The girls try to readjust to everyday life after their escape from being held captive for a month, but find themselves suffering from PTSD and unable to really talk about what happened, each of them finding different ways of coping. Alison asks her father about a possible "Charles" DiLaurentis in their family, but it goes nowhere. Andrew Campbell has been caught, but there still needs more concrete evidence to put him away for such a serious crime. Sarah Harvey ran away from home and will be staying with Emily.
Innocence Lost; Courage Gained
We knew that going back to their lives wasn't going to be easy, and I really liked that we saw how difficult it was for each of them individually and how they attempted to deal with the aftermath of what they went through. Spencer couldn't sleep, Emily needed something to make her feel safe and in control, Hanna was understandably affected by her bedroom that needs to purge and cleanse everything and start anew to not be reminded of what happened, and Aria is in such desperation to stop whoever did this to them that she'll willing to lie to the police for everything to just be over with. While they seem fine physically, all four of them are psychologically scarred by what "Charles"/"A" did to them, and ashamed of what they were forced to do to each other.
I was correct in my assessment that the girls underwent a version of psychological electroshock torture, where they wouldn't sleep or eat until they completed these little "games" of choosing someone to electroshock, or else they all suffered. They were forced to torture each other in punishment for the sick enjoyment of whoever was doing this to them. The fact that none of them can look each other directly in the eye after the fact really shows how much they were broken from the horrific experience. It actually makes me wonder if the clothes they were wearing when they emerged from their rooms after goodness knows how long was their "reward" after each game session. Like, they started completely naked underneath that white sheet when we see them entering their rooms and were only given clothes (reminiscent of their former selves from years ago, complete with Aria having the red streaks in her hair) and other basic necessities when they successfully completed each round or did what was told of them, until "Charles"/"A" deemed all of them "well-behaved" enough to all exit their rooms.
The girls may be out from that underground hell, but the effects still linger, and their predator is still out there, whether or not they believe he's been caught by the police. Which I don't believe Andrew is the main culprit; he may have assisted and have his own reasons for hating the girls, but he wasn't directly responsible for everything done to them down there.
Seeing the girls with their parents was heartbreaking, because they only know the bare minimum, if that, of what they went through. And they spent about a month worried to death about what had happened to their babies, wondering if they were alive or dead or goodness knows what else. And their interactions with their daughters was both of desperation and helplessness because they couldn't protect them and cannot undo what was done. Just imagine being powerless to shield even your own child from harm and not being able to fix the situation. Especially since none of them are ready to discuss what happened, not with their parents and not even with each other yet. Just, heartbreaking all around.
So while the nightmare isn't over until "A" has officially been caught, the girls have maintained their sanity despite suffering the traumatic after effects of what they experienced. Their spirits may have been temporarily shattered, but they're all strong and have proven this as much throughout all the shit they've been through over the years and they will get through this, and they will make the fucker who is torturing them pay.
Things I liked about the episode:
++ Showing the girls having PTSD, and coping in their own ways, after having escaped captivity. Obviously them having to sleep in their bedrooms is hard when the one you were held prisoner in was an exact replica. Just the things like Aria opening her window to reassure herself that it was real and not a fake or enclosed space, Spencer not sleeping because of having nightmares from what occurred and having to leave her door propped open a little so she knew she wasn't trapped. Hanna was hit the hardest, triggered by her own bedroom so much that she basically cleaned everything out, her wallpaper included. It was heartbreaking seeing them go through that, but it's realistic when you suffer from something as traumatic as they have and I was glad that the show gave us that.
++ On the flipside there was Emily using a gun. Granted she did this to prove to herself that she can become stronger when having a defense weapon and be a good shot, but it proved to be more damaging to her than anything else. It wasn't helping her feel safer, it just added more pain because she couldn't get the images and memories out of her head. I also loved what she said, too, about how she suddenly felt like she was becoming the very thing she feared. That broke my heart. :(
++ I loved seeing all the mothers in this episode, making up for their absence from the premiere. I loved seeing that despite them all being different, they all love and care about their daughters and just want them to be safe.
++ So far I'm really liking Sarah Harvey, I'm interested in learning more about her background and story, especially since she seems to mirror Alison in the sense of being a former mean girl who has reformed based on the traumatic incidents that have happened to her, particularly from being held prisoner for years. It's sad hearing about her own mother though, who seems to thrive on the publicity from when she disappeared than to her being back and alive. Such a huge contrast between the other mothers.
++ Caleb being a caring boyfriend to Hanna. Just, Caleb. ♥
Things I didn't like:
++ Not loving the new officer guy. Not just because anyone in uniform on this show I don't trust (which is just instinct at this point), but also since I hear he's going to be a love interest for Alison (I'm also hearing similarly for Emily and Sarah, as well), and I am not here for that. Why does this show insist that all the girls need to be romantically involved? Why can't they remain single, especially with everything that is happening? Just, ugh. No thank you.
++ Toby beating up Andrew. Yes, Andrew is a douchebag, but after all the police brutality that happens in reality (esp of late) it left a bad taste in my mouth, especially after he states to another officer, "give me a few more minutes." Thankfully he was shut down and told to just "do his job", but seriously. Not cool Toby, no matter how pissed off you are that was not cool. :/
++ No follow up with Mona. :(
Overall: A little quieter than the premiere, but appropriately so since this was the aftermath of their traumatic experience and it allowed us to see how the girls are attempting to cope with it all. Which I really liked. It was a really good episode to give us that breather, but also remind us that even though the girls are out the effects from what was done to them will linger, and that "Charles"/"A" is still out there. I'm quite anxious to learn more and see how the girls go back to life, and how they heal from this, and hopefully get their revenge on their predator once and for all.