All of a sudden, everybody is into taking big leaps. Jillian agrees to let Ezra and Aria co-write a novel together. Caleb and Hanna tell A that Hanna is the one who killed Charlotte. Lucas buys Hanna a multimillion-dollar factory on the outskirts of town so he can basically be the landlord of her life and so she can build an indoor mini-golf emporium. And Ali takes a soap-opera tumble down a flight of stairs. Does anyone in this crowd land on their feet? Let's find out in this week's Pretty Little Power Rankings.
1. Mona (last week: 2)
Okay, so Mona essentially says that she wanted to kill Charlotte, but never got the opportunity. I don't understand why all the Liars are so rude about this fact. Charlotte kept Mona locked in an underground bunker and made her pretend to be Ali as part of some bizarro, sadistic experiment that combined the all-American pastimes of kidnapping, psychological torture, and prom night. I would be way more impressed with our fearful foursome if they'd teamed up to off Charlotte in the season premiere and spent the rest of the season trying to get away with murder. Instead, we get yet another season of these girls chasing their tails all over town to prove their innocence.
2. Hanna (last week: 3)
Could I use this space to point out the weaknesses in this plan wherein Hanna takes responsibility for a murder she did not commit? Especially in light of all that time Hanna spent rocking an orange jumpsuit in seasons past? Oh, you bet I could. But you know what? After so much passive behavior these past few weeks — so much talking and fretting and scheming and a whole lot of nothing-doing — I am grateful to see anyone do anything at all, even when that anyone is Hanna, a character I would like to see emerge from all of this alive and unscathed, and even when that anything is a strategy as ill-advised as "confess to killing Charlotte so this year's A can use that confession to further ruin all of your lives."
I'm also impressed by how Hanna has Lucas doing everything she wants him to do, even though his unwavering interest is deeply unnerving. I would not be surprised if it turns out he's using his high-tech security system to spy on her from afar and fantasize about the life they could have had if they'd stayed on yearbook committee together forever. Based on Hanna's half of that little phone conversation with Jordan, I assume she hasn't met his parents yet. Seems like the kind of thing they should have gotten around to before the engagement, at least over Skype, but since their relationship isn't long for this world, I guess formalities aren't too important. I love that Hanna bought Lucas ties as a gift, but also put itty-bitty Post-its on them, instructing him how to wear them. That is very thoughtful and also more than a little condescending, so, 100 percent in character.
3. Emily (last week: 1)
Hanna says that her plot is like "building a rat trap," and Emily shoots back, "And you're the cheese!" It's this kind of quick thinking — and, if we're being real, general lack of admirable behavior by all the other characters in this episode — that secures Emily a spot in the top three.
4. Jillian (last week: not ranked)
At least she knows what's up with Aria and Liam. How long before she sniffs out the illicit history between her hot new co-authors?
5. Aria (last week: 8)
What is she wearing? A candy-colored sleeveless tennis-style shirt, a metallic miniskirt, and black booties? Are her body parts experiencing completely different climates? Who told her that top and skirt coordinated? Was it Jenna? (Also, where is Jenna? Isn't she still kind of related to Toby?) Cute low pony, though. As I've said since this plot began, I am not optimistic about her writerly partnership with Ezra. And just from a quality point of view, I have yet to be convinced that his (theirs, technically) is a book anyone would be enticed to read. White dude meets white girl in the developing world and then loses her to the abyss? Meh.
6. Caleb (last week: 6)
Dude, I know you still have feelings for her and everyone is rooting for you two, but Hanna is engaged. Also, you broke up with Spencer like a week ago and it was just a fake breakup because of your fake hack into Yvonne's mom's campaign. Also, where are you even living right now? Not a fan of his "guys this isn't a democracy" speech, either. Flashback Caleb wants Spencer to throw her life away and follow him to Morocco. And again I ask: How is Caleb funding all of these misadventures? If he has no obligations back in the U.S. — i.e., no job — with what bottomless well of money is he financing his devil-may-care globetrotting? Whatever, it doesn't even matter. Spencer is due back to Georgetown at the end of the week.
