This week, some of our favorite women return to the fore: Veronica Hastings, Mona Queen of Darkness, and the only no-bullshit cop in town, Detective Tanner. Thank freaking goodness.
Left to their own devices, all these Liars would do is chase their own (impractically dressed) tails around Rosewood, following leads that lead to nothing, jumping to conclusions like a bunch of kids who never read The Phantom Tollbooth, and dating boring, placeholder blocks of wood that masquerade as men. (I know I used to trash their hot-for-teacher hookups back in the day, and I'm not suggesting a return to rape-y form, but is it so much to ask for some chemistry? An ill-advised, yet not full-on criminal tryst?)
We left off with Spencer and Aria discovering a massive hole in the wall of Sad Robyn's closet. Are you wondering how the hole got there? Or why no one found it until now? Get excited to have none of those pressing questions answered in this week's Pretty Little Power Rankings!
1. Mona (last week: not ranked)
Mona told Yvonne to leave her phone at lunch to prove that Spencer was untrustworthy, but also because Mona wanted Spencer to find out about Veronica's vague illness, and also Mona didn't even use the way Spencer took the bait to turn Yvonne against her, and also Mona thinks this is too dirty a campaign trick to pull. Are these contradictory impulses? Listen, Mona is a complex woman who contains multitudes, all of which are oddly fixated on the phrase "plausible deniability." It is not for us to question her motives. It is only for us to admire the chess game that is never not going on inside her brain. Let's be grateful that someone in this godforsaken town is actually playing offense. "Just out of curiosity, who kisses better: Hanna, Spencer, or me?" That Mona asks this with the confidence of someone who knows she has no competition just makes me love her more.
2. Detective Tanner (last week: not ranked)
I get that we need to demonstrate time has passed, but was it necessary to force her to go full-gray? No matter, I'm always happy to see an adult traveling around Rosewood, unwilling to take the Liars at their word on anything. That's a rare sighting on these here streets. She tells Emily that Rosewood hasn't seen a homicide in five years, and that, allegedly, people are only killed within the city limits when all the Liars are in town. I find this hard to believe — the Main Line murders were a thing long before this clique came on the scene — but it seems to rattle Emily, just as Tanner hoped it would. This might be the first time we've ever seen someone from the Rosewood Police Department actually accomplish what they set out to do.
3. Veronica Hastings (last week: not ranked)
I know things are going to get ugly here, but for now, she does seem really happy.
4. Spencer (last week: 7)
Do I think it's inappropriate for Veronica's opposition to break doctor-patient confidentiality and release her private medical records to the public? I mean, yeah, duh, but Spencer's sense of what does and does not constitute acceptable behavior is confusing. We're talking about a girl with a Gumby-esque attitude toward right and wrong, a moral compass that spins toward whichever direction is most convenient. So I am a bit eyebrow-raise-y at the notion that she would be so appalled. "This is exactly what's wrong with American politics," adds Spencer, who presumably is not watching the 2016 debates.
5. Aria (last week: 5)
Fake cliffhanger alert: Aria was totally fine. She was just down a ladder and in a weird alleyway that — for reasons that are never explained, because they do not exist — Ashley Marin and her crack team of contractors never discovered while completely remodeling Radley from Voldemort's Dickensian Orphanage for the Morally and Mentally Afflicted into the swankiest hotel this side of the Schuylkill. Down this hipster Instagram paradise of exposed brick and moody lighting is a dust-free filing cabinet. What do we think is inside? An explanation as to why this is relevant to the plot? I hope so!
Aria spends much of the episode dressed like a mini–Taylor Swift — I'm team crop top in maybe 95 percent of all scenarios, but it looks a little out of place here, and besides, aren't these girls trying to lay low because the police suspect they're involved in Charlotte's murder? — and then pulls on a mustard-yellow, leather motorcycle jacket. HOW MANY OF THESE JACKETS AM I SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE SHE OWNS.
Also, she is so devastated when Ezra returns with finished chapters of his book, which means her precious ghostwriting will never see the light of publication.
6. Caleb (last week: 1)
And we're back in the short-sleeve button-downs, the preferred uniform of substitute teachers who work in public schools that can't/won't spring for air conditioning. At least he understands that it's irritating to keep renaming the character that is, for the purposes of this show, "A," no matter which person (or people) is the source of the threats.
