Review: Pretty Little Liars’ “Close Encounters”

Published 1/21/14 by:

Pretty Little Liars Close EncountersImage courtesy of: AlloyEntertainment

My rambling recap:

In tonight’s episode we finally see the Liars venture into the great unknown WITH WEAPONS. Hallelujah! They show up at the Busy Bee Inn wielding hammers, field hockey sticks etc. They’re too late, but it’s renewing my faith in their potential to track down Ali, and not get murdered in the process. In no time Spencer is playing hardball with her dad, as he discovers her at Toby’s apartment. She assumes he’s there tracking her down, but he’s there to discuss Radley with Toby. We then find out via Spencer’s excellent litigation tactics that Jason has started drinking again, and was recently arrested for starting a fight in a bar. That solves the sneaking around that Spencer’s dad and Mrs. DeLaurentis have been doing…maybe?

Oh no, just what I was hoping for last season, but now have been dreading  finally happened. Aria picked Ezra over Jake, after his “morning with me, afternoon with him?” comment. I’m all for more Ezra screen time, but not if he’s a total creeper spy bro who potentially is the luminous “Board Shorts”. And Shauna shows up at the church out of the blue? I forgot she existed. Now she’s passing messages for Ali to Emily? Have we (as viewers) figured anything out about Shauna? I feel like the Liars dismissed her too quickly, and now they’re going to regret not having paid more attention to her earlier.

Shauna may have just earned a spot as a Liar – she lived next door to Ali’s grandparents in Georgia, and has been keeping eyes on Jenna et.al. to see who tried to kill Ali. That must be some bond that she and Ali had, if Ali is trusting her on this witch hunt. It’s quite fishy (per usual) that Ali never mentioned this lovely friend from Georgia to any of the Liars – especially Emily.

The Aria dumping Jake scene was excruciating because he was such a nice guy, but walked into a thunderstorm mid lightning. And Toby contemplating signing the plea bargain is dragging out that Radley story line even more. Sign it, don’t sign it – I don’t give a crud.

The Liars still think Shauna is on the A team after Emily reveals her church encounter with her. While it doesn’t seem plausible that this “out of the blue friend from Georgia” would move to Pennsylvania to hunt down Ali’s tormenter, Emily reminds the Liars that “Ali can make someone love her enough to do that.” Man, that just makes me want more Ali flashbacks – she’s the most fascinating character on the entire show. Her charisma and cunning ways around older men as well as her female peers is unlike anything else happening on television right now. I have to say, I’m pretty convinced by Shauna after she knew everything Ali said to Em outside of the barn. I’m not buying this whole “you have to see Ali alone” business though, but I am a firm believer that Emily really was her favorite. I’m glad that Spencer tries to talk some sense into Emily, because let’s face it: she’s still blinded by her life-long love of Ali.

I didn’t recognize that blonde that Ezra was conveniently berating in front of Jake on the street. She looked older? Anyone think she looked familiar? And Travis? Hanna physically attacking his face with her lips? She’s rushing it, but I kind of don’t blame her. She feels like crap, and now Mrs. Marin is concerned. Good times. Her mom’s advice to Hanna is solid, but Hanna is stubborn. Hanna is right –  it is her broken heart so mend it she will (whatever way she wants).

Now Mrs. DeLaurentis is on the board at Radley? THIS could get interesting. She could be the master puppeteer in terms of all the lovely ladies who have graced the halls of Radley. And who would’ve thought that Jake would be the one to warn Aria about Ezra? I’m sure he’s not the last person to do this…but maybe this will finally let the Liars in on Ezra’s secret.

I can’t tell if Ezra is lying about meeting with Maggie’s lawyer, but if he is, damn he’s good. And hearing Aria say that she’s so happy that she chose Ezra makes me cringe. And now Emily is dropped off by Shauna to see her long-lost love. I can’t help but find it adorable that Emily changed her outfit so many times to see Ali. And just when Emily and Ali seem like they’re going to team up with each other and rekindle their odd BFF-lover thing, Spencer shows up and blows it for Em. If looks could kill, Em may have just maimed Spence. Does this mark the first time we saw Ali being vulnerable? It was actually alarming to me.

