Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 2, Episode 20 of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars, entitled "CTRL:A."
Apparently, Emily is back on the Sharks swim team because all of the "Pretty Little Liars" are gathered at Rosewood High waiting for her and the other swimmers: Hanna and Caleb canoodle on a bench and talk about "hot spots," while Aria and Spencer mention they're finally meeting up with the guy on the other end of the phone who knew "Vivian."
Aria says their moms talked and Spencer's Oliva Benson look-a-like mother wants her to come home, but she's not going to because she can't deal with her family. Since they are literally never home, that makes sense.
Finally, Em and the Sharks arrive. Maya holds up her admittedly dorky sign, Spencer offers a "Way to go, champ" and Hanna says the party's at her place.
But the mood sours when Garrett and another officer walk into the school. They approach Caleb and Garrett says he has a court order to look at his laptop because someone's been hacking into school computers and the trouble traces back to Caleb's IP address. But he's not worried -- it'd take more than a court order for them to crack the code into his computer.
Hanna tells the others what just went down and then ... quadro-text alert: "Now it's Caleb's turn. -A"
In one of Rosewood's many empty classrooms, Hanna wonders why Caleb's not more freaked out, but he assures her he didn't do anything wrong. Everything he has is backed up online and they can't get through his firewall.
Can't he just do some magic and erase all the scary bad stuff remotely, Hanna asks desperately. Yeah, he can do that. (Note: I'm paraphrasing, but this is no stretch.)
In the hallway, another worried girlfriend Aria is still questioning her pseudo-boyfriend Holden. He finally admits he's been going to Philly to practice Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art. (Way to steal a "Degrassi" storyline.) The baggies that have been bothering her were filled with pain meds. It's no big deal. He just has qualifiers coming up and he needs Aria to cover for him. To quote Beyonce in "Telephone," "This is a disastuh."
Back in that empty classroom, Caleb explains his top secret password to Hanna -- a combination of letters from the places he lived, some numbers and of course, an exclamation point. But it seems like he's keeping something from her! (or ? or :\ )
Apparently, no time to ponder because Caleb can't get into his computer anyway: Someone's blocking him.
Byron and Ella talk about Holden as they sort books in her classroom, which is empty, of course. Ella asks when they're loosening the leash on Aria and wonders if they're being too extreme. "Taking your English teach is extreme... We're being parents," Byron says angrily. I must agree, which pains me because I never want to think like Byron.
Spencer goes to the Dilaurentis Commercial Properties, but it's closed. She sees Jason talking to Maya near an apple stand. Because why wouldn't there be an apple stand?
Spencer approaches Jason about their new sibling status and he tells her to talk to her dad. But my mom is distracted: "His hair is ridic ... he looks like he could be a woman with that hair ... sooo pouffy." Immediately, I imagine her saying this a la Amber to Ty in "Clueless": "She could be a farmer in those clothes." (R.I.P. Brittany Murphy.)
Anyway, eventually, Spencer convinces Jason to open up and he tells her he found another box in Ali's room filled with letters from his mom to her dad and $15,000 in cash in envelopes, $5,000 in each one. Where would Ali have gotten that kind of money? Spencer comes to the conclusion that she was blackmailing her dad about his bastard child and said bastard child, Jason, agrees.
But dead-friend-blackmailing-absent-father issue aside, it's time to head to Josie's Roadhouse Diner to meet up with Vivian's mystery phone-a-friend.
Somehow, Aria got saddled with the task of chatting it up with the potential pervert. She sips her tea while the other little liars pretend to read their menus at the booth behind her.
Soon enough, a man arrives who said Vivian (a.k.a. Ali) owed him not only a lot of money, but his job and almost his girlfriend, as well. He says he used to work for a phone company and Vivian wanted information. "She said she had a friend name Allison who was getting texts and wanted to know who they were coming from," he explained, assuming Aria was Allison. Unfortunately for this guy -- who clearly isn't familiar with black market work with teenage girls-- he told Vivian who was behind the texts before he got the money and thus, she split. Before he shares the information with Aria, he wants the $2,000 owed to him. He gives her a new number and tells her to say she wants to talk to Jonah when she comes up with the cash.
