Mona continues her innocent act as the girls are questioning whether or not she's being genuine, though mostly remain unconvinced. Hanna confronts Lucas about his involvement with Mona and the "A" Team, learning more about the real Mona underneath the whole reformed innocent act, and Spencer gets a nasty taste of how Mona is playing her game this time. Meanwhile, Emily comforts Paige after she suffers from a panic attack, and Aria gets a disturbing revelation that may connect her father to Alison's disappearance and possible murder.
Mona Mania: Dangerously Innocent
"I'm sorry you feel that way..."
Mona pretending to be all better and innocent is perhaps the most genius thing, it's pretty damn scary.
Being a mastermind at pretending to be someone she isn't, this is her way of upping the game and the stakes for the girls in the most subtle way possible. Make it seem like she's trying to get better, making friends with other people, making heartfelt speeches about acceptance and trying her hardest to redeem herself -- when in reality she is putting on yet another mask. Gaining sympathy from others, while maintaining a sense of vulnerability for the girls to either fall for or completely tear her down. With the latter, as demonstrated in this episode, she knows how to play defenseless until it's too late because the girls can get pretty reckless with their accusations and not playing it cautiously. It's a pretty genius move on her part. She knows precisely what she's doing. She's playing this game more dangerously now than ever before, and it's going to completely throw the girls for quite a ride.
It makes me nervous because now she knows that Hanna has been talking with Lucas, who has revealed his involvement and what Mona has been blackmailing him to do all this time. And we know that "A" doesn't like it when things are talked about like that. Hanna approaching Mona in that fashion might set off a chain of events that will undoubtedly get Lucas hurt, or worse.
So this makes me worried on many levels. Because now the girls are facing someone who is openly taunting and bullying them without anyone else knowing but them. It's on a personal level now, and it's going to be interesting watching them figure out how to defeat this without seeming like the "bad guys". This is why Mona's plan of action is quite genius.
Aria and Byron: Father versus Daughter
Byron continues to scare the shit out of me.
His behavior is severely disturbing, nearly borderline abusive at this point. He viciously accused Aria, he went through her things without her permission, he practically hinting in a sly tone about knowing precisely what Aria and the girls were looking for, he lied to her about things and he basically nearly physically abused Meredith after an argument centering around his suspicious behavior. How Aria is not living with her mother at this point is beyond me, and honestly I feel like she should at least tell her mother that something is going on with him and that she doesn't feel safe.
I never liked Byron for obvious reasons, he's always been rather shady and unpredictable in his actions, given his track record he's not particularly a trustworthy person to begin with. So it really makes me wonder what Alison had on him that would make him this desperate to try to keep it hidden.
Did he have an affair with other students? Was Alison part of that category? Was she blackmailing him for other reasons than just Meredith and possibly others?
I used to think that no other family could top the Hastings in having deep, dark secrets and being incredibly shady in keeping those secrets locked away, not to mention the hostility of Spencer's father. But this season is proving me wrong with Byron and the way he is acting. Quite frankly, I'm curious as to what this secret is. Adults all have their secrets, they aren't above being blackmailed and taunted like the girls, especially from "A", and from the looks of things judging from the end of the episode the "A" Team seems to be interested in what Byron knows. Either they are contacting him or framing him or whatever, but there's a lot of layers to this that we still have yet to unravel.
Things I liked about the episode:
++ I'm genuinely shocked that I actually sympathized and liked Meredith. She honestly has no idea what is happening and is just as terrified as Aria is, considering the strange and near violent way Byron has been acting. I kinda like this direction of having this terrible thing bringing her and Aria together, of them being not only civil but supporting each other. Color me surprised by this complete 180 of this character.
++ Hanna and Lucas. ♥ I have missed their friendship so much, and I'm glad that he's able to confide in her now all things considered. But I'm legit scared for him, now that Mona knows that Hanna knows about the blackmailing and Lucas' part of everything. I fear something bad is going to happen. D: D: D:
++ The face-off between Spencer and Mona was the best thing, particularly when we see Spencer bring out her sassy competitive side. That was fun. But it was also stressful. I knew Mona had a plan up her sleeve and something was going to happen. After all, Mona is not only a mastermind but she has a high intelligence level. There was no way she was going to allow Spencer to beat her, and she used her vulnerability to let Spencer falter on her own before snatching the win right underneath her nose. Again, Mona is quite clever in that sense. And it's dangerous knowing that someone that smart is playing these life or death games.
++ I liked seeing the black hoodies everywhere now. First in the janitor's office (which was Lucas) and then in the woods (Toby), and at the end of the episode (Mona).
++ Seeing more characters, even if it's just for an episode only I just love seeing more characters. I suspect though, since Mona and Spencer are in the same club now, we'll be seeing more of these characters in future episodes.
Things I didn't like:
++ Byron is seriously creeping me out. Like, I get that he has his own secrets and that he doesn't want to be found out, but dammit stop being so damn creepy and shady! And stop treating your family, your own daughter like shit, okay?
++ I've been kinda warming up to Paige, and it's understandable that she's been going through some horrible post-traumatic stress due to everything that has happened. But constantly commenting on how brave and fearless Emily is as opposed to her own insecurities is getting really tired, tbh. We get it, you're impressed with how Emily is dealing with everything. But seriously, don't you stop to think that Emily is scared also, and that she's been dealing with this for a lot longer than you have? I don't know, I think it just bugs me that she's always kind of pulling those kinds of lines. :/
Overall: I am really loving that they are picking up the pace of everything. With Mona back it certainly adds more spice to the mix, with all these new threats and obstacles for the girls to be dealing with. I hope the show keeps this pace up. I really want to get to the juicier stuff -- including some of the other things that were introduced at the beginning of the season that hasn't been revisited yet.