TV Review: ‘Pretty Little Liars’ kills it with Adam Lambert

Sydney Zink, Columnist

Halloween is over and so are most Halloween specials on television. Out of all the episodes you didn’t have time to watch, there is one in particular that takes the cake — or rather, the candy corn. This Halloween, “Pretty Little Liars” finally became scary again. After several episodes of borderline soap-quality drama accompanied by only light fare in the horror region, the Oct. 23 Halloween special episode of “PLL,” titled “This Is a Dark Ride,” upped its scare factor in anticipation of the much-hyped death of a character.

Of course, many of the common expectations of “PLL” episodes loyally seep into this episode as well. That, of course, means several instances of our high school girls saying something coy only to be rewarded by (much-too) close-up shots of kiss upon kiss. Another expectation, naturally, is of the characters’ fabulous style that seems sometimes to matter to viewers as much as the plot itself (though certainly not as much as some of those love triangles). The foursome’s Halloween costumes were about half of the suspense leading up to the special episode despite the mysterious murder looming over the plot, am I right?

Spoilers ahead: The girls and their peers — invited or not — attend a Halloween party on a train. Surprisingly, Noel’s not hosting this one. Hanna shows up as a stunning Marilyn Monroe, Aria a classy Daisy Buchanan from “The Great Gatsby,” Emily a very sensualized representation of Jane Fonda’s Barbarella alongside girlfriend Paige’s dapper tux get-up and Spencer the best-looking of the bunch coupled with Toby as an extraordinarily elegant 1940s power couple. The “A” clan all dresses up in terrifying masks, one of which is used to trick a Liar into trusting the villain. Of course, the creepy white doll mask with black eye sockets makes its return this episode as an “A” staple.

A strong point of the episode’s horror, besides a “Carrie”-esque hand reaching out of a burial plot and a strange little girl referencing last year’s Halloween episode, was the unexpected placement of a dead body … or bodies? One of the liars comes close to death, obviously, but in such a tormenting way and with such emotional power behind the acting that I almost screamed with her this time. The same cannot be said for Garrett’s emotional power both at the episode’s start when he, like the rest of Rosewood, treats Spencer’s house as an open venue to stroll through and again when addressing a character on the Halloween party train. Garrett’s line delivery would be flatteringly called flat and monotone at best, his lines sounding as sterile as those from a cold reading at a middle school audition. Perhaps the actor made this presentation intentional, but I simply found it unfortunately underplayed. However, Garrett was indeed very interesting in the sense of providing scandalous, though questionable, new information to the Liars about the night Alison died. This suspect new revelation is sure to be a focus of episodes to come.

“PLL” thrives upon characters showing up out of nowhere without explanation and doing bizarre things. However, I certainly did not expect to see Adam Lambert talk to a Liar and perform his music out of the blue as a vampire on a train amongst a bunch of catty teenagers in costume. Nevertheless, Lambert did have a minor acting role in addition to his musical appearance and this role of his did serve to motivate a major plot point of the episode. Go Adam! It’s nice to see an older man on the show that isn’t shady for once.

By the end of the hour, somebody is dead, somebody’s alibi is questionable, “A” barely utilizes his/her cellphone texting plan (as has been the case lately) and Spencer looks perfect. The Halloween special this year is a classic “Pretty Little Liars” episode. However, this episode amongst all proves that “A” is upping their game, advancing from high school texting wars to silent, but literally deadly, action.

“Pretty Little Liars” resumes Season 3 on ABC Family Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m.