Pretty Little Liars Recap: Crash Dummy

Sasha Pieterse as Alison. Photo: Byron Cohen/Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Pretty Little Liars
Episode Title
The Talented Mr. Rollins
Editor’s Rating

Can I tell you what I realized as I watched globs of blood spill out of Elliot's lips and onto Hanna's face? For once, the Liars will have to cover up a murder they actually committed! All this time, they've been getting accused of crimes they haven't done, scrambling to find the real perpetrators before false accusations land them all in prison, or worse. But now we will get to see these stone-cold killers, who all participated in this oops-we-killed-Elliot thing together — not like that time Aria shoved someone off a stage (I think that's how that happened?) or when everyone thought my shining knight Ashley Marin was responsible for Wilden's death — deal with the fallout. Rookie suggestion: First, they should probably deal with that windshield. More advice for how to handle accidental homicide in this week's Pretty Little Power Rankings!

1. Emily (last week: 1)
You all know that I take this job very seriously. More seriously, I think, than the Liars take their own lives, and about 10,000 times as seriously as any of them ever took their education and, at present, their jobs. I have to let the behavior and choices of each of the Liars dictate their place in these sacred rankings each week. The wand chooses the wizard. And so I am stunned, floored, I tell you, but the points have been tallied (note: the points system is not 100 percent mathematically sound), and the results are clear: Emily wins the week again! Not just, "ooh, she just barely bested Spencer because of a well-timed one-liner." No, we're talking a slam-dunk, home-run, insert-the-sports-metaphor-of-your-choice-here, undisputed victor of the day.

Emily kicks off the episode from a power position: She is obviously right about Elliot and Mary, and she is the only person to see this truth from the get-go. Then, with Spencer's help, she figures out that Elliot made a Wilden mask and used his drugs and disguises to make Ali think she was insane. In the midst of all this legit mystery-solving, she also flirts/confesses her way into a date with Sabrina the Coffeehouse Blonde.

2. Spencer (last week: 7)
Look, I'm not taking anything away from Emily here, but I think we all know which member of that dynamic duo is responsible for figuring out that Elliot's grocery list was really a recipe for homemade latex. I think Spencer is better off without Caleb, since Caleb and Hanna are the only OTP this show is shoving at us that I can actually co-sign, so I count her "you like me but I love you so … boy, bye" as a win.

I am intrigued by how little sympathy Spencer has for Ali's plight just because Ali killed Charlotte. It suggests she holds some alarmingly chill attitudes about our criminal-justice system.

3. That death scene (last week: not ranked)
Not sure what this says about me or the show or what, but I was genuinely surprised by Elliot's death-by-windshield! I didn't expect any payoff on that season-opening scene for, like, 8 billion episodes, so I'd shelved it in the back of my mind where I keep other non-vital PLL information, like the status of Jenna's vision. But that was real graphic and, considering all the gross, sexy-bloody imagery we've had of girls so far this season (and, when you think about it, this entire series), it was mighty satisfying/disgusting to watch blood ooze out of Elliot's sad-guppy mouth. That's one hell of a Brexit.

4. Ali (last week: 12)
Even after everything she's been through, this savvy, scrappy one has the wherewithal to drop a pin, convincingly fake sleep without accidentally falling asleep, and then burst out of the car and sprint away from Elliot. My favorite moment of the night is when Ali, in her hospital nightgown like some kind of haunted Wendy from Peter Pan, gazes at Elliot's dead body like an avenging angel.

5. Aria (last week: 8)
Did anyone else notice that, when the girls all "ready, break!" for their tasks for the day, Hanna and Emily go to the hospital, Spencer says she'll find Toby for some flimsy/transparent reason, and no one includes Aria in their plans?

Anyway, when she's finally put to work rifling through Elliot's laughably ancient-looking stash of rusty medical tools/kitchen supplies, she does a decent job. (Such well-lit photographs of all the important evidence!) But then she makes Elliot and Ali's marriage all about her because she agreed to officiate their wedding. Guys, I know this is an unpopular opinion, but this is one of the many reasons why maybe you shouldn't be able to just get ordained on the internet, like maybe there should be a little more to it if you're going to have the power to declare people husband and wife or what have you?

