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Why the heck weren’t MY high school dances this exciting? – A Recap of Pretty Little Liar’s “There’s No Place Like Homecoming”

Breaking and entering, destruction of chemistry labs, freaky gang-type tattoos, allusions to incest, creepo fortune tellers, and, quite possibly, a MURDER, all in a single hour?  I’ve got three words for you: Best.  Dance.  Ever.

Last week, I griped about the disappearance of one of my favorite characters on Pretty Little Liars.  Namely, THIS GUY . . .

Yep  . . . unfortunately, that adorable, drunky Brit, Wren, was missing YET AGAIN this week!  However, unlike last week, where I spent a good portion of the lackluster episode pining for his return, this episode pretty much rocked, IN SPITE of his absence.  Shocking, yet true . . .

(Which is not to say that I don’t want him back, ABC Family!  You BETTER bring him back!)

So, in the words of the inimitable Hanna, who, by the way, was my TOTAL hero and main source of comic relief, this week  . . .

(Who knew Queen Bee Former Fatties could be so funny . . . and likeable?) . . .

 “Let’s get this PARTY started!”

Confuscius say, “Who hijacked MY Fortune Cookie?”

In the darkest corners of human nature, there now lurks a NEW evil . . . and it is shaped like this . . .

When the episode opens, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna are in Aria’s bedroom staging an intervention.  We know that Aria is seriously depressed, because she is wearing a  . . . PONYTAIL!

She is also sporting . . . NON-NAME BRAND SWEAT PANTS . . . from LAST SEASON!

Clearly, this is an emergency of EPIC proportions.  To rescue their friend from the dark fathomless abyss of “dressing for comfort,” the girls arrive, armed with trashy gossip magazines and Chinese food.  What more could a girl possibly want?

Without too much effort on their part, the girls eventually manage to snap Aria out of her Mr. Fitz-shaped depression, and convince her to attend the upcoming Homecoming Dance.  With their “mission accomplished,” the girls quickly breakout the takeout and start to chow down.  Before even touching her food, Hanna heads for dessert (girl after my own heart). 

She eagerly rips open her fortune cookie, yanking out that familiarly tiny piece of paper that, to this day, is my FAVORITE part of eating Chinese food.  Unfortunately, Hanna’s cookie-sized “prediction for the future” isn’t anything positive like:  You will come upon great and unexpected riches.  Nor is it something funny like:  You will eat another fortune cookie.  Rather, it says THIS . . .

Lions and tigers and bitches, oh my!  There is no place like homecoming.  See you there, A!

A’s unexpected use of a Wizard of Oz reference in crafting this taunt, can only mean ONE thing.  SOMEONE in the writers’ room has clearly been reading my recaps, in which I generally enjoy comparing “Dead Ali” to the Wicked Witch of the West.

Then again . . . maybe not.

The rest of the girls quickly open their own fortune cookies.  Sure enough, each one bears the SAME cryptic message.  This development obviously begs the very important question of, “How did A get her message into cookies?”

Does she work at the Chinese Restaurant where the girls got their takeout food?  Did she simply order the Fortune Cookies premade online, and slip them into the girls’ takeout bag, at the last minute?  If the latter is true, how did A know that the girls would be ordering at the exact time they did?

I’m with you, Mr. Monkey!  I don’t get it, either.

Hanna Gets Sexercised

The next day, in what was, hands down, the episode’s funniest scene, Hanna attends an abstinence group meeting with her boyfriend, Sean.  During it, she is asked to participate in a “role-playing” exercise, in which she propositions a boy for sex, and he turns her down for Jesus.  The boy doing the rejecting in the skit is a new guy named Lucas.

 I liked Lucas instantly, if only because his nerdiness, and smart-mouthed defensive sarcasm, reminded me so much of the ever-awesome Seth Cohen from that show The O.C.  And you all know how I LOVE me some Seth Cohen!

Socially awkward and snarky, but loveable, high school nerds?  Meet your king!

“Come back to my bedroom,” monotones Hanna, looking bored as ever.

“I can’t do this,” replies Lucas.

“But you’re so hot,” deadpans Hanna.  (Her delivery of this line, in particular, WAS hysterical!  I only wish I had it on MP3, so that I can play it for myself, whenever I’m feeling down.)

