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Pretty Little Liars - Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me - Review: "Blah, Blah, Blah"

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5.18 - "Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me"
Directed by Joseph Dougherty
Written by Joseph Dougherty
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

Season Guide

The girls think the barrel in the storage room has Mona's body inside. It was rented under Hanna's name four months before. Spencer gets three acceptance letters but she refuses to open them. Talia reveals she is interested in Emily. Mona and Spencer broke into Radley disguised as nurse's to get Bethany Young's tapes. Ezra suggests distance between him and Aria. Tanner and Toby ambush Hanna and Caleb at the storage unit, leading to an argument between Spencer and Hanna. Tanner finds drops of blood in the storage room and if she finds out it belongs to one of the girls, they'll be brought in for questioning. Spencer asks Toby what's in the barrel but he chooses not to tell her.

'Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me' Recap and Review

Don't Rush to Trust the New Gal

Emily, Spencer and Aria are outside discussing Toby. Spencer feels to blame because it's tearing Toby apart, saying he's the most honourable person she knows. They see Veronica Hastings by the court house as she is discussing something with Ali's defence team. Not helping, consulting. She's trying to find out who is going to have to testify. They see Hanna walking in the distance and Spencer goes over to talk to her, leaving Aria and Emily. Aria asks about Ezra and Emily reveals he's out of town which Aria should have known, but he didn't tell her. Aria lies and say she forgot. Spencer approaches Hanna and tries to apologise, but Hanna tells her she was right about not getting the stuff out of the storage space. Her fingers pruned while in the tub, but she moisturised. Got to admit, this wasn't a classic Hanna moment.

Hanna and Spencer return to Aria and Emily as they see Holbrook get out of a car and approach the court house. He's back in Rosewood and the girls don't know why. Inside the Brew, the girls think Holbrook is trying to scare them. Emily sees Talia and leaves the girls to talk to her. Spencer sees Johnny and goes to talk to him. He reveals Ezra wants him to do more for The Brew since the opening was a success and he wants Spencer to help build something after she asks a question about it. Hanna pulls Spencer away wanting to talk. Emily approaches Talia and we have this awkward-ish conversation. You can see Emily is trying here. But there's so much silence Emily just leaves, bless her. Talia is retreating.

Hanna reveals the police want to question Caleb about the storage space. They think it's just to make Hanna nervous. When Emily is serving, a woman approaches her and asks for Hanna Marin. The woman says that Mona said she might find her there. Her name is Leslie and she's a friend of Mona's. The girls sit down to hear her story. She was with Mona's mother when she found out that something had happened when the police phoned her. She met Mona a few summers ago and now she's here to support Leona (Mona's mother) with the trial coming up. However, Spencer feels they need to keep an eye on Leslie as she isn't so easy to be trusting. Hanna is at the police station with Caleb when Spencer eyes her mother's briefcase on the kitchen counter. Spencer wants Hanna to get Leslie to talk after she's finished at the police station. Spencer opens Alison's case file from her mother's briefcase and sees a sign-in sheet for Alison's visitors with Mike's name in it. Spencer hears Veronica coming back and puts everything back. Spencer asks about Holbrook and Veronica tells her not to worry about it, instead she has Spencer's unopened college packets. Spencer flirts with the idea of not going to college but Veronica argues with her about her future. She makes a comment about keeping her out of Alison's trial which seems to frighten Spencer.

Huffy Holbrook

At the police station, Hanna and Caleb discuss Ashley who is on her way. Hanna worries about the video when we hear Holbrook arguing. He is being blamed for some mess-ups and he packs up some of his things and leaves, but not before saying "perfect, just perfect" to Hanna and Caleb. At Aria's, Spencer shows Aria a photo of the visitor sheet for Alison that reveals Mike's name. Aria tries to find reason but Spencer doesn't know why he would stay secret about it. It's up to Aria to find out. At the Brew, Emily and Hanna discuss Holbrook's suspension for "inappropriate behaviour". They found out about Holbrook tampering with the lie detector test. Hanna isn't quick to dismiss Holbrook as he may have it out for them. Hanna goes to find Leslie while Emily goes to call the girls but she sees Talia helping Johnny and watches.

Aria approaches Mike who is watching television. Aria asks what he's watching and Mike reveals Mona gave him a list of movies he has to watch. It's progress for Mike as he couldn't even look at the list before. He does seem to be getting slightly better than he was the last time we saw him where he was really angry and upset. So many emotions. Now he seems... chilled. Aria can't go through with asking him about Alison. Okay, so Pretty Little Liars has made me suspicious of absolutely everyone and every little thing that happens. What if Mike had something to do with Mona's death, and he felt so guilty and that's mainly why he was upset before. Just the way he says Mona was "too smart" and looks up at Aria, almost as if to challenge her, just made me wonder.

