Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 3, Episode 16 of ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars," titled "Misery Loves Company." And apologies for the lateness of the below recap, but let it serve as a refresher before Episode 17.
For those of you who thought Aria was pregnant ... Emily kicks off the episode at the Montgomery's, sniffing the tea Meredith has been giving an ailing Aria. It's pretty clear something is off with Meredith's miracle cure. ABC Family may be a new kind of family, but it's not that kind of family (unless we're talking about "The Secret Life Of The American Teenager" and I refuse to talk about "The Secret Life Of The American Teenager").
Hanna comes over with three seasons of "Saved By The Bell" because she is the only one who knows what true friendship means (and yes, I'm ignoring the fact that they all would've been mere twinkles in their crappy parents' eyes when this show was on). They all decide the tea isn't working and Emily (FINALLY) offers to drive Aria to Ella's, but she declines the completely logical suggestion because, "It's [Ella's] week with Mike so the guest room is already taken."
Jaimie: "None of that is a rational explanation for why she wouldn't go home with Ella."
Mom: "I dont think this is very smart of the girls to expose themselves to the cooties."
Apparently, we're still sticking with last week's theme of pretending Mike exists again and we're also led to believe that a mother wouldn't make sure her sick daughter was OK and maybe sleep on the couch for her sake. Parents in Rosewood are top notch.
Meanwhile, someone is lurking outside the Montgomery's living room window, hanging on Aria's every word as she explains that Meredith asked her to keep Ali's diary a secret from her mom so it's easier to not be around Ella anyway. She and Meredith plan on confronting Byron when he gets back from his conference. "I don't want to believe that my dad could have hurt Ali, but if he did do it, this is a family secret that I can't keep," she says.
Got a secret, Can you keep it ... I spoke too soon. MonA and TobAy are jamming out to some heavy metal, cracking computer codes, wearing matching outfits, etc. -- typical "A" behavior. TobAy thinks they're "not ready" to do whatever they're supposed to do tomorrow, but MonA says, "I'm not the one calling the shots. Fear cuts deeper than a sword. They need to understand that she's in charge."
My mom is freaking out about the use of the pronoun "she," but I'm not convinced there's just a "she" involved. There are probably at least two more "A's" running around Rosewood and besides, it's a 50/50 shot what this person's gender is. At this point, our monAy is on Meredith, Melissa or ... where has CeCe Drake been?
Moving on ... over at TobAy's apartment (which is something he has apparently), he's drawing up some blueprints (as 16-year-old boys do). Emily stops over to bring him some coffee and to have a place where she can read "Lord of the Flies" in peace. She explains that she can relate to the boys in the book because of what she's been through with the Liars and TobAy says the girls "are thick as thieves" because he's a huge Caroline Manzo fan.
Suddenly, he's off to shower at Spencer's during this bizarre house swap morning and he asks Emily to lock up on her way out. As soon as he's out the door, Em calls up Spencer: "Mission accomplished. He's on his way to your house and I've got the keys." Suddenly, I'm thinking, "These girls are smarter than I thought."
Over at the Marin household, Hanna is lamenting over what she should wear to an interview with "the hottest designer in Philly" (which is one of the best things I've ever heard on this show). Caleb gives her a suggestion and as she heads out of the room to change, she overhears his phone conversation: "I'm in. I'm not gonna let her do anything else to Hanna." When Hanna questions him about it, he says it was his mom, but she knows he's lying. "Promise me you won't do anything stupid," she tells him. Is Caleb teaming up with Lucas to take down MonA or does being a home-schooled jungle freak mean he's off the show for the now?
At the Parentless Hastings House, TobAy is standing in Spencer's bedroom, wet and shirtless while she buttons up her blouse.
Jaimie: "Ewwwww Toby is wet and has no clothes on."
Jaimie: "I know. It's unfortunate."
Mom: "Why do they love to show Toby topless?"
Jaimie: "Because they think people like it. We are not those people."
It's Spencer and TobAy's one-year anniversary and she "hates" that she can't be with him because she's going to a dinner honoring her dad. Parent Of The Year, I imagine.
