Pretty Little Liars – Recap: Melissa Unmasked
Pretty Little Liars continued to strut through Season 4 this week with “Face Time,” an episode that saw the mysterious Melissa Hastings unmasked. Remove one mask and find another, Liars!
Episode 4 of Season 4 finally shed some light on Rosewood’s own black widow, Melissa Hastings (Torrey DeVitto), Spencer’s (Troian Bellisario) older sis who tends to flipflop back and forth between scary supernatural she-beast and plain old intimidating bitch. Meanwhile, Hanna (Ashley Benson) dealt with her mother’s inevitable murder charges and an overbearing boyfriend in Caleb (Tyler Blackburn). Aria (Lucy Hale) and Jake (Ryan Guzman), that was a blink-and-you-missed it romance. At least, the littlest Liar certainly put the brakes on things for now. Also, Emily (Shay Mitchell) is in the midst of an existential crises at the ripe old age of seventeen (eighteen? Do we ever celebrate birthdays on Pretty Little Liars?). Has Emily’s swimming ship been sunk? Let me begin the Recap and Review of Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Episode 4, “Face Time”!
“Face Time” opened as it usually does, with the four Liars clueing us in as to what we missed last week following the general recap of “Previously on Pretty Little Liars…” I guess it’s more fun to hear the girls review last episode’s discoveries anyway. Hanna was hell-bent on revealing the truth behind Melissa’s masked adventures, assuming her shenanigans were somehow linked to Wilden’s death. Things have been heating up for Ashley Marin (Laura Leighton), but Hanna is reaching her boiling point. I do normally like Hanna’s direct “Why don’t we just ask if she’s A?” approach to bringing the hammer down on Rosewood’s impossibly clever group of bullies and criminals. Spoiler alert: everyone is A.
Meanwhile, Emily’s father had traveled back from Afghanistan to face the wrath of child services along with her mother. The town gossip began to take its toll on the entire Fields clan, pressuring Emily to hit up the doctor who’d played into A’s whole “abuse” plan. Emily, however, ended up looking desperate to cover up her parents’ tracks as opposed to clearing the air. Long story short, Emily might never swim again, according to x-rays. Long story shorter, this is most likely A’s doing. Remember, A has her shoulder x-ray. Is A powerful enough to warp that image? A is all-powerful until they’re revealed, then their superhuman abilities and omniscient presence is sapped from their black hoodie.
I have to say, I’m enjoying Holbrook (Sean Faris) and Tanner (Roma Maffia) as state investigators getting to the bottom of Wilden’s murder. They’re bringing a new flavor to the law enforcement of Rosewood. After first scoping out the Liars from afar, Hanna became acquainted with the Tanner in her mother’s office. There, the detectives sifted through the belongings stored inside Wilden’s safety deposit box. Of course, the most important part of the scene was watching Ashley sweat it out with regard to not knowing just how much Holbrook and Tanner had already learned. Inside the box, Wilden kept a load of cash and a gun with the serial number scratched off. Hmm, Hanna’s father had noticed that his gun had gone missing, and Ashley allegedly had asked him for a bunch of quick cash. Still, there’s no telling at this point when the gun was taken, and I was under the impression that Hanna’s father hadn’t given her any money. It would make more sense that A was planting evidence than that Ashley would store her own goods in Wilden’s box. This is still a fairly vague plot, but I think it’s supposed to be. Then again, Ashley was later barred from accessing the bank’s vault. Yeah, she’s in trouble, Liars! At home, Hanna admitted to Ashley that she was aware of her mother’s early return to Rosewood. Ashley had given up the gun. Well, not literally, but she admitted to Hanna that she was indeed in town the night Wilden was killed.
I appreciated Hanna’s candid conversation with Tanner during Episode 4 as well. I think the reason Pretty Little Liars put Tanner in a pair of heels, shoes that Hanna appreciated, was to clue us in that she could become an ally to them. It was as if they were alerting us that there is more of the Liars in her than meets the eye. Then again, they did find heel prints at the scene of Wilden’s murder… Caleb was quick to step in and intervene in the park bench conversation, but I’m not sure he needed to. Talking to the new investigator and being honest with someone who obviously doesn’t have anything personal against her family can’t be too bad of an idea, so long as the conversation remains light enough. They could have just shot the breeze, and Hanna would have made a good first impression. Later in the episode, though, Holbrook and Tanner would pay Hanna’s mother a visit at her home. Hanna and Caleb were quick to cover, but time is running out for Ashley.
Boy, did Veronica Hastings (Leslie Fera) sure rub salt in the wound that is UPenn. Spencer sipped away with her mother and Melissa at the café, finally revealing her rejection. Veronica couldn’t believe the news. UPenn is the cocoon that transforms Hastings women into butterflies (black widows). Pure comedy, of course! Worse yet, Melissa offered to help… ugh. Spencer had become increasingly fed up with her probably-murderer sister and her pretentious ways. It was time to bait her into divulging information, and Spencer would plan to use the Melissa mask as leverage. Sparia scenes to come, but first, Aria had to spend some time with new boy Jake.
The two walked the streets of Rosewood by day, a perfectly fine start to a date; however, little Malcolm, Ezra’s bastard (Sorry, it’s true!) revealed himself from the shadows of the bookstore. Ezra and Maggie shopped from within, yet Malcolm was more concerned with ruining Aria’s evening. Why doesn’t she visit Ezra anymore? Because it’s illegal, Malcolm! In truth, Aria brushed the boy off with ease, sending him back to his clearly inept mother. Who lets their child wander out into the street? In the end, the rest of Aria’s date would consist of explaining the entire Ezria story, the Hollywood film version, to Jake. Is Aria hurt or injured? Is the Ezria movie over. We don’t know yet, but she did manage to scare Jake off with an awkward peck on the lips. She’ll call him, apparently. I’m assuming Ryan Guzman is sticking around, so Jaria (Jakaria? Arake?) fans shouldn’t worry too much.
