Pretty Little Liars can be clever too

A couple of weeks ago, I was pretty much ready to give up on PLL. The show has always been unrealistic and fluff, but I like a little bit of depth with my fluff and lately, depth has been nowhere to be found. The episodes, since it came back on air, had that hurried feel to it. It’s been obvious for at least 2 seasons that the writers are going to keep this going for as long as they can. Nobody is going to find out who A is until the viewing figures dwindle dramatically. You just know there was a meeting somewhere, at some point – when production and writing team narrowed it down to: “let’s think up more and more inventive and tortuous twists in this story so the money can keep rolling in. If we run out of ideas, we’ll just wing it!”
And that’s fine, anybody with half a brain who watches PLL knows that’s what’s going on and as long as you accept that premise – there’s no reason not to enjoy what else is on offer. But anyway, for the last few weeks it’s been really boring with the trumpeted Ali comeback a real let down, and no character development at all. It took a while but we’re finally getting to some meaty stuff. The last 2 episodes have been a lot more coherent, if as unrealistic as ever, and I’ve started enjoying PLL again.

So, the Ali return:
A TV show in which the main protagonist is unlikeable as hell is fine, as long as the character is, er, dead – or so we thought for a while. Bringing Ali back has been challenging for the writers because it’s clear she’s still a scheming, manipulative lying bitch and now the whole story centres around an unlikeable girl who is actually there. The girls are, convincingly enough, weary of Ali. Well, all of them apart from Emily who has less personality than a bubblegum wrapper. I swear I keep thinking they’re going to redeem Emily, like, make her more interesting somehow…….but no. Week after week, it’s that one look and one expression. Now she’s fawning over Ali because Ali used the whole “you have feelings for me, let’s see how I can exploit that” routine. Grow a backbone Emily, really! I’m not kidding but Paige actually had a lucky escape.

Ali knew who the weak link was in that quartet, I’ll give her that. She couldn’t get to Spencer because Spencer is just too smart, Hanna has changed and is not the insecure pushover she used to be. As for Aria, she’s just weird and I don’t know where to place her. But Emily, now Emily is nothing if not predictable. How such a pretty face can cover such nothingness is actually quite fascinating. For all of five seconds. Then it becomes really irritating. So Ali has sunk her claws into the weakling of the gang, just like any predator in the wild.

What’s up with Aria though? She’s obviously ready to give Fitz another chance so why she’s letting Spencer be the voice of reason and put her off, I have no idea. Yes he lied for months and that’s pretty unforgivable, but he did his time in purgatory then threw himself smack in the bullet’s path ffs. When someone has betrayed you, lied to you, used you, only a grand gesture will do. And you couldn’t get more grand than taking a bullet in the guts, right? Surely that’s got to count for something?
Aria was always a bit lazy when it came to trying to work out the whole A thing. She previously never really did her share of detective work, but she’s now turned super sleuth. Sure it might have to do with her guilt over the whole Shana thing but I’m betting that the fact she “has to” cozy up to Fitz while helping him going through his files has something to do with it. Just go for it Aria, you’ll only regret it if you don’t.
But give the girl credit, she volunteered for Radley although I’m not sure what that entails apart from unpacking brightly coloured cups and laying out “art” drawings on a table. She did get threatened with having her hands cut off though, so the job is not without its risks obviously.

Also, any idea how Aria got out from under that bed? It looked pretty tight and I was anticipating some kind of dramatic scene to come out of it – yet Aria is next seen walking to her car with not a hair out of place and not a single speck of dust on her. If it’d been me I would have been caught wriggling out while screaming because there was a spider in my hair or something.

Spencer has all the killer one-liners and she would be the girl I identified with, if it wasn’t for the lack of concern for anything fashion and the boring unimaginative preppy style. I know that’s what the character is supposed to be like, but I just really, really want a smart, clever, cultured girl who can rock a pair of heels – and makeup that treads that fine line between sophisticated and slutty – to be one of the main characters. I am not going to get that with Spencer, I’ve accepted it – but it’s a real shame. Call me superficial but every time she comes up with one of her put-downs or clever remarks, I’m like: “yes!” but then my thoughts drift as such………”I bet you’re wearing really boring white underwear right now.”
Still, Spencer thawed a bit while helping Ezra move his stuff. Those two are so similar it’s surprising they haven’t got it together yet. They’re both really smart, organised, like to work out clues…..ah, but…..there’s no chemistry there. That would be why then.

If only Spencer had Hanna’s fashion sense. Cross Spencer’s brain with Hanna’s style and you’ve got the girl I’m still dreaming about. Hanna was looking mighty fine this week, like, kind of edgy but sexy. I guess she had to pull out all the stops since Caleb was back in town. And I’m liking the attitude. Somebody needs to stand up to Ali and it looks like everyone else is too busy for the job. Go Hanna. And if a little vodka is somehow inhaled along the way, well, I don’t see the harm in that. Although you have to wonder why Emily’s mum would have vodka on that drinks trolley when she’s supposed to be hosting dinner for Emily’s friends. But whatever. Ali really crossed the line when she told Hanna to let Caleb go for everybody’s sake (she really means hers of course) so is it really surprising Hanna is turning to alcohol in the face of such selfishness?

Now Sidney needs to be mentioned. The girls have obviously learnt nothing since they don’t seem to think there’s anything weird with a new girl who: just happens to be on the swim team, cosies up to Emily, Paige and then Hanna, while asking questions and making remarks that nobody else would. Hello?? Wake up! She might as well have a giant arrow hovering above her head saying: I’m A’s pawn! Also, her lips are just weird and are creeping me out. Not her fault I know, but it’s bloody distracting. And she came out of that bathroom stall, didn’t wash her hands and starting stroking Ali’s scarf. Presumably, hygiene is not high on your list of priorities while A is stalking you…. but still, I’m surprised Ali let that go.

In other news, I was really glad Haleb was given another chance. Let’s face it, Travis was always “filler” and things were unresolved between Caleb and Hanna. He left her high and dry and it’s always the people you have unfinished business with who stick in your mind. On a superficial level you get over them, but far down inside you – they stay in the deep recesses of your mind like the pearl inside its oyster. You may not think about them for weeks at a time but at some point or other, something triggers a memory and there they are – as vivid as ever. We’ve come to know Caleb as somebody who knows his own mind (loved him telling Ali what was what) and he’s not a coward, so I knew he wouldn’t leave things unfinished with Hanna. Because there’s not much worse a guy can do to a girl: not finish things. Or not give her closure. So Caleb did the only thing and gave it another go, went with his feelings even though he doesn’t know where it’s leading.
I guess he knew what art in all its forms and simple life psychology have proven time and time again – it’s the things you don’t do that you always end up regretting. I’m sure there’s going to be obstacles aplenty thrown in their way…..what with Hanna and the looming drink problem, not entirely unrelated to the whole upheaval caused by Ali and her reappearance – and new darker Caleb because……we don’t know why yet, as he’s being all secretive and mysterious. But we’re all rooting for Haleb because we know there’s chemistry there, plus Caleb’s got Hanna’s back and their connection feels real.

So yes, PLL has managed to hook me again, just when I was ready to let it go. Dare I say it, I’m now looking forward to next week’s episode. I don’t really care that much where they’re going with the story as long as they keep giving us detailed and properly fleshed out characters. To be honest, there have been times – and especially lately with Ali back – when I’ve wanted to give A a high 5 or two. Is that wrong? Probably it is, but who gives a fuck, right?
Just entertain me PLL – but do it as intelligently as possible. Thanks. I promise I’ll keep watching if you do.

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