Previous episode recap, in 140 characters:
cow brains, cow brains, cow brains, cow brains, cow brains, cow brains, cow brains, cow brains, cow brains, hot tub makeouts and GRANDMAAAAA
— Rembert Browne (@rembert) January 16, 2013
We begin with Aria at home, watching an old black-and-white film on a television perched uncomfortably high up on the wall. Then Lena's favorite, LORD BYRON, rolls in trying to play it cool. Aria's still mad, because her dad accused her of blowing up his girlfriend. (Literally, not like "blowing up her spot." Like, explosives. Pyrotechnics. Fireballs.) Anyway, he comes in to apologize, because he claims the school found out who did it. She's not really having it, so he walks away creepily, as she creepily watches him walk away, creepily.
Next, we see our non-Aria Liars, who have, again, successfully broken into their school at night. (Are all high schools this easy to break into? Hypothetically asking for a friend.) They go down toward Harold's lair, walk in, can't find the light switch, hear something and then:
What's that pile of darkness you see on the left side? Yep, a hoodie creature. He/she/it/Toby runs out once spotted. The Liars finally get the light on, and see that Harold's room is pretty spotless, except, that is, for a journal very prominently located on the shelf. They grab it, open it, flip through the pages, and find that it looks pretty empty.
BUT NOT COMPLETELY EMPTY.
Classic "A," always 193 steps ahead of the Liars. Probably put that notebook there, knowing they'd eventually show up, halfway through Season 1.
The next morning, we get all four Liars in the coffee shop, drinking coffee, chatting about their various "anxiety dreams." Aria's are about the two horrible men in her life, Wack Ezra and LORD BYRON; Hanna's are about going bald; and Spencer's are related to Academic Decathlon. At this point, we learn the other person who was running for Decathlon Team Captain got into a bad bicycle accident (one we're expected to assume is related to the end of the last episode, when we see our mysterious figure mess with some poor kid's bike, followed by a scream). So now, Spencer's running unopposed. FOR NOW. (I'm sure this is where Mona comes in. I know I'm right; I'll bet three Anthropologie scarves that I'm right.)
Anyway, Mona walks over and starts talking about losing sleep, and Harold, and him being responsible for the explosion and other things that the Liars (especially Spencer, who can't hide her stank face) aren't buying. She leaves.
And then we get a close-up of Lucas. He's standing outside of the schoolyard and Hanna approaches him, asks to talk, and then tells him that she knows it was him in the hood in Harold's office last night.
I, for one, did not expect that to be true. But Lucas confirms. He was "looking for something."
And then we find out he is the one who caused the explosion.
Apparently, Lucas is trying, single-handedly, to stop Mona. And he can't figure out why everyone's "sipping the Kool-Aid" that she's all better. But, as he noted, he's tried and he's failed.
Lucas: "As long as Mona is back here, we're not safe."
This is getting real.
After this cre-e-e-py encounter, we see class letting out and Emily talking with Paige. Emily wants to hang, but Paige is still visibly shaken up from all the horrible things that have happened to her of late. Emily wants them to have time together, even though both their parents have thrown down the be-home-by-sundown gauntlet (also known as being good Rosewood parents who don't want their kids to perish, but aren't that good, because they won't just move far, far away). So Emily suggests something:
"We've all been cooped up. Some of the girls from the swim team are having a party in the woods ..."
You've got to be kidding me. It's like they want to die. All the time.
Following this pre-death chat, we go to Aria and her mom (who's a teacher, lest we forget) having a mother-daughter chat about THE NIGHT ALI DIED in her classroom. Aria's on the hunt, finally, about finding out what her dad's movements were like that night and is slyly trying to get answers out of her mom without outright saying "Yo, mom, dad's a killer."
What Aria did learn is that LORD BYRON got mom pretty drunk off red wine, and that mom is a very deep sleeper. So yes, this definitely feeds into the case of LORD BYRON being up to no good that night. Poor Aria.
Off in another room is the Academic Decathlon meeting, culminating in the election, the one set to go to Spencer. Before the meeting begins, however, one of the members states that they are waiting on Mona to show up. Yeah, MONA.
Spencer's thrilled ...
And then Mona shows up. She becomes more thrilled ...
It's gets worse/better, though. Not only is Mona joining the Decathlon, but SHE'S RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT. Told you so. And then, just to take it up one more notch, THEY VOTED AND IT WAS A TIE.
