Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 4, Episode 3 of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars," titled "Cat's Cradle."
I haven't been all too pleased with this season of "Pretty Little Liars" thus far, but the June 25 episode just hit a new low in my opinion.
And this is how it all started ...
The girls are at The Brew with a basket of bird toys (of course), which Emily picked up from Ali's bedroom as a cover for grabbing Ali's notebooks as well -- though they seem to be more interested in the toys than the reading, to be honest.
Mom: "What are they making? Arts and crafts?"
In another corner of The Brew, Ella is canoodling with Zack (who still exists), an interaction Aria refers to as "Eat Bake Love." (Hilariously, my mom and I both thought it was "Eat Big Love" the first time around and thought perhaps the couple was really into the late Mormon show on HBO with Bill Paxton.) "Is it weird to be jealous of your mom's love life?" Aria asks her friends. Yes, Aria. Yes, it is.
Anyway, Zack tells Ella he's moving to Vienna ... or "outside Vienna. In a Castle. On a lake." Only five Americans were chosen for this mysterious Austrian baking program and he wants Ella to join him. He's really using this "castle" to sell it, but Ella isn't buying it. "It would be very impractical," she tells Zack, who assures her that's the whole point. Of going to Vienna. Or outside Vienna. To a castle. On a lake.
Mom: "Why hasn't Zack been at The Brew if he owns it?"
Me: "He's THAT kind of boss. Also, Ella dyed her hair ombre."
Mom: "She is pathetic trying to dress all young because her BF is 20 years her junior."
Meanwhile, the girls find a mask amongst Tippi's aerial things and just then, Melissa walks into The Brew with a very sleek new bob. Spencer walks right up to her big sis and not so subtly suggests how convenient Melissa's timing is.
The next day, Caleb returns! (Haleb fans rejoice, until they remember "Ravenswood" is a thing!) He went to speak with his dad, to tell him he was sorry and that he knew it wasn't him who stole the money from the church. "I should've believed him," he says. Then, they made fish and had dinner. He seems happy about it, but Hanna can barely crack a smile. Caleb assures her that her mom is innocent. "Shoes or no shoes we know she was in New York the night Wilden died," he says.
Mom: "Shoes or no shoes. Haha. Def shoes."
Hanna decides all they have to do is prove that Ashley was in New York that night as they walk by the church's quote of the day: "They whose guilt within their bosoms lie imagine every eye beholds their Blame." -Shakespeare
In another part of Rosewood's bustling center, Ella and Aria discuss Vienna in a completely unrealistic mother-daughter conversation. Also, did she forget she has a mentally-disturbed son?
Speaking of mentally-disturbed, Spence is using the Phone Lookup Doctor, while TobAy is stressing about what happened to his mom, reading the notes from her Radley doctors over and over again. To delve deeper, Spencer agrees to go back to the place that had her rocking back and forth and seeing things that weren't there. Good life choices, Spence. (Sidebar: I called the 717-553-9390 Spencer was looking up and got, "I'm sorry. This number's not programmed to receive messages." Bummer. #IAmLame)
Over at the Marins, Ashley and Hanna are doing what they do best these days: looking at food, but not eating it while having tense conversations. Hanna tries to get her mom to spill about any non-seminar-y things she did while in New York, hoping she'd have receipts or something else to prove her innocence. The only thing Ashley did outside the hotel was see the musical "Anything Goes" on Friday night. She's clearly lying because that show closed in July 2012, which they should know because Sutton Foster left for "Bunheads" on ABC Family. Ashley, get your head in the game, girl.
Meanwhile, at the Parentless Montgomery Household, Jake and Aria are watching "The Big Sleep," starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, with a bowl of popcorn between them. Their legs are crossed away from each other, which -- based on what body language expert Cher Horowitz of "Clueless" taught me -- that is the opposite of "an unequivocal sex invite." And this date sure is absolutely void of any chemistry. Jake gets deep about opposites attracting and then, they say the word "dull" a lot and fittingly so. I wish this kid would "go scratch" for real.
The next day, Emily goes to see the doctor about her shoulder and continues to tell the Pretty Little Lie about falling off her bike.
Mom: "All the doctors in Rosewood are like just out of med school."
He's not buying it, but offers to give her pain meds anyway. Good move, Doc. Turns out, it's the medication Em took that made her plunge into the side of a pool and when she has a skittish reaction, the doctor gets a little concerned.
