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Pretty Little Liars Recap: The Price of Admission

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - "Gamma Zeta Die!"

Well, it was bound to happen eventually. Much as I love hearing Spencer wax unpoetically about Penn; much as it thrills me to imagine the happy "roommates-with-benefits existence” Emily and Paige hope to carve out for themselves at Stanford; much as I laugh at the idea of Hanna, whose outfits from this season alone would likely disqualify her, planning her future at the Fashion Institute, I knew this day would come: a(nother) fake university is luring our Liars to a campus conveniently located within driving distance of both Rosewood and Hollis. Cicero College, here we come! Here are this week's Pretty Little Power Rankings:

1. Emily (last week: 9)
Finally, Emily takes her destiny into her own hands and it is glorious. She flirts her way into a free private advising session with Brendan (and claims to not even realize she’s doing it which, hmmm, not sure if I believe that). She gets cash from her dad without trying. She fires back when Spencer accuses her of “conveniently forgetting to tell him you’re gay” by bringing up the fact that Spencer “whipped off her bra to get back on the Decathlon team.” She worries, far too late, whether her dress “looks slutty” (seeing as it is basically a skintight T-shirt that ends dangerously close to where her ass begins, I’m going to say, yes, it looks slutty, but also hot, so who cares). But really Emily wins all the points and rockets to the top of the Pretty Little Power Rankings for not being cagey about Paige when Brendan starts hitting on her. “He’s a she, and she’s amazing. Sorry.”

2. Spencer (last week: 4)
The bad news this week is that Spencer is a stone cold bitch. The good news is bitchy Spencer is one of my favorite kinds of Spencer.

Spencer’s mom wants to hire Brendan McGowan, a private college advisor, to help Spencer clear the Radley hurdle and get into the college of her choice (cough Penn cough cough). Spencer calls him “an Ivy League pimp.” She seems scandalized, which is kind of weird to me; wouldn’t the Hastings have hired an advisor like this years ago? Surely they used one for Melissa, too.

On to Spencer’s shiningest moment: her experience at Cicero. How much do I love Spencer on this new turf? Let me count the ways:

  1. Wardrobe wise, Spencer is in full Blair-at-Yale mode: the bow headband (again, I’d stop referencing Gossip Girl but I cannot ignore the obvious wink that is the bow headband), the plaid, the red and brown leather belt over the sweater. It’s perfection.
  2. I don’t like watching Spencer be mean to/oblivious at Emily, but it feels so true to her Hastings blood for Spencer to say something like, “He doesn’t need to believe that you actually want to go to this podunk school.” This also reads as so real to me regarding the kinds of fights you get into with close high school friends just as you start to realize high school might be the only reason you’re friends.
  3. “A Lannister always pays his debts.” “You would like the Lannisters.”
  4. You’re damn right she could give that Targaryen speech, but she will not waste her breath.
  5. That look of utter disdain on her face as she navigates the sorority party.

3. "Shut Your Pi Hole" T-shirt Guy (last week: not ranked)
“I know girls like you,” he says to Spencer. “You’ve got the crazy eyes.” Spencer, not missing a beat: “They’re not that crazy.” Pi Guy: “Crazy enough.” Someone get this Benedick and Beatrice a room!

Pi Guy’s only real slip-up is saying that Spencer is pretending to be a Hufflepuff. No one would pretend to be a Hufflepuff; we’re all Gryffindors in our dreams (except Spence, who is obviously a Ravenclaw).

4. Mike Montgomery (last week: not ranked and honestly, wasn’t even sure he existed)
Mike has been MIA for quite a while now, perhaps playing video games with Chris Brody and Bobby Draper in some magical point in the time-space continuum where useless sons from different television shows get together and bond. But Mike is back in action, people, and he is not messing around. We find out that Magic Mike is here when Aria’s mom explains her reason for bailing on the Eurotrip: “I had a long talk with your brother and he’s just not comfortable with me leaving.” Aria has the same reaction as everyone else watching this show: She goes “Whatttt???” in a tone of voice that suggests she, like us, is just remembering that she even has a brother.

