After doing a huge, comprehensive entry on Pretty Little Liars a few weeks ago, I never expected to have something to write about again so soon. But it would seem the TV gods have favored me after the crushing disappointment of last week’s Spartacus.
…and Jason and Alison.
Unfortunately, the recent developments this week were only Toby/Jenna-related. (I’d kill someone for a new Jason/Alison flashback. Kill.) There are very understandable reasons why one would not support this pairing, so apologies for returning again (and so soon) to something that may be of little or no interest.
But, well, there was so much in the most recent episode 2.23 Eye of the Beholder.
If you’ll recall, Toby has been MIA since 2.17 Blond Leading The Blind. After he had a little accident (more than likely caused by A), Spencer lied to him and told him that she was with Wren so that he would be safe, apart from her. This caused him to take off.
Jenna has been away as well, finally getting her eye surgery. It was first mentioned in 2.15 A Hot Piece of A. She had just dumped Garrett, and left in a car for Boston with a mysterious third party. However, since she has made appearances in several episodes since then, it’s a bit confusing. I have no answers for you. What’s important is that Jenna has definitely had the eye surgery this time (at least on one eye, which is apparently how it is done): she returns with bandages over her eye. Whether it will end up having worked or not is another question.
So, diving in:
In the first scene of the episode, we see a black car pull up in the middle of town, and Jenna and Toby get out of it. The liars are sitting at a table outside a coffee shop a little ways down the street. Jenna gets out onto the sidewalk, and Toby gets out on the street side (they were both in the backseat). He walks around to meet Jenna, and they hold hands as they walk inside! (She puts out her arm out for him, and he takes her hand!)
Toby sees the girls, and clearly looks at them, though he doesn’t acknowledge them. He does not look happy to see them. Spencer, specifically, one would imagine.
The bandages over one of Jenna’s eyes are clearly visible, even though she’s still wearing her trademark glasses.
We cut to school. I assume it’s the next day. Time is a strange, strange thing in Rosewood.
He waits outside. Probably just for the sake of this conversation.
She says, “Hello”, trying to be friendly but not downplaying the awkwardness between them.
I am loving this so much.
I actually think this line is incredibly important. Jenna hasn’t even been gone long enough for us to know that she was out of town. She’s not in every episode, so the fact that an episode goes by without her does not mean that she’s on a little trip. And Toby has been gone for, like I said, five episodes. He left without Jenna, for reasons unrelated to her, and long before she did.
So why say “we” when talking about the return? Grammatically, it’s not logical. Sure, if they had left together and gone to the same place then it makes sense that he would say “we”. But in this context, the only reason to say “we” is because he’s developed some sort of associative bond with her. Or he’s trying to make Spencer jealous and make it seem like he has.
When Spencer says, “You’re back”, the implication is that she is talking about Toby only. But he responds by talking about himself and Jenna, a decision that he and not the question made.
Why this is important:
Toby is clearly on better terms with Jenna in this episode. The possibility that it’s fake – that he’s playing her – is certainly present. I’d even consider the possibility that he’s getting messages from A, and A told him to reconcile with Jenna, and threatened him if he didn’t. Maybe even threatened to hurt Spencer. Maybe A told Toby to be mean to Spencer and keep away from her. These are all very real possibilities.
But Toby and Spencer are alone in this scene. Jenna is in another room, there aren’t even other students around. Which means that everything Toby says is either for Spencer’s benefit…or it’s the way he really thinks and feels.
So the fact that he says “we” so unexpectedly and uninvitedly, which is something only the best liar in the world would think to do, really strikes me. (Remember: Toby’s not a Rhodes scholar.) If he was lying about how he truly felt in order to protect Spencer or because his hand had been forced somehow, I would not expect such nuance.
But, again, there’s also the possibility that he was trying to make Spencer jealous by emphasizing his relationship with Jenna. Though, honestly, I’m not sure if that’s his best tact. But like I said, not a Rhodes scholar. Alison and Melissa would probably be his best bet for driving her crazy. Him back with Jenna is just going to make people feel sorry for him.
There’s an awkward silence.
“Are you OK?” Spencer asks.
Now, the point I am about (to try) to make is basically nothing at all, but if Toby was lying I just feel like he would make some blanket statement of “I’m over you don’t bother me anymore” to Spencer instead of struggling through this incredibly awkward conversation. Usually when someone lies to someone to protect them, they say something incredibly hurtful, but it goes very quickly.
“She got the surgery?” Spencer asks.
Toby is back! My favorite Toby has returned. Monosyllabic responses, no smiling, not rude but not friendly. Resentful. God I missed this guy.