"Wait so is Vivian Allison or is there really a Vivian?" my mom asks. "I mean Allison's been dead a long time already." When I explain that there is no Vivian ... Ali is Vivian, I'm met with radio silence. Moving on.
Back at the police station, Garrett and Officer Wilden discuss the missing page from Ali's autopsy report (i.e. page 5) and Wilden shows Garrett a photo we can't see. Garrett looks scared. I can't remember Wilden's first name so I test my mom: "It's definitely Dick something!!! hahahaha." Obviously.
When Byron walks to his car, he sees a note on his front windshield, signed by A, giving him the address of Chez Mirabelle, the vegan restaurant Ezra plans to bring Aria to. Rut roh.
As the party-planning wraps up at Hanna's, Maya comes bearing fruit. (Come on now.) She asks to talk to Emily and confesses that her mom found an old joint when they were digging through some old stuff, including a box of Ali's thing. (Could that have been why he was talking to Jason?) Maya's parents don't believe her that it's old and they're going to send her back to True North. But Emily says she's not going to say goodbye to her again. Never.
Hanna and her mom, Ashley, get called to the police station where Wilden shows the two of them the picture he showed Garrett: It's Hanna, Emily and Spencer dressed as candy stripers from a security camera outside the morgue, where the autopsy report page went missing.
Ashley half-jokes about how often she's at the police station: "It's almost time for them to give me my own parking space." Then, she says to Hanna: "You may not have to answer his questions, but you're sure as hell gonna answer mine ... What were you doing in those outfits?" Ashley, I ask myself that same thing every episode (Except this one. The liars be lookin' good).
Hanna says the ensembles were a joke, but Ashley doesn't believe her. They return home and Ashley goes upstairs, ignoring the Sharks celebration that has already kicked off in her kitchen, while Hanna fills in Spence and Em. Since they know they didn't steal the page, they assume it was an inside job, i.e. it had to be Garrett. Spencer is determined to crack the code about who killed Ali once and for all and there's only one place to go: home!
While I wonder where I can get Spencer's polka-dot blouse and shudder over desiring a piece of Ms. Hasting's wardrobe, my mom and I realize there is a total shortage of horrible outfits this episode. "Maybe they got a new stylist," she surmises.
Aria is putting on heels and an A necklace (elbow nudge) and a helluva lot of rings, when Byron comes in to grill her. She says she and Holden are not going an arcade with "some nerdy gamers with very curly facial hair." Clearly, she's got her story straight.
When her mom asks why they always go out in Philly, Aria says simply and very astutely, it's because "there's more than one restaurant." Take that Apple Rosewood Grill. Clearly, I enjoyed this reference ... it has been plaguing me for more than a season. Ella also says Holden's mom would like him to stay closer because of his heart condition. Where did that come from.
Spencer sneaks back into her old, typically-vacant home and finds her dad's briefcase. She takes a peek at his checkbook inside before he somehow sees her in the dark. "Why are the lights always off at Spencer's house?" my mom wonders. "I'm glad you came home," Spencer's dad explains in the dark before saying that he "made a series of very poor decisions."
"You cheated and you got somebody's else's wife pregnant," Spencer says, calling him out on his lawyer-speak. He admits it and says she kept the baby, but she lied to her husband. They moved to Atlanta and he married Spencer's mom (a.k.a. Olivia Benson). But then they moved back when Spencer was five. "Why'd they come back?" she asks. "I never asked. I was afraid she might tell me," he says.
Not one for bulls---, Spencer confronts him about her theory that Ali was asking him for cash in exchange for keeping their secret and he seems befuddled. "I never gave money to anyone for any reason," he says firmly. So like, not charity?
Meanwhile, a nosey and predictable Byron shows up at the restaurant A mentioned in the letter and asks for a seat with a good view of the door.
Back at Hanna/Emily's party, they're watching Emily's winning swim (awkward) and Hanna sees Maya sulking. Emily goes over and I'm not really sure what she says because I'm mesmerized by Maya's amazing blue nails.
Party-pooper Spencer meets up with Jason and says she believes her dad, but he doesn't. Apple Rosewood Grill chat ruined.
Later at the Marin soiree, Emily finds Maya smoking in the backyard. Oh. No. She. Didn't.
Caleb calls Hanna and says he's at the police station and he has no choice to talk to the officers. "Hanna, listen to me. I'm in a really hot spot right now. I need your help," he says rushing to get the words in as Garrett and Wilden walk in.
