What kind of episode did we get last night? The kind where Spencer can say something like “Melissa just buried her alive! We still don’t know who bashed her over the head,” and that’s not even necessarily the most double-take-inducing sentence to come out of someone’s mouth. Maybe I’m just getting back into the groove of this alternate universe, or maybe I’m just high on Team USA’s victory over Germany, but it feels like we are finally out of the woods of the torture-heavy season opener and getting back into the version of PLL where dramatic, spooky, inexplicable (and inappropriate) things actually happen. You know what that means: The competition for the top spot in the Pretty Little Power Rankings is tougher than ever.
1. Hanna (last week: 1)
Hanna wins for the best spark of the episode — it’s almost as if the writers had a list of perfect Hanna lines they realized they hadn’t been using and wanted to knock them out before the holiday weekend — with her snappy one-liners. My personal favorites: In response to Leslie’s “You think I actually wanted perjury on my résumé?” is “I don’t know what that means, but I really don’t like your tone,” and her reaction to Spencer’s obviously buzzed appearance is “You have the same look as this girl in my government class who hums and makes chokers out of paper clips.” She is also far more pragmatic and focused on the Radley mission than Spencer is. But maybe that’s just because Spencer was still high.
Do I like Hanna’s Anthropologie-does-the-1950s getup? It’s flattering and all, but I also have a hard time believing it’s something she would ever wear, not to mention the whole bag and necklace and skirt all being the same legal-pad-yellow is a little matchy-matchy for Miss Marin.
2. Spencer (last week: 9)
Could Spencer be more conspicuous about her pot cookie? How can the cleverest of our Liars be this freaking obvious about her weed-happy ways? And, one more time, we’re talking about a single weed cookie for a girl who has experienced a horrifying trauma; it’s not like the girl’s on the Acela to Stoner City. Other things about which Spencer could stand to be more subtle, in no particular order: sneaking brownies at her Addicts Anonymous meeting, sexting Toby, digging through the files at Radley.
I like that Veronica wants Spencer to accept the “pity toss” title of valedictorian, because Mama Hastings never takes her eye off the prize and because what would a graduation episode of PLL be without a moving commencement address from the smartest (weed) cookie in Rosewood? Spencer makes the genius move of avoiding a fight with her formidable madre over this issue because she “just got back from Curves, and I’m not having this argument with her after she pumped iron.”
3. Aria (last week: 11)
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, friends. I know how things work around here. You hope for character continuity, for logical plot progression, for autumn to follow summer and fade into winter. These hopes are always dashed. Still, I must admit: I am impressed with Aria this week. There! I said it. She’s “embracing the creepy” in photography and in life; considering “creepy” is pretty much the default state of her existence, this is not a shoddy survival strategy. She is spending time with a guy who I am fairly certain is supposed to be a fellow teenager. (Right? Unless he’s a Hollis student? I don’t even know anymore.) Her field trip to the world’s eeriest junkyard landed her some moderately useful intel: a photo of A’s black-hooded figure that seems to be female.
I'll spend the next two weeks bracing myself to be disappointed by this girl again. But until that day: Not bad, Aria. Not bad.
4. Ali (last week: 8)
I condone almost nothing about Ali’s behavior this week except for what she says to her dad: “You’re gonna bury me at Aunt Carol’s farm too?”
5. Sad Robyn (last week: 10)
I’m not going to say you should never get a tattoo on a whim, but, no, you know what, I am going to say: Don’t get a tattoo on a whim! There are plenty of things you can do on whims: booking a fun vacation, ordering a side of fries, maybe getting straight-across bangs, if you’ve secretly been thinking about it for a while and that one honest friend of yours swears you can pull them off. But not tattoos. Come on now.
I hope whoever sees Sad Robyn’s bare back next will understand the mysterious symbolism of the birdcage with an open door in the center of her back.
6. That very forward tattoo artist (last week: not ranked)
Checking IDs? Asking for proof that anyone in the room is at least 18 years of age? Nope and nope, just encouraging a needle-shy teenager to ink herself “a little closer to the good china.”
7. Lorenzo (last week: not ranked)
We knew this was coming. He’s a twenty- or thirtysomething man in Rosewood. Of course he’s going to hook up with one of the teenage heroines: in season six as it was in season one, on Earth as it is in heaven. Still, can’t argue with that front-porch flirtation technique (except for the whole statutory-makeout part). If you’re going to steal seduction moves from anyone, Paul Newman in The Long Hot Summer is never a bad choice.
8. Leslie (last week: not ranked)
Oh hello, completely random person I forgot about who doesn’t really need to be here because PLL has a deep enough bench of characters I already got invested in (before I knew such an investment was a mistake) that could have played the role you’re playing now! Anyway, Leslie is a person who talks entirely in sassy tweets, with mixed results. Plus points for “Who gives a crap what you like, you bag of hair.”
9. Mona (last week: not ranked)
Is there a reason Mona is wearing Jenna’s sunglasses for most of this episode? Why is she dressed like she’s attending a funeral? Mona’s attitude about Ali is so three seasons ago. Haven’t you heard, Mona? We’re pretending Ali was never a fascinating, complex teen sociopath! Anyway, do we think Mona put on that Blair beret just for the “totally retro” purpose of sticking a card in the DiLaurentis mailbox?
10. Emily (last week: 6)
Did I miss a crucial scene — and by “scene,” I mean “several episodes that of course haven’t happened because this season is barely five hours old” — in which Emily built a meaningful relationship with Sad Robyn and actually met Sad Robyn’s mom in person and could validate any of these vague claims about her evil parenting? How exactly did we go from “You can crash here for the night” to “GET LEGALLY EMANCIPATED FROM YOUR MONSTER MOM”?
Also: the Japanese symbol for courage. The Japanese symbol for courage.
11. Dean the drug counselor (last week: not ranked)
Welcome back, Dean, who never really wanted to leave Spencer alone in the first place! Lest you forget Dean’s departure way back near the end of the fourth season of this fair program, allow me to remind you: The man earned the lowest ranking on the PLPR two weeks in a row (the only two weeks he made appearances in this prestigious recap) and, after being kicked out of the Hasting house by Veronica, made a desperate effort to stay in touch with Spencer by telling her she could call him anytime at all, like even in the middle of the night would be great. So naturally, having found her again in a vulnerable spot, he’s like, “Hey, remember how I gave you my phone number? You never called! [crying emoji]” Will she cheat on Toby with this character, yes or yes?
12. Mr. DiLaurentis (last week: 14)
Dude, you literally just revealed to your surviving children that you lied to both of them, on multiple occasions, about the existence of another child — a child you had institutionalized, who killed himself, who you just pretended never existed — and this is on top of so many other things I can’t even list because who can keep track of the DiLaurentis household, and this is how you’re going to treat your daughter now?
Look, unlike almost every soul in Rosewood except that trash-talking cop, I remember when Ali was Amy Dunne–ing it up all over town. But maybe you could cut the kid some slack. She might be a mini-monster, but you know what they say about apples and trees.
Lingering concerns: Why are there so many scary dolls in this town? What are they all doing in the junkyard? How are they everywhere? Am I going to have to care about Leslie now? Does Rosewood High really have a government class?
You’re the first girl to toss her cookies in my car,