Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 3, Episode 15 of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars," titled "Mona-Mania."
Lena Dunham clearly does not watch "Pretty Little Liars" ... or at least, I hope she doesn't because -- Hilary Swank jab notwithstanding -- I would question her decision to thank Chad Lowe -- the man who plays Byron Montgomery, who may just be the most twisted resident of Rosewood -- in front of millions of people.
And here's why ...
This week's "Pretty Little Liars" episode opens with Aria watching a black-and-white movie -- because she would -- when Byron walks in and says, "I think I've seen this one" ... as if the 1937 thriller she's watching, "Night Must Fall," is an episode of "Law & Order: SVU." (I wish. Boy could use a visit from an elite squad of detectives known as the Special Victim's Unit.) He proceeds to apologize to dagger-eyed Aria about accusing her of setting off the explosion that burned Meredith's wrist. But Aria isn't buying it so he decides to break the silence with: "Oh, I have seen this one. The guy keeps a severed head in a hat box." And with that, he's off.
Byron, a suggestion. Learn from the wise words of this trio of women, T-Boz, Chilli and Left Eye (RIP): "So I creep. Yeah. Just keep it on the down low. Said nobody is supposed to know." Seriously, Mr. Montgomery: Are you trying to make it apparent that you're the biggest creep in Rosewood?
An aside: The lead actor in "Night Must Fall" earned on Oscar nomination for his performance ... and his name is Robert Montgomery. Coincidence? (Yes, I absolutely googled to learn all of that because I prefer films like "Troop Beverly Hills," but I was curious.)
Over at Rosewood High, Spencer, Emily and Hanna and (in answer to my mom's question: "How do these girls get into the school at night?") once again managed to bobby pin their way in at night to get Ali's journal. (Mom, has Spencer not taught you anything?!) On the way to Norman Bates' dungeon, they discuss whether or not Garrett's story about Byron and Ali could be true and when they get into aforementioned dungeon, Emily conveniently can't seem to find the light switch despite the fact that hallway is relatively well lit. Spencer turns up her Spidey Sense and realizes there's someone else in the room and just then, a hooded figure bolts out of the room. No one gets a good look at his face, but we do get one of his sneakers. Spencer then finds the switch within seconds (of course) and any trace of Norman is gone, except for Ali's journal. Spencer's not buying it so she flips through the journal.
"Keep moving, ladies. Nothing to see here. - A"
The next day at The Brew, the girls are downing caffeine and reminiscing about their nightmares when MonA interrupts to tell them she's been having trouble resting her crazy head too since things went down with Norman. She says they spoke on occasion at the Lost Woods Resort and he started stalking her. After the explosion, MonA told her parents it was him and now he's "gone completely off the grid."
Jaimie: "Oh, Mona. You're full of it. But your outfit is cute."
Mom: "Mona looks pretty but she's so obvious and so annoying. She always looks like she is up to no good."
Though the Liars are grateful that MonA has cleared their names, they're not buying her story either and Spencer says, "We don't owe her anything." She uses her words, but she didn't really need to -- we could understand her thoughts with her eyebrows, the star of this week's episode. "I think there's more to the story," Hanna says.
Back at Rosewood High in the daylight, the camera pans up from a pair of sneakers that look suspiciously identical to those the hooded figure was wearing the night before ... it's LucAs! Hanna bluntly points her finger at him and asks, "Why were you there?" Apparently, the black hoodie and lack of Norman's belongings didn't have Hanna wondering if Lucas was part of the "A" Team; she just wanted to know why he was in Norman's dungeon in a black hoodie in the dark. Obviously. He simply and softly says that he was "looking for something." "Why does Lucas always whisper?" my mom asks. Well, he explains in many words that he's f---ing terrified of MonA and that someone has to get rid of her. Hanna realizes that he set off the explosion (not Norman) and wonders why he can't simply try "a restraining order or a can of mase?" But those options don't seem to satiate LucAs.
In class (yes, shocking), Paige is looking and acting crazy. She can barely stand still and yet, she had time to do that very impressive fishtail braid. Anyway, Paige says she has to go home right after school because her parents are being "cautious" like Emily's ever since Halloween. But Rebel Without A Braid Emily says they need to get out: Totally normal swim team party in the woods, she asks? Paige is in and she best start searching for some Xanax.
