thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “It Happened that Night” (Season 3, Episode 1)

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on June 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

The Prettiest of the Little Liars are back and A is scarier than ever. Last season ended with a Psycho-esque turn. With Mona tucked away safely in a mental institution, the PLLs thought their A-related troubles were over. Sadly for them, but lucky for us, they were wrong. This season looks scarier than ever replete with empty graves, a new and more terrifying A, and much much more. Read on for GLG’s thoughts on this season’s opener.

“Mona played with dolls, I play with body parts”. -A

What do you think about the PLL’s individual states of being? Emily is understandably having a rough time…

Sarah T.: I’m glad they all had prototypical summer activities: Spencer was scholarly, Aria was artsy, Emily was a do-gooder and Hanna had fun with cooking classes and new vocabulary a la Cher from Clueless. (Maybe my favorite moment of the episode was her solemn attempt to comfort Aria by correctly yet oddly using the word “jubilation.”)

Spence and Hanna seem to be the most stable at the moment. It completely makes sense that Emily’s in heavy-drinking and mourning mode: she’s now lost two people she was close with (and with whom she had romantic relationships ranging from semi- to fully-realized). Shay Mitchell did good job of showing how Emily’s sullenness is a cover for the real pain she’s dealing with.

Aria seems more fragile than usual in the aftermath of the A-bathroom scare, which probably has as much to do with the fact that her parents are splitting up as it does how terrifying that hoodie person was. (What happened when the stall door swung open slowly? We never find out. Did she have a panic attack and black out the way Emily did, or was there no one there at that point?) I’ll be interested to see if A is finally going to start coming after her the way A has with the other three girls.

Phoebe: I totally agree about Emily and feel like her response is pretty reasonable. Although, I felt so sad for her when she felt guilty as if A basically abducting her and taking her to an empty grave (ie framing her) was her fault! Also, I thought it was weird that this episode the PLLs were apart so much. Like they were together initially at Spencer’s house and then the Lake house but then spent most of the episode in separate places, which made me anxious!

Also, Aria! So, while the episode totally set us up to believe that she has having a panic attack (what with her earlier bad dream at Ezra’s) I am not sure that she did have a panic attack. I wondered if perhaps A was in the bathroom and being extra scary. Since A seems to always know everything, maybe A knows and is cruelly playing on Aria’s panic attacks?

Lastly, I love that Spencer spent her summer sitting in the former A room at the former creepy motel and trying to reconstruct it from memory. (Although I am worried that her computer will be gone by next episode since she foolishly left it in the room when the PLLs went out to discover all the photos in Spence’s car.) But I love that she realized that there is more to A than Mona and that she decided to be proactive and detective like about it. Go Spencer!

Is Mona faking it? Or is she really crazy?

Sarah T: I think she’s faking the semi-catatonic pose and that she’s crazy. (Crazy like a fox!) That shot of Mona smiling at a vision of Ali reading Lolita in her red coat gave me quite a start, and if Mona’s hallucinating Ali, I’ll buy that she’s legitimately off the hook. But I also think that she must be more conscious of her surroundings than she seems if she’s leaping up to the door to spy on Hanna and Wren.

Also, I’m so glad that Melissa’s wish from last week came true and that Hanna’s visiting Mona and making an attempt to help her old friend — and get some answers about what went so terribly wrong. It’s completely in-character for Hanna not to give up on Mona, even after such a major betrayal — especially given that Mona’s coping with mental illness. I liked how their scenes together showed Hanna trying to figure out how to talk to the friend she thought she knew so well. She’ll chat about feather-top trends and ask if Mona remembers Wren, then remember that she’s talking to A and get freaked out all over again. I’d be just as confused! How do you reconcile the revelation that your best friend is also your worst enemy? You don’t, at least not at first: you swing back and forth between the two extremes while you try to integrate everything you know into a new understanding of just who it is you’re talking to.

Phoebe: I totally agree that Hanna is doing such a good job negotiating a nightmare situation when your BFF turns out to be the one terrorizing you (Also, I’m glad Hanna came clean to the other PLLs that she was visiting Mona). I love Hanna’s fake name that she’s using too! So sneaky! And, I agree that the catatonic state seems fake but that she definitely crazy, which was confirmed as you say, by the vision of Ali. I want more Mona inner monologues like we got at the end of last season too! Lastly, I am pretty confused by Wren’s random appearance at the hospital and it is making me very suspicious of him …

Why would someone steal Ali’s body?

