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Pretty Little Liars - Over a Barrel - Review: "Did Walter White Kill Mona?"


5.16 - "Over a Barrel"
Written by Bryan M. Holdman
Directed by Michael Grossman
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

I apologise for the lateness for this review. Had a 48-hour take-home exam to do which only made me crazy. All done and I'm a little sane now.

Season Guide




Hanna thinks if Holbrook helped Alison then she's probably convinced him that she is the victim. Aria is attacked when Mona's laptop gets stolen from her. Ezra hired Talia at the Brew. Spencer learns of someone, Johnny, who may be staying in her guest house. Even whilst in a relationship with Pastor Ted, Ashley Marin sleeps with Jason DiLaurentis. Spencer and Toby clash over the murder weapon as Spencer and Caleb dispose of it. Hanna visits Alison in jail. Aria gets into a college after confronting Jacki about the e-mail she sent, but the e-mail contains things she doesn't want Ezra to see.


'Over a Barrel' Review

Would You Like a Reciept With That?

In the Brew, Spencer, Aria, Hanna and Emily discuss Mona's murder weapon and that Alison and Holbrook could pin Mona's murder on them. Conversation turns to Paige as Emily is to mail some of her stuff. Something must have happened with Paige for her to not reply to Emily. It's pretty rude and something Paige wouldn't do. I don't like seeing Emily like this, all broody and like a lovesick puppy. I'm hoping she'll return to her ass-kicking self. Spencer and Hanna leave as Emily starts her shift and Aria stays with her. 50 cents for coffee? I'll take it! Can't imagine the place doing very well in the long run since the profit won't really be there but I hope it works out.

CREEPY A MOMENT ALERT - Emily prints off the receipt for Aria, only more than the transaction appears on the paper. The e-mail Aria wrote to Jackie is on it. How in the actual world could that have happened is beyond me but I do love a good A moment. This kind of lie will stay on your permanent record - A. You have to admit, A is only calling out Aria because she did something wrong. Is A really such a bad guy? Answer, yes. Still is.

Hanna returns home where Ashley is with Ted. I can't remember the last time I saw him was but he just came back from Peru. (Quick IMDb check, his last episode was 4.09 - Into the Deep on August 6, 2013) What a mighty fine coincidence he returns the day after Ashley cheats on him. It's like he has a sixth sense. I do like that they're not dragging this out and Hanna confronts her mother about it straight away. We can definitely rule Hanna out as A. Back at the Brew, Emily and Talia continue to butt heads. Emily is very territorial which I understand but she is acting like a bitch, especially when Talia does try to help. When Ezra comes, Aria tries to speak to him. Ezra thinks the guy she talked to last night will help with the admissions officer of the college he works at which would be great for Aria. I don't know what the big deal is though, just tell Ezra you sent an e-mail full of lies to get into college which will spare his feelings from when Aria said she made a mistake with him. She obviously didn't mean it and Ezra would understand, but I guess Aria really needs some interesting material to stay relevant.

Spencer has received three letters from colleges but Spencer won't open them. They're all colleges far away from Rosewood but Spencer doesn't want to go to any of them. Not wise Spencer, stop jeopardising your future. Toby and Spencer continue to fight here about Alison and it really does seem like she controls everything from behind bars as she has rooted herself so deeply into these girls' heads that they just can't seem to be happy. Johnny comes and diffuses the tension so I like him for that. He seems to be pretty cool so far, no complaints here. Back at the Brew (they really love this setting for this episode) Aria gets a text, but it's not from A, it's from H! Stop looking for me. I'm tired of hiding. Grill at noon - H. For some reason I thought it was Hanna 'cause of the H part and she's the first H I ever think of but it's Holbrook.

Alerts From the Grave

Spencer and Johnny do some bonding over garbage-art and ham. It's a pretty nice moment, probably nicer than any Spoby scene the past couple of episodes which is a shame, until Spencer drops an egg when she gets a text. Wait, it's not a text, it's an alert to the activation of Mona's phone with co-ordinates. We find out they all got it as Spencer and Hanna are at Caleb's trying to figure it out. Smart Mona set it up so when someone goes through the encryption on her laptop, they would get an alert. It's like she knew she was going to die. Gosh, I still miss Mona and wish she never died. Goddammit. They have a plan - Aria will talk to Holbrook at the Grill giving Spencer and Hanna time to search the warehouse facility the laptop is apparently at. Hanna gets a call from Ted and has to go meet him, leaving Spencer and Caleb who have been sharing a lot of time together lately.

