This week has been all about seeing people in unexpected places: POTUS on "Between Two Ferns," Rust and Marty arm-in-arm outside the hospital, and some mystery human in Ali’s hideout at the very, very end of last night’s penultimate episode of PLL. Only two Pretty Little Power Rankings left this season! Don’t worry: This show might not answer all our questions, but I leave no power play unaddressed.
1. Hanna (last week: 2)
Hanna has the best of everything this week: the best kiss, the best mom, the best one-liners, and the best outerwear in the form of that hammered-metal sequin sweater-jacket thing. (Is it too much for daytime? Maybe I’m just going soft so close to the season finale.) Let’s break Hanna’s successes down. First she crushes Aria with this sass:
Aria: Spencer, you really need to eat something. Hanna, give her your cookie.
Hanna: You give her YOUR cookie! I’m hungry.
Then she apologizes to Travis for screwing up their date and she’s so eager for a second shot, she’s all “We don’t even have to call it a date. We can just eat at the same time. Across from each other.” (Of course Hanna’s date ideas all involve food consumption.) She hilariously cuts off the guy welcoming her to the bridal show — “Welcome to Engaged to Change, a night to benefit — ” “Save it, I’m working this” — a move which I think was really more about how PLL is as committed to not telling us what charity does as SATC was to keeping Mr. Big’s name a secret.
2. Travis (last week: not ranked)
Tractor Travis picked up a few shifts “working” for the library (in the middle of the school day because he doesn’t have class because sure) gives Hanna the cold shoulder after she accidentally gave more attention to her phone than to him on their first date. But his too-cute face at Hanna’s request for a “do-over” is so adorable, the ABC Family recommended hashtag is literally #AwwTravis.
Later, Travis straight-up causes a fender bender just to help Hanna snoop around for reasons she does not even bother to explain (but he knows enough to ask her if “this is the sort of ting that’s going to require a police line-up?”). Before she jets off to get her sleuthing on, he Jerry Maguires her and they make out. It’s the sweetest. Travis, as awful monster-human Juan Pablo would probably say even after dating you exclusively for several months and getting paid to publicly confess his love to you: I like you a lot.
3. Ashley Marin (last week: not ranked)
I do not like the way J.D. treats Ashley at all. Bossing her around like she’s some little Mona-minion? Umm, do you realize who you’re snarking at, J.D.? Obviously not, because when left unattended, Ashley goes full Nancy Drew and finds out that some brand-new clothes for Ali are in Ali’s room, a.k.a., someone’s been shopping for her supposedly dead daughter. Nice work, Mrs. Marin.
4. J.D. (last week: 3)
I wrestled with this ranking a lot, dear readers, because I don’t want to just favor Ashley because I favor Ashley. But I decided: J.D. isn’t more powerful than Ashley, she’s just more terrifying. That flashback, where she’s all “Fight fire with fire! SMOKE HER OUT.” Whaaaaat was that even?!? Is J.D. related to the scary grandma from Flowers in the Attic? The mom from Carrie? And then in present day, when she sees Ashley uncovering that sartorial evidence and goes, “Does this look like a guest room to you?” Yikes.
As if this is not disconcerting enough, her non-reaction to Holbrooke’s “news” that Ali isn’t in Ali’s grave is red flag city.
5. Spencer (last week: 9)
Spence gets some privileges back but she’s still being stalked by Dean, who for whatever reason is incapable of doing his job without using a condescending counselor voice. He also makes kind of a huge deal out of her whole gross and embarrassing urine sample situation (“Can’t escape the cup, Emily” = all the points). Spencer handles this with about as much grace and patience as a normal person can muster, naturally.
That said, I am not really buying this whole “Spencer used to be so sick and medicated that it’s like she had two personalities” story line. First of all, if this were such a big deal, why have we never heard anything about it before, I don’t know, three episodes ago? And if this show wants us to believe that Spencer was (1) seriously ill and (2) mind-erasingly addicted to something, they’re going to need to clear up exactly what that something was. People do not lose their memories and develop multiple personalities because they pop an Adderall or two before the PSAT.
Also, Spencer has never sounded whiter in her white, Waspy life than she does when telling Jason she didn’t come to the fund-raiser “to get up in your mom’s grill.”
I like her totally disheveled bridal look; it’s all very Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia. Then again, her veil gets caught in a GIANT BEAR TRAP that is in the woods for some reason, everything is terrifying, stay inside every day always. Then we discover that the inside of the belt on Spencer’s dress has FINGER BONES IN IT. Sorry for all the caps lock but FINGER BONES.
I would just like to point out that the fact that Spencer didn’t realize there were bones jamming into her waist the entire time she was wearing the dress speaks volumes about the pain women just expect to feel when wearing formal gowns, and how sick is that? Honestly, it’s like sicker than everything Ali and A have done to everyone on this entire show.