Just as she starts to touch his chest, her mom walks in. Thank goodness. I've never been so happy to see Mariska in my life! TobAy heads out and Spencer and Mariska star to giggle like school girls: Turns out, the dinner was just a cover and Spencer is trying to surprise TobAy for their anniversary, which is also why she wanted Em to get his keys.
So, A) It looks like Mr. Hastings isn't Parent Of The Year and B) Turns out these girls are not so swift.
Jaimie: "Now I'm mad. I take back the nice things I said about you, Emily and Spencer."
Mom: "I know. Toby doesn't deserve a surprise."
At least there's someone who is finally starting to get wise: Aria. She's fast asleep on the couch and Meredith -- who left school to check on Aria -- is snooping around the house. When Aria wakes up, she's feeling even worse and decides she should see a doctor and call her mom. And then the angels sing. But, oh no! Her phone's not where she left it on the coffee table beside her. "I'll look for it," Meredith says. She suggests Aria go upstairs and rest in bed, while she continues looking for
those diary pages her phone.
Over at school, Emily has made Paige a feast, which is atop a table cloth in the school courtyard. Paige tells her she's decided to get some help and has an appointment that afternoon, but Hanna interrupts. She pulls Em aside for some girl talk, but not "girl-on-girl talk."
Mom: "Hanna. That was rude!"
She wants her to tail Caleb to find out what exactly he said he was "in" for on the phone that morning. Em says she's not in CIA -- an important realization since she was chasing down her stalker/blackmailer in the woods at night last week -- but agrees. During all this, Paige is suspiciously texting in the background and I'm really hoping Emily hasn't been betrAyed again.
In some dark hallway of Rosewood, Mer is back from the Montgomery house and tells Ella that Aria is "feeling a lot better." That's a massive lie, considering it looks like she's dying. As Ella walks away, she calls Aria's phone and look who has it ... Meredith.
Mom: "Mery! You bitch!"
Jaimie: "PRETTY BIG LIAR!"
Mom: "How awful of Ella to trust her and not get her ass over there!"
Jaimie: "Best. Mom. Ever. (Next to you.)"
Mom: "Meredith does play the evil bitch well AND I hate to say it but with pretty hair."
Jaimie: "Get over it."
Mom: "K. I'm just gonna say that if Ella doesnt go over there now that she didn't get Aria, she really is the worst mom and I will regret saying last week that i was kind of liking her. And btw, I DON'T like her shirt this week. It's really frumpy."
Over at TobAy's apartment, Spencer has apparently ditched school to make him an anniversary dinner, wine included. When she goes in a drawer to grab a pen, we see TobAy's Radley ID is just sitting there, in plain sight. Spence somehow misses it. She is losing brain cells by the second.
Mom: "Did Spencer see the badge?"
Mom: "What a dope. I think there was Arnica in the drawer."
She's very observant. Meanwhile, Hanna is all dolled up for her interview with Corin, but when she walks in the office, there are only white mannequins ... and a black hoodie. She tries to escape and cries for help while the "A" teamer is chasing her. S/he finally pushes a row of mannequins into Hanna, who falls to the ground. Then, of course, she gets a text: "Next time you'll be left faceless. -A." There's also a key on the ground with an "A" tag on it.
Mom: "Who is gonna help her? There is no one there, except dummies. Poor Hannie. She still looks gorgeous."
At some other coffee shop that is not The Brew, Emily has followed Hanna's orders to tail Caleb (who drives a Mercedes!), but the plan goes awry when Spencer texts her to come over to Hanna's house "NOW" to discuss the mannequin incident. Em ditches her mission before getting to see that the person Caleb was meeting: none other Paige.
Turns out, Paige and Caleb have had about enough of MonA's antics. "The other night, I realized I'm not afraid for me," Paige tells him. "I'm afraid for Emily. She's been dealing with this for so long it's almost like she's numb to how dangerous this is." They decide there's no way MonA is watching "all of us, all the time." They need to put an end to this once and for all so their girlfriends can have their lives back. How? Her trophy room.
Mom: "I never would have put these two together, but I'm loving this brave dynamic duo."
