Pretty Little Liars: The Talented Mr Rollins – Dead in the Headlights (Review)

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

Before going any further on a breakdown of Pretty Little Liars and “The Talented Mr. Rollins,” let us address the elephant in the episode; the “death of Rollins.”  After being caught dead to rights in the headlights of the PLL Nancy Drew club’s car, the uber villain has his face shoved through the windshield.  A great shot, Elliot’s head and face surrounded a space caused by broken glass and not a shard on any PLL or in the car.

What?

As the camera records the Liars and their reaction to the horror facing them (Sorry for the terrible pun.) there are a few scratched faces and not one little piece of windshield anywhere. (Another quick complaint here.  Why no airbags?  Was the collision with the faux Rollins not enough to register? Or was it more dramatic with Hanna getting a boo-boo on her face?)

“The Talented Mr. Rollins”  finished on a massively impressive note. Elliot’s lifeless face drooling blood from its open mouth framed by broken a windshield was priceless on a number of levels. A case of poetic justice combined with a sort of bitter irony since Toby only just discovered that the real Rollins is a 58 year old man. In other words the dead guy in the Liars’ windshield is not who he claimed to be.

Despite the lack of broken glass this was an enormously satisfying end to the episode.  It punished Elliot for being a cruel and sadistic douche and combined the hapless groups normal mode of operation. The PLL club runs headlong  into all of their investigations leaving  dangling threads,  incorrect conclusions and friends along the wayside.

(Another word of complaint: How is it that every time someone goes into Ali’s old house Elliot turns up soon after. Is this a case of supremely bad timing on the Liars’ part or does Rollins have E.S.P.? Of course now he is dead Elliot will not be turing up to  foil any further plans of evidence gathering…)

The Amish connection was an excellent touch. Another case of pure irony had Elliot and Charlotte heading to the community. Considering that the uber religious sect have some pretty strict views on life, the fact that former fella  Charlotte and Elliot were canoodling on the farm would have caused the farmers to have a fit.

Mary is conspicuously absent in this episode.

A lot detecting was done by the Liars.  Aria finding what was in that locked ottoman at the end of the bed and Spencer putting two and two together to find that Elliot was making latex masks all pointed to Elliot being the new Uber A.

Leaving the main plot aside for a moment, romantically the pretty little liars got back on track. Emily sorts things out with her crush, Spencer clears the air with Caleb and Aria sent Liam packing.  Plus Toby gets engaged to Yvonne.

“The Talented Mr. Rollins” also brings back the doll theme when Aria and Hanna talk with the Amish girl who knew Charlotte. Ali’s sister gave the farmer’s daughter dolls that were dressed as the Liars.  Also at the Amish farm, Aria learns about Hanna’s introduction to the cattle prod when she was held captive.

Elliot discovers that someone has been in his trunk and reacts accordingly. He takes Ali from Welby and makes a run to the lake.  The good doctor forgets the first rule of taking drugs long term, patients build up a tolerance.  Ali recovers in the car and bashes Rollins’ head against the window. She then leaps from the vehicle.

The Pretty Little Liars are following, although they took a short cut to head off the car ahead. Ali runs past the headlights and immediately after, Elliot runs in front of the speeding vehicle.  He is struck by the front of the car and has his head shoved through the windshield.

TROIAN BELLISARIO
Troian Bellisario as Spencer

Earlier in the episode Spencer tells Emily that they are trapped in Rosewood until Ali’s issues are resolved. With the death of Elliot Rollins the Liars may be stuck in the small town for a lot longer.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on Freeform.  Tune in and see how this last season pans out.  The remaining episodes should reveal much. For example, who Elliot really was and exactly how  Mary fits in?

Cast:

Pretty Little Liars: Bedlam – All Roads Lead to Radley…Again (Review)

ANDREA PARKER, SHAY MITCHELL, GWEN HOLLOWAY

You have to  love all the Pretty Little Liars with their tendency to point fingers at nearly everyone as suspect when things go pear shaped (wrong).  Last week saw A.D. texting out testily to the Liars and “Beldam” sees all roads leading to Radley, again.  In season six it seemed everyone who went to school with the Liars spent time the the town’s asylum. Now it appears that it may be a prerequisite for most,  if not all, of  Rosewood’s denizens to have spent time there.