6. Whoever puts together those “Previously on PLL” clips (last week: not ranked)
This person must be brilliant because who but a genius could keep any of this straight? Even Spencer can’t remember which one of her friends nearly got “kebab-ed with a knitting needle” in Casa DiLaurentis. When Emily told Jason that she hadn’t heard from him “since I almost left half my body in an elevator shaft” I was like, “Oh, wait, that happened?” And did not remember the episode to which she was referring until maybe twenty minutes later. So a tip of the hat to you, plot-rememberer and clip-collector. Whoever you are, you’re an inspiration.
7. Emily (last week: 4)
I like that Emily’s reaction to Paige’s cagey bullshit about being with her grandparents, who are “needy and old” is “All grandparents are old.” She gets the prettiest (or, at least, bustier-est) wedding dress. Hair looks impeccable as usual. I approve.
8. Officer Holbrook (last week: 10)
Finally, a not-incompetent and not-corrupt ( … so far) police officer in Rosewood. He’s so dashing and totally age-appropriate (for me, not the Liars, who should really stick to dating high school students), and he sort of looks like Jack from Newsies’ older, more regularly showering brother. I am so happy he is exhuming that grave. Remember the time one of the girls was found digging up Ali’s grave, maybe it was Emily, and no one could figure out how she got there or what she unearthed? Wonder if we’ll get closure on that front. Anyway, I just think PLL is running out of ways to keep this bit where only the Liars know Ali is alive interesting; can you imagine how much crazier everything will get once all of Rosewood knows Ali is on the loose?
Look at that girl’s snotty attitude when she runs into Veronica Hastings on her way home from some party. “It’s, umm, past my curfew.” You’re like 14 years old, Ali! For the love of trashy eyeliner application, do not talk to other people’s parents that way.
10. Aria (last week: 1)
Just me, or is Aria’s makeup back to pilot perfection in this episode? Are they hearing our cries? If so, hooray! Lucy Hale’s lovely face doesn’t need Jenny Humphrey eyeliner. (I mean, neither did Jenny Humphrey, but I guess you do what you can when Taylor Momsen is being all Taylor Momsen–y all over your set.)
Good on Aria for telling her mom to not make every freaking thing into a “teaching moment.” Teachers: obviously a sore point for Aria at the moment.
11. Mrs. Montgomery (last week: not ranked)
Mazel Tov on your engagement! I hope you are much, much better at this marriage than you are at parenting.
12. Paige (last week: not ranked)
I wanted to put Paige up higher because she said what I have been thinking for years — “I don’t care about what happens to Alison” — but she got dumped by one of the Liars. Tough break, Paige. Maybe take some time for yourself, buy a new and not-hideous denim jacket.
13. Jason (last week: not ranked)
Still hot, still has a good haircut, still not contributing a whole lot plotwise but is doing great work, cheekbone-wise. Scarlett-Rhett shipper that I am, I wholeheartedly approve of Jason’s “hide on the couch while a dramatic woman yells something she does not want you to overhear” maneuver, a ploy straight out of Twelve Oaks.
14. Veronica Hastings (last week: 7)
Veronica just up and fires Dean (not that I liked him, but still), because he fell asleep in the most platonic way possible on the same couch as her daughter, a daughter who is madly in love with Toby? (Brilliant minds who noticed Toby’s London postmark, here is the first part of the greatest film about London in the history of cinema.) Come on, Veronica, you’re supposed to be a voice of reason.
15. Dean (last week: 13, which for the record was last week’s lowest ranking)
I shall paraphrase Dean’s good-bye to Spencer: “Here is my number. You can call me literally anytime, you know, 24/7, because I am insanely attracted to you, and I wish I didn’t have to meet you under these circumstances that require me to inquire about your ability to produce enough pee to fill a cup. I realize now that’s not especially romantic, so again, super sorry about that, here’s a clue that you are definitely smart enough to have found yourself by Googling the name of the rehab facility Jason claims to have just visited, so, ahh, oh, I see, you’re going in for the platonic hug. That’s cool, that’s totally fine by me, I’m, I only wanted a hug. Hugging’s my favorite. Can I read you one more bedtime story?”
Lingering concerns: Does anyone believe J.D. would have provided Aria with fingerless bridal gloves? Did American Apparel make that hoodie Spencer was wearing when that flashback took place? Can we get an episode that’s entirely told in flashbacks? Too soon to ask for another noir episode? WHO DID THEY SEE?
Don’t speak to my mother; she can’t know anything,
PLL fans who’ve read the books: Keep your spoiler-filled knowledge to yourselves! TV talk only, both below and on Twitter, please and thank you.