Jaimie: "Me too. Hanna and Emily have very heroic significant others."
Mom: "I hate to say it because I love him, but Caleb needs to wash his hair. What is it with greasy hair on this show?"
Jaimie: "Maybe he has no hot water, too."
Hanna, Spencer and now Emily are at the Marin's, having a post-mannequin pow-wow. Inspector Spencer googles around to find that Corin moved her store a month ago. Clearly, the girls have been slacking on their shopping. So who was it in the hoodie? Hanna says she didn't tell MonA she was applying for the internship and besides, Em says she saw MonA at school around the time someone shoved some plastic naked bodies into Hanna. The girls actually consider going to the police, even if that means being "ready to talk about Mona 2.0." "I don't care anymore," says Hanna. "She has to be stopped." They decide they need Aria to be in agreement too, but no one's heard from her. Who cares? Spencer has a dinner to prepare for her blackmailer. Cue the "Aw's."
In an even less adorable setting, Aria dreams (or, we hope she dreams) that Ali comes into her room and picks up the doll where the diary pages are hidden. "I'm taking back what's mine," she tells a hazy Aria, before assuring her that she's "more real than [she's] ever been." Ali says she "see everything now," including A everywhere she turns. "So do you. You all do," she adds, noting she can't believe Spencer hasn't figured it out. (Neither can I.) Ali admits that she blackmailed Byron, but it was only a threat. Aria asks if Byron killed her and her only reply is: "Do I look dead to you?" That's not really a confirmation or a denial I buy. Ali says she "wouldn't drink" the tea Meredith left for Aria and with that, she's out, but not before leaving the doll next to Aria's door.
When Aria "wakes up" again (depending on what you believe about the above), the doll is right where Ali left it and Aria thinks twice about the tea, eventually pouring it into a plant. She tries to head downstairs, but she's been locked in her room. On the plus side, at least she's not on drugs anymore.
Mom: "Poor Aria. Where the f is her mother?"
Mom: "The plant will prob keel over after the commercial."
Meanwhile, Meredith's over at the local drugstore trying to get a refill of clonazepam. She "need(s) those pills now," but she can't get a refill so she buys some OTC stuff with daggers in her eyes. Conveniently, Hanna and Em are outside the drugstore and look up to the drug to find out it's used for insomnia. "Either Meredith's got major insomnia or she's trying to knock out a cow," Hanna observes. Though funny, she's not apparently wise enough to think, "Or she's trying to knock out my friend." They try to reach Aria, but her phone is going to voicemail, i.e. it's off in Meredith's bag. Back at the house, Aria has finally tuned into what's happening and since she can't get out of the room, she decides to break her mirror and pretend to sleep while holding a shard of glass for protection.
Over at the PHH, Spencer is staring at the "A" key when TobAy stops by with flowers to
scare surprise her. He asks her about the key that's sitting on the counter, but she says it's Melissa's for her storage unit in Philly.
More importantly, Aria. She wakes up to see Meredith hovering over her, asking about diary pages and holding the shard of glass that Aria held so tight, her hand is bleeding. When a bolt of lightning strikes, Meredith turns around to close the window and Aria bolts. She grabs a phone down stairs, but the line is dead. Apparently, she has never seen a scary movie.
Jaimie: "LEAVE THE HOUSE, ARIA."
But she may never see anything ever again since Meredith slaps her (or hits her with something, it's unclear) and she falls to the ground.
Mom: "OY GEVAULT"
As my heart begins to race (seriously, this episode was scAry), TobAy calls up Spencer to tell her he got off work early. Yay! Not. And things are only getting more horrifying at the Montgomery's. Hanna and Emily use the extra key in a plant to get in the front door and not long after, the lights go out. Of course. They head upstairs to Aria's bedroom and give her a call. Suddenly, they hear vibrating and turn around to see Meredith holding Aria's phone. She tells them Aria's just gone down to the basement to get some flashlights and she shows the way. As they walk through the basement door, Meredith slams it behind them quickly -- but they're not alone. At the bottom of the stairs, Aria is on her stomach, unconscious.
