thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

PLL Roundtable: “Surface Tension,” Season 2, Episode 7

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on July 31, 2011 at 9:18 am

This weekend, Sarah is out on the town in New York! Thus, the lovely Melissa is back to answer some pressing questions on last week’s PLL. Read on for PLL slumber parties, chatty parents, drugged lotion, awkward dinner parties, and much more!

What do you think about the Hanna-Emily never-ending sleepover storyline? Which PLLs do you think would be the best and worst roommate combos?

Phoebe: ooh great question! So I think it will either make or break their friendship, plus I like A’s take on it, that under one roof they are easier to terrorize. or, are they?! Maybe, they’ll be better at communicating and make a better team. Also, I think perhaps Aria and Emily would be good roomies, and I feel that though I love spencer, she is a little intense and thus hard to live with perhaps. 

Melissa: I think it was surprising how quickly Emily became uptight, chipper, and controlling – ie, her mom!  It always struck me that Emily was fairly laid back and it was her mom that brought all the anxiety to their household.  But now we’re seeing this other side of her.  And the whole narrative about her replacing Hannah as “favorite daughter” seemed tense and fraught.  Hannah already feared that fate with her dad’s new family; now from her own friends?  I also wonder if there’s an element of jealousy there as the two Ali favorites stay together.  I think of all people I would think Aria would be the best roommate – and you all know she’s my least favorite because I find her boring.  But I think boring is exactly what you need in a roommate.  She’d be out chasing men and I’d say yes, mmmhm, and just do my thing.  I love Hannah, but she would make me bonkers.  I’m with Emily on this one – but then, having shared rooms with siblings my whole life, I can only too well relate to the singing sister that just won’t shut up when it’s study time.

Suddenly, in the last two episodes, the parents of the girls are actually talking to each other! Why have they never communicated before? Do you think they’re getting closer to figuring out the existence of A?

Phoebe: I was so excited about this! particularly, the introduction of the parents into the mystery story, and particularly Ella as she  seems the most proactive and concerned. Also, what is up with Spencer’s dad?! Did he kill ally? And what about his total dislike/hate for Mrs. DiLaurentis and Jason? I somehow am starting to think that parents are more involved than we have been led to believe.  

Melissa: I think that Hanna’s mom pointed to why the parents are starting to talk now more – their first attempt to collaborate was a disaster. I also think that they were all convinced that the girls were nutbars and were treating them like little girls when they tried to separate the girls after therapy, but Ian’s death suddenly made the whole murder even more sinister.  They have no reason not to trust the girls now.  But that opens up the scary world – if the girls were right about Ian, what else might they be right about?  I think that the smart parents – Aria and Hannah’s moms! – are realizing that something worse than a year-old murder is going on in the girls’ lives.

How will Caleb’s grand theft auto past be reemerging in future plotlines?

Phoebe: Good question. I thought that was a hilarious revelation and a little odd as it felt a smidge like they just decided that for this episode. Perhaps they will come looking for him? And cause trouble? They can’t have anything to do with A, or can they?

Melissa: BAHAHAHAHAHA.  This was the worst teenage boy secret past ever.  I didn’t believe it at all.  It made me question Caleb all over again.  Perhaps I’m too skeptical, but it just felt like such a line: Oh Hanna, I know right from wrong now.  Because I stole cars once.  True, that didn’t stop me from spying on you last year – but I know some things.  I’m curious as to his sudden urgency for jobs and cash.  What does Caleb really want, and why does it involve him getting confrontational with fellow students?

Okay.  So A is putting something in Emily’s lotion that makes her shoulder hurt.  WHY?  What.  The.  Heck.  Strangest thing ever.  Is she trying to ruin her chances as a swimmer?  Keep her busy?

Phoebe: Right?! Super strange and perhaps yes to ruin her chances at swimming and Danby. Super super strange! But I seriously have no clue what is going on with the lotion situation …

Melissa: I have no answer to this question.  It seems like she wants to either keep Emily preoccupied or keep her from qualifying from too good of schools.  Unless A is trying to drive Emily to seek medical attention and then she will end up at a doctor that will channel some sort of information to A…is anyone else remembering the GG plotline where Dr. VanderWoodsen makes Lily fake-sick-with-cancer to get back into her heart?  Maybe this is something along those lines, and A’s trying to get closer to the girls that way.  Or maybe the stuff in the lotion is making Emily uptight and more like her mom.  This was my favorite plotline of the show – dramatic shoulder rub with painful grimace and close-up shot!  So many seemingly meaningful shots of Emily putting lotion bottles in bags and lockers!  NEEDLE IN THE LOTION AT THE END!!!!!  Hahahaha.  At least, unlike LOSTPLL keeps the promises it makes via foreshadowing shots. 

I felt no real sense of danger for Spencer, which is funny, given the jumpy cuts away from the cop car.  What number was on it?  Did that matter?

