Got a Secret. Can You Keep It? – Pretty Little Liars Returns January 3rd

ARIA:  OMG, Guys!  I just got a text message from “A!”

EMILY:  Me too!  What does yours say?

ARIA:  That Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens BROKE UP!

HANNA:  NO WAY!

ARIA:  WAY!

SPENCER:  That’s soooo not true!  I just saw them out together like last week.  That “A!”  She is SUCH a Pretty Little Liar!

Deny it if you’d like.  But I’m willing to bet that SOME of you (and you know who you are) became obsessed, this past summer, with a guilty little pleasure of a teen drama called Pretty Little Liars.  Whether you admit to watching it or not, Pretty Little Liars ended up being quite the little ratings darling, during those hot summer months.  As a result of its unexpected success, ABC Family decided to add the show to its dance card, again this year. 

After a jaw-dropping, sometimes laughable, but almost ALWAYS entertaining, first half of the season, Pretty Little Liars is slated to begin airing ALL NEW episodes starting January 3rd, at 8 p.m.

Wren and Spencer are clearly thrilled by this awesome news . . .

It seems like AGES, since we last checked in on “A’s” Pretty Little Victims, doesn’t it?  With so many characters, storylines, and plot twists, you might find yourself a bit confused as to where we left off . . .

But fear not, my Pretties!  What follows is a PLL primer, which will hopefully help you get up to speed on Pretty Little Liars (i.e. where it’s been, and where it’s going), just in time for the midseason premiere . . .

(By the way, just in case you were curious, the GIFS included this post were brought to you by the F-Yeah Pretty Little Liars Tumblr)

The Books

The Pretty Little Liars television series was inspired by a young adult book series of the same name, which was written by author, Sara Shephard.  The original series consisted of eight books.  Each book focused primarily on one of the four main characters in the series: Aria, Hanna, Spencer, or Emily.  The events that took place during the television series’ pilot episode, more or less directly corresponded with those from the first book in the series.

Recently, Sara Shephard has announced that, based on the success of the first eight books, as well as the television series inspired by them, she plans to add four additional books to the Pretty Little Liars series.  The first of those four books, Twisted, is set to hit bookstores in July of 2011.

The Mystery

You see that girl in the Missing Persons Poster pictured above?  Her name is Alison.  (Ali for short.)  And she’s dead.  At least .  . . we think she’s dead.  Actually, what exactly happened to Ali is one of the main mysteries of both the books and the television series.

About a year before the events of the television series take place, Ali, Spencer, Hanna, Aria, and Emily were having a slumber party in a barn on Spencer’s property, when Ali suddenly disappeared in the middle of the night.  She wasn’t seen or heard from for a year after that. 

Then, a year to the date of her disappearance, Ali’s decaying, smelly, and very stinky body was discovered near that barn.  Now, suddenly, all the girls who attended that slumber party are receiving strange and threatening messages from someone named “A,” who seems to know secrets about them that only the supposedly six-feet-under Alison would know.

What really happened to Alison that night?  And who is “A?”  These are the two main mysteries of the series.

As for the first mystery, well . . . there are a lot of folks out there who’d want to off Alison.  If you watch some of the flashbacks from the series, you will become one of them.  Girlfriend was a b*tch with a capital “B!”  Aside from being pretty, popular, and kind of a ho, Ali really had no redeeming qualities, whatsoever.  In fact, sometimes, figuring out what the heck the girls were thinking, when they decided to befriend Alison is the unofficial third mystery of the series . . .

Everyone seemed to have a motive to kill Alison — from the outcasts she taunted, to the girls whose boyfriends she stole, to the girl she inadvertently made blind, to the boy whose life she ruined, and to the many boys (and girls) whose hearts she broke.  Later in the series, we learn that, among the last people to see Ali alive on the night of her disappearance, was her much older boyfriend, Ian, who she dated in secret . . .

 and her neighbor, Creepy Toby, who was basically sent away to juvie, because of her . . .

The Pretty Little Liars Themselves

(1) Aria

When we first meet Aria, she is the rebel of the group.  We know this because she wears black, and has a purple stripe in her hair.  But her father’s adulterous affair, a year spent in Iceland, and Ali’s death, scare all goth tendencies (including the aforementioned purple stripe) right out of Aria.  She is a more or less well-behaved “sensitive writer type,” by the time we meet her.  Aria’s knowledge of her father’s affair, was a secret that only Ali knew about. 

Aria’s Dirty Daddy

And yet, during the season, “A” dropped that bomb on Aria’s mother, by sending her an anonymous letter about it. 

Aria’s Messed Up Mommy

This letter caused Aria’s mom to become briefly estranged from Aria, and move out of the family household.

