The Pilot episode of Pretty Little Liars begins with five girls having the worst slumber party in the history of sleepovers worldwide. Seriously, do not have sleepovers in the fictional town, Rosewood, Pennsylvania. Only four of them have arrived at this end of the summer shindig, when Spencer Hastings (Troian Bellisario), Hanna Marin (Ashley Benson), Aria Montgomery (Lucy Hale), and Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) hear a spooky noise outside of Spencer’s barn, the scene of the sleepover and the first crime of the series. The girls exchange frightened whispers, unsure if the noise is coming from the ominous storm outside or the boogeyman. “Gotcha!” Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) interrupts the other four girls’ thoughts while simultaneously scaring the crap out of them. Spencer shrieks that the joke was not funny, but Alison declares it hilarious, and clearly whatever Alison says goes.
Alison passes Aria an alcoholic beverage and Spencer jokingly warns her that if she drinks too much, she’ll tell the girls all of her secrets. “Friends share secrets; that’s what keeps us close,” Alison quickly schools Spencer on friendship. Aria proceeds to drink, and the girls (at least Aria, Hanna and Emily for sure) pass out. It must have been a pretty strong drink, so lucky for Passed Out Aria, she cannot blurt out her secrets to her unconscious friends. When Hanna, Aria and Emily wake up, Alison and Spencer are gone. Spencer walks in and informs the other girls that Alison is missing, she has looked everywhere and she thinks that she heard a scream.
First Broken Law Alert! During the sleepover, the girls violated a law that many high school students ignore. They broke Pennsylvania’s law against underage drinking. The actual law that was broken in relevant part: 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6308 (a) A person has violated the law against underage drinking if she is under 21 years old, attempts to purchase, consumes, possesses OR knowingly or intentionally transports any liquor or malt beverages…For a first offense, this is a “summary offense,” the lowest level of crime in Pennsylvania.
Penalties: Fine of up to $500.00, but the maximum fine for a first offense is $300, License Suspension of 90 days (1st offense) (an occupational limited license may be available for a first offense).
Good thing the girls didn’t get caught!
The next scene takes place a year after the aforementioned sleepover of doom. Newspapers scattered all over Rosewood display an article about Ali and how she’s still missing. Aria’s family has just returned to Rosewood after spending a year in Iceland for Aria’s father, Byron’s (Chad Lowe), sabbatical. Aria talks to her mother, Ella (Holly Marie Combs) about how the media is treating Ali’s disappearance like a party. Aria doesn’t appreciate this, and it doesn’t sound like a “party” that I’d like to attend either, unless the DJ makes a really good remix of the PLL theme song by The Pierces. Aria and her mother are abruptly interrupted when Aria’s brother Mike (Cody Christian) bursts into the room freaking out about needing a ride to lacrosse once he gets his lacrosse equipment out of the 100 boxes they’re currently in. Aria offers to drive Mike to lacrosse, and before she leaves, she promises her father that she is still keeping his secret. Good old suspense.
Aria drops Mike off for lacrosse tryouts and heads to a bar and grill to get food. She gets more than food there; a guy sitting at the bar notices that she looks upset and he initiates a conversation. He is Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding) and he asks Aria if she’s ok. She tells him that she has jet lag because she just got back from Iceland; Ezra responds that he’s been to Iceland before on his way to Amsterdam. Aria asks him if he goes to the local college, Hollis; Ezra just graduated from Hollis and is about to start his first teaching job. Aria informs him that she’d like to teach and loves to write, and when Ezra inquires about her major, she claims that she’s “leaning towards English.” Funny, I didn’t know you could become an English major in high school, but then, this show IS called Pretty Little LIARS. And wouldn’t you know it, Ezra’s first teaching job is for an English class. Then a song that Aria loves starts playing; it’s by B26 as Ezra points out. Can’t you already feel the burning passion between them? So begins what is widely known on the media as “Ezria.”
Let’s see what we know so far about these two: They both love to write, they both like the song playing at the bar, and they have both been to Europe. BOOM. Ezra wants to read some of Aria’s writing because she’s smart, has traveled and has a great taste in music.” When Ezra tells Aria that he’d like to know more about her, the two decide that a great way to achieve that is to rush to the bar’s bathroom and start making out on the sink. How cute! Impressive moves there Aria, a random hookup on your first day back in America.
Legal Comment: Good news for Ezria fans! If the two of them have sex, it is NOT illegal in Pennsylvania because the age of consent there is 16 years old.