While Spencer has always been the conspiracy theorist of the group, and is usually pretty spot on, I blindly trust Ali in this situation. Ali genuinely looked freaked out, and even though that whole “targeting Emily to divide the Liars” theory has potential, I’m still swayed by Ali. I guess she made me love her enough to be swayed – I’m no better than Em. Whoops.

The knives in Jake’s boxing bag? Shauna’s photo being set on fire!? YIKES!

Tonight’s episode had a lot of good set up, but that scene between Ali and Em was the best of the season thus far. What did everyone else think?

What could Jason really be doing?

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Review: Pretty Little Liars “Love ShAck, Baby”

Published 1/14/14 by:

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 8.40.24 PM

 

Emily’s midnight visit from the reaper – I mean, Ali- coincides with the her being the first person to research Allison’s old diary. Emily is only willing to dive back into the journal if it means she can get answers. Although Hanna assigning the journal to Spencer next (quite quickly) suggested that there are some things in there that she doesn’t want Aria to see, I think that Em is still going to suffer the most from  this resurrection of Ali.

Ezra watching the Liars delve into Ali’s journal was super creepy and very voyeuristic. Spencer’s “You like Jake; You love Ezra” proclamation to Aria was quite true, but all the more eerie because of Ezra’s new A team status. And how is it that he’s listening to Ali’s phone calls via his laptop? I’m starting to think that he’s not just part of the team, but maybe the origin.

Spencer’s dad and Ali’s mom uttering “Jason needs to know” is suspicious. I’m not buying that Mrs. DeLaurentis is getting a divorce. I’m also very suspect of Ali’s note to Emily at the cafe. I’m not convinced that Emily would be the most helpful in Ali’s quest to rejoin humanity, but perhaps Emily is the one that Ali trusts the most? It’s hard to say. Ali’s apparitions seem to appear to Hanna and Emily the most, but I don’t know what the significance of that is.

Spencer’s dad relaying that Toby’s mother’s death “wasn’t a suicide, but it wasn’t a murder either” is odd, and dragging out this annoying plot line even more. After Spencer tells Mrs. DeLaurentis off and essentially calls her a home-wrecker in the coffee shop, the girls head to The Bumble Bee Inn, based on one of Ali’s cryptic poems. In any other episode I feel as though Aria would’ve confessed to Ezra where she was headed, but in this one she conveniently dodged him. Flash to Ezra being at Hanna’s house for the first time ever. Since when does he make house calls? And Hanna’s mom doesn’t find this odd? And why is Ezra targeting Hanna and rifling through her room as well as her laptop? Does he know she took the journal from his lair, and if so, how?

Why do the Liars insist on not telling anyone where they’re going? They head out to an Inn that has been shut down, get caught in a thunderstorm, and even Spencer hasn’t let Toby in on her location? Aria sneakily leads the Liars to Ezra’s cabin saying that it’s her uncle’s. I have to admit, Hanna’s confession that the missing page was about her hooking up with Aria’s brother Mike (who was pretty young at the time) was very lackluster. I was expecting something way juicier, because, well, this is “Pretty Little Liars” for crying out-loud. The only way this could be an interesting turn in the A plot, is if Mike has been coerced by the A team, unbeknownst to us all these years. Maybe that’s why he’s done some of the crazy things he’s done, had that bout with hermit-like behavior in his room, and lashed out at his mom?

How did someone (A? Ezra?) pull the proverbial wool over the Liars’ eyes so easily and take Ali’s journal? And then Travis conveniently arrives with his tow-truck? Is Travis a hero with excellent timing, or is he fishy? His endurance of a crying Hanna after he wants to “just be a nice guy” suggests that he’s the former.

“We gave Ali to A.” Yup. That happened, with one color-coded sticky note system a la Emily. It’s always Emily’s fault.

Did anyone figure out anything that I didn’t? The answer is yes, so clue me in.

 

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Review: Pretty Little Liars’ Winter 2014 Premiere “Who’s In The Box?”