7. Spencer (last week: 5)
"Not guilty because the victim didn't show? That's setting the bar pretty low," Spencer tells Emily, re: Mona, but is that setting the bar low? I actually think the only metric for "not guilty" is, literally, "did this person commit the murder?" Look, Robert Durst was "not guilty" of that murder in Texas even after he confessed to dismembering a dude's corpse and putting all the body parts in garbage bags (torso in a suitcase, head still M.I.A.) because the jury ruled he fired the gun in self defense! Point is: 1) I still can't get over the fact that Durst Iron Chef'ed a dead body, and 2) Mona's desire to have killed Charlotte is completely irrelevant. Spencer should know that.
But the real reason Spencer is so low on this week's PLPR is a simpler matter: She's been broken up from Caleb — a breakup they kind of coordinated, based on a lie both partners were involved in telling — for all of 30 seconds, and he's already deep in cahoots with Hanna, pulling this us-against-the-world trick and holding her hand like it's junior year all over again. Spencer handles this in a very mature and sure-to-not-backfire fashion: by throwing back Olivia Pope–size glasses of wine, vocal-frying her throat out, and being passive-aggressive as hell.
Her response to Hanna and Caleb's strategy? "I'm glad somebody else came up with a plan because I'm all tapped out." When Emily begs her to intervene, Spencer goes, "What do you want me to do? Wedge myself between them on the sofa?" Yikes, girl.
8. Nicole (last week: not ranked)
We only meet the version of Nicole that Ezra describes in his fiction and that Aria imagines from this source material, but already, she is … not great. If they're living so far off the grid that Ezra tries to tempt her into his Jeep with the promise of "a floor and a shower," where the hell is she plugging in the curling iron she obviously used to achieve that classic hairstyle best described as "sexy cowgirl pigtails?"
9. That bodyguard Sad Robyn brings to Charlotte's funeral (last week: not ranked)
In what alternate universe would he not recognize Spencer and Emily, especially if they were together? Sad Robyn knows maybe seven people in Rosewood, and if this guy is supposed to be the Gary to her Selina, he'd have the names and faces of these two memorized, no question. Anyway, he has blueprints to Radley, so who knows what they're about or why? Seriously. If you know, please tell me in the comments, I am lost without your vigilance.
Also, watching him eat that ice-cream cone reminded me of a line from Americanah: "She had always found it a little irresponsible, the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men, especially the eating of ice cream cones by grown-up American men in public."
10. Lucas (last week: not ranked)
"Do you lunch? We should do lunch." Oof. Could Lucas be more tacky about his new money? "My accountant says I need to spend more." Sounds like a real problem for you, Lucas! How ever will you manage?
11. Sad Robyn (last week: not ranked)
It might seem like she has the upper hand, but I wouldn't bet on anyone who bets against Mona.
12. Ali (last week: not ranked)
The fakest fall down the stairs I've ever seen in all my days. Her heel got caught on a carpet? And we're also supposed to believe that A was somehow involved in this act of apparently innocent clumsiness? What is the point of this accident? Just to get Ali in a hospital bed to hallucinate visions of her mother? There are, like, 10,000 more interesting ways to get Ali to have a dream about her mom, and also 10,000 more interesting ways to land Ali in the hospital besides "My legs were so worn out from all the sex my new husband and I had in this generic bed-and-breakfast that my knees just gave out beneath me." At the end of the episode, when her boring doctor husband kisses her good-bye, she has such a blissed-out look on her face that you know her whole setup is about to be reduced to shambles. But maybe she'll get vicious and interesting again?
Lingering concerns: What are the odds that Lucas killed Charlotte as part of an elaborate ploy to get Hanna back into his life? Do we believe that Jessica DiLaurentis, even in the afterlife, would be so kind to her daughter? Their relationship used to be pretty dark, if I remember correctly.
You can't get reparations from a corpse,