Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Pretty Little Liars Recap: Tick, Tick ... BOOM!

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - "Miss Me x 100" - Its Alison's first day back at Rosewood High and Mona and her army are ready in "Miss Me x 100," the 100th episode of ABC Family's hit original series "Pretty Little Liars," premiering Tuesday, July 8th (8:00 - 9:00 PM ET/PT). (ABC FAMILY/Eric McCandless)LUCY HALE, SHAY MITCHELL, ASHLEY BENSON, TROIAN BELLISARIO, SASHA PIETERSE

For a show about a bunch of liars, PLL revealed a whole lot of truths last night in its 100th episode: that Shana was murdered, that Ali hasn’t stopped lying to her friends, that the girl in Ali’s grave was a Radley runaway, and that Veronica Hastings is, as we’ve always suspected, too good for Mr. Hastings and needs out of that marriage faster than you can say “time for a girls’ night out with Ashley Marin.” But as is fitting for such a landmark episode, the one at the top of the Pretty Little Power Rankings is the big bad we’ll be running from forever. 

1. A (last week: not ranked)
Look who’s back with a bang. I have to say, I didn’t really feel right about these episodes that weren’t ending with ominous shots of black gloves, a hooded figure, and scary, Liars-like dolls. Hearing those beep-beeps of the Liars’ cell phones go off gave me happy, welcome-back-to-the-show shivers.

2. Ashley (last week: not ranked)
“When you sober up, we’re having a serious talk about consequences. And yours won’t just be a hangover.” LOOK AT THIS PARENTING. Look at this good-humored yet stern parenting. Look at this self-restraint: “I am mad, but I know you won’t remember, so we’ll talk about it tomorrow.”

3. Mona (last week: 3)
I was already going to put Mona in the top five for her spooky scene at the church. Even though Ali slapped her harder, Mona slapped first. But then: the secret video. How could anyone forget, in the skeevy origins of this show, the clandestine videos taken of all the Liars? Mona using that video — in public! — to turn everyone against Ali yet again was an inspired move. She solidifies her spot in the top three when she says, “When people tell me who they are, I believe them,” wisdom I assume she learned from Maya Angelou by way of Oprah.

4. Emily (last week: 2)
Something must have clicked in this girl’s brain, because she has never been more vicious. Even when it is honestly kind of uncalled for and out of line. Like, “She’s still full-on blind, right?” and “No offense, but if she’s sad, she could cry in New York.” Emily, you can’t say stuff like that about a blind person when you are the reason she is blind.

5. Hanna (last week: 1)
Girl gets some of the best lines of the night, including but not limited to, “It says we’re supposed to be dressed appropriately for the presentation. Like business conservative? I’d rather wear vomit.” Her braids are adorable, her smudgy eyeliner and red lips are top-notch, and her hangover outfit is sublime. It’s like she’s accidentally channeling Caleb with her outfit because he’s the reason she got wasted in the first place, with her sad-girl-from-the–Les Mis–poster hat and those movie-star shades. Even when she is wasted, Hanna does not have a speck of makeup out of place. What is your secret, Hanna? (The secret is television.) I felt the feelings for real when Hanna was Spencer’s first phone call. It’s easy to forget, what with Ashley Marin making single-motherhood look easy as that key-lime pie, but Hanna’s dad walked out on her family for some blonde people we never really hear about anymore, come to think of it, and anyway, their bond here is very sweet and moving to me.

6. Glee Club (last week: not ranked)
A Frozen sing-along! 

7. Veronica Hastings (last week: 5)
“I’m leaving your father. You’re coming with me.” Melissa and Mr. Hastings killed Jessica DiLaurentis, and Veronica is going to pull her favorite child out of the wreckage of this marriage if it’s the last thing she does! Now, does the timeline of these events confuse me very much because it seemed like Veronica and Spencer were going to hightail it out of Rosewood and to a hotel before Pops could get home? Yes, a lot! If anyone can explain this to me in the comments, I’ll reward you with a Spencer GIF. 

8. Travis (last week: not ranked)
Could Travis be more romantic? The “let’s look for this planet” bit. (Although, for what? A school project? Is Travis enrolled somewhere besides the Conveniently Located Gas Station Academy?) The hand on Hanna’s chin maneuver. The “hurry up I miss u already” text. Don’t mess this up, Caleb.

9. Jenna (last week: not ranked)
So it seems the show has completely abandoned the very early and disgusting aspects of Jenna’s character — namely, that she tried to blackmail her brother into having sex with her by framing him as having already had sex with her, No. 4 on the Crazy Power Ranking — and instead is clinging only to the also disturbing thing where she was blinded by all the Liars. How else to explain her relatively sympathetic framing  here? It also appears that Jenna’s purpose in this series is just to pop in and out of town whenever a new-ish character needs a reason to be suddenly “connected” to the plot, and throwing that person in the mix with Jenna is an easy way to not worry about the fact that the new person (Swimfan, in this case; previously, Shana) has been absent from the narrative this entire time.