Published 1/7/14 by:

PLL 2014 winter premiere

Alison Delaurentis is alive. Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer are coming to terms with this shocking truth as the episode opens. Ali couldn’t trust any of the cops in Rosewood, so she’s been hiding out for a year (at least? PLL timelines are a bit odd). Spencer is right in her assertion that the sooner the Liars make it safe for Ali to come back, the sooner they can pull every detail out of her about what has been happening in their lives: “We can ask her why she did this to us.” Spencer has already moved away from Ali the victim, and turned the victimization back on the Liars. Hanna’s revelation that whoever was in “Ali’s casket” was placed there in order to convince the Liars that Ali was dead is both accurate and insane. Although this is something that has occurred to me as a viewer since the finale, I hadn’t really considered how desperately A, or the A Team needed the Liars to assume Ali was deceased.

Ezra’s recommitment to Aria (especially long-term) is a bit alarming, but something I would’ve embraced so much more pre-summer finale. I do love Ezria, but now I feel like Aria is just plain haunted. In terms of Mona approaching Ezra and claiming she wants a mentor? Mona is always fishy, but now I’m wondering if it’s going to be a front for them being on the A team together. I’m not totally convinced that Ali would reach out to Jason. Does anyone remember Ezra’s initial reaction to the Liars spending time with Jason? I vaguely remember him not liking it, and strongly disliking Aria being around him. What could that be foreshadowing? Does Ezra give Aria the key to the cabin because he’s hoping the Liars will meet up there to conspire? Is it a ploy for him to spy on them? Will Aria potentially take the Liars there?

I honestly don’t understand where Toby’s investigation of his mother’s supposed suicide is going to lead. I understand Radley is a common thread for a lot of the troubled women on this show, but I have no predictions whatsoever as to how this is going to be pertinent to the overall timeline. How could it tie into Ali, and how will it connect to A? I honestly have not been terribly interested in Toby’s crusade, so I’m hoping the payoff is big, or it will be deemed just a time suck. What if that Sarah girl is in Radley? Her friend said, “they keep upping her meds.” Could that be the link? What good would come from Spencer’s dad closing down Radley with his lawyer wizardry?

While I’ve really enjoyed Caleb, all the Liars’ have been in long-term relationships, and I’m honestly ready for some new blood. I’m also ready for Emily to break it off with Paige. Emily’s confession that Ali broke her heart was timely because how is she going to move on if Ali is now undead?

Does anyone have a better cliffhanger game than Pretty Little Liars? I am so excited to know what’s in that journal of Ali’s. Also, the preview that shows Ezra and the Liars racing to find Ali? I actually sucked in my breath. What did everyone else think of tonight’s winter premiere?

 

 

 

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Better Than Revenge?

Published 9/17/13 by:

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 6.17.35 PM

 

 

If you’re ever looking for some conversation starters, or in my case, writer’s notebook prompts, I can’t recommend SoulPancake enough. The people engaging with SoulPancake are having meaningful conversations ON THE INTERNET. What an alarmingly good idea! Last spring I was perusing past posts from their site, and I highlighted a few open-ended questions that did not leave my thoughts easily or quickly. The one that startled me and elicited the most emotion was the question: Have you ever performed an act of revenge? As someone who watches copious amounts of television, I’m not immune or oblivious as to how much revenge sells. It’s a major theme in a lot of shows, but most recently in ABC’s “Revenge”, ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars”, and FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” (although the tough guys like to call it retribution).  This made me start to wonder about how American society perceives revenge. Are we celebrating it by watching these shows? Are people watching these shows instead of executing their own vengeful endeavors? Or are these shows inspiring folks to seek revenge?

In my own life I have had many fantasies of revenge, but only one came to fruition. My high school had long red lockers. On the top of each red locker was a rectangular cubby.  In your long locker there was a hitch that you hit to propel your cubby open. The cubby was the most useful part of the locker because, for the most part, it was at eye level. This is where most kids stored their books, reserving the long section for hanging their backpacks and jackets. The only terrible thing about this process was that your locker neighbors were so close to you that you couldn’t really have your cubbies open simultaneously. I was sandwiched in-between the same two students all four years of high school. My boy locker-mate was a total gentleman, and sometimes held my books for me as I juggled my life. My girl locker-mate commandeered the entire area and barely acknowledged my existence, or need to access my belongings. You can imagine how irritated I was as we entered our last semester of high school. Did I ever confront her about it? Not really, although I did utter an aggressive “excuse me” once in a while. When I look back I can’t believe I didn’t just rationally converse with her about timing, negotiating space, and my frustrations. When you’re fifteen, you’re just not rational yet. So what did I do my senior year, after fantasizing about tripping her with her enormously large L.L. Bean backpack? I did a cruel thing. One Friday morning I waited until she was bent over grabbing something, and hit the hitch on my top cubby. It clicked, unlatched, and propelled open just as she came back up to search her own cubby. The red metal rectangle whacked her right in the eyebrow. It was a glorious moment of retaliation. It lasted for a second. It lasted until she cursed, checked her eyebrow for blood and then asked me “how bad is it?”