Next, we leave the bar and go to the Rosewood Mall, where Hanna appears to be shopping with her best friend, Mona Vanderwaal (Janel Parrish). It turns out the two girls are shoplifting, not shopping. Hanna tries on a pair of sunglasses, boasting to Mona that they cost “free-50.” She walks over to a different part of the mall (sunglasses still on top of her head) to briefly talk to Spencer, who is shopping for an outfit for when she meets her older sister, Melissa’s (Torrey DeVitto) new fiance. He’s a medical student and everyone is thrilled. Hanna scoffs at the outfit Spencer has chosen and puts it back on the rack. She gives Spencer an outfit to wear that is obviously better than the occasion, they talk about Ali for 2 seconds, then she returns to Mona. The salesman that allowed her to try the sunglasses on does not notice that the expensive shades are STILL ON HANNA’S HEAD, and Mona walks off with a scarf and without taking her wallet out of her purse. As Hanna heads towards the mall’s exit, a security guard chases her down. She waits with bated breath for him to rip the sunglasses off of her head and call the cops, but instead he politely returns the purse that Hanna had not realized that she left at the mall. Mona “SO thought Hanna was busted.”
Second Broken Crime Alert! During their shopping spree, Hanna and Mona violated Pennsylvania’s law against retail theft. The actual law that was broken in relevant part: 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3929 (a) A person is guilty of a retail theft if she (1) “takes possession of, carries away, transfers or caused to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored, or offered for sale by any store… with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof.” For our purpose here, I’m going to assume Hanna’s “free 50” remark was a pun about the glasses costing $300.00. This means that Hanna’s retail theft is a misdemeanor in the first degree, defined as “when the
offense is a first or second offense and the value of the merchandise is $150 or more.” 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3929 (b)(1)(ii). The level of Mona’s offense depends on the value of her scarf.
Hanna and Mona had better watch out; they wouldn’t appreciate getting into trouble of this kind.
Next, Aria gets a ride to school from her dad who brings up the secret she’s keeping for him again. Aria doesn’t want to be late for class, but before she goes, we see a flashback cluing us into this secret. In Aria’s flashback, we see Mona (who at the time was a huge dork) chasing after Aria and Ali. Ali leads Aria into an alley to avoid dorky Mona who needs to get a clue. Of course this isn’t just any alley; it’s the alley where Aria’s father has parked his car to make out with a blonde girl who is definitely not Aria’s mother. Ok, NOW it’s time to go to class. Back in real time, Emily finds Aria. They talk about how Aria no longer has a pink streak in her hair. They also discuss the infamous newspaper with Ali on the cover; Emily comments that everyone knows that Ali is dead, and Aria is shocked to hear somebody say that out loud. The two girls walk to class together and Emily gossips that she heard the new English teacher is really hot. She and Aria briefly discuss that their old group of friends has lost touch, Hanna is now the “it girl”, and as Emily explains, “when there’s Hanna, there’s Mona.” “Talk about a makeover,” a shocked Aria murmurs when she realizes Mona has ditched her sweaters for a more glamourous look.
In walks the hot new English teacher, who also happens to be the guy Aria made out with at the bar. Aria has nothing to worry about though, because Ezra, or Mr. Fitz, rather, is a professional and he’ll obviously be discreet. “Holy crap,” he utters his first words to his students while he blatantly stares at Aria. Way to make it completely awkward! Now the whole class knows something bizarre is going on which means more drama and secrets for Aria. A beep interrupts the awkward silence as Aria receives a strange text message signed by somebody named “A.” The message contains an obnoxious quip that maybe Ezra fools around with all of his students and that Aria should just ask her father about it. Somebody knows! A confused Aria whispers, “Ali?” Only Ali knew about her dad’s affair, right? Who sent that creepy text message?!
Legal comment: In Pennsylvania, adultery is not a crime, so Byron has not done anything illegal; he’s just a dirtbag.
After school, Emily talks with her mom, Pam Fields (Nia Peeples) about the new family that bought the DiLaurentis house. Aria gets brought up in the conversation, and Mrs. Fields bashes on her family. She doesn’t understand how Aria’s parents could let her walk around with pink hair, behavior that she deems ok in Europe but not Rosewood. Aria’s parents must just be terrible people.
Emily brings a welcome basket for the new family that moved into Ali’s old house. There, she meets Maya, a hyper girl with wild hair who wants to become Emily’s friend, NOW. Maya asks a ton of questions as her method to get to know Emily. That’s how she finds out that Emily and three other girls used to be very close friends with Ali, Emily is a swimmer and has a swimmer boyfriend named Ben. Maya bets Emily is a great swimmer; she totally has the body for it, after all. Maya wonders if Emily will kill her if she smokes some weed, since Emily is such a jock. Emily looks shocked but promises not to murder Maya. Maya even persuades Emily to try smoking weed for the first time. Maybe Emily should dye her hair pink and move to Europe, too.