As it turns out, there might be more to the story surrounding the death of Toby’s (Keegan Allen) mother. Episode 4 saw Cavanaugh paying her Doctor, Dr. Palmer, a visit at his new place of employment, another institution. The scene was so interesting to watch, wasn’t it? I really liked the actor they pegged for the role of the kooky psychiatric doctor. Even better, the conversation quickly devolved from fun to insane… literally. The man wasn’t a doctor at a new hospital, he lived there. It’s all about the “heaviness of air” and how it drives one bonkers, but tell your mother not to hang around with that awful blond girl, Toby… What? What was that? That’s right, Hanna Marin pushed Toby’s mother out of the hospital window to her doom below!.. No, not really. Alison. It was probably Alison, or someone who looked like Alison. Hair color is our only new clue, but at least it’s something connecting Toby’s current arc to the rest of the story.
After coming up short during her trip to the doctor, Emily found herself bombarded with a barrage of angry questions from her parents, who’d quickly figured out that the entire stalker/ murder situation hadn’t quite gone away as they’d assumed. Emily wouldn’t inform her parents of any true details, choosing to storm out of the house in an angry huff and making the scene of the century outside on the front lawn. Do these people never learn? Emily ran straight to Paige (Lindsey Shaw), who’d been busy doing, what else, swimming laps alone in a dark indoor pool. Paige gave Emily quite a nice little pep talk. In truth, all of the doctor’s information was unpredictable and unsure. Maybe Emily would need surgery. Maybe she’d never swim again. Finally, Paige threw in the crazy concept of simply finding a new dream. Let’s just take a moment to realize how Pretty Little Liars has driven Paige to evolve as a character over the course of her series run. As her hair grows, so does her compassion, empathy, and quality of advice, generally speaking. The girl dishes stellar advice! Emily skipped back home with Paige, rejuvenated and revved up to apologize. Unfortunaltey, “someone” had reported the noise that had occurred during Emily’s storm-out, and she would have to yet again deal with the boneheaded police of Rosewood.
My favorite scene this week was, of course, Spencer’s narration of Melissa’s thoughts from outside the living room window. Spencer and Aria had planted the mask in Melissa’s suitcase. Melissa subsequently dug it out and pieced together where it could have possibly come from. Side note: how scary would it be if Melissa Hastings wore her own red mask for Halloween next year? Think about it. Sparia followed the other Hastings straight to the creepy mask maker, only to watch her quickly scurry from the man’s lair with a sack full of something. Inside, Aria did some snooping, uncovering a ton of Alison masks. She confronted the mask maker, pressuring him to reveal more of the truth behind Alison’s visits. A flashback revealed once again that the girl was desperate for money, pleading with the man to pay her whatever he could afford for her work. Who drove the car that picked Alison up? We don’t know yet, but would Melissa fill us in on anything? On the dock beside the store, Spencer witnessed Melissa smashing a ton of her own masks. Finally, she was cornered. Spencer began interrogating her sister, once and for all. Melissa had made a mask for the same reason Emily did… for information. According to Melissa, everything she’s done has been to protect Spencer and, I’m guessing, her friends. Shana and Jenna were sent to spy on the girls at the lodge, but Wilden set the fire. Melissa seems to be just as interested in discovering the identity of Red Coat. She was also on the Halloween Train, but not working with Wilden. They simply wore the same costume. Awkward! Although, Melissa as the Queen of Hearts is kind of ironic, no? Well, it was Halloween. If murderers and villianesses can’t dress as themselves, what do they masquerade as? Wilden was taking orders from someone. According to Melissa, he was too dumb to pull of the stunts he did himself. Again, this is all alleged information as it came from Melissa’s mouth, and everything that comes from Melissa’s mouth is laced with venom. Did Melissa kill Wilden? She wouldn’t answer, but that would make sense, wouldn’t it? She’s totally capable of it. More on that next.
Back at Hastings Manor, Sparia discussed Melissa’s interesting information, only to witness Hanna waltzing through the door incredibly distraught. The writing is on the wall for Ashley. Hanna believes her mother killed Wilden and that A knows it. Now, here’s why Melissa killing Wilden would make sense. Spencer got a text from A promising that Melissa is guilty of plenty but that she’s not A-team material. Of course, Melissa would send that text in reality, but for now, let’s just roll with it. It would make sense that Melissa would kill Wilden to protect her sister, as Wilden was the one who’d attempted to kill Spencer and Aria on the Halloween Train. Also, I don’t think Ashley committed the crime. The show could eliminate Melissa from the equation by having her take a bullet for Spencer in killing Wilden and heading off to jail, freeing Ashley in the process and bonding with her little sis. Of course, she could get away with it too…
Episode 4 of Season 4, “Face Time,” saw our latest A gluing the pieces of a Melissa mask back together. It’s Ezra, right?
What did you think of Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Episode 4, “Face Time”? Is either Melissa or Ashley the murderer of Wilden? Is Emily’s shoulder really damaged? Do you buy that Melissa is actually protecting her sister? Will Jake and Aria give it another go? Do you like the new investigators, or are they just more crooked cops to deal with? Did Alison kill Toby’s mother? (Maybe his mom witnessed something…)
Thanks for reading my Recap and Review of Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Episode 4, “Face Time”!