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Heather's TV Review: Pretty Little Liars
What happens after you've been set up in the ultimate scheme? Is payback the only option? That's the premise for the mid-season episodes of Pretty Little Liars, which tested the true bonds of friendship with surprising results.
Pretty Little Liars picked up after the girls' arrest with them being found with the shovel that killed their former best friend Alison (Sasha Pieterse). Hanna (Ashley Benson), Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Aria (Lucy Hale) are put through the ultimate test to see if their bond breaks. It looked like it had as the girls served community service and everyone appeared to be giving Emily the cold shoulder. Everyone has noticed this, especially the mysterious "A" who has been watching and blackmailing the girls. "A" lets Emily know that misery loves company and they could work together. It turns out that Emily's possible new A alliance could have an ulterior motive behind it. Hanna's relationship with the bi-coastal Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) could crack due to the growing physical distance between them and their mutual friend Lucas' (Brendan Robinson) obsession with Hanna. Spencer and Aria have relationship problems with their respective partners Toby (Keegan Allen) and Ezra (Ian Harding) that could land them both in hot water. Can the girls put their differences aside long enough to expose "A" once and for all? Can they handle the truth once it's been revealed?
In terms of plot, Pretty Little Liars has given the long running Gossip Girl a run for its money in the way of dangerous schemes. Don't be turned off by the idea that's on the ABC Family network. That doesn't necessarily mean that the show is entirely wholesome either. It after all involved a murder and some blackmail thrown in for good measure. The promos have thrown out the possibility of A's exposure at the end of the season, which could be a blessing and a double edged sowrd at the same time. The mystery of A's identity has made the show interesting to watch, but it could ruin the show if they dragged it out for too long. A could be anyone: a close ally or even a parent with an ulterior motive. What really makes the show a success is the genuine rapport between Bellisario, Hale, Benson and Mitchell. Liars allowed the girls to focus on their friendship just as much as the mystery behind A. This time around each girl is getting time to shine in the spotlight. No one is being singled out for too long, but the real improvement is Mitchell's once confused Emily who now has the confidence and strength to fight back. Mitchell gives Emily a sense of maturity to handle being face to face with someone who could kill her in a split second.
The only plot that is still a tad squirm inducing is the relationship between Harding and Hale, because there's no way to cover up the fact that Ezra was once Aria's teacher. She's also not yet an aduly either. Her parents' reaction to the news of their daughter's supposed genuine relationship was understandable. Every parent would be upset that their teenage daughter or son was involved in a questionable relationship with their teacher. Someone who they were supposed to trust and might be taking advantage of them. The only bright side was that the show is trying to ground the Aria/Ezra pairing with some reality and giving something for the Montgomery family to talk about for a really long time. Nothing wrong with that.
Pretty Little Liars premiered on January 2nd and airs Mondays at 8:00 pm on ABC Family.
Verdict: A seemingly ordinary show about teenage girls focused on the complicated plots of murder, blackmail and sexual troubles without blinking an eye.
TV Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)