“A” also seems to know about the illicit affair Aria has begun carrying on with her English teacher, Ezra Fitz, who Aria met at a bar, and classily screwed in a unisex bathroom, just days before the school year began . . .

Aria and Ezra broke up briefly, when Ezra found a text message from “A” about their relationship, on Aria’s phone, leading him wrongly to believe that his underage girlfriend was “talking out of school.”  Ezra also left town for a period of time, without telling Aria, in search of another teaching job. 

During the couple’s breakup, Aria briefly tried to date Bushy Eyebrows Noel, but that relationship quickly fizzled, when Noel realized that Aria wasn’t yet over her “old boyfriend.”  (And when I say OLD, I mean it in more ways than one . . .)

In the mid-season finale, Aria and Ezra had reunited, and were getting freaky in Ezra’s car, when another car hit her friend Hanna, who had just made a major break in the “who killed Ali” case.  Whoever tried to kill Hanna, also seemed to know about Aria’s and Ezra’s affair, and told the couple so, in no uncertain terms . . .

Apparently, “A” has learned her communication kills from the I Know What You Did Last Summer School of Window and Mirror writing . . .

(2) Hanna

Before the series began, Hanna was an outcast, and, apparently, a major porker.  We know this because, even though she looks JUST AS PRETTY AND THIN in flashbacks, as she does during the actual series, in flashbacks, she wears baggy t-shirts and ponytails, and has bad posture.  Oh  . . . she’s also EATING SOMETHING, in every single flashback scene.

But Ali’s disappearance apparently left an opening in the Popularity Pool.  So, after Evil Ali was out of the way, Hanna “lost a lot of weight” and became the school’s new Queen Bee, along with fellow former outcast, the UBER ANNOYING Mona.

 

Hobbies of Hanna’s include shoplifting and bulimia.  But lest you think she’s just another biatch, Hanna quickly becomes one of the kindest and most relatable characters in the series.  This can be attributed to four humbling things that happen to Hanna, during the course of the series:  (1) her mother’s unfortunate and sudden loss of wealth;

(2) her father’s sudden remarriage;

(3) the termination of her relationship with that Snoozy Bible Thumper Sean;

and (4) her budding friendship with sweetheart outcast, Lucas.

When we last saw Hanna in the mid-season finale, she was hit by a car (A’s car?) and knocked unconscious.  The hit and run occured just moments before Hanna was about to share a “shocking” announcement with her friends, about A’s true identity, and/or who might have killed Alison.

(3) Spencer

Spencer is your typical Type A personality / overachiever.  She wears lots of argyle and sweater vests.  Her family is very wealthy, and her dad is kind of a dick.  Spencer also has a penchant for stealing her older sister’s boyfriends.  The first she made out with was Ian, who, we learn, by the end of the series, was also dating Ali at the time.   Then she starts smooching with her sister’s adorable fiance, Wren . . .

Spencer’s sister catches the pair hooking up in Spencer’s bedroom, and eventually calls off the engagement.  Wren continues to court Spencer for awhile, but then inexplicably disappears . . .

 . . .  and is replaced by new not nearly as exciting boyfriend Poor Alex, who she ironically meets at her family’s country club.  (He’s a BALL BOY, naturally . . .)

Spencer and Alex break up briefly, after Spencer’s sister tries to make Alex think Spencer is embarrassed to be seen with him, because he’s so darn POOR.  But they, eventually the couple makes up.  Spencer later learns that Alex once comforted Spencer’s mother, during a breast cancer scare.  This information touches Spencer deeply, and makes us feel a bit better about Wren’s untimely disappearance but not much

 Throughout the first half of the season, “A” taunts Spencer about what a man-stealing HO she is .  . .  Spencer was also the last of the PLL girls to see Ali alive.  The two supposedly had a BIG FIGHT on the night Ali disappeared.

(4) Emily

Emily is quiet tomboy, who used to date Wife Beater Ben, until he tried to rape her in the gym locker room. 

But Emily actually likes girls, more than boys.  She made out with Ali once, and professed her love to the Queen Bee in a letter, only to be viciously spurned by her.  During the series, Emily begins a tentative lesbian relationship with a girl named Maya, who moves into Ali’s old house . . .

Maya looks to be about 40-years old . . . but is supposedly only 16 . . .

“A” seems aware of Emily’s relationship with Maya, and taunts her with it, by posting pictures of the couple in Emily’s locker.  This causes Emily to break up with Maya, and briefly begin a friendship with Creepy Toby, who she takes to the Homecoming Dance as a date. 

