Our Liars think they've leapt into the future, but, bless their foolish hearts, everything old is new again. Old flames pop up and the sparks are still flying. Old fears about how the people closest to our Liars are the least trustworthy (cough, Byron, ahem) have returned. Old methods of murder — hello again, blunt-force trauma! — are back in vogue. This is Rosewood, where the only thing that ever really changes is the way A signs her scathing, stalker-y text messages. That, and the winners and losers of the Pretty Little Power Rankings.
1. Emily (last week: 10)
Unbelievable. Look at this one, rising in the ranks to the top spot based on level-headedness, of all things. Also working in Emily's favor this week is an attractive, if inappropriate, outfit — I'll co-sign that studded mini, but it is a tad short for her daytime activities of "bopping around the Brew and aiding/abetting a crime," is it not? — and her slick if implausible way with a one-liner. "I'm telling you guys, that bitch wasn't Stockholmed," is my personal favorite. I look forward to using "Stockholm" as a verb, should the occasion arise.
2. Ashley Marin (last week: 3)
"You're not in high school anymore," Ashley says, the realest words ever spoken in this alternate reality. We should all be so lucky to have this femme fatale as our maternal guardian. She know how to end a hard day of tampering with evidence at the office in a perfectly tailored dress: by pouring a stiff drink in the kitchen, alone with the weight of her decisions.
3. Hanna (last week: 14)
Let's start with where I'm docking points, because that's a blissfully short list: Of course Hanna is that snob who spends thirty seconds in New York City and then can't stop talking about how the coffee is better there. (The bagels? The pizza? This I will accept. But the coffee? Come on now.) And I feel like someone who has had as many run-ins with the police as Miss Marin should have a stronger grasp on our laws than, "No evidence, no crime, right?"
But we come to praise and not to bury (alive, as one might bury Alison DiLaurentis). Hanna kicks off the episode with the best joke of the night, a riff on how her go-to caffeine "Makes you feel like you can handle anything your boss throws at you. Staplers, her phone … " (Runner-up: "I'll take 'building a lair' for $300, Alex.") She has an outfit that I adore: A+ for the crop-top and that multicolored pleated maxi skirt, which marked possibly the first time in PLL history I've looked at something onscreen and thought, I would totally wear that. Even though she is clearly struggling with the whole Caleb-and-Spencer thing — by the way, internet, I don't know who thought it would be cute to nickname them "Cancer" but: 1) The Fault in Our Stars is so last year, and 2) Nope — she summons the strength to be kind to Spencer. A bonus point for her honest, defeated-but-loving, "She's Spencer, what's not to like?" After her epically dumb decision to erase the security footage and lie about it last week, Hanna redeems herself by coming clean to her mom, to Jordan, and, for the love of common sense, a lawyer. Which brings us to …
4. Finally, one of these girls actually brought a lawyer with her to the police station (last week: 6)
5. Veronica Hastings's campaign … director? (last week: not ranked)
I'm not totally sure on his campaign role, but he's the dude in the suit who told Spencer before the town hall: "Do not pretend to know something that you don't know. That's how you wind up a viral video." I have nothing snarky to add here. This is solid life advice.
6. Jordan (last week: not ranked)
I have no strong feelings about this telegenic gent, except that I eagerly await the deconstruction of his Prince Charming façade. It's all very UnREAL.
7. Spencer (last week: 4)
As game as I was for Caleb and Spencer's get-together at the end of last week's episode, the cold light of morning has me reconsidering. Not because I'm worried about their lingering feelings for their exes or how complicated things might get or whatever. I just think their comfortable-coupledom is already super dull. However: Spencer's outfit when she visits Toby the second time? The sort of cropped blouse-y thing? Cute as hell. Then again, it's not what you wear if the message you're going for is, "I don't even care if you're still attracted to me." Spencer, if you're serious about this politics thing, we need to have to have a conversation about optics.
8. Toby (last week: not ranked)
You're building her a house before you get engaged? I don't want to be a buzzkill but dude: carts, horses.
9. Caleb (last week: 1)
Remember when we first met Caleb? We were all but innocent youths then, the Liars still passing for high-school students if you squinted hard enough and/or left your glasses at home. And Caleb was our Riggins-lite, Aladdin of the Main Line, skittering about the air ducts of Rosewood High and living in … was it literally a gutter? A sewer grate? The boiler room? Back then, we wondered where he stashed the flat iron he obviously used to achieve that very specific I'm-not-trying look. But at least he had a uniform we could all appreciate: the Jess Mariano, blue-jeans-leather-jacket-brooding-resting-face attitude. What happened to that bulletproof, if boring, wardrobe? Now he's wearing, like, purple-patterned, short-sleeve button-downs like some hipster substitute teacher and keeping his hair all neat and trimmed like it's picture day and his mom made him get a haircut.
Here's where I would say that he's contributing with his tech skills. Most of the time, he is. But I can't even with the notion that Hanna needed his hacker expertise to figure out, on the second guess, that Ashley's password was Hanna's birthday.
10. Sabrina the Coffee Witch (last week: not ranked)
Wow, you don't go on social media because you want people to engage with you in the real world? Tell me more about this fascinating, rebellious life philosophy!
This annoying and thus far irrelevant addition to the crew would be lower on the list, but I laughed out loud when she suggested Aria was so high-strung she should consider getting her hands on some weed.
11. Yvonne (last week: not ranked)
"We're a family of huggers!" Ugh, no. And no one thinks it's cute that you and Toby watch "retro TV" together.
12. Suspiciously intimate information in the opposition research (last week: not ranked)
Oh really, the packet on Yvonne includes such details as, "Toby Cavanaugh plans to propose to her over a family lunch?" Oookay.
13. Aria (last week: 7)
I mean. Girl made so many bad decisions, jumped to so many conclusions, hyperventilated so many times from the effort to rant at Sherman-Palladino pace, all while wearing a Post-It-yellow zebra sweater that clashed against her highlights. Do I even detail them all here, in this space, while you beloved readers are trying to make it through your respective days? I won't do that to you. Let's go with this telling anecdote, after Aria demands Emily help her bust into Ezra's apartment to check on the state of his golf game:
Emily: Breaking and entering is a crime.
Aria: We're not stealing anything!
Does Aria actually not know that breaking and entering is a crime, even when you don't take anything? And that's why it's called "breaking and entering" and not, say, "breaking and entering and thievery?"
14. Byron Montgomery (last week: not ranked)
Welcome back, Chad! As per usual, Father of the Year is messing up his daughter's already fragile, maybe-wrecked-beyond-repair life with his every waking move. Odds he really killed Charlotte? My hunch is that he supplied the murder weapon, then got framed by devil emoji A.
Lingering concerns: Who is the creeper in that deranged-Martin-Scorsese mask? Are we supposed to think it was Sad Robyn because she was (finally) MIA all night? Or is it Ali, who is in that offscreen wonderland, "a farm in eastern Pennsylvania?" Is this entire season intended to take place during a three-week window, or is everyone about to get fired from their jobs in other cities as they return to Rosewood for the foreseeable future?
You named your guppy Guppy?