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Pretty Little Liars - Songs of Experience - Review: "Charlie and the Liar Factory"


6.03 - "SONGS OF EXPERIENCE"
Directed by Norman Buckley
Written by Joseph Dougherty
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington


SEASON GUIDE




Toby tells Spencer the police think the man who kidnapped them was Andrew. Sara Harvey was found in the dollhouse also. The girls decide not to tell the police about Charles as they'll figure out it's Andrew on their own. The girls underwent sick twisted games by Charles in the dollhouse, forcing to torture one another. Aria is convinced Charles is Andrew. Veronica doesn't allow Spencer to get her anxiety medication for fear she'll relapse. Instead, Spencer steals it from Aria. Sara talks with Emily at her house. Alison asks her father about a Charles DiLaurentis in the family.


'SONGS OF EXPERIENCE' REVIEW

Three episodes into season six of Pretty Little Liars and we are getting more progression at this point than any other season. This makes season six, so far, a great season and already an improvement over season five. I don't know if you guys have noticed too but the girls are actively seeking out answers without doing stupid stuff (for example, when they went to the ice cream factory last season and left their prints all over the place, walking straight into A's trap). That's not to say the girls have one over on A, they don't, as we saw in that awesome moment when the girls are in the waiting room and they get a face-chat call from Sara only to see her asleep on the bed. But this 10-episode-arc with who Big A is - Charles a.k.a. Charlie - is something the show probably should have adopted a couple of seasons ago. The writing is tighter, for sure, and we have a goal and a great pace to keep up with. Firstly though, the whole 'Who Is Charles' saga is kind of answered here, though there are a great deal more questions to ask. Spencer found out from Jason that Charles is actually his old imaginary friend Charlie. Obviously, Charlie isn't imaginary, but it does make you question Kenneth DiLaurentis. He's now the sketchiest character on the show and he knows more than he's letting on, but as the ending suggests, he tells his children some shocking information.

The girls' PTSD is also moving alone without dragging on any boredom that may come from this storyline. I mean, it's such a tricky storyline for any show to keep it exciting and dramatic because PTSD is a very serious issue and could have kept the Liars in a depressed bubble that would have only ended up depressing the audience. There are still signs of their PTSD in this episode, such as Aria's "I don't want to hide in my house all day" and doesn't want to go back to square one so she's adamant that Andrew is A. It was also extremely well-done that Hanna wanted to get the girls to talk to Dr. Sullivan who hasn't been in the show since season 3, episode 22, so she has been a bit of a miss in Rosewood. At least to me. I loved Hanna's - "It's not about telling her, it's about telling each other." I really have to sympathise with these girls and what they're going through, and I would have been shocked that the girls didn't actually shock each other in the dollhouse had PLL fans not already theorised that. It's still such a cruel trick and perhaps more disturbing than actually doing it because, as Spencer says, it pretty much shows that they would end up hurting each other - "there was a point where we would do it".

There were a few awesome moments in this episode that knocked it out of the park. One of the big ones was that chilling moment when the girls were about to see Dr. Sullivan but Emily got that call from Sara, only it wasn't Sara but someone with the phone and Sara in bed. Then they had 60 seconds to leave. I love that A can still do that to the girls to show his authority. I'll talk more about Sara in A's Mysteries. Perhaps the biggest moment though was when Andrew was released and the girls go over to talk to him, or more specifically Aria despite Spencer's objections. It was a brilliant moment though with Andrew telling the girls exactly what he had been through and what he thought of them now. Toxic dumps, eh? Not nice Andrew, but in a way I can totally understand your anger. If he's telling the truth - that he really was just trying to save the girls and then was framed - then I feel like an asshole too. But I can understand where Aria was coming from too in being insistent that it was him. She just wants it to be over and, as she said, doesn't want to go back to square one. Despite the revelation that Andrew is not the one who captured them (was it really a revelation though, or obvious since the girls are right one out of ten times), the show still manages to make progress in other areas that make me look forward to what's coming. There could still be something up with Andrew, despite his cute dimples and arms.

