Thursday, January 14, 2016

'Pretty Little Liars' Rosewood Roundup ("Of Late I Think of Rosewood") [Contributor: Megan Mann]

"Of Late I Think of Rosewood"
Original Airdate: January 12, 2016

Guess who’s back? Back again. Rosewood’s finest... back again! That’s right. We have finally reached the premiere of the back half of Pretty Little Liars! Let’s jump right into it.

It’s been five years since the girls discovered that it was Cece who stole the game from Mona. And our Liars have all gone their separate ways. The bell rings at Rosewood High as previous secrets fill its halls leading to Ali teaching a new group of students. As class lets out, a man named Dr. Rollins tells her that the judge has finally set a date for Cece’s release... four days from then. He reminds her that her friends might not want to participate when she had tortured them.

Ali sends a letter to all four girls beseeching them to speak to her when they return to Rosewood, to allow her to plead Cece’s case. Spencer is reading the letter on a park bench in D.C., Aria in a Boston bookstore, Hanna seated comfortably in first class, and Emily from behind a bar. Cece, going by Charlotte once again, is nervous that the girls won’t help her case and see that she’s changed, but Ali will not be swayed. She will bring Charlotte home.

Spencer stands in front of Lucky Leon’s cupcakes looking at a group of girls, almost identical to her and her friends, clearly remembering the good times she had with her group. All of their phones go off and she immediately has a flash of panic before walking off. Emily is waiting at the coffee shop, sneaking what seems to be a pain pill from her purse just before Hanna, Spencer, and Aria join her. A montage of photos shows how excited the girls are to see one another.

Hanna tells the girls that she’s working for a major fashion designer in New York. Aria grabs her hand and examines a flashy ring on her finger. As they joke about her future wedding (to whom? To Caleb? A new suitor?), we discover Emily took an extra year to graduate from college. When Spencer asks her for a tour of where she is now, Emily is edgy and already it seems like she’s keeping something from the girls. Does this have to do with the pill she took earlier? Aria is dating someone named Liam, but Spencer is too busy to be with anyone.

The catching up is over and it’s time to get back to why they’re all back in town: Charlotte’s release. After five years A-free, they wonder what to do. Do they tell the court how they really feel about her getting out? Spencer suggests visiting with their families and then listening to what Ali has to say. A flag hangs from Emily’s window letting us know that her father has passed away, and Hanna has lunch with her mother at the new boutique hotel that was formerly Radley (totally bizarre) that Ashley helped refurbish. Even the topic of Ali and the case puts Hanna on edge as she snaps at Ashley.

Aria hands a book of short stories to her father, who mentions how impressed he is by Aria’s new boyfriend. He asks if she happened to run into Ezra at The Brew as he has recently moved back. Aria seems confused by this news; apparently Nicole and and fourteen others from Ezra’s Habitat for Humanity group are either missing or reported dead. It’s sweet that Papa Montgomery seems concerned about Ezra when he was so wholeheartedly against him before. I guess rescuing one’s daughter from an underground dollhouse helps.

An ad flashes bright across the screen saying, “Hastings for State Senate.” Veronica Hastings is, not surprisingly, running for Senate. Her father is off raising funds for her campaign and gaining the vote. She said that she was inspired by Spencer’s foray into government. No one could possibly have seen that family on Capitol Hill... said no one ever.

Ezra walks down the stairs of The Brew looking both haggard and surprised to see Aria. He believes her bosses are mad at him as they gave him an advance on a second book and he never finished it. “They know what happened in South America,” Aria says. “They understand.” Crackling with a subdued frustration, Ezra says he doesn’t understand what happened or how Nicole can still be missing. There’s a cloud of anger and sorrow hanging over him that, for once, Aria can’t fix.

Spencer walks up to see Toby making furniture. The two seem happy to see each other but, as with Aria and Ezra, it’s still slightly awkward between them. He mentions Real Rosewood Disney Prince Caleb and it reminds us that he’s no longer with Hanna. What could have happened between them? As with Hanna’s mom, Toby muses that when Ali calls, the girls come running. Spencer tries to refute that, but it almost seems as if everyone else has a point. He asks if he could buy her dinner before she leaves and the two share a sweet moment before she leaves to meet Ali and the girls.

