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Friday
Dec122014

Pretty Little Liars: How the A Stole Christmas

Kids Are Into Santa, Right?: Part 1 of 2

Merry Christmas, YKYLFers! Draw a chair up to the fire and get cozy for our wholesome tale of horrifying masks, fabulous ghosts, home invaders with giant-ass knives, and Santa orgies. Happy Holidays from Rosewood!

 

Well, we’ve finally done it. After four and a half seasons of breezy, temperate Pennsylvania weather that requires nothing more than a light and stylish jacket, we have finally reached a Rosewood Christmas. Which means we'll finally find out how the PLLs dress for winter!

It’s...about how you would expect. Aria’s in leopard print and a skull scarf because of course she is, Hanna’s in rhinestone-embellished grunge, and Emily’s lifelong love affair with denim continues apace. But I have to admit I was most excited for Spencer’s winter wardrobe: traditionally winter's a good season for WASPs because it lends itself so well to layering, a practice at which they excel (see for example Ross, Nolan). And girl does not disappoint! I am drooling over her princess-cut wool coat and Outlander-esque cowl.

 

Hanna is still mourning Mona (us too, bb girl), so she stops for a brief flashback to the time they still were pastel-clad besties.

I have to say, I kind of miss Hanna’s pink princess sartorial phase. From a character standpoint it's fantastic that she no longer feels compelled to follow in Alison's footsteps, but from a fashion point of view the constant ripped fishnets are a bit of a downgrade.

 

So then the PLL are approached by a man that Spencer correctly identifies as a lawyer from twenty paces away by his pen, which instilled in me a deep and burning desire to see her team up with one of TV's many Sherlock Holmeses. Any one of ‘em, I’m not picky. Or all of them! It would be called Spencer and the Sherlocks, and they would just swan around staring at everyone’s accessories and then shouting their deductions out and high-fiving victoriously.

Anyway, the lawyer is the executor of Mona’s estate, because obviously she set up an elaborate will with a zillion instructions, like, we’re not dealing with an amateur here. She left Hanna a map of Alison’s house pinpointing out all of her five million hiding places, so the PLLs agree that they will break into Ali’s house while she is hosting her charity ball (as teenagers are wont to do), and surely they will find evidence implicating Alison in the murder of Bethany Young and clearing Spencer’s name.

 

But first! They decamp to canoodle with their significant others in various Christmas-y manners. Spencer and Toby have agreed not to give each other physical gifts since Spencer is still out on bail for murder, so she is taking a leaf out of Serena van der Woodsen’s playbook and giving him the gift of sex.

There’s a through line running across this whole episode that leads me to believe whoever wrote it was pretty sure that the deepest fantasy of the Youths of Today is to tongue-kiss Santa. Which...I mean, no judgment! Whatever floats your boat, Young People.

 

Speaking of Young People, Hanna and Caleb are supervising a whole bunch of them at a church, presumably because Hanna’s mom is still dating that minister. 

Hanna’s actually kind of working that green velvet? It goes great with her lipstick. That does not make it any less startling when she decides to smack down a pint-sized baby mean girl by telling her, "In Rosewood, bitches get buried." Oh, Hanna. Are you being awesome or are you being insane? It’s often hard to tell with her. Remember when she smacked Jenna’s sunglasses right off her face?

 

Meanwhile, Paige and Emily canoodle adorably as they sing carols for the elderly.

Emily and her ladylove love them some T-shirts, and I have grown to accept this and expect nothing else from them. Regardless, they are working some fantastic hair together.

 

Anyway Sydney interrupts Emily to be like, "Hey, what’s up with you still hating Jenna? You’re the ones who blinded her and she’s literally never done anything to you except be creepy."

And instead of pointing out that Jenna raped her stepbrother, which is a pretty valid reason for hating Jenna but one the Liars always forget about, Emily’s just like, "Get this though: she’s a bitch," and Sydney’s like, "Well, I tried."

 

I’m not gonna lie, I kind of love Aria’s red with black-and-white stripes. It walks the thin line between cute and twee that she usually catapults right over.

She and Ezra are I guess dating publically now? Isn’t he still her English teacher? Isn’t that still illegal? Also I guess she just forgave him for stalking her for three years?

 

That night everyone meets up at the ball. Aria’s wearing a dress Ezra gave her, and I have to hand it to him: he has much better fashion sense than she does. You know if Aria was dressing herself she would have hot-glued swan feathers and faux diamonds. all over that dress, but since it was a gift she has to wear it as is, and it’s really lovely and fetching on her. Definitely the most restrained outfit she’s ever worn.