When Aria gets home, her facial expression says: “Who is this stranger on my couch?” Fortunately her voice makes words like, “When did you get home?” Magic Mike wrecks her with real talk: “I like having Mom here. Why are you trying to ship her off? The only reason you want her to go so bad is so you can start boffing your teacher again. It’s hard to get frisky with Fitz when somebody’s looking over your shoulder, huh?”

Frisky with Fitz! I like a guy who can be alliterative under duress. Stick around, Magic Mike.

5. Spencer’s Mom (last week: not ranked)
Of course Mrs. Hastings’s first name is Veronica! How did I not know this before? Makes perfect sense. After all, her daughter’s teen angst does have a body count.

6. Hanna (last week: 10)
Hanna wants to skip college visits because she “doesn’t like it when the tour guides walk backwards,” which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Hanna.

She also makes quite the interesting life choice when she up and leaves the sorority party and attempts to bury her dad’s gun that she found in her mom’s closet in the ground at Cicero because it’s far from Rosewood, or something? I’m not saying the girl should be a criminal mastermind, but hasn’t she been at this for a while? Excited to see how prison treats her. Don’t freak out, Han. Orange is the new black.

7. Brendan McGowan (last week: not ranked)
It’s the personification of the Preppy Handbook! That madras tie, that Polo model hair, that too-slick style of speaking when he says his job is to “help applicants put their best foot forward.” His way of helping, apparently, is to make clueless assumptions about Emily’s ethnicity (“Are you Hawaiian?”) and to suggest she pretend to be interested in Polynesian studies. He proceeds to provide the aforementioned minor with alcohol — wait, why would anyone let this guy stay in a hotel with Emily and Spencer overnight? — and be more than a little creepy when Emily tries to get rid of him at the party. Wonder if we’ll be seeing him again?

8. Emily’s Dad (last week: 1)
Emily insists she’s average without swimming — academically speaking, we have no reason to believe this is not the case — but her dad swoops in with a “There is nothing average about you.” Aw! Not quite No. 1 material this week, but I couldn’t just drop the guy off the face of the PLPR when he’s being such a nice dad.

9. Aria (last week: 6)
What in the name of Hot Topic is happening with Aria’s wardrobe? At first I saw her legs and was like, “Holy streetwalker boots, Batman!” but then I realized that she was, in fact, wearing spike heel (and possibly lace-up?) booties with knee-high black socks. Note: This is not any better. This is worse. It’s like she couldn’t decide if she should look inappropriate in a scandalous schoolgirl way or inappropriate in a Pretty Woman footwear way and just decided, why not do both at the same time? She is also wearing a skirt that looks like something you could make at home: snag a bunch of different colored neckties, stitch them to a black leather belt, and voilà! You have … that thing!

And why didn’t Aria get to go on any college visits? Could’ve used some of that insider knowledge she gleaned during Sorority Wars.

10. Hanna’s Mom (last week: not ranked)
Yeah … It’s not looking good. See above regarding orange, black.

11. That Douchey Guy With the Silly String (last week: not ranked)
“Welcome to college, pre-frosh!” Ugh. Does “A” take hit list requests?

12. Aria’s Mom (last week: not ranked)
Did that whole bee scene give anyone else PTSD-style flashbacks to My Girl? Just because I think she’s messing up her mothering doesn’t mean I want Aria’s mom to die via bee stings! Plus, it seemed like she was starting to see the error of her poor parenting ways: She asks Chad if field tripping to Vienna would make her the worst mother of the year. No, honey, everything you’ve done up until this point makes you one of the worst mothers of the year. May as well go to Vienna, while you’re at it.

Lingering concerns: Why would Aria’s mom tell her students the trip is about auditing classes if they’ll be visiting schools over the weekend, when classes aren’t in session? Are panic rooms just the hot new thing in sorority houses these days? When they make visual/verbal references to Blair Waldorf, Game of Thrones, and Harry Potter in the span of three minutes, does that mean they’re just writing this show for us now?

These parties can get a little out of control,

-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: Eric McCandless/Disney