Pretty Little Liars continues to feel like it’s building towards something epic and just hasn’t gotten there, yet. On the upside, “Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Inferno” definitely feels like it’s getting closer than the last couple episodes.
The biggest problem with these building episodes, and “Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Inferno” specifically, is that it feels like Pretty Little Liars has suddenly morphed into two separate shows. There’s the show with Hanna and Emily continue with business as usual, trying to untangle the mess that is Alison’s murder and the A mystery. Instead, the melodrama has shifted onto Aria and Spencer, who seem to be in another show altogether where they’ve reached breaking points with the whole A thing and with their relationships.
There is something oddly out of place about Hanna and Emily continuing with business as usual. Perhaps it’s because A hasn’t been particularly threatening in the last few episodes, so there doesn’t seem to be as urgent a need for them to continue on. Instead, it feels a bit like Hanna and Emily are poking around where they shouldn’t just to find trouble. Hanna’s storyline actually comes off as a bit like a sitcom when she accidentally follows Paige into a gay bar where whacky hijinks ensue. In this storyline Pretty Little Liars actually seems to have lost some of its melodrama.
Pretty Little Liars more than makes up for the melodrama with Spencer’s and Aria’s storylines. Spencer’s unraveling is actually fairly beautiful. It’s based around a quiet and lonely desperation and hurt that resonates throughout the episode. On the flipside, Ezra Fitz breaking up with Aria yet again rings a little hollow and very childish. Neither Ezra nor Aria seems to actually be losing anything. Ezra will leave for a little while to spend time with his son and then he’ll be back. Because he always comes back, they always get back together, despite how bad their relationship is for both of them.
Despite the problems, this episode does actually seem to be getting somewhere. Despite their out-of-place storylines, Hanna and Emily actually learn some important things. Hanna catches on to Caleb and Paige’s plans to bring down A. Emily learns that Alison may have been pregnant when she died. Both of these facts promise drama. As does Spencer turning to private investigator in her unraveling. All of this is a move in the right direction for Pretty Little Liars, but the slow burn of it still feels agonizing for a show that used to change the game every week.