Aria actually followed Holden to his martial arts training area and that s--- is intense. She confronts him about the condition and he says there's no point in worrying because it (i.e. death, I think) could happen there or when he's playing Apples to Apples. I'd prefer to go doing the latter, but to each her own.
Back to the police station where Wilden grills Caleb, but he is confident he didn't do anything wrong. Wilden is getting feisty and says, "I wanna watch you log in ... make sure there's no funny business." Ew.
Caleb asks Garrett if he's sure he wants to show Wilden what's on there, while Hanna and her silk pants are trying to hack in from her bedroom. Spencer arrives and, of course, she has her game face on, despite the fact that she seems pretty hacking-illiterate herself.
Meanwhile, Emily and Maya are still having their great weed debate. "You're better at fitting in than I am," Maya says. Emily wants to work it out, but Maya's not down. She says she's got friends in San Francisco and asks Em to go with her, but knows she won't. Though I'm sad for Emily, my mom is already in "on to the next" mode, saying: "Emily's better off without her ... She's a disappointment."
As he approaches the entrance to the restaurant, Ezra gets a text from Aria that she can't make it (due to faux BF Holden) and he looks up to see Byron pouring himself a spot of tea. Consider that bullet dodged.
Hanna is trying to remember the password as Caleb logs in from the police station. She got the letters down, but there are numbers. What could they be? A birthday? A phone number? An anniversary? Suddenly, Hanna remembers and they're in. But wait ... now what, Spencer asks.
Out of the hundreds of folders on the computer, Hanna assumes the one containing the files needed to incriminate Caleb are under "Hefty," i.e. her former nickname that has nothing to do with secret folders.
Nevertheless, should they delete everything? Spencer tells Hanna to "CTRL A" -- on the keyboard, not a reference mysterious blackmailer they've been trying to trace -- and when she does with her zebra print manicure (love), suddenly, Wilden and Garrett are watching the files disappear right in front of their eyes!
As Aria wraps her head around seeing Holden fight, win and sweat, her father Byron calls her, asking to speak with Holden while enjoying half of his vegan pizza. I need to ask: Where is Annabeth Gish? The woman played Kat in "Mystic Pizza" and Dr. Sullivan on "Pretty Little Liars" and this is clearly her moment!
Hanna picks up a freed Caleb up at the police station and explains how she cracked the code. The missing number was 1105, meaning Nov. 5, which was the night they first, "ya know?" Caleb simply says, "Hanna ... there's an exclamation point." They make out in front of Garrett. "Yayayayay Hannie Bananieeee and Caleb," my mom types with glee. "They are soooo precious.
Segue courtesy of my mom: "Oh back to Spencer's house -- without electricity." We find Spencer is half-owling again in her dark living room when someone knocks on her backdoor. It's Jason, who apologizes. "He's just sorry he went tanning and has poofy do," my mom adds. He better be.
Spencer knows why Ali needed some of the money, she explains. Ali was looking for someone and Spencer thinks she can find out who, but she's going to need Jason to trust her ... a lot ... like $2,000 worth.
Emily feels sick about fighting with Maya, as she says in her voicemail. "Don't do anything until we talk. I love you," she adds before hanging up as A watches outside the Marins' house.
Certainly, this was not a "Pretty Little Liars" favorite of Season 2. Even though "so much was laid out there and it all just fizzled out," as my mom explained, there were still some hilarious quotes to tide me over.
Worst Looks Of The Episode
None. And this scares me.
Best Quotes Of The Episode
"I am the WiFi. Koo Koo Kachu." -Caleb
"Court order says you can take the machine, doesn't say anything about what's in my head." -Caleb
"Are we talking like basements and naked light bulbs? People losing all their teeth?" -Aria
"No. Everyone's got teeth." -Holden
"What are we supposed to do? Host a bikini car wash? Even if we talk Prudence Finn into a tube top, we wouldn't raise enough money." -Hanna (Note: This is the second tube top reference in two weeks. I am even more scared than usual.)
"French food? Wow. You must really like me." -Aria
"Aria. It's French vegan food. I must really love you."- Ezra
"Put down the icing. We've been invited to the police station." -Ashley
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