At least a few crises are averted in this episode. The Liars aren't sure if they'd murdered Rollins for real, but Spencer and Hanna's big dig lands on the corpse they hoped was still in the ground. Ali survives an attack by … whoever. Spencer does not get back together with Caleb. Of course, our Liars step into as many God-awful situations as they avoid, and so this hour also brings us the engagement of Ezra and Aria. And Mona is still sadly MIA. Who will climb to the top of the Pretty Little Power Rankings in her absence?
1. Spencer (last episode: 5)
Rosewood's Hermione still has the hots for Detective Elevator. She finds out that he's at the DiLaurentis house, so she tags along to "keep Ali safe," which is about as transparent as telling a guy you want to watch his band practice to "listen to the awesome music." Then she tells him, with very serious sex eyes, that she "doesn't want anything to get complicated," which is hilarious because Spencer's brain is obsessed with puzzles and would collapse from boredom if she were in a noncomplicated entanglement.
Spencer says that she knows how to "break in without being detected," and her means of doing so is opening the front door. Alexis Neiers would be proud! She seems to handle the whole Mary-with-a-crowbar thing very gracefully, and she does not cave to what I assume is a strong desire to have "okay, seriously though, this is the last time" sex with Caleb, and she recovers, rather quickly, from losing a guy she says she loved to encouraging Hanna to pursue that same guy. Nicely done, Hastings.
2. Detective Elevator (last episode: not ranked)
Actually knows that the rental car is a diversion, even though he doesn't piece together what he's being diverted from. Cracks adorable jokes about Spencer having a "problem with law enforcement." Assures Spencer he won't be inappropriate, then immediately weaponizes his cuteness to pump her for information about Ali. Is hot enough that I want him to stick around, but unfortunately for him, too late to the party for me to commit to memorizing his real name. Knowing this show, they'll "reveal" his name in nine episodes, and I'll have to learn that one, too.
3. Hanna (last episode: 6)
What even is this business that Lucas supposedly enlists Hanna to run? The papers she looks at are the PowerPoint equivalent of lorem-ipsum text.
She tells Aria that in the 1900s, "We used to bury people alive all the time," and Aria tells her to stop spending so much time on Wikipedia. Obviously, intrepid reporter/recapper that I am, I went to the premature-burial Wikipedia page to check on Hanna's intel. Nothing on the page suggests we experienced a turn-of-the-century spike in live burials. However, I did learn that the London Association for the Prevention of Premature Burial was founded by two old-timey anti-vaxxers, one of whom was famous for his denial of germ theory. The more you know!
Other stuff about Hanna: She finally comes clean to Spencer and Aria about her breakup with Jordan, a man about as memorable as a Bachelorette contestant who gets booted on night one. I laughed out loud when she said she didn't want to tell her caterer about cancelling the wedding — "She was really invested" — and her hair color is distractingly sloppy. If you look at her from behind and above — like, if she's sitting on the steps of the police station, and you approach from the back — she is practically a brunette. I get that she's under duress, but I don't think Hanna would let her roots get to that sorry state.
4. Aria (last episode: 7)
Aria spends the duration of this episode wearing a sweatshirt that's Barney purple-and-green on the front and blue-and-orange leopard print on the back. Looks like a reject Cosby sweater, which, considering Aria's proclivity for deeply inappropriate/rape-y relationships, is maybe a reference the wardrobe department made on purpose?
As soon as Aria said Rollins is "really, truly dead," I was convinced he is alive, or that he has a twin (which would be so irritating; the only show that can get away with multiple surprise twins is the excellent, unimpeachable Jane the Virgin). Aria thinks she can't marry Ezra because she's going to go to prison for murder — not because of all the other reasons, like how he's clearly not over his dead ex-girlfriend and also the part where he was her rapist — but what do you know, at the end of the day, she wraps her tacky-sweatshirted arms around him, and decides to get hitched. What should their wedding hashtag be? #ICaughtAPredator?
5. Mary Drake (last episode: 3)
Are we supposed to be surprised to learn that Charlotte is Mary's kid? I thought we knew that already. Also, I know this show plays on horror tropes, and that's all well and good, but I'm grossed out by the narrative that C-sections are vicious surgeries imposed on unwilling women by "impatient" doctors.
6. Ali (last episode: 2)
This is a strike against the PLL wardrobe department, not Ali. (Strikes against her coming soon, don't worry.) The red jacket, an article of clothing important enough to double as a plot device, does not even fit our ex-antihero well. Sasha P. is cute as hell, and it should not be hard to dress her in clothes that fit and flatter.
