Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Review “Cat’s Cradle”

Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Episode 3 Cat's Cradle (1)

There’s a certain kind of jolt you get whenever a show that revolves around a mystery of some sort lobs a big download of information at you all at once. Think “Twin Peaks”, “The X-Files”, “Fringe” and “Lost”. I’ll never forget seeing, say, the petroglyph at Owl Cave for the first time on “Peaks” or the ultraviolet map on “Lost” for the first time. There’s one crucial difference between those shows and “Pretty Little Liars”, though- I didn’t have a big screen, high-definition television at my disposal for most of them, at least until recently, and even then, it was past the point of much freeze frame-type action. Not so with “PLL”, though, making it the first experience of its kind for me personally, for better or for worse.

This week, it was for better. I mean, let’s be honest, when they showed that police board, if you were a fan of the show, your heart skipped a beat- right? It was sort of like the scene with Mona confessing her part in the “A” shenanigans in the premiere, only way more reliable. Granted, there’s a new detective on the case, so it’s still a work in progress, but still, a LOT of that stuff was on the money, and if there was some guessing going on, it was pretty solid guessing, to be sure. This guy’s already gotten more accomplished in a few short weeks than most of the police department has over the last few seasons!

Granted, as the board points out, some of said police (Wilden, Reynolds) might have been working more to cover things up than to solve, with possible coercing involved, as well as lack of cooperation by certain authority figures, such as the employees at Radley and Dr. Sullivan. But still, this new cop, Holbrook, seems mighty on the ball than most everyone that’s come before him. (Which on this show, naturally makes him a little suspicious himself, but I digress…for now.)

Whatever the case, even if it was a lot of info we already knew, it was pretty neat seeing it all laid out for you like that, family tree-style, with most of the established characters connected in key ways, most of which we might have known, but a few of which we might not have, or at the very least, which may have slipped our minds. It was kind of like “PLL” idea of a recap for newcomers, you know?

This was furthered by the return of many familiar faces we haven’t seen in a while, such as Aria’s mom, Ella and her new boyfriend, Zack; the nefarious Melissa, as creepy as ever; and Caleb, Hanna’s BF. (I also found the Shakespeare quote selected by the still-absent as of yet this season Pastor Ted to be amusingly apt: “They whose guilt within their bosoms lie imagine every eye beholds their blame.” Ain’t that the truth on this show?)

As I freeze-framed and did the frame-by-frame thing, here are some things I spotted on the murder board that you might have missed: Spencer looms large on the list of suspects; for some reason, the cop listed Wren as “Dr.” in parentheses; there was a picture from hospital security cameras of the girls dressed as candy stripers, so the cops know about that; Ashley is definitely a suspect; surprisingly, so is Aria, who they suspect might have involved her brother by getting him to rob Reynolds; Ali was killed by a blow to the head from behind, facing away from her killer, possibly with a shovel; the cops think that the girls may be being blackmailed and coerced into doing stuff not of their own volition (one note read: they seem too smart to do something so stupid, i.e. the grave digging stuff); Ashley had a restraining order against Wilden out; and the cops know about Noel, Melissa, Cece, and most everyone we do. If you caught anything else I missed, by all means let me know!

The good news is that this new cop, Holbrook, seems to be not only on top of things, but looking at them from a level-headed, fair way, unlike some of his predecessors. Though some of the girls aren’t above suspicion, he’s at least taking into consideration that there seems to be an awful lot of people acting in strange way that they wouldn’t normally, as seemingly intelligent people. There was no mention of “A” of course, but he clearly gets that there’s coercion involved in some people’s actions. That’s step in the right direction, at least.

I don’t want to get into specifics much beyond that and go on too long, so we won’t get into non-essential stuff, but I will say that the bit with the mask maker was effectively creepy, and it was interesting to know that Melissa knew him somehow as well. Was she perhaps fixated on Alison? We know that Jenna is bisexual, could Melissa be as well?

Also, regarding Melissa, that was a pretty intense scene with her and Spencer near the end, where she asked her if she’d save her over a loved one, a repeat of a question Spencer herself asked Melissa in the past. Note that we never got an answer, but did we really need one? Even they know they hate each other. Let’s face it: the Hastings are one massively screwed up family, but are they potentially psychotic master-manipulators? (Or at least some of them?) We shall see, I guess.

Other stuff: not much development on the bird-supplied phone number- is it even a phone number? Toby is convinced “A” is a woman- I would tend to agree, for the record. He and Spencer also seem pretty convinced his mother was the victim of foul play, not suicide. We found out that Ashley drove into town from New York and possibly stole a gun from her ex, after trying to borrow a large sum or money from him- was “A” blackmailing her, too? Ali had masks of her face made for her “friends”. (I liked the detail that the mask maker thought she’d be perfect for Joan of Arc– and Em as Medusa!) Last but not least, “A” seems to be framing Emily’s mom (“Cleaning up Rosewood, one mean mommy at a time…”) for child abuse and has her doctor’s x-ray on hand.

Whew! Lots of stuff to contend with there, and I love it all! This is such a fun show, and I love a good mystery. My only concern at this point is that they do an effective job of wrapping this sucker up, unlike some of the aforementioned shows. I am inclined to believe that the ringleader is someone older at this point, and that this all dates back to way before Ali got involved. I think she got close to something and it got her either killed or caused her to fake her own death to get away.

I think this is definitely a “sins of the parents”-type of deal and it will likely be someone we don’t see much of, if much at all, like Ezra’s mother, for instance, who certainly has motive and is capable of putting something like this in action. Could it also have something to do with a secret society or some sort? Hard to say just yet, but the show is clearly mobilizing itself for the next phase of “A”. My guess is that we don’t know half of what we think we do, but I’m good with that. This show is great about keeping you guessing. I’ll allow that it can be frustrating at times, but what good mystery isn’t?

What did you think of “Pretty Little Liars” this week? Did you also flip out when you saw the murder board? What did you think about the stuff going on with the mothers? How about the stuff with Spencer, Toby and Melissa? Sound off below with your crazy theories!