Pretty Little Liars “Exes and OMGs” Review (Season 7 Episode 8)

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On the latest episode of “Pretty Little Liars,” the girls attempted to figure out if Noel might be A.D. for sure, while Ezaria dealt with the fallout of the news about Nicole- and Aria’s role in hiding some of it- and we saw the return of a few familiar faces, in “Exes and OMGs.”

As this was another transitional episode and not that much happened of note, really, I’ll stick to the format of my last review for now. That’s not to say it was bad- in fact, it felt an awful lot like an old-school episode of the show, in a good way- just that there wasn’t a lot of forward movement on the plot, really. Let’s do this.

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Welcome to My Nightmare: Hanna suffered from a considerable amount of PTSD in this episode, still reeling from her recent kidnapping and torture at the hands of…was it Elliott after all? Or was it Noel? Or is Hanna just trying to point the finger at someone, anyone?

Hard to say, but she seems about THIS close to going off the rails, if that ending was any indication. I would almost have thought her visit from the ever-mysterious Mrs. Grunwald (Meg Foster, “They Live”) was a full-on hallucination, if it weren’t for the fact that Noel saw her, too.

Anyway, according to Mrs. G. there’s danger afoot, and a nightmare of her own brought her to visit Hanna, saying that there was a “darkness” around her and Caleb, and that the source of danger is “close.”

The latter part was said just as Noel appeared, which didn’t exactly quell Hanna’s insistence that Noel was the guilty party at hand, which was also the case in her nightmare, in which a renegade Noel ran Caleb down in cold blood, while trying to do the same with Hanna.

Hilariously, Noel took one look at Mrs. G. and Hanna at Radley and dismissed them with a cavalier “Freaks!” after the former’s nose started to bleed when she grabbed Hanna’s hand and seemingly “experienced” her flashbacks of her time in captivity.

He also alluded to Hanna taking a “country drive,” which would seem to indicate that he’d been following the girls as of late, likely including the trip Hanna and Aria took to Amish country. Yep, after writing those sentences, there’s no doubt that this show sounds nuttier than a Radley patient on paper- I can only imagine the pitch meetings that lead to these storylines. Classic PLL.

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No Codes, No Clue: Caleb continued to struggle with deciphering the codes the girls took photos of from Noel and Jenna’s hidden lockbox, and edged ever-closer to reconciling with Hanna in the process.

Though the two never quite reconnected for real, count on Hanna’s cryptic behavior in their last scene together to send him running to find her- likely by using that new phone he gave her to track her to wherever she ended up.

My prediction: that hinky phone call she made at the end was part of her plan to somehow kidnap Noel, torture him and get some answers in an obscure hotel room somewhere, which was why she paid off whoever was on the other end of that call.

I think she needed an isolated place to take him, away from prying eyes, which is also why she was newspapering the windows. Note also the next ep is called, amusingly enough, “The Wrath of Kahn.” As such, I think Hanna is completely off the mark, and, as per usual, the show only WANTS us to think Noel is guilty.

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Femicide Rises Again: Aria finally came clean about Nicole’s call- or rather, whoever that was calling Ezra that she deleted. He was not happy and seemed on the cusp of breaking up with Aria, but was too focused on waiting for news to deal with it just yet.

The latest word from the authorities is that the car Nicole and the people she was with were in when they were last seen was spotted near a compound thought to be used by Rebel forces in Columbia and that the military was headed into the jungle to see what they could find.

You honestly can’t make this stuff up, people- or, I guess, technically, you can- so, for those of you reading my columns instead of watching the show, let this be a testament to how crazy things have gotten in PLL-land.

(*Oh yes, I know you’re out there, and I can’t say I blame you for your frustration, though I still find the show endlessly entertaining in a “just how crazy can they possibly get?” sort of way.)

We ended with Ezaria facing an uncertain future as Aria traded in their honeymoon plane tickets to Italy for a ticket to Columbia for Ezra so that he can be there whenever they find what they find out about Nicole’s fate. Honestly, I’m not sure who to root for in all of this anymore. The Rebel forces?

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The Doctor is Out…of his Damn Mind: Spencer tracked down a potential lead on the doctor Noel was looking for in the last episode. It turned out to be the father of a current Doctor Cochran, his daughter, who informed Aria and Spencer that her father had lost his license to practice years ago, and the two hadn’t spoken in years.

She wouldn’t say anymore, but when someone- likely Noel Kahn for real, this time- ransacked her office, she called Spencer and gave her his last known address, and recommended she bring him a bottle of whiskey if they wanted him to talk. They did, and so did he- but was it really anything useful?