In Mona's room, Hanna and Leslie are discussing Mona. Hanna asks why she wanted to see the girls and she says it's because they were friends of Mona's. Leslie seems to know more about what happened between Mona and the girls and says Mona still cared for them. Leslie was attracted to all the different sides of Mona. This leads to a flashback of a sleepover Mona and Hanna had where Mona reads a scary story from a book. "It's the creepy part that makes it fun" - basically describes this show these days and there hasn't been a creepy moment yet in this episode. They play a little wishing game where Mona wishes for a stopwatch that stops time, so she can do things and nobody would know and be in control. Nobody would know. That's basically A. End flashback, and it was nice to see Mona even if it was very briefly.

Ooo, Talia!

In a stock room at the Brew, Emily is about to put something on the shelf when her apron comes loose. She steps down but Talia is right behind her who ties it up for her. Oh my God, this scene has so much sexual tension I could die. It's pretty fun. Talia's hands linger on Emily's hips and I now feel like I'm writing erotica. But Talia is still so hard to read. Mike approaches Johnny who is still building that machine thing. Leslie and Hanna arrive at the Brew with Leslie carrying the book of Edgar Allan Poe's works that belonged to Mona. Mike sees it and rushes over. Hanna introduces them but Mike is hostile. He is angry that Mona's stuff is being handled by someone else and he wants to take her book back to where it belongs though Hanna tries to reason with him. "You can't take everything apart like you want her to disappear." It's clear he is still emotional. Hanna promises to put the book back later. Mike leaves and Leslie reveals to Hanna that the night before Mona was killed, she was on the phone to her when a guy told Mona to hang up and talk to him. He sounded upset and Mona said she would call her back... but she never did. I knew something was up with Mike!

Caleb is outside working on his academic credit when Emily approaches him. Caleb notices Emily watching Talia from afar but she dismisses him about her. Emily talks about Alison being on trial for murder and trying to bring them all down but Emily is concerned if a girl is flirting with her or not. To be honest, I get Emily's frustration. Emily doesn't know what she wants and Caleb understands. Aria and Hanna discuss Mike as Hanna tells Aria about what Leslie said. Aria reveals Mike visited Alison in jail. Clues - Mike cut off Mona's phone call to Leslie the night before she died and visited Alison in jail. I knew him saying Mona was "too smart" meant more than just the obvious. I am having serious thoughts that Mike is involved in Mona's murder.

Spencer is helping Johnny with his device. Spencer still doesn't know what it is and looks at the instructions. They're written on the back of Alison's "Missing" poster that he got from the Barn. They discuss Alison for a little while. Skip. Leslie and Hanna are back in Mona's room and Leslie insists she doesn't want any trouble since Hanna told Aria about Mike. We haven't seen Mrs. Vanderwaal though I wish we sould and Leslie goes to help her with the tea, leaving Hanna alone in the room. Another flashback of the sleepover. Hanna has been thinking about the stopwatch and that you'd get older when nobody else would. Mona says she would fix that by having everyone else get old but not her. Hanna mentions Alison coming back in disguise so they wouldn't recognise her, but Mona gets defensive saying she wouldn't recognise them as a town full of strangers. She mentions Radley and nobody getting out, saying it's just a scary story. Back to the present, Hanna notices the book isn't quite right as she shakes it. She finds a tape in the spine. Clever Mona! Hanna rushes out and drives away but another car comes to life and follows her.

Secret Whisperer

Aria is in her room when she hears a door close. She peeks out of her bedroom door to see Mike heading out. Aria grabs her coat and decides to follow him. At the Brew, Johnny has finished his project and he finally tells Spencer what it does. He begins to show her by having her sit down and put her elbows on the silver bits and have her put her hands around her head. He then goes to the microphone and demonstrates that he turned her hands into headphones. It's actually really awesome! I'm impressed, I wasn't expecting it to be something like that, so cool. I wanna try it. Spencer agrees too, it's pretty brilliant. It's for whispering secrets. Hanna takes the tape to Caleb and they listen to it. It's Bethany Young talking to a doctor about Alison. Bethany says it's self defence. Caleb rewinds to listen to the whole thing.

Rosewood really is pretty beautiful, right? We see Mike at a pier with frogs croaking and nighttime sounds. It just looks so beautiful. Dammit, I wanna live in Rosewood for the view. And the hot men. Other than that, no thank you, I don't want to go through all that trouble. Anyway, Mike pulls something out of his pocket with Aria watching from a distance. He puts it down and walks away. Aria goes to the pier to look at what it is and sees it's just sweets. She's about to walk away when Mike is blocking the exit. Very creepy Mike, very creepy! Aria finally plucks up the courage to ask why he visited Alison. He won't answer and tells her never to follow him again, revealing he's been visiting more than just that night. He won't answer when Aria asks who is leaving the treats for either and he tells her to "be careful going through the woods" before walking away.

Spencer comes home to Veronica using the kitchen as her work space. Veronica raises doubts about Johnny but Spencer says she likes the way his mind works. This leads to a conversation about going to college again. Spencer asks her mother to try to remember what it felt like to not know what to do at her age. Veronica gets a call and she tells Spencer to wait. There's been a leak about the blood spots in the storage space. It's not Mona's blood... it's Alison's. I genuinely thought A planted that blood there but it would have been either Spencer's, Hanna's, Aria's or Emily's. So that was a bit of a surprise for me.

