Spencer continues downhill with her pill addiction, and it starts to spiral out of her control. The girls (sans Aria) try to formulate a plan that will hopefully reveal that Ezra is who they think he is, though things don't go according to plan. Aria uncovers the truth about Ezra on her own, and gets more than she bargained for in the process.
The Truth About Ezra Fitz
It's so refreshing seeing not just Aria finding out the truth on her own, but also hearing upfront from Ezra himself what he really is. Granted, he was only telling half-truths, but what he revealed was already enough to damage everything she thought she knew about him. As it should.
What's bothering me right now, though, is how Marlene King made a recent announcement saying that she believes that they can "redeem" Ezra bring him back with "good graces" with the audience and the characters on the show, even after everything he's done and continues to do. It's even more disturbing that she compares it to what some other characters, like Mona and Paige, have done that people have forgiven them for.
Okay. There's so many things wrong with that statement, I don't know where to begin.
First of all, those comparisons are not even on the same fucking level. Mona and Paige are teenage girls while Ezra is an adult male who has abused his position of power and authority on many occasions, including knowingly getting involved with a teenage girl for "research", never mind his relationship with Alison who was like fourteen at the time they met. Ezra Fitz is a child predator, plain and simple. There is no reason to make us sympathize with him because of that, no matter how many times he tries to declare his love for Aria is real. To him it may be real, but in reality he's been quite obsessive and downright controlling, as evidenced in previous episodes and in his confession in this one. You simply cannot make him sympathetic after everything we've seen and revealed about him, because there is nothing redeemable about child stalkers and predators.
It has nothing to do with "but these characters did horrible things and look everyone loves them/has sympathy for them"; that's a cheap excuse, imho, and completely overlooks and reduces the actual issue.
Mona is sympathized because she has been coerced through manipulation of her vulnerability and because of her complexity as a character and what she's gone through because of her past; there's an understandable element to her based on what she had to endure as the nerdy weird girl who was ignored and tormented by Queen Alison and her posse, and who had a lot of pent-up feelings of rage because of that (i.e. the mental disorder contributes to this, too, which explains certain things but also doesn't excuse her actions.) Also, it's important to note that she hasn't really been forgiven by the characters, her relationship with Hanna has changed drastically and it's unlikely they will ever become the best friends they used to be ever again. She's choosing a certain side now that is all of her own because she's growing and changing. Again, she's still a child. The Paige thing, however, was never really dealt with and that's entirely the show's fault, and I'll admit I'm still side-eying the show for making Emily/Paige a thing after all of that, but again it applies that she's still a child who was still learning and understanding and growing up.
Ezra, however, is not a child. He is an adult, so there's absolutely no excuses for him not knowing better, and still not knowing better since he's still doing shady shit and continues to lie about it.
That is the main difference here. And that is what should be taken into consideration.
I don't know whether Marlene was being serious when she made that statement, or if she's just trying to appease the Aria/Ezra crowd after this episode thinking that they'll abandon the show (just like people did with Ravenswood after they broke Hanna/Caleb up), however I just have one thing to say:
If you try to glorify child predators and stalkers, for any reason, that is beyond unforgivable. I understand this is a work of fiction and ~scandalous things can happen to make the story more ~interesting, but just because you can do it doesn't mean you should, especially on this scale. There is a certain responsibility to uphold in terms of writing and representation; the show has always featured male predators and stalkers and most of them get their comeuppance. If anything, Ezra deserves whatever punishment comes his way and there should be absolutely no sympathy for him whatsoever. You set up this situation for him, you better finish it properly and accordingly, no matter how many shippers will whine and complain.
That is all I have to say on this subject. For now.
(Note: Part of me knows I shouldn't listen to anything any of the producers/writers say since they've been untruthful and have said some stupid shit about things before and honestly they could very well be doing the same thing now, or merely just thinking out loud of future possibilities, but regardless I needed to provide my thoughts and rant about it anyway. This show has done some pretty ridiculous things in the past that I've let go because I've been invested with the story and these characters, but if they go into the whole "sympathize the stalker/predator" thing all because of certain fans of a certain pairing, that's just pretty fucked up tbh; I mean, you can still make Ezra an integral part of the show without going down that triggering route, thanks.)
Things I liked about the episode:
++ Aria figuring things out on her own was perfect. It's what I wanted, in way. Of course she probably got suspicious after Spencer lashed out about it, but the important thing is that once it was in her head she couldn't let it go, especially after Ezra's little slip, and decided to investigate by herself, if only to clear her mind on the suspicions. Only to realize those suspicions were true. She was devastated and the way she lashed out and demanded the truth from Ezra was amazing (even if he only told her half of that truth).
++ Seeing Spencer lose control was hard to watch. Even though she tied that noose herself by starting the drugs in the first place, she was on the right track with the Ezra thing and then it all got incredibly complicated once the girls started questioning her sanity due to those drugs. I felt bad for her, and I know she knows that it's a problem and thinks she can stop it, but it's only a matter of time before she completely snaps. It's an addiction and she needs to get clean from it, and she can't do that by herself no matter how much she tries to convince herself she can. Unfortunately, I fear about Ezra and what he plans to do about it. The whole thing with Radley was one thing, but imagine what it will be like if she were to go there again, or somewhere else that is more highly secured?
++ On that note, another amazing performance by Troian.
++ I was questioning it at first, but now I'm liking the relationship between Mona and Mike. She does seem to genuinely like him, even so much as to not want to join in Ezra's antics anymore. Of course, Ezra has a way of manipulating the situation even further and I believe it was Mona that was a the reptile pavilion pretending to be Alison. (Again, another reason why the comparison between them don't work; he is using Mona and coercing her through fear, as an adult figure, someone respected by the town and his peers, tormenting and blackmailing and using a teen girl for his own benefit -- oh yeah, he can redeemed from that sure. -___- )
Things I didn't like:
++ I didn't dislike anything about the episode, actually. I only dislike what has been implied by the producer and that I have already ranted about above.
Overall: I really enjoyed watching the fantasy fall away, letting Aria see the truth of what her relationship with Ezra really is. The pairing of them has always been inappropriate, and I'm hoping that it continues to go further down that route as she discovers more about what he has really been up to with watching them and stalking them and has been obsessed with Alison. I want Aria to really be angry with him and want to tear him down for lying to her, for using her, using her friends, everything. I want to see him fall hard and fast, with no redemption and no glorifying of his actions. We've come this far, let's not ruin this potential of showing just how inappropriate of a gross skeezeball he is, okay?