Ali is pissed that the Liars thought she murdered Charlotte/Charlie/Cece/I can't with the names. Considering Ali's backstory — do I or do I not remember a little lady faking her own disappearance and subsequent murder? — I think she should be cooler about people suspecting her of crimes and misdemeanors. For reasons unclear, she still lives in that haunted house with a woman she doesn't trust/know. And though she manages to escape death at the hands of a mask-wearing fake cop, and you know I don't believe in victim-blaming, I'm not sure what to do with the fact that Ali still trusts the Rosewood PD to protect her. How has she not enlisted the services of a full-time bodyguard by now?
7. Emily (last episode: 1)
Forgot she was in this episode until I went back through this recap and realized I hadn't included her.
8. Caleb (last episode: not ranked)
Returns from the wilderness to tell Ezra that he doesn't know what he and Spencer are right now, "because of a lot of things." Um, no. I think the reason you don't know is because you dropped a ton of intense information on your girlfriend, and then, instead of sticking around to allow her to process and have a conversation with you like a mature, considerate human, you just left town in the middle of the night to, I don't know, ride a Greyhound bus and feel your feelings out a window like some kind of off-brand Jess Mariano.
Caleb is wearing a short-sleeve button-down with … wait, is that feathers? Quills? It looks like the uniform of a grungy Trader Joe's employee. I am not sorry he got dumped.
9. Ezra (last episode: 13)
Spends most of the episode leaving Aria emotional voice mails and staring vacantly into the middle distance like Chris Christie at a Trump rally. Did not wear a tie for his proposal, as I instructed.
10. Jenna (last episode: 4)
I'm gonna use this entry to rant a tiny bit about how literally nothing about the flashback Jenna describes makes any sense at all. So she only visited Charlotte because she read about her — not because she knew about Charlotte's connection to Ali and the rest of the Liars? How is that even possible? If Charlotte was calling Rollins "Archer" (ughhhh), why didn't Ali know his real name? WHY DOES CHARLOTTE HAVE TO HAVE SO MANY FREAKING NAMES. WHY DID I EVEN HAVE TO LEARN WHO CHARLIE WAS IF CHARLIE WAS GOING TO NOT BE A THING ANYMORE.
11. Making a big deal out of Noel's return and then … not making him a part of the episode (last episode: not ranked)
Also, good catch everyone, his last name is "Kahn," and not, as I misspelled it last time, Caan. But I bet in three weeks, we'll find out his name is, like, Sebastian McDurdenhoff, and I'll have learned the correct spelling of Kahn for nothing.
12. Sad Robyn (last episode: not ranked)
Does she have a personality? Did we ever get any substantive, consistent information about this character and who she is and why she was kidnapped in the first place, and where is her family, and why? I cannot even remember why this person matters or why she wouldn't be on the same side as the Liars. Everything she says sounds like a bad audition for a middle-school play, but I don't even know where to place the blame for that — the writing? The performance? Both? — because there's no coherent sense of who she is or what she wants, so of course none of her lines sound even remotely plausible. None of that would matter if she weren't fantastically boring, but here we are. I'd say that she's dead so it's not our problem anymore, but with this show WHO KNOWS.
13. How the five-year time jump sucks all the resonance out of these characters' emotional development (last episode: not ranked)
"I loved you," Spencer tells Caleb, referencing an apparently life-altering romance about which we know next-to-nothing, because it occurred during the time jump that we only glimpsed in flashback form. "Charlotte lied about everything," Ali says to Emily, referring to the elaborate subterfuge we never witnessed and still don't know enough about because it took place — you guessed it! — during the time jump. How are we supposed to care about this stuff if it isn't even a real part of the show?
14. Making jokes about a blind girl when you are literally the people who blinded her (last episode: not ranked)
First, Spencer snarks that Jenna "could be grooming Sarah to become her new seeing-eye dog." And later, Ali puts on a record (minus points for implausibility, I feel like Ali has Apple Music) of "I'd Rather Go Blind," and says, "I love this song." Ali, we all love Etta James, but GIRL.
Lingering concerns: Do we know for sure that ghosts don't show up in photographs? I thought that was just a vampire thing, and with mirrors. So Elliot is dead and that's just some other dude doing the accent on the phone? Are you guys watching Guilt? Because I am, so if you are too, please find me on Twitter and we can discuss.
We've really gotta stop group-texting each other,