Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 2, Episode 18 of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars, entitled "A Kiss Before Lying."
Our Hanna-less "Pretty Little Liars" are still keeping secrets from the foursome's only blonde and examining the video with Caleb (again) to try to figure out what was in Ali's box.
Of course, Hanna calls all four of them before Spencer -- who discovers she's "the low man on the totem pole" -- finally answers.
It's an awkward conversation to say the least and when Emily drops a glass, prompting Aria to yell her name, not-so-blonde-in-the-brains Hanna realizes Spencer is keeping something from her.
But no time to worry about Hanna: Is that a driver's license in the video?
Is it Melissa? Is it Jenna? No, it's Super Ali ... with dark hair!
"Why would she need an ID that didn't even look like her?" far-too-logical-for-this-shit Spencer asks.
Cue theme song.
"God. It's so weird seeing Ali with dark hair. I can't even look at that anymore," not-too-concerned-wth-the-gravity-of-the-situation Spencer then muses.
As she shudders to think of brunette Ali, Emily's mindis on another brunette: She's going to meet up with Maya.
Aria gets up to go too, but clearly shaken-up Spence asks her to stay. Unfortunately, Aria has plans with Holden (i.e. Ezra). Spencer asks how she's holding up in what she believes is Aria post-Ezra phase, adding "I just can't believe he never showed up and he never called you." Rub it in, Hastings.
Luckily, Aria's lying, so no harm, no foul. She changes the subject to Toby, a serious pressure point for Spencer. She says she drove his car to his parents house, sat in it and listened to the radio. Cue breakdown. She doesn't know how Aria's holding it together.
Umm ... the fact that her secret boyfriend's still secretly around helps.
Aria leaves the shaken-up Spencer, who worries she's the reason they're lying to Hanna, and goes and gets in Ezra's car. Spence is once again alone in her parent-less house. Class-A, Aria.
Aria tells Ezra she's really struggling with lying to her friends and her parents. Her mom is "warming" to the idea (sort of), but as for her dad ... "How fast do glaciers melt?"
Fear not. The hydrosphere metaphor is not over and Aria suggests she and Ezra "generate more heat" and then kisses him as he drives. DANGER! ALSO, AS REGINA GEORGE WOULD SAY, STOP TRYING TO MAKE THIS RELATIONSHIP HAPPEN!
A solo Hanna is hanging out in her perpetually dimly-lit house with her mom, who wonders where the other liars are. "They're being annoying," Hanna explains, which I have to say, is one of the most simply hilariously realistic bits of teen dialogue I've heard in a while. Hanna's mom doesn't know what counts as annoying.
Hanna's mom may struggle with irritability, but she does know Hanna must be nice to her new stepsister Kate who's heading to Rosewood. "If we don't take the high road, we're going to end up looking like trash," Mrs. Marin explains. Subtle community service jab, perhaps? Anyway, Hanna complies with her annoying mom's request.
Holden and Aria get in Byron's car after their faux-vie date and while he goes to the ATM, they discuss what they had at their faux-talian meal and I start drooling over their faux-guini with pesto and faux-lic bread with extra butter.
Next morning and it's "doomsday" at Rosewood. Apparently, Kate's arrival has the liars even more confused about which season it is: Hanna's wearing an adorable red sleeveless dress; Emily's in some sort of arm-revealing schmatta (which she's been relegated to since she came out of the closet); Spencer's in a perfectly Limited Too-inspired striped turtle neck (with Toby's undershirt tucked beneath it); and Aria is, of course, wearing a poncho.
Pinstriped-and-collared-shirt-sporting Kate approaches their indoor cafeteria table (so it's chilly?) and awkwardness ensues. Also, Spencer is convinced she's seen this girl before. Hanna offers to show Kate to her class, but on her way, A strikes: "Call off your techno-boy-toy or I tell the cops what your mom keeps in the lasagna box. -A"
With Hanna away, Spencer, Emily and Aria sit around an outdoor cafeteria table (so it's warm?) and wonder why Ali needed the alter ego ID. Was it so she could date Ian? Or was it to create a different identity that would allow her to get closer to or even expose A?
Cue Hanna, who's wondering if Caleb still has the video file. The girls deny it and as they scatter. "Hanna needs to change her deodorant," my mom explains. When I ask why, she replies, "her friends keeps running away from her haha." Potential stench issues aside, Hanna confronts Spencer about destroying the flash drive, but she was just trying to protect Caleb and she can't just shut her out.
