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Pretty Little Liars Recap: This Is Where I Leave You

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - "No One Here Can Love or Understand Me" - Melissa's secrets are finally revealed while Hanna demands the truth about Ravenswood from Caleb in "No One Here Can Love or Understand Me," an all-new episode of ABC Family's hit original series "Pretty Little Liars," premiering Tuesday, August 19th (8:00 - 9:00 PM ET/PT). (ABC FAMILY/Ron Tom)SHAY MITCHELL, TROIAN BELLISARIO

If only we could all have a sister in our lives like Melissa Hastings: someone who will think that we are capable of murder ( … welp) but love us so much that, to protect us, she will bury the presumed-to-be-dead body of the girl she thinks we bashed in the head with a shovel ( … um) only to later find out she buried this girl alive. All in the name of sisterly protection! That’s what family is all about.

1. A, who could also be Alison, or could be not-Alison, we will never know (last week: A: not ranked; Ali: 4)
“We’re all in this together,” A writes, accidentally revealing that A is a big High School Musical fan. This nerdy attempt at an ominous warning is quickly forgotten, though, when A steps up with my personal favorite of her/his/its missives: “ACT NORMAL, BITCHES.”

2. Hanna (last week: 6)
This is high-level girlfriending, here. Putting up with Caleb’s impossibly dull but supposedly traumatic tales from the front lines of his already cancelled spinoff, wearing clothes that aren’t punk enough to be funny (see: the holey tights) or attractive enough to be cool, believing that love and trust can conquer even the most convoluted and useless of story lines. I’m impressed, Hanna. Plus, you all know how much I love when people sit in completely dark houses just so they have the element of surprise when the person they’re waiting for shows up. 

3. Magic Mike (last week: not ranked)
Great suit. Wear it always.

4. Emily (last week: 2)
It dawns on Emily that the Alison she loved is “someone from a long time ago, or someone who never existed.” Alison DiLaurentis is the Daisy Buchanan of Rosewood. Guess that explains her car fetish. 

Later, I see that Emily has been channeling one of the great sartorial role models of our time: Serena van der Woodsen. Exhibit A: the cleavage rhombus. Exhibit B: over-the-knee socks, for daytime

5. Aria (last week: 5)
Sometimes this girl’s acting is as clunky as her accessories, but Lucy Hale’s delivery of “No thanks” to Mona’s offer of hot chocolate earns, if not an Emmy, at least one of those Teen Choice surfboards. Aria tells her dad that it’s a very bad idea for Mike and Mona to date, speaking as she does from a position of authority regarding intelligent romantic choices. The next day, she wears, I believe a shredded crop top — fringe cut into the sleeves like what you may or may not have done to old T-shirts at sleep-away camp once upon a time — with an animal on it that I cannot identify. 

She and Hanna essentially recite the premise of this show: No one tells you anything when you want to know it, just when they feel like telling you. Then they only tell you enough to make you crazy.

6. Paige (last week: not ranked)
Well, it was bound to happen eventually: If the hair department on PLL insisted on giving everyone ombré highlights, someone was going to have to look terrible in them. That someone, unfortunately, is sweet Paige, who has the bad luck of being given Sun-In, dishwater-blonde tips on her dark brown hair. That said, good on you, Paige, for running into your ex when you’re dressed to the nines and she’s in her “working late at the Brew” T-shirt, and also for rebounding with some cute, anonymous blonde girl.

7. Ezra (last week: 11)
Surprisingly useful!

8. Mona (last week: 7)
We get a weak one-liner to explain why Mona’s army crumbled like so much fine rogue military operations — Ali kept luring away her recruits with “candy” and strategic hair tosses — which is quite disappointing. But Mona keeps the heart of the most eligible, age-appropriate bachelor in Rosewood and, as if we doubted her taste in men and compelling periods of American history, she helps Mike work on a paper about the Manhattan Project and tells him “J. Robert Oppenheimer is dreamy.” This is a fact I previously documented in a very important news story I wrote while in college about bangable gents you’d meet in your textbooks. #servicejournalism

Mona is very, very hard on herself — “Maybe I should have just died when I fell off that stupid cliff” — and claims to only want to know whether Mike really likes her. What can I say, my heart goes out to this little reckless, sometimes-violent girl. At least it does this week. 

9. Lieutenant Tanner (last week: 3)
This sneaky, sneaky cop. Oh, she’s just been meaning to ask you all something: “Who do you think killed Bethany Young? She was killed 30 yards away from where you were sleeping.” She oozes confidence and danger at Byron, with her whole “This town ranks surprisingly low on curiosity” and her crumb of intel that will only serve to make him panic. I hope next week Tanner actually solves some homicide(s) and earns the No. 1 spot in these Pretty Little Power Rankings.

10. Toby (last week: not ranked)
Such a good authority figure, right?

11. Byron Montgomery (last week: not ranked)
“I had my fedora re-blocked for the occasion.” Makes sense; when you’re seeing Strangers on a Train at old-timey movie night with your practically estranged daughter, your ex (who stands you up), your barely there son and his manipulative, sociopathic girlfriend, you want to look your best. 

12. Spencer (last week: 1)
Does she not remember the shovel thing? Like at all? I’m losing track of all this sporadic blackout stuff. I also worry that perhaps this tape put Spencer in the most vulnerable place she’s ever been in, so I must adhere to the rules of the rankings and give last week’s No. 1 placeholder the demotion she deserves, all the way down to here.

It’s not all bad news for Spence, though. I love that she asks, “Do I call you Officer Toby or Cadet Toby? I like Cadet, it sounds like you’re in space command.” She basically forces Hanna to listen to her have phone sex, or, at least, phone-foreplay. Spencer wisely advises Hanna to “never underestimate the power of a good romance.” She also wears a cute tights-booties-dress combo. Better luck next week, little sister.

13. Melissa (last week: 8)
That’s the big secret: Melissa has been a murderer this whole time, because she accidentally buried a stranger alive. In her video confession, she fake-spontaneously quotes The Tempest (you know she looked that quote up before she even started filming) and claims to want to protect Spencer, but by committing this testimony to tape, she is, de facto, leaking it to A, who will use it to ruin Spencer’s life.

14. Caleb (last week: 9)
The gist of this bit, I think, is Miranda vanished into the sky through a very hipster-sounding jar-opening and firefly-creating ritual, and then there was this blatant product placement for some movie called Ouija. From what I can gather, allowing that I used this scene as an opportunity to refresh my Instagram feed, this is a flick that hopes to be Jumanji for an audience too young to realize nothing else could ever be Jumanji. Caleb is afraid of his own dreams. He is such a poet. After all this blah-blah-blah, he and Hanna make out. If you’re reading this before you watch the episode, just fast-forward to the making-out part. Eventually Caleb falls asleep, wearing that flannel L.L. Bean shirt all our dads have been wearing since 1994. 

Anyway, I cannot believe we still have to tolerate all this Ravenswood blather. If anyone, anyone at all, cared about what happened in Ravenswood, do you know what show would still be on the air? Ravenswood. 

Lingering concerns: Are we supposed to believe that Spencer actually filmed the video of Melissa’s confession, or was Spencer just hallucinating? Did anyone else see that sign below the register saying The Brew is for sale? Did Zach skip town? 

Don’t play with your comfort food,

–J

Joe Cocker, Miles Davis

Photo: Ron Tom/ABC Family