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‘Pretty Little Liars’ ‘Free Fall’ review: The downfall of Aria and Ezra

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'Pretty Little Liars' 'Free Fall'

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On “Pretty Little Liars,” there’s no such thing as straightforward answers to the show’s many mysteries. Friendships are rife with stress, and relationships are complex, and all of that becomes even more complicated with how Spencer (Troian Bellisario) is unraveling yet again. “Free Fall,” the episode that aired on February 18, might have just been the most dramatic episode of the ABC Family series yet.

Ezra (Ian Harding) is a A for a reason. He’s smart and he knows how to manipulate just about any situation. That’s why it’s a gold mine for him when a drugged Spencer ends up sleepwalking to his classroom and waking up there barefoot. He knows Spencer is on to him, but he also knows her friends won’t trust her if the truth about her drug addiction comes out. And that’s exactly what happens. Spencer unravels in front of them, even bizarrely mentioning her weird film noir moment of last week’s “PLL.”

The truth is out about Spencer -- and not just with her friends. After Spencer makes a foolish call to an old doctor, Mrs. Hastings soon learns the truth, as does Toby (Keegan Allen). But while this is an important moment for Spencer, it’s hardly the most thrilling (or disturbing) part of “Pretty Little Liars” “Free Fall.”

Rather, those moments belong to what happens when the girls try to trap Ezra, a.k.a. A. Before Spencer continues her downward spiral, she comes up with a pretty decent plan. She uses the “planted clues” in the diary to convince Ezra that she, along with Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Emily (Shay Mitchell), are going to meet Ali at Ambrose Pavilion to give her the money she so desperately needs. If Ezra shows, they know he’s really A, and maybe then they could convince Aria (Lucy Hale).

But Aria is smartening up all on her own. After talking to Ezra about Spencer’s drug problem, he says something he shouldn’t know: about how Spencer last unraveled when she thought she saw Toby dead because of a helmet and tattoo. Admitting to knowing that fact is the worst mistake Ezra’s ever made, and it’s forcing his hand to switch up his plan, so it seems.

Part of that plan is Mona (Janel Parrish), who Ezra “bumps” into at a restaurant. Mona claims she wants “out” but Ezra insists she can’t back out of the plan now. So why does he need her?

That moment on “PLL” comes later. While Ezra is dealing with Aria breaking into his cabin, someone is meeting the girls at Ambrose Pavilion. Someone is wearing a blonde wig, and someone is escaping before the girls can catch up to her. And bets are on Mona being Ezra’s stand-in while Ezra deals with manipulating Aria all over again.

Ezra’s encounter with Aria out in the woods isn’t totally what many expected. After all, he has a new lie to spin to make it seem like he's not really A. After Aria found a manuscript in his cabin about Alison, she assumes Spencer and her friends were right, that Ezra, her lover, is A. But after Ezra traps Aria on a ski lift, he tells a different story. He claims that, yes, he knew Ali, that Ali lied to him about her age, and that they were involved. But then their relationship ended, and later Alison went missing. That’s when he decided to write a true crime novel all about Ali, and that involved learning everything he could about Ali’s friends.

“That’s what I was to you? Research?” Aria demands.

Ezra has an answer for it all. “I didn’t know I was going to fall in love with you. I’ve never lied to you, not once, about how I feel about you.” But thankfully Aria isn’t forgiving, or trusting, him anytime soon. She wants to read every last word of his “novel” -- and then the manuscript gets scattered to the ground.

Aria thinks she now knows the “truth” about Ezra, but truth is a funny thing on “Pretty Little Liars.” Ezra gave her a new reality, but chances are, it’s just his way of manipulating her more. Chances are, he’s still very much A, and he’s undoubtedly still working on his plan to find -- and take down -- Ali.

“PLL” airs on ABC Family Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST.

© Elizabeth SanFilippo 2014

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