Later that night, Emily is in bed with Maya, lamenting over not being able to join the swim team. Her mom texts and the do-over couple talks about Maya's past with the homophobic Mrs. Fields. Emily assures Maya that her mom hated Emily liking girls, not Maya. And besides, "she's fine with that now ... She's a completely different person now." Moms aside, they make out -- finally, Emily's getting some action! "Whoa this is risque for the 8 time slot," my mom observes.
The next day at school, Spencer is the stylist's token guinea pig in a patchwork newsboy hat that would make Brad Pitt or a "Les Mis" costume designer tre jealous. Clearly, Spencer's thinking cap is not serving her well, but she's determined to find out where she knows Kate from (Maine? Debate?). But Kate denies it in a highly suspicious manner and Hanna, who is channeling Sandy's "You're The One That I Want" ensemble (hoop earrings included), tells her to zip it.
When Emily returns to her locker, there's a note that reads, "Did you miss me?" Is it A?!? Nope, it's just mom, who was once equally as threatening, but is quite friendly this time around. "oh yay another parent has finally surfaced," my mom observes. She asks if Em wants to bring someone special and she's happy to have Maya tag along to "give her another opportunity." Emily and her mom embrace. Did I change the channel to Lifetime?
Hanna, Aria and Spencer are getting ready for gym and Spencer stays behind to confront Kate, who is struggling to open her locker. A smug Spencer finally figured it out: Melissa was her junior counselor at Shekomeko Horse Ranch in the summer of 2006.
"I'm exactly who you think I am," Kate admits with watery eyes. "What is it going to take ... for you to keep this to yourself?"
Spencer says she's not going to tell anyone, but she does have a photo she could blackmail her with.
Dinnertime already (at the Grill, of course) and Emily and her mom walk in to see Noel playing with Maya's phone. "oooooh what restaurant is this??? it looks nice," my mom says, joking (I think/hope). Maya's trying way too hard to be nice to Emily's mom and clearly, it's going to be a long night.
Aria and Holden plan to go their separate ways at some sort of teen Chuck E. Cheese establishment, but then admit both of their respective plans got canceled. He suggests they get a pizza (half plain, half green peppers, which he remembers are her favorite) and then says they will duke it out over air hockey. "You used to be kind of a mean player. You still got the chops?" Holden asks. Cringe.
Back at dinner, Maya is saying all the wrong things, talking about a) Jazz players who like to get high and b) A guy who won't leave her alone.
Hanna heads to Spencer's to kick their feet up and relax. "if spencer's parents were ever home hanna would never put her shoes on the couch!!!!!! busted spencer," my mom notes. The two bond over Kate, who they compare her to fish and things with which to wrap fish. Is she a fangblenny or a boil n' baggy? (Look it up. "The more you know," courtesy of ABC Family.)
Spencer shows Hanna a picture of Kate on her phone that Melissa sent her and in looking at all the photos, Hanna stumbles across the one of Ali's ID. And then, the truth comes out.
A betrayed Hanna yells at Spencer: "The whole time i'm worried about Kate backstabbing me? i didn't even realize that you were holding a knife."
Despite the door slamming, my mom is glad. "im really glad spencer told hanna the truth--i really didnt like that they were lying to her....it made her the loser in the group and she is sooooo not a loser," she observed. "i mean it's hanna--she should never be the odd man out--it would probably be Spencer."
Moving on from Hanna and Spencer, tension's just as high at dinner where Emily yells at Maya for "torpedoing" dinner.
And across town at a hoity-toity, wood-paneled, tweed-filled affair that looks straight out of a bad "Mad Men" stage production, dudes are clinking lowballs. After admitting that they're "a bunch of boring, old farts discussing dead authors," one bearded fellow tells Ezra about an associate dean's position at the new Hollis satellite school. (Woo!) But he'd be heading to Louisiana next month. (Boo!) Apparently, Byron Montgomery insisted he was perfect. (Light bulb!)
Caleb comes home to find Hanna on the porch. She confronts him about going behind her back with the video and comes clean about the money troubles with her mom (admitting that they were broke and that her mom stole money). She's never told anyone and he promises to keep in between them, but she tells him someone else knows already. Is it Jenna, he asks. She doesn't know who, but they're holding it over her and he's working on their phone. "i love Hanna and Caleb more than Aria and Ezra--haha," my mom adds. Thank the lord.
Wipe those tears, Canna fans, because it's back to air hockey with Aria, her shiny top and Holden. Aria (my mom notes: "somebody got sequin happy") shoots, scores and does an adorably dorky dance. "Winning really brings out the nerd in you," Holden observes. Everything brings out the nerd in him.
