Texts From A: Everyone Can Tell You’ve Read Catcher in the Rye, Toby

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Hello, friends, and welcome back to Texts From A, where I’m watching Pretty Little Liars for the first time and telling you all about it. This post covers episodes 16 and 17 of season one.

Toby has been a background character for the past several episodes – a big one, considering that he’s being charged with Alison’s murder, but not someone who’s been overly present. That changes here.

While usually you’d find anything Toby-centric under Emily – you know, the one he’s actually friends with – this week, he’ll be with…Spencer.

But, before we can get to that, we gotta talk about what the other girls have been up to.

Aria:
  • Thankfully for my sanity, Fitz took a bit of a backseat. He’s still there and still a huge topic of conversation, but I don’t have to do a whole section on “HERE’S THE TRASHY THINGS FITZ DID THIS TIME”.
  • Most of Aria’s story from these episodes is family related!
    • I’ve decided since I always call Aria’s mom Piper (even though her name is Ella), I should probably call her dad something other than “Aria’s dad”.
      • His name is apparently Byron, which is exactly the name I’d expect from someone who slept with a student.
        • YEAH, I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN, BYRON!
      • When we last left Piper and Byron, they were making out in his car outside the museum where their teenage daughter was making out with her English teacher.
        • Piper told Aria she went to that exhibit, and Aria found a ticket for it in her dad’s jacket. After getting confirmation that they didn’t see her, she starts to get suspicious.
        • Why were they together? Why are they acting so weird about it? Why aren’t they admitting that they were together at the museum at all?
        • As anyone would do under these circumstances, Aria decides to follow her dad.
        • That’s how we find out that Piper and Byron have been sneaking around being all smoochy with each other!
          • They know they’re still married, right? They can just…not sneak.
          • But I guess Piper makes a good point – she doesn’t want to tell the kids until they know if they really want to get back together.
          • Lowkey, I hope they do.
        • Then there’s a whole thing where Fitz invites a bunch of English teachers to see some author, including Piper.
          • Who is around all the time and has, like, her own office. I thought she was a substitute. Is this how subs work?
          • Anyway, when he finds out about the trip, Byron takes that to mean that she’s going with Fitz alone.
          • Byron thinks that Fitz is trying to steal his wife.
          • I think Byron would be even more pissed if he knew the truth.
        • That all leads to him being very jealous and rude to Fitz at their parent-teacher conference, and ranting about him to Aria.
          • Of course he does find out that it’s not a date, it’s a group trip, and he apologizes to Fitz and asks if he wants to get a beer sometime and it’s…weird.
        • The other main part of Aria’s story is her fight with Hanna.
          • Yes, with my daughter.
          • Hanna tells Aria the truth about what happened with A and with Hanna giving Piper the ticket to the museum.
          • The whole end of episode 16 is Aria angrily journaling about Hanna, and Hanna crying, and my heart breaking because THEY’RE TEARING THIS FAMILY APART!
          • They’re still fighting at the start of episode 17!
            • Aria’s glaring and making passive-aggressive comments, Hanna is giving her a lot of sad eyes.
          • They don’t drag it out too long, though, which is good for my heart. Aria apologizes pretty soon into the episode, and Hanna apologizes, and they hug, and All Is Well Again.
So, yeah, what about Hanna?
  • Hanna has a new friend.
    • It’s Caleb, the guy who hacks phones and broke Piper’s car.
      • He says that Hanna owes him for that – and his request is that she hangs out with him, lets him be seen with her, introduces him to her rich friends. He wants to build trust so he can get more clients, and everyone loves Hanna.
    • While stalking Byron with Aria, Hanna discovers that Caleb is basically living at the school.
      • His foster parents are terrible, and he’s just trying to save up enough money to move far, far away.
      • But the school finds his stuff and throws it out and this all leads to him living in Hanna’s basement.
        • (Which A finds out about of course. They let Hanna know in the most extra way possible – by sending a freaking exterminator to her house, asking for A and claiming someone called about an infestation in the basement.)
      • Caleb is the one who comforts Hanna after her fight with Aria. It’s nice. He just sits with her while she cries.
      • He also meets Hanna’s mom (who should also get a name, a name I totally know and didn’t have to check IMDb for), Ashley, and she…doesn’t like him. She doesn’t know he’s living in her basement, either.
    • Oh, and Ashley, sweet Ashley.
      • The woman she stole from? Mrs. Potter? The dead one? The one with no living relatives?
      • Yeah her nephew shows up asking to see the lockbox that had $50,000 in it but now has just shy of $4000.
        • …Or does he?
      • He doesn’t! I mean, yes, a guy claiming to be her nephew shows up, but Caleb does some digging and finds out that the nephew this stranger is claiming to be died two years ago.
      • Ashley gets suspicious of Fake Nephew, Fake Nephew gets suspicious of her when there’s only $4000 in the box, but it ends at a standstill.
        • I hope this ends there.
        • I want Ashley to be able to live.
Emily!
  • Paige, the girl from the swim team who wants the same position Emily is trying to get, is still acting real weird.
    • They tie during a team practice that was supposed to be the deciding factor, so the coach says they’ll have a swim-off.
    • Paige shows up at Emily’s house in the middle of the night in a storm the night before the swim-off. She says all this stuff about how Emily should hate her because she hates herself, and that she’s sorry, and then rides off into the night on her bike.