Third Broken Law Alert! Pennsylvania has a separate law against “possession of a small amount of marijuana,” which Maya and Emily broke while bonding and getting high. The actual law: 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(31), defines possession of a “small amount” of marijuana to include: “the possession of a small amount of marijuana only for personal use; the possession of a small amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute it, but not to sell it; or the distribution of a small amount of marijuana, but not for sale” This law considers 30 grams of marijuana to be a “small amount,” and I’m going to assume Maya did not have more than that. Penalty: Misdemeanor, up to 30 days in jail, maximum $500 fine, or both.
Good thing Maya didn’t make Emily pay for the weed; then she would have been in more trouble. That is, if either of the girls got caught in the first place. Emily and Maya are too slick for that.
At this point, we get the pleasure of meeting Spencer’s older, pompous, bitch of a sister, Melissa. Too judgmental? Whoops, sorry about that. Melissa pretty much walks outside, starts off with a condescending compliment about Spencer transforming the barn into a loft. Then she stomps all over Spencer’s plan to move into that loft. It doesn’t matter that Spencer’s parents promised it to her, she got the grades for it and worked hard at her internship for it; Melissa has a fiance and their a couple who NEED the private space. Melissa’s fiance, Wren (Julian Morris), walks outside just in time to hear the end of the conversation between the sisters. Melissa attempts at a guilt trip, whining that she had hoped Spencer would be happy for her. Spencer retorts that hope breeds eternal misery and storms away. Wren seems to feel bad for Spencer, but when he expresses this, Melissa brushes it off. She assures him that Spencer will get over it and he shouldn’t worry about her. Melissa clearly couldn’t care less about Spencer, so it makes sense that she wants her fiance to follow suit.
Later in the evening, Spencer catches Wren sneaking a cigarette while she’s reading outside on the porch. She makes a remark that Wren should know better because he’s a med student. He calls her a smart ass, and Spencer decides that’s the nicest gesture any of Melissa’s boyfriends have ever made towards her. According to Spencer, Wren is different from Melissa’s previous boyfriends because Spencer actually likes Wren. That seems fair; Melissa likes Spencer’s loft and Spencer likes Melissa’s fiance. They can both be home wreckers!
The next day at school, Aria confronts Ezra, I mean Mr. Fitz, and claims that nothing between them has to change. Ezra responds that the two of them cannot be together, but he doesn’t sound too convinced. Emily walks Maya home from school and they share this awkward kiss that’s somewhere in between a kiss on the lips and a kiss on the cheek. What is going on?! Then Emily goes to swim practice, where “A” has put a note in her locker that says “I’ve been replaced, you’ve found another friend to kiss!” Just fantastic.
Meanwhile, in the Hastings’ kitchen, Spencer sports a bikini and flirts with Wren. She laments about the pain she has from field hockey, and “Dr. Wren,” med school student, insists that she must have “fluid in her bursa sac.” Spencer jokes that Wren probably says that too all the girls, but she really hopes that he only talks to HER about fluid that way. Wren, who is also wearing just a bathing suit (both of them had planned on going in the hot tub), gives Spencer a massage which she proclaims is awesome. They hear Melissa coming in the kitchen, so Spencer jets outside to the hottub, and when Melissa asks, Wren claims he was not talking to anyone. That’s cool, I like dating men who talk to themselves, too. It’s a very good quality. Right.
Aria’s parents have a conversation in which Byron acts unnecessarily sketchy. Shut up about “things” coming in between your relationship with your wife. She doesn’t suspect you of cheating yet! Aria is keeping your secret! Spencer hears Melissa and Wren talking and laughing and she looks out at them from her bedroom window. BEEP. Spencer has an incoming email from “A,” of course. This is just normal. The email reads, “poor Spencer, always wanting Melissa’s boyfriends… but remember, if you kiss, I tell.”
It’s Spencer’s turn to have a flashback. The girls (Ali included) are at Spencer’s house. Ali rescues hefty Hanna from eating a cookie, because she’s just such a good friend. Melissa and her boyfriend at the time, Ian (Ryan Merriman) walk in. Ali blurts out that Spencer “needs to tell her sister,” but when Melissa inquires further, Spencer shrugs it off and says it’s nothing. She then beckons Ali outside where the two of them argue. Spencer insists that it was “just a kiss,” but Ali promises that Melissa will find out about this. Again, she’s just such a good person and she wants to teach her friends to be just as good as she is. Sure. Spencer threatens Ali that if she says a word to Melissa, she will “tell everyone the truth about the Jenna thing.” On that elusive note, we return to real time where Spencer looks out the window at Ali’s old house and thinks that she sees Ali walking around. That’s not scary or anything. Emily and Aria admit to each other that they’ve received notes from “A,” but the messages are too secret for either of them to reveal.