Also, this is Aria's fourth leather motorcycle jacket. Is the wardrobe department even trying anymore? Tearing apart the Liars' outfits used to be one of the great joys of these recaps. I need to feel like this show is not bored with itself.  

6. Hanna (last week: 6)
Girl would be lower on the list but this episode begins with a very flattering, if gratuitous, close-up of her cleavage. Way to not let that PTSD get you(r boobs) down, Han! As in accordance with the Inviolable Rules of Television Health and Medicine, Hanna was brutally tortured with a cattle prod and other repurposed devices of the Amish for some impossible-to-determine length of time, but her face looks as dewy and unscathed as a newborn fawn. The only scars — aside from the psychological ones, which we see in smut-style flashbacks — Hanna suffers are discreet, kind of flattering, and easily hidden. Speaking of easily hidden: How long does Hanna think she can keep her broken engagement a secret? Is no one in this town on Facebook?

She and Aria hook up with Kirsten the American Girl Doll way out in Amish country, who just so happens to have a set of Liar dolls that she got from Charlotte, and she spotted Charlotte and Elliot k-i-s-s-i-n-g. (Aria: "How much better did Charlotte really get if she was still naming dolls after us?" Honestly, great question.) Kind of a pointless detour to just emphasize stuff the audience already knew — Charlotte and Elliot had a relationship, Hanna was tortured, Charlotte was not "better" — but  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

7. Toby (last week: not ranked)
Does Toby still have a sister or did Jenna kick it during the time jump? Our groom-to-be makes himself useful, discovering (rather quickly, no offense to everybody else in the surely competent Rosewood Police Department) that Elliot Rollins has a moving violation from 1958. Even in Rosewood, where time is but a gentle suggestion, this is probably a sign that Elliot is not who he says he is.

8. Caleb (last week: 10)
Back in a T-shirt, as God intended, but forgotten about by his former bestie — Toby couldn't even shoot the guy a text with an engagement ring and smiley emoji? — and dumped by a woman he never deserved.

9. Yvonne (last week: not ranked)
In case you were wondering, "Does Yvonne really fit in here?" this chick walks out of Toby's old-timey aluminum RV looking like she's ready for Blair Waldorf cosplay. Also, Toby might want to cool it on the "future Mrs. Cavanaugh" stuff, since (1) this wedding is clearly not happening, and (2) even if it were, she doesn't strike me as the change-her-name type.  

10. Jason (last week: not ranked)
So Jason finds out that his sister — literally his only surviving family member, except for their dad who I'm pretty sure 82 percent of the PLL writers keep forgetting is alive — was institutionalized for some unnamed mental illness by her quickie-husband, and his response to this objectively terrifying situation is to say that he's "out of the country" (sure, okay, that narrows it down) and "can't be back for a few days"? Jason, there was a time when your air of mystery added to your hotness. Now is not that time.

11. Elliot (last week: 5)
Would be at the very bottom of the list, but he's got a considerable amount of power for most of the episode. He keeps Ali in some Jason Voorhees–looking mask that I guess this "hospital" just has lying around next to the scrubs and surgical gloves, and he keeps injecting her with a cocktail of speed and sedatives. He apparently has the run of this horrible place, which makes the Stanford Prison Experiment look like a day-care center.

He also spends approximately 37 minutes of this episode making his "I'm a bad guy" stare out of various windows, until the very end, when he makes his "I'm a bad guy" stare through a window.

12. Welby Hospital (last week: not ranked)
When Ali and Elliot were thrashing around the room and making a ton of noise, I wrote in my notes: Is there no one else in this entire hospital? Is the whole joint on Elliot's payroll? How else to explain the complete lack of consideration Dr. LOL-you-know-I'm-not-committing-this-rando's-name-to-memory gave the girls when they came to file a rather serious malpractice complaint. Just a cursory skim of the records Elliot wrote was all Belding needed to confirm that nothing was awry here, no siree! This old doc is a mansplain-y nightmare, and his whole operation is the sketchiest outfit this town's seen since the Rosewood High English Department.

Lingering concerns: Who do I have to make No. 1 around here to see Ashley Marin again? How are people breaking up and getting engaged and keeping it all a secret? Does Ali's freedom mean we are finally done with this season-and-a-half shift to torture porn? Am I really supposed to believe none of these Millennials are on Instagram?

It was like we were in a time warp back in high school,

— J