Caleb goes to see Jenna when Officer Garrett arrives (yes, he's "actually working," my mom notes) and tells Caleb he hasn't seen Jenna for a while. "If you're looking to get your old job back, it's too late; she's found someone else," he says. (Remember the owl necklace/flash drive? Caleb really loves him a good flash drive mystery.)
Caleb wants Jenna to stop threatening Hanna and co., but Garrett warns he better be a lot scarier than that if he wants Jenna to take him seriously. Then he nearly hits Caleb with his bike. That scary. Got it.
Spencer comes over to apologize to Hanna. She says it was an "act of desperation" and "A has taken everything from [her]" and she can't lose Hanna, too. "You haven't," Hanna says. They hug. Adorable. "i love Hanna banana!!! haha--she's the best," my mom says.
But back at the air hockey face-off of the century, Holden's in pain and lifts up his shirt to check out a seriously massive bruise on his side. "he's a drug dealer??" my mom asks. Seemingly no; he blames flag football. Pfft. Byron arrives and Bruisegate 2012 will have to continue into next episode.
Spencer and Hanna bond over tea and Hanna remembers seeing Ali with dark hair.
Two years ago at quite the stylish hair salon, Flashback Hanna (in her token "I'm fat" flowy skirt) walks in to get her hurr did when she sees a woman sitting in a chair and a painfully stereotypically gay stylist oohing and aahing over how "fierce" she looks.
As an assistant brings coffee over to the client, a.k.a. Ms. Darkbloom, Flashback Hanna recognizes the voice: It's Ali "testing the waters" as a brunette (and drinking coffee, even though she's like 14).
"I'm pretending to be something else, but I'm not," she admits to Flashback Hanna. Why does she do it? "'Cause I'm bored. I do it a lot ... Aren't you just sick and tired of being you?" She takes off the wig and gives her token Ali eye flirt because I'm pretty sure she's incapable of doing anything else with her face.
Back in the present, Hanna and Spencer google "Vivian Darkbloom," an anagram for author Vladimir Nabokov, who penned "Lolita." Hanna had Ali's copy and when the girls fan its pages, they see a claim ticket to J&L, which holds special meaning for me and my mom (due to the first initials of our first names).
Mom: all i can read is J & L (hey--it's our store-haha) claim ticket and that it's pd
Mom: im excited to find out what kind of store we have......
Jaimie what's PD?
Mom: PAID what kind of business partner are you???
Emily decides to head over to Maya's and admits that she's worried about the double competition of dating a bisexual girl. Maya admits she's mad at Emily's mom for busting her and she wants to show her something. She totally '60s out her room as her "way of saying sorry for ruining dinner... if the sharks won't let you back in the water, i'll bring the water to you." Emily's totally into it and soon enough, the L word is being thrown around and they get on the bed. Double score for Emily! In a sharp cheddar contrast from last week, my mom says, "Yay Emily doesnt stand alone anymore--she's not the cheese" (Sorry, Spencer.)
Spencer calls the phone number on the claim ticket they found in Ali's coat and the voice on the other end says, "It's a miracle but I actually still have it." Then asks, "When would you like to pick it up, Ms. Darkbloom?" Spencer is stunned -- I am too that we really seem to be getting somewhere in this episode.
Back at school, everyone is coming up to Hanna about something, but she's not sure what it is. Finally, Emily, Aria and Spencer show her a text sent from her phone to everyone in her phone book that reads: "Before & After: From Boil N'Baggies To Boring Bitch" with a a semi-nude photo of Kate. But Hanna says she didn't do it.
As for the final A segment of the evening, those leather gloves are snooping around Peter Hastings' office, before opening the draw and grabbing a gun. Going with my "Melissa is a prominent part of A group" theory, my mom says, "it is Spencer's dad's desk so im guessing it's Melissa taking his gun from the drawer--the hand looked tiny so I think it had to be a girl's ... or maybe Jenna because I feel like maybe she's not blind anymore and faking it"
Yes, so sensitive.
Worst Looks of the Night:
- Aria's heart-stitched poncho with big bow in her hair. "Ugly Betty," eat your heart out.
- There is little to say about this totally '90s choice of headwear, but I just went with, "Oy," which my mom seconds: "Oy is right."
Best Lines of the Night:
- "We're not even standing that close to you." -Spencer "Really? Then how do I know you had a cheeseburger for lunch?" -Caleb
"It's the third degree." -Spencer
"Whatever. Just stop giving her degrees, okay?" -Hanna
"Why are you giving me a break?" -Kate
"Because judging from the way you judged Hanna, everybody is going to see how ugly you are, without any help from me." -Spencer