Back to Emily:  In the previous episode she jumped to the conclusion that Ali killed Charlotte based on her friend’s delirious call to the Almighty after she questioned her. Now she thinks she could be wrong. Especially after getting the “midnight” phone call from Alison begging her for help.

Rollins, the secret Brit, who must be A.D. (if he is not he certainly seems to have a vested interest in torturing his wife Ali for no apparent reason,) changes the visiting rules. Only family are allowed in to see DiLaurentis, although that is not a firm and fast rule as he throws “Aunty” Mary Drake (aka Jessica DiLaurentis) out with Emily.

Drake has angry words with Rollins afterward and Em watches with interest through the glazed opaque glass wall.  Even the silhouettes look angry so it is easy to tell that someone is having a falling out.

Aria and Ezra’s book effort hits a stumbling block when Liam (who volunteered to help on their co-authored book) lets his green-eyed monster out of the bag. He pretty much accuses Ezra, Aria’s former English teacher,  of being Humbert Humbert from “Lolita.” Liam also demands that chapters be re-written so the rest of the world will not see a “Lolita” connection. Ezra is not pleased and sees through Liam’s anger dressed as constructive criticism.

Hanna, who has returned from captivity with the help of Mary Drake, has flashbacks of  meeting cute with her ex fiancé Jordan.  Hanna also has another  memory; her  breakup. with Jordan. She remembers what happened  when she  discovers that the bar where they met has been torn down. Poor Hanna reacts badly.

Spencer’s mother fires her for being unfocussed and spending too much time on her friends.  Mary Drake is working her way through the Liars, meeting them individually and, apparently, trying to befriend them all.

Jessica DiLaurentis’ twin sister trots out her own sad backstory, which manages to pin the death of an infant on her dead sibling, that ends with Mary in Radley. Lucas, Hanna’s savior with a multi-million dollar deal looks as trustworthy as a snake with a switchblade. He also looks a bit off…

Pretty Little Liars ends with Ali being drugged via her intravenous drip and having her gurney moved out of her solitary confinement space and down the hall.  As Alison looks on fearfully the double doors at the end of the hallway open to reveal a bright white light.

Season seven of the series has allowed the girls to grow up. It is, after all, five years (plus) later.  This has been a mixed blessing as the characters can now dress like grown women but still suffer from a “high school” mentality when it comes to their impression of the Scooby Gang.

In term of performances, all bring much to the table. They have had six seasons to really learn their characters and it shows.  Sadly, this last trip to Rosewood may be a little contrived (As if the first six seasons were not?).  It will, however,  be interesting to see who made those Mission Impossible type masks and  learn just who Rollins really is.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on Freeform.

Cast:

Pretty Little Liars: Charlotte’s Web – The Good, the Bad, the Guilty (Recap/Review)

Pretty Little Liars follows up the midseason premiere death of Alison’s transgender sister with Charlotte’s Web, which feels a bit like “The Good, the Bad and the Guilty.”

 SHAY MITCHELL, ASHLEY BENSON, TROIAN BELLISARIO, LUCY HALE

Pretty Little Liars follows up the midseason premiere death of Alison’s transgender sister with Charlotte’s Web, which feels a bit like “The Good, the Bad and the Guilty.”  The cast are broken into the good; Hanna, the bad; Aria and Sara, and the guilty; Aria (maybe) and Ezra (equally maybe). It is revealed that the death of ‘A’ was not an easy one as Lorenzo tells the Liars that Charlotte’s neck was broken before being thrown from the church tower.

The first part of the episode spent a good amount of time trying to convince viewers of Aria’s guilt, clearly a waste of effort as the Montgomery is too slight to have lifted Charlotte let alone break her neck. The focus then shifts, only a little early on and then more so after Aria returns to Rosewood, to Ezra.

Furious that his Nicole is obviously dead and that Ali’s sister is free to roam the streets and go to church at four in the morning, this revelation occurs on the day that he and Aria see Charlotte head into the church. Rather interestingly, this means that these two were the last to see Charlotte alive…

Sidenote: Is it just this viewer or does Liam look like a younger version of Ezra?

Emily is rescued by former flower-child Sabrina (she of the “drug candy”  that got Toby in so much trouble last year) when her credit card will not work on the Hollis Medical Institute’s  parking machine. Later, it is revealed that all those hypodermic needles from the previous week’s episode must have something to do with Emily’s  mystery blood treatment.