“No, what I mean, is I can’t do this with YOU!” Lucas clarifies.

In a very sweet, and unusually honest moment for the show, Lucas explains how a guy of his social status could never even THINK of having the opportunity to have sex with a woman of Hanna’s caliber.  (Clearly, Lucas has never watched The O.C.)  “I have the physical strength of Screech . . .  keeping my virginity is pretty much a done deal for me,” he concluded.

I had to laugh when I heard the random “Screech” reference . . .

After all, the Lucas character is undoubtedly WAY too young to have watched Saved by the Bell, the sitcom that first featured the character (as are, I would imagine, a good percentage of Pretty Little Liars fans).  Heck, I was a little kid when the show first aired, and I am quite a ways away from high school.  Perhaps Lucas remembers Screech, or rather Dustin Diamond, the actor who played him, from Celebrity Fit Club.  

Or, maybe he found that awful sex tape starring the actor, online, while his parents were asleep in the next room.  Seeing THAT would be enought to make any kid want to stay abstinant FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!  Then again, later on in the same episode, Lucas also made a Hans Solo reference . . .

. . . leading me to conclude that the character is actually a 40-year old, stuck in a 17-year old body. 

(BTW, the next time Hanna propositioned him for sex during role play, Lucas enthusiastically said, “Yes.”  Atta boy, Lucas!  Don’t let nasty sex tapes starring has-been 90’s stars get you down.)

Speaking of a character on this show who looks and acts too old to be in high school . . .

 . . . Hanna was so inspired by her sexercise, that she decided to play matchmaker for her dear friend Emily.  Having recently learned from A, via instant message, that Emily and middle-aged Maya occasionally enjoyed swapping spit with one another, Hanna more or less invites Maya to the dance on Emily’s behalf.  The problem, of course, is that Emily is already going with someone else .  . . Creepy Toby.

I love high school dances.  They always remind me of that old movie, Carrie.

More on Creepy Toby in a bit . . .

Spencer should really stick to what she does best (Hint:  It’s not dating.)

Having unceremoniously tossed aside, and completely forgotten, about the adorable Wren, as if the hottie was yesterday’s dirty underwear, Spencer is totally ready to head off to the Big Dance with Ball Boy Alex, when the episode begins.  The two share a surprisingly sexy scene together pre-dance, when Alex visits Spencer at school, so that the two could color coordinate their outfits.  (Color coordinate, huh?  OK.  Alex is clearly gay.)

When Alex offers to pay for the dance tickets, Spencer awkwardly explains that she has it taken care of.  “It’s just that you . . . work so hard for your money . . . I’d hate to see you waste it on something stupid like this.”

To Alex’s credit, rather than be offended by the obvious implications of that statement, he simply pulls Spencer into a steamy embrace.  “But I WANT to,” he insists.

He then deftly sticks a wad of cash in the pocket of Spencer’s jeans, like she’s a Vegas showgirl, who just gave him a lap dance.  (Way to stay classy, Ball Boy!)

That night, at the dance, Spencer is surprised (and by “surprised” I mean completely miserable) to see that her sister Melissa also in attendance.

Glory Days . . . They’ll pass you by, Glory Days .  . .

Apparently, it is customary for former Homecoming Queens to pass off the  crown to the next Queen Bee.  And this year, they conveniently chose the Homecoming Queen from the class of 2000, Melissa.  This is probably because she was the only former queen lame enough to show up. 

Wait a second . . . Class of 2000?  Did I mishear that? 

Wouldn’t that make Melissa (and Wren) like 12 or 13 years older than Spencer?  And what about that AP History paper Spencer stole off her sister’s laptop?  I could have sworn the date on it was 2004. 

Even if we give Melissa the benefit of the doubt, and say she WAS part of the Class of 2000, that would mean she wrote the AP History paper that Spencer stole, over a decade ago.  And yet, Melissa still remembers it well enough to recognize it as hers on the website where information regarding Spencer’s award is posted.  I seriously doubt I could recognize a paper I wrote my last year in college, let alone high school, especially ten years after the fact. 

Melissa must have superhuman memory.  A nice skill to have.  Too bad she’s such a raging bitch. 

“I heart the Russian Revolution.  I always really identified with that Stalin guy.”

