TV Report Card | 'Pretty Little Liars' Season 4B Review

Overview: A series of questions finally got a season of answers. After the Halloween episode revealed that Alison (Sasha Pieterse) has actually been among the living the whole time, the Liars’ had to regroup, track her down and get the information that has been alluding them for two years (show time) and 4 seasons.

Storyline Direction Pros: There have been times where the plot progression has felt blatantly strung along in past seasons and during this installment there were actual pay-offs. What happened to Ali was crystallized and the momentum that had existed in previous seasons finally hit its stride. The intrigue around Fitz (Ian Harding) was entertainingly fraught with the appropriate tension and the fallout was well handled.

Hannah’s (Ashley Benson) romantic troubles with Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and her blossoming relationships with two new suitors provided a refreshing angle to her storyline and gave an opportunity for her relationship with her mother (Laura Leighton) to continue to shine. They have one of the best parent/kid relationships on the show and all of television, for that matter and it is nice to see a show that busies itself with the frolicking angst amongst peers to also remember the pivotal parental bond.

Storyline Direction Cons: The black-and-white episode, “Shadow Play” was simply pointless as Spencer (Troian Bellisario) continued her descent into madness. The whole episode did nothing to create or further plot lines. Instead it was classic filler, droning on without any developments.

Speaking of Spencer (she is the main character), she spent this half of the season worried she’d hit Ali with a shovel. Even though she knew full well, she hadn’t killed Ali because she was alive and well. That whole storyline was meaningless as its revelation made no difference.

Yet another “the boyfriend might be A” storyline enveloped most of the second half’s suspicions. As it turned out, it was another importune red herring storyline that dragged out hope Aria (Lucy Hale) and Fitz’s relationship would finally meet its end.

As with Toby (Keegan Allen) it was a false alarm. The reveal of Fitz's true crime was not really a crime, rather a moral hindrance that had a minor effect upon his and Aria’s relationship. It was another waste of time and the fact, the same story had already been done caused a retreaded plot device agitation that was futile.

Now Ali’s mom, Mrs. “D” (Andrea Parker) is the latest prime suspect. Of course this will probably lead to another dead end and why can’t Jason (Drew Van Acker) get an actual storyline? Why can’t his and Aria’s relationship ever be further explored? Instead, the audience was treated to her sleazy tryst with an absolute weirdo she’d just met.

One of the Liars’ that plummeted in personal value was Emily (Shay Mitchell). Following seasons that rehashed the abusive relationship she shared with Alison, she was quick to forgive and forget. After learning of Ali's survival, Emily was dusting off her tombstone readying for a romantic reunion.

Meanwhile, Paige (Lindsey Shaw) the devoted girlfriend that has patiently waited to have her sole focus ever since their relationship got started was burned. Not only did Emily accept Ali back despite her treatment towards her, she also ignored the brutal harassment that Ali had rained down on Paige. It spoke volumes of Emily’s lack of self-respect or consideration for her. Thankfully, Paige was set free. It’s just sad that she wasn't the one to cut ties.

Performance Quality: Lucy Hale gave an intense performance as Aria was sent reeling from the Ezra-is-an-author reveal. Troian Bellisario gave an admirable turn as Spencer’s psyche deteriorated throughout the season.

Sasha Pieterse continued to bring it as the manipulative Ali, bringing in elements of dread to her portrayal this season. It was a different angle to see the normally fearless Ali finally scared and Pieterse shined conveying it. Finally, Ashley Benson and Shay Mitchell continued their performances with aplomb.

Musical Score: Stellar indie-music continued its reign. The standout song was “Parachute” by Ingrid Michaelson.

Overall Grade: B-, it had its strong points with the highly anticipated answers finally ebbing towards the light. Unfortunately, the aforementioned “cons” held the season back from ‘A+’ territory.

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