They meet in Ezra’s old/Ali’s new classroom. It seems that Charlotte has been getting all the proper help and has been making major strides in her mental health stability. The girls still don’t seem to buy what Ali is selling and it’s evident in their body language and in the looks of discomfort that they don’t even try to hide. Despite having gone through the trauma together, Ali has dealt with it differently, as she wanted to mend her family whereas the girls still carry the weight of what happened to them. Ali tells them that Mona is demanding to be heard about the torture of the dollhouse and that Sara cannot give a statement based on her criminal charges. When Spencer asks why Jason isn’t there, Ali says that he doesn’t agree with her and Dr. Rollins. They haven’t even been back together for five minutes and Ali is already asking the girls to return to their old ways of lying for her to get what she wants. New lives, same Ali. The girls are defiant in regards to her wishes and she leaves knowing that she’s likely beat.

A crowd has gathered in front of the police department as Veronica gives a speech while the girls discuss what to do. The police have all of the notes, so it’s not as if they have to dive back into everything that Charlotte did to them as A. All they have to do is tell them they’re not scared of her anymore. “Is that the truth? That we’re not afraid?” Aria asks. Hanna says, “Maybe we didn’t kill the dragon, but at least we tamed it.” As Spencer walks off, a familiar voice comes from the side: Mona. She gets right to the point and asks if she still has bad dreams like she does. Spencer, always the hard candy shell, says nothing before walking off to join her mother.

Later that night, Toby joins Emily on her front porch for a beer and we get some much-needed catch-up. He says that he and Spencer merely fell out of sync, but he got his degree, so at least there’s that. College wasn’t what Emily had anticipated. It was easy for the girls, but it was harder for her, especially when her dad died. Even after everything she lived through, Emily seemed to still face hardships the other girls didn’t in the years following the fall of A.

The next morning in court, Ali is pleading Charlotte’s case. Each girl takes a seat in front of the judge, giving their version of what it means to be free of the fear of Charlotte, though as each girl gives her statement, it’s clear that what transpired still haunts them. Spencer stars off strong, Hanna has some edge to her words, Emily seems deliberate, and Aria can’t seem to sit still. Ezra steps in as the judge stops Aria and asks her to give her feelings, not what the doctors or Ali or the notes say. It immediately triggers flashbacks of all the times A tortured her and that is when Aria admits that she wouldn’t feel safe if Charlotte was released. She tells the story of a train stopping in a tunnel and having a panic attack, scaring other passengers with her screams and crying. Emboldened by Aria’s admission, Mona crumples her prepared statement and, instead of speaking against Charlotte, says that Radley twisted Charlotte into what she became and it’s that sort of place that she needs to be released from.

The girls meet for dinner at the swanky new Radley. Emily mentions that had Sara been there, she could have shown the judge how the girls were lying and what they had done to her. What did they do to her? Last we saw, she was closing the door on the girls to watch A’s live broadcast. Their phones trill with a text from Ali thanking them for getting Charlotte out. The girls proceed to get drunk and reminisce and it’s sweet to see them in such a jubilant mood. By the end of the night, though, the girls circle back to the day’s events as Spencer admits that she hoped Charlotte would never have gotten out. As they toast to their future, we see that the girls have, as always, been watched the entire night. What could this mean for that bright future they were just toasting to?

The evening’s beverage choices have the girls draped across Hanna’s suite and as the phone rings, Emily knocks her bag to the floor showing a variety of prescriptions that she hopes the girls don’t see. What could she possibly be hiding that not even the girls can know about? Ali cries into the phone that she doesn’t know where Charlotte is. She went to sleep with her there and woke up with her gone. Liars assemble! Ali needs you!

Near the church, a trail of flower petals have fallen on the grass and lead to a limp hand in the grass. The coroner’s place a blue tarp over a body and Toby says that a door was forced and a shutter opened at the top of the bell tower. Even without her hospital ID card, he would have recognized her anyway. It was Charlotte.

Hanna opens her door to see Real Rosewood Disney Prince Caleb and she’s just as surprised to see him as we all are. Hanna bluntly asks what he’s doing there. Spencer called to tell him the news about Charlotte and he came to make sure she was okay and if he could help in any way. He asks how she’s doing and there’s tension that is still unexplained. Of all the secrets we need answers to, this is the one we need to be revealed as quickly as possible. Spencer meets him down in the lobby and says it was better if she stayed down there. Is there something going on there that we don’t know about? Why else would he be staying in Spencer’s barn?

Charlotte’s funeral seems like more of a who’s who of the people she tortured and as Mona starts to shake, the door opens to reveal none other than Black Veil herself, Sara Harvey, accompanied by a bodyguard of some sort. Mona stomps off as Sara is lead back to her car. Lorenzo stops them and reveals that Charlotte was already dead when she had fallen from the bell tower and already they’re pointing fingers at our little liars. A tinted window rolls up on the girls and it seems that we have just had our first stalker moment with the new Big Bad.

Welcome home, ladies.


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