When Spencer becomes too occupied with the mystery of A’s identity to truly show her date, Alex, a good time, Melissa uses it as an opportunity to plant the seeds of destruction in Alex’s mind about the genuine nature of Spencer’s romantic attraction to him.  “She’s just using your poor ass to make our parents mad,” Melissa explains, more or less.

The statement festers in Alex’s brain all evening, and eventually causes Alex to ditch Spencer’s ass at the dance, without even saying goodbye.  When Spencer confronts Melissa about her misdeeds, the latter explains matter-of-factly.  “I didn’t have to do much.  You screwed that one up all on your own.”

“Who, moi?”

And while I HATE to EVER agree with Evil Melissa, I have to admit she DOES have a point here . . .

But BEFORE all that happened, Spencer and Alex went to visit a fortune teller, who had a penchant for tarot card reading.  (Yeah, we didn’t have THOSE at my dances either.)  At first, it seemed like a typical reading.  The fortune teller droned on and on about a bad relationship, and not trusting people and blah, blah, blah.  The whole thing would have sucked if A didn’t swoop in to make it exciting.  “Say Bye, Bye to Your BFF,” she somehow managed to scrawl on one of the cards. 

Woah!  How did A do that?  Clearly A is a superhero with magical powers!

 . . . or should I say  . . . supervillain.

Awkward much?

As soon as Aria was assigned to help out at the “bean bag toss” table at the dance (which, apparently, had some sort of “carney theme” or whatever), you just knew she would somehow wind up working it with Ezra Fitz and his new uber dweeby haircut.

“I wanted something to match my pasty white legs.”

The two bicker a bit about whether Aria knows “A” and whether she told “A” about her relationship with Fitzy.  Eventually Aria gets frustrated and storms off.  Later, a jealous, Fitzy spies Aria dancing with Hanna’s beau, Sean.  Fitz looks PISSED!

Glory Days . . . They’ll pass you by, Glory Days . . .

To Fitzy’s credit,  when Aria confronted him in the hallway later that night, I really thought, Fitzy was going to say something d-baggy about her “moving on” so quickly.  Instead, he breaks into an honestly heartwarming (even to a TOTAL cynic like me) speech about how he wishes that he could give Aria a good time in the same way boys Aria’s own age could: taking her to movies, introducing her to friends, attending dances together, banging her in the gym locker room, etc.  Fitzy then admits to Aria he got his haircut to impress her, and my heart melted a bit. 

But I STILL hate that awful haircut . . .

Creepy Toby ALWAYS gets the girl (even if she is, technically, a relative)

No one much approved of Emily’s taking Creepy Toby to the Homecoming Dance.  In fact, the couple’s mere entrance into the auditorium causes the entire room to literally turn blue with fear.  (Seriously, what was with the weird lightning in this episode?   Half the dance scenes were lit like a live actions Smurfs movie!)

Which begs a very important question: which Pretty Little Liar would get to be Smurfette?

One of the reasons for the Pretty Little Liars being so “blue” about Emily dating Toby, was that they kind of /sort of thought he killed Ali / was “A.”  You see, apparently, Dweeby Toby found time out of his busy “being a psycho” schedule to get a really gnarly tattoo on his stomach (I thought you had to be 18 to do that.) 

The tattoo said “901 free at last.”  Apparently, the number is not his zip code, but rather the day that  .  . . wait for it . . . Ali disappeared.

To further complicate matters,  Hanna breaks into Jenna’s shrinks office.  (Oh yeah, she totally did that — because shop lifting, car theft/ destruction, and breaking and entering weren’t enough to quench future gangleader Hanna’s taste for crime.  She missed being crowned Homecoming Queen to do it too.)

I may look sweet and innocent, but I’m a totally bad ass MO FO!

Once there, she learns that Toby’s been sexing his stepsister, Blind Jenna . . .

. . . and was in town when Ali disappeared!

Back at the dance, Toby invites Emily to the chemistry lab “to talk.”  Things start out innocently enough, with Emily admitting to Toby that she may very well be a Big Ole Lessie.  But then they take a turn for the frightening, when Toby utters that one line EVERY heretofore mild-mannered serial killer says in movies, before he turns on you and literally eats your face off . . .

“We all have secrets, Emily!”