But there's one more thing. One more incredible, magnificent thing.
MONA AND SPENCER ARE HAVING A QUIZ-OFF.
Spencer's pissed and walks off as soon as the meeting is adjourned, while Mona continues to introduce herself to people who, for some reason (probably blackmail) just voted for her. The leader of the meeting, this guy ...
... catches up with Spencer and tells her to "put on her Hastings face and spank tomorrow like I know you can." Spencer takes it well. I think he's trying to holler. Mona will have him killed by fifth period.
Spencer walks away, and then gets a text. Who's it from?
Rude. Also, language.
The Liars sit down for lunch, Spencer tells them what happened, and Mona walks over. Finally, for the first time in a while, all four girls start to give her sass, at the same time. Spencer claims that she got Mona's text (alluding to the -A text) but Mona says that she's not allowed to have a cell or Internet. Then Emily asks about how the video that she sent around school got uploaded, and Mona answers that, well, she can under supervision. None of the girls are having it, and eventually Mona walks away crying. Aria, for now the second time, asks if this is still part of the act, and the Liars just get their stuff and walk away. Getting tense.
Also tense: the moment the new girl (Meredith) walks into the classroom of the ex-wife (Aria's mom). Meredith's got her arm wrapped up because she almost blew up, and she comes in asking about the conversation she saw between Mom and Aria. Mom says that it's "mother-daughter" stuff, and then Melissa assumes that it was about what happened concerning Meredith's almost blown-up self. They keep talking, and then both say that they hope it can remain professional between the two.
Meredith walks out, Aria's mom follows, and then gives us some legendary side-eye.
School's out and we're back to Chez Montgomery, where Aria, Emily, and Hanna are discussing the talk Aria had with mom, and whether or not LORD BYRON purposefully got mom super drunk so he could sneak out. The three go back and forth, and then Aria decides to go get the note that she hid in her shoe.
And then it's not in her shoe. The pages were gone. The three Liars start flinging boots all over the place, looking for the missing pages, and then:
Sayeth LORD BYRON: "That's quite a mess you're making."
Please, in all that is holy, please do not kill all three of them right now, LORD BYRON.
Anyway, he doesn't look like he's packing heat or anything, but he could not be any creepier right now, especially seeing as all three Liars know he's up to something and he seems to know all three Liars know he's up to something. This is just horrendous for family dynamics.
Finally, he walks out, and Aria stomps toward the door, shuts it, turns around, and says:
This actually couldn't be worse.
Next, we take a trip to Spencer's house, where's she studying for her Decathlon Deathmatch against Mona. Toby's there, because he's a supportive evil boyfriend, helping her study. They chat, and then Toby's phone rings (it's his boss). Spencer says she has to go upstairs and get changed. He tells her bye, like a happy, good boyfriend:
And once he's gone, it's back to EVIL:
Following Toby's departure, we go to Lucas's house, where Hanna made her way to his bedroom. Per usual, she's half trying to chat, half trying to get answers, but this time Lucas feels safe enough to tell her things. First, he says he's leaving Rosewood High to get home-schooled (not going to help, man), and that he's getting blackmailed by Mona and she tried to run him over with an SUV. He says he didn't see the driver, but that it HAD to be her (EVIL TOBY, in the clear, yet again).
But then it gets deeper. Lucas explains the blackmail, which is that he used to sell test answers for all the courses at the school, and that Mona knows that. And will snitch. This is why he's leaving, beyond the fact that Mona might try to kill him.
We leave Lucas and Hanna and go back to Aria's not-so-fun house, where she gets some form of archaic Instant Message from Wack Ezra, something not to be discussed here, because it doesn't matter. What does, however, is the argument Aria hears outside of her door between LORD BYRON and Meredith.
It's very clear the argument has to do with Aria, and Meredith is trying to storm out. She says, "I can't even look at you right now," and this is followed by some borderline domestic abuse, on the part of LORD BYRON:
He's squeezing the part of her arm that got hit by a fireball, and won't let go for a few seconds. Aria sees this. Meredith says, "Byron, my arm," almost in tears, and then runs away. Aria asks LORD BYRON what is going on and he says nothing is wrong and shuts the door.
So, it actually has gotten worse in this household. What's next? Aria goes in his closet and it's full of black hoodies? (This will most certainly happen.)
