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Pretty Little Liars Recap: You Don’t Know Me

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - "Surfing the Aftershocks"

This episode was too clever by half, but that’s better than too incoherent by a billion. We get ominous conversations at the Hastings homestead, flashbacks to Hanna’s origin story with some very important blanks filled in, and a funereal fashion faux-pas. Must be Tuesday in Rosewood.

1. Spencer (last week: 3)
When the time comes to list all great, manipulative, secret-hoarding, low-talking fictional families throughout history, the Hastings family shall surely earn a place in the top ten, somewhere near the Lannisters, the Dollangangers, and the Popes. Can you imagine Thanksgiving with these people?

Also, I like Spencer’s bird sweater, and how she sits primly on the couch in the dark waiting for her dad to come home so she can spook him upon his arrival, just like Jason did last week. Aww, siblings. But really, Spencer could win the episode for her dialogue alone. Her words packed more bite than Luis Suarez. In sort-of chronological order, my favorites:

  1. “She’s going to bury the woman who tried to bury her.” That’s one way to send Ali off to her mother’s funeral.
  2. To Emily’s “We’re all thinking of the same person”: “Really? Did you start reading minds?” To be fair, Spencer is the only person on this show who I am confident can read, like, at all.
  3. “Who do you think they’re more worried about, me or you?” Spencer to Melissa, about her parents. It’s one thing to know you’re the favorite, but to dare your sister to acknowledge that fact aloud? For a certifiable Wasp, Spencer’s got a whole lot of chutzpah.
  4. “When you sell a house, don’t you have to tell a new buyer about things like mold and termites and dead bodies?” Nice burn, Spence. Bet you can’t say anything worse to her dad right no— “Forget about selling the house. We can just put a koi pond out back. Somebody already dug a hole.” !!!!
  5. “She didn’t even enter an address to whom she meant to send.” Did you think this champion would end a sentence in a preposition just because a horrific, violent crime occurred in her backyard and the police tape is still up to prove it? Please.
  6. “Crazy, as you know around here, works on a sliding scale.”
  7. To her dad, when he takes Mrs. DiLaurentis’s email: “Is this a magic trick? Are you going to make it disappear?”

2. Emily
OMG, Emily has a swimfan.

Even in the batshit-crazy universe of this show, Emily and Paige’s interactions have always felt authentic to me. Except for that one time Paige tried to drown Emily in the pool and then they started dating anyway. Really, since then it has been smooth sailing (or swimming, as the case may be), plausibility-wise.

I love the scene between Emily and Hanna in the car, when Hanna asks what it was like to come out. This could have felt really after-school-special-ish, and instead, it just felt true. Emily’s line about how she wasn’t “becoming something else, I was becoming myself,” is spot-on, as is Hanna’s identity crisis. Hanna, in the adolescent act of shedding one personality for another until she landed on one that granted her the power she desired, lost track of who she really was, and it’s only now that Ali is back that she realizes she “never knew who the hell I was.” Hang in there, Han! To quote teenage insight-factory Angela Chase, “People always say you should be yourself, like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster or something. Like you can know what it is even.”

3. Hanna (last week: not ranked, oops. Accidents happen when you power-rank after midnight.)
When we first see Hanna this episode, she is wearing an open-back dress. For a funeral. (Remember in the very first PLPR, when I ranked the LBD industry in Rosewood? This scene really brought me back.) I’m very impressed by Hanna and Emily’s detective skills: Way to use the pizza place down the street from Jason’s makeshift rehab sublet — I know, I know, it’s no use even interrogating how ridiculous that is — to determine Jason’s innocence.

I appreciated this twist in the Hefty Hanna turned popular-girl plotline we already know so well. As soon as the funeral guy thought Hanna was Ali, I wondered if Ali would be threatened by the fact that Hanna turned out to be (forgive the forbidden cliché) Ali 2.0.

Just one thing: What the hell was that “we’re popular now” outfit combo she and Mona were wearing in the flashback? Hanna had this button-down shirt, closed up to the neck as if she attends a school that actually enforces a dress code, with this hot-pink, cropped jacket-thing over it, and also a poufy black skirt for some reason. Mona dressed like a flamenco dancer. If they weren’t walking in slow motion — passing by a hilariously dumbfounded Sporty Emily and Preppy Spencer — I would have assumed they were still in their uncool phase, about to be mocked by everybody in sight for their bonkers attire.

