Note: Do not read on unless you've seen Season 3, Episode 12 (the mid-season finale) of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars," entitled "The Lady Killer."
When this highly-anticipated episode started, I will not pretty little lie to you, I was not happy. We see the ambulance that has been teased since last week, Hanna sobbing, Emily befuddled and it's clear -- this mid-Season 3 finale will start at the end. "It's weak. Been done, Marlene," adds my sister, who I watched the episode with separately from my mom.
But we cried "LAME" too quickly because let me tell you, I was white knuckled and shouting at my TV throughout the latter half of this truly frightening mid-season finale.
After the theme song, the show picks up two days earlier at the PHH (Parentless Hastings House), where Spencer, Aria and Hanna are watching the news. Garrett's case is about to start and Mariska pops up on the screen. "I'll bet that's all we will see of Vicki Hastings -- that guest appearance on the news," my mom says, a champion of Mariska. "Are they not even showing her???" my sister asks at the same point. (Note to Marlene: More Mariska.)
The three fourths of the little liars are waiting for Emily, who they lied to (fittingly), telling her they want to apologize. Instead, however, they want to get her the hell away from Paige. Spencer says that by drugging herself, Paige pulled a classic Sharon Stone move from "Basic Instinct" -- a reference neither Hanna nor Aria nor the majority of the viewers, who were born after 1990, understand. (Sidebar: There are ponies on Spencer's dress and Aria's wearing pleather from a very blue future. "Spencer's dress. We get it. You're WASP-y," my sister says, before catching Aria's ensemble. "Straight outta the 'Zenon' wardrobe closet," she adds of Aria, the Supernova Girl.)
Outfits aside, Emily arrives at Spencer's and quickly realizes she is not getting an apology from her three best friends. Aria says she's sorry for lying to her to lure her there, but not for saying what she thinks about Paige. Em thinks they're out of their "friggin' minds," because apparently she's been spending a lot of time in Jersey (a theme of this episode). To convince her about Paige, Hanna, Aria and Spencer show her the earring, but Emily thinks A planted it there and storms out. That went well.
Apparently, the conversation pissed Emily off so much that she didn't go to Rosewood High. "YOU ALL DITCH SCHOOL EVERY DAY," my sister scream-types of this normal occurrence Hanna observes. It's hard to see how Hanna realized anything in the midst of pulling down her way-too-short autumnal striped dress. "Hanna's dress looks like a shirt," my mom says. "Oh look, she put on a jacket, but she needs leggings."
Hanna tells Aria in the Courtyard Class -- the only one anybody at Rosewood High attends -- that Em is M.I.A., but Aria really doesn't GAF (that's "give a f---" for all you viewers born before 1990, i.e. you, Mom) about Emily apparently. Aria tells Hanna about Maggie and the blackmail and the fauxbortion and Ezra's son. Hanna thinks she needs to come clean to Ezra, a suggestion Aria isn't too fond of.
"I like that they can finally say 'abortion' now that we know that Maggie didn't have one," my sister says. "Before it was, 'Took care of it.'" After commending her political observation, she adds, "I'm SUPER political. My comments right now actually all pertain to the RNC. They're applicable to both." (She was DVR-ing both, I'd imagine.)
In the empty halls of Rosewood High, Spencer and Paige are at their lockers, which have been just a few lockers apart from each other this whole time apparently. Spencer confronts Paige, who just wants them to leave a very distraught Emily alone. She's also wearing a hairstyle similar to Emily's -- I guess they braided each other's hair. Spence tells Paige, "If you think I'm going to let you hurt her, you're underestimating me." But the accused retorts: "If you don't back down, you're the one that's gonna get hurt, Spencer." It's more of an attempt by the writers to lead us astray (I assume) that Paige is A, or at least part of the A team. But I'm not buying it.
The confrontation led Paige to visit Emily at home. Em says she's frustrated with her friends and without them to turn to anymore, she tells Paige that someone else helping Mona, a "new A." "Emily may be angry, but she's not stupid," my sister says. "She wouldn't tell Paige all of that."
Well, she did and Paige puts two and two together and realizes that Spencer, Aria and Hanna think she's A and just like that, Paige gets a text:
"10 PM Saturday. Rosewood Cemetery [Paige's finger cover's a few words] hurt. -A"
She lies to Em and says she has some family stuff to tend to and my mom and I think this means that she's already been receiving texts from A -- otherwise, wouldn't she be incredibly frightened to receive an anonymous threatening text?
Back at school, Hanna tells Aria and Spencer that Paige went home from school (in failed Spanish). Aria and Spencer want to tell the police, or at least Em's parents, but Hanna's not on board at first. Eventually, she gives in and just then, they get a text at the same time:
"Stand down, bitches. Play my way and Emily stays safe. -A"
MonA, dressed like a not-so-sexy nurse with ruffled socks and mary-jane flats, escapes from Radley ... way too easily. I had very similar socks in nursery school. "I had them with beads," my sister confirms. "I think we would buy them at the flea market."
After school, Aria, Spencer and Hanna are at the Marin household analyzing the text and suddenly, Spencer gets an email on her iPad -- it's from A.