 But Creepy Toby creeps her out too much, so she runs away from him at the dance, and eventually ends up in the hospital, as a result.  Toby escaped authorities after dropping Emily off at the hospital.  He then stupidly called Emily (who he PUT in the hospital) for help during the mid-season finale.  Emily initially acted as though she wanted to help Toby.  However, instead of meeting him when she was supposed to, she sent the cops instead . . .

 

 

The Frenemies 

(1)  Creepy Toby and Blind Jenna

 

Creepy Toby and Blind Jenna (who wasn’t always blind, by the way) were Spencer’s neighbors.  They are step-siblings.  One night Creepy Toby was supposedly spying on the Pretty Little Liar girls.  This infuriated Ali, and made her desperate for revenge.  So, she made firecrackers, and decided to set them off near Creepy Toby’s garage.  But when Spencer peeked into the garage, she saw Creepy Toby and Blind Jenna DOING IT . . .

So, Ali (understandably) freaked out and dropped the firecrackers.  The sparklers went off in the garage, and caused Jenna to become blind.  Jenna now carries around a VERY LOUD cane of destruction, and always makes weirdly suggestive remarks to the girls, for no apparent reason at all.  She also oddly still uses a mirror to put on lipstick, even though SHE CAN’T SEE!

The girls briefly suspected Jenna as being “A,” when they caught her sending strange text messages through her laptop voice recognition program.  Later, the girls found a threatening message written on Spencer’s mirror in Jenna’s ugly shade of lipstick . . .

But of the two people I listed, Toby seemed to the girls a more likely candidate  to be Ali’s killer.  After all, it was TOBY who took the rap for causing Jenna’s blindness.  He did so, after Ali threatened him with revealing the knowledge of his sister-f*cking affair, if he didn’t absolve her of all wrongdoing.  Toby was sent away to juvie, as a result.  As mentioned earlier, Toby was also one of the last people seen with Ali, before she disappeared.

(2) Deputy Douchey

Deputy Douchey is a busy guy.  When he’s not catching shoplifters . . .

  . . . or screwing Hanna’s mom . . .

 or looking hot in a towel . . .

 . . . he’s trying to solve Ali’s murder.  But, basically, he just runs around stupidly accusing the Pretty Little Liars of killing Ali, and making Hanna’s life miserable.  Basically, aside from being kind of hot, Deputy Douchey sucks at life . . .

(3) Mona

 

You know who else sucks at life?  Mona.  We’re still not quite sure why Hanna hangs out with her, as she is really quite annoying.  Mona basically exists to make mean comments to everyone on the show, and repeatedly remind Hanna that her “popularity” is important.  I include her in this synopsis for two reasons only: (1) the events of the mid-season finale took place at HER ery lame birthday party; and (2) she was a MAJOR character in the book series, in more ways than one . . . 😉

(4) Jason

Jason is Dead Ali’s older brother.  He used to be a Goth, but now he’s just an A**hole.  Jason flew onto town on his broomstick toward the end of the summer season, and has been getting in the girls’ way, ever since.  Not only did he completely take over Ali’s memorial ceremony, after the girls worked so hard to put it together,  he, like Deputy Douchey, seems to think the girls had something to do with Ali’s death . . .

The Newbies

When Pretty Little Liars returns on January 3rd, at least three new faces will join the regular cast.  Lindsay Shaw, of 10 Things I Hate About You and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide will play Paige a fellow athlete, and rival to Emily on the school swimteam . . .

Alona Tal of Veronica Mars and Cane will play Simone, Aria’s old babysitter, and a competitor for Mr. Fitz’s heart . . .

Tyler Blackburn will play Resident Bad Boy, Caleb, who will likely serve as a new love interest for one of the Pretty Little Liars . . .

Promos and Clips

Recently, ABC Family has released some new video footage from the show, to promote the upcoming mid-season premiere.  You can check out the new promo, and two clips from an upcoming episode, entitled “Moments Later,”  below.  ( Special thanks, Team Ezra Fitz, for showing me these!)

Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to end this post with a few of my favorite Cheesy Stalker Messages from “A” . . .

See you on January 3rd, my Pretties!

[www.juliekushner.com]

 

8 Comments

Filed under Pretty Little Liars, Spoilers and Sneak Peaks

8 responses to “Got a Secret. Can You Keep It? – Pretty Little Liars Returns January 3rd

  1. Rene

    Awesome as usual; I love this show too but not quite as much as vampire diaries. It does come on a day that not much is on that I watch so it worked well in my schedule. 🙂 Loved the season recap.