And Emily’s gown is gorgeous. She has a theme, and that theme is boobs, and it works for her.

 

Spencer looks elegant and willowy in her Grecian silhouette. Love that Lorde-red lipstick with the ice-blue gown.

I’m not totally sure about Hanna’s outfit, though. The white lace is a little bridal, and it doesn’t look like it fits her waist correctly.

 

Jenna and Sydney summon the Emily over to formally tell her that they are Team Alison, but only because Jenna would like to not lose any more of her senses, please and thank you.

And even the Emily's like, "Yeah, that’s legit." For a blind girl, Jenna’s pretty well-dressed though. That pale blue is lovely on her. Last time Jenna went blind she dressed in all black, so I’m going to choose to believe her newly-upgraded wardrobe is due to Sydney.

 

So Spencer and Hanna head off to break into Alison's house with Mona's map, and Aria and Emily stay at the ball to run interference on Alison, but obviously they lose her almost immediately and have to fall back on the PLL Significant Other Auxiliary.

Gotta hand it to Hanna, she put in some work on Caleb's makeover. Remember when he showed up in season one as a greasy little cyber werewolf? And now he’s in a well-cut bright blue suit. Ezra looks exactly Ezra always does, which is to say, perfectly fine, and like someone who madly adores sweater vests. But get Paige! She’s channeling the hell out of Jared Leto at the Oscars, and it totally works for her.

 

They think they’ve cornered Ali and her white-cloaked friend, but of course they haven’t:

Yes, of course you are looking at Alison's pet twins, wearing Alison wigs and holding Alison masks. Obviously. What show did you think you were watching?

 

Meanwhile, Spencer and Hanna go through Ali’s hiding places, which are all the most baroque and creepy hiding places imaginable, like old-fashioned bird cages with false bottoms and demonic jack-in-the-boxes and chests full of recordings of Ali’s voice threatening to chop off your head, and while they’re doing this A starts wandering around the house with a knife.

So then Spencer just straight up shatters a picture frame and grabs this enormous shard of glass and goes after A, like, girl does not play, and the whole time Toby’s frantically shooting flashbulbs at the window to warn Hanna like a spectacularly ineffective Jimmy Stewart. But by the time Spencer gets to A, the bitch is gone.

 

Hanna, however, has successfully found a letter proving that Ali was in contact with Bethany and lured her over to her house on the weekend she died. Because Rosewood has its own court system (tough on shovel-touching, soft on statutory rape), everyone agrees that this stolen property will surely be admissible evidence. And then everyone is snowed into Spencer’s enormous empty house, because her parents have apparently decided that while their daughter is out on bail for murder it’s a great time for them to leave her alone for Christmas.

 

And so they decide to celebrate with a wholesome Christmas orgy.

Everyone wants to tongue-kiss Santa, part the second. This is just...a thing this episode, I guess. Also, we’re going to briefly note that half-naked Ezra is still actively a teacher at the high school all of these teenagers attend (except for Toby, teen cop). We’re just gonna note it and move on.

 

Post-Christmas orgy, they all have a merry montage full of Christmas dinner and good cheer.

Look how happy Emily and Hanna are in their sleeveless tops, despite the fact that it is snowing outside. Rosewood, man. I’m not even gonna try.

Friday
Dec122014

Pretty Little Liars: How the A Stole Christmas

The Ghosts of Alis Past

While the PLL are frolicking around and orgying it up, Ali is being haunted by Rosewood’s most fabulous ghost.

Mona Vanderwaal, you beautiful hyper-adrenalized supervillain ghost you, never leave us. She’s kind of doing a bondage-themed Mrs. Havisham in the style of Helena Bonham Carter here, no? With the bird’s nest of hair and the white painted face. My point is it's perfect.

 

Alison, however, is not reacting well to being haunted by the girl she almost definitely did not kill.

Look at her hair. That is not Rosewood flawless hair. One would almost call it flat. And the PJs are kinda blah.

 

So Mona has Ali flashback to that time she found her mother buying identical dresses and her mother forced her to lie about it. This is the show basically sign-posting that they’re going to do some version of the twin storyline from the books. I’m honestly fine with that — that plot is a great level of batshit cray.

Small Alison is adorable. You would never know she would grow up into such a sociopath.

 

When grown-up Ali shows up at her charity ball, girl comes PREPARED.