As if that wasn’t enough of a warning, Emily receives a text message at that moment from Hanna saying, “You’re with A’s killer now.”

Emily freaks out and backs away from Creepy Toby.  He lunges toward her.  Thinking fast, Emily knocks him into a glass cabinet in the chem lab, causing glass to shatter all around him.  Clearly Toby has the same superpowers as A (or IS actually A), because he recovers from the massive fall into glass in mere seconds, and chases Emily down the hallway.  She trips over something and falls . . .

But the final scene just MADE the episode for me.  In it, we see a sign that says, “Rosewood Population 3,488” (or something . . . I can’t really remember the exact number.   I just know it was pretty darn small).  Then, suddenly, a black jacketed hand sprays white spray paint over the final “8,” and uses black spray paint to change it to a “7.” 

The question is . . . who died?  And how does the vandal KNOW about it?

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Back to School – A Recap of Grey’s Anatomy’s “Time Warp”

When I heard that this  Thursday’s installment of Grey’s Anatomy was going to be a “flashback episode,” one that intermingled the characters’ present day experiences with events of the past,  in order to shed some light on the characters’ current behavior, I found myself struck with an overwhelming sense of deja vu.  I couldn’t kick this feeling that I had been here before.  That I had seen this before . . .

Oh, yeah . . . now I remember . . .

In an effort to differentiate himself from former Chief Webber McBoozy (although after 45 days of sobriety, I guess it is no longer appropriate, nor fair, to call him that), and to make a name for himself as the “touchy feely” Nu-Chief, Dr. McDreamy Shepherd reinstitutes Lecture Day at Seattle Grace.

“See?  I’m the sensitive one.  Look into my puppy dog eyes,  and tell me I’m not sensitive.  Just don’t make me cry, because I’ll punch your lights out, if you do.”

As guest lecturers, Shepherd commandeers Bailey, Callie, and Chief McBoozy Webber (sorry, force of habbit).  Webber takes a bit of extra persuading on Shepherd’s part.  After all, learning that you have just been demoted from “Chief of Surgery” to just plain “surgeon” does not exactly make one feel all “happy-go-teachy.”  Nonetheless, Webber ultimately agrees to guest lecture, and what appears to be the entire staff of Seattle Grace packs a rather large auditorium to see him do so. 

(Seriously, Seattle Grace?  Your entire staff?  This is why you aren’t ranked in the top ten!  This is why your patients die all the time!  Doesn’t anyone practice medicine here any more?)

But I digress . . . Here’s what we learned from our three lecturers:

Webber’s Lesson: “When I was your age . . .”

Our first flashback took us all the way back to 1982 – a time when the medical profession was very much an all-boys club, an all white boys club;  a time when doctors were largely ignorant about and frightened of immune system-related diseases and homosexuality.  It was also a time when people dressed like this . . .

Back then Webber was a just teetotaling, ambitious young resident trying to make a name for himself at Seattle Grace, while, at the same time, boinking Meredith’s Mommy, Ellis Grey, in the on-call room.  Yes, apparently, they did that in the 80s too.  Talk about sexually transmitted diseases . . .  How often do you think they sterilize that place?

“28 more years of this and we will ALL be under quarantine . . .”

When Ellis and Webber encounter a patient with a rare bacterial infection, they begin to suspect that he may have GRID, Gay Related Immune Deficiency Disorder, or AIDS, as it is now commonly called.  This was a highly sensitive subject for any doctor to broach during that time, let alone a young resident with minimal job security.  After all, few cases of the disorder had been discovered at this point, and very little was known about the disease. 

Apparently, homosexuality was just not something you talked about back then, it being a time before

 Will and Grace and . . .  well . . .

Grey’s Anatomy!

Initially, the patient takes Webber’s inquiry into his sexual orientation very badly.  He leaves the hospital in a huff, refusing treatment.  Unfortunately, a few weeks later, he returns, now extremely ill and desperate for help.  The problem is that, now that his secret is out, most of the doctors and nurses at Seattle Grace are afraid of infection and unwilling to help him.  THIS MUST BE A JOB FOR  . . .

 . . . no, not them, just Young Webber and Young Ellis Grey.

