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Pretty Little Liars Recap: White Teeth Teens

When half of the Liars (Hanna, Spencer) are solving crimes and taking names, half of the Liars are in mortal danger (Hanna, Emily) and one of the Liars is still Aria (sigh), you know you’ve got an excellent episode of PLL on your hands. On to the Pretty Little Power Rankings!

1. Hanna (last week: 2)
Has anything on this show ever been funnier than Hanna’s sudden yet ardent passion for the written word, combined with everyone else’s reaction to her literary awakening? Hanna gets some of the best lines of the episode, starting with “The mystery dude we should be focusing on is Patterson … This guy just GETS the criminal mind.” Keeping with Hanna’s theme of adorable mispronunciation, she calls “fjord” “fah-jord.” And then, this:

Hanna: This guy is a genius! This is the third book of his I’ve read this week!
Spencer (incredulous): Is Travis reading them to you?
Hanna (mildly insulted but mostly rolling with it): No, I’m not seeing him anymore.

Emily, too, reacts to Hanna’s newfound love of narrative with disbelief and even disgust:

Hanna: The sociopathic mind feeds on intricate patterns!
Emily: Hanna, please stop reading. You’re not a detective.

Read that over one more time. Not “please stop trying to solve crimes based on novels.” Not “Hanna, that’s fiction and this is reality.” Just: “Please stop reading.” Way to be supportive, Emily.

All that silliness aside, Hanna survives what is, hands down, the most terrifying attack I have ever seen on PLL. A sneaks into the dentist’s office, drugs Hanna and then performs evil dental surgery on her while she’s passed out! AND LEAVES A MESSAGE IN HER TEETH. I know this expression is overused but this time I mean it: I can’t even.

2. Spencer (last week: 5)
In her infinite wisdom, Spencer suggests that “maybe we shouldn’t refer to the dead girl as ‘random.’”

Later we see Spencer’s hair is a little flat, which means something must be awry (she doesn’t have a bad hair day for no reason; who do you think she is, Hanna?) Fortunately for all of us, mostly Spencer I guess, this leads to the return of the hot Decathlon guy, Andrew! You may remember him as the gent who got a lil over-the-bra action from my favorite Hastings during her mental breakdown (waiting to catch a Liar between mental breakdowns is like waiting to catch Scarlett O’Hara between husbands; when you see a window, you just have to go for it).

Once Spencer realizes she can seduce this guy for drugs (and also maybe for sex, never say never) she gets this amazing Rooney Mara in Side Effects power-dead-eyes thing going on that is really effective and a little bit terrifying. Even though she’s on a mission, Spencer can’t pretend to not be turned on by Andrew’s ability to study for seven hours at a stretch. “I didn’t ask you here to study, Andrew. I’ve been watching you.” !!!! “I’m not interested in your notes. I want some of your study aid. The kind with the childproof cap.” SPENCE. OMFG, SRSLY.

“Plus once, I showed you my side-boob.” This girl.

She goes to Hanna’s without sleeping — sidebar: Are we going to get a Jessie Spano “I’m so excited! I’m so, so scared!” scene with Spencer? — solves the puzzle in Ali’s terrible story, and figures out that Ezra is “Board Shorts,” which means that, for now, Ezra is A.

As if that weren’t enough, Spencer has ribbons in jumping and dressage. Everything but the horse is in that room, kids.

3. Magic Mike Montgomery (last week: not ranked)
Magic Mike Montgomery makes a triumphant return, throwing a party despite his downer of a sister (seriously, Aria, lighten up! No one even looked that drunk), making out with a senior, and rocking this new and improved hairstyle. It’s very mid-era Efron meets Christian Bale in Newsies.

At the exact same moment as I say, “No, Aria, your parents broke themselves up,” Magic Mike chimes in to say the very same thing! Stay the course and don’t quit therapy, Mike. Much like Taylor Swift after she loses a Grammy to Lorde, we’re on each other’s team.

4. Mona (last week: not ranked)
Mona and Magic Mike, sitting in a tree, K-I-L-L-I-N-G. Lies, they’re just totally making out at school and probably in Aria’s bedroom before she got home to ruin everything. Mona looked awfully overdressed for a high-school party, though. Bonus points if her “Love your wallpaper, by the way. It’s so you,” dig to Aria was a reference to “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the short story about that lady whose husband diagnosed her with “hysteria” and then basically imprisoned her until she went insane for real.