"Let's settle this. 10 pm Alison's grave. Bring Maya's bag. -A"
There are also photos of Spencer, Aria and Hanna from the night Ali's grave was dug up and another photo of a body bag with the text: "Tell Emily and I'll leaving you holding the bag."
They think there's something in Maya's bag that proves Paige killed Maya. Soon, Caleb arrives and they tell him about the email. Always the hero, he says he's not letting them go alone.
The next day, over at The Brew, Hanna calls Emily from her co-worker's phone to get Em to answer. Emily tells them that she's going with Nate and his parents to the Lighthouse Rock Inn to get away from everything. Emily's mom doesn't seem to keen on the idea, offering to join, but Em's pretty insistent on being with "Maya's family" with everything going on. My sister is worried about Emily too. "Why would it ever seem safe for her to go with Nate after all of his freakouts? 'I know you see me, gurl!'"
Spencer gets up from the table at The Brew and wanders over to a sign for a Halloween party (Do I see another October episode in our futures?) and suddenly, in the reflection of the window the sign is hanging in, she sees Toby.
They run into each others' arms in slow motion and Spencer apologizes for keeping secrets. He tells her she never has to say she's sorry. "That is soooooo 'Love Story,'" my mom says. "'Love means never having to say you're sorry.'" Another reference I'm sure most of the "Pretty Little Liars" audience grasped.
Anyway, Spencer and Toby are pretty nauseating because it's Spencer and Toby a.k.a. Spoby a.k.a. the worst and also, the camera is spinning in a 360 degree angle around them. "Oy. I'm getting nauseous," my mom agrees.
Over at Ezra's, Aria is internally debating whether or not to tell him about Alex Mack when there's a knock at the door. Aria gets it and guess who it is: Alex Mack (not wearing a hat and without Ray). She's shocked to see Aria, but figures there's a reason Aria lied so she plays along and pretends to be meeting her for the first time. "Maggie/Alex Mack is depressing," my mom says. "Her outfit is sooo Chicos." (Note: This may be in the running for my favorite mom comment ever.) "Is that a necklace or is it a fancy cord for her work ID? Either way, its ugly," she adds.
There's someone at the door again and it's Mrs. Rosenthal, Ezra's neighbor. While he smells the bunt cake she made for him, Alex and Aria talk. "I hate when people stick their noses in food to smell it," my mom says as Alex begs Aria not to tell about the non-abortion. "There's more to this story than you know," Alex tells her. Since they know each others' secrets -- or at least, part of them -- Aria agrees to stay tight lipped.
At Hanna's, Caleb is also wearing a grey hoodie like Ezra -- apparently there's a day devoted to them in Rosewood -- and trying to hide a gun, but Hanna sees. She begs him not to take it and he agrees, hiding it in her drawer.
In some shady gas station-looking bathroom that Britney Spears probably wouldn't have gone into barefoot at her lowest point, MonA has changed into her hoodie and she gets a phone call. "I'm here," she says, and after making an angry face, she adds, "I understand."
"Mona looks like she has put a few pounds at the Looney Bin," my mom says. Hoodies are not very flattering.
Over in Spencer's bedroom, she and Toby are about to have sex and my mom and I are about to vomit. No. More. Spoby.
There's a montage of Nate putting a blanket on Emily, Hanna grabbing Maya's bag from her closet, Caleb taking the gun out of the drawer and finally, Aria looking at Alex like she should turn into a puddle of silver goo and slide on out of there.
Then, this conversation transpires:
Mom: "I don't want to want watch Toby & Spencer."
Jaimie: "Me neither. Hopefully he dies.
Jaimie: "I want this to stop
Mom: "At least there are no disgusting sounds accompanying them"
Jaimie: "DON'T COME BACK TO IT
WHY IS THIS SO LONG"
At the same moment, my sister more calmly says, "Ew. Spoby. I don't want it. Immathrowup."
Finally, Spencer and Toby, post-coitus, with too much skin still exposed and head downstairs while my sister begs Spencer to put on some bottoms. Toby tells Spencer he didn't take the job in Bucks County to get away from her and adds that he's exactly where he needs to be. They exchange their first "I love you's," I gag and Toby eyes the door like he'd rather be anywhere but there.
"Toby looks like a Sim," my sister says.
In A's new lair, some scary rock music is playing, as MonA spins around the room looking at the various shrines to the little liars and Ali. Then she says, "Change of plans," to another A we still can't see behind the hood.
Hanna, Caleb, Spencer and Aria are staring at Ali's grave, which no one has filled apparently. Over at the inn, Emily's landline rings and a disguised voice a la the "Scream" franchise tells Emily, "You have one minute. GET OUT!" Unfortunately, that request is not followed by, "Do you like scary movies?"
Nate's nowhere to be found so Emily snoops in his bag and sees the unaddressed note for Maya's parents she had given him to deliver at the beginning of the season. But before she can think too much, Nate's back and she notices there's paint on his shoe. While I assumed, this meant he wasn't a student, but a road worker who paints the stripes on streets, it triggers a different thought for Emily. She looks at pictures of Maya on her phone and sees his shoe in one photo of her at Tru North. "Why wouldn't she try to run instead of looking in his backpack?" my mom asks. "And why wouldn't he get new shoes?" I wonder.