    • Awww, thanks so much, Rene! 🙂 I agree, PLL is DEFINITELY no Vampire Diaries! (Then again, what show is? You just can’t top the joy of having Damon Salvatore on your TV screen. It’s scientifically impossible. :))

      That being said, I came into watching PLL this past summer, expecting to hate it, and was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the series. It was the perfect summer guilty pleasure. The acting was actually pretty darn good (with one or two exceptions, who shall remain nameless ;)), and the plot twists, while not perfect by any means, definitely kept me guessing.

      Plus, given the LOOOOOOOONG time we are forced to wait for TVD’s return, I was pleased to see that at least ONE of my shows will be back on television, right after New Year’s. (If nothing else, it will give me something to recap. :)) Thanks again for your kind words and awesome commentary. See you January 3rd (and January 27th, of course ;)).

  2. Aina

    Yay!
    I can’t wait until January/February so all the shows come back 😀
    I love your blog, I come and read your posts everyday cause it’s so much fun! And of course I love TVD, Glee, Ian and Alexander ❤ It would be amazing to see them both in the same show, I think I would faint of pleasure or something!
    I don't know if you watch Misfits (from e4 UK) but you doing the recaps would be hilarious!!!
    Anyway, thanks for your blog and keep it up!
    xx

    • Hi Aina! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind words! I’m so glad you are enjoying the blog. Clearly, you have VERY good taste in television shows and hot actors. 😉

      Admittedly, it’s a bit more more difficult for me to come up with new article ideas, while all of our favorite shows are on hiatus. But I’m trying! 🙂 (I’m actually planning another Damon and Elena Best Moments post from the first half of TVD Season 2. Hopefully, it will be up within the next couple of days.)

      As for Misfits, I would love to recap it, but I’m actually not sure it airs in the US. 😦 However, I am always looking for new shows to watch / recap. So, now that I know someone with VERY GOOD TASTE watches this series, I will definitely look into possibly viewing it online. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

      And thank you again for your comment, and for talking TV (and, of course, Alex and Ian) with me! 🙂

  3. imaginarymen

    Thanks for bringing me back up to speed. I can’t remember if I ended the season liking this show or not!

    And did that screencap cut out the best part of the fortune? “Lions and tigers and bitches, oh my!!” ;-00

    • I think you ended up liking PLL, in all it’s so-bad-it’s-good glory. 🙂 In fact, if I’m not mistaken, you and I texted lots of snarky remarks, LOL’s, and OMFG’s throughout the entire mid-season finale. Good times! 😉

      PLL will also be the first show to make a return in 2011, which means it’s probably worth a watch. Because, even if it ends up sucking, it’s GOT to be better than those lame Hallmark Christmas movies!

      (Boo, Hiss on the screencap. I thought FOR SURE it included the Lions, Tigers, and B*tches part! Damn you, ABC FAMILY, and your faulty screencaps! 😦 )

  4. cnkole

    This really filled in some gaps for me! I’ve been watching and keeping up with the season so far but there were a few things in your recap that I never picked up on in the show so far, so thanks! Haha everything makes so much more sense to me now. As for someone else’s comment about the UK series Misfits, it definately doesn’t air in the US or Canada but I’ve watched it on websites like projectfreetv.com and other free television websites.. Its very good I think you would like it since we seem to have similar taste in shows, its very different from anything else on television as far as the plot and theme of the whole show goes and the fact that the characters are witty and british makes it that much more wildly entertaining.. definately reccommend you checking it out. I agree you would probably make some pretty hilarious recaps on it as well 🙂 Sidenote: if you’re going to be checking out that UK series, another one that ive heard is ridiculously good, and pretty popular over there is called Skins, there is an American version of the show Skins coming over here soon but I hear that nothing can comparte to the UK version! Thank you again!! 🙂

    • Hi cnkole! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I’m so glad you found this blog helpful. I know that writing this post really helped ME get a handle on all the crazy stuff that has been going on with PLL since the mid-season premiere. You practically need a scorecard, to chart all the new clues and suspects! 🙂

      Also, and this is kind of selfish of me, I’m always excited to find someone, like you, who is smart, fun, and clearly has kickass taste in television shows, to chat about my favorite series with. 😉

      While we are on the subject, thanks for the intel on Misfits and projectfreetv.com. The show sounds fabulous, and I will definitely have to check it out. As for Skins (the U.S. version at least), I just caught the pilot last night, for the first time, and I LOVED it! I know fans of the British version have been dissatisfied with the new incarnation, but as someone who had nothing to compare it to, I was truly shocked by how much I enjoyed it.

      Monday is a crowded night for me television-wise. However, I definitely plan on doing a write-up of Skins at some point. Given our similar TV tastes, I’m sure we will chat soon! Thanks again for stopping by!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s