That dress is basically armor, and she's surrounded by an army of masked minions. No wonder Jenna joined her side. Who wouldn’t? She's clearly going to murder anyone who won’t.

 

Also defecting to her side is Detective Hollbrook, and so we lose the one non-creepy adult man in Rosewood. This would never have happened if he’d stuck by the awesomely competent Tanner.

Everyone wants to tongue-kiss Santa, part the third.

 

So because Ali organized this ball, obviously a solid half of the room is just a labyrinth of mirrors, just shattered reflections of Alison’s face every direction you turn. And obviously this is catnip for Cece.

Cece shows up to say vaguely ominous things and also give Ali a perfume designed specifically for her. (What do you think it smells like? Top notes of plastic masks and undertones of talking parrots?) And for some reason Cece has decided to make this delivery with silver paint all over the top half of her face. Because...like, her face itself is a mask, and she’s hiding her true nature...or something. It could just be that she’s the worst. By the way, my money's on Cece as Mona's murderer.

 

After Alison leaves the ball Mona shows up and Christmas-futures her to her second funeral.

Apparently Alison’s corpse looks pretty good, considering they never found her legs. Present-day Alison could use a new outfit, though. Girl has the least glamorous pajamas in all of Rosewood.

 

And so having realized that no one really loves her, Alison Sad Little Orphans her way around the edges of the Liars' Christmas montage, all creepy and lurky. (How long was she lurking there? Was she there for the Santa orgy, and did she judge the hell out of it?)

 

Do you think Alison's really A? The fact that the girls are sure she is makes me sure she isn't, but who's left on our suspect list? The show really wants us to think it's Cece, but I remain partial to my theory that it's Aria, playing the world’s longest game. How gratifying would it be if in the last episode she whipped off her own face to reveal it was a mask all along and cackled, "You thought I was oblivious! But I was playing you all for fools! Fools, I say!" Hey, it may never happen, but a girl can dream. Come back when the show returns in January to see if dreams come true.

Wednesday
Dec102014

Pretty Little Liars: How A Stole Christmas

The title of PLL's first holiday episode is a bit of a misnomer, because by A standards, this was a perfectly tame 24 hours in Rosewood. Lots of secondary characters made a return appearance, including Jenna, Holbrook, and Cece, but none more fabulous than Mona as the ghost of Christmas Past+Future. Jessica DeLaurentis also returned in a bit of a Marley role...and maybe she's The Woman in Black, too? There was some flashback filter to the time when Lil' Ali found two presents with two identical dresses, which supports the Ali-has-a-twin theory. While the rest of the town was at Ali's set of Frozen Ice Ball, Hanna and Spencer were sneaking around Ali's house looking for clues. I take exception with the fact that they were using actual flashlights, instead of the flashlight function on their phones like normal people. The high point of the episode? Hanna's "In Rosewood, bitches get buried" line. Which she said to a nine year old. While wearing a slutty elf outfit. At church.

 

Only in Rosewood Moment
Nobody — not Emily, Hanna, Aria, Spencer, Toby, Caleb, Fitz, or Paige had ANY family to spend Christmas with? I smell a plot device.

Random Return of Minor Character
HOLBROOK WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?

Best outfit
The Liars gave Elsa a run for her money in their silvery frocks. Too bad they couldn't turn Ali into ice.

Best "A" message
I can't decide if A takes a holiday. You should too via snowglobe, or Merry Christmas Bitches - A via Christmas lights was my favorite. At any rate, it's nice to see A embracing the season.

Current A Team Suspect
No clue, but you know what? I don't really care, either. Stick to Halloween episodes, show.

 

Check back on Friday for Constance's recap of the ho-ho-holidays.

Friday
Aug292014

Pretty Little Liars: Taking This One to the Grave

And by the Grave, We Mean a Manger: Part 1 of 2

Holy shit, this summer finale was just wall-to-wall bananas. Where to start? Well, the PLL are now united in their belief that Ali is A, so they team up with Mona to stage a full-on Thomas Crown Affair-style heist to get their evidence — but before Mona can reveal what she’s found, she’s killed by Ali! (Or was it...someone even more sinister???? DUN DUN DUN!) Plus, Holbrook goes rogue from Tanner’s awesome competence and decides to arrest Spencer for the murder of Bethany Young, and they end up hauling her out of The Brew while she’s screaming and hollering about how she didn’t kill anyone. And, most shocking of all: we finally get a solid date in the timeline of this show.

