The Liars aren't the only ones with enemies. I, too, have a nemesis. That nemesis is Comcast. And because Comcast cares not for the sacred duties of the power ranker — in every generation, there is a chosen one — I missed the first seven minutes of this episode. I say this because it is possible that all the things I will gently mock for not making sense would make sense if only I had not missed those crucial seven minutes, just like it's possible that Ryan Lochte is an undercover genius playing a very involved long con. Generous recapper that I am, I have factored in this (extremely unlikely) possibility in this week's Pretty Little Power Rankings.
1. Jason (last week: not ranked)
I'm going to be honest with you here: Does Jason really display "power" in this episode? Or does he display golden run-your-fingers-through-it hair, the exact right amount of scruff, impeccable fitness (that's a cool way to say someone's whole chest/abdominal area is on point, no?), emotional hand-holding, and A+ sex eyes? The answer is yes; also, stop asking questions. Why did Aria ever leave this beautiful, age-appropriate person — who, let's not forget, has fiery Hastings blood running through his veins — to get back together with Dopey McRaperson Fitzgerald?
I'll admit, I gave a little eye roll at (paraphrasing here) "Why go on job interviews when you can come to Ethiopia with me and 'help people' in a way I haven't totally thought through?" Aria tells Jason she needs to think about it because she's "not independently wealthy." Would that wealth were measured solely in leather motorcycle jackets, our Aria would be a Rockefeller.
2. Noel Kahn (last week: not ranked)
The first thing I saw in this episode was Noel throwing stuff in a dumpster while looking over both his shoulders in broad daylight, as one does when one is up to totally fine and not-at-all-criminal activities.
Even if Noel Kahn is Mary Drake's kid, which I guess makes him Ali and Jason's cousin, and even if he knew the identity of his biological mother despite the whole "adoption certificate redacted" situation, that STILL does not explain anything about his character, his behavior up until this point, his motivations, his general unhinged-ness, etc., etc. What exactly was his damage with Ali — who obviously had no idea her mom had a secret sister who had two secret babies — and the rest of her friends, and how/why/ugh did he bankroll some elaborate torture Dollhouse, and how can he summon the strength to give enough fucks about Sad Robyn to kill her when I cannot even be bothered to refer to her by her given name?
Noel is only this high up on the PLPR because he was smart enough to not let Hanna drug him, quick enough to steal back the phone, and strong enough to maintain the upper hand until the end of the episode, when Hanna came back to inflict PLL's signature injury: blunt-force trauma.
3. Officer Marco Elevator (last week: not ranked)
Still cute, still valiant, still seems like the only cop in Rosewood who is not actively terrible at his job.
4. Spencer (last week: 2)
Look, this is a tough one because, honestly, all the Liars are useless this week. But Spencer's hair looked good and also I liked her autumnal "studying at the library, but for grown-ups" look, and also I liked that she called Officer Elevator.
5. Aria (last week: 8)
Aria took a job at a publishing house clueless enough to publish not just one but two works by Ezra; she did not jump (heh heh) at the opportunity to hook up with Jason during the power outage, which is one of the few totally socially acceptable situations in which to have sex with someone you maybe shouldn't have sex with; and she was so taken aback by the *sexual tension* with Jason that she seriously suggested running into a power-outage-causing thunderstorm rather than sit on a couch next to this person. When Jason tells Aria that he knows Ezra's ex might still be alive and Aria says Ezra hasn't called since the morning (really not that long to go without contact, TBH) I wrote in my notes: "Look at how understanding Jason's eyes are, put his face on your face." Then Jason said Ezra and Aria "were always meant to be," and I wrote "Jason DO NOT ENCOURAGE."
6. Emily (last week: 1)
Of all the dumb things people say in this episode, Emily's objections to going to the police is the most moronic. Here's what she says to explain why they can't tell the Rosewood PD about the Noel videos: "Tell them what? That Hanna said she'd be in New York?" EMILY, YOU HAVE EVIDENCE. What do you think the cops are going to say? "We only accept evidence when your entire party is here?" It's a police station, not a brunch reservation.