Spencer: “Just the one eye?”
Toby: “They do it in one eye at a time.”
Spencer: “How did it go?”
Toby: “Well, we don’t know yet.”
Toby’s relaxed a little bit. He’s either forgotten that he’s very angry with her (he does this), or he likes talking about Jenna. I don’t think he realizes that Spencer is trying to get intel on her group’s nemesis. If Jenna is a match for them 1 v. 4 and without her eyesight, you can imagine they’ve started peeing their pants.
“I was a little surprised to see you guys together,” Spencer states carefully.
And Toby looks so good right now I’m actually asking myself if he disappeared for five episodes to have plastic surgery.
Oh Toby of the stupid questions!
He purses his lips a little, challenging her. Again, if he was lying and did truly care about Spencer still, why would he put her in such an awkward position?
I mean, yes, he’s angry at her about Wren. He’s going to be a little spiteful. But still.
Spencer doesn’t like where this is going. She thinks for a minute, and then starts to chicken out with an, “I don’t know.” But then she comes back full force: “Yes, I do, actually. You went through so much to get away from her and now you’re guiding her around?”
“Not for much longer,” Toby answers, almost interrupting the last part of Spencer’s sentence. The scary implication here is that Jenna will soon be a-walkin’ and a-schemin’ all by herself.
Spencer is just short of aghast, and she hasn’t even heard what he’s going to say next.
WHAT? Obviously, I love this. But I would never call my stepbrother of two years my brother, especially if I didn’t like him. It would always be “stepbrother”.
And where did this come from? Toby hasn’t felt obligated to help Jenna since the beginning of the first season.
“Stepsister,” Spencer immediately corrects.
And, I don’t know guys, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I really think he means all this.
Spencer can’t even handle this. She takes a step towards him and says his name softly. “I’ve been thinking a lot about us,” she begins. Is this weakness, Spencer Hastings? Sure, it was easy to keep lying to him when he wasn’t around. The second you talk to him you’re going to confess?
He does not think much of Spencer at this juncture, but who could blame him? I just wish that this wasn’t all based on some lie she told to protect him. If I was him, even if I knew the full truth, I would still be furious. His hands are in his pocket – dude is closed off.
Spencer stares at him for longer than makes me comfortable.
Toby’s attention is obviously on Spencer in this part – he’s not thinking about Jenna. So I think it’s telling the way he treats Jenna when he’s thinking about something else. And if you watch the above GIF, you can see that the second she reaches him, he accommodates her. His expression is exactly what a helpful brother would look like.
Toby and Jenna link up, but their hands are out of sight, so I don’t know if they’re holding hands or if he’s just grabbing her arm. It almost looks a little like he’s got his hand on the small of her back, but I’m not going to say that’s what I think he’s doing.
His stupid body is in the way so I can’t really see. Jenna can tell someone is there, and she asks if it is Spencer. Damn this girl is good, though Spencer was a pretty good guess. She smiles a little.
That day after school the girls are walking along the sidewalk and they pass by Jenna and Toby’s house. Garrett’s car is parked across the street, and suddenly it speeds away.
Then the girls get a text from A: “Where there’s smoke, there’s payback. –A”
Spencer’s obviously got a lot of confidence in Toby. If I was him and knew she’d said that, I’m sure I’d feel pretty good about myself. (That was sarcasm.)
Judging by Toby’s hand motions, the idea that they’re talking about some sort of explosion does not seem far off. This scene is not explained in this episode. I read some speculation that Jenna is helping Toby clear his name, though whether this will implicate the liars or not, who knows. Toby could be playing along with Jenna in order to get her to tell the truth, but if he still cares about Spencer and her friends, especially Emily, it’s hard to imagine he would want them to get into trouble. I’d try blaming everything on Ali, though I’m not sure how well that would go over.
It’s a mystery.
The following scene takes place in the hospital. Toby and Jenna are sitting next to each other in the waiting room. Toby picks up a newspaper off a table and opens it.
“Remember that old movie about the blind lady that got her sight back?” Jenna asks.
This scene gives me a lot of pause, and that line in particular. He’s polite, but uninterested. I don’t know if he’s just trying to shut down the conversation, or whether he’s tired of her. Does he not want to talk to her because he doesn’t want her to think that he wants to get back together with her? He sounds like he’s telling the truth about not remembering (his demeanor is casual and natural), but we learn later in this conversation that he in fact does remember the movie.
I knoweth not.
Jenna smiles more during this scene than she has since the Halloween flashback episode. She’s really happy.