10. Paige
Paige’s unwavering ability to stand up to Alison without completely cutting Emily out of her life is very impressive, too. “You were a terrible person, Alison. And I hated you for it. I didn’t care that you were dead. I was happy you were gone.” Yes, yes, yes!

11. Spencer (last week: 2)
Points docked immediately for Spencer’s choice of overall shorts during her hang with Toby. I was also not feeling her star sweater and red neckerchief combo. Was this a wink from the costume department to the fact that, in our real world, where time is a thing that passes at a regular rate, the Fourth of July was last weekend? Then again, she did learn to make her own satellite on the internet. And she and her mom are always there for each other, except for that part where it looks like Veronica ran away and let Spencer hang around town.

12. Ali (last week: 8)
I never thought I would say this, but I am so glad Ali is alive. She is way more entertaining now that she is actually a human person and not just some hologram-style memory conjured up by a bunch of teenage girls who are all probably suffering from PTSD. Still, I don’t really know what to make of her whole “I did like-like you more than the other girls so let’s make out now” thing, because I don’t trust anything Ali does, ever. At the end of the episode, Ali was struggling, for sure, but I have to acknowledge this excellent power play at the church: “Everyone wants to be my friend, and that’s what you’re afraid of.” Her slap is incredible. That said, I’d be nervous if I were her: The police department did refer to her kidnapping as “alleged,” after all.

13. Toby
Toby’s hair looks like it was inspired by the Beast after he turns human again, which makes sense because Spencer — brave, brilliant, bookworm-y — is so obviously a Belle. Also, this interaction:

Toby: So if action is character, then who is Ali now?
Spencer: Been reading Fitzgerald?
Toby: I’ve been RE-reading Fitzgerald.

Because Spencer would never date a guy who could hit the second half of high school without familiarizing himself with the entry-level American classics.

14. Mindy and Cindy (last week: not ranked)
Ali used to call them “gay-rons,” as in “gay morons” as in, come on, Ali, you can do better than that.

15. Ezra (last week: 10)
Well, isn’t that a clever trick, showing off your abs by way of showing off your scar. I haven’t seen a more obvious “check out my bod” move since Ben Affleck filmed a slow pan of his own chest in Argo for absolutely no legitimate reason. Anyway, he and Aria have what might be the first braless sex scene in PLL history, and I’m going to assume that someone on this show’s staff agrees with me that their relationship is creepy as hell because an acoustic cover of one of the creepiest creep anthems of our time, “I’ll Be Watching You,” is the soundtrack to this hookup.

16. Aria (last week: 12)
The ONE good thing I will say for Ezra and Aria’s lovefest is that I like how Aria gets to ask Ezra “Does that hurt?” and he’s the one who says “I can handle it,” because the reversal of traditional gender scripts is something the PLPR cannot not celebrate.

17. Total lack of discretion on the part of murderers and/or people in illicit relationships (last week: not ranked)
Not speaking from any firsthand murdering experience myself, but if I were Aria, I would not walk around downtown Rosewood saying Shana’s name loud and clear while talking about how guilty I feel for causing her untimely stage-dive. Also, no personal expertise in this arena, either — but if I were in one of these “I’m not sure what we are but we used to be people who smushed faces together in cars and other places” couples with my English teacher, I would not stroll about the avenues with this older man, in full view of the world.

18. Caleb (last week: not ranked, probably getting a haircut)
Shows up at the coffee shop with a bunch of randos, vanishes vampire-style, winds up drinking beer (?) alone (?) on a playground swing (once more, with feeling: ?) and talks about Ravenswood, which hopefully after that brief and obligatory bit of plot-related housekeeping, we shall never speak of again. 

19. Lucas (last week: not ranked)
Ugh, the fake girlfriend trick. And here I thought he’d grown up. When he said to Hanna, “Let’s do something nobody else in the school is doing today,” I thought he was going to say “go to class” or “study” or something. But no such luck. Also, dude, don’t tell girls that the laundry-detergent-colored punch you made is supposed to be consumed “rapidly and repeatedly” unless you want everyone to think you roofied it.

Lingering concerns: So the PLL credits are amazing, but do you think they’ll update them now that Ali is alive? Where is Emily’s mom for all of this? Why is she so chill about same-sex sleepovers, given that she knows Emily is gay? Who is Bethany Young?

Why not pie?

—J

Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC Family