Charles’ birthday celebration ended in chaos after Spencer, Ali and Toby all tried to catch A in action in Pretty Little Liars’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”

Pretty Little Liars ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ Recap

After Mr. DiLaurentis (Jim Abele) got a threatening card from Charles, he went out to Charles’ grave and dug it up. Apparently, he didn’t like what he found – probably nothing – because the note and an empty grave were enough to convince him to pack up Ali (Sasha Pieterse) and get her out of Rosewood for the day. He tells Ali his suspicion that Charles is alive and confiscates her cellphone and keys, dragging her to some hotel out of town to keep her safe (whatever makes you feel better Mr. D!). What about Jason (Drew Van Acker), you say? He’s dead set on staying in Rosewood and hopefully coming face to face with his long lost brother.

With Ali MIA, Emily (Shay Mitchell), Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Aria (Lucy Hale) and Hanna (Ashley Benson) struggle to figure out what they want to do about the tracking chips A implanted into their necks during their time at the Dollhouse. At first, Spencer suggests they keep them – Charles doesn’t know that they know about the chips, it could be their only advantage over A. With that off the table, all the girls had time to deal with their own personal drama. Let’s start with Emily, who is still awkwardly awkward with Sara (Dre Davis).

After kissing Sara, Emily and Sara decide that maybe they should try to take some time out, and figure out what they really want for themselves. They have just been through an incredibly traumatic experience, after all. Sara agrees, and, lucky for both girls, the awkwardness is somewhat dimmed when Sara’s old friend Claire (Skyler Day) comes to town. Claire actually appeared in a previous episode as Sara’s friend, who bonded with Emily over having a controlling mean girl BFF that then went missing. She wants to reconnect with Sara, and the three girls go out to lunch together. With Claire, Sara’s inner girly-girl is released, and she seems both more alive and carefree and more prime for mean girl-ness. Emily is incredibly uncomfortable at the lunch, and it only gets worse when Sara announces that Claire offered to let her come stay with her for a few days and she wants to go. But, there’s a silver lining: now that Sara’s moving out, she and Emily can go out on a date. (I am very much against this idea. I do not care for Sara, and I am still very suspicious of her. But, more importantly, she’s boring and I don’t think she brings anything to Emily’s character other than making her look stupid for being so trusting. YAY for Sara leaving! BOO for dating Emily.)

Mike And Mona Get Back Together

Meanwhile, Aria’s brother Mike (Cody Christian – on loan from being a creepy werewolf on Teen Wolf) appears and confronts Aria about Mona. Ever since they came back from their kidnapping, Mona (Janel Parrish) has been avoiding him – dodging his calls and refusing to see him. Mike thinks Aria might have told Mona to stay away from him, but he believes her when she tells him she didn’t. After speaking with Aria, he goes to Mona himself and the two decide to try to work out their relationship. It turns out, she’s been avoiding him because she feels guilty for the whole ‘faking her death only to end up declared dead, but really kidnapped and putting him at risk’ thing. Speaking of Mona, she’s still defending Lesli after her Radley buddy ditches a meeting with Mona and the girls. She was supposed to tell them everything she knows about Bethany and Charles, but Lesli bails instead.

Hanna’s problems are more A-related. While she was gone, her mother (Laura Leighton) applied to a lot of college scholarships for her, and she got one – a $30,000 scholarship from The Carissimi Group, which Jason recommended. After a quick Internet search, Hanna and Spencer realize that The Carissimi Group was a group Mrs. D donated to quite a bit when she was alive, and the group is also connected to Radley. Spencer suggests it could have been some kind of front used by Mrs. D to give money to Charles, and Hanna decides she doesn’t want to take the money, which is probably linked to Charles. But, by the time she tells her mom about the money and its connections to Mrs. D, Ashley has already deposited the check.

Trouble For Spoby?

Finally, Toby (Keegan Allen) is back from a weekend away for work, and, while he’s super eager to have some quality Spoby time, Spencer isn’t ready to let him in on all they’ve learned about Charles and A just yet. She sneaks off to meet with Hanna, Aria and Emily, but he knows something’s up.