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

Hanna is driving when she gets pulled over by a police car. She stops and waits but no one comes out of the car. She gets out and looks into the car when Holbrook suprises her. He won't let Hanna go until he asks a question - how does a girl like Alison become a girl like Alison? Holbrook is pissed because he has lost his career because of her. Hanna says it was his own fault for doing her dirty work but he reveals he was locked up in a room with internal affairs for the past few weeks. Knew it. Whenever the girls insist they know something, they're always wrong, so when they always insisted that it was Holbrook who was doing all of Alison's dirty work, I knew that it was another of the show's red herrings. "Tanner knows everything". Hanna hits him and says her good old snark before leaving him. That's my girl - this is Hanna at her absolute best. She drives away. She looks into the mirror like the rebel that's on the radio. Great shot.

Emily sees Talia in the Brew who is looking at the whisper catcher. Emily offers to show her and Talia sits down, doing what Spencer did before. Emily goes to the microphone to test it out. Emily starts talking about the night Talia confessed her feelings and she apologises for not saying anything. Emily says they don't really know each other yet. She knows what it's like to be alone. Emily approaches Talia and they talk it out. Talia says she fakes confidence but it took a lot of courage to tell Emily what she said about how she felt. They're about to leave but Emily plucks up the courage to briefly kiss Talia. Talia responds by kissing her again.

The girls meet up minus Emily, who isn't picking up her phone for reasons we know, wink wink. Hanna tells them Holbrook is not the guy they're after so it has to be someone they don't know or someone they'd never suspect. Hanna looks at Aria when she says that, meaning Mike. They argue about it for a brief moment before they discuss Bethany revealing what happened in Alison's backyard was a trap - but who set the trap for who? At the jail, Mike is signing in to see Alison as Bethany's tape plays. It repeats the line about her getting anybody to do what she wants - including drowning a bag of kittens. We then have our end moment with someone going into Mona's room, looking at all the dolls she has before taking out the Edgar Allan Poe book. They look for the tape, but it's gone.

Episode Verdict

Well 85% of this episode was a snooze. There was just so much talking and not enough doing. Literally as I was writing the recap, it was mainly about what the characters were talking about rather than what they were doing. They weren't actually doing much. This definitely felt filler. Having said that, there were a couple of interesting parts. One, Mike. I didn't expect him to be so sketchy until this episode. As soon as he said the "too smart" line, I knew something was up. It was confirmed when it was revealed he visited Alison in jail and then goes to visit her again at the end of the episode. Alison's must have brainwashed him and it wouldn't surprise me if he is the one who has been setting up the girls with the whole locking them in the ice cream factory and getting their prints on everything there and moving the stuff from the storage unit. I kinda liked that we had someone Mona knew come into it just to further the plot a little. As always, she didn't seem trustworthy to begin with and I'm still wary of her. I don't know if she's sticking around but I found it weird how she was attached to the Poe book and then A at the end getting it out for the tape but didn't find it. That could have been Leslie, right? I dunno. But two, Hanna. She was definitely fantastic in this episode. Her scene with Holbrook at the car was definitely the best part of this episode. We found out Holbrook hasn't been doing Alison's dirty work (not too much of a surprise since the girls are 95% wrong all the time) and Hanna doesn't let him push her around. Loved it when she hit him then drove away, looking in the mirror like a bad-ass. I am starting to understand Talia a bit more now and I kinda like the sexual tension she has with Emily but it's still early days to trust her. Something has to be up right?

Overall, poor episode. With minor advancements of the plot and a new use for Mike, this really wasn't a shining episode. It kind of killed the momentum the last few episodes were building up to. It wasn't that much of a momentum but it was still something. I'm somewhat disappointed.

Episode Awards

Prettiest Little Liar: Hanna Marin. She showed Holbrook who was boss!

Most Macho Male: Mike, just for being the most intriguing.

Favourite Episode Pairing: Emily and Talia. They're moving somewhat slow but you could cut that tension with a knife.

Best Line: Johnny: "How do you go from that to killing someone?" Spencer: "Complicated, or else it's simple and we just thought it was complicated." Speaks volume about this show. Maybe it is all simple and they've complicated it all up so we wouldn't see what's so simple.

And for funniest line - Bethany: "She's a bitch!" Doctor: "Let's try to find other words." Bethany: "She's an evil bitch!"

Best Moment: Hanna's conversation with Holbrook that leads to her hitting him then driving away.

Saddest Moment: Mike wanting Mona's stuff put back in their original place.

Creepiest Moment: The pier with Aria and Mike. He was very creepy.

Biggest Reveal: Mike has seen Alison in prison and goes back despite Aria telling him not to. Like he'd listen anyway.

Best Cat Fight: Hanna vs. Holbrook. Winner - Hanna Marin!

What did you guys think of 'Oh, What Hard Luck Stories They All Hand Me'? Let me know in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode of Pretty Little Liars on February 10th 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, Salem and Sleepy Hollow in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact him at
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