More bad things: Paige and Emily, headed out into the foggy woods, for what will probably be their final party.
Paige is, rightfully, freaking out, because she, unlike Emily, doesn't like dying, and has to pull over the car.
They start talking, and Paige admits how scared she is, what with Nate, and Garrett, and always feeling like the "next bad thing is about to happen."
Emily, just being the absolute worse, suggests that, instead of turning around and going home, they go ON A WALK TO GET SOME AIR, AWAY FROM THE CAR THAT BROUGHT THEM THERE.
Poor Paige. She hasn't many more moments with us. She deserved better.
They start walking, and then it's QUIZ BOWL TIME:
Spencer's off to a fast start, up 2-0, and then we flash over to Aria, who for some reason thinks it's a good idea to go find Meredith at a time like this.
But, for perhaps the first time ever, her over-curiosity was for the better, because she proceeds to learn everything she never wanted to hear about her dad. According to Meredith, she caught LORD BYRON rifling through Aria's stuff and purse, and then when she looked through his drawers when he wasn't around, she found Aria's missing pages.
Aria grabbed them from her, then asked if she'd read them. Meredith said yes, and then proceeded to tell even more damning information. Apparently LORD BYRON left his drunk wife, went to Meredith's, and then went to find Alison.
So yeah, pops is a bad man. Or did something really bad. Just as things were getting almost too much to handle, however:
MORE HOUSE MUSIC AND QUIZ BOWL.
This scene is incredible. Spencer's still up, but Mona did do some studying. Also, Spencer looks much cooler, so she should get a few points for that too.
Now we're back to this horrible night walk, where Paige states that she wants to be somewhere with "lights and people." One of the first sane things ever said on this show. Congrats, Paige, you may now pass go.
As they approach the car, however, Emily says, "The car looks funny."
GOOD LORD, THIS THING IS ABOUT TO BLOW UP OR THERE'S SOMEONE INSIDE OR IT WON'T START.
Turns out there's a flat. Just great. A parked car got a flat. Phenomenal. As they start to take off the tire, however, it becomes clear someone slashed it.
Great. It gets better though:
Oh hello there, hooded evil.
Instead of running away from it, however, Emily runs towards it. She chases it into the woods, with Paige following. At a certain point, the hooded slasher is nowhere to be found, and Emily and Paige turn around.
What happened to our hooded friend, though?
QUIZ BOWL FINALE.
The beef between Spencer and Mona is so highly intellectual and hate-filled, I can barely watch. With a win in her court, all Spencer has to do is name 15 countries that gained independence from Russia, or something like that (sorry, got lost in the rave music). As a way of showing off, she says that she'll do it in alphabetical order.
Unfortunately for her, she begins to stumble, and when she stumbles, Mona fills in the gaps. Spencer runs out of time, and the question goes to Mona, in which she asks if they want it by population or GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT.
This is beef. I can't take it anymore. Someone's brain is going to explode, and it might be mine.
Back to the Quiz Bowl: Spencer loses. Hanna shows up for support, Spencer says she needs to leave, and then Hanna agrees, but not before she does something.
She goes up to Mona and tells her off. Tells her not to speak to her ever again. Spencer and Hanna walk off, and then Mona says "I'm sorry you feel that way," but with that evil look on her face because she's evil and has evil thoughts.
We follow Spencer and Hanna back to Spencer's house, where Hanna gets an "A" text.
Spencer thinks it was a bad idea to yell at Mona, because of what she's capable of, but Hanna refuses to live in fear. While I respect your balls, girl, this is probably going to get you fireballed. Just saying.
Back to Paige, who has half of her hair braided, and is crashing at Emily's.
They're both scared, and then they do that thing where they show feelings toward one another, which makes me fall asleep. After this, we see Aria, who is now best friends with Meredith. Apparently, LORD BYRON is gone for a few days, so they have some time to figure out what's going on. After their chat, Meredith leaves, and then we immediate see the man himself, LORD BYRON.
He's packing up his things in his office, then walks out. Who's right behind him?
"He's gone," Mona says to someone on the phone.
HOW'S IT END?
A hooded figure, probably Toby, putting a few masquerade masks lightly under some leaves (to be found, assumably as a way of framing).
Something real bad is about to happen next episode. While light on action, a lot of #lies and #secrets came out, which means next episode we should expect one thing: