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Pretty Little Liars Recap: False Faces

We got a lot of answers last night, but in classic PLL style, they only led to more questions. Was Melissa telling the truth about Wilden? Why didn’t I think of nicknaming Aria’s mom’s inappropriately young boyfriend “the Muffin Man”? Was I supposed to be paying attention during that “Halloween Train” episode last year? I thought it was like a Baby-Sitters Club Super Special, you know? Fun in isolation, no influence on the plot or character development of the real series. Oops! But I’m not the only one making mistakes around here; one of our very own Liars plummeted to the bottom of the Pretty Little Power Rankings for her set of screw-ups.

1. Emily’s dad (last week: not ranked)
Well, look who’s back from the front lines! Somebody had to say a farewell to arms because all was not quiet on the Rosewood front (okay, done with the military book references). He wants to find out why Emily is lying. He is not messing around. WHOA, everybody, some actual parenting is happening here; please brace yourselves for impact.

When Emily tries to insist that it’s somehow not relevant how she got this mysterious scholarship-and-swimming-career-ending injury, her dad is all, “This doesn’t have to do with trust. This has to do with what we have a right to know as your parents.” As. Your. Parents! Parents having a right to know things about their underage children who are constantly finding themselves in mortal peril! Holy smokes, what next? A new character in town who doesn’t speak only in an ominous tone?

Alas, I doubt Emily’s dad is going to maintain his perch at the top of the PLPR for long. Anything could be in store regarding Child Services, “A,” the war in Afghanistan.

2. Lieutenant Tanner (last week: not ranked)
Top three things Lieutenant Tanner said, in chronological order:

1. “If I dressed like that when I was in high school, my dad would’ve had a stroke.”

2. “You’d be surprised what normal people do.” (Sidebar: Given that these girls have witnessed not one but two of their close friends get kidnapped/murdered in the past couple of years, shouldn’t law enforcement be a little less, I don’t know, aggressive and terrible to them?)

3. “Is there a lot of Russian mob activity here in Rosewood?”

3. Melissa (last week: 5)
Despite being tricked by Spencer into finding the mask of her face (we’ve all been there), Melissa still seems to me to be in control this week, at least of her own destiny. She’s got plenty of information, she’s bashed all the mask molds in — we do see “A” gluing one back together, but honestly, all those masks look alike, so it doesn’t really matter — and she’s given Spencer “enough” information to satisfy her kid sister’s curiosity, at least for now.

Also, here’s a fun thing to say before going AWOL: “You have to let it go or it will come apart in ways you cannot even imagine.” Everybody, try it at home!

4. Spencer (last week: 1)
As usual, Spencer is both hair and wardrobe MVP. However: STOP SAYING UPENN. It’s just Penn. No wonder Spencer got rejected. All the Hastings who already attended Penn should have their degrees revoked until further notice. Princeton diplomas can be used as placeholders/punishment.

5. Caleb (last week: 8)
Caleb is like the only person for miles around who knows anything about criminal investigations. Does Law & Order not air in Rosewood? Unfortunately, he doesn’t know anything about attractive T-shirt selection. Dear Caleb: I need you to be more Jess Mariano, less Ed Hardy. Also, speaking of the Sherman-Palladino universe, has anyone ever seen Frankie from Bunheads and Caleb in the same place at the same time? Think about it: This would explain both the predilection for cute blondes who’ve got more going on than meets the eye and their shared tendency to pop up for brief appearances before vanishing into the ether in any given episode.

6. Aria (last week: 6)
This might be where I’d talk about Aria’s love life — the run-in with Malcolm, that porch conversation where she explains her romantic backstory using some completely pointless black-and-white vs. Technicolor movie analogy — but I find it about as interesting as she finds Martial Arts Jake, so … moving on!

Wait, sorry, just one thing: Last week, Aria made it very clear that she, in fact, prefers black-and-white flicks to Technicolor movies. So why, when Martial Arts Jake asks her if her relationship with Ezra was in black-and-white or color, does she say the bad parts are in black-and-white? It’s kind of like she isn’t paying as close attention to her life as I am.

Aria joins Spencer on the outing to Creepy McCreeperson’s Mask-Making Emporium, where she proceeds to get left behind so Spencer can have a sister smackdown. She find outs that Ali brought an accomplice/driver/who even knows anymore with her to pick up cash and escort her out of town. Somehow, Creepy McCreeperson knows that was the summer Ali disappeared. Man, was anyone not keeping track of Ali’s movements?

