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Pretty Little Liars Recap: Lost in Translation

This week’s PLL deals with problems we all understand: getting over a breakup, dealing with car trouble, decoding your best frenemy’s secret lie diary and then leaving it right where your nemesis can find it. Despite these grueling trials, some of our Liars managed to overcome and triumph in the Pretty Little Power Rankings. And some of our Liars were Aria.

1. Spencer (last week: 2)
Let’s begin with Spencer’s spot-on takedown of Ali’s diary:
Spencer:
It’s creative nonfiction with pseudonyms.
Hanna:
I don’t know what that means, but sure.

Spencer gets real with everyone this week. She sees right through Aria with her, “The correct answer was: I don’t know, it’s a stupid pen.” Just as I am thinking, “Why didn’t anyone immediately make copies of this diary so that all the girls could read it simultaneously and they wouldn’t be out of luck when A inevitably steals the original?” Spencer starts taking some photos of the diary pages on her phone. She tells off J.D. in public for her sluttery and goes full Skyler White on her dad with the Hastings version of “Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family.” And then, because she is not allowed to speak truth to power as long as she lives under Mr. Hastings’s roof (sidebar: Mr. Hastings is practically never home), she shacks up with her boyfriend. Can’t believe Papa Hastings didn’t see that one coming, but clearly, he’s no Spencer. He probably doesn’t even own a trench-cape.

I would dock points for Spencer’s encouragement of Aria’s non-relationship with Martial Arts Jake, but I guess he’s better than Ezra so, wash.

One more thing: the suspenders. Do not wear suspenders dangling down from the waistband of your pants like you’re one of the off-duty Newsies. This is the only correct way to wear suspenders. Come on, Spencer. Eu esperava mais de você.

2. Ali (last week: not ranked)
Ali is an interesting test case in this broader cultural debate about female characters and “likeability” because, holy smokes, have I ever hated a TV character more than this demonic Skipper Barbie? I get that, for the sake of mystery, Ali can’t just straight up tell the Liars exactly what they need to know exactly when they want to know it. But this girl’s gotta do better than blaming her “I faked my own death, sat idly by while my closest friends were stalked/attacked/framed for murder/rinse and repeat and just rolled back into Rosewood now” shtick on a “they” she claims to be incapable of identifying.

If Ali were any more high maintenance and insane, she’d be that drunk girl who just got kicked off The Bachelor.

3. Emily (last week: 4)
Emily leaves her window open at night, which is all very modern-day Wendy Darling, but probably not the kind of risk I’d take if I lived in a town where girls exactly like me had a tendency to get kidnapped/murdered. Then Emily hallucinates Ali (or sees Ali, because Ali is alive, or both, or neither), and this would just be annoying because, ugh, more cryptic messages from Gone Girl, but we get to see Shay Mitchell do some for-real acting! “You destroyed me! I thought you were dead!” Somebody’s working on her Emmy reel. Or, more likely, her People’s Choice Awards clip.

Even though Emily has been established as the “sporty” one, she still can’t figure out what’s wrong with her engine and wouldn’t be able to fix the broken-down car anyway. All these girls should really learn basic automobile maintenance. This would solve so many of their problems.

4. Toby (last week: 11)
I generally advise would-be well-dressed gentlemen to avoid the tank top at all costs. But I’m going to assume Toby was just wearing a dark undershirt because he was alone in his apartment. All is forgiven. For now.

“There’s a lot that we don’t know. Astrophysics. Portuguese. How to make flan.” Of course Spencer knows how to make flan, Toby, but I like your humor, and I like that you know you need three things to make a list. The guy probably just got desperate at the end because there are literally only two things that Spencer doesn’t know: astrophysics and Portuguese.

5. Ashley Marin (last week: 3)
“I thought I was going to have to drag you to school. By your sweatpants.” Ashley Marin for Mom of the Year, everyone.