 

The PLLs form their alliance with Mona in this classic power pose.

Behold the Rosewood miracle hair in all its glory. Seriously, those are some impressive locks these ladies are working with. The outfits? They’re a little more variable. I’ve been enjoying Hanna’s grunge phase, but ew to that lace-up top and drab cardigan. There’s grunge and there’s ugly. At least Spencer looks fierce as hell in her colorblock dress and statement necklace. And look at Emily with the red graphic on her T shirt! That’s pretty bold for her. As for Aria...

 

Oof. You are not seeing things.

That is a shiny black pleather A-line pleated skirt she’s wearing under that distressed jean jacket. It’s like she’s a secretary at a fetish company. At least her hair looks great?

 

With their Mona alliance newly cemented, the Liars discuss their Ali = A theory. Mona thinks Ali chose them for her dolls because while they might have bored her individually, together they offered her a thrilling challenge.

 

In Mona’s taxonomy, Spencer’s the smart one. I mean, she’s not creating her own nightmare universes of adrenalized hyperreality or anything, but she’s doing okay. She was the first one of them to turn on Alison, so that’s a mark in her intelligence column. On the other hand: there’s this outfit.

I am not theoretically opposed to this simple little T-shirt shift, but it lives or dies by its styling. Spencer styled hers with a leather harness. Spencer, you’re better than that. We’re all better than that.

 

Emily’s the loyal one, obvs. She held out for Alison long after Alison’s pet dog had given up on her. Come to think of it, whatever happened to that dog? Did it just disappear to Ravenswood after it dug up Jessica DiLaurentis’s body?

This gray baseball tee is pretty standard Emily fare, with the sheer mesh sleeves forming the most daring part of her outfit. She generally relies on her stupidly beautiful face to sell her outfits, which: valid.

 

Mona sells Hanna as the admiring one, which I think is cutting her short. There was a lot more to her relationship with Alison than just admiration. Hanna wanted to be Alison, sure, but she also loved her — not romantically, but that doesn’t matter. The heart of this show isn’t romance: it’s the friendship between the girls. They love each other, and at one point they loved Ali, and Hanna is deeply loyal to that friendship. She’s as loyal as Emily.

This is...not great. There’s about fifty layers of fringe and frayed hems in this one outfit. And is she seriously wearing a garter belt to school? I know Rosewood High doesn’t have a dress code or anything, but she does have a mother with eyes, last time I checked.

 

Mona also tells us Aria is the compassionate one, which, hilarious. When has she ever shown compassion to the birds whose feathers she ruthlessly plucks to embellish her wardrobe? But no, clearly Alison picked Aria because she’s the oblivious one, which means she’ll hold out longer than anyone else to a campaign of psychological torture because she barely notices that anything is going on.

She is working the heck out of this little gothic Lolita dress, though. It’s wildly inappropriate for school, sure, but see above re: Rosewood High dress code.

 

Mona gets them a recording of Alison’s testimony, and it’s basically an account of why Spencer is totally the person who killed Bethany Young, for sure, no way it was anyone else, so they break into Radley to find out what they can about Bethany.

And you know what a trip to Radley means: retro nurse costumes.

As we all know, Rosewood exists in a time warp in which the fall of senior year takes sixty full episodes to pass (you guys, senior year started at the beginning of season 3 and we just hit Thanksgiving now), sipping from a single roofied flask transports you straight to an Edward Hopper diner in the 1950s, late November in Pennsylvania requires no more outerwear than a light sweater and fashionable scarf—and the nurses at the local insane asylum wear World War II era uniforms. Obviously. Check Mona’s little headset, though. And the way she requires them all to use code phrases. Such a pro.

 

Aria runs interference by creating distractions in the art room in this surprisingly practical outfit.

Like, if you’re about to splash red paint everywhere, this simple black sweater and skinny jeans combo is a reasonable outfit to do it in! I would have thought that Aria would go for a pretentious paint-splattered set of overalls, or perhaps a Parisian beret, but this is really straightforward. It’s honestly a little unsettling to see her wear something so...unornamented.

Files retrieved, the gang stops by the Brew for pre-Thanksgiving coffee. As you do, just before you plan to consume enormous amounts of food.

 

Oh Emily, just after I congratulated Aria on avoiding the paint splatters, you go and wear this.

Emily: we do not take Aria’s rejected wardrobe ideas. They are not a good look on anyone.

 

On the plus side, her girlfriend looks amazing.

