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'Pretty Little Liars' Ep. 3.21 Recap: Get Thee to a Sanitarium Spencer Hastings

'Pretty Little Liars' Ep. 3.21 Recap: Get Thee to a Sanitarium Spencer Hastings

Last we saw the girls, Spencer had nearly died from a rogue steam shower (or more likely, the member of the A team controlling it); and Hanna had just learned her mom ran down and possibly killed Detective Wilden I Know What You Did Last Summer style. In other words, business is as usual in Rosewood, PA. Caution: Spoilers ahead!

Last we saw the girls, Spencer had nearly died from a rogue steam shower (or more likely, the member of the A team controlling it); and Hanna had just learned her mom ran down and possibly killed Detective Wilden I Know What You Did Last Summer style. In other words, business is as usual in Rosewood, PA.

Caution: Spoilers ahead!

Not long after Spencer’s not-so-relaxing steam, Emily has joined Aria and Spencer at the Hastings' house, with Spencer ready to reveal to the girls who has been helping Mona. Unbeknownst to them, Hanna is off trying to cover up the possible murder of a police officer, so it’s probably better that they just start without her. Explaining to the Liars that she had been warned not to tell them, Spencer makes the big reveal, telling them that “Toby is A,” and Emily makes a face like she is trying to figure out what the square root of pi is.

Meanwhile, my favorite criminal duo, Hanna and Ashley, return to their house and try to figure out what to do about Wilden’s abandoned cop car and missing body. Hanna convinces her mom not to call the police or lawyers until they have a better idea of what the situation is like, and mother of the year agrees, adding “not a word about this to your friends.” Sure, that’s likely to happen.

Back at Spencer’s, Emily and Aria are trying to do what Spencer has been doing for weeks: figure out what Toby’s motivation could be for helping Mona. Emily, ever the optimist, continues to believe that there’s another explanation, but Spencer’s not having it. She laughs at Emily and the two have it out, before Spencer finally uses logic, which hasn’t been Spencer’s forte as of late. With Mona at the academic decathlon competition, she explains that Toby is the only one who could have locked her into the steam room, adding a caveat to Emily. “The quicker you wrap your mind about this, the better,” she says.

The next day at the Brew, Emily is clearly upset about Toby and is still not convinced he could be part of the A team. She calls Toby and leaves a message asking him to talk, and then takes the key to his loft out of a glass jar that she keeps at her place of work. Someone needs to get this girl a keychain.

Aria is walking into Ezra’s apartment with extra vim and nonchalance, and that usually means something surprising is going on inside his apartment. Sure enough, she finds her “hi babe” greeting falls on a seven-year-old. Ezra is at home with his son, Malcolm, who like the actor who played Jason earlier in the series, has been Changeling-ed. While I try and figure out if the age difference is greater between Aria and Malcolm or Aria and Fitz, Fitz explains that Maggie and Malcolm are moving to Rosewood and will be hanging out at his apartment until they can find a place to live. Though hesitant, Aria (AKA the world’s youngest step mom) stays to play trains with the boys.

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At Toby’s loft, Emily is frantically searching for anything that could explain the situation, but all signs point to an abandoned ship by Toby. Hanna is there as well, but it looks like she just came along for the free cable. Hanging onto the fact that there could be another explanation for Toby’s membership of the black hoodie brigade, Emily tells Hanna, “We told each other everything. He gave me the courage to come out.”

This trip down memory lane causes her to open a book she gave him for his birthday, where she finds a parking pass with the name E. Lamb, the pseudonym Toby used to get into Radley. Hanna suggests Emily go talk to Toby’s parents.

Back at Ezra’s, Maggie returns “home” to find her seven-year-old son happily playing with the father he never knew and his teenage girlfriend. Totally not weird. Maggie and Ezra discover they are both busy that afternoon, and Aria steps in and offers to watch Malcolm.

Spencer, who has been going back and forth between her lucid, quick-witted self and the sleepy, more current crazy cat lady side to her personality, has finally embraced the latter persona. She’s lounging on the couch at the Hastings' house, which is ironically well lit during the day. The doorbell stirs her, and outside, she finds the sympathy wreath from the end of last episode, with a note that reads, “Someone close to you will pay for your loose lips. – A.” (Please be Wren, please be Wren, please be Wren).

