First of all, I literally woke up and couldn’t sleep anymore, because the words just started coming and I had to crawl out of my bed way earlier than usual and let them come. Aaaaand I haven’t written anything in ages, so let me see where this goes. But anyway, I ended up having WAY more feels about PLL 5x12 than I would have ever thought was possible, so the best way for me has always been writing my thoughts out and getting them sorted out.
Before I start to analyze that specific episode, let me tell a little bit about my current (and past, as I tend to be more wordy than concise…) relationship to the show that two years ago was, to put it short, my lifeline. Back then I was… not in a good place. Let’s just say struggling with depression, and it pretty much covers it all. I binged 3,5 seasons of PLL in a week and got sucked into the perfect world of its fandom and Paily Anchors never ever wanting to get out. (Yes, I watched Stolen Kisses for the first time like a month after it first aired, and never have I been more angry because of a whole month of my life wasted without knowing about the existence of the most perfect scene in TV history). I lived and breathed Paily, as I had nothing else to do and at the time it felt like my only happy place in the world. Season 3 Halloween ep was the first episode of anything ever that I live-streamed online (vs. downloading and watching later), and as I live in Europe, it was 3 o’clock in the morning. Soooooo not sorry! But then life happened (as in work happened), and I got less invested in the show… Though I must admit I bawled my eyes out in 4x11, because, you know, Paily dancing was so emotional and personal to me due to reasons I won’t name here.
So let’s move on to the reason I started to puke my feels out in the first place, ep. 5x12. Let me start by saying that of course I hated my OTP being apart, maybe more than anything because them being cute together used to be my happy place. (Yes, I’m aware that I used that term already, but guess what, I’m gonna use it probably a hundred times in this thingy so bear with me.) And of course I stumble upon a spoiler or two in Tumblr (duh!) but I’ve never been much of a sneak peek watcher and I had no previous knowledge of 5x12 other than there would be a Paily scene or two with my OTP decorating the Fields residence together (as friends, I thought, and never have been happier to be wrong). Somehow, even though I desperately hoped that Paily would reunite very soon (well, that they never broke up in the first place), I thought it would happen somewhere in the far future of the show that at this moment seems to go on forever. So here we go, getting to the part where I actually say what I thought (and felt) concerning THE reunion.
So, 11 minutes in, we get our first Paily scene. It opens with a nice parallel to 5x03 with Paige picking up a book that Emily dropped and got me smiling right from the start. The following is nothing new after watching several similar scenes throughout the season (“We were together…” “…in the pool…” “and out…” “…of the pool”), but I’m saying anyway that Lindsey and Shay portray so well that awkwardness which exists between two people who used to be very close and still have feelings for each other. So I love that they continue that in the reunion scene. The way Emily has forgotten how to hold a book when the love of her life surprises her, and the way Paige fidgets not really knowing how to stand anymore. And, I have to say, if I wasn’t already head over heels in love with Paige McCullers, after her delivery of the line “If you need any help” I 100% would be. Same goes for Emily with “This year I’m totally behind”. I can’t even understand how such simple lines sound so incredibly cute to me, but they just do.
I feel like I have to write an entire paragraph about Paige’s line “It was a costume thing. Mine didn’t really fit.” It always feels to me that in the best Paily scenes even the silences speak as much as the words, and for this one it’s especially true. The silence before Em asks Paige how her date went, and before Paige answers… And just as I’m writing this I realize the parallel to the window sill -scene. Wow. The writing in this show sometimes blows my mind. And now I understand why the lines feel so special, because of the double meaning and because of that parallel. I have always liked to watch, rewatch and analyze my favourite scenes and lines in any show, and now in my work as a translator (translating the dialogue and writing the subtitles) I get to do that and be paid for it. So I can’t help but keep analyzing those lines in the shows I watch for fun as well. And it drives me crazy, that it’s been more than 24 hours and I still can’t figure out the perfect translation to that particular Paige’s line. In some ways it translates to my native tongue and in some ways it doesn’t. Hard to explain, really. Just thinking about the parallel between “Mine didn’t really fit” and “The whole night just felt phony, all of a sudden… Like it wasn’t me… It was somebody I was watching but not me” makes me cry, because the writers remember what they do. I see what you did there, show! Also, what I said before about the silences, the small pause after “It was a costume thing” and the long after “Mine didn’t really fit” … And the way Paige so earnestly looks into Emily’s eyes, she’s totally pondering whether or not she should do the thing she is about to do. Not because she’s unsure, not at all, but just making sure that they’re on the same page and Emily doesn’t get offended. Because that’s who Paige is, Emily is her world and the last thing she wants to do is hurt her. And I see it in Emily’s eyes and in the little sigh she makes, that she makes the connection way back to the window sill too. Or I want to see it, I don’t really know. She might just be relieved the love of her life isn’t dating somebody else.