In an empty classroom elsewhere, Aria pays her mom a visit and they reminisce about the night Ali died. Ah, good times. "OMG Ella & Byron are in the same ep! Shocking," my mom exclaims. It really is. Ella feels badly about celebrating her "night off from the kids" with a lot of red wine (courtesy of Byron) ... so much red wine in fact that Ella didn't hear the storm or anything else that night (murder included).
Mom: "I'm hanging my head in shame and I hate to admit this, but I like Ella's shirt."
Jaimie: "I won't tell anyone. It's very you."
Over in the cafeteria for a decathlon gathering, adorably non-nerdy nerd Andrew tells the team that Brad is out of the competition after a nasty fall from his bike, thanks to a "faulty nut." (Phrase of the night). And look who's conveniently there to take his place? MonA! Her doctors did say "joining school activities is part of her recovery" after all.
Mom: "Who is this guy?"
Jaimie: "I think he's Spencer's new love interest. Look out, TobAy."
Mom: "He has the Rosewood 'do. Where did this team come from?"
Jaimie: "Don't know, but at least now the bike situation makes sense."
Mom: "It was bad little MonA! Everything is like so easy for her."
Jaimie: "Right? She's so cute if she wasn't such a faulty nut."
Mom: "She's the devil and cray cray. That's deadly."
Spence and MonA are now both seeking the team captain position and when the half-dozen people on the team vote, it's a tie. You know what that means: Time for a quiz-off! Spencer offers MonA an insincere (and borderline demonic), "Good luck!" I really wish I could make that audio an alert on my phone. Perhaps a morning alarm?
Anyway, after the meeting, Spencer gets a text from "A" that reads, "Quit while you're head, bitch." She's looking right at MonA at the time so if she didn't send it ... Who the fAck did?
In the courtyard, the girls discuss MonA's motives in regards to the decathlon when the devil in question comes over to apologize.
Mom: "Look! It's still springtime in November in Rosewood."
Jaimie: "Maybe fall. They do appear to be wearing light sweaters, after all."
Mom: "Oh noooo! I have Mona's shirt."
Jaimie: "HAHAH. I thought it looked familiar."
Mom: "I'm upset."
Jaimie: "Don't be upset. It's an adorable top!"
Mom: "And worst of all it looks better on her and she's the DEVIL. She probably stole mine. I have to go see if mine is gone."
Jaimie: "Radley must have a tanning bed. Girl is looking orange."
Spencer calls her out on the text, but MonA says it can't be from her since "no texting, no internet" were part of the terms of her release from Radley. Then how'd she film that video confession and send it out to everyone and their mothers? MonA claims she filmed it during her supervised time in the computer lab, where Jason serves as her "internet nanny." Then MonA's former best friend Hanna calls her out on going in and out of Radley and she basically breaks down in faux tears. Unlucky for MonA, Hanna has only just begun.
Meanwhile, in Ella's still-empty classroom, Meredith confronts her about her earlier conversation with Aria she happened to notice. "MYOB, Meredith!" my mom shouts via IM. Ella does the ABC Family equivalent of telling her to "f--- off": She'd rather "monitor a detention" than talk to Meredith.
Mom: "I'm almost liking Ella."
Jaimie: "ME TOO."
Mom: "I like Aria's outfit."
Jaimie: "What's HAPPENING TO THE WORLD?!"
Mom: "I know."
After school, Hanna and Emily head to Aria's where they discuss about Ella's recounting of the night Ali died. A "queasy" Aria is defending her obviously guilty dad and checks her boot where she hid the pages they'd ripped from Ali's journal to back up her belief that Byron could be innocent. But surprisingly, the pages are gone. Byron sees the girls rustling through Aria's closet and asks, "Did you lose something?" before going on an incredibly obvious rant about how Aria used to hide her Halloween candy in her snow boots to prevent Mike from stealing it.
Mom: "Byron is a major creeper. And he always wears the same shirt and tie."
Jaimie: "It's like he's trying to be obvious."
Mom: "He probably spies on the girls when they have sleepovers. MIKE?! They have the nerve to mention MIKE???"
Jaimie: "It's a very Montgomery episode."