5. Ezra (last week: 7)
Is Ezra still a terrible English teacher? Let’s check in! Mr. Fields comes to see Fitz because his daughter is an overworked, exhausted stress case dealing with personal trauma. Ezra’s solution: Give her more work to do, in the form of an after-school project she can “really invest” herself in. Exhibit B: He tells Ali that the only good themes in literature are “love and death,” which is just such a douchey-guy-from-that-one-writing-seminar thing to say.

Spencer is onto you, Ezra. She’s taking all the drugs and she never needs to sleep. Your days are numbered.

6. Andrew, the Decathlon guy (last week: not ranked)
I’ve always wanted a drug dealer who looked like the lead guy from Book of Mormon. Andrew thought maybe Spence was done with “the carpenter,” but much to his dismay she is still dating Toby/Jesus. I do like the idea of Spencer and Andrew as a kind of academic all-star power couple.

7. Mr. Fields (last week: not ranked)
One of the only parents who does real parenting is back in town, ostensibly because some rando (sorry, I mean “dead girl”) crashed a car into his family’s living room and his daughter is yellow-wallpapering, if you know what I mean (going bat-shit crazy, is what I mean), but as it turns out got sent home because of a heart condition. Is A going to pull a Nicholas Brody and kill Emily’s dad by hacking his pacemaker? Uh-oh.

On the bright side, he got a nice shout out in the State of the Union last night.

8. That police officer from the season premiere who shows up for no reason (last week: not ranked)
Another generically handsome, vaguely thirtysomething-year-old white guy to have sexual tension with and drop convenient clues for the Liars!

9. Jesse the Guidance Counselor (last week: not ranked)
Another generically handsome, vaguely thirtysomething-year-old white guy to have sexual tension with and drop convenient clues for the Liars!

10. Ali (last week: 12)
“So, you don’t think I’m mature?” Ali, you look like a 13-years-old! OF COURSE HE DOES NOT THINK YOU ARE MATURE. Still, this is Ezra we’re talking about, and he would prefer if you seemed as underage as possible.

11. Aria (last week: 11)
How many rookie mistakes can one girl make? Let me count the ways: She’s the buzziest buzzkill in buzzkillville when her brother throws a relatively tame party; she gives him shit for dating Mona instead of high-fiving him for landing a senior (Mona’s probably the devil but I just think Aria could have handled the whole situation more delicately); she blames her parents’ divorce on Mona, not her philandering dad or his mistress; she talks to Maggie and essentially outs herself as Ezra’s still-girlfriend; she wears that awful jacket made of ring washers and pants with giant screened pictures of gray and white flowers on them (her makeup game is ***Flawless, though, so respect where it’s due); I can already tell she’s going to make it impossible for Spencer to prove Ezra is A, because feelings.

12. Emily (last week: 9)
Emily is still pissed at Spencer for last week’s intervention. Or, as Emily describes it, she was “this close” to finding out what happened to her the night Ali disappeared but because of Spencer’s meddling, “We’ll never see her again.” Emily, you were not “this close” to anything, except another one of Ali’s patented “just flirty enough to keep you interested” lines. And you’ll never see Ali again? Good God, if only.

Emily almost stabs her dad with a pair of scissors. She goes to Rosewood High alone, late at night, where she gets music tortured like something out of Zero Dark Thirty over the P.A. system. She makes her dad shimmy up a pipe to rescue her from what I can only assume would have been her untimely death by Ezra. Isn’t Emily supposed to be an excellent swimmer? Why are her arms too weak to open the window?

I do love how she’s not only mad at Spencer but also at Hanna for not being mad enough at Spencer. Every now and then, this show gets so high school, I can almost forget that every guy on here (Magic Mike excepted) looks about 35 years old.

13. Maggie (last week: not ranked)
The only redeeming thing about Maggie in this episode is that everything she says is truth, from “Aria, this is really none of your business,” to “That’s rich, coming from a kid who maintains her grade point average by sleeping with her teacher.” You’ve done your mitzvah, Maggie. Please go back to Seattle now. Hope to see you on Mad Men!

Lingering concerns: Was anyone wondering how Sean was doing at boarding school? Anybody else make out a “C Kavanaugh” on that sign-in sheet from the dentist before it got shredded? How do we think Tippy the bird is holding up?

Act normal bitch,

— 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