Pretty Little Liars Recap: Amateur Hour

Shay Mitchell as Emily. Photo: Eric McCandless/Disney Enterprise
Pretty Little Liars
Episode Title
The Gloves Are On
Editor’s Rating

Our Liars' collective lack of a high-school education is finally catching up to them. Four-plus years of "attending" Rosewood High has left them without some crucial life skills.

That's the most generous reason I can come up with to explain the astonishing intellectual deficit that drives nearly every decision these girls make. We see alibis rashly chosen, lies sloppily constructed, information recklessly disclosed. I know Spencer took Criminology 101 or whatever, but I don't get the sense that anybody in this clique knows how to keep a story straight. Let's separate the clueless from the slightly less-clueless in this week's Pretty Little Power Rankings!

1. Caleb (last week: 4)

Literally the only tolerable person in this entire episode. "I just wish you hadn't judged yourself."

2. Jillian (last week: not ranked)

Aria's boss, I hardly know you. But as soon as I heard from this Liam character that you think Ezra is "a fraud, two months away from teaching creative writing on a cruise ship," you won my fickle affections. For now.

3. Ashley Marin (last week: not ranked)

Did anyone else feel the Lorenzo and Ashley tension this week? I think these two could really make a go of it.

4. Spencer (last week: 3)

Wait, hold up: Spencer has a problem sanitizing her speech for political purposes? She thinks the time for all-out honesty is during these "get to know the candidate's kid" interviews? Since when does Spencer have a moral hang-up about doing some necessary — and, in the grand scheme of her criminal past, minor — fibbing to help her mom land a Senate seat? That's not like Spencer at all.

At least she has some quality one-liners, including: "The police didn't ask us to stick around to exfoliate." It seems like the dialogue is a bit snappier this week, doesn't it?

Also, in a surprising turn of events, Spencer tells Hanna the truth about her feelings for Caleb before acting on them and then trying to keep their tryst a secret. (Sidebar: Gotta love Spencer's insistence that she hadn't yet hooked up with Caleb because, "I would never do that to you," even though we were just reminded that Spencer totally would do that.) How mature and, frankly, how unlike everyone on this show! A+, Spencer. Just like old times.

5. Pam Fields (last week: not ranked)

When she opened that letter from Pepperdine and realized Emily dropped out of school, I actually clutched my heart like some old-time-y Jane Austen heroine overwhelmed with emotion. The staged graduation photo: "Did you get this at a costume shop?" MY HEART. I'm again impressed to see some real-deal parenting happening here, even under duress, and I'm again saddened to know that Emily will continue to lie to her mother for the rest of the season and/or her life.

6. The fact that all of these people are still speaking to the police without a lawyer present (last week: not ranked)

Liars, some advice: Hire an attorney. Keep this attorney on retainer. Ordinarily, a twenty-something shouldn't take on such a financial burden, but you girls are exceptional cases. The next time the police bring you in for questioning — maybe tomorrow or the next day, but let's be real, it won't be long — do not say anything to the police except, "I want to speak with my lawyer" until said lawyer arrives. Repeat until climate change causes the seas to rise and swallow Rosewood whole.

7. Aria (last week: 9)

Aria is reading Ezra's book to Emily, and just as I'm saying, "God, this is insufferable," Aria says, "Is it just me, or is this amazing?" Never change, Aria. Anyway, she thinks his stream-of-craziness draft needs some "connective tissue," so she pulls a Fates and Furies, basically writes the book for him, and Jillian loves it. (I'm already regretting my devotion to Jillian.) So yeah, this will end well for everyone involved, I'm sure. Also, Aria tries to get Ezra to confess and her eyes go anime-wide as she straight-up screams I WILL LIE FOR YOU (in so many words). The best part of Aria's whole deal is how she dismisses her relationship with Ezra by saying, "It was high school," and Emily strikes back with, "Not for him." #neverforget

8. Melissa (last week: not ranked)

"I know how you like to shop out of other people's carts." Meow, Melissa! Then again, I guess there is no statute of limitations on bringing up that time your sister made out with your fiancé.

