TV Report Card | 'Pretty Little Liars' Season 3B Review

Overview: Pretty Little Liars had their latter half of the 3rd season. This season saw the liars once again sniffing out the traitors among them and revealing those who were loyal.

Storyline Direction: Overall, this season was perpetually sluggish. The oh-so predictable Toby turnaround was more than obnoxious, it was a downright letdown. After seemingly making the bold decision to write perennial grey character Toby a member of the A-team, it was revealed to all be a lie.

For those who know that the Spencer character is never wrong, having her drag her feet on outing him was indicative that in the end he would be proven innocent. You see, on the show Spencer has never been wrong about a single character that she Judge Dredd’s as guilty.

I went into this season thinking that her character would grow and she would be humbled by her failure to recognize a traitor. Instead, she felt sorry for herself, stopped bathing, while the "liars" remained oblivious and in the end she was proven right. The writing there was very weak.

How could her friends not see that she had lost it? Being a practical person, it would be out of character for her to grow so despondent about Toby’s betrayal, at a first glance. On the flip side, she is a perfectionist and she would be self-destructive and try to hide the fact that she was wrong to protect her image. So I guess that makes sense on some level. 

As for the other character development, most of that was pushed to the side to make room for a Spencer-centric season that fell flat. Everything Hannah’s character did was well done. Especially her relationship with Caleb, one of the few functional and likable young couples on TV. The forced pairing of geriatric Mr. Fitz and Aria continued to drag the show down.

When will we finally be done with this ridiculous relationship? The writers have been drawing it out forever. I have never seen a couple stay together on a show as long as they have. Move along, Aria has been saddled with him for too long. The whole taboo of their relationship has worn off and it isn’t intriguing at all, it never was.

Emily’s arc was fine. She wasn’t featured very prominently on the show though. When she was it was nice and she and Sage stayed together the whole time. So that was good. One of the main problems facing the show is that it seems to center on Spencer and the other girls get the scraps, glorified sub-plots.

Spencer is simply not fascinating enough to warrant being front-burner. Aria’s poorly conceived “Dad’s evil girlfriend” storyline was poorly constructed and Spencer, who was ready to burn Aria’s dad at the stake, seemed to have no problem hypocritically covering for Toby.

Overall, the show has more interesting characters to focus their attention on. Jason, Jenna, Wren and Melissa to name a few; who are given last minute thought towards the end of the respective season.  A season we have spent with Spencer’s breakdown, Ezra’s latest drama and the regrettable introduction of Fitz’s younger brother.  

Performance Quality: For me, the performances I look forward to most are the interactions between Hannah and her mother, Ashley. Ashley Benson (Hannah) and Laura Leighton (Ashley) have wonderful mother-daughter chemistry. So Hannah helping her mom out provided some fun material for them to play. Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Hannah’s chemistry remained entertaining. They have an easy chemistry; it feels really authentic to their age.

Lucy Hale (Aria) did well with the once again, bad writing for her character. She and Ian Harding (Fitz) have no chemistry to me. I would like to see what a pairing with Jason (Drew Van Acker) would do for her character. They did have sparks when they tested that out, what feels like centuries ago.

Janel Parrish (Mona) provided Mona with that crazy like a fox drive that makes for an compelling antagonist on the show. Shay Mitchell did well, she played the Nancy Drew stuff appropriately. It has to be said that the most intriguing parts are when Allison’s back story is explored. Sasha Pieterse steals every scene she is in. Hollywood better look out, she is going to blow up.

Musical Direction: The show kept to some very nice indie rock. There was no huge music moment on the show. They did play FM Radio’s All of Your Heart briefly in the background of a coffee shop scene. The Lying Game had beaten them to the punch already so it wasn’t technically a new discovery.

Overall Grade: C+

[Image by Freeform/ABC Family]