Season four of Pretty Little Liars has upped its 'A' game. Hanna (Ashley Benson), Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) have found out that Alison is still alive and that someone else is behind the reindeer games that "A" has been playing. The ladies are no longer sitting ducks; they have backbones and are fighting back. And it seems like it won't be long before "A" becomes the pawn in the Liars' dangerous game of chess. The saying goes, "Where there is smoke, there is fire," and that certainly is the case with Pretty Little Liars. It's as if these ladies have lit a fire and the match won't extinguish.
From the show's inception, a transformation has occurred, not just with the characters that have totally matured, but also with the pace and plot lines. Rosewood still may be a hot bed for scandal, intrigue, and murder, but it also has become a place both characters and viewers seem to have grown up. A loss of innocence has blossomed and the Liars no longer want to play nicely with "A," and neither does the audience. Their will is strong and the word compromise has been exiled from their vocabulary. The ladies have developed a "do or die" attitude and more times than not, it has seemed like the latter may get the upper hand.
With all of the obstacles each one has faced, it's incredible to see that their friendship has only become deeper and more connected. Now that Ali (the devilishly seductive Sasha Pieterse) has returned, that may not necessarily be the case. She brings a fresh perspective to the continued twisted guilty pleasure that is Pretty Little Liars as well as opens a new can of worms. Not to mention the epic love to hate push and pull that leaves you often times battling between just how the Liars feel; on the brink of envying her, and wanting to end her.
The relationship that Ali and all of the girls have shared is extremely complicated and now that years have passed by, old wounds may be opened once again. Emily once had a crush on Ali, and with her current flourishing relationship with Paige (lovable Lindsey Shaw); an old flame might end up rekindled. While Emily and Paige's relationship has faced many obstacles, it may be hard for these ladies to weather another storm -- which would be completely devastating to Paily fans (fans of Emily and Paige's relationship) as they have almost as many battle scars from shipping the ladies relationship as the two girls. Ali has also had it out for Spencer's boyfriend Toby (Keegan Allen) and with seemingly no foundation for her ill intentions. Spoby (the name for the relationship between Spencer and Toby) has faced its own demons as well. Spencer is a control freak, and with Ali, her grip loosens, as does her hard exterior. Ali's resurrection may conjure some of her old tried and true scare tactics. Hanna has also been a victim of Ali's cruel intentions, especially when Hanna was packing on a few more pounds. Hanna is healthy and happy, but the push and pull of Ali's hold may be stronger than Hanna's willpower. Now that it has been revealed that Ezra (beguiling Ian Harding) is part of the A team, Ali is in continued peril and Aria doesn't realize she is sleeping with the enemy. Could the Liars search for Ali finally give Aria some perspective on the man she's been having a dangerous liaison with? Or will Aria end up a victim in Ezra's deadly deceptions?
Now with Hanna's ex boyfriend Caleb (the smoldering Tyler Blackburn) in Ravenswood entangled with a mystery of his own, what hangs in limbo is where Paige's true allegiance lies. Lindsey Shaw hasn't exactly gotten much screen time beyond some sparse intense, funny or romantic moments with Emily; Paige doesn't really have an identity. When we first met Paige she was full of angst, and it was tough on her coming to terms with her sexuality. Since then her identity has revolved around her girlfriend and nothing more. We have barely scratched the surface with Paige, and fleshing out her character would provide a needed identity and modus operandi to her constant enigma. It's time to find out where Paige's loyalties truly lie.
Liars will unite, tables will be turned, and foundations will be rocked. Pretty Little Liars is a program that can turn people, relationships, themes and signifiers on a dime. Whatever unfolds in this second half of the season is ready to have the earth move from underneath you. The show's theme song says, "Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead," but with so much on the line, Ali's return, and more secrets on the cusp of being unearthed, the grave may not be able carry such a heavy load.