It’s not until the girls get a frantic call from Ali that Spencer is forced to bring Toby into the fold. Ali manages to get her dad’s phone and call the girls, telling them of Charles’ birthday plans. She asks Spencer to try to get to Jason and keep him from meeting Charles by himself, so Spencer, being a good half-sister, enlists Hanna and the girls to help her track down Jason. They can’t find him, but Hanna puts one of Caleb’s tracking devices on Jason’s car, and Spencer comes up with a plan to trail Jason, hoping he will lead them to Charles and, if nothing else, the girls will finally get a good look at A’s face. The only problem: to follow Jason without A knowing, they’re going to need to take out their trackers. Spencer and Hanna watch a few videos online and decide to perform surgery on each other (a wonderful, very unsafe idea). But, the girls are still worried about the plan, and Spencer decides that she’ll tell Toby the truth and try to enlist him for some extra protection.

Toby is furious, but he makes a deal with Spencer: he won’t tell Tanner about Charles DiLaurentis being A, but he’s going to chase Jason and Charles on his own – the girls have to stay put and let him and his police partner, Lorenzo, take care of it. Spencer reluctantly agrees, and sends him on his way. At the police station, Toby convinces Lorenzo (Travis Winfrey) to sneak off with him and tracks Jason down to a creepy abandoned building outside of town.

Back in Rosewood, Spencer is going crazy waiting for news about Toby, so the girls decide that they should just follow to make sure everything’s ok. “I didn’t let Hanna perform surgery on me for nothing,” Emily says.

Jason is about to meet Charles when Toby and Lorenzo burst in, guns drawn, soon followed by a full police raid sent there by Ali, who called the police and told them about Charles DiLaurentis being A.

Charles puts up a fight, and escapes, even though Toby had his gun trailed on him. Toby, it turns out, stole some candy from Spencer’s purse and ate it all at the station. Unfortunately, those gummies were put their by the new baker at the Brew, the girl who first baked Spencer some pot brownies, and they were definitely laced with pot!

After everyone is returned to the police station, Spencer tries to comfort Toby, who is hiding out in a backroom, hoping nobody notices he’s high. Spencer apologizes for not telling Toby that she had trouble with drugs again, and insists that she didn’t know the candy was in her purse, or even in her possession. Toby is silent – he just wants to be alone.

Later that night, Aria returns home and has a heartbreaking talk with Mike. After he tells her she’s brave, Aria responds, “Then why do I feel so scared all the time?” (Rosewood is not a place you go to feel safe.)

Happy Birthday ChArles

At the DiLaurentis house, Ali stops Jason from having a drink by himself. She tells him that Charles isn’t worth falling off the wagon for, but Jason reminds her that their parents essentially convinced him he was unloved and delusional to erase his memories of Charles. Before Ali can respond, the two hear a boy’s voice call out, “Jason! Come play with me!” They follow the voice to the attic, where a home movie is playing. Jason, Ali and a young boy are celebrating the boy’s birthday. No longer babies, this day, Ali and Jason remember. Mrs. D had taken them out of school to celebrate the birthday of a distant cousin named “Freddie” and made them promise not to tell their father. With the home movie is a note for Jason: “I wAnted to trust you.”

A opens a birthday gift – a huge painting of a still from the home movie, that shows ‘Freddie’ (aka Charles) blowing out his birthday candles flanked by a young Ali and Jason. The gift came with a card that read, “Happy Birthday – Your friend and Ally.” Is this “Ally” as in an ally (a friend or partner in crime) in the ‘A’ team? That would explain the capital ‘A.’ But, if Charles has an ally, who is it? (I’m hoping that if Charles isn’t Wren, then Wren is the ally, or at least let it be Andrew, but it could also be pretty much anybody else on this show.)

I loved this episode, but am especially worried for Spoby. With Ezria over and Haleb struggling, I will not be forced to care about Semily – I just won’t do it. Also, who else thinks Mona is back on Team A? I don’t want to believe it, but why else would she be so vague about her time at Radley, her relationship with Lesli and the fact that she thought someone stole the A-game from her when she was in the mental institution? I’m also very disappointed that Spencer and Hanna let Mona get away with the ‘I was being drugged’ excuse, when she was clearly not drugged enough to stop her from being on the A-team while she was locked up. Something’s not adding up, and the girls should know better than to trust Mona.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.

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