7. Toby (last week: 7)
Toby’s main source of intel this episode is the guy who discovered the rabies vaccine and made milk safe for the masses. Dr. Louis Palmer/Pasteur has clearly lost his marbles. I liked Toby so much more when he was “A” and he was having hot motel sex with Spencer. Maybe this stuff with his mom will send him over the edge and he’ll turn evil again? A recapper can hope.

8. Martial Arts Jake (last week: 13)
Aria likes Martial Arts Jake because he’s “not complicated,” which is code for “he is a mindless simpleton, why did I ever break up with my English teacher?” I give this romance two more episodes, tops. Aria probably spent more energy half-French-braiding her hair than she is willing to devote to this dead-end date.

That being said, I hope Caleb has a chance to meet Martial Arts Jake before he departs Aria’s life forever (where are we calling the place where PLL people go to disappear sans closure or explanation? Lucasland, Noelville, Parenthood?) because I like Martial Arts Jake’s leather jacket. I think Caleb could learn a thing or two about relatively inoffensive outfit selection.

9. Emily (last week: 10)
So … Emily can’t swim is really the long and short of that injury situation. Her useless non-answers to the doctor who called Child Services, shockingly, do nothing to clarify the situation or make her parents look even remotely innocent. The only thing Emily could do to look more like a victim of child abuse is claim that she “just fell down the stairs.” The irony here is that Emily is the only person in town whose parents are actively parenting her and haven’t murdered anyone (probably), and she will likely be removed from their custody because that kind of crazy thing where moms and dads look after their kids does a number on Rosewood’s time-space continuum and cannot be permitted.

Also, guys, I know Canada Day was a few days ago, but if you’d like to keep the celebration going through the week, listen to Shay Mitchell say “shouting.”

10. Hanna (last week: 3)
Did Ashley Benson do something evil and unforgivable to the hair and wardrobe departments? Am wondering what could possibly be the explanation for the otherwise inexplicably bad style she’s had all season. The center part isn’t working, the grungy waves aren’t working, the roots that are sort-of-but-not-quite growing in aren’t working; I’m trying very hard to think of something about her hair that is working, but I’m coming up empty handed.

Then there is the fact that she starts this episode wearing … is that a blouse with pictures of different kinds of ice cream on it? Are we making insensitive bulimia jokes, costume people? I can’t believe the police let Hanna stick around while her mom was giving a grand tour of the evidence jackpot that is Wilden’s safe deposit box. That shirt is such an atrocity, how can they possibly concentrate on the murdery matter at hand while Hanna is in the room?

Later, Hanna wears a yellow shirt with “fashion” and other black text printed all over it. Did someone make a tank top out of the yellow pages? Is Hanna even old enough to know what a phonebook looks like?

Hanna’s color-blocked peplum top is a solid sartorial choice, but sadly it is not enough to redeem her terrible outfits earlier in the episode. Oh! And Hanna thinks her mom is the one who killed Wilden. Rough night, kiddo. You should warm yourself by a fire fueled by almost every article of clothing you’ve worn since the season premiere.  

The clincher for Hanna losing the week, though, is this: Based on the fact that Wilden had both a Canadian and American passport in his safe deposit box, Hanna determines that he might have been “in the Russian mob or something.” Sorry, Spencer and Emily: The real reason you can’t go to Penn or Stanford is because Hanna the brainiac has been accepted at both of these institutions and is filling the only slots for Rosewood students.

11. Detective Wilden (last week: not ranked)
The man had two passports, a gun with a serial number filed off, and a whole lot of dolla-dolla bills in his safe deposit box. He tried to kill Spencer. He burned down the lodge. Also, he’s still dead.

Lingering concerns: Why is Paige swimming in the school pool late at night, by herself? Not to keep bringing up the Gossip Girl past, but come on, how am I supposed to graduate from Constance Billard if I see a late-night break-in at the school pool? Does the air feel heavy in here, or is it just me? Seriously, though, can anyone tell which mask is supposed to be which girl?

When was the last time an answer made you any happier?

-J

PLL fans who’ve read the books: keep your spoiler-filled knowledge to yourselves! TV talk only, both below and on Twitter (@jessicagolds), please and thank you.

Photo: Ron Tom/Disney Enterprises