A note about flashback Caleb: This predictable tension about Hanna's shallow, all-consuming fashion life conflicting with whatever Caleb has going on is so beneath this couple. (In the clip, it's not really clear what he's doing. For a moment I thought he was homeless again, prowling the streets with a ginger cat like some kind of Llewyn Davis.) Caleb is the one who encouraged Hanna to pursue fashion in the first place! Now he's going to stand in judgment because, "The Hamptons is just another part of Manhattan, except it takes three hours to get there?" Who died and made you Dan Humphrey? Have a sense of humor, grab a drink at the open bar, and let your girl pay her dues so she can pursue her dreams. Anyway, if Caleb was turned off by the mingling required to succeed in the lowest-ranking job in fashion, he's in for quite the struggle as Spencer's political arm candy.
6. Emily (last week: 2)
Didn't really do anything in this entire episode except continue to panic and/or feel guilty about A and the eggs.
7. Hanna (last week: 4)
"I thought places like this only existed in old movies," Hanna sighs, rolling around in those tacky-as-hell Victoria's Secret magenta shiny sheets in a room that looks like some sad Atlantic City motel's attempt at a Valentine's Day suite. Can we blame the setting for Hanna and Jordan's total lack of sexual chemistry? Either way, Hanna refuses to go back to New York with her beloved, who is only sporadically brought up to speed on the A situation, because Emily, a friend she has barely seen in five years, needs her. Hanna wears a shirt that looks like doilies stapled together.
8. Ezra (last week: not ranked)
Disheveled for no reason — he's holed up in a library in upstate New York, not curled up in a bear carcass, Leo-style — with a weaker excuse than ever for not providing his alibi the night Charlotte was killed. He didn't want to ruin the Parent Trap thing Aria's mom and dad had going on, so he let Aria and her friends believe he was a murderer. Okay, sure! "I should be honored that you thought I would kill someone for you." Ugh, go back to Albany.
9. Liam (last week: not ranked)
Did Aria really not tell this kid about her statutory love story? Oh, boy. That's going to be a fun conversation.
10. The new A (last week: not ranked)
Am I supposed to believe the same vicious mastermind behind the destruction of 30 frozen eggs is also pulling kiddie pranks like Hanna's sad, spooky breakfast? Minus points for the utter lack of brand consistency.
11. Ali (last week: 6)
"Anything you have to say to me you can say in front of this random dude no one recognizes." Alison DiLaurentis, everybody.
12. Dr. Elliott (last week: not ranked)
Ali wants to go public with their relationship, despite its not-ideal beginnings. (He was Charlotte's doctor.) Elliott responds by being like, "Um, maybe we should keep this between us." Does the guy you're seeing want to keep your coupledom a secret? That's always a good sign, ladies! Definitely nothing to worry about.
13. The awkward description of the murder weapon (last week: not ranked)
"A hollow piece of metal with a square piece at the end." Huh? The first time I heard that, my immediate reaction was, "Okay, so, a golf club, like we've been saying this whole time."
14. Yvonne's mom's campaign (last week: not ranked)
I'm no political expert but maybe instead of fishing around a doctor's office for paperwork that proves a now-at-bay medical condition, you could focus on the sort of issues that might be more gripping for voters. Here are a few suggestions: Spencer and Melissa are intricately connected to the only homicides Rosewood has apparently ever seen; Jason DiLaurentis — half-brother of Ali, who faked her own kidnapping and is something of a murder magnet herself — is Veronica's husband's son; and, oh wait, why do I feel like there's one more th— OH OF COURSE JESSICA DILAURENTIS'S BODY WAS BURIED IN THE HASTINGS' BACKYARD.
Lingering concerns: Not to get too dark here but … how would you beat someone to death with the flimsy metal bar that attaches a handle to a suitcase? Seems like it would be easier to kill them almost any other way. I mean, I'm not a murder expert, I'm just a girl watching The People vs. O.J. Simpson, but beating someone to death sounds really athletic. I've seen Melissa; she does not have the upper-body strength. In other degree-of-difficulty questions: Sad Robyn, who supposedly does not have the use of her hands, built a hole into the wall of her closet just to sneak in and out of the hotel? Is someone at PLL obsessed with "Bye Bye Blackbird?" This is the second episode title in two seasons to reference that song.
We poked the bear together,