According to the former Dr. Cochran, who “dealt” with babies when he was a licensed doctor working at Radley, Mary Drake did indeed give birth to two babies while she was interred there. One was a boy, likely Charles, that was given to Mary’s sister Jessica to raise; the other, whose sex he “couldn’t remember”- that’s convenient- was handed over to Family Services and he didn’t know what happened next to the child.

Beyond a mysterious message from the not-so-good doctor to his daughter for Spencer to deliver, about how she’ll always come back to family in the end, and how it was human nature, that’s about all we got from the guy.

Worth mentioning, however, is the effect it seemed to have on Spencer in particular, who went home and pulled out the family album to reminisce. The pictures didn’t seem off in any way I could see, but the scene in general might have been a clue to Spencer’s culpability in something, or possibly her suspicion that she might be said second baby, which would lend credence to that fan theory.

On a side note, I’ve definitely seen a Film Noir movie in which practically the same thing happened, down to the PI “paying” their source in booze, though I can’t recall off the top of my head which one (probably more than one, TBH- it’s a bit of a trope) and the doctor’s name might be a homage to Brad Dourif’s “Doc Cochran” character on “Deadwood.”

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Ali, Ali, Oxen Free: The trolls were out in full force for Ali’s return to teaching at Rosewood, with one student going so far as to call her out when she mentioned, when discussing Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” in class, how “lies catch up to everyone” and he said: “You would know.” Burn!

But that had nothing on the insanity of her entire class dressing up in hoodies to torment her on her first day back, which sent her reeling to the bathroom to throw up. Is her whole story THAT well known to everyone? It’s a wonder they weren’t all red. Either way, it admittedly made for a cool visual, and made me- and no doubt, Ali- wonder if she really was cracking up again, until it was verified that it really happened.

Later on, Ali snuck into the principal’s office after hours to look up Noel’s file in the records, only to find a message from him waiting for her: “I warned you bitches. Do you really want to end up dead?” This would seem to confirm he was the one who taunted them at Aunt Carol’s house- and blew up the cellar after absconding with Aria and his own file, but you never know with this show.

I’ll leave it to you to read up on “Winter’s Tale,” a synopsis of which can be found here. Suffice to say, though, it does involve a baby that is abandoned to someone else to raise, which comes back to haunt the main characters responsible, so it was likely chosen for a reason.

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Mehmily Stuff: We also got the return of Paige (Lindsey Shaw), who was back in town to apply for a job at Rosewood High as a swim coach, which Emily also was up for, after having been given a heads-up by the principal of the school. We discovered that the two lived together at Stanford for a time before going their separate ways after Emily’s dad died.

Shortly thereafter, Paige got into a car accident that resulted in her having to have surgery which effectively ended her potential for a professional swim career, as well as her hoped-for Olympics dreams. Probably a good thing, given the fact that she tried to drown Emily once upon a time- the last thing we need is another Tonya Harding sitch at the Games. (Yeah, I went there.)

Anyway, Paige’s behavior remains just this side of creepy- later on in the episode, she all but stalks Emily and lurks outside the RWB, watching her hang out with Sabrina and seemingly fuming about it. I’m sorry, I was never a Paige fan, so I’m hoping they don’t go there again, in terms of her reuniting with Emily. I’d sooner Em end up with Alison, honestly.

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Best lines: There were some really good ones, but my favorite was Emily’s rare solid rejoinder to Aria when she was about to flip out about the Ezra thing: “Aria, take a deep breath- it’s been proven to prevent explosions in small women.” Nice one!

Runner-up, for all the fans of juvenile humor out there- appropriate, given all the RHS-set drama this episode- when Hanna, as evidence of Noel’s guilt, uttered this priceless bon mot: “He clearly has more ‘A’-ness than anyone out there.” Indeed he does, Hanna- indeed, he does.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t include Spencer’s savvy combo of modern girl-speak and Noir-ish tough gal talk to the skeevy Dr. Cochran: “Curb the perv or the bottle walks.” Wouldn’t you just love to see Troian in a Film Noir for real, beyond the homage they did on a past episode? She’d be perfect for it.

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That was about all she wrote for this episode, which was enjoyable, for sure, but rather inconsequential overall. It did have that great old-school vibe, like I said, but beyond that, was just like a series of interesting set-pieces that didn’t add up to much, really.

Of course, if Grunwald or Cochran’s ramblings turn out to have further significance, by all means, feel free to throw it in my face. Until then, this episode was just okay at best. Now, bring on the “Wrath of Khan”! Can’t wait- and it better live up to that ace title!

What did you think of the latest episode of “Pretty Little Liars”? Did you get more out of it than I did, or do you agree with my assessment? Did you enjoy seeing some of the girls back in school again? How do you think this will dovetail with that first scene in the flash-forward? Is Noel really AD? What is Hanna up to? Will Caleb put a stop to it? Sound off down below, and see you next week!