thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “A Kiss Before Lying” (Season 2, Episode 17)

In Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps, The Bachelor, Uncategorized on February 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

This week we encounter our prettiest of liars as they say I love you for the first time; discover bruises on their fake boyfriends; happen upon false identities and fake hairstyles; and protect those most dear to them. Read on for thoughts and opinions on the PLLs!

Darkbloom, I presume.

What’s with this dark-haired, Lolita-inspired, wig-wearing, alternate-identity-having Vivian Darkbloom madness? Also, is there an anagram of your name as amazing as Vivian Darkbloom, or was Vladimir Nabokov just a lucky devil with a lot of letters to work with?

Phoebe: This was most certainly my favorite part of the episode. I love Ali’s alternate identity situation and what a great name (lucky Nabokov! I definitely do not have as awesome an anagram). And I am really intrigued by this literary mystery that has developed in this episode. Also, are there two Ali’s? I think maybe! Also, that brown wig was fairly ridiculous. Just saying.

Sarah: First of all, all the anagrams of my name are dumb and I am shocked and grateful that more people from my childhood didn’t jump on the letter-scrambling teasing possibilities. Second of all, I agree that the Lolita literary mystery is very intriguing–especially on a show that’s all about men (looking at you, Ezra, Ian, and Wren) who are attracted to underage girls. Ali in particular was sexualized by others in ways that turned out to be very dangerous, while also attempting to wield power through her sexuality. And it makes sense to me that Hanna would borrow the book from Ali, because Hanna was trying to cast herself in Ali’s mold and Ali was (maybe) looking to Lolita for inspiration… Also, unrelatedly, but I was really confused about why on earth Ali would wear a wig to a hair salon. Were they styling her wig for her?

Melissa: I’m with Sarah. What’s with a wig-styling appointment? And seriously, if you said, “Vivian Darkbloom” in any serious situation, would you ever be taken seriously? I think not. Great name; worst undercover name ever!  I’m like, “Oh sure, and would you like a crumpet, a carriage, and a handmaiden?” But I love this twist, with its hint of espionage. And it makes sense. Ali definitely had to be involved with something darker than just making out with dorky wanna-be frat boy lacrosse coach losers.

Hanna’s getting hit hard this week: she’s scared her friends are freezing her out, then it turns out they’re lying to her (along with her boyfriend); Kate’s back in play and being terrifying just by smiling and acting meek; A’s threatening to tell the police about the mad cash money her mom keeps in the lasagna box. What are your thoughts on the travails of young Ms. Marin?

Phoebe: I felt so bad for Hanna in this episode and I would be terrified of Kate. I felt like Hanna’s fish related description of Kate to Spencer was awesome and on point. Well played, Ms. Marin. And I thought A bringing up the money stealing from last season (with Mrs. Marin) seemed somewhat random and grasping at straws, which makes me think that there must be something valuable on the phone!! I want Caleb to keep trying to get the pictures/video to work …

Sarah: I really liked that the show had Hanna dealing with odd-woman-out anxieties, because that’s something I think all teenagers/people can relate to. And I was really interested in the way the show explored the Spencer-Hanna friendship this week, with Spencer sighing that she was bottom on the totem poll when Hanna called her last, but also being the friend who seemed most worried–and guilty–about lying to Hanna.

Melissa: I thought it was fascinating that I had never before noticed: Hanna is the only blonde! Seeing her blonde head bobbing in a sea of brunette was especially intriguing when juxtaposed against that late scene where Ali goes from brunette to blonde with one deft wig flip. I felt so bad for Hanna, too, though I didn’t get why she lashed out at Spencer about getting frozen out. I mean, yeah, Spencer is often the bully, but the other girls (and Caleb! thank God she called him out too!) were equally responsible and the only reason they weren’t around for a tongue-lashing was because they were off chasing true love. It made me feel bad for both Spencer and Hanna; they seem to get hit the hardest by A in terms of relationships lately (I guess I just don’t take Ezra/Aria seriously enough to feel that bad about it). They should stick together. And not watch The Notebook, because it’s awful. What about Fast Five?

In an unrelated note, it was awful of A to send the naked pictures of Kate via Hanna’s phone. Oh. So. Bad. I feel awful for all parties involved, and no good shall come of it, though I think the aftermath shall involve the pictures of Kate’s past skin condition….

How scary was the Garrett intimidating Caleb moment? And how do you feel about Hanna telling him the truth (more or less) about A? 