Hanna stops by Ashley's office with the keys to the car. How did Ashley get to work then, I wonder? Never we mind because Han soon sees something more curious in her mom's wastebasket (i.e. the only thing in her wastebasket). It's a card that came with the flowers on her desk that reads: "Hope you're feeling better. The show was a dud. You didn't miss anything." Of course it was a dud -- it no longer exists! Hanna storms out and Ashley barely makes an attempt to explain. Mrs. Marin has come from behind as the new worst parent in Rosewood.
At school, Spencer is rocking what appears to be a Hot Bun (http://www.buyhotbuns.com/?tag=he|af|mg&a_aid=OF&a_bid=bc922473&data1=4173&sid=36be72c6cf5cf7fa8640ba540db45002) gone horribly wrong. She still can't crack the code with the phone number, while Emily's struggling to get through Ali's journals. But before she can get another word in, her mom comes to pick her up from school and the woman ain't pleased. Emily's doctor called her about the hydrocodone and she is capital A Angry.
Mom: "Emily's mom could use some of those pills to relax."
When Em tries to walk away from the stressful situation, her mom grabs her by the arm and there's a bit of scene. As the two drive away, Aria gets a text:
"Cleaning up Rosewood, one mean mommy at a time. Dig we must. Kisses -A"
Unaware of what's going, Hanna stops by the Rosewood Police Department with some flowers for good ole Mama Fields. Out of the corner of her eye and through the sliver of a partially opened door, she sees a board with Wilden's face on it. Hanna wanders into the conference room to see the tangled web she and the other Little Liars have woven. Next to Spencer's picture it says, "Most to gain?" and little Jake has already made the board too as "Other Man?" Below Wren are the words "'Dr.' Kingston" and Ashley's photo is accompanied by "Seen at restaurant. Relationship?" But good news, Han -- Caleb's looking pretty clean. Just as she reaches into her giant periwinkle purse to snap a photo, Detective McMumbles stops her and #LiarsAreSuspects pops up on the screen. Also, #TheSkyIsBlue. Before she heads out, more worried than ever, Hanna sees Melissa talking to Detective McMumbles.
Meanwhile, Caleb has decided to take things into his own hands and stops by Mr. Marin's office for a little talk, mano y mano. I really want Caleb's jacket and Caleb really wants Mr. Marin to man up and take care of his ex-wife and daughter, who could be facing some serious allegations. "Hanna needs to know you're gonna be there for her," he tells Mr. Marin. "I'll keep all this is mind. Thank you, Caleb," he says dismissively.
Mom: "Caleb wanted to say, 'You're welcome, you dickhead.'"
Hanna certainly is struggling. The poor thing is listening to music and biting her nails, wondering what to do about her mom's Pretty Big Lie. But before she can clear her head, Ashley storms in, accuses Hanna of spying and tells her not to ask any more questions. And that's that.
Since we last saw her, Em has apparently fessed up to her mom about the pills. She's telling Aria the story while she's fidgeting with the mask they found. Suddenly, one of the eyes comes off and Aria peels the layers away of the faux-face to realize it's a plaster replica of what looks like their dead friend (a.k.a. #AliMask). They head over to Hanna's, who decides they must visit the man who made the masks -- his name and website are conveniently stamped on the inside. Aria and Emily are nervous about making moves without Spencer, but Hanna's on the warpath and she won't take no for an answer.
The trio arrives at the creepy studio -- complete with chirping crickets -- but before they can plan how they'll handle the man with the masks, he opens the door. "I like it better when people call first. That's what it says in the ad," says the guy with a massive forehead and butchering apron. Hanna shows him the #AliMask and the only thing he has to say is, "You better come in." They agree, no questions asked because these bitches have gone from brave to dumb in three seconds flat.
Mom: "They tried too hard to make this guy creepy."
Speaking of dumb, TobAy and Spencer are inside of Radley, which didn't change its override codes after all the trouble MonA caused. TobAy takes a tormented trip down memory lane while standing in the window his mom allegedly jumped out of. Spencer goes to the window and realizes TobAy's mom was more likely pushed since there was a pretty big lower roof she would've had to have cleared to make it to the ground.
Inside the dark and dingy studio, the girls ask Hector Lime Dimensional Artist about the mask. "Didn't your friend tell you?" he asks. "No, she didn't. She's dead." He barely flinches at the passing of a 15-year-old girl and then tells the story of his hunt for a Joan of Arc -- "someone young, beautiful and a warrior. Your friend was perfect."
