There’s No Place Like Homecoming. The catchiness of Pretty Little Liars episode titles is quite brilliant, and so far has made up for the fact that there are gaping plot holes in the show. However, this week’s episode made up for all of the weak moments we have seen so far.
I must also note that what I didn’t pick up before (or perhaps I did but forgot!) – Jenna and Toby are STEP brother and sister. That’s why they have different surnames but I wasn’t aware of that before. Apologies for any confusion!
Pretty Little Liars was all about Homecoming this week, and not being American, I had no idea what a big deal that can be. It was the sole topic of conversation and the episode played out in a way I could not have forseen.
Before we got to the Homecoming dance, the Pretty Little Liars spent all of their time trying to cheer up Aria. Hanna, Emily and Spencer are still under the impression that their friend is upset about her parents’ disintegrating marriage. They are unaware that her melancholy is in part because of her fall out with Mr Fitz.
In an attempt to make her feel better, they discuss Homecoming and their outfits and potential dates. Spencer tells them that she is bringing Alex from the tennis club and Emily says there is someone she wants to take but doesn’t want people getting the wrong idea. Hanna immediately jumps in and says that she should take someone she will have fun with, meaning Maya, but having no idea that Emily is thinking about Toby. As they sit around chatting and eating Chinese food, Hanna opens a fortune cookie and finds another message from A. “Lions and tigers and bitches oh my! There’s no place like Homecoming. See you there, A”
Not for the first time I am wondering how A is managing to get messages is such weird-ass places, but without it, the story would be boring so I’m willing to let it go.
After asking Sean if she could go with him to a RLW (Real Love Waits) meeting, Hanna begins to regret it when she has to engage in role play with a geeky guy called Lucas. Her task is to seduce him and his is to decline her advances. Ashley Benson played her part so well in this scene. I actually laughed out loud at her complete disinterest in the exercise. After arguing that someone like Hanna would never be interested in him, Lucas decides to play along and makes Hanna smile when he ruins the point of the exercise by saying he wants to “go up to her room”.
At school, Emily bumps into Maya who has been giving Emily the space she asked for. Emily asks if Maya will be going to Homecoming but she says no.
Spencer is freaking out because she wants to know what is in Jenna’s medical file in the therapist’s office but Hanna has not been able to get access to it. Spencer encourages her to hurry up because she just saw Toby buying two tickets for Homecoming. Both girls assume he will be taking Jenna and as they think she is A, it makes them both uneasy. They are interrupted by Mona, the formerly plain girl who turned hot, but she is a bitch that could easily have rivalled Ali! Spencer asks Hanna why she hangs out with Mona and she says that it’s because she is loyal – which makes me wonder if there might be something more to her later on. Their attention is then attracted by Toby himself. As he pulls his phone from his pocket, his shirt lifts up a little, revealing a tattoo that says “901 free at last”.
We then follow Toby out into the hallway where he sees Emily and asks her to Homecoming. She says yes.
The next scene shows Spencer painting scenery for the Homecoming dance when Alex drops by to ask her what she will be wearing to the event so he can co-ordinate his outfit. The scene was actually way less dorky than it sounds. Alex is hot and Spencer clearly really likes him which makes her much less uptight and much more likeable.
Hanna runs into Maya and tells her that Emily wants her to go to Homecoming, which is the beginning of a huge misunderstanding that we know will blow up at the dance.
Next we see Toby going to collect Jenna at school. Jenna asks if he’s been talking to Emily and tells him that when Emily finds out what he did, she’ll hate him. He replies with a “Who’s going to tell her?”
Hanna and Aria share a moment of friendly bonding while deciding which earrings Hanna should wear to the dance. While they’re talking, Hanna gets her wires crossed again and thinks Aria met a guy when she was living in Iceland. While she is talking literally about the distance between Aria and fictional boy, Aria sees the metaphor of the distance between herself a Mr Fitz which suddenly springs her into action.
Finally, we get to the Homecoming dance and the Pretty Little Liars don’t really have an easy time of it right from the start. Although Emily has yet to arrive, Hanna, Spencer and Aria are there and Spencer gets a shock when she sees her sister Melissa arrive. Melissa tells her that she was invited because she is a former Homecoming Queen, much to Spencer’s annoyance. Melissa also mentions that she knows Spencer stole her History paper which begins to put Spencer in a bad light again. Somehow, the fact that Melissa is obviously hell bent on making her sister suffer makes the viewer feel sorry for her though. Later Melissa introduces herself to Alex, but Spencer drags him away before she can do any damage.
While Hanna is talking to Mona, Lucas appears, taking photos for the yearbook. Mona pulls out her inner bitch again and tells Hanna it is not cool to be seen talking with geeks. Mona makes it clear that she will not return to being a loser again and won’t let Hanna “drag her down”.
Aria heads off to “bean bag toss” duty and finds that Mr Fitz is running the booth which leads to them both being uncomfortable. Aria makes another attempt to explain that she didn’t know who sent him the text that riled him up but he is still unconvinced. Aria begins to tell him the truth but then backs out and gets back to the party.