Phoebe: I thought it was SO creepy that Garrett just pulled up as Caleb leaving and all those shots of his hip and (gun perhaps) were super creepy. As was the A tag at the end, I might add, wherein A takes the gun from Spencer’s dads desk. That makes me think more about Melissa being involved in the A situation.

Sarah: This is the second week in a row that Garrett and Caleb have had a run-in, right? I was relieved Hanna told Caleb the truth about her mom and the money and at least part of what A’s up to, because if their relationship is going to make it she has to be able to talk to him about these problems. But I’m also worried about Caleb Knowing Secrets, because that often spells doom on this show (as with Dr. Ann). Also, this was a subtle moment, but I really liked the way the show handled class in their conversation about the Marins’ financial problems last year. Hanna basically says, “Last year, we were really poor” and Caleb doesn’t turn this into a discussion about him, because her experience is legitimate, but he also gently says, “Explain more about what you mean by that, because what poor means to you isn’t necessarily what it means to me as a person who’s been in the foster system for much of my life.” Just a nice, small moment acknowledging privilege while showing that class and poverty are relative.

Melissa: I don’t like A with a gun!  At all!  So creepy. And Garrett, as often is the case, just makes me laugh and laugh. I’m like, “Oh, I think you’re trying to show Caleb your gun, but what it really looks like is my, don’t I have many dangerous things on my belt…or do I? Could be a Pez dispenser…Could be a jerky snack…Could be a taser…Shall we find out?” But it was creepy to see Caleb looking so frail and helpless with his bike before the revving engine of the car with sirens. Cars seem to be a frequent weapon in this show. Also, has Garrett gone nuts? Is he just running around leveling threats even though he’s been (supposedly) cut out of the A-loop?

Spencer is also having a hard time this episode. Lying to Hanna is really getting to her, as is Toby’s absence. Your thoughts?

Phoebe: Spencer does seem to be having a hard time! I liked her reveal and their reconciliation at the end. I feel like Toby’s leaving is really difficult for her (and rightly so) and when she described driving the car back to his folks’ house and sitting and listening to the radio, it was so sad.

Sarah: The actress who plays Spencer is so good at playing her character’s vulnerable moments–and balancing those out with her fundamental strength and her doggedness when it comes to mystery-solving. Between her bonding session with Mona a couple episodes ago and her heart-to-heart with Hanna here, she’s winning me over more and more.

Melissa: You know that I love Spencer sooooooooooo much. I can so resonate with her right now! She’s the tough leader, who’s always acted as though nothing gets to her, but the loneliness is eating her alive right now. She wants to reach out, but she’s afraid to, because reaching out has always ended badly for her – which A brought home by throwing her boyfriend off a scaffold. I’m so glad she and Hanna reconciled, that she was able to ask Hanna for help, because I think Hanna of all people gets what it is to feel lonely and is less likely to go gallumphing off into love land. Seriously, in case you haven’t picked up on it  yet, I’m seriously annoyed at Aria and Emily for drifting along in a world of love while Spencer and Hanna are getting the snot beat out of them by A.

What’s going to set off uber-WASP/evil stepsister Kate more: the reveal about her skin condition at camp, the naked photo of her in the locker room, or all of the above? 

Phoebe: Oh my god, I am so worried for poor Hanna! Kate is super scary and I loved Spencer’s plan to blackmail her. So smart, Spencer! I am hoping that she will just run away and never come back. That would be amazing …

Sarah: I don’t entirely understand this subplot: so Kate got a bunch of bad bug bites when she was 13? But then they lasted all summer at the horseback riding camp? And now this proves that once, several years ago, she didn’t look the way she does now (Barbie-esque) so she must not be scary? I get that she’d be embarrassed about old pictures and not want them to get out, but I don’t understand how this means she’s not frightening in the present. The naked photo seems more upsetting and awful by a good measure. A is the worst when it comes to Hanna and Emily.

Melissa: I’m wondering if the naked photo will undermine the power of Spencer’s blackmail. Who cares about your 13-year old skin condition if everyone has seen your naked body now? I can’t read Kate enough to guess yet. She really seemed like she was trying to fly under the radar, but I’m pretty sure that she’s going to be awful now. As will Hanna’s dad. Maybe Hanna’s grandma will come back, because that would be the best in this situation. Jeez, how does A get in the girls’ locker room during school and Spencer’s dad’s desk drawer at night? Gotta be multiple people in the A-glomerate.

Why does Holden have so many bruises?

