Pretty Little Liars Recap: True Detectives

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Still in fragile states of mind, the PLLs try to put their lives back to together in "Songs of Experience." Photo: Eric McCandless/Disney Enterprises
Pretty Little Liars
Episode Title
Songs of Experience
Season
6
Episode
3
Editor’s Rating
3/5

We’re getting William Blake references in last week's and this week’s episode titles: What does it mean? A reminder that cruelty has a human heart, that secrecy has the human dress? Even your power ranker, an English major who, unlike our Liars, typically attended English class in high school, can only guess at this dual reference’s significance. Here’s what I do know: There are three weeks until graduation, the Liars were made to play a version of the Milgram experiment in prison (they thought they were shocking each other by pulling switches but no one ever actually got shocked), and Shay Mitchell still says “sorry” in a Canadian accent. Oh, and one more thing: I know who dominates this week’s Pretty Little Power Rankings.

1. Jason (last week: not ranked)
Legitimately useful, tells the truth to the people who need to hear it, levels with Spencer and Ali, looks damn good with the shirt and tie and scruff, is going to be deeply messed up when it becomes clear that his parents pretended a real human in his life was imaginary to cover their tracks.

2. Hanna (last week: 3)
“Hell, yes, I’m going to school.” I, too, would be adamant about my triumphant return to class if I got to do it in Hanna’s excellent dress, which is like something Sally Draper might wear if she time-traveled to 2015. She wouldn’t pair it with the tacky spike heels that are extra-absurd in context (… can you imagine some girl wearing those to school?), but let’s not forget young Miss Marin is still recovering from her trauma. 

Hanna makes the pragmatic, thoughtful decision to turn to Dr. Sullivan in this time of trauma — why this isn’t, like, mandatory and overseen by more adults in their lives, who even knows anymore — but then has to be Hanna again and ask, “You’re a doctor, can’t you subpoena them?” It’s okay, she’s taking baby steps. That’s probably all she’s capable of in those shoes, anyway.

3. Ali (last week: 8)
Ali says the thing that would have made sense — that is, if anything in this dear program made sense — about two seasons ago: “It’s all my fault … It all comes down to me. Everyone would be fine without me.” But now that she’s “grown” (ahem, has no character consistency [cough]), it just confuses me. What are we blaming her for, again, and what was actually out of her control? On the bright side, the pop of color in her sleeveless top is an improvement over earlier fashion missteps, and she can kick a soccer ball in wedges.

4. Pam Fields (last week: 1)
“You girls need to check in with your parents and let them know what’s happening.” Pam, don’t think I don’t see this as parenting. Don’t think that because it isn’t flashy or at the center of the episode, I don’t appreciate your maternal work in action. Keep on keeping on.

5. Andrew (last week: not ranked)
Welcome back to freedom, Andrew! His superior alibi is not his appendix removal but the fact that he was in school the entire time the Liars were held captive. Because we all know Rosewood High is so strict about its definitely nonexistent attendance policy.

Do we buy that this chap, who always had more chemistry with Spencer (stripteasing study buddies! #neverforget) than he did with Aria (as in, I regularly forget they ever dated), was doing some off-the-grid heroism, and that he was looking for Aria the entire time she was missing, just on the sly? Doesn’t hold up to close inspection, but then again, I love that burned Andrew tells the Liars that they will mostly definitely be "Pomp and Circumstance"–ing out of school at the end of the year: “The school wants you gone as much as the rest of us. You’ll graduate with honors.” Not to mention: “Other towns have nice toxic dumps. Rosewood has you.”

6. Spencer (last week: 6)
“You can’t exactly ask for a hall pass to go feed your hostage,” says Spencer, a high-school student who has slipped frictionlessly from her school’s premises with such bulletproof excuses as, “Cover for me,” and “I have to go.”

I can’t really blame Veronica for wanting her daughter, who was just stolen in the night and held captive by an abusive psycho who is still at large, to keep a parent posted on her whereabouts. But Spencer seems to think her mother is not on her team, and I’m not going to question her above-average judgment in the who-should-we-trust department.

7. Lorenzo (last week: 9)
“You’ve got the moves,” he says to a 17-year-old girl, licking his lips and looking her up and down. RENZ, CAN YOU NOT.

8. Toby (last week: 10)
I respect that there is one person in this universe who stays the course of not trusting Ali, even though the idea that Lorenzo — the grown man seducing teenage girls over rec soccer games — is the one who needs protecting from Ali is, I mean, it’s just like, why.

9. Emily (last week: 4)
Was not expecting Emily to just have a burner phone lying around; plus points for that level of preparedness. But minus points for that ill-fitting, drawstring-at-the-waist camouflage jumpsuit. I might forgive if Emily had put it on knowing she’d be spending the day spoon-feeding French toast to her new roomie, but Emily got dressed that morning thinking she’d be returning to school for the first time in a month, so, no.

Actually LOLed at Emily’s blank stare when Sarah said, “They described me as feral. Did you think I looked feral?” I am 80 percent sure Emily does not know what feral means.

10. Sad Rapunzel/Sad Robyn (last week: 13)
Sarah Harvey spends most of the episode rocking that late-era Jenny Humphrey hair with her Helena eyes, and moves up in the world with the pixie she gets from Pam. Still looks a bit worse for wear, if we’re being honest. We do get a teeny bit more backstory on her pre-prison life: Her dad was bad news and then he split, and she just couldn’t pretend to be happy anymore.

Sidebar: Why does everyone keep saying this girl has to go back to school? She’s been imprisoned and tortured for two years; she should probably be at some inpatient rehab center, or at the very least, get homeschooled while meeting with a therapist every single day for the time being and possibly forever.

11. Ezra (last week: not ranked)
To Aria, two seconds after she says she doesn’t want to go to school: “Play hooky!” Once an educator, always an educator.

12. Mr. DiLaurentis (last week: 11)
That’s one tangled web you’ve got there, Mr. D. Happy almost Fathers’ Day!

13. Aria (last week: 15)
Earning the bottom spot two weeks in a row? Get it together, Aria. This may be a new land speed record, even for this girl, from being positive that someone is A to realizing she was horribly wrong about that someone and pleading for absolution yet again from that someone. At the beginning of the episode, Aria’s certainty of Andrew’s guilt is manifesting itself in every aspect of her kind of boring life (literally all she does is hang at the coffee shop with her ex-boyfriend/current flirt-friend, who has moved on up in the world from English teacher to special barista) as she zooms in on black-and-white — dun dun dunnnn — photographs of Andrew on her laptop. By the episode’s end, as Andrew bolts out of prison and, rationally, spews hatred at the people who landed him there, Aria is like, “Noooo, I didn’t mean it, can’t we talk it out?” Aria, as a legal scholar would say in this situation: No backsies.

Other justifications for Aria’s last-place ranking: her “I’m obviously lying” voice while pretending to be calling from Rosewood Police Department; her cliché moody-teen photography.

Lingering concerns: Do all TV characters have to have loose floorboards in their rooms for secret-storing purposes? Why didn’t anyone take a picture of that Charlie-Jason–Jessica DiLaurentis photo on their phones before leaving the only copy with Ali? Wait, where did we last see Dr. Sullivan again? Didn’t she know about A? Was she dead, maybe? I mean, I guess she wasn’t dead, but I feel like I remember her dying. If anyone can explain this, I’ll give you an Orphan Black GIF in honor of Helena eyes.

Leave Mr. Biscuit out of this,

—J