7. Hanna (last week: 5)
Is that a Penn hat? Bonus points! Unfortunately for Miss Marin, it's all minus points from here.
I get that all the Liars feel guilty for not believing Hanna and thus sending her off on this rogue, lone ranger-y mission to get vengeance for that dark time she spent starring in the sexy torture flick, Spring Breakers Two: 2 Spring 2 Breakers. But Hanna, unlike Laurie Hernandez, is maintaining her amateur status. Could she be less clunky about spiking Noel's beer? I'm glad she doesn't come off as an expert at this stuff, but girl, maybe crush the pills in private — you know, before you sidle up to the bar and draw attention to yourself by ordering two beers even though you're sitting alone. And then she shows up at this meet and greet with the real phone; she doesn't even bring a decoy. AND she doesn't record her conversation with Noel. A low bun and a baseball hat do not a sneaky person make.
8. How has literally no one learned to back up important files to the cloud or an external hard drive or a even floppy disc or somesuch thing? (last week: not ranked)
Legitimately incriminating information is to Rosewood as guns are to Chekhov: As soon as I see it hot in the hands of a Liar, I just know it's going to be gone and/or destroyed by the episode's end.
And the bad guys are just as … bad (sorry). Am I supposed to believe Noel is this masochistic criminal mastermind who is smart enough to straight up get away with murder, plus kidnapping/torturing/elaborate prison construction, but he's also so dumb that he just kept the flash drive with videos of his insane crimes in a cute little keepsake box in an unlocked drawer in his bedroom? And he didn't even password protect the files or give the folders misleading names? He went ahead and named the folder with the videos of Spencer "Spencer." He named the top-secret Spencer file "Spencer." Get out.
9. Paige (last week: 9)
Paige's hair is a nightmare. She tells Emily to "forget about the past" while they sit at desks at their old high school. She also says, "I didn't know you were seeing anyone," in the tone of voice of a person who has spent every waking hour internet-sleuthing and figuring out every itty-bitty thing she can about Emily's current girlfriend. Paige, if you learned anything interesting, share it with the class! (See No. 11.)
10. Trying to make me care that Sad Robyn is dead (last week: not ranked)
11. Sabrina (last week: not ranked)
I'm not asking that every minor character in the show have some complex, nuanced backstory. But I dare any of you to come up with one defining personality trait for Sabrina. She is essentially baked goods, coffee, and nothing. She is words coming out of a face in Emily's general direction. She is the idea of blondness. She is dressed like a drunk Lumineer let loose at a Free People.
12. This gross pattern wherein white male characters go to "scary" parts of the world to save people of color (last week: not ranked)
Jason's descriptions of Ethiopia in the flashbacks are even more cringeworthy than Ezra's tales of Colombia, and I did not think we could get a weaker offering than "the military is going into the jungle." Jason says he helped some Ethiopians "have water for the first time." Just mull that over with me for a minute: They never had water before? Water. Water, a substance without which a person would die in 72 hours. Who are these (presumably) more than three-day-old people who somehow survived without water until Jason, their savior, arrived from a Philadelphia suburb to show them what they were missing?
Lingering concerns: Isn't Ali the crux of this entire freaking series? WHERE IS SHE? What purpose could it possibly serve to have Nicole be alive if the show insists on forcing Ezra and Aria back together at all costs? Did Hanna really think the most convincing alibi for her and Noel would be to say they were watching Birdman?
I can't imagine there's anyone better than you,
P.S. [Siren emoji] I will be traveling to Ravenswood (jk, would rather die, but seriously, I won't be here) next week and so your summer finale power ranking will be posted on Thursday morning. I trust you all to hold down the internet fort in my absence. [Siren emoji]