Pretty Little Liars Recap: Arrested Development

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"To Plea or Not To Plea." Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC Family
Pretty Little Liars
Episode Title
To Plea or Not to Plea
Season
5
Episode
22
Editor’s Rating
3/5

Hey there, Rosewood! I’m back in town from Pawnee and I see these Liars have kept up their usual shenanigans in my absence: accidentally tampering with crime scenes, hookups with vaguely twentysomething-looking chaps (that’s hip British slang, like Colin would use), getting themselves arrested for crimes they swear they didn’t commit. Holler in the comments if I’ve missed any crucial plot developments and read on for the return of the Pretty Little Power Rankings.

1. Spencer
Finally, someone took my advice and got far, far away from Rosewood. Cannot stress enough how impressed I am by Spencer’s ability to keep her hair looking so on point, not only under so much stress, but in London, land of fog, perpetual drizzle, the worst hair weather on the planet. Girl even has soft, flowing curls after passing out with her hair soaked from the rain! And of course she is amazing at darts.

Spencer and Toby aren’t speaking, but this doesn’t bother me too much — apologies to all you Toby fans, but what’s the point of dating a guy on the police force if you and your friends are still in trouble with the police 24/7? Seems like the kid isn’t holding up his end of the bargain. And how could he, a “teenager,” compete with the suave, worldly 25-ish charms of Colin? (The idea that any of these people is under 18 is so laughable at this point, I almost wish we’d drop the high school conceit altogether; I have to assume the writers had the 29-year-old Troian Bellisaro squeal with glee at ordering her “first legal beer” as an inside joke for us.)

One important caveat here: It’s very basic-teen to say that Hamlet is your favorite Shakespeare play, but Spencer’s favorite tragedy would obviously be Richard III. No way Spencer has the patience for whiny, indecisive teen-boy bullshit; something tells me she’d relate much more to the story of a power-hungry psycho ascending as high as he can get through a strategic string of murders and marriage. (Her favorite comedy has to be Much Ado About Nothing; if anyone is too wise to woo peaceably, it’s this all-star.)

2. Emily
Quality sleuthing, Emily! Reckless, dangerous, and seemingly worthless, as Hanna still ends the episode Piper-ing it up in prison, but still: I see improvement. Itty-bitty shorts, and improvement. Honestly Emily should win a prize for keeping a straight face when Aria tells her that she hasn’t “seen Ezra in a while” and “doesn’t want things to be weird.” You know Emily has listened to this 10 billion times and wishes Aria would shut up about it.

3. Aria
When I first saw Aria I wrote IS SHE WEARING A TANK TOP AS A DRESS? Turns out she was just wearing peachy-colored jeans, but you can forgive my confusion. Why is she wearing these jeans with knee-high black boots? What season is it supposed to be? Aria has to take a history test that Andrew helped her study for, as if Rosewood High even offers history. Given this rare opportunity to dedicate herself to her studies — in the midst of her panic about college, no less — Aria uses her study session as a make-out session. Never change, Aria. Andrew, apparently a time traveler from 1997, leaves Aria a handwritten note in her locker to wish her luck.

Plus, points to Aria for realizing that she should be single when she goes to college. How precocious! Usually takes the high school couples until fall break to figure out they don’t want to stay together forever. Aria says she can’t imagine her life without him and Ezra’s all “lol you don’t have to this is a TV show and we’ll hook up again in like five episodes.”

4. Caleb
I guess I can be okay with short-hair Caleb? It’s not ideal but, oh, A, give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change.

5. Ashley Marin
Rough break for a former jailbird and my favorite parent in Rosewood. She does a good job getting Hanna to open up with the no-fail tactic of “YOU NEED TO TELL ME NOW.” Hanna’s explanation is disgusting, as are all things involving this vat of clothes/human remains/blood, but Ashley cannot be fazed. She has seen too much already. “Hanna, I’m your mother. It’s my job to protect you.” Ashley has to spell this out because literally no one else in Rosewood even knows what a mother’s job is.