Emily and Toby finally arrive at the dance, causing controversy, not least because Maya is waiting for her with Aria, Spencer and Hanna. Maya is obviously hurt and walks away. Toby offers to get them drinks and Emily’s friends immediately turn on her, asking why she is with the “enemy”. Emily walks away from them, followed by Hanna who says that she thought Emily wanted to take Maya to the dance. Toby interrupts, leaving Emily wondering what Hanna knows.
Melissa approaches Alex while Spencer is busy and tells him that Spencer is only dating him to annoy her father.
In the middle of dancing, Spencer has a sudden realisation about what Toby’s tattoo means. 901 refers to September 1st, the day Ali disappeared. She tells Hanna to go and get Jenna’s file so they can find out what Jenna knows. Hanna manages to catch a ride with Lucas.
Spencer and Alex go to the fortune teller and while she is watching Emily, the fortune teller tells her that her cards show that she may be looking after someone who is hurt. The fortune teller then goes on to say the cards also show that Spencer is running from something and that there is a couple who have something wrong with them, that the guy has darkness in him. The fortune teller then turns over the next card and on it is written, “Kiss bye bye to your BFF.” Spencer looks around and sees that Emily and Toby have disappeared.
Emily sees Maya, who glares at her, so Emily follows her to ask what she told Hanna about the two of them. Maya responds by saying that she said nothing, Hanna was the one who told her Emily wanted her to be at the dance. Maya says that she gave Emily space to come to terms with who she is, not to hide from it. When Emily says she isn’t hiding, Maya asks Emily to tell her she doesn’t have feelings for her but she can’t do it.
Mr Fitz sees Aria dancing with Sean and decides it’s time to leave. Aria follows him and asks him to listen because she doesn’t want him to hate her. Mr Fitz says the only person he hates is himself for asking too much of her.
At the dentist where Hanna works, she is sneaking around to find Jenna’s medical file with Lucas in tow but it isn’t in the filing cabinet. She calls Spencer and asks for advice and Spencer tells her to look for Jenna’s file under the surname Cavanaugh just in case Toby’s father adopted her. While Spencer is on the phone, Alex leaves due to a combination of Melissa’s words and Spencer being distracted all night.
Hanna rummages through the filing cabinet again and finds that it isn’t Jenna who is the patient, but Toby. She takes his file and leafs through it.
Emily and Toby head up to the Science lab so they can talk in private. Emily asks Toby why he likes her when he knows what she and her friends did to Jenna. He tells her it’s because he too has done things he’s not proud of. In a creepy tone, he says, “We’ve all got secrets, Emily”, then closes the door to the room.
Back at the dance, Melissa is giving a speech about Homecoming just as Hanna is returning with Toby’s file. She beckons Spencer and Aria to look at it just as Melissa announces that Sean and Hanna are Homecoming King and Queen. Sean goes up to the stage but Hanna is otherwise engaged. Sean looks less than amused.
The three girls discuss what they found in Toby’s file and it turns out that he had not been sent away until after Ali went missing. A flashback then goes back to the night of “the Jenna thing” and we see the full scene of the time Ali threatened Toby and told him to take the blame for what happened. Toby said he wouldn’t take the blame and asked why Ali was trying to make him when he never did anything to her. Ali accused him of perving at her through her bedroom window and he denied it. Ali then spat out that she had been looking through his window and knew that Toby and Jenna had actually been sleeping together. The girls decide that that is a good enough motive to want all of them dead. In panic, Aria calls Emily but there is no answer.
Back in the Science Lab, Toby asks her not to answer her phone because he wants to tell her the truth about what happened last summer.
As Aria, Spencer and Hanna head off to find Emily, we see Jenna lurking in the shadows.
In the lab, Emily asks Toby to stop talking because he’s scaring her, and she receives a text from Aria saying “You’re with Ali’s killer, we have proof!” Emily tells Toby she has to go but he tells her he wants to talk to her. Scared, Emily slaps him and runs away shouting for help. The other girls hear her and run to her but Emily is lost in a weird room full of distorted mirrors. Toby is right behind her and Emily trips and…….everything goes black.
The final scene made my blood run cold. At the edge of town there is a sign reading “You are now leaving the city of Rosewood. Population 7988.” A gloved hand spray paints over the last number eight and re-paints a number seven.
There is no doubt that There’s No Place Like Homecoming has been the best episode of Pretty Little Liars yet, but what happens now?
It is very early on to reveal that Toby was the killer. We are only on episode six. I am very curious to see where they go with this.
I can only assume Jenna was the person spraying the sign which relates right back to the theory that she isn’t really blind. OR, it was Ali who is not really dead. Somebody left a comment on my previous recap that Jenna is dead and Ali stole her identity. The idea made me shudder but I love it!
The idea of Emily being dead is not one that is sitting well with me. Taking out a main character at this stage is always a strange thing to do so I am going to believe that she isn’t dead. Who kills someone in the middle of a school dance when there are people everywhere, especially inside that mirror thing where kids have been lurking all night?
Oh, it’s going to be a long week!
You can catch Pretty Little Liars on ABC Family on Tuesday nights!