  • The next day, Paige isn’t at the swim-off. She fell off her bike on the way home and was injured. Emily gets the position on the team.
  • There’s a big swim meet, and Paige shows up right before Emily swims.
    • I honestly got very nervous that Paige’s “I’m sorry” was some sort of advance apology for something she was going to do to sabotage Emily at the swim meet, but, no!
    • Emily does great, they win, Paige applauds, they have a heart-to-heart about the importance of swimming for yourself instead of others, and they swim together.
  • It’s a sweet ending!
    • …Until Paige’s dad shows up.
    • In the cafeteria, during lunch, yelling for the coach.
    • The coach isn’t around and he ends up talking to Fitz.
      • By talking, I mean “yelling about how Paige earned her spot on the team and Emily only got it because she’s gay”.
      • COOL.
    • Paige isn’t the one who told him. He just can’t comprehend that someone actually beat her fair and square and he’d rather yell about The Gays.
      • Actually more surprised he apparently asked around to find out she was gay instead of diving right into the fact that she’s not white. I thought he was going to be yelling about Affirmative Action.
    • Refreshingly, the school stands behind Emily, and…so does her mom.
      • [casually checks IMDb] Pam.
    • Emily doesn’t tell her mom about it – Piper does. Emily thought her mom would tell her that she shouldn’t expect anything else, given her “disgusting lifestyle”.
      • Instead, Pam yells at Paige’s dad in the middle of a crowded hallway about how he’s raising his daughter to be a professional victim by always looking for somewhere else to place blame, and that if he wants to fight, SHE’LL FIGHT.
    • Afterwards, she says to Emily, “I still don’t understand, but I love you. You are my child, and nobody hurts my child.”
      • She cries. Emily cries. I cry.
      • It’s a start. I’m pissed at how Pam has treated her so far but I want them to be okay.
    • I ALMOST FORGOT THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!
      • The part where Emily is in her car in the school parking lot, and Paige gets in to apologize for her dad, and ends up kissing Emily!!!! Before running off again!!!
NOW, ABOUT SPENCER:
  • Having someone give her name to the bead-bracelet lady has made Spencer feel like she knows what it’s like for Toby to have been framed for murder. She’s worried that A is setting her up for the same thing.
  • If she can talk to Toby, maybe they can put their various clues together to figure out who A is.
  • She volunteers to tutor him in French, since he’s being homeschooled while on house arrest.
    • When she goes to his house, he won’t let her inside because Jenna’s home.
    • Spencer gives him a copy of The Catcher in the Rye in French, because it’ll help if he reads a book in French that he already knows in English.
    • He asks how she knows he’s read it.
      • …Really? Toby? Really?
      • We all know you’ve read The Catcher in the Rye.
      • We all know you’ve read it like ten times.
      • Look at yourself.
  • The next time Spencer sees him, he tells her that she can’t come to his house anymore. He gives back the book, and tells her to leave.
    • Buuut there’s a note inside.
      • “I found this in Jenna’s room. You may be right.” with some Braille markings.
    • When Spencer tries to translate it, it seems to just say “BAD”, which makes no sense.
      • Toby tells her she’s reading it wrong.
      • It turns out to be the number “214”, but neither of them know what it means.
    • Toby gets good news though! The blood of Alison’s sweater that was found in his house was corrupted, so it can’t be used as evidence. The charges have been dropped and he’s off house arrest.
      • Spencer takes him to the courthouse to get the anklet off after a…very strange showdown with Jenna, who arrived in a taxi to take him. Spencer mostly stays out of it. Jenna insists she’ll take him, but Toby insists he’s going with Spencer.
    • Guys, I can’t tell if this is chemistry between Spencer and Toby, or if Toby just has weird energy, or if I just ship everything.
      • I’m just saying, after they get his anklet off, they still hang out a bit and there’s…something.
    • Toby tells Spencer that he heard Jenna talking about her to someone on the phone – and that was right before he found the “214” note.
      • He says they need to figure out what it means, for both of their sakes.
      • He also says this thing about how he used to be scared of Jenna, but not anymore. He just has to be careful because “she has the power in that house”.
      • He also thinks that Jenna is scared of Spencer – of all of the girls.
    • When Toby and Spencer are driving home, the camera oh-so-kindly zooms in on a motel room door.
      • Room 214.
    • Spencer also spends a lot of this episode fighting with Ian and Melissa. She has no patience for treating Ian nicely when he was messing around with Alison right before she died, and he’s acting like she’s being so mean, and Melissa is defending him, and ugh.
      • Oh also Melissa’s pregnant.

You may be wondering what A’s been up to these episodes and, uh, good question? They did send a couple of texts, but after how active they were in the last two, there were shockingly little activity in these!

Both episodes do end with A doing something, but nothing that feels too significant…yet.

At the end of episode 16, we see A listening to records on learning French and doing…I’ll be honest. I’m not sure. They seem to be in a fancy office, moving stuff around a desk, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to be seeing there.

At the end of episode 17, they put flowers on Mrs. Potter-the-bank-lady’s grave. This could feed into my theory that A killed Mrs. Potter, but doesn’t confirm it.

It all feels like it’s building to something, like A has a big thing planned, but I honestly don’t know what. We’re only 5 episodes away from the end of season 1, though. I imagine it’ll just keep heating up.

Screenshots from: https://prettylittleliars.fandom.com
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