Phoebe: I think it is clearly because he is in a fight club! That’s my answer and I am definitely sticking to it, even it proves out that might not be true.

Melissa: Secret boxing club, was my thought. Ultimate fighting. Or he’s a drug dealer and got beat up for a bad sell. No, it’s ABC family; he has a gambling problem and got beat up for trying to sell a crappy comic book. Maybe he got thrown off a scaffold into a boat that then flipped over and dumped him in a lake which had a bell from a bell tower in it and he got a bruise from banging off the bell while thrashing around and trying to declare his secret, burgeoning love for Aria underneath the drowning, cold water. That’s probably it. It looked like a bell-bruise.

And lastly, but by no means least, thoughts on the Maya and Emily ‘I love you’? And the disastrous family dinner?

Phoebe: I thought the I love you was super sweet and that the way in which Maya turned her room into a pool/underwater. It was so so loving! I am still nervous about her ex boyfriend from the Shady Pines or Nature Pines or whatever that place was called. Also, that dinner with Emily’s mom was SO terrible and uncomfortable. Oy vey. But I’m glad Emily and Maya made up and got to kiss a lot this episode.

Sarah: I’m down with the “I love you”s and agree that the bedroom makeover was very sweet, but I don’t really understand why Maya was so terrible at the dinner. She was such a jerk! I can’t help but feel that Emily deserves someone who’s more of a grown-up. (I mean, not an actual grown-up. There are more than enough adult-teen relationships on this show as is. Just, a more mature kind of lady.) But I guess Emily does tend to go for the impetuous types…

Melissa: I don’t trust Maya. I was very happy about their relationship when it re-ignited, but now I think Maya is acting crazy-train! Okay, I know, saying I love you is super-intense, especially if you’re in high school, but her face right before she told Emily was LIKE WHOA. I loved the underwater room thing, but CONTROL YOUR FACE – it was like eye-laser-scary-stare! And it was before school, so like 7am if you went to school like mine, and what, she knew Emily was coming over and just had the water lights going, or she just likes to pretend she is a goldfish? And what happened to Mrs. Marin’s rule about no sig-others up in bedrooms? Just saying. I feel like the show has gotten more sexy than in the past, where we had clear rules about gfs/bfs in bedrooms and where Aria and Mr. Fitz seemed to be enthralled in the passion of ordering takeout and watching indy films. Now they’re all macking it in the office and Emily and Maya are snuggling in bed. Remember when it was scandalous that Tobey and Spencer did a hotel room stakeout together even though they weren’t dating? I’m not complaining; just noticing. Also, I don’t trust Maya because of how flirty she seemed with Noel Kahn. The “Oh, I’m still just mad at your mom” line seemed too easy. But then again, maybe this show is just reinforcing my inner cynicism and making me paranoid.  That face, though…that intense kissing face….

  1. Also, I didn’t want to put this in the actual post, but I took a page full of notes because I was getting around to watching laaaaaaaaaaaaaate last night and kept forgetting things. I think my notes are funny, and this is what it looks like to be my brain watching this show. Apparently, with one beer, it looks a lot like capital letters and exclamation points:

    Saying Emily out loud?
    “There are just certain situations where you have to lie to your friends.”
    POOR HANNAH! – Brunettes versus Blondes.
    Aria is so funny in the car!

    LOVE SPENCER wearing Tobey’s shirt. Dogs with wheels for legs!


    FLASHBACK?@!! A’s new eyes.
    Investigative alterego!
    Poor Spencer getting blamed 😦

    What happened to Ms. Marin’s no sig-o’s in the BR rule?

    SPENCER’S HAT! Poor choice, along with the weird string of questions. INVESTIGATIVE SLEUTHING PROWESS PLEASE.
    She’s [I think meaning Kate] just like Ali – alter-ego. And Hannah is a poop sandwich.
    Spencer protecting Hannah! Top 10!

    BIKE BOY vs. COP
    Garrett is a sociopath!
    Why does it end up being Spencer’s fault?
    Maya is freaking me out!

  2. ahahahahaha i love those notes so much. if you continue taking pll notes i totally want them as part of the weekly feature. my favorite one is WORST LIARS – WORST LIARS! it sounds like it should be flashing across the bottom of the screen in big red letters, but also i have no idea what it’s talking about.

    • I think my thought was something akin to this: “For all the lying these girls do on a regular basis, they are not being very good liars…THEY ARE THE WORST LIARS TODAY!!!” It’s a secret shorthand…

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