Hanna and her mother, Ashley Marin (Laura Leighton) attempt to eat dinner. I say attempt because after a brief conversation about Aria, the two are interrupted by phone calls and the doorbell ringing. Detective Darren Wilden (Bryce Johnson) is there to arrest Hanna for shoplifting. I guess Mona was right, Hanna is SO busted! Wilden handcuffs her and she and her mother go to the police station. Hanna is about to grab a snack, but “A” sends her a warning, “careful Hanna! I hear prison food makes you fat.” Ashley Marin goes into Wilden’s office and they close the door to have a super secret conversation. Ashley exits the room and tells Hanna that they’re leaving and that Hanna will deny that she has done anything wrong. After all, her mother is “taking care of it,” whatever that means.
Suddenly, we hear sirens and see a crowd developing at Maya’s house. The four girls are convinced that their friend Ali might still be alive and sending these anonymous notes, but that concept quickly becomes difficult. The police have found Ali’s body in the backyard of what is now Maya’s house. If she’s really dead, who is sending the girls these messages?
At her house, Hanna eats ice cream and watches the news on TV when she hears a scary noise. It sounds like the house is getting robbed, but it’s just her mother and Wilden hooking up, pressed against the wall. Does that mean that Ashley bribed Wilden for sex in exchange for him not arresting Hanna, or vice versa? I’m pretty sure that’s not legal.
Fourth Broken Law Alert!: Wilden and Ashley have both violated laws involving bribery. According to Pennsylvania’s law against bribery in official and political matters :18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4701(a)(3) in relevant part, A person is guilty of bribery, a felony of the third degree, if he offers, confers or agrees to confer upon another, or solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from another: any benefit as consideration for a violation of a known legal duty as public servant or party official. According to legal definitions of bribery, one can be guilty for both, soliciting OR accepting a bribe, which would make Ashley and Wilden both guilty. Penalty: felony of the third degree, maximum 7 years; $2,500-$15,000
Pennsylvania also follows the common law for police corruption, which is known as “a misuse of authority by a police officer for personal gain.” The penalties for this vary, but Wilden definitely would no longer have a job on the police force if he gets caught for this.
some is paraphrased.
Ashley and Wilden are both completely screwed if anybody finds out about this, so let’s hope they can keep it a secret.
The girls, and seemingly the entire town of Rosewood including Mr. Fitz, show up at Ali’s funeral. Maybe Aria was right about it being like a party; Hanna even has her flask with her in the front row of the church! Aria and Ezra share a passionate kiss before the funeral begins. His firm stance on not having a relationship with a student sure lasted a long time.
Legal Comment: EDITED : THANKS/CREDIT TO KYLE BOWN FOR POINTING THIS OUT:
If a teacher has sex with a student of the school where he’s employed in Pennsylvania, it IS illegal.: 18 Pa. C.S. § 3124.2(a.2) – Institutional sexual assault (in relevant part) “a person who is a volunteer or an employee of a school or any other person who has direct contact with a student at a school commits a felony of the third degree when he engages in sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse or indecent contact with a student of the school.”
Earlier in this post, when Ezra and Aria FIRST met, I stated that if they had sex it wouldn’t be illegal because the age of consent is 16 in Pennsylvania. That was before we found out Ezra is Aria’s teacher. Now that we know that, if they do have sex, it IS a crime.
• I AM AWARE THAT AS OF NOW EZRA AND ARIA HAVE NOT HAD SEX. Consider the above mentioned law a warning for this couple. I have yet to find a law regarding student-teacher relationships when the couple has not had sex, so THAT is good news for the Ezria fans for the time being. However, student-teacher relationships of any kind are, as Alan from “The Hangover” would say, “frowned upon like masturbating on an airplane.” Additionally, most schools have provisions in their employment contracts forbidding any such relationship, so, even though they have not had sex, if their relationship went public, Ezra would most likely get fired.
At the funeral, the girls finally all admit to receiving messages from “A.” They discuss how big of a scene the funeral is and that Ali would have loved it because she’s “popular in life and death.” Then all of them get creeped out when a mysterious blind girl named Jenna walks into the church. The same Jenna from “the Jenna thing” which we know nothing about?! That’s the one.
After the service, outside the church, Wilden approaches the four girls. He explains in an eerie and suspicious tone that he needs to talk to all four of the girls because this is “no longer a missing person investigation; it’s a murder.” This is starting to sound like a CSI episode, but “A” interrupts that nonsense. All four girls get a text at the same time which says, “I’m still here bitches, and I know everything. -A.”
Stay tuned for my entry about the next episode, where I investigate “The Jenna Thing” (and we finally learn what the hell the Jenna thing is).
**EDIT TO ADD ANOTHER BROKEN LAW, IN RESPONSE TO A QUESTION FROM ONE OF MY READERS, NICOLE DELFS. Aria was in violation of the Pennsylvania liquor code when she went to a bar, sat at a bar area and was not accompanied with someone who would lawfully allow her to be seated there. Please see the “potential broken law #2 alert” section in my entry on episode 5 of Pretty Little Liars, “Reality Bites Me,” for more information on this subject! **