'Pretty Little Liars' recap, 'Thrown from the Ride'

For The Baltimore Sun

How many lies can the girls cover up? What is Mona’s plan?

Here are five takeaways from last night's episode:

The Scarlet Letter/A Fresh Start for Ali: While Hana and Aria are talking about her new look (Hana’s blonde and black hair accompanied by a darker shade of lipstick and clothes), Hana comes across a book that belonged to Shana. At first Hana tries to hide the book from a paranoid Aria, but she insists on seeing it. Inside the book are underlined phrases and words that lead the girls to believe that Shana was planning something, something that had to do with "The Scarlet Letter."

As if finding the book wasn’t enough to start their morning, Mona invites herself into the girls' conversation. Mona implies that the book would be better in her hands, but Aria and Hana decide that is the wrong idea. Again Mona speaks in code hinting at the fact that she knows something about Shana’s “mysterious move to Georgia.” As Ali gets ready to go back to school, she begins to pack up some clothes from the her previous years in Rosewood. When Ali shares with her father that she is ready to return to Rosewood High, he doesn’t think that is a good idea, and tries to encourage her to move to get her fresh start. The idea of a fresh start in a new town, without her friends, does not sound good to Ali, who convinces her father to let her stay in Rosewood.

Psychological Selfie/Lucas gets cold feet:  At lunch Hana, Spencer, Emily and Hana finally find some time away from their peers who spend the school day asking them questions about Ali’s return. Aria and Hana begin to talk about Shana’s book, and how Mona may be on to them. While the majority of the theory belongs to Aria, Spencer informs her (again) that she is just paranoid over nothing, and that Shana is gone, and no one else knows about it.

In a moment of nostalgia, all of the girls text message alerts go off at the same time, but it isn’t A … it’s Ali informing them that the police ruled out foul play, and are waiting for toxicology reports to determine her cause of death. Meanwhile, Mona and Lucas begin to talk about the plan. Lucas feels bad for Ali, and thinks that a girl who was kidnapped deserves a break, no matter how mean she is or used to be. Mona tells Lucas that he can’t back out, and won’t want to after she hears the real story, proving once again, Mona knows everything.

Putting all the Pieces Together: While taking a break in the computer lab, Aria decides to Google Shana. Some of the links are in regards to the police identifying her body, and another is a link from her funeral. Aria watches the clip of the woman singing and Shana lying in the background in her casket and begins to cry, when suddenly Shana rises up, and looks in Aria’s direction. (Another one of Aria’s paranoid moments). Spencer speaks with her mom, who is upset that the police investigation in her backyard is not over. Spencer enlist the help of her friend Kevin (yes her former drug dealer) to help her get the yard back in order for her mother.

While they are in Spencer’s garage, Spencer comes across a dead possum, and an empty container of rat poison. Hana is the only person who has returned Ali’s phone call, Ali informs Hana that she has a mandatory doctor’s appointment and needs someone to go with her. Hana agrees to go with Ali, but realizes that the rest of her friends have become distant, and can’t figure out why.

Everyone has Secrets: During Ali’s routine check-up, the doctor checks the wound on her head and vitals, and stumbles across a scar on her thigh. Ali tells the doctor that it came from a rock when she jumped out of the car. Hana doesn’t believe her story and when she asks Ali about it after her appointment, Ali continues to keep it from her. At the end of her appointment, Ali pulls out a recorder, which has all of her conversations from her appointment. She instructs Hana to give each girl a copy of the tape, so she is sure all their stories match up, in case anyone has more questions for them.

Spencer finds time to talk to her mother, who has been acting like something is wrong. When Mrs. Hastings finally shares with Spencer that she knows about Mrs. D’s plan to connect Spencer to the murder of the girl in Ali’s grave, and how Mr. Hasting’s prevented her from going to the police with her theory  (maybe in more ways than one) proving that Mr. Hastings is hiding something. Mona catches Paige after her day out with Emily and warms her that she is to remain part of the plan, and should help run Ali out of Rosewood. Paige isn’t so sure she wants in, and decides to warn Emily that people are preparing for Ali’s return in a uninviting way, and that Emily should keep her distance. 

Spencer finally goes to Ali’s house and speaks to her. Ali informs Spencer that the cause of her mother’s death was a stopped heart. Brought on by someone giving her high blood pressure medication, Spencer automatically thinks of her father, and Ali knows how true her theory can be. After watching Shana’s funeral online numerous times, she goes to Ezra’s house to find comfort, Ezra decides it would be best for Aria to stop trying to forgive herself and move on from Shana’s death. In the moment when Aria thinks she is getting close to Ezra, she leaves his house.

Where is Mrs. Hastings? Spencer calls Hana who is busy at the store (stealing) and re-working her new image, with questions about the recordings. Hana tells Spencer that she needs to ask Ali, and leave her out of the middle of everything. When Spencer gets off of the phone with Hana she begins to clean her post-dinner dishes in a rage with Kevin, and cuts her hand on a knife. Spencer reaches in the cabinet to get something to clean her cut, and stumbles across a high blood pressure medicine, prescribed to her father, reassuring her that he indeed had something to do with the murder of Mrs. D.

Upon his arrival home, Spencer asks her father the location of her mother. He informs her that she is away at a spa. Why would she take a trip all of a sudden? Mr. Hastings reassures Spencer that she doesn’t need to worry about her mother and that because of her “breakdown” she needed time away from the family. But where is Veronica Hastings really? 

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