The dynamic duo risk their careers and, as far as they know, their lives, to save this patient.  Fortunately, the surgery goes well.  (Yay!) But . . . then the patient dies anyway (Boo!)  But, not before Webber learns of his own fallibility and the importance of maintaining your humanity as a surgeon.  (Yay!)  Then, afterwards, Ellis bullies the future Chief McBoozy into taking his first alcoholic drink. (Boo!)   But, before, that, we got to see how adorable Meredith looked at age 5.  (Yay!)

Needless to say, it was a very emotional rollercoaster-esque lecture.  Yet, at its conclusion, Webber gives a rousing speech about the importance of doctors adhering to the Hippocratic Oath.  He then raises his right hand and recites the Oath himself.  Admittedly, it was some pretty powerful stuff, and really served to highlight Webber’s true love of medicine.  Clearly affected by his own speech, the Old Chief ultimately decides to accept McDreamy’s offer and return to work.  (Yay!)

Bailey’s Lesson: Shark tales, a.k.a. The Birth of the Nazi

Before Miranda Bailey became the Nazi; before she turned into a strong, smart, powerful, but often angry, woman who looks like this . . .

Bailey was an overachieving but painfully shy and polite-to-a-fault intern, who looked like this . . .

The year was 2003.  While medicine had come a long way since 1982, there were still many obstacles for women who wanted to succeed in the healthcare industry.  And for many women, their biggest obstacle was one another.  That’s right.   Mean girls, unfortunately, stuck around long past the 80s . .

This movie came out in 2004 . . .

Despite the fact that Mean Girls wasn’t due out in theaters for another year, one of them had managed to sneak into Seattle Grace.  Bailey’s resident “advisor” is  a bitch with a Capital B.  And, like any two-dimensional villian, this 30-something year old woman tortured Young Bailey with the zeal, intensity (and maturity) of a 16-year old cheerleader who just found out that her boyfriend has decided to go to prom with the class nerd.

Be careful Bailey!  This never ends well for people like you . . .

Fortunately, for Bailey, she is due for a major personality transplant and stat!  And who performs said transplant, you ask?  None other than Superman Webber of course!  “Surgery is a shark tank, and sharks have teeth.  Be a shark, not a minnow,” the then-Chief instructs Bailey. 

And I bet you know what happens next . . .

That’s right!  Our Neo Nazi Bailey solves a difficult medical mystery.  Then,  in what we now know was the first of her eloquently angry, yet rousing, monologues, Bailey hands her bitchy resident advisor her ass on a platter for ordering countless unnecessary surgeries for a patient, who merely required medication.  “You are going to be a brilliant surgeon one day,” commends Webber (and we know that he is right!)

In addition to being an awesome surgeon, Bailey is also terrific public speaker.  She owns both the stage and her audience, awarding them for class participation with chocolates.  And as a nearly perpetual student, I can tell you that candy bribes WORK and work well!

Callie’s Lesson: “Everybody f&*ks Alex.”

You know who’s not so hot in the public speaking department?  The typically loud and brash Callie.  After vomiting up her breakfast in anticipation of the big event, Callie stumbles around stage, head tucked inside her notes, mumbling almost incoherently about the club footed patient her and Alex cared for back in 2006, when she was a new resident.

With Alex’s help, however, Callie ultimately recovers nicely.  She recounts for the group the immensely gratifying experience of repairing the leg of a 28-year old student who was told he could never walk.  When all of the other doctors discounted the patient, and berated Callie for mismanaging his expectations, Callie refused to give up.  As a result, this formerly bed-ridden man can now roam freely (with the help of some crutches, of course). 

And this wouldn’t be Grey’s Anatomy if the story didn’t end with an on-call room boink fest between Alex and Callie . . .

“I am so much better at doing this than public speaking  . . .”

Apparently, Alex has screwed the entire staff at Seattle Grace, and most of its patients.  That is one dirty boy!

Not only is Alex a slut, he is also, apparently a liar.  And Callie catches him in a real whopper.  As punishment, she forces him to perform the surgery he claimed to have already done by himself in an elevator shaft, even though that surgery was actually completed by Callie’s ex-hubby, the now deceased, George.

R.I.P. Dude!  The show hasn’t been the same since you left . . . really.

So, there you have it, folks.  A love letter to medicine, with three flashbacks, two sex scenes, lots of chocolate, and a shout out to an old friend.  Not bad for a single episode.

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