What Em is having done is not clarified but it could have something to do with a “hepatitis” (A, B, or C). Much later Sabrina is asked not to say anything about bumping into Emily at the Institute.

Hanna finds the key to her mother’s security suite and learns that Aria lied about where she went in the wee hours when Charlotte was being murdered and Hanna was hydrating.  Apart from wondering what Aria was really up to, Hanna is more worried about Caleb meeting her latest squeeze, Jordan.

Spencer is convinced that she influenced the person who murdered Charlotte with her criminology study on the “Honeymoon Murderer.” Aria is taken off Ezra and the job of getting the next book from him is passed to Liam.

Later Aria talks her boss into letting her try again and she explains to Ezra that they will not take back the advance. He gives Aria the “first draft” of his second book. She asks him where he went the night that Charlotte was killed after they met. Ezra tells her home.

Sara Harvey shows up twice, each time with her hands covered. When Emily visits her father’s grave Harvey shows up, looking weird and not a little creepy.

Hanna proves to be quite adept at playing Nancy Drew and after finding the “incriminating” footage of Aria and Ezra, deletes the evidence.

ASHLEY BENSON
Hanna and Emily…

Aria tells the other Liars, sans Ali,  what happened on the night Charlotte was killed and it seems like now Ezra is the new suspect. Spencer then explains that she told Ezra about her murder case study, she believes that Ezra copied the murderer’s MO and killed Charlotte to keep Aria safe, or out of misplaced anger about Nicole’s death.

Spencer’s mother clarifies how she feels about her and Emily tells her dad about what happened at school and that she lost her scholarship after he died.  When Sara Harvey shows up, Em leaves.  Later flowers are put on a freshly dug grave (Charlotte’s?) and as the camera gives a POV shot of entering a limo, the drivers says, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

It never ceases to amuse at how capable Hanna is at computerized tasks, or at manipulating a CCTV security system.  Ms. Marin is not the sharpest file in the manicure set the best of times.

By the time the show ends, Alison tells Lorenzo the she believes her friends could well be responsible for Charlottes’ death; a 180 degree turn around from before.  As usual, Pretty Little Liars crams a lot of things into one episode:

A lot of “things” unsaid,  relationships that all feel a bit “mix and match” and more questions than answers.

Sidenote: Whoever did wardrobe for this episode? Hanna’s nighty looked like something Granny Smith would wear, not a 20 something fashionista.  Makeup and lighting also looked pretty shaky this week with Alison looking as though she  had been beaten about the face and eyes…

As usual kudos to the cast: Sasha Pieterse Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Troian Bellisario, and Shay Mitchell. Oh and for the older  fan, more Nia Peebles please.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on Freeform. Tune in and try to keep up with all the twists and turns.

 

Pretty Little Liars: Of Late I Think of Rosewood (Review)

If there was any doubt that things were going to be different in Rosewood after the midseason break of Pretty Little Liars, the release of CeCe, aka Charlotte, aka ‘A’ proved that it is not too late for things to go south, again, in this odd little verse.

 HUW COLLINS, SASHA PIETERSE

If there was any doubt that things were going to be different in Rosewood after the midseason break of Pretty Little Liars, the release of CeCe, aka Charlotte, aka ‘A’ proved that it is not too late for things to go south, again,  in this odd little verse.  In what may be the longest time ever in a seasonal break, in Rosewood the “liars” have all aged five years.

Once again, the girls decide, to an extent, to stand by Alison (Sasha Pieterse) and “lie” once more for their friend. Only Aria (Lucy Hale) breaks down and says what she really feels; ‘A’ still terrifies her and even the older version of herself is scarred to the bone by the experience. (Kudos to Hale for knocking it out of the park with her train tale.)

This “Old Home Week” episode shows that the ghosts of Rosewood, Radley and ‘A’ are not resting easy.  As evidenced by the playing of Fleurie’s “There’s a Ghost” with lyrics that mention  masks (more lies) and ghosts (‘A’ and all the victims of the entire incident previously) this second half is going to be full of revenants that refuse to lie still.