Aria is waiting for Holbrook when Jason comes. It doesn't look like Holbrook is going to show, which is a shame as I need some answers. Aria and Jason decide to share a dinner date together instead when Ashley cancels on Jason. Again at the Brew, Talia seems to be adopting some changes which keeps grinding on Emily, such as moving cleaning equipment, and Talia suggests a new uniform as she notices Emily's T-shirt isn't exactly up to code as there's a hole in it. I actually think a nice casual uniform would be cool. Spencer and Caleb arrive at the facility but the door to the room the laptop is in is locked. A familiar face to Spencer, Mrs. Horowitz, shows up and reveals she saw a blonde but couldn't look at the face. She leaves and Caleb returns having made a shim to break into Horowitz's apartment.

Jason and Aria's dinner date seems to be going well. They talk about Alison and what she is capable of, which we all know is a lot, and what she can make other people do, which we all know is a lot. The police think Alison had help disposing of Mona's body. It's nice actually to see Jason get in on these theories, to have some support outside the Liars and their boyfriends. Aria gets another text from Halbrook - One hour. Maple and Prescott. - H. Caleb calls Hanna from an airduct (classy) before Hanna meets with Ted. Hanna was just about to spill that she knows her mother slept with Jason because of a misunderstanding, but Ted wants to talk to her about asking for permission to marry Ashley. It's really nice how Hanna is really accepting of it as she did have her problems in the past with accepting Ted.

What Would Walter White Say?

In the Brew's kitchen, Talia asks Emily if her shirt was a gift from the ex. I can really see the shirt is bothering Talia. After a few metaphors about making something old feel new, Emily admits she's not ready for something new. Spencer and Caleb have successfully broken into the storage room with Mona's laptop in it. Everything is bagged and too neat for Spencer's liking which makes the whole thing suspicious. It's actually really creepy. There's bloody clothes in bags that could be Mona's. Caleb sees a yellow suit that looks like something from Breaking Bad and thinks it's a person. Silly Caleb, even I could tell it was just a suit. They see a barrel that could contain Mona. My first reaction was my hand to my mouth. I thought maybe Mona's body would be in there but the yellow suit and toxic bottles, I thought they might have melted her body with acid, like something from Breaking Bad, so my heart was beating pretty fast here. Spencer realises the ingredients around the place could preserve a body, or turn it to sludge, which is gross and creepy. Just before they open the barrel to see what's inside, the lights turn off.

It appeared Aria got stood up again but a woman gives Aria some flowers to deliver. Pretty clever. At Emily's, Emily puts the T-shirt she had been wearing and puts it in the envelope to Paige. Another quick scene change to Hanna and Ashley as they argue over Jason. Hanna reveals she really likes Ted and doesn't want what happened to ruin what they have going on. Ashley may or may not tell Ted. If she doesn't, A will. At Caleb's, Spencer is worrying over leaving evidence of them being at the facility behind. Spencer has spent more time with Caleb the past two episodes than Hanna has since Caleb returned to Rosewood. What happened to Toby? They're really pushing different couplings in 5B.

Aria knocks on Hanna's door and reveals she has flowers to deliver to Ashley. Hanna hurries Aria upstairs where Aria reads the card. Last night took me by surprise but I'm glad I stayed for dessert. Jason. Hanna covers for her mother when she reveals to Aria that she visited Alison in jail. Aria isn't happy after they all agreed not to, and rightly so, but Hanna says she did it for all of them. I'm guessing we're going to have a big visit to Alison in jail soon by all the girls. Spencer and Toby are playing scrabble while Toby talks about his uneventful day. I am so sorry to say this but I think Spoby is dead. I'm sorry Spoby fans but I'm pretty sure I felt my non-existant vagina dry up during this scene. The only interesting part is when they start arguing again. There's no romance here anymore, just fighting and it's the only thing keeping the pair exciting.

Will You Marry Me?

Hanna, Ashley and Ted are having lunch, so it's SHOWTIME people! I'm so excited for this proposal. Ted sets down a peanut butter cookie for just Ashley (that she and Ted shared the first day they met), and Hanna makes a funny theatrical "do we all get a cookie Ted" even though she knows what's going to happen, but she says it to sweeten the surprise. The ring falls out when Ted breaks the cookie, and it's honestly the most romantic and sweet thing to happen on this show in a long time. Finally some romance and it isn't between any of the Liars and their boyfriends. Ted gets down on one knee and gives such a nice speech, so much so that I teared up a little, but Ashley responds with "I need a minute". I can see she wants this, she looked so happy but the thing that happened with Jason, well, that's what happens when karma bites you in the ass. Hanna tries to smooth things over with Ted when he leaves, trying to explain her mother's behaviour. Ashley comes downstairs and Hanna gives her the look of disapproval. Ashley concludes that he deserves to know the truth. I'm glad. I would have told her not to say anything and spoil Ted's happiness, but it's Rosewood and secrets never stay secret. I really want there to be one successful and happy relationship on the show so I need Ashley and Ted to get through this.

