Pretty Little Liars S04E19 “Shadow Play” Recap
Episode 19 threw our favorite girls into the shadows of a film noir setting. If Ezra being cornered as “A” was not exciting for the audience enough, then the writers of “Pretty Little Liars” got our hearts pumping with a 1940s rendition of the girls' investigation of “A.” Even though Emily, Hanna and Spencer have united to conspire against Ezra after discovering Ali's diary in his office, Aria is still too wrapped up in her secret affair with Ezra to hear his tone underneath a conversation that concludes with the idea that “sometimes, the villain wins.”
Still in color, Spencer pops another pill while watching an old black-and-white film. A shot rings out from a gun in the movie, which blinds Spencer, and suddenly she finds herself in black-and-white setting and dressed in 1940s garb.
Grayscale filter and all, the episode channels the film noir aesthetic.
Toby walks into Spencer's life again with a detective coat and a fedora hat. He dramatically voices his anger in Spencer's inability to let him in on what the girls have found out about Ali.
Later that day at a snazzy-looking coffee shop, Ezra apologizes to Spencer for the previous conversation they had about her grades showing that although they are in an alternate universe, previous discussions are still in memory. The conversation gives Spencer renewed energy to look into Ezra's past.
While looking into the Fitzgerald Art Foundation since its number is on Ali's list of contacts, Toby spots a painting of Ali on the wall and Spencer accidentally hints to Toby that Ali is still alive.
After receiving a call from Mona that a “package” is waiting for her at apartment 3B (a.k.a. Ezra's apartment), Spencer finds Hanna held hostage by Ezra and Mona, who are indeed in cahoots. Ezra admits to the girls that Aria and he are back together: “True love, honey; you just can't kill it.” Before Spencer and Hanna are allowed to leave, Ezra warns Spencer to back off before she starts to crack.
Spencer comes home to Ali posing before her picture. “No woman has ever been able to warn another woman about a man,” Ali says about Ezra and Aria's relationship. Although the last few episodes have shown a frantic Ali, noir-Ali is cool and only there to push Spencer's buttons. Ali disappears right before Toby shows up to take Spencer down to the police station, after having had a conversation with Ezra who told him that Ali is alive and that Spencer knows how to find her.
What would a 1940s styled episode be without an interrogation scene? Although Spencer will not admit to Toby that Ali is alive and where she is, Toby gives us the worst line of the show: “Down these mean streets a girl must go who is not herself mean.”
Hanna is given the job of keeping an eye on Ezra. As Ezra stands overlooking a balcony with Mona, Hanna spies them from below. Hanna scoffs, “Men!” Yes, because all men are criminal masterminds.
Given the addition of Mona, Hanna tries to follow her. Who could miss Mona when she always exaggerates her walk in heels? But Mona is too smart for that and Hanna gets caught, creating the need for Spencer to save her from Ezra and Mona in apartment 3B.
Later, acting as a phone operator, Hanna tries to see if Ali placed a call to the Fitzgerald Art Foundation and from where.
Given the task of finding out more about Shana from Paige, Emily spends most of the episode with her girlfriend. Emily asks Paige about Shana, but she's unable to give any sort of information about her. Instead, their love blossoms in the episode with a beautiful, passionate scene between the two.
Even after Ezra whispers to Aria that Ali is alive, she does nothing. Nothing except finally admit to Spencer that she is back with Ezra. Before Spencer can tell Aria that Ezra is “A,” Hannah runs in to say that she's found Ali.
All of the girls sneak into a club's dressing room where Ali is angry that they've found her and endangered her. Spencer is just as angry that Ali is using the girls as decoys to protect her, but actually putting them in danger. A shot rings out and the girls scurry to hide from the shooter. Cornered, they hear Ezra calling out to Aria that it's safe. Ali urges the girls to tell Aria the truth, and Spencer is only able to say that Aria can't trust Ezra, but won't tell her why.
Aria walks out to Ezra, who has been knocked out by Toby and the girls except for Ali get away in Toby's car. Toby urges Spencer to look at the pages of the diary and not the book. A flash goes by the car turning the episode back in color with Spencer in her house.
Now with some clarity, Spencer looks at the diary and finds that some details in the stories have been changed, judging from the diary in her hands and the pictures she took previously of the pages. She shares this news with Hanna and Emily, who then go to Aria's house to warn her, but find Aria and Ezra kissing, and confirming their worst fears.
The last scene shows Ali's black-and-white dressing room and a note to her that says: “Break a Leg. Kisses. - A.”
Although “Pretty Little Liars” has done a flashback episode before, “Shadow Play” did a good job of immersing the storyline and characters into the 1940s. All the characters seemed to adapt well to the change in time, except for a couple. Ashley Benson as Hanna could not convince the viewer that her “Golden Age” waves were real, much less her acting, while Shay Mitchell's Emily was just the same-old Emily. But then Emily always acts like a graceful 1940s woman anyway. “Shadow Play” just left the viewer wondering how much of what happened in the episode was real, and how much was just Spencer hallucinating. Overall, the episode was entertaining even if it did not advance the plot much.