Pretty Little Liars Review: “Over A Barrel” (Season 5, Episode 16)



The fact that Hannah (Ashley Benson) uttered the words “Thank G-d you got rid of it,” in affirmation of Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) destroying evidence in Mona’s (Janel Parrish) murder case, pretty much sums up how far the Liars have fallen since season one. Not only have the girls been through one hell of a ride over the last five seasons, but obviously their moral compasses has take a permanent hit. It’s no wonder their lives have went from bad to worse since they helped A put Ali (Sasha Pieterse) behind bars.

Pretty Little Liars wasted precious little time before rehashing Aria’s (Lucy Hale) latest mistake. A is clearly not giving her a pass, and is intent on teaching her a lesson she won’t forget – even if she/he otherwise flew under the radar for the rest of the episode. We’ve seen the writers go through the motions of push and pull when it comes to Aria’s relationship with Ezra (Ian Harding) before. They’ve come at it from all angles – her fault, his fault, mutual – but this is a little more extreme on Aria’s part than anything fans have watched unfold in the past.

On the plus side, it still doesn’t begin to touch Ezra’s betrayal last season. It’s hard to top your boyfriend when he literally got involved with you in the first place to stalk you and your friends for the purposes of securing a book deal. So there’s that. Aria may ruffle his feathers, especially if A gets to Ezra before she decides to come clean, but if this is what pushes him to his breaking point – she’s probably better making a clean break of it. After all, she’s already experienced some of the benefits of meeting men at college when she went to visit dear dad while he was lecturing upstate during her post break-up binge.

The writers left the threat of Aria’s secret being revealed hanging in the air this week and moved on to other more pressing matters. Hannah’s mother hooking up with Jason (Drew Van Acker) being one of them. Although it doesn’t really do anything to move the story along, it does bring Jason further into the fold. For most of the series, Jason has hung out on the fringes. His character has bounced back and forth as the narrative demanded, but he always seems to be marginalized in the in-between. There’s a substantial amount of hidden depth, and clearly more than enough secrets, to make him a vital part of the cast on a more permanent basis.

In spite of the obvious lapse in moral judgement across the board lately, Spencer and Caleb continued their investigation after receiving an encrypted text from Mona’s laptop. It’s amazing that they still find anything shocking at this point in the story, but it’s hard not to admit that there was something eerie about that storage unit. With Mona’s body still missing in action, any conceivable hiding place becomes a threat. In this case, the storage unit being under Hannah’s name definitely cements the fact that it’s a set-up in progress.

Without any verification, the Liars are left to assume the worse. Lucky for us, A doesn’t usually make it that easy for them, leaving fans an open invitation to jump to the conclusion that Mona’s body isn’t conveniently hidden in the barrel, and I’d be inclined to agree. In fact, I’d even go as far as to guess that Mona isn’t really dead. If A is as clever as she/he appears, there has to be a way for the writers to work around the fact that the police found so much blood at the crime scene – and, the shot of Mona in the trunk was hardly conclusive evidence.

Pretty Little Liars took us another step closer to revealing A’s master plan tonight, and we can’t wait to find out what it is.