'Pretty Little Liars' Season 4, Episode 3 Recap: Mask of the Red Coat

(ABC Family)

Well, well, well...untangling that episode certainly feels like a game of cat’s cradle, doesn’t it? Let’s get right to it, LiArs!

Lindsay: First of all, let me say — what a slow episode. Took a while to get the gears cranking there, but here’s what we know: Melissa is back (Which, thank the Lord. But I’ve already waxed poetic on how much I love Torrey DeVitto), and the liArs (and their parents, boyfriends, and friends) are on a big ol’ dry/erase board in HotCop(TM)’s office. Leave it to Hanna to ask why she’s on there — duh, HAN, it’s pretty obvious A wants to set you up for murder.

Jess: Was MonA on the board? I didn’t notice. But MonA wasn’t around at ALL this week, which is suspicious enough for me. She was invoked a few times, though--once when Spencer and Toby were breaking into Radley (thanks to the override codes MonA provided when Spencer was on the A team) to find the truth about Toby’s mom’s suicide/possible murder (it seems like that’s where they’re heading, though I don’t think anyone’s actually suggested she was pushed yet). The liArs also brought up MonA when digging through the bin o’ crap Emily helped herself to from Ali’s bedroom-shrine. As in, let’s keep this bunch of stuff a secret from MonA, whom we still don’t trust, while we scour Ali’s belongings for more clues (which was a smart move, actually, since anything Ali owned is usually a clue).

Lindsay: Just as a side note, the liArs could never be convicted of anything. With the escaping mental patients, the cracked codes, and the obvious murderers walking around, Rosewood has more trouble than it knows what to do with. Watching HotCop trying to solve this is going to be like watching freaking Barney Fife arrest someone. Anyway, the other weird thing about this episode was Ashley. It’s known now that A is trying to bump off the mothers (minus Spencer’s mom, since she is literally never home and not a mom), but Ashley’s storyline is getting dark. That weird voice at the end when she’s talking to Hanna through the bathroom door? I’m thinking she’s found in a bathtub next episode (sorry, Hanna).

Jess: Yeah, I was pretty convinced that voice was either a Tiger’s Talkboy recording or the MIA parrot from last week. Now that Hanna’s dad revealed to Caleb (HOW much do we love Caleb for going to bat for Hanna like that? A lot.) that he had a visit from Ashley when she was supposedly seeing Anything Goes in New York — and discovered his gun was missing shortly thereafter — it seems like A might not have to work too hard to frame Ashley for this one. Which is good, I guess, if you’re on A’s side, since he/she has his/her hands full trying to get rid of all the other “mean mommies” of Rosewood (A’s words, not mine). After A starts getting the Fields parents in trouble with Family Services, Aria tries to take one step ahead of A and practically begs Ella to go to Austria with her coffeehouse boyfriend. Aria’s self-defense classes are paying off — with her new steps toward protection AND with two dates with #DojoHottie Jake in one episode!

Lindsay: And now to the thing most likely to keep Jess up tonight: the masks. Creee-eepy, right? I just (and I’m sure you do, too) want to know why. Why is there a scary man in a shack
making masks, and why did Ali and Melissa (Melissa, it hurts so good when you confuse us like this) think this was a good idea, to let this man pour latex all over them? I think one of the A team members (because there is still, in my mind, at least two) has a Melissa mask. And that person could be the ringleader. Because Melissa is, ultimately, responsible for all of this.

Errant thoughts and musings:

  • Toby’s storyline, while still sad, is now competing with the Fields’ storyline for saddest of the season thus far. Pam looked so upset when telling Emily all the “evidence” the Family Services people reportedly have on her as an abusive mother. After all the bonding work this mother-daughter pair did after Emily came out, it’s pretty horrible to see their relationship portrayed as so (falsely) violently.
  • Emily went to a doctor...and it wasn’t Dr. Wren?! This baffled us.
  • Cue the collective “YAY!” when Caleb showed up on our screen. Seriously glad to see you, dude.
  • How much is Aria forcing this new relationship? She wants a Fitz and she’s projecting. Been there, girlfriend, but it’s time to accept this as a rebound and go it alone. You have enough problems.
  • There were a few callbacks to earlier seasons tonight. One, Emily quoted Ali’s infamous “That’s immortality, my darlings,” while attempting to explain why on Earth Alison would have a mask made of her own face. Multiple masks, in fact. I don’t know, even without the immortality line as explanation, this seems like exactly the kind of thing Ali would do. And two, Melissa asked Spencer to consider a question Spencer once asked Melissa: if it  came down to it, would she protect her sister or someone else she loved? Spence asked Melissa this about Ian when he was in that streak of creepily chopping veggies in the kitchen, but I wonder what’s going down to cause Melissa to bring it up now.
  • Related: Melissa mentioned that it might be time for both Hastings sisters to get the heck outta town, “if [they] know what’s good for [them].”
  • The girls all seem like they’re finally understanding how deep this river of sh-- is that A’s got them swimming in — Hanna said, “I’m not waiting for Spencer because A’s not waiting for anyone!” and all I could think was YES, NOW YOU GET IT.

And there you have it, folks — another week of LiArs! Will Ashley make it out of this season alive? Will Toby avenge his mother’s death? How old is Melissa, anyway? (Seriously, a 25 year old intern? Is the economy bad in Rosewood, too?) Hash out your theories in the comments, and we’ll see you next week for our next installment.