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Pretty Little Liars: S04E17: "Bite My Tongue"

By Dom Sinacola · Jan 31, 2014

The back half of Pretty Little Liar‘s fourth season has been a case study in this show’s infuriating extremes: both big highs and bottom-scraping lows in quality, in stupidity, and in one’s ability to keep putting up with whatever useless shit A still thinks counts as a “threat.” Remember the good ole days when A was driving cars through Emily’s living room, trying desperately to smush Nia Peeples against the dry sink? Gone is that menace. Now A is sending the Liars a message by rolling up a fortune cookie fortune and sticking it in one of Hanna’s (Ashley Benson) impacted molars. I get it: A can get to the girls however and whenever A wants. But the Liars knew that long ago, so the gesture is just that: a gesture. No one looks all that concerned.

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Since we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let’s just work backwards.

The saga of Mr. Fitz’s (Ian Harding) sizzling creepiness reaches something of a lech-tastic conclusion as Spencer (Troian Bellisario) finally discovers that he’s A, or at least an A, due to his enjoying both boysenberry pie and beer—at the same time. Everyone on the show who observes this acts like he’s gnawing on a plate of pig fetuses while slogging back a pint of jizz, but whatever: someone was bound to find some sort of clue in Alison’s (Sasha Pieterse) diary that would lead them to Ezra, and it’s no real surprise it would be Spencer, who is both the Smart Liar and the best at keeping secrets.The plot point was rote, as was the “board shorts: discovery, and like much of the episode’s latest spate of big reveals, a matter of just keeping the story moving.

Meanwhile, Aria (Lucy Hale) confronts the new school counselor, much-too-squeaky-clean Jesse (Wes Ramsey), about the love connection he’s suddenly facilitated between Mona (Janel Parish) and Aria’s little brother Mike (Cody Allen Christian). Immediately, this whole situation is off-putting, not just because Jesse’s demeanor with Aria is eerily reminiscent of the ways in which Ezra tries to mask his latent ickiness, but also because why the fuck would an adult with such influence over young, developing psyches pair up two kids with obvious violent tendencies? This, of course, is not long after Mona confessed to killing Detective Wilden (Bryce Johnson), which, even though she was later exonerated, is a pretty overt red flag. I’m sure, too, that Jesse’s aware of the fact that Mona once tried to kill her new boyfriend’s older sister, and is equally aware that Mike seems totally fine with that fact. I mean, I’m not saying that a school counselor should give up on troubled kids like Mike and Mona, or that he’s wrong for thinking they can help each other through their respective deep-seated problems, but just that there’s so much that doesn’t add up about the way in which Jesse is so blind to the instability of his students, when it’s his job to be the opposite.

The Jesse/Aria dynamic might be a fit reflection of the inappropriateness of the relationship they’re debating if every single relationship on this show wasn’t already age inappropriate. Instead, what it does seem to reflect is Aria’s propensity for super melodramatic self-reflection, because she’s the Artsy Liar and all. Jesse seems to be slowly turning her doubt of Mona against her, so that it probably won’t be long before Aria’s convinced it’s actually her perception of Mona, and not Mike’s, that’s all fucked up. In turn, Aria’s inevitable realization of Ezra’s part in the Liars’ tragedy means she’s also got an epic meltdown in store, especially when it dawns on her that she can’t trust anything—not the man she loves, let alone the very fabric of reality.

Or maybe it won’t be that bad. It’s entirely possible that Ezra actually isn’t A, or involved with the As, and instead was 1) involved romantically with Alison, which led him to be 2) entirely aware of the whole mess she got herself into, which compelled her to 3) ask for his help in faking her own death while 4) using him to keep an eye on all of her old friends and 5) root out the real As to make it safe for her to return to Rosewood and then…6)? There’s no real telling who knows she’s alive and who doesn’t, as well as the sheer mess of townies who would be totally head-fucked by seeing her alive again. Which is such a low point in the show’s new “Alison is alive!” arc: it’s not remotely possible that Alison could return to Rosewood even if it was safe, which makes the whole issue of her safety there totally moot.

Of course, whether Ezra’s A or not, his mega-skeeziness paints one character I formerly maligned in a new light. It’s Maggie (Larissa Oleynik) who once drew so much ire for ripping Malcolm out of Ezra’s life—a shitty move even if it was against a character I can’t stand—but who now seems like she’s the only reasonable person who’s ever stepped foot in Rosewood. Because, again, it doesn’t matter Ezra’s actual affiliation. Maggie may have a penchant for manipulation, but it also makes sense that she was clued into the fact that Malcolm may not be safe around Ezra.

Terrible people doing terrible things to other terrible people. I know. But that Maggie could even remotely seem level-headed with respect to the people around her—especially Aria, who seems even younger and less mature than she already is when she makes bullshit moves like calling out a grown woman in obvious distress, in public, and then having to walk away embarrassed while looking like a mariachi Kate Beckinsale…

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…makes the possibility that Ezra isn’t A even more believable. I’d rather Ezra was just a half-season-long red A herring, and so not a member of some murderous syndicate harassing a bunch of teenage girls, but just your run of the mill sexual predator.

It even makes sense that Ezra is the person who lodged the message in Hanna’s tooth, and that some of the things we think were committed by an A were really the work of Ezra trying, in his own way, to protect the girls—hence A’s latest urgent need to keep the girls from looking for Alison instead of outright trying to kill them—but whatever the outcome, two things are guaranteed: that no matter what, Ezra is one weird, sick dude; and that, no matter what, Aria is going to completely lose her shit. Just as Emily (Shay Mitchell) currently is, attacking her dad with scissors and harboring some real serious anger issues, while Spencer is just beginning what will surely become a pill-popping problem. Besides a scene where Emily’s dad Spidermans his way up a fucking drainpipe to save her from one of the season’s more hilarious A attacks, the whole of “Bite My Tongue” acts like a necessary pause before the precipice of each of the Liars’ descents into madness.

In other words, it’s a pretty boring episode, but it is nice to see that Hanna’s reading more.

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