It comes as no real surprise that once CeCe is let out that she dies. Initially thought to be a suicide, by the end of this  episode of Pretty Little Liars, it is revealed that Charlotte was dead before exiting the church bell tower.   At least two suspects spring to the fore; Mona (Janel Parrish) who dramatically crumples up her pages-long prepared statement to pronounce that Charlotte should be released and Sara Harvey (Dre Davis).

Standout Moments:

Aria revealing that she is far from normal after her time in captivity and being tortured by ‘A.’

LUCY HALE
Aria revealing that the trauma is far from over…

Sara Harvey showing up at the funeral looking drugged out of her mind.

Spencer’s The Wizard of Oz quote from the munchkin coroner; who pronounces the Wicked Witch of the West:

“Really, most sincerely dead.”

Hanna (Ashley Benson) moaning at the cocktail party that there are no “special drinks” and calling Radley a “Squirrel Factory.” She then starts the ball rolling with “Electroshock Margarita?”

Spencer; again, with her drunken confession at the revamped Radley “Squirrel Factory” aka,  “sanitarium:”

“I thought it wouldn’t matter what we said to the judge… because I thought they would never let her out. I thought that we could just lie for Ali one more time and it wouldn’t matter. But it did. They let “A” out.”

Overall Thoughts:

It is fitting that at the Charlotte Cocktail Party  Spencer (Troian Bellisario) brings up the lies told at the hearing.   Her “testimony” which, out of all the girls’ was the most straight forward was the most impressive.

 TROIAN BELLISARIO
Lying one last time for Ali…

At the cocktail party, that Alison does not attend as she is welcoming Charlotte home,  the only “liar,” apart from Spencer who does not get into the drink renaming drill is Emily (Shay Mitchell).  Lucy does come up with “Manic Depressive Mai Tai” just before Spencer professes that she loves her friends lack of good taste.

ASHLEY BENSON, SHAY MITCHELL
Hanna and Emily

In terms of dramatic reveals, the dead body of Charlotte, carefully covered up except for that right-hand clutching the crumpled flower, took second place to the arrival of a clearly stoned Sara at the funeral. (And haven’t we seen something similar in Rosewood before?)

Sidenote: What a great turnout for a mad-as-a-hatter kidnapper who tortured several young girls for an enormously long time. Clearly, being a DiLaurentis means that all past sins are forgotten come funeral time…

Before the end credits roll the funeral ends and  Alison leaves with Dr. Rollins, Mona zooms off, Sara floats to her car and Lorenzo (who has clearly been promoted in the five years the liars have been away) stops by to tell Hanna, Emily, Aria and Spencer that a)Charlotte was murdered and b) Not to leave town.

There are a number of familiar faces that turn up although Nicole was not one of them as apparently she was abducted by revolutionaries in South America while building houses.

Patsy Cline’s Crazy plays out the episode and the song sets up the end-scene rather well. Pretty Little Liars is about to get cray-cray all over again and it is almost like five years never happened…away from Rosewood…for those who “got away.”

Since the title of the episode is a “homage” to an old Twilight Zone episode, “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville;” where the protagonist of that old segment  wanted  to return to “days gone by” it seems that this episode of “Liars” may be heading “back” to the way things were before ‘A’ was un-masked.

The second half of season six airs Tuesdays on ABC on their new Freeform, replacing Family. Tune in and see where this mystery will head now that CeCe is “dead.”

 

Pretty Little Liars: Last Dance (review)

The liars at the barn prom
Last week Pretty Little Liars was a continuance of “build-up” to the penultimate episode; Last Dance. In FrAmed Alison violated Lorenzo’s trust, Clark was acting very suspiciously and “Rhys Matthews” was obviously a DiLaurentis and part of the Carissimi Group.

This week sees the Liars coping with the reality of a prom ban, and their commencement ban, Clark’s true purpose is revealed, Alison shows her friends that even partial familial blood is “thicker,” Sara shows up for Em’s prom, the one she is not supposed to be at, and drops a hint, but Emily does not catch it. Toby forgives Spencer for the candy fiasco that got him suspended from the force, but Lorenzo has not yet forgiven Ali for her indiscretion/crime.

A lot has been cleared up in Rosewood, even while dropping some big clues about where the plot may be heading.

Question: Did anyone else clock the book in Kenneth’s house? On the small end table that, as Veronica Hastings points out, has DiLaurentis’ scotch on it, there was, next to the drink, a copy of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. Since Alison’s father is clearly not a crime/thriller “noir” type this has to be a clue.