I have to talk about how absolutely annoyed I was with Toby in this episode. Grrr. Just when I thought he and Spencer were back on track and I was starting to like him again, he starts putting his nose where it doesn't belong. Sure, Alison has a bad history when it comes to, well, everyone, but his "favour" to ask of Spencer was just so unnecessary unless its purpose was to make me dislike Toby. I don't trust Lorenzo any more than I trust Alison, so they might be perfect for one another, but what bothered me the most was that Alison helped him find the girls (in fact she did far more than he did to find them) and even Spencer pointed that out, but Toby thought she just did it for herself. Really? I mean, I don't fully trust Alison yet but she's proved to me more than he has that she'd do anything for the girls. I know some people really don't like Alison but she's very important to the girls and they're important to her. So Toby, if Alison and Lorenzo want to soak up screen time together with pointless soccer scenes, then they can be my guest. It's much better than watching you sulk when you don't get your own way. Make me like you again Toby - might be a long road ahead but you have time to do it. Lorenzo hasn't yet given me a reason to not trust him yet but he seems awfully keen on Alison, and there are other characters that are way more sketchy, such as Sara. Also, I feel like Dr. Sullivan just wants to know all the gossip from the girls. She really couldn't just see Hanna by herself, it had to be all of them? Either she already knew the girls needed to communicate or she is the nosiest character in Pretty Little Liars.

EPISODE VERDICT

"Who is the other boy in this photo?"

Keep doing what you're doing Pretty Little Liars! This wasn't the best episode of season six yet (in my opinion) but the pace is keeping steady and I am loving the direction. An unsung character here was Pam who was pretty wonderful I must admit, and I liked how they kept Emily relevant by partnering her up with Sara - but that's not going to be good in the long run as Sara shows signs of instability. Hanna was pretty much a scene-stealer in this episode as she wanted the girls to heal, and Aria realised her vendetta against Andrew was uncalled for in a devastating way. I am really grateful for more answers, even if they do leave us with more questions as that is what keeps us tuned into Pretty Little Liars. It really isn't long until we see the light at the end of the tunnel for this Charlie-chapter and I'm excited. Good episode, PLL!


EPISODE AWARDS

Prettiest Little Liar: Hanna Marin. She really wanted the girls to heal and is doing everything she can to open the communication up between them so they can move on.

Most Macho Male: Jason DiLaurentis. Good for him and Ali standing up to their father at the end demanding answers, and for not lying to Spencer when she came to him.

Biggest Asshole: Me, for thinking Andrew had anything to do with being obsessed with the girls. Should have known better. UNLESS I'm being tricked again and he is playing the innocent hero card and he's just making the girls feel guilty. Damn Andrew, stop playing with my emotions!

Most Sympathetic Character: Can't believe I'm saying this after being against him the past few episodes, but in a way - Andrew. If he really was just trying to save the girls and find them, then he made me feel like an asshole.

Favourite Episode Pairing: Spencer and Alison. I just love how they interact, not sure whether they should trust one another.

Best Line: "That person is still out there and you girls need to take precautions." - Pam Fields. I got chills with that line.

Funniest Line: "Well you're a doctor, can't you subpoena them?" - Hanna Marin.

Best Moment: The girls get the face-chat message from Emily's burner phone that Sara has, but it's not Sara making the call.

Saddest Moment: Spencer's talk with Veronica at the end. "I don't see a happy ending coming anytime soon."

Creepiest Moment: The phone camera being on Sara.

Shadiest Moment: Sara in the dark waiting for Emily to come home.

Damned Disappointment: We had to end the episode like that, didn't we?

Biggest Question Mark Award: What did Alison's father say to them at the end?!

Biggest ReveAl: The girls didn't actually shock one another, but a test to make the girls realise they would hurt each other when push comes to shove.


A's Mysteries

SARA HARVEY

About that video call, it did make me suspicious of Sara and it makes me think she's potentially working for Charlie. I mean, the end where she's waiting in the dark too, and when Emily gets the call from Hanna, just sets off a creepy vibe for me. However, I do think she suits that new haircut, so at least she has that going for her.

CHARLES/CHARLIE

Charles is Charlie. Who's Charlie? Still unsure, but at least we know a bit more about him now, and the promo for the next episode reveals he's supposed to be dead. Maybe he's not dead, or maybe he is and someone is exacting revenge on the DiLaurentis's for their involvement in Charlie's murder? Maybe Jason is actually Charlie and he was switched when the real Jason died as a young boy as the DiLaurentis parents couldn't bare to think of life without their son? Just spitballing here people, work with me!

ANDREW CAMPBELL

So he was set up by A? Or do we still think he's behind the whole thing, or at least immorally obsessed with the girls? Was he telling the truth when he said he spent those three weeks trying to find the girls? I feel like I want to believe him, but this show has a knack for changing my opinions on characters in 2 episodes flat.

What did you think of 'Songs of Experience'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on June 23 on ABC Family!



About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV in August 2014 and reviews 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, Salem, Scream Queens and Sleepy Hollow. Gavin will write previews for Devious Maids and Shadowhunters, and backs-up Empire, The Flash, iZombie, Once Upon a Time, Reign, Scandal and Supergirl. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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