After Byron "gets out of [their] hair," Aria can't deny it anymore. "He knows," she says. Duh.
Over at the Parentless Hasting House, TobAy is quizzing a very stressed Spencer for the quiz-off and -- barf bag moment -- offers to "rub [her] shoulders between rounds." But he can't because he has "dinner with [his] boss." TobAy has a boss?
Mom: "Who? Mona?"
Jaimie: "What is his job?"
Spencer doesn't seem suspicious for whatever reason and proceeds to tell TobAy she knows MonA picked the decathlon to "bait" her and "the only way to stop her is to beat her fair and square." Get out those flash cards, bitches.
Then, excitingly, we follow Hanna to a new locale: Lucas' bedroom, which is predictably full of action figures still in their boxes, comic books and bunks beds.
Mom: "Nice room, Luke."
Jaimie: "Oh, yes. Very adult."
Mom: "Like '40-Year-Old Virgin.'"
Jaimie: "Except he's 17 so it's more acceptable."
Mom: "I guess."
He tells Hanna that he's leaving Rosewood High because MonA "can't get to [him] if [he's] home-schooled." Right. He starts to explain his history with MonA: She's been blackmailing him since the masquerade ball over the fact that he sells test answers to any course the school offers. He never really did anything particularly problematic for MonA -- more like picking up envelopes from Jason DiLaurentis and whatnot-- but when he said he wanted out, she tried to run him over ... and by she, he means TobAY; he just doesn't know it.
Over at Aria's, Byron and Meredith are having a fight. He tells her that she "can't walk away in the middle of this" and grabs her bandaged wrist. "I will not let you run away from me," he shouts. But when Aria asks what's going on, he just says, "Everything is fine" and shuts the door in her Pretty Little Face.
Mom: "CALL DYFS, ARIA!"
Mom: "How could she live with him?"
Jaimie: "I know. It makes no sense. Why wouldn't she live with Ella?"
Mom: "I get that that house is so nice ... I guess Ella had a bad divorce lawyer otherwise she would have gotten the house."
Jaimie: "So true. It makes no sense."
Mom: "And where does invisible Mike live these days?"
Jaimie: "At Radley?!"
Aria follows Meredith to The Brew -- which appears to be the only establishment in town because I guess Lucky Leo's and the Apple Rose Grille shut down -- and they have an "honest" conversation.
Jaimie: "Aria's outfit got worse.
Mom: "Cute outfit for Aria."
Jaimie: "MOM! That bolero?!"
Mom: "I like the shrug."
Jaimie: "I don't know what to say. I hardly know you."
Mom: "Aria is so pretty she could be in a potato sack and she'd look good."
Meredith saw Bryon rustling through her bag, thinking it was Aria's, and found the pages of Ali's journal in his drawer. She admits he came to see her the night Ali disappeared and he accused Meredith of being behind Ali's extortion attempt. Then, he left and went to go meet Ali ... and we all know how that turned out.
In one of the girls' favorite locations -- the woods -- Paige and Emily are on their way to the party when Paige -- wearing a flannel, beanie and a vest (we get it wardrobe team!) -- has a panic attack. "I can't do anything since Halloween," she says. She doesn't even have any restrictions from her parents; she's just scared to leave the house. "All I can think about is when the next bad thing is gonna happen," she adds. Emily's solution? "Why don't we go for a little walk" in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night? Awesome. Off they go.
Mom: "I feel badly for Paige."
Jaimie: "Me too. She's the only one reacting normally to all the shit that's happened to them."
When they get back to the car, Paige has a flat and it turns out, someone slashed her tire. Emily sees a hooded figure in the bushes and does the only logical thing: chases him! Turns out, it was TobAy, who managed to evade Emily's hunt for him.
Mom: "So that was the Tobmeister, but why would he slash the tires just to scare them?"
Jaimie: "Exactly. What was his intention in going there? To run away from them?"
Mom: "What did that accomplish?"
Jaimie: "Nothing #thisshowmakesnosensebutiloveit"
The late-night quiz-off is underway and Spencer has regressed to her former wardrobe from an "American Girl" doll.
Jaimie: "Oh my God"
Mom: "Is Spencer wearing pedal pushers or riding pants?"
