By: Lyndsey Nadeau
This season of Pretty Little Liars, I can say without a doubt one of my favorite stories involves the surprise romance between Spencer Hastings and Caleb Rivers.
But I know many fans do not agree, which is to be expected. PLL spent five and a half seasons developing the relationships between Spencer and Toby, Hanna and Caleb, and the four girls. This plot twist has the potential to put a strain on all three of these dynamics if not developed carefully.
And, truthfully, I think this is one of their best ideas.
Look, I get it. We all love our ships. But in order to see the beauty of Spaleb, you should try to forget the devotion to your ship for just a second. (Okay, I know that’s impossible.)
Walking on Eggshells
The writers handled this story delicately, something they didn’t do when they decided to make Ezra Fitz guilty in season four with their lazy plot contrivances. As an Ezria shipper, it sucked and I still mentally block out 4B (just like I do with ‘Big Bad’’s new fakemojis). This time around, the writers decided to mess with Spoby and Haleb in a way that remained respectful to the fans, but still provided for an interesting story.
It would be so much worse if Spencer didn’t care about Hanna’s feelings or if Caleb blatantly showed disregard for his ex-girlfriend. The writers are walking on eggshells when it comes to moving their unexpected romance along while also respecting the original ships. In between adorable Spaleb scenes, they’re still giving us Haleb and Spoby feels. (Just look at the way Caleb and Hanna look at each other!) Haleb, Spoby, and Spaleb all at once? The more the merrier.
The PLLs are in their 20s now. This isn’t high school and women are allowed to date who they want to date. It may sting a little, but they need to put their feelings aside and suck it up because they’re adults with fully developed brains. It’s been years since Haleb and Spoby split. Hanna is engaged to Jordan and Toby is almost engaged to Yvonne. To say Spencer and Caleb aren’t allowed to give in to their feelings and try this whole dating thing would be selfish and unfair. Nonetheless, Spencer was still willing to give up this brand new relationship with Caleb if Hanna–A HAPPILY ENGAGED WOMAN–wasn’t okay with it. Props to Spencer for asking, and props to Hanna for granting her permission.
And okay, so maybe you disagree, but fictional characters have flaws too. I remember there was an outrage when Aria yelled at Hanna because she accused Zack (Ella’s ex-fiance) of hitting on her. Fans tore Aria apart for this and neglected to see the situation from her perspective. The blame is often placed on the writers whose job is to write relatable, believable characters. And guess what? Humans aren’t perfect, so neither are fictional characters–yes, even the ones we root for. It’s debatable whether Spencer broke the “girl code” by dating her best friend’s ex, but if we conclude that it is in fact betrayal, we should remember that humans make mistakes. Even Spencer Hastings.
TV wouldn’t exist without conflict and conflict wouldn’t exist without imperfect characters who screw up. Being human is confusing. Love is complicated. Friendship is complicated. Right or wrong, who really knows? And that’s what’s great about this storyline.
It Makes Sense
Pretty Little Liars isn’t perfect and they’ve had their share of plots that make you wonder if they pulled a bunch of names out of a hat and said “You’re the new villain!” or “We’re bringing you back from the dead!” or “Let’s make these two a couple!” Spencer and Caleb, however, are not an example of this. Spaleb have had noticeable sparks for several seasons, and Tyler Blackburn and Troian Bellisario share undeniable chemistry. This pairing is natural and believable.
The four PLLs went through two years of emotional trauma when they were being stalked by basically all of Rosewood. If I were one of them, I would’ve spent every episode hiding under my bed, periodically asking someone to bring me food. There are plenty of fish in the sea, but only a few fish who know what it’s like to be stuck in the never-ending hell of Rosewood where funerals are more common than birthday parties. It is comforting to be with someone who is familiar and knows firsthand what you’ve been through. For Spencer and Caleb, they’ve found that in each other, which I think is beautiful.
On another note, they’ve mentioned that Spencer and Caleb bonded throughout the five years preceding 6B. They literally bumped into each other in Madrid, halfway across the world. There are less than 10,000 people in Rosewood and more than seven billion people in the world. There’s a word for that: fate.
They’ve formed a special bond during this time, so it’s not like their lips magically became magnetic one day and boom super hot Spaleb sex.
The Future of Spaleb
Do I want Spaleb to ultimately end up together? Hell yes! It’s the most realisic situation and mirrors what would happen in real life. The chances of reuniting with your high school sweetheart are slim to none, but connecting with an old friend is possible.
Do I think they will? No, unfortunately not. This is likely only a temporary roadblock that will lead to an epic reunion between Hanna and Caleb, who also happened to be a beautiful couple. Ashley Benson and Tyler Blackburn are close in real life and I wouldn’t be surprised if “keep Haleb together” is in their contract. I mean, something had to convince them to do seven seasons of a teen drama, right?
As for Spencer and Toby? I’ve always found Spoby to be an odd dynamic on the show and would be overjoyed if we didn’t get to see them riding off into the sunset. Besides, it would be anti-climatic and unrealistic if all of the main couples end up together, so I hope that Marlene King has the courage to go down this road. Although, I’m guessing that this is impossible since Toby is building a house for someone and somehow I doubt it’s not for Spencer.
The reality is that Haleb and Spoby can’t be together right now, and I’d rather take this perfect opportunity to explore the possibility of Spaleb rather than fill it with some other nonsense. I’m enjoying the ride.
…or at least #SpalebForNow.