thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “The Blond Leading the Blind” (Season 2, Episode 17)

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on January 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

This week the PLLs wear some great clothes (especially Aria!); make new alliances; lose a boyfriend; gain some lost and creepy footage; and discover new and scary truths about A. Read on for more PLL news and opinions!

Who had the best outfit this week or which one of Aria’s outfits was the most amazing? All of them? (Maybe, yes)

Phoebe: Oh my goodness, I LOVED Aria’s clothes this week. Specifically, her stripey dress and that adorable rain coat she wore to Philadelphia in the rain for the Ezra/Aria reunion in the rain. I want both.

Chelsea: All of them. Also, I need someone to teach me how to imitate her eye makeup exactly. I suspect loads of false eyelashes are involved, which is only a teensy bit too high maintenance for me, but still.

Sarah: Hanna’s crazy crochet beret with a leopard-print vest and giant black chiffon ascot! Is that what that outfit was? I didn’t understand it but it made me laugh, which is just as good a purpose for clothing to serve as any. But on the reals, Aria’s striped dress was highly covetable. And also the cute one-shoulder blue dress Hanna was wearing when she was talking to Caleb in the kitchen.

Melissa: Haha, I didn’t notice the clothes so much because I was half-watching the screen while cleaning out my desk. But when Aria called Ezra with the stripey-dress on, I thought, “Hmmmm, guess Dad got over his clothes thing and is letting you out of the house in short skirts again.”  That was the only clothes-related thought I had.

What do you think of the Aria and Ezra re-uniting? And WHAT is Holden hiding?

Phoebe: So I am super curious about what Holden is hiding as he is being super sneaky and why did they have to go to Philadelphia? What is there for him? Maybe he has a secret girlfriend his parents don’t approve? Maybe he is a gambler? Maybe he just really really likes walking alone on the streets of Philly? Also, I think A and E are in for a world of trouble and hurt. That said, narratively I was kind of pumped for their reuniting as I enjoy that drama and sneaking around.

Chelsea: Holden is so, so sneaky. Aria should be sneakier. Did she really not consider the possibility that her mom would arrive before Holden did? Also, I was pretty glad to see Aria and Ezra’s reunion, even though it’s still weird and theirs is an uphill battle.

Sarah: I loved that Ezra was persuaded to follow his heart and go after Aria by an undergrad’s goofy short story and an inspirational quotation. Anything would have tipped Ezra over the edge at that point: a sad commercial for prescription drugs, the pattern of the toppings on his frozen yogurt cup. I think Holden is secretly in a band or something hip like that. I think whatever he’s up to is going to be a secret that is awesome so that Aria can like him more, and then there will be another wedge to replace Jason in the Ezra-Aria love connection.

Melissa: I don’t know if it’s because I’m an old curmudgeon or because I’m a teacher or what, but I was not excited about the Ezra-Aria reunion. I just thought, “Jeez, really?  Again? We have to go through this again?” Mainly, I was super-mad that Spencer had to give up Tobey (Who seems like such a good match for her!) and Aria got to get Ezra back (when he might not be such a good match for her). Seriously! What do we know about Ezra and Aria’s actual relationships? The bulk of their chemistry seems to come mainly from being thwarted; the bulk of their interaction involves finding ways to see each other. Is there any there there? And if so, can’t they just wait until she graduates? I guess I was also interested, because it seems like such a play to teenage sensibilities: the desire for a thwarted, impossible love to succeed in spite of parental disapproval. I must be getting old! While I disapproved of how the Montgomery parents handled the situation, I also just thought their reunion was a little too cheesy and impossible and insubstantial for my tastes. Wow. I guess I had a lot of thoughts about that. Though I was also proud of Ezra for finally growing up enough to at least stop going, “I can’t hear you. I can’t see you. Lalalalalala.”

I like the idea of Holden being in a band. He does a lot of squinty-eyed, down-the-nose peering at Aria when she asks questions, which means his secret is either super-sneaky or super-mundane, I think.

Where did Toby go?? And is it A’s doing? Was Spencer’s lie to Toby necessary?

Phoebe: I am worried that Toby ran off with A or rather that A kidnapped Toby. Eek. But also, I know Spencer really wanted to protect him. BUT I feel like maybe the lie was not necessary and also, I still can never understand why they won’t tell Toby, and Caleb too for that matter. Also, maybe Toby went to go live in the woods? That seems reasonable as he left his car randomly with Spencer.

Chelsea: Toby went to order a pizza and watch all of the Fast and Furious movies on repeat until his arm heals. I don’t think the lie was necessary, but mostly I was just kind of annoyed at Spencer for how self-righteous she was about telling it, or having Emily tell it for her, really. There’s just no way that was the only option.

Sarah: Yeah, I did not understand why Emily had to be the messenger (except that maybe Spencer was just being a chicken). And Emily is a terrible liar, also! Her mumbled story was full of holes that I think Toby probably ought to have/did see through. On a sidenote, I was so intrigued by Jenna’s visit to Toby in the hospital room–I feel like there’s a lot about their relationship that we haven’t seen yet, so their dialogue was extra-cryptic-seeming. Clearly Jenna’s worried about Toby’s safety, but is that because she had someone mess up Toby’s wooden platform (don’t know the technical term for that) not knowing he’d be on it, or because she really believes the PLLs are dangerous? Which, when you think about her own experience with them, wouldn’t be that crazy of a thing to believe.

