It's a stormy night in Rosewood five months after we left the "Pretty Little Liars" in a pretty rough spot -- Mona had been revealed as A and almost died, but wound up in a padded room; Maya died; Garrett got busted; and Spencer actually had the nicest dress at the Masquerade Ball.
Some things haven't changed since we last saw the Liars: Rihanna's "S & M" is still popular, the Hastings house is just as dark and supervision-less as ever and Aria is still wearing the most heinous ensemble. But both she and Hanna have cropped their hair to match their tops and apparently, Emily's been boozing up a storm in between building houses in Haiti to cope with the aftermath of Season 2.
The girls cheers to making it to senior year, which is an opportunity for us to finally know how old they are and to remind us all that not everyone (cough cough Maya cough cough) made it. Then, presumably, they move on to "We Found Love" before passing out in the PHH ("parentless Hastings House," as my sister Chelsey has deemed it).
A crash of thunder wakes up Hanna and Aria before Spencer reemerges to reveal that Emily is gone. Cut to Emily -- with shovel in hand -- standing over Alison's grave which has been dug up, opened and no longer holds Ali's remains.
After calling enough times, her fellow Liars find her in the graveyard and see she had a blocked call and then a call from Spencer's phone when she was asleep, meaning someone was in the PHH.
"Where'd she get the shovel?" my mom wonders, leading my sister to ask, "That's your only question?!" Meanwhile, Hanna's hoping they never see another shovel again as she and Aria bury the one drunk Emily was holding over Ali's empty plot.
Back at the PHH, Emily disrobes to burn her clothes and they wonder who did this to her -- Garrett's in jail and Melissa's in Philadelphia so who else could it be, they wonder as Emily's token lesbian flannel burns in the Hastings' fireplace.
On their way back, Hanna and Aria see Lucas run to his car and drive away and in "Pretty Little Liars" fashion, that means he couldn't have done it (or could he have?) Anyway, Spencer gives Emily some new clothes (a striped button down, a blue cardigan and khakis, of course) devises a plan to write her mom (aka Mariska Hargitay) a note to say they went to lake house for the afternoon, so they couldn't have possibly been in Rosewood when Ali's body went missing ... again.
Sure enough, Mariska calls Spencer ("On a rotary phone? Yeah, right!" my mom chuckles) to deliver the bad news to which Spence asks, "Were there ... any witnesses?" Slick. Emily -- looking pretty hilarious is Spencer's Talbots head-to-toe look -- apologies for being "so wasted" and putting them in this position.
Aria suggests they go to the cops and tell them the truth, but Spencer feeds them some story about roasting marshmallows and they decide to stick to the story that "last night never happened." But my mom's not buying it. "I love how they drink tea from fancy tea cups," she says, before deciding, "Em's gonna crack."
Soon we see Aria on Ezra's couch and the two discuss the day's headline, which reads that Garrett is on trial for two murders -- Ali's and Maya's. Teach surmises that Maya was on her way to tell Emily what she knew about Garrett and that's why he killed her. But enough of that. It's time to talk about the teacher-student relationship anniversary celebration coming up! Yay. Oh, and Ali's murder. But whatever. Then they recreate the day they met by making out on the sink. Class-A. My mom still tries to tell us how cute Ezria is. I still cannot buy into it. I never will, despite the eskimo kisses.
And as I try not to cringe, we move on to Hanna and her mom shopping and discussing sex. Normal. They see Spencer and Mariska shopping too -- which is actually normal since there's probably only one trendy store in Rosewood with enough studs, blouses and cut out garments to keep the Liars sufficiently clothed. The girls separate to chat about Toby -- who is living in the loft and showering at Spencer's -- but Hanna has to go because she has an appointment with Dr. Sullivan, but mums the word about last night as she leaves with her mom
However, we soon realize it's Mon-A she's going to see in the psychiatric facility and when she gets there, her hair got bigger ... because it's full of secrets. She makes one-sided small talk about fashion. Hanna tells Mona she's here for her and that she's been lying to everyone in order to visit her. "I wanna know what I did to make you hate me so much," she says as her eyes well up with tears.
Meanwhile, Emily's in her room draping a bandana over a photo of her and Maya and she tells her mom is was "a lot easier to pound nails in Haiti than it is to stay here."
Seemingly, Hanna would rather be anywhere else too as she heads out of Mona's room and finds Ren, who volunteers there a couple days a week as a "give and take" sort of thing. "He said quid pro quo because he's hannibal," Chelsey observes.
At PHH, a shirtless, freshly-showered Toby makes Spencer drool while the Etkin women are audibly say "Ew" on repeat. Their kissing is quite nausea-inducing as is Spencer's inability to "wait" with him. Plus, when he asks her, "Are your parents still out?" one cannot help but laugh.
Hanna, wearing the first horrendous ensemble of the evening ("What is that hairdo, Pebbles?" and "She looks like she got stuck in a shredder"), decides to say hi Lucas, who in turn gives her the best bitchface since Ali. He turned dark after the Masquerade Ball and now he's Boo Radley.
But enough about Lucas; Aria has to go to the bathroom and finds herself stuck in a stall. Of course, she thinks she sees the hooded figure that tortured them for two seasons enter and she screams for help. When Hanna and Spencer finally come to her rescue, she's rocking on the floor in a corner and thinks she had a panic attack. (Nice Nancy Drewing, Aria.)
