‘Pretty Little Liars’ Recap: ‘Through Many Dangers, Toils And Snares’

“Someone will go missing. Someone will die. Someone will be exposed.” Just another season in Rosewood, right? “Pretty Little Liars” returned last night with its winter premiere, and if you’ve been keeping even the most tenuous tabs on the ABC Family drama during its hiatus, you know the back half of season two is going to be big. Namely, we’ll finally learn the identity of mysterious, maniac texter A! The liars got dangerously close last night, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.

As you’ll recall from August’s mid-season finale, Aria, Spencer, Emily and Hanna were caught in a precarious position by the police—they were found in the middle of the woods, in the dead of night, holding the murder weapon that did in Queen Bee Alison. Now, a month later, the girls are clad in neon orange jumpsuits, picking up garbage by the side of the road as part of their community service for tampering with evidence. Yep, no murder charges yet (not enough evidence), but one thing’s certainly amiss: Emily’s had a falling out with the girls. So much for solidarity. In fact, tensions are running so high that she and Spencer get in a knock-down, drag-out cat fight, earning themselves an extra two weeks of litter duty.

What else has changed in Rosewood? Well, for one, Jenna and Officer Garrett have made their romance public—a curious turn of events if the two are indeed conspiring against the liars (which it pretty much looks like they are). Also, Jason DiLaurentis has gone missing. No one’s seen him since the night the girls were arrested. Hmm…

But we know that as much as things change they also stay the same. Toby and Spencer are still apart, even though Toby pulls a total Aidan Shaw and crafts Spencer a wooden rocking chair as some sort of peace offering. She (heartbreakingly) refuses the gesture.

Aria and Ezra also haven’t seen much of each other in the ensuing month. That is, until she runs into him on the street with little brother Mike in tow. She asks Mike to scoot for a bit so the two can have a chat in which Aria blames the girls’ arrest and the speculation about Ezra and Spencer for their distance. As promised, she later returns one of Ezra’s books to his office at Hollis, when his blackmailing ex-girlfriend, Jackie, walks in on her. She threatens Aria with revealing the truth to her parents, but Ezra walks in and figures out something’s going on. Ezra decides to finally (FINALLY!) man up and tell Aria’s parents about their relationship. Which is met with near complete silence…until Mike decks him in the face. Love hurts.

Emily’s still on a break with the swim team and may not be able to return at all. Despite a clean bill of health from her doctor, the coach is a hesitant about allowing her back considering she’s a hardened criminal (sorta). As Emily dejectedly returns to class, she receives a text from A: “You were always my favorite. Want to make a deal?” Emily responds in the affirmative and later gets a note to meet A at 10 p.m.

But it’s all a ruse! It wasn’t A who left the note but the liars, who aren’t actually mad at Emily. It’s all part of their plot to trick A into picking on “weak link” Emily, so they can gang up on him/her together. So smart! The next day, the liars stage a faux argument in the hallway outside of the swim meet, in which Emily demands that Spencer hand over Jason’s box full of secrets. (FYI, the box, but no such secrets, exists.) “See you tonight, BFF,” A texts immediately after.

With the plans in motion, Emily heads to the rendezvous point alone, with the girls following after. But her accomplices, for various reasons, get detained. Aria’s sent to her room after Ezra’s admission. Spencer gets caught up in a heated argument with Toby over her treatment of Emily earlier in the day. Hanna’s dad decides to come to town to reveal he’s moving back to Rosewood with his new family (evil step-sister Kate included, which means she’ll be going to school with Hanna).

Emily confronts a hooded A in a greenhouse all by her lonesome. She reveals that Jason’s box is actually empty, which causes A to lunge for her and beat the snot out of her! Spencer and Aria finally arrive as back-up, and A flees the building only to be hit by Hanna’s car. (Payback is a bitch, indeed!) Despite their best efforts, the girls lose A in the forest, but find a big clue in the meantime: A’s cell phone! We’re one step closer to knowing the truth!

(I would be remiss not to mention that Caleb has returned to Rosewood and that Lucas has suspicious material on his laptop. The writers are really trying to make it look like he could be A…)

What did you think of last night’s winter premiere? Do you have any ideas who A could be? Do you hope that Spencer and Toby get back together? What do you think is up with Lucas? Are you ready for evil Kate’s return? Tell us everything in the comments and on Twitter!