No one wants to take their eyes off our Liars, for fear they’ll be snatched away in the darkness. I, too, am watching these young women closely, and I’m noticing some oddities. For one thing: While we have been assured it is “three weeks until graduation,” and graduation is at the end of June, everyone is dressed for a fall outing: knee-high boots over jeans with a sweater on Hanna, a cool trench-type thing on Spencer, a jacket on Ali. I was a little too busy focusing on fashion to catch the finer points of the plot—something about a data center where Radley records that, after years of sitting peacefully in Bankers boxes, were juuuust about to be shredded, are recovered only to raise more questions than they answer—but I can say with absolute certainty who deserves to sit atop the Pretty Little Power Rankings.
1. Hanna (last week: 2)
In a world where no one ever learns anything, and the same mistakes are made over and over and over again, Hanna rises above. Ali might be all “the brother I literally just found out about is dead because my dad, who lied to me two days ago about the fact that this brother even existed, swears that he killed himself!” but Hanna is not fooled. “No body, no grave, no proof.” Get that tattooed somewhere, ladies of Rosewood. Put it on your family crests. Chisel it in a stone tablet you hang above the entrance to the police station.
I also appreciate that Hanna is telling Dr. Sullivan even the uncomfortable truths: that all is not well among these four (five, I guess, counting Ali) BFFs.
2. Pam Fields (last week: 4)
To Emily, re: Sad Robyn, whom Pam had just discovered on the roof of the house, watching the sunset: “We don’t know what she needs or what she’s been through.” Can we talk about how collected this woman is in spite of the incessant insanity that is her life? The only competent parent on-screen this week, quality work, stay that course.
3. Charles (last week: not ranked)
Charles, who Ali’s dad at first describes in that vague, ominous way everything on this show is described—“it was too dangerous to keep him in the house”—was doomed from the start. This eldest son somehow had the drive and motor skills to take his baby sister out of a crib, drop her in the bathtub, and turn the hot water all the way up to scalding so she could burn and drown simultaneously. His parents sent him to Radley, where the slightly damaged go to be ruined beyond repair. Has Radley ever not looked like the orphanage where Dumbledore found Voldemort?
These tales of Charles remind me of those child-psychos from one of my favorite pieces of nightmare fodder, this New York Times story about kiddo crazies and how while they’re easy to spot, they’re about impossible to stop. Are you at that age where you keep getting invited to baby showers you really do not want to attend, as they keep interfering with your get-drunk-sleep-in-go-out-again weekend cycle? Frame a copy of this feature and give it to the mother-to-be as a gift! I promise: no one will ever invite you to one again.
4. Clark (last week: not ranked)
Seems cute and harmless, so, I’m sure this will go smoothly and end well.
5. Jason (last week: 1)
Finding answers, staying attractive, handling the whole thing where his parents kicked the floor out from under his life and made him question everything he’d ever known fairly well.
6. Emily (last week: 9)
Don’t think I don’t see what you’re doing with that pool party.
7. Caleb (last week: not ranked)
At first I was just like, damn, Ashley Marin is even cooler than I thought she was, what with her independent conversations with Caleb and her totally chill attitude about these coed slumber parties on Hanna’s (twin?) bed. But then I got distracted because SERIOUSLY you put a tracker on your girlfriend’s car without asking her first?! CALEB NO. Caleb, I know you are Rosewood’s Mowgli, and you were raised in the wilderness by wolves and only rejoined civilized society on your fourteenth birthday, at which point you made your home in a nest of crumpled notebook paper in the air ducts at the high school. But I thought you knew better.
Also, I bet if he asked Hanna, she might have been down. Would save her the trouble of panicking that she has no reception and can’t drop a pin every time A takes her off the grid.
8. Ali (last week: 3)
“We were so innocent back then,” Ali says, looking at a photograph of her from a time at which I’m pretty sure she was a manipulative Heather Chandler-type reigning over her underlings.
9. Spencer (last week: 6)
So about Spencer’s “drug problem”: I get that when Spencer was just a fast-livin’ high school student popping study steroids, the show had to take a hard line on “Ritalin is not for fun” or whatever. But (can’t believe this requires spelling out, but PLL seems to have a hard time grasping this) there is a real, tremendous value to medicine, as prescribed by a physician, for people who are in pain. Spencer is absolutely entitled to the anti-anxiety meds her doctor told her to take. Let the girl have a better life through chemistry, for the love of Instagram-filtered PTSD flashbacks!
Not sure that we needed PLL to introduce yet another new character, Sabrina the Teenage Stoner, for Spence to get her paws on some pot. You know Magic Mike Montgomery has weed stashed away in a ziplock under his mattress.
10. Sad Robyn (last week: 10)
Looking slightly less sad! Still, not sure why I should have to explain this to her but honey: In a town where blonde teenagers have a nasty habit of being kidnapped/fake-kidnapped/murdered/maybe-murdered, sneaking out the window in the middle of the night is not going to help relations between any individuals, least of all Emily and her mom.
11. Aria (last week: 13)
Master sleuth here hits up a generic search engine to see if “Charles DiLaurentis Death” brings up any hits, as if (a) Spencer hasn’t already tried that, and (b) something this super-secret would just be there on the surface of the internet, easy as pie to find. You’re a writer, Aria, don’t you know somebody with a LexisNexis account?
Glad to see she’s back to wearing absurdly large jewelry for her travel-size frame and setting herself up for A traps, like going to a dark room where she could easily be trapped.
12. Byron Montgomery (last week: not ranked)
Suggestions to his 18-year-old (lol) daughter to get her mind off her recent imprisonment and torture: mini-golf, a movie. Okay, I know I hassled the Montgomery parents for not being around to help their daughter with reentry into civilian life, but if this is the kind of master parenting I’m going to see from this dude, maybe Aria is better off fending for herself.
14. Mr. DiLaurentis (last week: not ranked)
Get your lies straight, pops. Definitely don’t tell Ali “it was a relief” that your other child committed suicide, and if you don’t want to terrify her, don’t sit in your living room in the dark waiting for her to get home. Throwing a theory out there: Is Ali’s dad A?
15. The fact that none of this Charles stuff explains what happened to Ali or why, which is kind of the point of this entire freaking show (last week: not ranked)
Lingering concerns: So did Spencer actually get blood on her hands, or is she hallucinating, or was it fake blood in a real memory? Can I think PLL made a #JessicasSecret hashtag just for me?
Your mom said I could spend the night,