For a third episode in a row Pretty Little Liars is full of twists and turns that ultimately have no pay-off in the episode. There’s also no pay-off from the last couple of episodes. “Misery Loves Company” is not a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination. It’s full of really great moments that just haven’t gotten there yet, wherever the there they going is.
Alison finally appears to Aria and it is glorious. The really amazing thing is that Aria, unlike the other three, actually starts to ask as many questions as she can. Aria doesn’t get particularly far with her line of questioning. But Alison also isn’t totally silent on the matter either; she does give Aria some small comfort in revealing she never planned to tell Ella about Byron’s affair. She also tells Aria that Byron didn’t kill her, though Aria doesn’t believe it until Byron decides to go to the police with his information at the end of the episode. Additionally, Alison tells Aria about Meredith Sorenson, allowing Aria to at least try to protect herself to varying degrees of success.
Sadly, Aria’s arc means that the Byron saga appears to have come to an end after only four episodes, at least for now. Like all the suspects before him, Byron left Alison before she was murdered on that, the longest night in Rosewood history. And, like everyone before him, he points to someone else that saw Alison before she died. This time, the finger is pointed at Melissa Hastings, who has been a suspect before and has now shown up twice on that night. The more this timeline gets straightened out, the less sense it starts to make in absolutely fabulous way.
In the other major story twist, Spencer revels that she’s known for a while that Toby is on the A-Team. It’s heartbreaking when they finally confront it. All Spencer can do is cry on her mother’s shoulder and then go back to Toby and beg him to say that there was a reason he betrayed her. As realistic as this bit plays out, it’s still a bit of a letdown for the story. There are only so many story options for Toby, and revealing him to the audience before the other characters takes away some of the shock when he turns around and shows Spencer his face.
There is also a brief vignette where Caleb Rivers and Paige get together to discuss how to help their respective girlfriends. It’s just nice to see someone sit down and try to figure what they can do to help, or even to just to see people in the know actually talk to each other. Pretty Little Liars has built such a bubble around the main four girls that it’s easy to forget there’s people on the outside observing all the strangeness going on.
Overall, the episode is good, but not great. Like “She’s Better Now” and “Mona-Mania,” “Misery Loves Company” feels like it’s building up to something explosive for the story, but it hasn’t gotten there yet. Maybe next episode.