The girls gather at the Brew (for the record, they are at school a total of zero times this episode), and Emily reveals she’s been trying to find Toby – not the smartest thing to mention, considering Spencer has been prone to jumping over tables and choking people as of late. Speaking of which, here comes Mona! Spencer wastes no time thanking Mona for the flowers, particularly the orchids, followed by a poignant threat. Just before she leaves, Mona gives Spencer a cryptic tip about the orchids: “Make sure not to leave them in direct sunlight. I did once. They didn’t make it through the night.” Something tells me we’re not talking about flowers here. As a side note, Mona is wearing a dress with birds printed all over it. This, being PLL, is no accidental nod to Hitch and The Birds.

Before she baby-sits Malcolm, Aria heads home to find some toys that an actual modern day little boy would play with (read: not trains), and her mom comes in asking Aria about Ezra’s friend named Maggie. Ella explains that Ezra had asked her if any teaching jobs were available for Maggie, and Aria awkwardly avoids the subject. Personally, I think Maggie should hop on this tutoring gig that seems to be paying all of Ezra’s bills just fine.

Still not deterred in her quest to find Toby, Emily goes to talk to his parents. They don’t answer the door, but Emily is temporarily encouraged to see Toby’s truck pull up alongside the house, until a man she doesn’t recognize gets out. Emily inquires about Toby’s whereabouts, but the unnamed man avoids her questions, saying he’s just a coworker of Toby’s and doesn’t know anything more. Emily looks like she senses something suspicious, and so do I. Plus, he’s kind of hot, which on PLL, means it’s not the last we’ll see of him.


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Keeping it together pretty well considering she maybe just killed a guy, Ashley appears to be coming out of City Hall, a great place to have a cell phone conversation with Hanna about the fact that Wilden has gone missing. Just as she hangs up, she looks up to see Wilden lurking in the doorway of a pizza place, but only for a split second. Standing in the road, she just avoids getting hit by a car, and when she looks back, sees that the Zack Morris look-a-like has vanished.

Back to being the crime-fighting version of herself, Spencer goes to Emily’s after she notices the letters “E” and “M” on the funeral wreath’s “With Deepest Sympathy” banner are less shiny than the others. That fact, coupled with Mona’s threat at the Brew, makes Emily a prime target in Spencer’s mind. Spencer begs to stay with Emily to ensure Em is out of harm’s way, but Emily is off to swim practice. She settles Spencer’s nerves a little, though, when she promises she’ll stop looking for Toby. Something tells me her fingers were crossed for that vow.

Hanna is keeping Aria company at Ezra’s while Aria watches Malcolm. I wonder if Ezra minds that his former students hang out at his place all the time. Anyway, Hanna and Aria discuss Toby’s potential involvement in the A scheme with little regard for the fact that Malcolm, while seven, does have ears. They wonder if Toby could have been the one to bring Dr. Sullivan back to Rosewood to ensure Mona get sent to Radley, and not to prison. After Hanna leaves, Aria leaves a message for Spence before turning to get a couple juice boxes from the fridge; all while Malcolm is jumping on Ezra’s bed. As Aria’s back is turned, Malcolm falls off the bed and looks to have hit his chin on the ground. Well, that’s what you get for jumping on the furniture with your shoes on, Malcolm. Lesson learned.

Emily heads to the police station to hang out with her mom, which has become code for look for stuff using her mom’s privileged access to police records. Poor Pam just thought it was all about mother/daughter bonding. While doing a search for E. Lamb on her mom’s computer, Emily gets a text from Toby, making her the first Liar to hear from Toby since his A team reveal. The text simply says, “Stop looking. I’ll meet you.”

Over at the hospital, we learn that Rosewood actually has more than just Wren on its medical staff. Does this mean Wren is dead? So sad – cheerio, buddy! Ezra berates Aria for turning her head for two seconds and allowing a little boy to fall down and get hurt, or as parents everywhere call it, a normal Tuesday. Later, Maggie comes in, speaking only to Ezra and ignoring Aria completely. To add insult to injury, the nurse kicks Aria out, citing immediate family only allowed in the hospital room.


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The other three Liars are on their own quests. Spencer has decided to follow Mona. Emily is off to meet Toby at 7:00 pm on Olivia Drive. And Hanna, having thought she and her mom might be out of the clear with the whole Wilden situation, finds his cop car stashed in her garage. Inside the car, Hanna sees the video surveillance of Ashley doing her best Thelma and Louise impression, if Thelma and Louise had turned their car around and gunned it right into Harvey Keitel, instead of off the cliff (whoops, spoiler alert).

Despite warning her friends about how dangerous Toby is, Spencer has decided to follow Mona into the woods. There, she discovers a dead body wearing a motorcycle helmet.

She can’t see the victim’s face, but sees Toby’s tramp stamp and realizes the unthinkable has happened (maybe, but I’m not convinced). In case she needed clarification, a shadowed Mona says, “He’s dead,” as she runs off again. Spencer desperately tries to chase her, but Mona gets away, leaving Spencer to have her most gut-wrenching breakdown yet. Are we looking at Emmy nominee Troian Bellisario?

Back at home, Aria comes clean to her mom about Malcolm and expresses doubt in her relationship with Ezra. Really? The relationship between the former teacher who has an illegitimate son and the student he hooked up with who is being constantly threatened by someone pretending to be her dead best friend may not work out? Color me surprised.


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After waiting for Toby until 9:15 (when do these girls have time to do homework?), Emily is getting antsy, and her impatience will probably only be exacerbated, considering Toby, as far as we know, has been offed in the woods. Just then, Emily sees Redcoat go into a nearby workshop and follows her inside. There, she finds Toby’s sassy coworker (hot guy) from earlier, who denies seeing Toby or Redcoat, adding, “Sorry Emily.” Em grills him on how he knew her name, and after trying to make up some excuse, he quickly says he has to get back to work.

Emily exits the workshop to find her car window busted out, and looks way less pissed than I would be in this scenario. Hell, I dinged my bumper yesterday, and it ruined my day! Making lemonade, Emily uses her “new sunroof” as easy access to reach into her car and grab a package labeled “Emily.” Inside, she finds a miniature coffin with a note saying “Toby is no more. - A,” as well as a program for the Toby Cavanaugh funeral. Very elaborate move by A!

Having told Aria about Wilden’s car, the two teenage girls somehow push it to a lake, where Hanna finishes the job by shoving the car into the water. As they watch the car sink into the lake, Norman Bates-style, the girls get a spook when the car’s lights begin to flash under the water. But, just like the car in Psycho finally fully submerged, the lights stop flashing, and the girls are safe – for now.

Hanna returns home to see that her mom has ordered a remarkable amount of Chinese food, considering the two probably weigh a combined 200 pounds, soaking wet. Ashley had gone to see if the cop car was still where Wilden (or A?) left it because rule number one of committing a felony is always return to the scene of the crime. Trying to be optimistic, Ashley tells Hanna that maybe Wilden realized he was in the wrong, wasn’t that badly hurt, and the whole thing will blow over. Since Wilden’s cop car has become a poorly working submarine, this story might not end with that pretty little bow.


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Later, Hanna and Aria fill Emily in on their little nighttime lake adventure, and Emily shows them the funeral program and cryptic note. Having no knowledge of the body in the woods, the girls wonder if Toby is faking his own death and decide to tell Spencer.

Back in the woods, the police have picked up the Pigeon Lady from Home Alone 2. Oh wait, nope. That’s Spencer. Spencer appears to have gone completely off the deep end this time, mumbling incoherently as the cops label her “Jane Doe.” They request a psych evaluation, and at the end of the episode we see Spencer Hastings has become Radley’s latest resident. Come on, Spence, pull through! You look way better in a pea coat than a straightjacket!

Breaking form, this week’s episode doesn’t end with an act of A, but something possibly more damning for the Liars. A man is fishing at the lake that logically can only be located directly behind Hanna’s house for Aria and Hanna to have pushed it all the way there unnoticed, and he reels in his catch – a “Rosewood Police” baseball cap. He may need a bigger fishing rod to pull in what’s to follow. Find out what’s next for the Liars Tuesday 8/7c on ABC Family. 

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Annie Hollenbeck