Toby keeps looking down at the paper but it’s fairly obvious he’s not actually reading it.
“I think I’m gonna do that,” Jenna continues.
I don’t know what to do with that. It’s not really a nervous swallow. It could be a guilty swallow. Maybe he is playing her, and he’s actually starting to feel bad about it?
“I’m going to fill my room with the things that I love,” Jenna finishes.
Jenna’s room has some cool dolls and snowglobes and stuff, but it’s not as pretty as Alison’s. Toby in Jenna’s room would make her room a lot prettier. I’m glad she reworded “beautiful things she owned” to “the things that I love”.
(Do you see that twitter prompt? I wonder if the writers tracked the hashtag to see what the response was. I hope there was more than just angry Spoby fan girls telling that bitch to get her hands off Spencer’s man.)
Toby doesn’t pull his hand away. He doesn’t even twitch, although it’s a little hard to tell because Jenna squeezes.
I’m having a lot of trouble deciding what I think that line was about. We’ve obviously got him saying something negative to her after she touches him and identifies him as something she loves. But there was something playful to his tone. Jenna can be a mean bitch, even to Toby. So I actually like the fact that it’s not being downplayed like he thinks she’s all great now because that would be very fake. But I don’t know if the implication was supposed to be, “You’re a mean bitch and don’t touch me.” Or if it was a playful, “Don’t be nice to me like I don’t know you better.”
Toby isn’t smiling, but he isn’t frowning. He was 10x colder in his scene with
Spencer, but that was probably also a much more emotionally distressing scene for him. But I can definitely think back to him talking to Jenna or about Jenna when he was much colder.
Jenna is good at reading people, even without being able to see their faces. I’m not saying that Toby couldn’t be playing her because she’s too smart to be played, but he wouldn’t be able to slip up for even a minute. So the fact that he got snarky with her in this scene and it didn’t bother her gives me some hope.
Toby is distracted because he has seen Wren, aka the only doctor in Rosewood.
Wren leaves, and Toby watches after him.
I don’t want to make any assumptions, but it seems to me that Jenna and Toby must have had a conversation about Wren and why he broke up with Spencer. It sounds like he confided in her.
And Toby’s talk of Jenna having had it worse than any of them made me wonder whether she might have confided some things to him too. Maybe some things that made him come back to her. Maybe she made some sacrifice in order to protect him? That would be a good way to get his loyalty back. If she lied about it or made it up, it might come back to blow up in her face (no pun intended) soon.
Next scene we have Spencer reading as Emily comes upon her. Emily can tell Spencer is worried and asks her about Toby. Spencer’s afraid she has driven Toby back into Jenna’s arms. I’d say almost definitely that is true, Spencer. Emily assures her that she broke off with him to keep him safe. But Spencer says that he’s back with Jenna now, which is like out of the frying pan and into the volcano.
Except…Toby is safe with Jenna. What these girls NEVER seem to get is that Jenna loves him and will keep him safe. She may be lecherous, and her methods may be underhanded, but she will protect that boy.
Hanna can see how much it hurts Spencer that Toby hates her, so she asks Mona to help her get Toby alone for five minutes so Hanna can talk to him.
Mona pretends that her cousin is looking for a new truck, and gets Toby to talk to her.
I wouldn’t be surprised if she was the A who gets exposed in the season finale, but I would be surprised if the hydra died.
It would seem that Toby is selling his truck. This seems significant. Spencer stole Melissa’s engagement ring and pawned it in order to get the money to buy the truck for Toby. Toby wanted the truck so he could work and get away from his house and get away from Jenna.
Now he’s selling it?
Mona and Toby are in a classroom alone, and he’s showing her pictures.
Then Hanna comes in.
Toby gets mad and tells Mona that her cousin is going to have to find a new truck. He starts to leave the room.
Hanna: “Just give me five minutes.”
Hanna: “We have to talk.”
Whoa. Just whoa.
Hanna: “If you’re doing this to hurt Spencer-“
That was obviously the biggest hint that he might be playing Jenna or scheming in some way. But he’s alone with Hanna, it’s a perfect time to come clean to her. And even if he was being watched somehow, or just being careful, he could still maintain the lie without yelling at Hanna and acting like she bludgeoned his puppy.
Even if he was being so careful that he was keeping up the lie for everyone, I just feel like he could treat the liars better than he did in this episode, especially the ones that weren’t Spencer.
The sentence is ambiguous. It could just as easily mean that he’s genuinely turned to Jenna for reasons that they don’t know about.
They stare each other down for a few more seconds, then Toby turns around and leaves.