Mom: "It's a mess down there."
Seriously girls, clean up! Luckily, Aria has come to after the commercial break and now, the girls (sans Spence) are in the Montgomery basement brainstorming. A car pulls up and it's Byron. "Is he in on this?" Emily asks. "I don't know what I believe anymore," Aria replies.
When Byron walks in the front door, he sees a robotic Meredith. "Aria knows everything," she tells him. "She has proof, Byron. And her friends know too."
Jaimie: "I feel like Meredith is playing Byron too"
Mom: "Is she an 'A'? I think you're right. I wouldn't trust Byron."
Meanwhile, Emily's grabbed a golf club and Hanna has a lead pipe. Aria, where is your candlestick, rope, wrench or revolver?! Byron opens the basement door and as he approaches, he asks Aria if she's OK. "You don't need to be afraid of me. I swear. I didn't hurt Alison," he says.
Jaimie: "Damn. I wanted them to kill him."
Mom: "Both of them. If he knows that Meredith killed Ali, how could he leave her with Aria? He's a monster too."
We see a flashback from the night Ali died and Byron admitted to her that he doesn't have the money. "You've made your bed, Mr. Montgomery," she screams. But then, Melissa emerges from the house. "What do I have to do? Call 911 to get your attention?" she's telling someone on the phone.
Back at the PHH, ToBay has broken int and he quietly heads to the drawer to get the "A" key. As he rummages, Spencer emerges in the background. "Is this what you're looking for?" she aks, holding up the key. She throws it on the counter as TobAy turns around and as soon as he gets closer, she slaps him. Much like last week's Hanna vs. Mona moment, if you weren't cheering now, there is something wrong with you.
Mom: "Way to go, Spencer! He deserves a lot more."
"How long have you known?" TobAy ask her. But just then, Mariska calls for Spencer and when she turns around, he rushes out the back door. As soon as Mariska enters the kitchen, Spencer starts balling and collapses in her arm. Liv, c'mon! Call Munch and Tutuola! This is is surely an "especially heinous" case.
Meanwhile, Aria's talk with her dad seemed to get her, Hanna and Emily to leave the basement and Byron says, "I called the police. They checked Meredith's apartment. She's gone." Of course she is: She's got canned heat in her heels tonight, baby. (Yes, I've been waiting to make that reference since Mer arrived.) Byron asks Aria if she still thinks he killed Ali and she just gives him the dagger eyes he deserves. Then, Byron says, "I'm going to tell the police everything. Hopefully, after whatever investigation they do, you will realize that I had nothing to do with Alison's death." Apparently though, that's enough to prompt Aria to trust her dad again. She throws the diary pages in the fireplace and says, "I believe you." Damnit, Aria! He is playing you like a fiddle.
My faith in these girls is really dwindling and Spencer is only sealing the deal. She shows up at TobAy's apartment and is shaking, crying and clawing outside his door. "Will you just tell me that what I saw tonight isn't real? Just tell me that there's more to the story. That there's something that I don't know. Please Toby. Please." Is she kidding?! How did Mariska allow her to go over there? Does Spencer want to die? I have so many questions.
Meanwhile, MonA is having a grand old time inside TobAy's apartment, ignoring Spencer, enjoying their anniversary wine and lasagna she prepared, acting like a conductor and smirking.
Mom: "She shouldn't drink since she has to be on a lot of meds."
Best Quotes of the Night
Spencer: "You look terrible"
Aria: "Thank you"
"That bitch can keep a secret. I respect that." -Mona
"You're asking me? Hanna, I've had this hoodie since I was 12." -Caleb
"She's the hottest designer in Philly." -Hanna
"Toby, you forgot your shirt." -Spencer's Mom
"I love you, Hanna, but I'm not in the CIA." -Emily
"Is she threatening to cut your face off?" -Spencer
"If you really want to surprise Toby, have on five-inch heels and nothing else when he walks in the door. What? I've heard guys like that." -Hanna
"I have no problem opening a can of whoop-ass on that woman." -Hanna
"Pretty Little Liars" airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC Family.