So many thrilling developments this week: Toby discovers cronuts, Aria angry-walks all over town, Spencer realizes she may or may not have bashed in Ali’s brain with a blunt object. No time to waste before getting right down to the Pretty Little Power Rankings! Don’t say I never gave you anything.
1. Paige (last week: not ranked)
Thank you, Paige, for being the only person since the whole “Ali is still alive” news broke to ask why no one has told Ali’s family. Thank you for reacting to Emily’s claim that her grandmother gave her all that money in cash by asking, “What is she, a stripper?” Thank you for being the voice of reason throughout your entire conversation with Emily, a choice excerpt I have transcribed so we can all appreciate it together:
Paige: Ali used you and abused you guys. Why would you want to help her? ... She manipulates people to get what she wants.
Emily: She’s not like that anymore.
Paige: She’s faked her death for the past two years. She’s definitely still like that.
YES SHE IS, PAIGE. Preach! Preach that gospel every day forever. Even after Emily has the lady-balls to tell Paige that allowing Ali’s parents to know the daughter they’ve believed was kidnapped and murdered as a child is still breathing somewhere would be tantamount to handing Ali to A, Paige does (this show’s version of) the right thing, leaving a note on a cop car in the hopes that the (usually inept but maybe this time will be different) Rosewood Police Department will track Ali down.
2. Emily (last week: 7)
For the first time in a long time, I am impressed by Emily (I mean, Emily’s brain; her hair never fails to impress). From the get-go, she suggests that Ezra is just trying to distract everyone from the fact that he really killed Ali. “If he’s been watching us, then he has to know about A,” said Spenc— wait, no, oh my god, that’s Emily talking sense! “How could he sit back this whole time and not do anything to help us?” Well I’ll be, there’s a new Hastings in town. I don’t love her attitude with Paige or her screwed-up Ali dependency, but at least she is having logical thoughts and is in a meaningful relationship with someone her own age.
For everyone trying to figure out what season it is, Emily is wearing white jeans. So either it’s after Memorial Day but before Labor Day, or Emily doesn’t follow one of the most sacrosanct rules of fashion. So … yeah, basically, we’re back at square one with the seasons question.
3. Hanna (last week: 2)
Whoa, Hanna, is rocking the jumpsuit! A black-and-white (marble pattern? Crazy stripes? Newsprint?) jumpsuit. And black high heels and a neon pink blazer and, are those Mardi Gras beads? Is she heading to a night club? In the ‘80s?
Anyway, Hanna has great witty banter with Officer Holbrooke and she’s quite the valiant friend to Travis, apologizing for what may have been a brash kissing decision — brash kissing decisions being the only kind of kissing decisions Hanna makes, apparently — and going so far as to actually remember the convoluted plot that connected Wilden to Travis’s dad. Good thing she’s keeping on top of that because I’m not going to do it.
Hanna hair color watch: almost a Nancy Drew strawberry-blonde. Tune in next week to see if she’s back to brunette!
4. Spencer (last week: 10)
I’m no expert on the recreational use of prescription drugs, but could some kind soul back me up on this hunch:Tthere’s no way Spencer, who was casually popping the occasional Adderall for three weeks, would be going through what looks like the withdrawal serious heroin junkies experience when you pry the needle out of their hands, right?
Our girl is connecting a lot of very scary dots. She’s spending an unnerving amount of time curled up in the fetal position. Even though she’s onto something and is probably at least half-right (Spencer’s never all wrong, except that one time like 100 years ago when she made out with her sister’s fiancé; I think we can all agree that’s water under the bridge) she’s got that sallow skin tone and evil Willow dead-eyes that make her look bat-shit crazy. I worry that she’ll have a Cassandra situation, where she knows everything and no one believes her until it’s too late.
5. That P.I.’s voice mail (last week: not ranked)
“Leave a message! We’ll find you.”
6. Toby (last week: 5)
Still a great guy. Still having hair trouble. On the bright side, he has cronuts now.
7. Those amazing flashbacks (last week: not ranked)
Look, it’s a scene from the pilot! I’m charmed all over again by how lovely the minimalist eyeliner look can be, how disheveled Ezra’s hair once was, the way Aria offhandedly mentions her jet lag because “I just got back from Europe,” letting Ezra think she’d been frolicking about Paris instead of holed up in Iceland with her family.