Now, the liars might be accessories to Ali’s crime, but I don’t really consider them to have done anything to Jenna. They didn’t want to throw that smoke bomb into Toby’s garage. And even if they did, it was only a smoke bomb. They didn’t even know Jenna was in there. It was still an accident what happened to Jenna. A huge, horrible accident.
If the liars have a victim, it’s Toby. They knew that he didn’t do it, but they let him take the blame. But he was happy about being sent away, or so he claims.
Jenna does have reason to hate the liars. She knows that they were responsible for her accident. She has no reason to believe that Ali acted (largely) alone. And Ali tortured her in other ways – even told her to leave town and never come back. Ali was best friends with the girls, so it’s easy to understand why she would consider them all to be a unit working against her. She has no idea that they’re victims being terrorized by someone unknown.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Jenna told Toby that the liars did something else to her (true or made up), and he either believes her, or is pretending to believe her.
Well, later in the episode, Jason has given Spencer a bag of Alison’s things for her and the girls to go through. They find nothing, and leave the bag on Jason’s back porch. Hanna goes back to grab it when Spencer realizes that the newspaper the items were wrapped up in is significant, and is just in time to pull Jenna out of the house, which is on fire!
Hanna opened the door and pulled Jenna out. Anything less than that would have been tantamount to murder – it wasn’t exactly an act of heroism to be heralded for ages. Pretty much everyone would have done that.
We cut to the hospital. Jenna is lying in a hospital bed and wakes up. She’s still half asleep when she calls out for Toby. It’s her first instinct.
I get why she wears them, but I’m surprised it was the very first thing she did. And Toby knew that. He had them all ready for when she woke up and handed them right to her without her even asking for them.
Above and beyond, if you ask me.
“A hospital?” she asks.
“You’re OK,” he reassures her quickly.
Jenna gives us a story. I’m not sure if I buy it or not. She says that she got a text from Jason saying he needed to talk to her. Toby was gone, so she took a cab. Someone opened the door. Then she apparently got hit on the head, although she doesn’t exactly remember that. “Did Jason’s house catch on fire?” she asks, nearly breathless. She’s terrified of fire, for understandable reasons.
She’s like Sandor Clegane. (Any excuse for a Hound reference.)
Toby looks at her for a moment. He knows how traumatized she is. “Yes.”
She’s between hyperventilating and bawling.
Toby’s looking at her like he wants to comfort her and touch her but he’s not sure where to touch her or how. (That’s not my interpretation – it seems pretty clear.) He might even put his hand back on her arm but it’s out of frame.
“How did I get out, Toby? Did Jason get me out?”
This seems like an appropriate time to pose the question: “Where are their parents?” We have yet to meet Toby’s dad and Jenna’s mom. Jenna’s getting eye surgery, she’s getting almost-murdered, Toby’s falling off scaffolding, and they’re nowhere to be scene. Best guess right now is that they’re in freezers in the Cavanaugh basement. Or maybe in the cement. But it would seem they have to be alive, because Jenna clearly needs the medical insurance.
One thing seems clear: WORST. PARENTS. EVER.
Spencer went back for Alison’s bag and got some glass in her hand. The only doctor in Rosewood is treating her. He says, “I see the carpenter is back.” Wren has a talent for insulting people behind their backs, it would seem.
“And his sister,” Spencer adds.
“She wasn’t what I was expecting,” Wren says. Then he asks why she was in the house alone. I didn’t think so at first, but now his curiosity strikes me as a little suspicious.Why did you have expectations about Jenna, Dr. Kingston?
I love how everyone who isn’t a student at Rosewood high seems to love Jenna. Mr. Fitz thought very highly of her. When old!Jason came back in season 1, he also seemed to think she was the cat’s meow.
Now we have Wren being pleasantly surprised.
Jason, we find out, was driving to Scranton. Not much of an alibi in my opinion, but that never comes up so I guess we’re supposed to be believe it, or it was somehow confirmed off screen.
As she’s walking away to get the others, he asks if she’s alright. Uh-oh, a thaw. “I think so,” she says. Pretty sure that was about her mother and Jason, though, and not Toby.
I actually think this is a pretty good sign that Toby isn’t faking anything. If he still cared so much about Spencer and this reconciliation with Jenna was all a show, I feel like he would have been more concerned about Spencer, and would have asked if she was OK in a much more serious, concerned, and intense way.
Aria tells Jenna about Jason’s story. “He didn’t send you that text.”
“Meaning one of us,” Spencer replies.
“You can’t blame this on us,” Emily says.