Now I know that “We never had our talk” does seem disappointing, because that’s what these two certainly need to do at some point, but because Paily still is my happy place, I refuse to associate the word disappointing with them (well, other than with the break-up). And yes, I definitely would enjoy watching these two talking it out like a gazillion times more than I enjoyed Ezria’s freaking pies or Spoby’s creepy cop scene (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Spencer, but she is so. much. smarter than that scene). But hey, that’s what the show does and luckily we have fanfiction, eh? “I’m tired of talking” or its variants seems to be a thing for lesbian couples, so I’m happy Paily got theirs (btw. I’m looking at you writers, they haven’t had their cute park bench scene yet!) Also, the low and raspy voice Lindsey has these days… Let’s just keep it civil and move on, shall we. The kiss is short, but still they both linger a moment longer not wanting to break apart. It totally reminded me of both of their first kisses, in the car and in the parking lot. The first because it is Paige’s way to not say anything rather than let the action speak louder than words, and the latter obviously because of the way Paige slightly touches Emily’s hand. Of course Emily is surprised, but somehow the is was so familiar because there’s so much history between the two. And I love how we get to see both of their reactions, even though they don’t speak anything afterwards. That moment, the way they look at each other (especially Paige at Emily), is the reason why I never completely lost hope with them. They are hopelessly, intensely and genuinely in love with each other, these two goofballs.
And then there’s the “I’ve read this fanfic!” Christmas decoration -scene. First of all, Emily totally channels her inner Pam Fields by playing the perfect hostess. Eggnog, anyone? From now on I expect Snowy (and Pingy and Wingy) to make a guest appearance in every Paily Christmas fanfic I read. By the way, “I named him when I was three” has got to be in my top 5 of cutest Emily Fields -lines of all times. And Paige looks at her like whole Tumblr looks at Paige, utterly and completely smitten. Words can’t even begin to describe the meaning of that single look, so I can just give up altogether. It’s the look of “I just can’t believe that girl is mine again” and it’s the look Paige gives to nobody else but Emily. It’s funny how in these short consecutive moments both Paily and Haleb are so… THEM. First Paily being so cute you can’t even handle it and then Haleb “in trouble” with the Christmas lights. And, I have already talked about the show’s continuity, but let’s bring it up again. Who could not, when Emily is down on the ground and Paige up in the balcony… “Looking back, I always wanted to be Romeo” said Emily way back in episode I don’t even remember. These are the simple little details I love in a well-written show. It feels like a subtle thank you to the fans who invest their time and remember every line by heart.
As for the rest of the scene, I don’t have that much to say… Hanna’s “Read her boobs, the girl loves Christmas” is one of the funniest Hannaisms of all times. Emily’s story about her dad is really really cute. “Where’s Jesus?” felt totally irrelevant to me until the very end and the A shenanigans, so now I understand why it’s part of the scene. And one of my favourite things of this show is that besides Paily, there’s so many other pairings to ship. Normally I’m all in for Spemily, but “I thought your Grandma always made that salad with cranberries and marshmallows in it” is totally worth shipping Hannily too. And Emily looks so busted, when Hanna gives her the “hey girl I thought we’re in this together” -look. I also have to mention, that during the times I was less invested in PLL I totally forgot how insanely hot both Lindsey and Shay are, but during this episode I was reminded of it very generously. So not complaining!
And then we get to the scene where Paige is bringing soup to Emily who “is not feeling well”. They’ve been back together for like two seconds and here’s Paige, being her sweet adorable self once again. PAIGE IS BRINGING EMILY SOUP! My initial reaction to watching her leave to follow Alison was “Are you out of your mind girl, you could be snuggling with your girlfriend but you just drive away, probably to your death if you ask me!!!” but as I realized what she was doing I was all “You go girl, get to the bottom of this and get it finished with once and for all”! And because I watch for the plot, I don’t mention Lindsey’s epic hair porn when she goes to her car, ahem. The scene where she tells the rest of the girls what she saw feels like the good old times, the girls and her fighting the evil together. Also, how she responds to Emily’s “I lied, because…” with a very quick “explain it to me later” is yet another example of her putting Emily ahead of everything else, as in “we’ll get to that but now I need to make sure you and your friends are safe and know what’s going on”. The ending of the episode, as tragic as it is, seals for me the fact that Paily is back together and relying on each other stronger than ever. I love how all the main couples are there (except for Spoby, for obvious reasons). And yet again, because I watch for the plot, I won’t mention yet another epic hair porn moment. Mona is dead, people, there are more important things to think about!
Anyway, here are my thoughts and ramblings about 5x12. If you wanted some objective criticism, you don’t find it here. But if you want to share your thoughts, I would be more than happy to know them! As for me, I still struggle with depression, but at least it’s better now and doesn’t bother me all the time. Paily was, is and always will be my happy place, and I can’t wait for more cute scenes in season 5b. And I swear, Mona will rise from dead before the end of next episode.