“Pretty Little Liars” is back with a vengeance. There were catfights, (Emily and Spencer), romantic reunions (Caleb and Hanna) and, yes, more texts from the still unidentified A. But the biggest moment, from an emotional standpoint, was Aria (Lucy Hale) finally telling her parents that she and Ezra (Ian Harding) are a couple. Shockingly — to Aria, and Aria alone — they completely freaked out. It turns out that explaining that you made out before you realized you were teacher and student does not give you a free pass to embark upon a clandestine, possibly illegal romance. Nor does switching to teaching college. Byron (Chad Lowe) and Ella (Holly Marie Combs) were realistically horrified that their teenage daughter was dating a man in his mid-twenties. But it was Aria’s screwed up little brother Mike (Cody Christian) who actually punched Ezra — though he later told his sister that he did it to prevent Byron from hitting Mr. Don’t Stand So Close to Me harder.
Aria and Ezra made the decision after Ezra figured out that Jackie had blackmailed Aria into breaking up with him. Displaying common sense that the girls have thus far not had when dealing with A, Ezra decided to pull a David Letterman and come clean to stop Jackie. Being able to openly date Aria was just a side benefit. Unfortunately, Aria’s parents decided to ground her while they figured out a course of action. That complication nearly led to Emily’s (Shay Mitchell) death.
The episode began a month after the summer finale. The Liars are wearing orange jumpsuits and picking up trash. Spencer’s attorney mother got them a light sentence for tampering with evidence. Things are tense. Emily wants to make a deal with A, to the disgust of the others. That’s how Emily and Spencer (Troiann Bellasario) end up grappling Caged Heat style, getting themselves an additional two weeks of community service. Emily goes rogue and sets up a meeting with A — but it’s all a ruse. The Liars are still united, and acting like they are at odds to trick A into believing that Emily has additional evidence about Alison’s murder.
Unfortunately the plan goes awry when all of the girls are delayed from arriving at the green house where A and Emily have arranged to meet. Aria must sneak out of the house through Mike’s window. Spencer faces a litany of questions from Toby (Keegan Allen). Hanna (Ashley Benson) must contend with an unexpected visit from her father, who announces he is moving to Rosewood. By the time they arrive a conveniently hooded person has beaten the hell out of Emily. She makes it out of the greenhouse, and they chase A into the woods. A, of course, escapes again, but in the melee A has lost his/her/its cell phone. The girls find it. Will this be the clue that finally enables them to identify and stop A?