10. Emily (last week: 1)

So, question: Emily is good enough at lying to maintain an elaborate false life for her mother, but so bad at keeping secrets she doesn't even close the bathroom door while giving herself hormone injections? Wouldn't she just close it out of habit, since she's going into a bathroom? Honestly, I wish there were 50 bottom slots this week. I'm so disappointed in everyone but Ashley Marin.

It is sweet, though, how Emily feels good about helping two people start a family. As they say, when life gives you, like, four homicides, make lemonade.

11. Ezra (last week: 10)

Is Ezra the Guy in Your MFA? He insists that his research is "crap," obviously to bait Aria into reading it and tell him how wonderful it is. Or maybe he just wants her to look at it? There are some "horrifying images" in there, which he must have found during some dark Googling sessions. He drinks so much that he's not even allowed to order a beer at Ashley's swanky restaurant anymore, because of an "incident" involving a chair.

12. Sad Robyn (last week: 11)

Is some Sixth Sense thing going on here? Why is Emily the only person who can see Sad Robyn? Girl is lurking and eavesdropping in the most obvious way possible, but no one seems to care at all, except for Emily. I know they had a ~thing~ but … it's been five years. Also, how about that explanation for her symbolically appropriate hand injury? Emily punched her in the face, she fell, and then she tried to lift herself up by grabbing onto a box so comically laced with live wires it may as well have had a stick of dynamite strapped to it, like in Looney Tunes.

13. How everyone has matching leather motorcycle jackets, even characters who aren't friends and/or haven't seen each other in forever (last week: not ranked)

Did the wardrobe department think we wouldn't notice? Emily has one in gray, Sad Robyn in black, Aria in red this week and pink last week. I'm so proleather jackets I'm pretty convinced this Onion story is about my life, and even I think this is overkill.  

14. Hanna (last week: 2)

Where do I start with this one? How could she not have anticipated that the police would want to look at the hotel security tapes? Where does she get off whining about how she feels like she's being "forced to lie," when the only thing that forced her to lie was her own dumb, impulsive choices? When Hanna's mom asks her if she messed with the tape, why does she say, "Why would I have to tamper with it? I'm not in high school anymore," as if that means something? Is Hanna under the impression that tampering with evidence is something you do in high school, but then never again, because it's sooo juvenile? Why does she suddenly trust Lucas and enlist him as her alibi? She doesn't even need an alibi because she never left the hotel the night Charlotte was killed. Why didn't she and Lucas iron out all the details of their story before Hanna's interrogation? Is she wearing a pink-and-white kimono with short-shorts and high heels? What is the point of moving forward in time if all these girls are going to regress to their bush-league, ninth-grade behavior? Stop making rookie mistakes, Marin!

I will allow plus points for: "What day is it in Tokyo? Okay, you'll get it yesterday."

15. Lucas (last week: not ranked)

Rocking that barely there facial hair like a 14-year-old boy who wants everyone to see some stubble. Like approximately 97 percent of the people in this show, he is a dreadful liar. Ice water, bags of greasy food? The details will destroy you!

16. The suggestion that no one in Rosewood uses Facebook (last week: not ranked)

Lucas hasn't been stalking Hanna since the day he wandered offscreen sometime during the Liars' never-ending sophomore year? I call bullshit. Not only would he know Hanna had broken up with Caleb, he would know the name of Hanna's new guy and would have clicked through the album of Hanna and Jordan's (inevitable and terrible) engagement photos 862 times. And Hanna would already know about Lucas's silver Jaguar because he would have posted so many photos of the car, complete with insufferable captions like, "California here we come! Perfect day for a ride [sunglasses-smiley emoji]."

17. This reporter kid who thinks he's going to break the next Watergate (last week: not ranked)

Someone should introduce him to Ezra. Wait, never mind. Please don't.

Lingering concerns: Is "teaching creative writing on a cruise ship" a real job? Can anyone maybe tell me more about it? Why do all these people keep secrets from each other that don't need to be kept secret? Would it have been such a big deal for Veronica to tell Spencer that Mona applied for a campaign job but, for reasons Spencer would not need spelled out, Veronica turned her down?

I want the entire world to know who you really are,

— J