Back at the cemetery, Hanna, Spencer and Aria realize Paige and/or MonA isn't coming so they split up to check out the two Lighthouse Rock Inns: the girls go to the one they find in Bayhead and Caleb heads to another one Belmar, which are both towns at the Jersey Shore.
"Bayhead is nice," my mom adds.
"Well, then it doesn't look like Emily's in Bayhead," I reply.
"Note to Marlene King," my mom says. "Belmar and Bayhead are at the beach; not in the woods."
Ya heard, Marlene?
Quick-thinking Emily decides to go for a walk to make a phone call (a.k.a. escape from Nate). But suddenly, Nate appears uninvited.
"You scared me half to death," Emily says breathily.
"Not really. But I will," Nate creepily replies with a smile.
Back in the room, Nate shows Emily a video diary from Maya, telling her about her Tru North stalker, all while Nate pounds a knife into the table behind Em. "Nate's cray cray," my mom accurately assesses. "And he wears too much mascara." The real sign of crazy.
Nate admits he loved Maya and because Em took her from him, Nate's going to do the same to her. He opens up a closet where Paige is tied up with tape over her mouth. He touches Emily creepily, recalls their kiss and then, when he turns his back, Em grabs her phone. She pleads to Nate, who says his real name is Lyndon James, but no luck.
When Nate goes to the window after he hears something outside, Emily escapes, leaving her beloved Paige behind. "Nice," says my mom, who has apparently transferred her hatred for absent Ella and Bryon in this episode to poor Paige.
Emily heads to the lighthouse in hopes of cell service, a wise place to go since there's nowhere to go from there but dozens of feet down. When she finally gets a signal, she calls 911, but Nate quickly appears and tries to hurt her with the knife. "Emily should have listened to her mother," my mom predictably says.
Em wrestles the knife out of his hands after a lot of struggling and stabs him, just as Caleb arrives to find her shaking. He places his gun down and hugs Emily. As the camera zooms out, a shot goes off. "I just peed in my pants," my mom says. I'm not sure if she's kidding. Over in LA, my sister had this reaction:
"OH NO THE GUN
Next, we're back where we started: ambulances, Hanna bawling and we see Caleb has been shot and is being wheeled into an ambulance. But then, there's another stretcher, with a body bag -- it's Nate's. As Hanna cries, Emily looks stunned, unable to answer an officer's questions while Paige tells the cop about the text she received from A. Paige and Spencer exchange glances and I think Spencer's eyes are saying, "Sorry."
The girls (Paige not included) head to the hospital, where Emily's mom meets them. She says Caleb's in surgery and soon thereafter, the girls' phones go off. Emily answers and the same disguised voice says, "Emily. I owe you one."
Then, Mariska and Garrett walk in and he's in plain clothes. Garrett's out of jail now that the police know Nate killed Maya and he looks at the little liars creepily. I'm freaking out. "OH MY GOD. Two parents; one room." "This is huge," my sister says. But because there are too many moms around for "Pretty Little Liars" to handle, the scene ends.
Now, outside Radley, MonA's back in her frilly socks, walking with a hooded figure. She tells her still-hooded A, "If I knew Nate was going to get Garrett out, I would have stayed in tonight. You have to get Maya's phone back. It shouldn't be too difficult -- Paige doesn't even know she has Maya's phone. Sucks we didn't get to make that phone call. 'Ring ring. What's Paige's doing with Maya's cell phone? O-M-G. She must be the killer.' Oh well. Even the best laid plans go awry."
As MonA enters the building, the hooded figure turns around. It's a werewolf. It's Marcia Brady after she got hit by the football. No! It's Toby.
"SHIT," I caps lock scream.
"He is a shit," my mom says. "Poor Spencer -- she will be devastated she slept with an A."
"Hole," I add.
Back in the new A team lair, Toby calls in his disguised voice to book two tickets to the Halloween party Spencer saw advertised earlier. Turns out, we won't have to wait too long for more "Pretty Little Liars" -- there's a Halloween special coming in October.
I have to say, more questions were answered than I thought would be in this mid-season finale. But there are plenty more to answer. "So if Toby is an A, where does Jenna fit into this equation?" my mom asks.
After a while, she decides to write the plot herself ...
"There is nothing redeeming about Toby. If I were writing this, I'd make Spencer pregnant," she says.
"WHAT," I ask. Again, sorry for the Kanye typing, but I was truly confused.
"Like a 'Rosemary's Baby' thing going," she says. "And Toby would do a 360 and be nice and rat out the A's and they could all live happily ever after. But watch out for the second generation of A's. Get it? The baby??? Haha. The end."
No. No, I don't. Marlene, ignore that one.
Quotes of the Night*
(*which are few and far between because most of this episode was spent scaring us shitless instead of making us laugh.)
"Things just went from worse to worser." -Hanna
"That's not a word, but continue." -Spencer
"Yo hablo sicko ... She went home sick." -Hanna
"I get Mona being fashionably late, but Paige? Something's not right." -Hanna