That’s right. She asked me, her vengeful locker-mate, whether her eyebrow was passable for the judgmental hallways of our high school. My moment of retaliation instantly turned to one of regret and guilt. I felt crappy for the rest of the day. The move, while calculated and well-executed didn’t help me get over my lack of locker respect for four years. It didn’t make me feel like the triumphant winner I thought it would. I felt like garbage. Then I worried she’d find out that it was intentional. Then I chided myself for thinking I had anything to gain from locker slapping her. She never found out (as far as I know). And now, with my ten year high school reunion just two months away, I find myself coming up with more revenge-filled fantasies – ones that include snotty girls being overweight, know-it-alls being unemployed, and jocks with beer guts. Then I think back to my locker booby trap. Perhaps dazzling them with my teacher tales would be better than revenge, because it wouldn’t solicit guilt, worry or momentary triumph. Maybe I’m a grown up, after all.

 

 

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What My Hair Has Taught Me

Published 7/22/13 by:

Locks of Love

Hair

This is a picture of me in October 2006 right after chopping ten inches of my hair off for Locks Of Love. It was a great day because donating hair to this cause was something I hadn’t had the patience to do for many years, but I finally did it! Here’s the deal: I have very thick hair, and it weights a lot. It’s also very silky, which sounds like a blessing, but in reality my hair is greasier than a 13-year-old’s at a campout after one night of sleep. I honestly do love my hair. I think it’s one of my better attributes, but I’m constantly in a flux of cutting it and growing it out. I know most women who are reading this probably are nodding along in agreement, but here’s the rub: I cut my hair twice a year. I haven’t cut my hair more than twice a year probably since high school.  I realize this is fairly abnormal for a girl in her twenties. At 28, I’m finally realizing that my hair tendencies can teach me a few things about myself.

tattoo

tattoo

1. I cut my hair when a) it’s really hot out, b) my hair is damaged from being blow dried, c) when the pool has destroyed it, d) when I see a celeb with an adorable haircut that someone takes hours to coif before they shoot for their show/movie/music video (see Lena Dunham from the first season of “Girls” below). Bottom line: I need to take better care of my hair, and keep up with it more frequently so that I don’t have to take drastic measures.

2. I inevitably grow my hair out when a) I can’t get it into a ponytail without a million clips/bobby-pins or b) I see some fabulous post on a social media website of someone doing something absurdly fabulous with their LONG hair (see below). Bottom line: my hair is half way down my back right now and I haven’t tried any new styles since Thanksgiving.

fancy

fancy

What I’ve learned from my hair is that it’s not the length, thickness, or color that’s holding me back. I’m holding me back. I don’t afford myself enough time, product or equipment to do anything really elaborate with my hair. The times that I’ve given it a shot I’ve thought it looked “forced” and thrown it up in a ponytail or straightened it to un-do whatever monstrosity I created. I don’t trust myself with my hair, and I’m not sure I ever will. Since I was a little girl I haven’t liked anything to be “loose.” This can be applied to pants, socks, hair styles, shoelaces etc. It’s taken a long time for me to accept the fact that I’m never going to have beautiful flowing inside-out braids like Spencer on “Pretty Little Liars” and I’m finally okay with that. It looks so amazing, but I’d rather spend my time elsewhere. In the coming year I will make an effort to cut my hair more frequently, take some risks, and not be so concerned with being able to pull off styles that I’m unable to create and endure. I have nice hair, and I don’t need to fuss with it. It’s like my brother always tells me about mani/pedis: “boys don’t even notice stuff like that.” Sigh.

Has your hair ever taught you something about yourself?

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