The book is glimpsed for an instant and is clearly a signpost of sorts. Looking at the scene that follows, where the mother’s of the Liars meet Rhys Matthews (Charles?), actor Caleb Lane‘s hairstyle looks an awful lot like Robert Walker’s in the Alfred Hitchcock film version of Patricia’s book.

For those who do not follow film-noir or Alfred Hitchcock (or even Highsmith) the plot of Strangers on a Train deals with two chaps who meet on a train and agree to swap murders. This has got to be the big reveal coming up, obviously Charles and A did some sort of swap, or as Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) says in the film a “Criss cross.”

Stepping away from that scotch and book laden end table for a moment: High point of the Liars’ mothers group, apart from getting trapped in the basement, is Nia Peebles getting the line of the evening with her slightly restrained version of “We had one job to do,” without the repeat. They did indeed screw things up, opting to follow Veronica’s lead and drink wine rather than hover nervously in the background looking out for their daughters and “protecting” them from Charles.

The episode provided a little in-depth look at Spencer’s mother. It really is not surprising that Spencer has issues. Even without the body in the back garden event, that mother Veronica will never get over, Mrs. Hasting’s is a real “type-A” force to be reckoned with and must be a real joy to share a house with. Fans of the show who watched it from the beginning know this already, as a Pretty Little Liar noob, however, it was a revealing evening in Casa Hastings.

Ezra shows up for Aria at the “mini” barn prom and later accompanies her to the real deal at the school. These two are a treat to watch. In the untrustworthy stakes, Sara shows up at the prom and rather ominously tells her date, “Emily, I want you to know that whatever happens…you mean a lot to me.”

Uh-oh.

Cue a reveal that will most likely upset the hell out of Em. Something along the lines of Sara lying about just how long she was in the doll house would fit. This little subplot will most likely segue nicely in with the Rhys is Charles main plot. As Aria’s mother Ella (Hollie Marie Combs)says in the DiLaurentis house when they meet the Carissimi Group exec, “I think we just met Charles.” So whoever takes that mask off at the real prom, which prompts Ali to gasp, “Oh my God,” is clearly not Rhys Matthews.

Nor is it Clark, who turns out to be a 22 Jump Street type cop (college man versus 21 Jump Street high schooler). Aria seems almost disappointed that Clark is not a stalker type comrade of A or Charles.

Speaking of Aria, what about that cringe moment where she mistakenly thought Ezra was going to follow her to LA? Almost as awkward as the “will you go with me to the prom” scene from last week. On the plus side for the Liars, Toby has clearly forgiven Spencer for her drug laced candy and Caleb turns out to be a knight in shining armor for Hanna and Lorenzo looks like he may be able to eventually forgive Alison as well.

The mothers being locked in the DiLaurentis basement was a great moment and as Pam Fields says, they had one job…one job! In their defense, it is hard to focus on your kid’s safety when talking about bodies in the garden, drinking wine, and searching for the family next door’s skeletons.

The show’s “Masque of the Red Death” motif at the prom, where a slew of red robed, and hooded, figures can be glimpsed was interesting if not a little wasted as Ali asked the first non-red-robed waiter if he was Charles. Seems that Hanna is not the only Liar who cannot be counted as the sharpest tool in the shed.

All that remains, is for the show to provide that somewhat anticlimactic moment of who Alison is “OMG-ing” about. Certainly with a huge buildup like this, there will be a certain amount of disappointment and disillusionment. Still, that Strangers on a Train hint must mean that whoever fans think is under that mask will not be revealed in the next, episode, aka the mid-season finale. It will be someone else. Who did Charles “criss-cross” with?

‘A’ obviously, but who is it? Next week should clear all that up despite odds that it will not be anyone that fans have placed in the big bad category. Kudos this week to Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario and Ashley Benson. Honorable mention to Ian Harding as Ezra, “unless I have to dress up as a troll or something…I don’t, do I?” He and Hale have a wonderfully awkward chemistry together.

A personal plea…More Holly Marie Combs please.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on ABC Family, next week is the mid-season finale…do not miss it. Until then, who do you think is going to be under that mask? Answers, not on a postcard please, but in the comment section below and one last thought…

How brilliant was the music this week?