'PLL' Is Going Noir

by Christine DiStasio

Next week's Pretty Little Liar's episode "Shadow Play" will be given the black-and-white treatment. The episode is modeled after the 1940's film noir genre and — exactly like every other decade-jumping episode you've ever seen — is coming from the sleep-deprived and heavily medicated mind of one Spencer Hastings. But here's where the ABC Family drama's episode will stand apart from the others that came before it — it will actually make sense.

The previously released synopsis for "Shadow Play" basically gives us the impression that Spencer is finally about to crack under pressure of her obsessive search for answers about Alison. She's found new information, so her efforts aren't all in vain, but when her obsession finally consumes her (since we all know Spencer's not exactly stable) — she begins to see everything in black and white. And with a black-and-white view of Rosewood, comes the 1940's noir-theme and Spencer falling into the classic noir role of the cynical protagonist.

So this will be a huge episode for Spencer Hastings and honestly, we're not surprised that when her brain starts to lose itself, she starts having noir-themed delusions. Typical Spencer. But other than it making perfect sense that Spencer would have an appreciation for the low-key, German Expressionist inspired filmmaking — it makes perfect sense for PLL as a show to take on film noir as a theme. After all, it incorporates some of the genre's most important characteristics already.

PLL is a crime drama — I know, that sounds weird to you, but it is all about figuring out who killed/wanted to kill Alison. And everyone on the show has their own personal level of depravity — there's no "hero", even though sometimes Emily and Caleb seem like they're in the running for that spot. The tone of PLL is also reminiscent of film noir consistently — fear, mistrust, paranoia, and "loss of innocence" are huge components in the plot. Nothing and no one are ever what they seem in Rosewood, making everyone a threat that can't be trusted.

So we're excited, to say the least, to see how PLL does with integrating the ready-made plot into the noir theme. And if we're judging by the promo (which features some seriously amazing costuming — those guys deserve an award) it looks like they've got it all figured out and we might finally get some answers to the most burning questions of the season with "Shadow Play". And if not, at least there will be Alison scenes — including one where she looks ready to give someone an epic bitch-slap.

Watch the promo here:

Images: ABC Family