Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Episode 19 – TV Review
Hanna Fashionistard Counter:
She’s lucky she looks good as a noir dame.
Our count is now 10 say freak, 9 say chic.
It feels wrong to just have Alison around, now.
4 and a half seasons of her being a mere phantom, and now she’s just like “Yo. Don’t mind me. I’m just chillin.'”
Not to worry, though, because this episode is all an elaborate exhaustion fantasy in Spencer’s drug-addled mind.
ABC Family: where you can go from zero to drug addict in the span of 2 episodes.
TL;DR The Liars still haven’t told Aria that they think Ezra is A; but they do find out that she and Ezra are hooking up again; the rest is just a sumptuous noir fantasy.
The present day plotline only appears to briefly bookend the noir action. The Liars (minus Aria) recover Alison’s diary from Ezra’s desk. Spencer ends up coming to the conclusion that A must have planted it there to fool them, but either way, they’re gonna tell Aria what they think about Ezra. But when they arrive to her house, they see her pashing off with him.
In the noir fantasy, which Spencer goes into arbitrarily, Spencer struggles with her fear of telling Aria the truth, her suspicions about the veracity of the recovered diary, and her own inner demons telling her maybe she knows more about Alison’s situation than she thinks.
Noir Hanna gets to do most of the leg work for the Liars. She tracks Mona and Ezra while they’re conspiring, and puts her telephone switchboard job to use in tracing a call which leads them to Alison’s nightclub hideout.
Noir Aria is just a moody airhead who is still oblivious to Ezra’s obvious evil. Nobody has the guts to tell her the truth.
And Noir Emily gets to have a forbidden love plot line with Noir Paige. It’s sexy. But pointless.
“Sexy but pointless.” That sounds more like a CW show, doesn’t it?
While the whole noir thing is all very darling, it suffers from being utterly unnecessary. All it proves is that the diary is suspect, which the present day Liars had already been thinking.
Other than that, it’s just Spencer wrestling with a couple of emotions, and an excuse to put all our characters in gorgeous period costumes.
Why I hate this episode:
And with only a handful of episodes left to go for the season, it is a most egregious display of filler.
Seriously, the Liars were already on track to realising the diary was iffy. And they’d decided to fill Aria in on their theory as soon as they had proof, which is what the diary is. Everything that happens in the noir fantasy is completely unnecessary.
Noir Alison bitches at Spencer (and, less so, the other Liars) incessantly about how she should just tell Aria the truth and have some backbone. Just tell her yourself, then, woman. She’s right there.
Also, come the fuck on, Spencer. Just tell her. Suck it up.
Emily’s noir plot line is shit. She and Paige just play an abridged version of their earlier struggle with homosexuality. But with costumes! I understand that the gay taboo makes sense for the period setting, but it’s nothing we needed to waste any time on.
Spencer becoming a drug addict is pathetic. And I mean that both as an insult to Spencer, and to the show. Really? She took some pep pills for a couple of days, and now she’s a trembling pill popper? I’m waiting for her to start pawning her family’s stuff (Melissa can be thankful her rings aren’t around this time).
Noir Ezra and Noir Mona kidnap Hanna and hold her hostage. Mona even tells Spencer on the phone that she better hurry up and collect her while she’s still breathing. Which is exactly what Spencer does. She goes to the apartment, has some low-grade sniping with Ezra, then she and Hanna just waltz out. What?
Noir Alison comments on her portrait and has a spiel along the lines of disappearing young means you’re immortal. What is this? The Virgin Suicides? Shut up.
Oh, and the A stinger takes us back into the noir fantasy, with A leaving Alison a telegram to “break a leg.” Which would be creepy and cool, if it wasn’t meaningless because the fantasy wasn’t real. I’ve come to expect better stingers, PLL.
But it’s not all bad:
Aside from its redundancy, the noir stuff is pretty fantastic. Yes, it’s cheesy. But it is beautiful (though I can’t help but think that PLL’s target audience of 14 year-old girls will have no fucking idea what’s happening).
The undeniable highlight is the costuming. Yes, even Hanna looks absolutely incredible. Shitloads of makeup and stylised lighting also shoulder some of the responsibility, but these girls look good. Like, really good.
Alison steals the show when she shows up wearing the same outfit and pose from her portrait in Spencer’s living room. Then she outdoes herself in her glamorous nightclub performance outfit later.
Emily and Paige get to have some impressively steamy interaction during their forbidden love plot. They do a bit of back and forth, trying to draw out the other’s feelings. Then they pounce, pash, shuck their clothes, and get busy on the bed. There’s even bra strap tugging. It’s sweet.
Mona is Ezra’s nasty sidekick in the noir fantasy. There’s a scene where she’s strutting down the street while wearing a fur that is simply divine.
In the opening bookend, the Liars spy Mona going into Ezra’s classroom after they’ve left. She takes an armful of files with her on the way out. There are too many for them to be the dental records that Hanna lost. I’m intrigued.
Best line of the episode goes to Hanna in the opening bookend. She’s trying to convince Emily that things are serious: “Em, get real. This is all about the A-ness of things.” A-ness sounds like “anus,” fyi. They all have a giggle. As did I.
Second best line goes to Noir Hanna, who is displeased when Mona chastises her tailing ability: “I’m not as used to walking the streets as Mona is.” Damn, ABC Family. Prostitute jokes are bit edgy, aren’t they?
Noir Alison goes to slap Spencer because she blames her for Ezra attacking them. Hanna stops her hand and tells a bitch to step off. She’s a good friend.
Alison also accuses Spencer of wanting her dead so she could ascend the ranks and go from no. 2 to no. 1. Probably not a lie, you know. Spencer hits back by accusing Alison of using the Liars as a distraction for A so whatever Alison’s planning will go smoothly. Seems plausible.
Spencer’s fantasy suggests multiple times that she already knows what she needs to about Alison’s situation, she just has to realise it. Come on, then.
Spencer proves that the diary was a plant because it’s been altered. She has photos of its former condition on her phone. God bless Instagram.
Shana is still missing. Good.
Toby plays the hard boiled detective in the fantasy. Being wooden is finally paying off.
Oh, and although Hanna’s present day dress is a bit tummy-much, she knows how to rock some unironic polkadots.