6. Travis, a.k.a. that cowboy guy from earlier this season, a.k.a. Knockoff Saracen (last week: not ranked)
He asks how Hanna’s mom is doing! A man after my own heart. Anyway, you could tell it was him through the shade at Ezra’s cabin because of his farm-boy ears. Travis is so new in town, his first guess as to why the Liars were scared is that they saw a bear.

Plus points for: his “Hey,” the best line of the episode.

7. Magic Mike Montgomery (last week: not ranked)
Not bad, kid.

8. Ezra (last week: 8)
There’s nothing at all suspicious about that Masterpiece Theater pose Ezra strikes in the Marin’s foyer. No siree, nothing to see here, move right along.

9. Hanna (last week: 1)
I don’t mean to be insensitive here, but given the kind of secrets A has dug up on these girls in the past, how is “I made out with Aria’s brother one time” this damning, horrible transgression? I get that Ali gave her shit about it, but Ali is a sociopath who gives everyone shit about everything. Magic Mike Montgomery is only two years younger than Hanna. I don’t know what he looked like at the time (super rude to deny us a look at flashback Magic Mike, by the way) but he’s hot now, so who cares? High-five, Hanna!

At first I wrote that I wasn’t feeling Hanna’s cornrow-style mini-braids, but later I thought perhaps they were a stylistic choice to aesthetically connect Hanna of Today to Hanna of the Past, who wore her hair in French braid pigtails. I was going to make a Spring Breakers joke about the braids — did Alien do your hair? — but then Emily made one for me! Hanna is all “I thought this was a road trip,” and Emily says, “To find our no-longer-dead friend. This isn’t Spring Break.” SPRING BREAK FOREVER.

Two more things: For one of the main characters on a show called Pretty Little Liars, Hanna could not be worse at lying. Also, Hanna’s roots are also getting kind of ridiculous. Are they as dark as Hanna’s feelings? Just trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.

10. Untimely changes in the weather (last week: not ranked)
Enough with the sudden rainstorms, PLL. You’re a TV show, not a Taylor Swift song.

11. Aria (last week: 6)
Aria begins this episode wearing a leather motorcycle jacket the color of a pack of Smarties. Later, she’s decked out in high-waist leopard-print pants, a fire truck red belt, and … is that a muscle tee? I don’t know, her hair looks fantastic, so whatever.

In addition to being illegal, incredibly foolish, and probably super dangerous, her relationship with Ezra is boring. And if Aria wants everyone to loosen up and spill their secrets, she should start pouring booze instead of tea.

Aria, to Hanna: “You can’t be this upset over something that happened that long ago.” Wait, isn’t getting that upset about something that happened a long time ago the premise upon which this entire show is built? Okay. Well. Guess we can all go home now.

12. Cece (last week: not ranked)
According to Travis, Cece was “pretty hard on cash,” and he thinks someone paid her to kill Wilden because “lots of people wanted him dead.” “Thanks for letting me know,” says Hanna, speaking for all of us because without that speedy-quick recap, I would actually have no idea why Cece was on the lam.

13. Mr. Hastings (last week: 12)
To Spencer’s insinuation that there’s “something” going on with him and J.D.: “I don’t like what I’m being accused of.” Uhh, then maybe don’t fuck your neighbor, Mr. Hastings.

14. J.D. (last week: not ranked)
It takes two to tango, J.D. And by “tango” I mean “have an extramarital affair, give birth to an illegitimate child, stay next door to the married father of the aforementioned illegitimate child, and keep the true parentage of said child a secret from both families for more than fifteen years.”

Lingering concerns: If Toby’s mom’s death wasn’t a murder and it wasn’t a suicide, are we still going to have to waste time on this show talking about it? Will Spencer be able to keep up at Penn if she doesn’t learn Portuguese? Has anyone ever worn shorter shorts than Ali wore in that flashback scene?

He just wanted to feel your boobs,

-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/ABC Family