When “Pretty Little Liars” seemingly revealed Ezra to be evil mastermind “A” in last summer’s midseason finale, it nearly broke the internet. The wailing and gnashing of teeth by Ezra-Aria (Ezria) fans could be heard worldwide.
If Ezra was “A” this entire time, it would turn the whole Ezria relationship into something gross. It’s one thing if Ezra and Aria met, he didn’t know how old she was (and she lied by omission) and they fell in love. It’s another thing entirely if he purposely sought out a relationship with an underage girl (a student, no less) in the name of stalking and tormenting her and her friends.
It turns out Ezra did exactly that, but instead of doing it as “A,” he did it in the name of his true crime story about her dead friend. That … does not make it better.
To top it all off, the whole “didn’t know her age and fell for her” thing applies to said friend. In this week’s “Liars” episode, Ezra admitted to Aria that he was involved with Alison before she disappeared — which is so disturbing, for a couple reasons.
Alison disappeared Labor Day weekend of her sophomore year of high school. If Fitz had just graduated when he started teaching at Rosewood, he would have been starting his senior year of college when Alison disappeared. Their relationship obviously did not start a mere couple days before the disappearance, since apparently Fitz was meeting Alison at bars to help her with her creative writing and became obsessed with her enough go all Truman Capote about her disappearance.
So, Ezra got involved with a 15-year-old girl when he was a senior in college. OK, well, yuck, but we guess we’ll let that one slide since he (conveniently) didn’t know how old she was. But upon Alison’s disappearance, Ezra sure as heck found out her real age and then he knowingly pursued her underage friend (his student) because he was “trying to find the truth” as a journalist.
Ezra says he fell in love with Aria and that his feelings were real, but how does Ezria possibly come back from this reveal? Aria has always thought she met Ezra and, despite their tragic age difference, they fell in love. But it turns out that the girl in that position with Ezra was actually Alison. Maybe Ezra wasn’t in love with Alison, but he sure had some strong feelings for her and when she “died,” he then pursued Aria, at least at first, as part of his investigation into Ali’s death — a means to an end.
EP Oliver Goldstick tells E! News that Ezra’s feelings for Aria are genuine, but even so, their entire relationship is based on a huge, unsettling lie. How can they come back from that? More importantly, why would anybody even want them to?
It’s interesting the reasons why Ezra could not be not “A” were correct and yet this revelation about his book still changes the whole context of the show in a very icky way. Ezra is no longer some romantic hero tragically hamstrung by the age gap between him and his one true love. Now he’s … kind of a predator. It didn’t start out that way with Alison (so he says), but his subsequent relationship with Aria makes him a rather disturbing character.
And just as an aside, did Ezra actually think he was being a good journalist by pursuing a lead that meant dating an underage friend of the true crime book subject? Perhaps that was a Hollis College journalism class taught by Byron Montgomery (which would be hilariously ironic).
There have been online grumblings about how Ezra-as-journalist is implausible because no journalist with ethics would have set up the surveillance system he had in place. Well, what’s a little surveillance when you’re sleeping with your subject?
A lot of Ezra’s actions (including his recent alliance with Mona) can be explained away under the umbrella of “investigation” (which may annoy you and that’s fair), but his journalistic ethics are fairly laughable at this point, so let’s just roll with it. This is what Ezra has been up to this entire time. That’s the construct within which the viewers work from here on out.
Setting aside the extreme ick factor of what Ezra did, this retcon is both kind of maddening and also opens up some exciting possibilities for the show.
First off, it’s maddening in the sense of why couldn’t the creators have this planned out from day one? Ian Harding has been doing a wonderful job as dark Ezra this season, masterfully treading the line between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in his interactions with Aria and Spencer. It would have been amazing to watch him be Aria’s love interest harboring a dark secret all along.
Sure, there have been theories out there that Ezra has always been hiding something, but there are theories like that for every character. Harding hasn’t actually been playing dark Ezra until fairly recently. It would have been enjoyable to watch him sneak around investigating, while also trying to hide his involvement with Alison and his investigation from Aria and her friends.
That also would have gone a long way in explaining how whenever he and Aria were apart, in between teaching and mooning over his jailbait true love and having a secret son that turned out not to be his, Ezra found time to be writing this true crime book. Times when he was just “up to something” could have been written into the show. They sort of have been already, but there could have been more specific clues planted.
And yes, it would have made him a creeping creeper who creeps on high school girls all along, but that’s where the character of Fitz is now anyway. What difference does it make how the show got there? Why not just go the whole nine yards with it and make him a sketchy character from the outset? That would have really raised the stakes regarding the Ezria relationship.
But alas, that is water under the bridge, so let’s focus on what this means for the show moving forward.
This revelation might be really great for the show, if it’s done right. And (sorry, Ezria fans) part of that means that Ezria needs to be put to bed (so to speak).
Ezra being revealed as Alison’s one-time — boyfriend? lover? What does Alison even have in that regard? — and that he knew who Aria was when he got involved with her means that Aria should be done with him. There is no coming back from that kind of betrayal.
But think about how awesome the show could get if the creators go that route.
“Done with him” certainly doesn’t mean “over him.” Aria’s been in love with Ezra for two years now, she’s not just going to get over that in a day. The idea of angry, hurt, betrayed Aria running around wreaking havoc in Rosewood is delicious, particularly because Lucy Hale has never really gotten to play that version of Aria.
It will also add a juicy dynamic to the show for Season 5. Goldstick says that Alison will “become very flesh and blood” next season. Can you imagine Aria coming face-to-face with her so-called friend who, as it turns out, got to Aria’s true love first? And, since Alison is not dead after all, this “friend” has been lurking around for two years while Aria fell in love with Ezra and she never never said a word?
Of course, that’s perfectly in keeping with Alison as the viewers know her, but it should still make Aria angry. It’s an enticing thought indeed to imagine the first scene with Alison, Aria and Ezra all together.
There’s also a lot Ezra can now bring to the table in terms of finding out who “killed” Alison, who is actually buried in Alison’s crypt, who “A” is and so forth. Because if he’s got this whole manuscript about Alison’s murder/disappearance written, presumably he has uncovered some stuff the Liars don’t know about — which then adds another layer to everything because he knows things about the investigation and has been keeping them from Aria and her friends.
Finally, since this “Alizra” relationship has been retconned, think of the possibilities for other retcons. Was Ezra ever in Georgia? Cape May? How much did he know Ian Thomas? What might he know about Aria’s dad, who fought with Alison on the night she disappeared? How much does he know about “A”?
It also explains some things, like why Ezra was at Alison’s memorial and why he showed up on the Halloween train — for the first one, he was there because he cared for her and for the second, he was either there investigating, protecting the Liars or both.
It seems like Ezra has just been kind of following the Liars around for the duration of the show, as both part of his investigation and his feelings for them.
Sure, it’s kind of an easy out, but if Ezra had feelings for Alison and he thought she was dead, it would make sense that he might feel protective of her friends. What if whoever killed Alison came after them too?
As viewers, you can absolutely feel outrage at this turn of events, since it has now suddenly built a very convenient backdoor for the show. But “PLL” has never been about realism (or even common sense, at times). This is just another layer — just another mask of Ali’s face over Maya’s fake cousin who is actually Ezra’s long-lost daughter, you know?
The creators never said explicitly that Ezra was “A” and we never thought he was, so we’ve been anxiously wondering where the show was going to take his dark turn. This twist just potentially blew up “Pretty Little Liars” in a very interesting way and it will be exciting to watch it play out.
“Pretty Little Liars” airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.