Paige stops by to tell everyone that Ali is amassing an army, and to simultaneously stun us all with the beauty of her hair. I love that lip-print shirt on her, and with that key charm, this is maybe the most fun we’ve ever seen her have with her clothes.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the bedazzled shirt trend can die any time now.

It’s also a weird fit for Newly Grunge Hanna. Floral miniskirt and tasteful pink purse Hanna? Sure, she’d wear this, no problem. But Grunge Hanna? Shouldn’t she be ripping this into shreds and then wearing it as a skirt or something?

 

I do quite like Aria’s striped shirt, and it goes surprisingly well with the floral maxi skirt.

A crop top seems like a poor choice for Thanksgiving, though. If there’s one day a year when you want to give your midriff some privacy...

 

Spencer, at least, understands the kind of fashion that Thanksgiving requires, and she rises to the occasion beautifully: she has achieved Level 14 WASP at last! Look at those tasteful pearl buttons, the beautifully tailored pencil skirt.

That must be the most genteel outfit the inside of a Rosewood jail cell has ever seen.

Friday
Aug292014

Pretty Little Liars: Taking This One to the Grave

Battle of the Titans: Part 2 of 2

Of course, the real drama this week wasn’t with the PLLs. It was the epic battle between Mona and Ali. Glares were glared. Armies were formed and disbanded. Black hoodies were tossed about. And in the end, blood was shed. Sniff. We'll miss you, Mona Vanderwaal, you fabulous little lunatic.

The show finally deigns to show us Mona’s room, and it is amazing. I always figured it would be like her A lair, all mutilated pictures of Alison and masks of Alison’s face wearing masks of Emily’s face smeared with rat blood, but it’s even better: 

It’s all dolls. If there’s one thing this show has taught us, it’s that dolls are the most terrifying things on earth, so Mona’s room is just filled with piles on piles of dolls staring out at us with their beady little eyes of death and mayhem like some kind of nightmare horror show. With a French fetish, for some reason.

 

Mona’s normal girl drag is a little dull, but that’s what happens when a supervillain tries to dress like a high schooler.

So we have pink floral leggings and this drab gray T-shirt with, ugh, bedazzled epaulets. I think we’ve already established that those are pointless on everyone.

 

She upgrades for her planning sesh with the PLLs in this lovely patterned shirt.

Get that black silk Peter Pan collar. And the red graphic pattern is great on her. It’s the perfect mixture of adorable and sinister.

 

I have to say, I’m kind of missing her terrifying black A hoodie and accompanying heaps of eyeliner. You’d think hacking into the police database would be the time to break it out, but no.

Polka dotted blazer instead. Which is super cute, but it feels like a missed opportunity. I guess it just goes to show that Mona has hung up her A hoodie for good?

 

As she gathers her evidence against Ali, Mona goes for this purple peplum top and more pink floral leggings.

The color combination is a little My Little Pony, but the boots are fierce. 

 

Meanwhile, Alison is spending the week in florals.

The police have her describe this outfit for her polygraph test, and she says in a voice of heartbreaking innocence, “White. With pink flowers.” Which is so Ali, right? She’s a good little girl, really, officer, she swears.

 

She stays in her innocent florals even as she amasses her army.

The poppy-printed maxi dress says innocence, but the army o’ dopplegangers says Rosewood better watch its back. If she’s so harmless, why does she have a set of creepy twins at her beck and call? Not to mention doubles for each and every one of the Liars. It’s like they’re living dolls. Side note: how have none of the Liars noticed before now that their dopplegangers go to school with them? I guess this is what happens when you never go to class.

 

So finally Mona calls Aria and is all, “Alison’s A, and I can finally prove it,” and stares at her own reflection with the righteous gaze of one who has finally achieved their fondest wish, but before she can proclaim her righteousness unto the world, someone in a black hoodie with a bunch of blonde hair breaks into her house. And when the Liars show up, demanding to see Mona’s proof in person instead of just having her text it to them like normal teenagers, Jesus, they find enormous pools of blood!!!!

 

This is my favorite A tag in so, so very long. A goes up to the Nativity scene outside of Emily’s house, throws baby Jesus out of the manger, and replaces him with guess who?

Happy holidays, everyone. (In August. Shut up. It’s almost Labor Day. That’s a holiday.) We’ll see you again in December for the Christmas special. Be good little kiddies until then, you hear? Or Santa might leave the world’s creepiest doll in your stocking.