*All of our episode recaps contain spoilers*
I am ashamed to admit that my love for Pretty Little Liars wavered somewhat during season five. I know, I know, I’m a bad person, but it felt as if we were stuck in a rut. Oh, how wrong I was. This season has reminded me of why I fell in love with the show, and ‘Don’t look now’ made me vow to never doubt our relationship again.
The episode began with Ali recounting the discussion with her father. Yes, that’s right. An episode of Pretty Little Liars began with an answer. Take a moment to let that sink in. Finished? Okay. So, Charles is, as we assumed, the eldest child of the DiLaurentis brood. He was institutionalised at Radley when Ali was one-year-old. According to Mr. DiLaurentis, Charles was “troubled from a young age” and it was “too dangerous to keep him in the house”. No one knew of him because the family moved to Rosewood after he was admitted, and his existence was kept a secret from Ali and Jason because their father wanted them to have a normal childhood. If only irony had a hand so it could smack Kenneth in the face. Now, this may come as a shock, but Charles’s time in Radley did not help him. Weird, right? In fact, his time at Radley drove him to commit suicide at the age of 16. Yeah, no one is buying that – least of all Hanna. When Ali told the girls that Charles was cremated, Hanna said, “No body, no grave, no proof”. Spencer, of all people, sugar-coated Hanna’s words and told Ali “If we want to rule him out, we just have to find proof of his death”. Who is this person and what have you done with the real Spencer?
Aria only heard the word ‘proof’, and she naively googled ‘Charles DiLaurentis’ in the hope of finding a death record or obituary. Needless to say, she found no record of him; nor would she have even if papa Montgomery hadn’t of interrupted her with his scheduled bout of parenting. Caleb was scheduled for guard duty, and he spent the night at Hanna’s house watching the protective detail. Isn’t he the sweetest?
Okay, Ezra is the sweetest, but I admit I am biased. Spencer was the lucky recipient of his attention this episode. Prior to their conversation, Spencer called the Department of Mental Health, adopting the identity of a mother in need of her daughter’s Radley records. She was informed that the files that were not transferred with patients were sent to River Hill Davis Centre to be shredded. Are you taking notes Aria? That is how it is done. Her time with Ezra was brief due to his newest employee – a baked backer. Yes, we have a medicinal stoner in Rosewood. (It certainly took us a while to cross that off the list). I immediately dislike anyone who lessens Ezra’s screen time, but said stoner’s clumsiness actually triggered a flashback in Spencer to her time in the dollhouse. I’m going to paint you a picture; Spencer in her replica room. She wakes up, covered in blood. It’s on her shirt, her hands, her mouth, but it’s not hers. It’s smeared across the floor. She’s panic stricken. It leads to a locked door. What’s happened? We don’t know. I could form a conspiracy theory, but my imagination is being overworked with Charles, so I think I’m going to wait this one out.
Spencer’s findings occasioned a field trip, and so the girls went to the data centre to seek out Charles’s file. But not before Spencer took a trip of her own to the Montgomery household’s garbage. Aria happened to mention that she threw away her anti-anxiety medication, and Spencer felt it would be a waste if no one benefited from them. Okay, maybe I am a little bias about Spencer as well, but she didn’t find any so that is irrelevant! Aria was the one to find the file, but they did not get the information they wanted. There was no paperwork or entries past his sixteenth birthday. The file covered between thirteen and sixteen, and the last thing to be written was a recommendation for an increase in Xylotrol – a medication for severe depression. What’s more, the only two people to ever visit Charles were his mother and his great aunt Carol, who died when they were in tenth grade.
The girls fled the building and waiting for them outside was a very unhappy Caleb, who had put a tracking device on Hanna’s car. Papa Montgomery did a little old school tracking of his own as well, and his failure to locate Aria made him declare that he needs to know where she is at all times. I must say, you’re really getting the hang of this parenting thing, Byron. As for Mrs. Fields, well… she’s getting there. After finding Sara on the roof watching the sunset, she finally realised that she acted “too hastily” in letting her stay with them. Sara eavesdropped on this pleasant discussion about her ‘unsoundness of mind’ and ran away during the night. Don’t get too excited; she came back after her mother rejected her again. She and Emily proceeded to spend the night together, and apart from one moment of ‘OMG, she’s going to kill Emily’, it was very romantic.
As Emily was otherwise engaged, she missed the field trip to Aunt Carol’s house. This impromptu trip was inspired by a conversation between the DiLaurentis siblings. Jason said he was having “a hard time believing that no one else in this family knew about Charles”, which led Ali to apprise him of Aunt Carol. The mentioning of their great Aunt caused Jason to recollect the time he went to hide out at her abandoned house after his elevator accident. This plan was never actualised because mama DiLaurentis was at the house and she refused to let Jason stay. He gave her weird behaviour little thought, but with the newfound knowledge of their deceased brother, the two realised Charles may have lived at the house. So they went to investigate, with Spencer and Hanna in tow. Whilst at the house, Spencer had another flashback. She told Hanna, who at first explained it away by sleep deprivation. When Spencer insisted it was real, Hanna said, “Charles must have put fake blood in there to make you think you hurt one of us. It was just another one of his mind games”. The other half of the search party had been exploring around the property and found Charles’s gravestone. At this point, volcano Hanna erupted. She began to dig up the grave to prove that the headstone was planted there by Charles to make them think he is dead. She was stopped by Jason, who said the growth of the roots was proof that it was real. Seriously? After everything A has done, you don’t think he is capable of faking a gravestone? Even if it is real, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is dead. What is wrong with you people?
Notably missing from the field trip was Aria, who had quite the night at Hollis. Whilst developing her photographs in the darkroom, Aria came across a gift from A- a bottle of pink hair paint and the message ‘You’re my doll, bitch’. In a flashback, we see that A instructed Aria to dye her hair or get a surprise. She refused, declaring that she was not his doll. He retaliated by cutting her hair and leaving the chopped ends scattered on her pillow. As if the reminder wasn’t distressing enough, A put a wedge under the door, trapping Aria in both the room and the memory. Luckily a boy named ‘Clark’ came to her rescue in more ways than one. He let her out, offered her words of wisdom about her photography, and even gave her one of his pictures. I’m sure you’re a nice guy Clark, but I will forever be team Ezaria.
On the subject of our beloved Rosewood couples; things aren’t looking good for Haleb. It’s hard for me to talk about it, so I’m going to directly quote Hanna. “You’re suffocating me. Okay. I understand how hard it must have been when I was gone and you feel like you have to protect me now. But your constant need to keep tabs on me is making me feel like I’m still in that bunker. I need space”. Please don’t do this Hanna! I can’t deal with Haleb problems and a stoned Spencer (courtesy of Sabrina). Is it wrong that I actually want to see Spencer high? If anyone deserves pot baked goods, it is her. As she said, her mind won’t shut off and she needs to quiet the noise. You do what you have to do Spence!
And now, for the final answer of the episode – the reason Charles was institutionalised. He put Ali in the bathtub when she was eleven months old, turned on the water to scolding hot, and watched as she screamed. I know what you’re thinking - Mr. DiLaurentis isn’t looking like such a bad guy now is he? I’ll keep your secret if you keep mine!
A little conspiracy help from Spencer: “Charles is still the key to all this. A is assuming his identity. He has the DiLaurentis home movie; he had to have known Charles. A must be someone Charles knew at Radley”.
Update on the status of A: He put tracking devices in the girls!