As he starts to go on and on about how Em would actually make a great Medusa, Aria asks him to cut to the chase. He agrees to answer her questions, but in exchange for something else. "What do you want?" Em asks him. "Your face," he replies. As they prepare for step one of the face duplicating process, Hector Lime Dimensional Artist says Ali wanted multiple masks of her face after his Joan of Arc work was done so that "all of her friends could look like her." Hanna decides to leave storytime behind to sneak off into the dark rows of masks and mannequins in Hector Lime Dimensional Artist's studio. Meanwhile, Aria picks up a hammer for good measure. With the process nearly complete on Emily, Hanna finds a mask that's caught her interest and puts it in her bag.
Mom: "It's 3 quarters over and nothing has happened."
Meanwhile, Mr. Marin conveniently finds Caleb walking on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and decides to come clean. He did see Ashley the night Wilden was murdered. She said she needed money, but it was more than he had to give. He stepped out of the room when his wife called for him and when he came back, Ashley was gone ... and so was his gun.
Once Emily's back at home, pulling plaster out of her hair and wondering what she'll look like with snakes coming out of her scalp, her mom comes into her bedroom: Someone's called Family Services on her for the way she treated Emily outside of Rosewood High earlier in the day. Between the bruise on her shoulder, her ulcer, her po po problems, it all adds up. Looks like Pam fell right into A's trap.
Mom: "Well, she did handle that situation outside really poorly."
Meanwhile, Aria is having coffee at The Brew with Jake -- who mocks her iced non-fat mocha as glorified chocolate milk (he really is an a**hole) -- when she sees her mom and Zack having a heart-to-heart. When Zack walks away, Aria goes over and tells her mom to "follow [her] bliss." After a quick chat about vegetarian lasagna and passion, Ella agrees to go to Vienna. "It would certainly be something to tell the grandkids," she says.
Mom: "This is ridiculous. Why Vienna? Ella deserves this? Really?! I think not. Tell the grandkids what? That you are the worst mom ever?"
Hanna brings over what she found at the studio to Spencer's house and turns out it's another mask ... of Melissa. How the girls figured that out, but weren't smart enough to not go into the studio in the first place is beyond me. That looks nothing like Melissa.
Mom: "Why is Melissa's face brown?"
When Hanna returns home, her mom's in the shower.
Me: "I like Han's jacket."
Mom: "Hanna's jacket is pretty."
Me: "Great minds."
Mom: "Her meow shirt is for the birds though."
Hanna and Ashley exchange awkward apologies through the closed door and Ashley assures her daughter that she's fine, but she's really just fully clothed starring at running water so ... not so fine.
Mom: "What is she washing? Or is she going to drown herself? That would be awful."
Spencer is also not so fine, though she puts on a happy face when Melissa walks into her bedroom and says she saw Hanna at the police department.
Mom: "Spencer looks cute and Melissa looks like Weeble 'Glee' Clubber. Werbler?"
Melis starts to get deep about all the people they've lost through the past couple years. "What does it all mean?" she asks Spencer. Spence says it's too late for questions like that. No worries, Melissa has another. She recalls how Spencer once asked her if it came down to protecting Spencer or somebody else, somebody she loved, who would she pick. Melissa turns the tables, asking Spencer, "If you had to choose, what would you do?" Just Pretty Little Lie, Spence and call it a day (or as my mom said, "Say her, Spencer -- or she will kill you!")
Em's trying to call it a day and get some shut-eye, but instead, she gets a text of her mom behind bars. A pretty crappy photoshop job there, A. Her mom comes in -- though her profile's hidden in the shadows -- and tells Emily that her father's coming home. Family Services called him too.
As the credits roll, we see A listening to Delta Rhythm Boys' "Dem Bones" while examining Emily's X-ray. OOOOHHHH. An X-ray?! How scandalous. Where's Tippi eating her brothers and sisters?
Mom: "They obviously are desperate to try to make this episode creepy or scary, but its just B.A.D."
Mom: "That song is really old ... Uncle Harvey was in chorus and I remember we went to a concert and they sang it. It was a weird song then and it's a weird song now."
Quotes of the Night
"I didn't say it like anything." -Spencer
"That ain't no cuttlebone." -Spencer
"You're looking at me like you thought I might steal your chicken satay." -Ashley
"I see a black and white movie on TV and I think something's broken." -Jake, allegedly jokingly
"Vienna is a long way to go for a strudel." -Spencer
"You're welcome. I think." -Caleb
"What? We can't make a move without Nancy Drew?" -Hanna
"I'm not waiting for Spencer because A's not waiting for anyone. Now, c'mon!" -Hanna
"I feel like I just got drafted." -Aria
"Pretty Little Liars" airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family.