They assure her Mon-A is locked up and that "she can't hurt [them] anymore ... Bitch crazy!" (God, I love Spencer sometimes.) Aria wonders if the "whole 'Girl, Interrupted' thing could just be an act to keep her out of jail," but Hanna hushes little Aria and says they'll "all have jubilation" in the future. Someone's been watching some BBC lately.
But Aria has more things to worry about as she packs up her house with her mom, who is clearly leaving her dad after Ezria was the straw that broke the camel of a marriage's back. Aria appreciates everything her mom has done and says, "Remember when I was 13?" My mom is quick with a "Yes, I do." (Need we embed more "American Juniors" videos.) Also, Ella agrees with Aria's previous observation that Byron "looks constipated" whenever you say Ezra's name. So they'll always have that.
Toby goes to see Emily at a new coffee shop straight out of Williamsburg. Murder has been kind to Rosewood's social scene apparently. Emily, Toby and Toby's increasingly fro-y 'do discuss what happened last night and "there's something [she] need[s] to talk to [him] about." But we don't get to know what that is because now we're watching Spencer walk into what was formerly A's lair at the Bates Motel from the finale in the middle of the night.
"No vacancies? I don't believe that for a second," my mom says sassily. "It's closed," Chelsey bites back.
Back in Rosewood, the ever adorable Caleb and Hanna are cooking Dong Po when Hanna gets a call from "R.S." My mom is only worried about one thing: iPhone health. "Their phones are always face down. It scratches the screen," she says. Hanna tells Caleb it's Spencer, but it's really Ren, who says her visits are helping and she should come back. This guy is so obvious, he might as well be wearing an A.
As Emily talks to Toby about her alcohol-laced summer, Spencer is sitting on her laptop in the room formerly known as A's lair. The unknown number that's been ringing her all episode is at it again -- this time, she answers and says assertively, "I'm listening."
The girls get called into the police station and are questioned -- their fluffy marshmallow story stacks up and they're free to go.
Hanna heads back to visit Mon-A and asks her if she'd like her to continue to visit. The expressionless Mon-A turns and cracks a smile in Hanna's direction, which is simultaneously chilling and assuring. But we soon see it's a vision of Ali/Vivian Darkbloom in her red trenchcoat, reading "Lolita" that's leading to Mon-A's happy face.
Spencer goes to see Garrett, who swears his innocence. "There's a lot that you don't know, Spencer. Some of it you don't want to know ... I don't know anything about Maya, but I may know who killed Alison," he says. Garrett alerts Spencer that they're not safe and it's not over and he needs her mom to act as his lawyer. Just as the guards take him away, he screams, "I know who took the body." And Spence knows they don't watch TV in jail.
Emily is going for a run when she ses an old blue car that triggers a memory from the other night at Ali's grave. Then, she receives a text from an unknown number that reads: "I bet you remember me."
She heads to the PHH where the Aria and Spencer look like little Ellie Mays in their overalls, tied up plaid shirt and ruffled bathing suit top and Hanna's going for something like a Little Liars Gone Wild with her neon fringe bikini. Seriously, the girl must have gotten a shredder for her birthday.
Emily tells them about the text and the car and Hanna comes clean about visiting Mon-A, just to assure them it can't be her who's doing this. So who is it?
Spencer brings them all the Bates to mentally recreate A's lair and something isn't quite right -- the multiple hoodies that were hanging on the window and the fact that the morning after Maya's murder when Aria, Hanna and Spencer went back, those hoodies and everything else was gone. Spencer says things don't add up, she thinks someone was helping her: The Black Swan. (Why this is news is confusing to me, considering Mon-A told Spencer all about the A-Team. Has she been hiding this news from them for a long time? Or is this just bad storytelling? Either is possible in "Pretty Little Liars" land.)
But before they can start to throw out their Black Swan guesses, their car alarm goes off -- when they step outside, all the doors to the SUV are open and every inch of the car is covered in surveillance-like photos of the four of them at Ali's grave the night her body went missing.
Cue text alert:
"Mona played with dolls. I play with body parts. Game on, bitches. -A"
As Kenan and Kel would say, "Aw. Here it goes!"
"In poor countries, one house is like a home for 50." - Hanna
"You got an internship for Vera Wang?"- Emily
"I changed my mind. Turns out they want you to work for free." -Hanna
"I've gotten really good at this."- Emily
"Show me your boobs -A" -The Liars
"I need an aspirin and a trough of water." -Hanna
"Yeah, I love it. For a pregnant woman." - Hanna
"You're allowed to date, but you're not open for business." - Hanna
"Are you starting a business, Ashley?" - Mrs. Hastings/Mariska Hargitay
"I was hoping a little retail therapy might help take Hanna's mind off the headlines." - Ashley
"Yeah, one dead girl makes the news, but two dead girls and a missing body ... how big is your closet." - Mrs. Hastings/Mariska Hargitay
"I can take a picture and send it to you."- Hanna
"You cannot find a top this season without feathers on it." - Hanna
"Mom. Melissa is a hastings. We bounce back like superballs." - Spencer
"How can you not talk about us? We're intimate." - Caleb
"Is that Brit humor? Because it's not funny." - Hanna
"Mona is A and she's drooling in her bed at a nut hospital." - Hanna