz, she’s going after Weirdo McBlackout Face. That girl has issues with going after forbidden things, tell you what.

Sarah: Hahhahaha

Melissa: I’m surprised she never got into Tobey when he was all Wanted For Murder and On the Run From the Law.

Sarah: True, he seems like an obvious choice

Melissa: I don’t know how to feel about Jason. Remember the weirdo hole he was digging, while looking for something? Remember ShadowMan in the window? Something is wonky. And it’s not just his hair.

Sarah: I concur. Although I have a generally sympathetic kind of suspicion toward Jason.

Melissa: I KNEW IT! I knew you would be sympathetic to Jason!

Sarah: Ha why??

Melissa: Because you often feel sympathetic to characters when they look most unlovable!

Sarah: Ahhh you are onto me Melissa.

Melissa: I thought while watching it, “Ugh Jason is creepy.” And my next thought was, “I bet Sarah can defend him.”

Sarah: hahahhaaha. BUT here is the thing on Jason:  I believe he may be implicated in some way. But I don’t think he did anything toooo bad. One, because I think there are the Tobey parallels (including but not limited to pariah-status, weird (though different kind of weird) relationship with sister). And two, because of that conversation with Aria where he talks about how his parents probably think the wrong kid died and sometimes he does too.

Melissa: Oooh, I think I’m having insight.

Sarah: Tell me more!

Melissa: Didn’t Spencer’s dad say something to Mrs. DeLaurentis on the phone about needing to control Jason?  And isn’t Jason on a rampage to find something in their old house?

Sarah: Yes and yes.

Melissa: Maybe Spencer’s dad and Mrs. DeL know more than they’re letting on, and they know he’s going to find evidence in the house.

Sarah: Evidence about WHAT? So Jason is maybe on the case!  I would believe that.

Melissa: I don’t know… That is still a mystery to me…

Sarah: I also think it’s for real he doesn’t remember. So he doesn’t even know what he’s looking for, but he knows he’s looking for something.

Melissa: I totally believe that. But there’s something in that house….and it might be a clue.


Melissa: Right!?!?!?! : If there was something incriminating in the house, that might also explain why Mr. DeL encouraged Mrs DeL to get rid of so much stuff right after Ali’s death.

Sarah: Okay you are such a supersleuth. I definitely buy Mrs. DeL as confused and thereby wasted on bloody marys, and Mr. DeL as manipulative. Oh also this has nothing to do with what we were just talking about, but do you think Noel Kahn is important at all? I don’t think he’s important. I think he just exists to be weird.

Melissa: I think he might be important…but I also think he might just be a dick. I can’t figure out Noel. He seemed to know something. That line to Spence—”Do you want to take a last look at it?” Either he knew too much or I am oversleuthing and that was just foreshadowing.

Sarah: Wait what was he talking about, the playlist?

Melissa: Yeah…when she gave him the CD and was all flustered, he asked, “Do you want to take a last look at it?”  And then I knew something HORRIBLE was going to happen. Maybe Mona is A and she gets Noel to help her out, but he is clueless and just does it because he is a dick.

Sarah: I can see that. Mona is certainly high-school evil and potentially more-than-that evil as well.

Sleuthovers For All!

Melissa: TOO MANY POSSIBILITIES. Who is A? Mona/Noel? Jenna/CopBoy? Melissa/Ian? All of them? None of them? Maybe Spencer’s dad. Maybe Hanna’s dad, who we haven’t talked about yet.

Sarah: Oh yes let’s discuss his re-emergence!  I have been a hater since the get-go because I am not okay with him peacing out like that on Hanna post-divorce. What is your opinion?

Melissa: I hate him – he’s skeezy, to use a poorly defined but apt word.

Sarah: Concurrence.

Melissa: He seems manipulative and selfish and the kind of person who just tramples people’s hearts with no knowledge of what he’s doing. He’s clumsy with people and doesn’t care. But it seemed like he might be getting a tiny clue, though I don’t want him to move back in.

Sarah: Yes I think your assessment is one hundred percent accurate. He doesn’t MEAN to hurt people, but he doesn’t try not to–which really makes him just as bad.  I support his still being in love with Hanna’s mom, because she is awesome, but I also don’t want him moving in. He has to earn back Hanna’s trust as well as her mom’s.

Melissa: Yes. Hanna’s mom is my favorite mom in this show.

Sarah: Yes she is amazing! And how great that Hanna and Em are going to be roommates! I think it speaks very well of Hanna’s mom that she’s always open to taking in kids in need. And I’m curious to hear more about her relationship with her dad that Hanna brought up in the previous episode.

Melissa: I agree. And it sets up interesting parallels – the guest in Hanna’s house, Part II. This time, one of Ali’s other faves.

Sarah: You know I wonder if Hanna and Emily will figure something out together.

Melissa: I HOPE SO.  That would be awesome!

Melissa: Really, they should all move into Hanna’s house. Then Spencer would be free of her crazy family, and Aria could, you know, not bear her brother’s wrath or something.

Sarah: Yes!! Mystery-solving would happen faster.

Melissa: Forget glamping. How about Sleuthover?

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