Phoebe: I don’t know. But I oddly felt a sense of danger, also I think Garrett is so creepy! And I’m so glad the girls finally realized that they could no longer trust him. And also, I felt like she was in danger from her dad, when he got angry at her about the hockey stick. Which also, what about the hockey stick? That was a weird flashback … with Ali and learning to play field hockey, and such a weird interaction with Jason. And I feel like the stuff with Jason is a total red herring and a little too heavy handed at times. PLL is so smart, why so heavy handed?

Melissa:  I think Spencer will be okay because she is the best of the girls at coming up with plans and lies.  Well, Hanna is really good at lying too.  But if anyone can talk her way out of a cop car with Garrett, it’s Spencer.  Also, did you notice they were sitting right outside the pawn shop where she hocked her sister’s ring?  I do think Garrett could be a danger, but I just don’t think he’s a physical violence type danger – could he have killed Ali?  We have no reason to see why yet, unless it’s because he loved Jenna and was mad at Ali for what she did to Jenna…Sigh.  I’m glad the girls are finally figuring it out too.  I couldn’t see this misdirection playing out much longer.  Spencer keeps making the same mistake with the cops!  She keeps going to them with information and then getting screwed.  It’s gotta stop!

Will Aria Choose Fitz or Jason?

Phoebe: Great question! I am rooting for Jason as I feel like they have such great chemistry! And he is the bad boy and mysterious and kind of hot stuff. Ezra kind of paled next to him this week I thought. Go Jason!

Melissa: My vote is Fitz.  Yeah.  Who woulda thought I’d ever say that?  Not me.  But I was rooting for him during all the mildly hilarious awkward dinner party scenes, while also thinking I’m really glad I didn’t have to go to grad school with him, because I don’t think I could have handled that practiced look of innocence and slight bewilderment across a seminar table from me.  Good lord, man.  She seems to be leaning towards Jason, though, which is intriguing.  I don’t think Jason did it.  I think he knows something, though, or is going to find something in the house, or at least knows that he should find something in the house.  Maybe he was looking for the field hockey stick.  Don’t know why, but since this episode established that the stick was once in Ali’s house, that seems possible.

Clearly Spencer’s dad knows something.  Does he think Spencer killed Alison?  Does he know who did?  I’m still guessing Melissa.  I bet Melissa did it with her own field hockey stick.  I don’t even know if she played field hockey.  I can’t remember.

Phoebe: So from this episode I think Melissa did in fact play field hockey, as that was her old stick that Spencer gave Ali. But I also feel like their dad has something to do with it, or knows something. And why would Melissa kill Ali? I feel like we need more info about Melissa in flashbacks, which we haven’t gotten enough of yet. But I also want to know more about the DiLaurentis mom and Spencer’s dad, also, what is the deal with what Hanna’s mom said about Spencer’s dad? That he can buy off anyone … that seemed telling of something. Also, don’t you think that perhaps Hanna’s mom was behaving a little suspicious in regards to Ella, when she asked if Ella had talked to anyone yet? A little suspicious, I think.

Melissa: So many good questions in response to this question, Phoebe.  I could imagine that Melissa killed Alison and her dad knows and is trying to protect Melissa – protecting Melissa seems to be a hobby in Spencer’s household, even though that girl is manipulative and creeptron.  But why would Mrs. D be mad?  Did they agree to cover up something involving Melissa and Ali?  Was Jason involved?  Maybe Jason saw something involving Melissa and Ali and GOT DRUGGED BY LOTION so that he forgot.  Just speculating.

Why is Mike breaking into houses?  Is he on the case too?

Phoebe: I totally think Mike is on the case, as he is only breaking into houses of people that have to do with the main plot/Ally’s death. Maybe he is trying to help Aria out … or knows something we don’t know yet. Because his breaking in seems to be such a weird subplot!

Melissa: I think Mike is half on the case.  Maybe he, like Jason, knows that he’s looking for something but doesn’t know what.  He’s only broken into houses associated with the A scenario.  He had those weird conversations with Ian last season that made Aria all concerned.  He’s really angry about something and it’s not just his parents’ divorce.  Alternatively, could Mike be A?  He pushed Aria.  He was wearing all black.  I don’t know, guys.  I think Mike finding Jenna’s thing and pushing Aria to figure it out is significant, but I can’t figure out why.

What will the girls do now that they know they can’t trust Garrett?

Phoebe: I don’t know, but I am so glad that revelation happened! Garrett is so sketchy and way to go Mike in stealing the vase! I feel like the girls realize they can’t trust anyone, except maybe Aria’s mom. I think Ella is reliable. But it was about time the Garrett plus Jenna situation was outed. Also, where is Jenna?! I miss her creepiness …

Melissa: Hopefully, their plan will involve Hanna’s flask, some crazy fashion, another cute girlfriend for Emily, and some synchronized text reading.

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