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'Pretty Little Liars': 'Who's In the Box?' recap

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Tonight, Jan. 7, Pretty Little Liars kicked off the second half of Season Four with its winter premiere on ABC Family. Aria, Hanna, Spencer, and Emily gathered to discuss the reappearance of Alison, the friend they once believed to be dead. After weighing potential options, Hanna gave her opinion: if Ali wasn’t dead, there was a girl who went missing the same time Ali did who was dead, which they needed to figure out. Spencer gave her credit, saying that was an actual theory.

A week later, Emily went to speak to Mrs. DiLaurentis (Ali’s mom) to ask if she knew where Jason (Ali’s brother) was. He’d told his mother he was driving across the country, but that was all she knew.

Meanwhile, Hanna’s mother struggled to find a job after having been accused of murdering Detective Darren Wilden. She encouraged Hanna to go along with her father to Australia, but Hanna assured her she couldn’t handle the water running backwards.

At school, Emily told Spencer and Aria what she had learned about Jason, and Toby pulled up. Emily caught up with Paige, and the two got into a brief spat over Emily’s feelings. Mona tried to make nice with Hanna at her locker, but Hanna gave her the cold shoulder – she still couldn’t trust Mona. Conveniently, Ezra talked to his class about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde before asking Aria to stay behind.

In an empty classroom, Hanna showed Spencer and Emily her findings on another girl, named Sarah, who went missing the same time Ali had. A video appeared on the classroom television and ended with the message, “Ali Ali, Oxen-free. Whoever finds her, gets to keep her. Kisses –A”

During the commercial break, Lucy Hale’s music video for her new single, “You Sound Good to Me.” debuted.

Ezra told Aria he had put her in an impossible position with Malcolm to make all the pieces fit, and this was his apology. He added that he probably used up all his chances, but after she graduated and he moved on from the school, he wanted to try to be the person she thought he was.

Spencer turned to her father to ask if he knew where Jason DiLaurentis was. He told her to suppress the urge, and it was in everyone’s best interest to stay untangled from the DiLaurentis family. In the end, Mr. Hastings offered to try to track Jason down.

Hanna continued her mission to speak to the missing girl’s friends, and Toby filled Spencer in on his findings about his mother’s death from the last week.

Emily was less than thrilled to meet the missing girl, Sarah’s, friends, but her uneasiness was interrupted by Caleb’s return. He and Hanna sat down to catch up. He told Hanna he was keeping multiple promises, and it was easier if she didn’t know. When she asked about Miranda, Caleb told her she was doing well, considering the circumstances. (Unbeknownst to Hanna, Miranda is dead). Caleb told Hanna how much he missed her.

The next day, Toby and Spencer continued to try to find out how his mother really died, and Hanna and Emily met with Sarah’s friends. They explained they saw Sarah the day after Labor Day – she was riding her bike, and they found the bike, but they never found Sarah. Meanwhile, Toby and Spencer spoke to the head of the company that owned the sanatorium his mother lived in. She assured them they couldn’t prove anything, but Spencer reminded her they only needed to put it on the internet.

Mona ran into Ezra out on the street and told him she was envious of Emily, Spencer, and Aria and thought she would do better with a better mentor. The two sat down for coffee, and Ezra encouraged Mona not to sell herself short. She commented on Jekyll and Hyde and the readings they’d been doing and how much she learned. Ezra explained that fear is the number one motivator, but Mona had figured that out and dumped all her fear. He also commented on knowing how far to push people before they pushed back, which sent Mona off in a hurry. (Even without the hashtag ‘#MonaKnows’ appearing on screen, it was clear she had figured out Ezra’s secret).

Hanna got home and found Mrs. DiLaurentis in her house, offering her mother a job at the real estate office. Outside, Caleb broke the news to Hanna that he had to return to Ravenswood to take care of some things.

Toby and Spencer talked at her house, and Toby filled her dad in when he got home. Mr. Hastings said they could do a lot of damage and could even shut Radley down.

Aria met Ezra and asked if they could go somewhere, so he sped off and took them to a cabin he claimed he sometimes went to write, without cell or internet service. Aria asked Ezra what he wanted, and he said a time machine. She explained that she was seeing someone, and the principal watched her like a hawk. Ezra gave her the key to the cottage and told her it could be their secret.

Claire, one of Sarah’s friends, showed up to talk to Emily at work and explain why the third friend hadn’t met with them earlier – she was sleeping and adjusting to medications. Claire went on to explain that Sarah hadn’t been a good person, and she was jealous that Ali was dead, because Emily had gotten her life back. She also said she wished Sarah was dead before she ever went missing, added that she was a terrible person, and left.

Caleb told Hanna it was time to go, but she didn’t want him to leave and offered to go with him. Hanna wondered if it was about Miranda, and Caleb said she needed him, but it wasn’t like it sounded. It was best for him to go and for her to stay. Hanna gave Caleb every opportunity to tell her the truth, but he said he couldn’t tell her and left in tears.

Spencer’s dad was on a new mission to help Toby and claimed he was so interested in helping after seeing how Spencer was while at Radley, but it was clear Spencer didn’t buy it.

Emily told Paige Ali let her kiss her, and Emily thought it was an incredible gift but now realized it wasn’t, since it didn’t mean anything to Ali. She didn’t know if Ali ever loved anyone, and she broke her heart.

Hanna met Caleb at his car and said she didn’t want that to be the way they said good-bye – not that it mattered, since he still didn’t give up any information before he drove off.

The next day, Hanna revealed to the others that she had been secretly keeping Ali’s diary. The other three girls were upset, but Hanna explained she kept it from them because of what was written inside.

The potential “A” walked into Ezra’s cottage and lifted up the floorboard Ezra had been staring at during his time there with Aria, but what was inside was not shown.

What did you think of tonight’s Pretty Little Liars winter premiere? Leave a comment with your thoughts below!

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