Pretty Little Liars‘ third season went out with a (literal) fiery bang Tuesday. The hour bubbled over with juicy developments, including the return of several familiar faces, the second coming of at least two presumed dead characters, the breakup of a fan fave couple and a cliffhanger that no one saw coming.
A TRIUMPHANT RETURN | Toby lives, y’all! And for those who predicted he was part of Team ‘A’ as a means of taking down the nefarious organization from within, you were right. But let’s backtrack a bit… Fresh out of Radley, a stoic, makeup-wearing Spencer reconnects with her gal pals — though something is still a little off. Flash forward to a diner, in which a hooded figure sits waiting for someone, and then — bam! Toby “Pretty Eyes” Cavanaugh walks in. “Everything I’ve done is so I can protect you,” he attempts to explain to his scorned love, who’d secretly lured him there. The two go on to discuss Mona and their respective deals with her: Spencer would “deliver” the girls to an event (aka a setup) and abduct Malcolm for a few hours (!!!) in exchange for a reunion with a living, breathing Toby, while Toby would work with Mona as a way to keep Spence safe. After some tears and reluctance, the estranged duo reunite — and enjoy a little sexytime — before heading back to Rosewood to undress “Red Coat” — whose identity is still unknown to both.
A PUZZLING REAPPEARANCE | Jenna, meanwhile, pops back up in town — and reunites with her girlfriend (?), Paige’s ex Shana. It seems her eyesight is on its way out (again), as she relays to her undercover lover that her doctor says, “I’ll have good days and bad days. Eventually they’ll all be bad.” Later, Emily comes across Spencer’s sis Melissa heading into Toby’s abandoned house — with Jenna and Shana!
A SAD SPLIT | Marking the end of an ‘Ezria,’ Aria and her longtime love Ezra decide to part ways. The choice to break up — an outcome that’s lingered over the couple all season — comes about after Aria learns that Ezra has lied to her about being offered a teaching job at her high school. “Things aren’t easy,” Ezra says, “but they can still be good.” However, in a moment of maturity far beyond her years, Aria can see the writing on the wall. “It shouldn’t be this hard,” she states, leaving her now-ex-beau a bit stunned. Later, the two meet once more, this time to lay out the terms of a possible future together. While Ezra is optimistic that their love can live on (on hold) during the seven months between now and graduation, Aria isn’t convinced. “I need to move on and so do you.” And with one passionate — albeit extremely risky — kiss in the school hallway, the two part ways for good — that is until the next day when he begins his gig as her new substitute teacher!
A SHOCKING TWIST | After learning from Ezra’s son Malcolm that Spencer is in fact the lady who brought him to the carnival, Hanna and Co. set a trap for their ‘A’-esque pal — who gladly spills all to the girls. Once in the loop — and thrilled to hear Toby is alive and well and on their side — a plan to turn the tables on “Red Coat” and Mona is put in motion. Spencer continues to “work for” the ‘A’ team — Toby, too — while the other Liars infiltrate Mona’s lair and await the arrival of the coat-wearer (much to her dismay). Unfortunately, just as Toby and Spence sneak out to catch a glimpse of the team’s leader, someone sets the dwelling on fire. “She can do anything,” a panicked Mona exclaims to the girls, referring to “Red Coat.” “She’s everywhere and she’s nowhere!” Before becoming unconscious like the rest of the Liars, Mona admits to not really knowing who her leader is. Rather, she just got sucked into a game that has now taken some turns not even she expected. Outside, Toby is knocked out, while Spencer gets a glimpse of “Red Coat,” who rescues the out-of-it girls from the fire. But Hanna and Mona later believe that they’ve seen the face of the red one, and it’s none other than Alison — and Spencer concurs. Driving home with Mona in tow, the girls attempt to process the idea that their presumed-dead friend — and tormenter — could still be among the living. However, their conversation is cut short when they encounter Wilden’s cop car, which was thought to be buried. Playing on a loop in the surveillance footage inside? The image of Jenna and Shauna moving his body after Ashley ran him over.
A CLUTTERED CAR | Something — or someone? — is in the trunk of Wilden’s vehicle, and based on the Liars’ responses upon opening it, the contents are not pretty.
A FRESH FLASHBACK | Building on several previously-glimpsed flashbacks, this episode’s tag once again finds a hand bursting out of Ali’s dirt grave — only this time someone is there to grab it and pull the buried one to safety.
LINE OF THE NIGHT | As always, Hanna and her biting wit supplied most of the episode’s lighter moments. Her standout zinger this time around: “And when were you going to clue us in on your double agent status, Nikita?!”Follow @MegMasters