Pretty Little Liars Review: “Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me” (Season 5, Episode 18)


Pretty Little Liars Review: "Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me" (Season 5, Episode 18)

Besides possibly setting the record for longest episode title that ABC Family has ever let slide, Pretty Little Liars gave its main characters (and fans) a little breathing room tonight – a nice change of pace, wouldn’t you agree?

Some of my favorite episodes of the series aren’t the most action packed – like tonight’s for example – but the ones that let you get caught up with the Liars without the pesky urgency that indubitably steals the spotlight away – and gives us anxiety. Although that’s what the show is about, it’s nice to step back and asses the other facets of life in Rosewood sans direct interference from A.

On “Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me,” the entire episode managed to get along just fine without any appearances from the mystery antagonist. In fact, there wasn’t even a single mention of this diabolical character. Perhaps since the Liars are still attaching that alias to their incarcerated former bestie, it’s become redundant to use the A word, but I’m guessing that if Spencer (Troian Bellisario) still has enough brain cells left in her pretty little head to reference Vishnu, the Hindu deity, she can figure out that A is still out and about.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of attention thrown Mike’s (Cody Christian) way tonight thanks to the addition of a mysterious new character. Although it’s not completely out of the question that Mona (Janel Parrish) would have a friend who happens to be tight with her family and no one’s ever met or heard of, it’s awfully convenient that this one comes wagging her finger and casting doubt as Ali’s (Sasha Pieterse) trial approaches. This new theory that Mike had something to do with what happened to Mona is easy for the Liars to dismiss, but he’s definitely involved in something of the sneaky variety – evidenced by the stare off he had with Aria (Lucy Hale) on the bridge.

For siblings, these two are pretty horrible at small talk, or talking in general. As always, Aria comes across as accusatory (which she is) and Mike shuts down (like most guys). He even leaves her in the middle of nowhere with a snippy warning about being careful. It’s was a neither productive or particularly insightful scene, and didn’t do much to move the story forward. Even though the Mike angle seems to be where the writers are taking us, it would probably be better for everyone if they quit while they’re ahead. We’ve seen them cling to Mike as a life line before, and it just came across flat. As much as I want his character to be the hero of his own story, he’s just lacking.

On the plus side, if there’s one character who owned the screen tonight, it was Hannah (Ashley Benson) – no surprise. Another working theory the Liars have been actively exploring was the Holbrook (Sean Farris)/Ali connection. They’d already established that something fishy was going on with the young detective, but hadn’t been able to connect all the dots (they’re not always very good in that department, right?). But, the Liars should have enough to cross him off the list now – and, according to Hannah, he should shut up, walk away, and be grateful.

In what was definitely the greatest scene of the evening, Holbrook attempts to get the upper hand on Hannah. Unfortunately for him, Hannah has been through enough that she doesn’t take kindly to threats – especially from law enforcement agents. Wilden, anyone? Aria may have busted out her rape whistle in this scenario, but Hannah let her word venom spew all over Holbrook’s bravado.

If Hannah’s performance is an example of where the rest of the season is headed, keep up the good work, Pretty Little Liars!

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