4. Everyone’s hair and makeup (last week: not ranked)
Berry lips and light shimmer on the eyes for a funeral? Sure, why not! Aria seems to have toned down the eyeliner. Paige and Emily have these honey-blonde highlights that tell me they belong together. This stuck-at-home scruff is a good look for Ezra.

5. Melissa (last week: not ranked)
What is Melissa’s big secret?!? Ha, just kidding, it doesn’t matter; learning things on this show doesn’t really lead anywhere, so. I’m happy Melissa is back, though. Spencer needs someone who can keep up with her to spar with, and clearly Melissa is the one to answer that call. Case in point:

Spencer: We’re not exactly Hatfields and McCoys.
Melissa: Nothing so rustic. More like the Borgias and the Medicis.

Stay a while, Melissa. I vote for more Hastings always. Plus I can get behind any girl who says, re: Alison, “Frankly, I wish you would’ve left her where you found her.”

6. Mr. Hastings (last week: not ranked)
“Sometimes complicated problems have simple solutions.” Yeah, I’m going to take damage-control advice from a guy who got his next-door neighbor pregnant and kept living next door to her while she raised their clandestine love-child.

7. Mona (last week: 1)
I have a quandary, friends, and maybe you can guide me with your insight in the comments. Mona’s delivery — her Suits-snappy quips, the way everything she says is obviously a threat in fake-friendly packaging, the ease with which she tortures people by withholding or carefully doling out intel — is crossing over to the bad side of campy. I fear we are maybe three episodes away from wanting to yell at our televisions: “NO ONE talks like that!”

For now, though, Mona can be on cleverness probation: If she gets any slicker, she’ll slide to the bottom of these rankings. Even in the flashbacks, she has this confident, cruel streak I don’t remember her possessing so soon after Ali’s disappearance. Straight-up asking one of the best friends of a girl who is missing and presumed to be dead, “Ever wonder what you’d look like on one of those fliers?” as if most girls sit around and imagine if their face would look fat on the side of the milk carton.

8. Ali (last week: 13)
Ugh, don’t you hate when you go to borrow a dress from your mom to wear to her funeral but it turns out to be the same dress she wore to your funeral? #delaurentisproblems

9. The Principal of Rosewood High (last week: not ranked)
“The four of you have had a very stressful week.” Oh, hey there, Mr. Understatement, can’t wait to hear what thrilling English curriculum you’ll be overseeing this year, given that it’s the only class your somehow-still-credentialed high school offers.

10. Aria (last week: 9)
She’s still all shook up about the killing Shauna thing, yet somehow Aria can dig deep within herself and find the courage to mix floral with stripes. You wear those clashing patterns, girl. Nothing can stop you now.

11. Paige (last week: not ranked)
Paige is low on this list only because it is a ranking power, not of “who makes me feel the most feelings.” “All I can say is, I love you. Like if I say it just right, it’ll fix things.” Emily tells her, “You deserve the best of everything,” and Paige says, “That’s what I had,” and I die like Jessica DiLaurentis.

12. Jason (last week: 8)
Leaving so soon, Jay? “My mother had a lot of secrets. Too many. That’s what really killed her.” Umm, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure murder is what killed her.

13. Ezra (last week: not ranked)

Aria: Here I am, once again, back at the scene of the crime.
Ezra: There’s no crime here, as I see it.

Well, statutory rape is a crime. Other than that, though, crime-free! Oh, also Aria is a murderer lol it’ll be fine.

Lingering concerns: Why is Mona just applying lipstick while sitting alone at a lunch table like some cartoon villain? Why was Hanna’s hair still blonde in the “next week on Pretty Little Liars” clips? Did your mom always want you to understand the fragile nature of life, and is that why she started dragging you to all your relatives’ funerals starting when you were 7?

If she’s really gone, someone’s going to have to take her place,

—J

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.

Photo: Eric McCandless/Disney