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Pretty Little Liars Review: Empty Shadows

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Well, it was bound to happen some time.

Last week's Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Episode 18 was an amazing installment and - if the promos are any indication - next week's will be just as exciting... but I guess it was time to slow things down a bit.

Luckily, it wasn't your average filler episode, so viewers could at least be entertained as they waited another week for the real drama to begin.

Pretty Little Liars Season 4 Episode 19 was mostly a flashy installment with very little substance. It seemed more like an excuse to put the actors and actresses in beautiful 1940s and 50s fashions than anything else.

Pretty Little Liars Photos from "Shadow Play"
Spencer's brain is trying to tell her something, but will she piece it all together?
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Are You on Drugs?

1. Are You on Drugs?

Spencer's brain is trying to tell her something, but will she piece it all together?

Hello? Who is This?

2. Hello? Who is This?

Spencer in lounge wear, answers an old style telephone in "Shadow Play."

Spencer Looks Troubled

3. Spencer Looks Troubled

Who is on the other end of the phone? Watch "Shadow Play" to find out.

Time for a Cocktail

4. Time for a Cocktail

A cocktail after a difficult phone call hits the spot for Spencer in "Shadow Play."

How Did That Get There?

5. How Did That Get There?

When Spencer's sleepless nights and drug addled brain get the best of her, she's transported to the 1940s in a Film Noir world in "Shadow Play."

Toby Looks Dapper

6. Toby Looks Dapper

Toby takes well to the 1940s style of dress that he'll be sporting in "Shadow Play"

Spencer Pouts as Toby Talks

7. Spencer Pouts as Toby Talks

What could Toby be saying that makes Spencer look so pensive? We'll find out next week on "Shadow Play."

Spencer Looks Serious

8. Spencer Looks Serious

Spencer is all business as she talks to Toby in the upcoming episode of Pretty Little Liars titled "Shadow Play."

Get A Look at That Dress

9. Get A Look at That Dress

Spencer's dress is simply stunning in the upcoming episode of Pretty Little Liars episode "Shadow Play."

Well Hello Alison

10. Well Hello Alison

In her dreams, Alison trusts Spencer enough to meet face to face. Will that same trust cross over to real life?

Alison in Black and White

11. Alison in Black and White

Alison DiLaurentis looks quite alluring in black and white in the upcoming episode "Shadow Play."

Ali Looking Someone Straight

12. Ali Looking Someone Straight

Alison rarely gets the chance to look someone straight in the eye, but she'll get to do that while looking simply stunning in "Shadow Play."

Spencer's Reflection

13. Spencer's Reflection

Fully utilizing the genre, here's a beautiful photograph from the upcoming black and white episode of Pretty Little Liars, "Shadow Play."

Spencer Leans

14. Spencer Leans

Spencer leans against a vanity so we can take in the back of her suit. The details are amazing!

Emily Laughs

15. Emily Laughs

Emily makes us realize how fun it is to put on lipstick when you look as beautiful as she does.

Emily Putting on Lipstick

16. Emily Putting on Lipstick

Emily gets serious about putting on her lipstick. Sometimes you have to suffer to be beautiful.

Hanna in Reflection

17. Hanna in Reflection

Spencer finally sees her friends in "Shadow Play" when Emily and Hanna stop by. Does she have news for them about Ezra?

Beauty in The Mirror

18. Beauty in The Mirror

Carrying on with the business of makeup application in "Shadow Play."

Hanna and Emily Look Stunned

19. Hanna and Emily Look Stunned

What is Spencer telling Emily and Hanna that has so captured their attention? It must be something about Ezra!

Three Friends

20. Three Friends

Emily, Hanna and Spencer look beautiful and would fit well in the 1940s.

1940s Hanna Marin

21. 1940s Hanna Marin

Hanna in capped sleeves and a skirt in Pretty Little Liars "Shadow Play."

Focus on Aria

22. Focus on Aria

The focus is on Aria as the gang drives somewhere. Where could they be going? She doesn't look pleased.

Focus on Hanna

23. Focus on Hanna

Now the focus is on Hanna. Nobody seems to be enjoying this car ride in "Shadow Play."

Spencer in Fur

24. Spencer in Fur

All wrapped up in fur, it's Spencer's turn to be in the spotlight during their tense drive in "Shadow Play."

Focus on Emily

25. Focus on Emily

The fifth member of the drive is featured in this photo from "Shadow Play" and Emily doesn't appear any more pleased to be in the car than any of the others.

