Written by Kelly Duncan
Let me begin by saying, never in a million years did I think I would be fooled by any show on ABC Family. But, I have been. Big time. We’ve finally got the answers we’ve been looking for, but I almost wish we didn’t.
Throughout this episode, the girls receive three gifts from, “A”. First up is a box of magic 8 balls. One for each girl with the combined message telling them that if Hanna’s mom is off the hook for Wilden’s murder, “A” will come after them. Within minutes, Travis is off at the police station identifying Ashley as the woman he saw leaving the woods before Wilden’s murder. Ashley is free, which means, “World War A” is on.
The next gift received is a miniature coffin with a doll that looks exactly like Mona. Without much more action, the girls carry on with their regular business. Aria makes a date with Jake and begins to realize just how little they have in common when he doesn’t want to go to a poetry reading at the Brew. (Honestly, I don’t blame him for that one.) Emily and Paige make dinner plans. Spencer tries to get Toby to call her back after she spilled his secrets at the hoe-down. Hanna and Caleb spend the night with Ashley celebrating her new freedom.
Aria’s date with Jake doesn’t go nearly as well as she had planned. They watch a black and white movie and as she begins talking to him, she realizes he fell asleep. The horror! If you can’t get into black and white movies you just can’t be with Aria. Jake says he’s just going to go home and sleep leaving Aria clearly disappointed. She goes to the Brew, probably hoping to catch the end of the reading, but instead bumps into Ezra. They end up having coffee together and Aria even kisses him. It seems pretty safe to say that she realizes he’s a better fit for her and this could be them getting back together.
Alas, the final gift arrives and kicks this episode into high gear. At first, it looks like a simple empty box. But, Spencer, who apparently won first place for her magic act during summer camp, realizes it’s a magic box and when it’s opened properly, there is a special gift inside. This one comes in the form of a saw with the following message, “Watch me make a girl disappear.” Now everyone is canceling their plans in order to hunt down Mona and make sure she’s ok. Spencer is convinced the magic theme of the gifts is the important thing to focus on and they begin to search for magic shows in the area. They find a magician named The Great Charlemagne performing in Ravenswood.
Before the show, Spencer calls Radley to check on Mona. She’s told that she is no longer a patient, but it’s privileged information. Spencer knows exactly who to go to for answers: Wren. When she gets to Wren’s house it’s empty and Jenna’s Mustang is in front.
This is the same time that Toby spots Shawna at the Brew. As she’s rushing out the door she drops a piece of paper and Toby is quick to retrieve it. It’s an envelope addressed to Wren, at Melissa’s new apartment in London. Interesting. This isn’t overly important at the moment, but I’m sure it will be in the future. The one thing that this discovery does, is it gets Toby speaking to Spencer again and he FINALLY realizes that hearing “A’s” version of what happened to his mother isn’t worth the price he’ll have to pay to hear it. Now that he’s done with that he is back on track with the liars.
While everyone else is concerned about Mona, Caleb is still convinced that she’s working with “A” and he doesn’t want to waste time looking for her. However, to keep Hanna happy, he stakes out her house in case she shows up. After an uneventful night, Toby shows up to take over. Almost as soon as Toby gets there, he spots Shawna driving out with Jenna’s Mustang and he begins to follow her. She leads him to a B&B where Mona is holed up perfectly safe and sound.
At this point, the Liars are headed back to Ravenswood. When they arrive, The Great Charlemagne is not only a magician, but also a completely creepy mime. When the girl’s arrive, it is clear to see that he is part of “A’s” game and he insists on using Aria in his disappearing act. Although she refuses to be a part of the show multiple times, he is relentless and Aria eventually gives. The trick goes off without a hitch. That is until she gets back to her friends and realizes Emily is missing. Cue message from “A”: a simple “Sleight of hand,” written in French.