Also: SPENCER WITH THE SHOVEL. Holy. Freaking. Smokes. Do not back down from this epic development, PLL. I would forgive nearly every transgression on this show if it turned out that Spencer tried to take Ali out. (Although: If Ali is alive, who did Spencer attack/kill? The body in the ground — fake Ali, I guess — died because of blunt trauma to the head, so, you know, shovel. But then how could … ah, screw it.)
8. Cronuts (last week: not ranked)
So trendy, if this season takes place at some point in 2013! Where did Spencer find this magical baked good in her Main Line suburb? Don’t worry, I did a little recon: It appears they’re available at a bakery in Rittenhouse. Spence went into Philly and back just to prove her trans-fat-filled devotion to the best boyfriend in Rosewood. Aww. Baked goods for the win.
9. Travis and Officer Holbrooke (tied, last week: not ranked)
Only Saracen-lite is still in high school, but Officer Holbrooke is being a decent human being and, unlike most of the too-old-for-the-Liars gents on this show, responded to Hanna’s kiss appropriately: by backing away from her. Plus, they’re both cute. Stick around, competing suitors.
10. Spencer’s parents (last week: Veronica: 1; Mr. Hastings: not ranked)
Veronica, you know I don’t want Spencer to go to rehab, and you know I think this addiction/withdrawal/whatever plot line is ridiculous. But you’re going to let your troubled teenage daughter talk you out of sending her to a rehab facility because it looks bad on her college application? Tsk, tsk. And here I thought you were parenting.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hastings is an asshole as usual. He wants Spencer to come home “immediately after school every day,” as if he’s ever home to enforce such a rule. Oh yeah, and it’s looking like he hired a private investigator to stalk his own daughter to find out if Spencer has something to do with Ali’s “death.” Father of the year, this one.
11. Whoever is in charge of attendance at Rosewood High (last week: not ranked)
Seriously, every character on this show would have already been expelled in a real high school. Do they ever go to class? Has no one written them up for cutting? Isn’t anybody monitoring the student parking lot?
12. Aria (last week: 11)
Aria is literally vomiting from the sheer pain of her memories. Her hurt cannot be contained; it must be expressed, both through puke and through the skulls on her shirt. The world has to know she feels like death within! So surely someone, anyone, is putting in a call to either of Aria’s MIA parents. Maybe Spencer will tell Chad to come back from Hollis (that is where he’s staying, right?), or Emily can have a long-distance Skype session with Madre Montgomery? Magic Mike touching base with her? No? Just let Aria self-destruct sans supervision? Okay then, good call all around.
I get that Aria is grieving and broken-hearted and hell hath no fury and blah, blah, whatever, but how could this girl, who has spent years playing detective and scavenging the streets for every scrap of evidence that could point toward Ali’s killer or the Liars’ tormenter, not realize how incredibly stupid it would be to trash Ezra’s apartment without saving all of Ezra’s notes? The man had a filing system, for the love of Ashley Marin! Meticulously labeled photographs, organized theories, perfect penmanship! Just take all the stuff to the cops and let him get arrested, if you’re so set on wrecking the guy. (Figures that only Spencer thinks to take anything from Ezra’s apartment.) She’s running away now. I’m sure that will end well.
Aria says, “The more I think about it, the stupider I feel.” I mean … valid point.
13. Ezra (last week: 8)
I’d just like to remind everyone, as the flashback to the “Missing” poster reminded me, that Ali went missing when she was 15 years old. And was having a secret relationship with Ezra. Ezra, then a college student. Ali, the high-school freshman. (Or maybe the eighth grader — we still don’t know how long they were dating.) Sigh.
And I don’t have especially high hopes for that book deal, either.
Lingering concerns: How did no one at Random House leak a manuscript of Ezra’s book by now? And wouldn’t the Random House legal department have a field day with the libelous, obviously incriminating, and not to mention statutory rape-y content within this “true crime” story Ezra’s peddling? Could Aria have picked a faker-sounding fake name than “Victoria Blackwell”? Why would Spencer take those pills from A when they could so easily be poison, or roofies, or who knows what?
Please don’t make me feel any crazier than I already do,
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.