Pretty Little Liars Recap: Making a Murderer

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Troian Bellisario as Spencer. Photo: Eric McCandless/Disney Enterprises
Pretty Little Liars
Episode Title
Charlotte’s Web
Season
6
Episode
12
Editor’s Rating
4/5

Has it been five years since the Liars were back in action? You’d never know it from the way they’re going about their murder-mystery-solving business. These kids are tampering with evidence, keeping secrets, and lying to the police — and their parents and significant others — like it’s 2010. Or 2015? Never really sussed out “when” in reality PLL is intended to take place. But the time-space continuum operates differently in Rosewood, where school years collapse and expand to fit the needs of our protagonists and the season is never not autumn. Who rules the day in this wonderland? Read on to see who took the crown, and who fell far from the top spot, in this week’s Pretty Little Power Rankings.

1. Emily (last week: 3)
Emily clearly has some serious health issues and also failed out of school, is struggling with depression, is short on cash, and so on and so forth, but I have to give her this: Out of everyone on this show, she is the only one who knows how to tell a lie. Which is basically the premise of this entire series.

Is that partly because everyone around her is remarkably credulous about her easily fact-check-able and bogus-sounding activities? Sure! But the girl knows her audience, and she has somehow tricked her mother into thinking she not only graduated from college but is gainfully employed at the Salk Institute — did Emily Photoshop a picture of herself in a cap and gown? Or walk at graduation without having enough credits to really graduate? Either way: A+ commitment to subterfuge, which is unfortunately not enough to balance out the two F's she got in actual classes — and to convince her friends of the same.

2. Hanna (last week: 2)
I love her sass right out of the gate about how everyone has to go back to work, Aria, thankyouverymuch, and I love her bold red lip, and I’m quite happy to see the return of her not-quite-smart-enough commentary (“Swedish syndrome”) and her Samantha-in-training one-liners: “Damn, well, you save 'em, I’ll dress 'em.” And of course she kept the table.

Sidebar: Are Hanna’s pants the same pattern as Ali’s ill-fitting pajama shirt?

3. Spencer (last week: 8)
Look, I’m not going to tell Spencer, Ravenclaw incarnate, how to live her life. But maybe  if you have a habit of being framed for murders you didn’t commit, you should steer clear of courses like Criminology, which will require you to do the sort of research a murderer would do, and then document said research in a paper that multiple people will be able to read?

4. Caleb (last week: 10)
“Just friends.”

5. Lorenzo (last week: not ranked)
Has yet to botch any police work (… it’s only a matter of time), still hot.

6. Jordan (last week: not ranked)
So we’ve met Hanna’s husband-not-to-be (I anticipate a dramatic breakup at the altar, maybe in May). He’s Australian, works at something called “the magazine,” and spoils Hanna in the most basic, entry-level way: by buying food and booze. Since we hear about an uncle’s “estate” in the Hamptons, I am very excited to find out that Jordan is either (a) a grifter just pretending to be rich, (b) involved in whatever dirty dealings helped his family amass that fortune in the first place, or (c) connected to A, like some secret DiLaurentis brother nobody knows about. Literally any blonde person in this show could be a DiLaurentis. I think there are like eight or nine DiLaurentis siblings we just haven’t met yet. They’re like von Trapps. 

7. Ali (last week: 13)
Ali, who has spent her entire postpubescent life watching people get murdered and/or facilitating murder, upon discovering Charlotte was killed: “Who would do something like this?”

8. Liam (last week: not ranked)
Meh. With all those teasers about him being “adorable,” I was hoping for a puppy.

9. Aria (last week: 1)
I admit, last week I felt unmoored. Did Aria deserve the No. 1 slot? Yes! But that fact troubled me so. I knew I had to do right by the episode we watched, but as I wrote, I also knew, as Jack Skellington would say, there’s something very wrong. So I was relieved and disappointed simultaneously (Is there a German word for this emotion? There must be) to see Aria back in peak Montgomery form, which is to say, near the bottom of the PLPR.

First, she tries to gaslight Hanna into thinking she was too wasted to remember when Aria left and reentered the hotel; then she fumbles a lie she had all day to practice, even though she is one of the show’s titular Liars. Girl didn’t prepare her alibi in advance? After all these years? Amateur hour. And then she thinks she’s being so subtle with her “we call each other by our last names” shtick with Liam, the boyfriend/cubicle-mate, when you know every single person at that office has known these two were hooking up since day one, AND she lied to her boss about her connection to Ezra (guess she couldn’t come out and be like, “I was screwing my English teacher, but don’t worry, it didn’t seem rapey to me”) even though, if there were ever a less discreet couple than Liam and Aria, it was Ezra and Aria. And why did she think it would be a good idea for her to be professionally involved, in any capacity, with publishing Ezra’s work? Can’t wait to see what that USB holds, by the way.

10. Ezra (last week: 12)
ALL THE EYE-ROLLS.

11. Sad Robyn (last week: 14)
Another entry in the Inviolable Laws of Television Health and Medicine: An injury cannot be simply a wound of the flesh or a break of the bone; nay, even the itty-bittiest scratch must also be a symbol, a metaphor so clumsy another character could trip right over it, in which case, said character would also be maimed in some thematically appropriate way. So — deep breath, everyone — Sad Robyn has mysterious burns on her hands that leave her physically incapable of touching anyone or anything. This reminds us that poor, fragile, Sad Robyn cannot touch, or be touched, by another. Get it? Like, in an emotional way. Because she’s so disconnected and isolated. No man is an island, except for Sad Robyn, who floats alone in a distant sea, with nothing but opera gloves to keep her warm.

Or she’s faking it while pretending to be brainwashed (?), like that time Jenna pretended to still be blind so no one will think she’s capable of murder. Always a possibility. 

Lingering concerns: So, are we just pretending the moms were never locked in the DiLaurentis basement? Does Ali still have a dad? Are we pretending Ezra couldn’t be capable of murder even though Ezra was A for a really long time and had NSA-level surveillance on these girls when they were all underage? This has been great and all, but where is Magic Mike Montgomery?

No writer is ever in a good place,

—J