Toby Behind the Wheel

26. Toby Behind the Wheel

Toby drives the Liars on a dark and stormy night. Does Spencer learn what she needs to know during her trip back in time in her mind?

Rain Pours on the Car

27. Rain Pours on the Car

Toby and Spencer are featured in the car ride on "Shadow Play."

Spencer's pill-popping has become a serious problem. She looks jittery and exhausted, basically like a drug addict in all her non-noir scenes. And now her little habit has caused her to hallucinate an entire episode. Thanks a lot, Spencer.

The film noir daydream was clearly a way of indicating that Spencer was beginning to crack up, while giving the characters a chance to  look mostly uncomfortable in a costume drama. There were some stunning images in the episode and some killer clothes, but it was odd to have the characters completely adopt the 1940s atmosphere, especially because most of the events of the episode had no real effect on the actual storyline.

There was some exciting stuff in the noir scenes, but none of it really happened. So those scenes didn't really matter at all. Kind of seems like a waste of time, right?

While most of the noir stuff seemed pretty ridiculous (15-cent coffee, Hanna working as a telephone operator), the Paige and Emily relationship really worked as a romantic piece of social commentary. It may have been unnecessary, but watching the two struggle with the stigma of their love was moving. 

Spencer's little hallucination may have shown us that her mind is overworked, but it also gave her the space to work out the mysteries of the show and put the puzzle pieces together. In the end, she realized that the it was too easy to find that journal.

A is smart enough to know how to misdirect the liars and let them put themselves in trouble.

So the journal may have come back to them, but Spencer's pictures of the original show that certain words and phrases have been altered. If these seemingly innocuous changes were made, that must mean that they hold some clue to figuring out who A really is (or who all the As are), who tried to kill Ali, and where she might be hiding.

Now it's time to tell Aria. It's just too bad that now her friends now she's back with Ezra. Next week's installment looks like it will tackle the long awaited moment when Aria finds out. And it's about time.

Did you enjoy the film noir diversion this week?



Editor Rating: 3.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.1 / 5.0 (57 Votes)
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    I never did understand the Emily/ paige pairing considering how Paige treated in the beginning. I don ot and have never liked them together. I cannot get past Paige almost drowning Emily. We are supposed she was just confused about not being openly gay and hiding her "true" feelings for emily but IMO it was all about emily getting the spot on the swim team that Paige wanted. I have a feeling if Ezra, or Toby or Caleb had physically attacked Aria, spencer or hannah people would not be rooting for them together. i find Paige aside form her attack on emily to be quite boring she has very little personality. Since they killed Maya I would have preferred
    emily with the blond girl she met and briefly dated I think her name was Samara. I'm hoping sicne the actress who plays Paige is now appearing on Suburgatory maybe Paige will be written out.


    First off I gotta say, was it just me or was EzrA creepier in black and white?? I went in expecting not to like it and it was kinda boring but it wasn't as bad as I orginially thought it was going to be, the best and sweetest part was Paig and Emily. It would have been fine if it was an actual episode, not just a dream sequence because like you said it didn't matter none of it happened, except to give Spencer the final clue in putting the pieces together. Now next week's, next week's episode is the one I have been waiting for when Aria finds out. Now that will be an episode.

    I will say I did like some of the humor put into it and the best line ever was Hannah "it's all about the Aness of things," haha that was awesome and Spencer "I wouldn't have put it quiet like that but hannah is right."


    I had pretty low expectations for this episode, but it wasn't as bad as I thought, actually. I would rather have had the plot move on, but I'm hoping there were more clues in the noir dream than just the word changes. Looking forward to next week anyway. Looks like it's going to be a good one!


    It was an ok episode I'm just not into the whole black white in the 50s thing and nothing that happened was real it was all in Spencer's head but what I did like was that she already knew everything she just needed to put it together and that dream helped her realize everything. Can't wait till the next episode it looks really good I really want to know what's going to happen with Aria and Ezra.


    Was a waist of an episode in my opinion. I knew as soon as I saw the promo for this episode that there was not going to be any real substance in the episode. Kind of like most of the Halloween specials.


    You've described this episode well. None of it actually happened. I imagine that because it's coming close to the end of the season, they had to add a filler to make sure the drama happens at the end.
    I love Ezra. He is doing a great job of playing all of his roles. I just really hope he's truly in love with Aria. I have recently wondered if he was trying to get involved with one of the girls from the beginning just to get close to their little group or if it's because he was actually taken with her. I'd hate to find out that all of this was because he was actually in love with Alison and not Aria.

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