I’m not sure if this scene is like some kind of revelation for her. Perhaps she’s blamed the liars all along for something that maybe they didn’t do. Maybe she’s just realizing how that they didn’t do it. There was speculation that Jenna was also being terrorized by A, and maybe she had thought it was the girls, and now she doesn’t think that anymore.
Since A tried to kill her right before she got her sight back, it makes one wonder if she knows something, but won’t know that she knows it until she can see it. You know? Like maybe she saw someone with Alison, but won’t be able to recognize them until she can see them because she never heard their voice. It seems reasonable.
The liars are all really uncomfortable with Jenna crying like that in front of them.
He has been extremely protective. It’s kind of hard to fake that kind of protectiveness. The way he asked them to leave – it was almost instinctual. He even opens the door for them. They start to go, but Jenna says wait. She asks if Hanna was the one who pulled her out of the house.
“Why?” Jenna tearfully asks with a self-deprecating shrug. Like I said, pretty much anyone would have done it no matter who was on the other side of that door, but this just shows that Jenna knows what a bitch she has been to the liars.
Hanna’s response seems to imply that Jenna was incapable of saying, “Thank you,” but that’s not how I read the scene.
In the tag, A’s gloved hand is shown planting a police badge at the scene. Framing Garrett, one would suppose. The liars had already speculated that he had a motive for hurting Jenna.
It would seem that Garrett and Jenna are probably out of the running for A, unless this is a last minute mad-dash to make us think they’re not guilty so that it will be a surprise. Or they’re working with one or more others who decided to take them down.
Neither of them is innocent. They’ve done things to hurt the liars. But I think that Garrett has been motivated by protecting himself and helping Jenna, and Jenna has been motivated by revenge. Like Toby said in A Hot Piece of A, she’s “settling scores”. I don’t think she’s malicious. I think she just goes after what she wants, which is also something Toby has said about her. And I don’t know how right she is, but I definitely think that she believes herself to be a victim, probably of more than just the accident that blinded her
I can’t see Jenna faking this thing – she was traumatized. And I can’t see Garrett doing that to her either – neither trying to kill her, nor going so far in faking an attempted murder. It also seems unlikely he would frame himself, though if he had some way of proving that it had been put there after the fact, then he would look less guilty than ever.
Jenna called all the girls into her room, but she never told them anything. It was a good scene, but it’s purpose never really shined through. I’m wondering if Jenna was going to tell them something, and then decided not to.
I hope she’s been getting A texts. Both her and Alison, and now the four liars. Maybe even other people. Mona says she’s been getting them, but she only ever got them when Hanna was around, so I’m suspicious.
I’ve been trying to think who would be an enemy to both Alison and Jenna. There’s Toby. And maybe Noel. Mona. It seemed like Mona and Jenna were going to be friends in the Halloween flashback, but Mona has been acting like she hates Jenna now because Jenna stole Noel from her. We don’t know anything about Lucas and Jenna’s relationship.
There’s still so many possibilities.
As for Toby and Jenna, I honestly don’t know if he’s playing her or not.
It seems like the most obvious thing in the world that he is playing her. A good guy, suddenly getting along with an old enemy, and suddenly treating his love interest like shit? That’s been done before. A lot. PLL usually manages to surprise me. I would be disappointed if they took such a familiar recourse.
I dislike being wrong more than I like being right when it was a risk to guess, and I have an obvious bias here, so I’m reluctant to commit to one option or the other. But I’m inclined to think that Toby was largely honest in this episode. But ’m by no means sure. And even if he is being genuine towards Jenna right now, I don’t think that means that his new loyalty towards her isn’t based on some lie she told him. I guess I just think his consistency points towards him being genuine. We saw him interact alone with ex-girlfriend Spencer, with Jenna, and with Hanna. And he was the same with all three of them.
But I definitely think there is more here than meets the eye.
These last two episodes are going to kill me.
But I never, never never in a million years thought we’d see Toby and Jenna together again like this. So I’m just going to enjoy it. Until Glaber steps on its throat.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is one of my favorite sayings. I don’t even know if it’s a quote from something or just an expression. I wonder how the title applies to the episode. Most of the titles are just silly puns. Obviously the wordplay here has to do with Jenna’s surgery. Although I do wonder if there is supposed to be a hint about Toby. That maybe what the girls are seeing isn’t exactly what’s going on.
ABC Family has released five sneak peek videos about 2.24. I’ve seen five whole minutes of the new episode. Why would they do that? But there was one Toby/Jenna scene which was great and I’m sure I’ll be talking about it next week. It was very much in the vein of what we saw in this episode.