The girls call Emily, and she luckily has service, but she’s trapped in what she can only assume is a coffin and she hears the sound of a chainsaw getting louder and louder. Quick thinking Spencer remembers a street with a saw-mill on it. Off they go, and surprise, surprise Redcoat is mere steps ahead of them. As they get inside they see a box chained to a conveyor belt moving towards a massive table saw. As hard as they are trying, it just doesn’t look like they are going to get Emily out in time. Luckily, Redcoat shows up and stops the conveyor belt. (As smart as Spencer is, you’d think she would’ve been the first one to think of that.) Spencer takes off after Redcoat. But then, there’s another Redcoat. Aria chases this one and they end up in the rafters going punch for punch.. Those self-defense classes sure did pay off. As Redcoat tries to escape Aria’s wrath, she reaches for a rope, in what I can only assume was an attempt to lower her to the floor, but instead the rope snaps, and even though Aria tries to save her she drops to the floor. It looks like Cece just might be dead. That is until the girls decide to step away from the body and turn their backs to it. In true horror movie fashion, when they turn around 10 seconds later the presumably dead body is gone.
As strange as it is that Cece is now gone, the girls don’t have time to waste. Spencer found something pretty incredible just around the corner and she’s confident that the second Redcoat wanted the girls to find it. It is ”A’s” lair. This lair however is far more sophisticated than anything Mona ever had. There are gigantic photos of Ali lining the walls, plus multi-screen computers systems that are tapped into the police stations and home security systems all throughout Rosewood. What the Liars don’t realize is that someone is watching them through one of the eyes in one of the photos on the wall. It was quite creepy.
While Spencer, Hanna, and Emily are searching the rest of the room, Aria notices there are timelines for each of the Liars, following each thing that “A” has ever done for them and surveillance photos of the people “A” is following. A few shocking things are discovered in the new lair. First of all, “A” is following Ali as well as the Liars. Second, based on all of the suits in the closet, “A” is a man! A wealthy man at that. He has set up a corporation that he uses to pay off his “employees” and Cece is one of them. They also find a flier for a party with a handwritten note mentioning that Ali should be there. The Liars head out to find the party, but are stopped in the street by the infamous Mrs. Grunwald. In case you’ve forgotten, she was the sorority house mother that claimed she never met Ali before. Well, that’s not quite the case. She tells the girls they can’t go to the party, because she thinks that “A” has been messing with the Liars, hoping that they would eventually lead him to Ali. They’ve been flirting with the idea that Ali wasn’t really dead and now we have confirmation. Mrs. Grunwald has psychic powers and Ali was contacting her because she wanted her protection from the boy she had been dating the summer she disappeared. While the Liars suspected it was Wilden that she’d been calling board-shorts, they were wrong. But, Ali did lie to this guy and told him that she was 18. Whether or not that’s what made him want to kill her is anybody’s guess.
Mrs. Grunwald feared for Ali’s safety and decided to go check on her, and that’s when she found her trying to dig her way out of the mountains of dirt that were piled on her the night she disappeared. She pulled her out and tried to bring her to the hospital, but when Mrs. Grunwald went in to let them know she needed help, Ali got out of the car and ran. She’s been running ever since. Aria asks what they have to do with anything, and why “A” is going after them. She thinks that “A” is hoping they will lead him to Ali.
My big question is, if “A” has this never ending pit of money, why does he need the other girls? He should be able to find Ali quite easily instead of dragging all of these other people into things and screwing with their lives. It’s a little confusing to me. Aria doesn’t accept that they’re not able to go to the party. If Ali is going to be there, she thinks they should be too and they head into a costume shop to find clothes for the party. As we’re watching this discussion take place, the camera pans back and we see a man spying on them. Cut back to the lair and we see a very angry man. A man that goes by the name… EZRA! I’ve been rooting for Ezra and Aria since day one and I’m feeling insanely stupid. I mean, we know he comes from money and had his name changed. Now I’m wondering why Cece was spying on him and Aria if she’s working for him. I know she probably doesn’t know she’s working for him, but still. I’m having a hard time believing it’s been Ezra all along. Also, I don’t understand what he’s so angry about. You’d think he’d just go to the party as planned.
It looks like we’ll be waiting for October’s Halloween episode to see how this plays out and if Ali decides to come back from the dead.