Phoebe: Evidence! Or, at least that’s what Spencer’s mom said (the judge was going to order Ali’s body exhumed perhaps because of the missing autopsy page?). Also, my first thought when I saw that the body was missing was: “Oh my god Ali is NOT dead!” I realize that is crazy given that we’ve seen her body before, BUT what if the autopsy (or I suppose the second autopsy) would reveal that it was not actually Ali in there but her twin! Or, maybe the killer (who is clearly part of the A team) knows that there is something that leads back to him or her on Ali’s body. Maybe a piece of a cashmere sweater? or a Black Swan feather?

Sarah T: Ahh I’m scared it’s to build a real-life version of the terrifying doll diorama! This show gets darker and crazier all the time. (<3 U PLL never change bestfriendsbestfriends.) But I hope it’s evidence, since that would be moderately less horrifying.

Who are the other members of the A team? The Black Swan? And what is afoot with Garrett’s sudden turn towards helpful?

Phoebe: So, clearly we are meant to believe that Lucas is a member of the A team given how suspicious he was acting in the pilot including but not limited to talking to this girl:

Who is she? But now that there is so much focus on Lucas’ shady behavior like being out in the street at night and avoiding the PLLs, I feel like he will be a red herring! Thus, I am wondering, as Spencer said while burning Emily’s clothes, if there is somebody we haven’t met yet that is on the A team or the leader for that matter. Also, I’m so scared that all the boys–Toby, Caleb, and Ezra–are now evil! And, what about Wren?? He was making me nervous all episode.

Sarah T: I don’t think Caleb is evil! I am… on the fence about Toby. He might be evil. (Still hot though.) Ezra too. (Not hot.) I think something is up with Lucas, since it would be too much even for this show to make him a double red herring (gambling problem, my foot). But he’s not necessarily part of the A team. Maybe he’s privy to some intel and he’s trying to figure out what to do about it? Or maybe he’s still mad that Hanna tried to drown him and nobody cared!

Lots of callbacks to the pilot episode in this season premiere. What gives?

Sarah T: Yes! There was the dark and stormy sleepover with a mysteriously disappearing friend (and Spencer being up and about before everyone else). Then we had the Hanna shopping scene where she actively decides not to shoplift, featuring the same song that plays when we first meet her in the pilot. I think the Hanna scene callbacks were definitely meant to illustrate how much our girl has grown. The sleepover callback was to remind us that in a lot of murder-related ways, the PLLs are even worse off than they started.

Phoebe: The opening sequence was awesome and I agree so many moments straight out of earlier episodes. And, that opening sequence was so great because it immediately established that these are very scary times to be a PLL in Rosewood and that the stakes are high and terrifying!

Best premier outfit? And, best hair?

Phoebe: Hanna = best hair! So much cuteness with her curly short hair. Although, I did also like Aria’s hair too. As for best outfit, I think I might also have to go with Hanna and her outfit in the store when her and Spencer were shopping with their moms and particularly before she took off that giant and awesome necklace (so as not to shoplift by accident).

Sarah T: I agree, Hanna’s haircut looks great! And I really liked her strapless maxi-dress with the belt as well as that cute striped jacket and statement necklace in the shopping scene. Do you guys think Hanna is the costume designers’ favorite? I think she and Spencer might be. Emily they are cool with but she’s kind of a jeans-and-t-shirt girl, so there’s often not that much to do, and with Aria they vacillate wildly between edgy fashionista and insane garbage dump/costume shop monster. (Her outfits were looking good in this episode, though!)

Who wins the best scene with love interest award?

Sarah T: This is such a tough question! Sparks were certainly flying between Spencer and Toby in the bedroom scene — I really liked the whole shirt/shirtlessness-related banter they had going there. But as a bit of a Hanna-Caleb shipper I also loved the Dong Pho negotiations in the hallway and the kitchen scene where Hanna teases him about using the word “intimate” to describe their relationship. So on a steaminess vote I’d go with Spencer-Toby, but on an adorableness vote I’d go with H-C.

Phoebe: I agree on both counts! And, of course the WORST relationship moment was Ezra/Aria and their talk of their anniversary and slow kissing with weird and terrible editing. Ugh. Then again, I think their relationship just makes me grumpy.

What do you make of A 2.0: now with more bloodthirst?

Sarah T: Feelin’ frightened! I think Mona was likely a more nonviolent arm of a much scarier A conglomerate. I’m guessing she may start flipping in order to help the PLLs avoid the wrath of A, although it’s definitely too soon to tell…

Phoebe: So scary! Mona, it appears, was only the tip of the iceberg. But, oh man I was SO scared all episode!


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