Aria is looking over the receipt that printed off her e-mail. At the Brew, Emily sees Ezra for her paycheck and bumps into Talia. Talia says some flirtatious stuff and I am like "wooo girl" that's some obvious flirting. I wasn't sure if Talia was gay but I think now she is and she is definitely interested in Emily. Then again who wouldn't be. But then, Talia makes a comment about Ezra's ass and then I'm thrown off again. Bisexual? Maybe. But hitting on both Emily and Ezra at the same time. Fishy. I think Talia would be a good match for Emily actually. She kind of reminds me of Maya as she has that confidence and strength I hugely admired in Maya. May she rest in peace. At Spencer's, Johnny comes to collect the egg. I don't know why Spencer couldn't have just given him the egg before when she got that alert, it literally would have taken two seconds, but never mind. Johnny brings up Alison, which makes me suspicious of him, but he tells Spencer about how he travelled and that he dropped school. Will Spencer just not go to college? Would she really do that?

Caleb knocks on Hanna's kitchen door and he tells Hanna the name that's on the rental agreement of the storage unit - Hanna! Hanna's name is on the rental agreement. Okay I kind of did not see that coming. I should have since they're being framed for Mona's death and that note Alison got at the end of last episode saying the Liars will join her soon proves that Alison has someone working on the outside for her setting up the girls. Having Hanna's name on the agreement kind of proves that, right? I'm not being crazy but I really now think Alison is definitely pulling strings to frame the girls so she can clear her own name. If Mona's body really is inside that barrel and they see the unit is rented to Hanna, that's big.

The end A scene happens in Holbrook's office where somebody goes onto his computer and types in his password, gaining access to the police files. Not the most exciting of A end scenes but it will do for now.

Episode Verdict

I can see season 5B is moving at a slower pace but it's starting to get somewhere. We've been given little tidbits sprinkled through this episode and the last two as we journey to the reveal of Mona's killer. Some interesting things popped up and the fact the girls are being framed is solidified by Hanna's name being on the deed. Relationships suffer, such as Spoby, while prospective feelings kindle, such as Emalia (if that's their official couple name by fans). I can see things going in a very good direction here as things heat up but I feel like they could have combined this episode with the last episode and spared us some of the boring parts. Emily didn't have much going on for her in this episode but things could progress between her and Talia since Emily may have finally moved on from Paige. Aria needs something better to do, while I enjoyed the Hanna/Ashley/Ted aspect. Best part was Spencer actually doing some digging and teaming up with Caleb to unravel even more of this thickening plot. I sense answers soon. The episodes sway more toward the boring side than the exciting side but this half-season is slowly ramping it up.


Episode Awards

Prettiest Little Liar: Spencer Hastings. Out of all the Liars, she was the one who furthered the ongoing mystery saga of Mona.

Most Macho Male: Ted! He proposed to Ashley, which was so amazing.

Favourite Episode Pairing: Spencer and Caleb as they work together to break into and explore the storage unit.

Best Line: "Oh, and if you see anything suspicious, don't pick it up..." (to Spencer) "please don't let him pick anything up." - Hanna Marin. It's pretty cute how she warns Caleb not to touch anything then tells Spencer straight away like he was a child. Beautiful relationship moment, I'll take what I can.

Best Moment: Spencer and Caleb in the storage unit with the bloody clothes and Walter White's suit.

Saddest Moment: Ashley runs away from Ted's proposal saying she needs a minute. Poor Ted.

Creepiest Moment: Spencer reveals the nature of the ingredients in the facility and what might have happened to Mona's body.

Biggest Reveal: It's Hanna's name on the lease of the storage unit that possibly harbours Mona's dead body! It's a frame-up!

Best Cat Fight: Spencer vs. Toby. This couple only knows how to argue these days, ever since Toby joined the police force. What a shame.

Spoby is over, right? Will the girls beat whoever is framing them on the outside? Do you believe Alison is trying to frame them now? What did you guys think of 'Over a Barrel'? Let me know in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode of Pretty Little Liars on January 27th on ABC Family!

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV on August 9, 2014 and will be reviewing 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars and Salem in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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