Melissa: I thought Spencer’s action was a little rash, though I also thought she realized she had to do something super-drastic that couldn’t be healed because otherwise Tobey was really going to get hurt. I also don’t understand why the girls don’t just tell the boys. Clearly the boys are already involved, so the best path forward seems to be saying: “Hey, I’m involved in something bad. If I tell you what, you might be in more danger. If you stay with me, you might be in danger. Do you want to know? Do you want to never see me again?” But then again, that’s more direct, mature communication than I can manage in most of my romances, whereas I do have a flair for melodramatic subterfuge. Caleb’s response to Hannah’s lies seems much more reasonable than Tobey’s, too. At least Caleb is like, “Yeah, secret, blah blah blah. Well I can lie too and duh I”m in danger.” Tobey is so melodramatic!  Must be the cheekbones.

Do we really believe that Jenna, Garrett, and Ian are A? And what is up with Jenna and Noel (except being creepy and mean)? Poor Mona!

Phoebe: I just don’t know. I feel very confused as clearly the show wants us to believe that, but that emphasis makes me think A is perhaps someone else. Also, the Jenna and Noel situation totally seems weird and insane, and what was with Mona’s lingering look at them? I definitely felt sad for Mona in this episode, but then that moment made me a tad suspicious …

Chelsea: I’m with you, Phoebe. Anything that clear-cut is bound to be misleading in the world of PLL. Jenna coming out of that bathroom stall was by far the creepiest moment in the whole episode. Why is she so awful? Clearly, she has motivation (wrong though it may be) to hurt the PLLs, but why go out of her way to stage a scene with Noel to hurt Mona?

Sarah: I don’t think they’re A, for exactly the reasons you both say. In fact, what if they’re also being tracked by A? Or maybe A is just one of them but not all of them. But AGH I was furious with Noel when he threw the necklace he gave Mona into the garbage can. It’s one thing to dump someone, but why on earth would you be such a callous sociopath about it? If he’s really dating Jenna now, though, it’s clear he has a type. And the type is crazycakes.

Melissa: I wonder if they were A but now someone else has hijacked A’s identity. That would make sense. Someone found out about their history of espionage and decided to take up the surveillance of Rosewood. And my money stays on Melissa. So glad that Wren was back in this episode, but it also seems to whisper to me, Melissa will be back. Maybe she found out about the surveillance via Ian and now is somehow involved. She seems crazy-cakes enough to want to cover up Ian’s involvement with Alison’s murder, even if Ian did have a thing with Alison. Maybe Melissa should get engaged to Noel, and then Spencer should not kiss him.

Do you agree with the three-way PLL decision to hide the fact that they’re continuing to work with Caleb from Hanna? What about Caleb’s and Hanna’s decisions to mutually hide things from each other in order to protect one another?

Phoebe: Mostly, I think bad news bears and I see an explosion of friend drama in the near future (maybe even next week!). But also, it is about time they got some help and told somebody else at least part of what is going on with them.

Chelsea: This won’t end well.

Sarah: As a devoted Hanna-fan, I am mad at her friends’ decision to keep using Caleb behind her back and delighted by her attempt to ruin a USB drive with a blender. The only thing that would have made that reaction better would be if she had tried to ruin it by throwing it in the garbage can instead. “There, it’s gone forever!” I completely think Hanna’s spot-on that A is trying to ruin their relationships (as the A-tag of the burning photographs testifies), and clearly everyone else has experienced this too, so why are they just like, “Yes, but who cares?” about it?

Melissa: I get what Hannah’s motivation is, but I think she’s acting out of a weird mixture of selflessness and selfishness. I mean, they’ve all had to sacrifice their relationships. I get that she wants to save hers, but what if saving it comes at the expense of all the other girls? Also, Caleb was the one who offered to continue the work. If the girls had sought him out, I think I would feel really different about their secrets. But his continuing to investigate really is the wisest decision, so I imagine it would be hard to say no to that. Hannah’s decision to ruin the USB seemed similar to Spencer’s decision to torpedo her relationship with Tobey: an attempt to “protect” the other through lies and control, which never ends well.  If I was Caleb, I would do the same thing. But I think the girls should tell Hannah, and I agree that we’re going to see a friend drama explosion…

Lastly, what do you think of the big reveal that A was tormenting Ali? That was huge!

Phoebe: I thought that was so big! As clearly now we know A predated Ali’s death and tormented her (And then oddly turned to tormenting the PLLs). Thus, the question becomes who would torment Ali? And it doesn’t quite seem like Noel, Garrett, Jenna, and Jason as mostly they seemed concerned (in the super secret video) about things Ali know about them, rather than about tormented her.

Chelsea: Yeah, that was a big thing. I’m surprised it hadn’t come out before now, but I suppose if it was a short-lived torture and Ali hid the evidence, then maybe it was possible to keep that detail under wraps until now. Now, though, I’m confused about whether A killed Ali or not? Again, anything that obvious (“Hi, here’s a note proving that I killed Ali. You’re welcome.”) doesn’t fit with the narrative style of the show, which means: 1) A didn’t kill Ali, 2) A did kill Ali but now someone else(s) has taken on the mantle of being A, or 3) A is everyone in Rosewood except for the PLLs.

Sarah: Wait, I thought we knew that already? From the Halloween flashback episode? But maybe I’m mistaken. In any case, I really like this twist. I think it rules out Jenna as A, because back in the salad days of Halloween she had not yet been blinded by Ali and thus had no reason to hold a big grudge against her and be stabbing pumpkins right and left. She was the hottest Lady Gaga at the party and Noel Kahn was all about her! She had other things on her mind.

Melissa: I realized I never saw the Halloween episode, so I gotta get on that. I think it was intriguing that A was tormenting Ali, as the A/Ali conflation is now an even more interesting tension. A is clearly not just Ali’s possible ghost; she’s also like Ali’s nemesis. Another mean girl? Could it have been Mona? Or Jenna? Or Melissa? I don’t know why I’m thinking more a girl now, but for some inexplicable reason I am….

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