Pretty Little Liars Season 3 Review “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”

Pretty Little Liars Season 3 Episode 22 "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" (4)

As the latest episode of “Pretty Little Liars” began, there was only one question on the girls’ minds- where in the world was Spencer? On “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” we got the answer: not in a very good place, literally or figuratively. Of course, she hasn’t been right in the head for some time now, but this was the first time you really had to wonder: is Spencer genuinely cracking up? Before, it seemed like teen love gone awry- now it seems more like Spencer might be actually losing it for real. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

When Melissa shows up at the school to report that Spencer never came home last night, the girls go into full panic mode. They split up to look for her, but aren’t having much luck. At the same time, Ashley and Hanna are still flipping out about the Wilden situation. Ashley has a job interview with her bank that could potentially get them relocated to New York, which she’s beginning to think might be the best idea, in order to get them away from the mess they’re in. She’s not wrong, and Hanna encourages her to go for it, by all means.

Meanwhile, Spencer is still at Radley, and though she reveals that she’s still Spencer underneath it all, and that the “Jane Doe” thing is just an act, it’s clear that she has serious issues nonetheless. Enter Dr. Sullivan, back from wherever she was hiding out before. Spencer tells her about Toby and Dr. Sullivan says she will report it to the police, as well as contacting her parents.

In the meantime, she contacts Melissa and she comes to visit Spencer, who admits that she thought Spencer was just being mean to her, but now she realizes she might actually have issues for real. Way to show up late to the party, sweetie! Of course, she may well be in on everything, so this concern may be feigned- also remember, Spencer did mack on her ex, Dr. Wren, who was conspicuously absent this episode.

Ashley meets with Pastor Ted, who reports good things about Caleb’s dad to Hanna, who is still on the fence about him over the events involving the money he may or may not have stolen from the church. Ashley tells Ted about the potential move situation, and how, if she gets the job, she might be in New York sooner than later.

At one point, Detective Wilden shows up out of the blue, clearly rattling Ashley and Hanna, which Ted takes note of. Later, he asks Ashley if there’s anything he can do. It seems like he knows more than he’s letting on, and gets that she’s leaving town less because she wants to and more because she has to. (Interesting line on the sermon announcement, a quote from Emerson: “Commit a crime and the world is made of glass.” Hmm…)

Aria meets with her father and reaches out to him, which couldn’t have been easy to do. Ezra has been struggling with money as of late, and recognizes that free-lancing won’t cut it anymore: he needs a “real” job. (Preaching to the choir, my friend!) He clearly misses teaching, but seeing as he’s all but banned from Rosewood, he isn’t sure what to do. Aria’s dad has his reservations, but agrees to think about it.

Later, he meets with Aria’s mom and they hash out the pros and cons of helping Ezra out. Both agree that Ezra is a good teacher, but that putting him back at Rosewood might cause more trouble than it’s worth. On the other hand, Byron points out, it might just lead Aria and Ezra to break up altogether, as they would have to go back into hiding with their relationship. Ella agrees and Byron decides to talk to the principal after all and put in a good word for Ezra.

Hanna, still reeling from her encounter with Wilden, is even more freaked out when she discovers that “A” has a copy of the police video, which she figured must be true after the incident with the car, but now knows for sure when “A” sends her a still of the video. The girls finally find out where Spencer is and that Dr. Sullivan is involved and immediately try to figure out a way to see Spencer, in spite of the fact that she can’t have visitors for at least 72 hours while her mental health is being evaluated.

Spencer buddies up to Eddie, the attendant at Radley, and after glancing at his badge, realizes that he’s the “real” E. Lamb, aka the employee whose badge Toby stole and used to get in and out of Radley to confer with Mona when she was there. He later tells her that they changed their badges and improved security after trouble ensued with people either getting in or out that shouldn’t have been, though he’s maddeningly vague- at first, at least.

Emily talks to Dr. Sullivan and discovers that Toby might be dead, but that they haven’t found a body yet. She confirms that Spencer can’t have visitors as of yet. Then Emily meets up with Shauna, who she discovers was on the swim team before- a fact that Paige forgot to mention. She barely has time to let that sink in when we got a completely random visit from…Missy Franklin?

As nice as it was to see Franklin, still in full beam post-Olympics victories, these guest shots have always been distracting and a bit awkward. Remember the bit with Aria and Adam Lambert? Having him as a musical guest was fine, but when he interacted with one of the girls, it seemed a bit forced, and that proved to be the case here as well, with Franklin. At least here, we had the connective tissue of both her and Em being swimmers, but it still felt off.

Aria and Hanna discuss the Spencer situation for a bit, but then move on to the Ashley situation, with Hanna confessing that she may not be in Rosewood much longer if her mom lands the New York job, and that it might be for the best, under the circumstances. She also tells Aria about Wilden’s surprise return and the fact that he’s clearly been trailing her and her mom.

Spencer keeps digging with Eddie about what went on at Radley before, and discovers she’s in Mona’s room, who he obviously remembers, what with her being so creepy and all. He also mentions that the issue at Radley included something involving the visitor’s passes as well and that it was subsequently traced back to a member of the staff. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Mona likely pawned the badge off of Eddie that was then given to Toby to retrofit for his own use, and that she likely nabbed the visitors’ passes as well…but to what end? (More on that later.)

Spencer has a look around the room to see if there are any clues, and finds one of sorts, when she sees a carving of the episode’s title, “Will the Circle be Unbroken?” on the wooden desk there. This inspires a flashback, where we see Mona merrily singing along to the quote’s namesake, which turns out to be a gospel hymn. Also there is Ali, of all people (!), who pokes fun at Mona to Spencer, and spends most of the service writing in her diary. She amusingly tells Spencer that she goes to church to “cover my bets” in case something bad happened to her prematurely. She eerily foreshadows her own death, and tells Spencer that she’s writing the diaries for her, so that she have all the ammo she needs to rule the school in her wake, as they are packed with scandalous dirt on the entire community.