6. The fact that these girls have learned NOTHING
No one backed up any of those text messages from A on an external hard drive? Are you kidding me? Your only evidence against this anonymous cyberstalking being who keeps framing all of you for murder and generally destroying your lives, and it didn’t occur to a single one of you to store backups of these messages someplace other than your phones? Print hard copies? I don’t trust Aria not to lose her phone in her freaking backpack. COME ON PEOPLE. I don’t like to victim-blame as a general rule, but it’s like these kids are trying to get murdered.

7. Veronica Hastings
“If Hanna is innocent, and you name her as an accomplice, you will have to live with that terrible lie for the rest of your life.” It is this kind of level-headed real-talk that would save Hanna from the clinker, if only someone else hadn’t put her blood (?!?) on Mona’s clothes.

8. Melissa
I feel for Melissa, even though she may be evil or working for A or a secret murderer — you can never know ’round these parts — because it seems like she does have Spencer’s best interests at heart. Sure, she lies about the whole interview at Andrew’s thing, but she’s willing to work with Wren to try to make said interview happen. Pretty big of Melissa to coordinate with her ex-fiancée who made out with her teenage sister in order to help her teenage sister have a chance at life away from the A-insanity. (Maybe the characters in this show forget what happened in the pilot, but I never will.)

Also, can someone please tell me what “the secret” is that Melissa and Spencer allude to in this sisterly conversation? “Doing something wrong can seem like the right thing when you’re trying to help someone you love,” says Melissa. WHAT IS THE WRONG THING? Oh, they promise not to lie to each other anymore; I think we should all take a shot whenever someone on this show makes that promise, so we can get a good buzz going every Tuesday night.

9. Ezra
Did I miss the part where Ezra’s “book,” a.k.a. the years Ezra spent lying to/manipulating all the Liars and having sex with an underage girl for the purposes of wrecking their lives through narrative, gets to be considered an asset? Like, we’re calling it “research” now? Sure.

10. Colin
What happened to Jonny from the guest house? Don’t know, don’t care. I consider this an upgrade, even if his insistence on dropping British slang into every single sentence is irritating to me. I believe that high school me would have swooned at such foreign-sounding lingo as “Andrews is a wicked school” and “I make a brilliant hot toddy,” so even though he is clearly just talking this way to get in Spencer’s preppy pants, I won’t dock too many points. Don’t hate the player, etc.

11. Varjack
So we’re just not even trying with the names anymore, I see. Marlene King is dumping out a Scrabble set and making up seven-letter words out of completely random letters.

12. Ali
Ali says she was set up by Cyrus, her faux-kidnapper (could really attach faux to the beginning of everything Ali says/does/is), but no dice: Testimony can’t save you now, girl. Do we really think Ali would ever get out of prison early on “good behavior”? She’s a low-grade sociopath; no way is this chick seeing the other side of a cell before her 15 years are up. Then again, it looks like they’re letting her blow-dry her hair in there, so, small favors.

13. This production of Hamlet set in modern-day London
“Does he really have to have a cellphone?” Spencer, the purist, asks. Colin thought it was “terrible rubbish,” too, because he cannot miss an opportunity to remind Spencer of how British he is; being in London and having an accent and taking her to see a Shakespeare play is not enough Britishness, not for Colin! Anyway, this play sounds insufferable and I am sorry dear Spencer had to suffer through it. They can’t all be Romeo + Juliet. (Peak Leo! Baby Claire! If anyone wants to talk about how much they, too, love this underappreciated classic and its very '90s soundtrack, find me on Twitter.)

14. Hanna
Look on the bright side, Hanna: Before you went to prison, you were wearing a binder loop on a chain as a necklace and a skirt so short there’s no way Ashley Marin, Mother of the Year, would’ve approved. At least in prison, you are safe from your own wildly inconsistent taste in clothing!

Lingering concerns: What else is on Spencer’s bucket list? Who beat up Ali in prison? What are her weird wounds even from?

It’s a shame you’re leaving so soon,

-J