Jaimie: "This is a serious style setback."
Mom: "Mona's hair looks greasy and she has a door knob sticking out in the back of her head. If looks could kill ... "
Jaimie: "Seriously. Spencer has pretty eyes."
Mom: "She also has the last pair of pedal pushers left in the world."
There are many close-ups of their faces spewing trivia, bells, stop watches and tallies. I know very little of what they're talking about, but I do know Spencer gets too cocky and blanks on the winning question. MonA gives the correct answer and she's crowned team captain. They celebrate at (drumroll) The Brew and Hanna heads over to console an unraveling Spencer.
Mom: "Mona needs to wash her hair."
Jaimie: "And get lipstick from this century."
Mom: "And stop wearing her mom's earrings. And get the knob removed from her head."
Jaimie: "I think the hair is a bow. Just sayin'."
Hanna pulls Crisco-ed MonA aside and calls her out on all her "bullcrap." "I know your'e still 'A'," Hanna says, citing the situation with Lucas. Before MonA can explain herself, Hanna cuts her off: "I don't wanna see you. I don't wanna hear from you. I don't wanna know you." If you aren't cheering at this point, there is something wrong with you.
Mom: "Is bull crap is that like bullshit?"
Jaimie: "On ABC Family, yes."
Mom: "Rosewood style."
Back at the PHH, Spencer is icing her head with an old-timer ice pack from the same era in which she purchased those pants. Suddenly, Hanna get a text: "Cut Mona off? Big mistake. You're not the only one can slice and dice. - A." They decide it's 100 percent not Lucas, so that means there must be more "A's" out there.
Meanwhile, Paige and Emily have somehow safely made it back home and there's another major reveal: Paige is sporting a half-head of cornrows and as far as we know, she did not just return from a tropical island. She's also amazed by Emily's
stupidity fearlessness. "You refuse to be scared even after everything that happens," she tells Em. But Emily admits she's more angry than scared and pissed because neither of them deserves to live like this. She also suggests Paige consider seeing a therapist, which is interesting considering she's the only one reacting normally to being attacked and blackmailed. Nevertheless ... Paging, Dr. Sullivan!
Mom: "Emily sounds like the parent. But it's nice she is concerned for Paige."
Jaimie: "Well, she's been through a lot. (Dayenu.)"
Over at a house that Aria still inexplicably lives in, her new BFF Meredith offers her some tea -- it's her herbal "power house potion." Has Mer been poisoning Aria -- hence the not-so-good feeling Aria's had throughout the episode? It seems very possible. "Thanks ... " Aria tells Meredith before a long pause. "For the tea."
The episode closes with the "A" Team up to no good: Byron leaves his office, while teeny tiny MonA in a giant hoodie is tracing every move and over near a campground (8 miles away, to be exact), another hoodie is burying jester and phantom masks as a train whizzes by.
Mom: "Campground? And a train?"
Jaimie: "What is that about?"
Mom: "No idea, but most people ride the train to the campgrounds."
If you recall from the Halloween episode -- which I personally had to revisit since it was so chockfull of information -- Caleb was wearing that phantom mask, but so was someone else ... and whoever was behind the jester roofied Aria and tried to choke Spencer and throw her off the train until Paige came in and saved the day -- but not before we saw one of the jester's long red fingernails.
I have to say, it was very satisfying to watch an episode that answered some of the many ridiculous questions "Pretty Little Liars" raises and then leaves hanging in air: We found out why that "A" targeted that ginger, who the hooded figure was in the basement and were revisited something from a few episodes ago. I'm shocked, but pleased.
Quotes of the Night
"I have enough daddy issues of my own. I can't deal with having issues about her's too." -Hanna
"You deserve a medal" -Aria
"No one is sipping her cuckoo juice." -Hanna
"Thank you for helping my freshmen to remember that TMZ is not the only source for current events." -Ella
"So put on your Hastings face and spank her tomorrow night like I know you can." -Andrew
"It was certainly calculating, but I wouldn't call it trig." -Aria
"You like strong women, right?" - Paige
"I don't wanna see you. I don't wanna hear from you. I don't wanna know you." - Hanna (It was too good not to include twice)
"Pretty Little Liars" airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC Family.