Was it me, or did she seem a little too convinced something was about to happen to her? Like, as if she knew it and was taking precautions to prepare for it- and possibly even to avoid it? Did Ali fake her own death to avoid being killed for real? Many have predicted that she actually hasn’t been dead this whole time, and some have suspected a twin might be involved somehow, which would explain how it got past the cops, being as how relatives share a lot of the same DNA.

The only problem with this is that we’ve seen no real evidence that there even was a twin, and you’d think that would be something people knew about…or maybe not. Is it possible there’s some sort of “Lying Game”-style situation going on here, where one girl was raised by one set of parents and the other by another group and the whole thing kept secret until one got nosy and started investigating and discovered the existence of the other? If so, given that both shows come from the same author, it would seem like she was ripping herself off, so I suspect that’s not the case. But still, the twin thing is apparently a part of the novels, I’ve heard, so we we’ll see.

Back at Radley, Spencer keeps fishing for information from Eddie, and asks him about Toby. Eddie does indeed remember Toby, as someone who used to be in and out of Radley, not for himself, but to visit his mother, who was apparently once a patient there, too. He doesn’t think that any of the things Spencer is asking about are a coincidence, but fears for his job and scurries away when some unknown authority figures show up and start asking questions at the front desk.

At the school, the girls are talking in the bathroom about the Spencer situation, with Hanna wisely noting that sometimes it’s the smartest people that get it the worst when they are duped by somebody. Spencer has always been the most tightly wound, so it made sense that when she finally snapped, she would snap hard, which she clearly has. Then Mona comes in and Aria confronts and threatens her. Mona seems genuinely surprised to discover that Spencer is at Radley, but you can see the crazy wheels start turning on the spot.

Aria gets called to the office, where she and the principal have a frank, off-the-record discussion about Ezra. Figuring out that her dad must have talked to him, Aria lies when he asks about whether or not she and Ezra still have a relationship, hoping to get him his job back. Interestingly, we also see Byron having a talk with Ezra in the episode, in which he tells him he wasn’t able to get him his job back after all. Is Byron playing Ezra to try and get him out of his daughter’s life? We shall see.

Mona wastes no time in visiting Spencer, even though they clearly said she wasn’t allowed visitors. Mona lies and says she’s visiting someone else, and proceeds to needle Spencer about everything. How great is Janel Parrish at being creepy? It takes a special something to make a line reading of “Are you sure you don’t want a cookie?” freaky, but damned if Parrish doesn’t nail it.

She tells Spencer that Ali’s pregnancy was a false alarm, but Spencer doesn’t believe her. How could she know that? Mona reminds her that she has most of the diaries, and knows where the rest are. She offers to let Spencer read them, promising all sorts of juicy info about stuff she never even thought to think about because she didn’t know about it in the first place- but at a price. Spencer refuses, but will she be able to resist not knowing? Especially in her current, not exactly thinking entirely rationally state? I’m not so sure…she may end up on the “A”-Team yet.

Ashley leaves for the job interview in New York, leaving Hanna to stay at Emily’s. No sooner than she leaves than Wilden shows up, and Hanna confronts him, asking why he’s stalking them. He says that all will be forgiven if she tells him where his police car is. Of course, the car is in the lake, so Hanna is understandably unsure what to do. Did she make a dreadful mistake that could have been avoided if they had simply waited things out? The episode ends before we see what she decides to tell Wilden.

Meanwhile, back at Radley, Spencer goes into full-on flip-out mode. Is it on purpose, so that she can stay and investigate more? Or is it genuine, given that she seems to hallucinate the girls at one point? Hard to say, but the strain of everything is obviously wearing on her. It must be said that Troian Bellisario is really knocking this character arc out of the park, playing it perfectly so that you really don’t know if Spencer is faking or crazy…or a little of both.

How cryptic was her dialogue here? “How do you go on when the worst thing has happened? What do you have to change inside to survive? Who do you have to become? You don’t know who I am anymore.” Did she cave to Mona after all? Or has she finally lost it completely? From the looks of the preview for next week’s show, she still has it together enough to keep digging at Radley, but one thing is clear: she’s on the edge, if nothing else.

We end with an ominous look at the latest lair of “A” or a member of the “A”-Team, a super-skeevy RV, decked out in the latest serial killer-style refinery. We’re talking wall-to-wall pics of the girls and Ali, plus doll heads and other various bizarre bric-a-brac that does not spell that we are dealing with a sane individual. We also see that the individual is planning something at the local carnival, which we see that Malcolm gets an invite to at his school in the preview. Will the “A”-Team go so far as to kidnap Malcolm?

Also, in the preview, we see that Dr. Wren returns, and that one of the aforementioned visitor’s passes to Radley has Cece’s name on it, which would seem to confirm she’s part of the “A”-Team: which I totally called, if that’s true. We also see Spencer investigating the spooky doll-ridden basement at Radley and finding a stash Mona left behind. What else will be in it, besides the pass?

Lots of great stuff this episode, but a bit of a transitional episode, nonetheless. Nice to see that Ashley’s not a murderer, and maybe the knowledge that Ali wasn’t actually pregnant will help with that situation, if Spencer can relay the information. Parrish and Bellisario really knocked it out of the park with this one. It will be interesting to see where this is all headed. Only two episodes left- eep!

Let me know your predictions below!