Pretty Little Liars
Mona is a queen and everyone else is a plebe. We knew this, no? We have always known this. Poor Aria is now being video-chat-stalked by her new boss, Evil Aria — I also hate being forced to FaceTime, but that’s what happens when you get mixed up with the wrong people — who has a pretty strict “soon as you see the text, reply me” policy by which Aria fails to abide. Meanwhile, Spencer’s boyfriend is one smart gluten-free cookie, Hanna discovers that her ridiculously generous and always MIA landlord might not be what he seems (you think?!), and Emily and Ali make totally great, not-at-all-problematic decisions. We’re getting down to the wire here, so there will be no holding back in this week’s Pretty Little Power Rankings.
1. Officer Marco Elevator (last episode: 1)
Two weeks in the top spot! Mazel tov to you. This back-to-back victory also marks what I believe is a PLL first: A Rosewood police officer actually solved a crime! Marco knows that Spencer, along with at least one of her little Liar friends, is responsible for Rollins’s death. He is still trying to find a way to both look out for Spencer and do his job. And he didn’t even have to blackmail or murder anybody to find out! I would pour a drink and toast this fine man, but my wine bottle is empty and in place of the cork there is a rolled-up piece of paper from the mom who abandoned me and is making up for missing my childhood by playing hide-and-seek with me now.
2. Mona (last episode: not ranked)
Bless Mona for returning to Rosewood, and bless this show for finally putting Mona in the same room as the engine of our mystery. Mona understands something the Liars are too terrified to embrace: Game recognize game. (In this case, one of those games is literal.) Of course none of the other Liars, and not even fair Caleb, could crack it. I also love that when Hanna tells Mona she’s going to show her something she can’t tell anyone about, Mona’s facial expression does not change. It’s when she sees this masterpiece that her jaw drops. She feels the heat from the battery, realizes that magnets are what make the pieces move, gasps with glee at all the cleverly concealed booby traps in the board, and respects that what has begun cannot be undone. “There’s poetry to that. When the game ends, the game dies.” Mona balks at the idea of helping Hanna play her way out, buuuut I have a feeling she’ll be in the thick of it when this all blows up.
3. Hanna (last week: 3)
Hanna has always felt genuine affection for Lucas, so it makes sense that she’s unwilling to accept the possibility that he knew all about all of this all this time. Even after Aria (helpfully) reminds us all of that time Lucas’s loft was a “techno death trap,” Hanna keeps the faith. She also explains his comic book, which I will not relate here, on account of it being such a comically (comics pun!) on-the-nose metaphor for Charles-Charlotte-Cece’s story that it is pointless to recount. Anyway, Hanna doesn’t get a whole lot done this week, but she does land a few solid quips — “Batteries? I thought it ran on bitchiness” — and she gets points for looping Mona into the game, something she should have done a long time ago.
4. Spencer (last episode: 2)
She brings Marco garbage cupcakes (no sugar, no gluten, why bother) which suggests that she’s off her game, but she does a decent job of keeping her made-up timeline straight, remembering that she “didn’t know” Rollins was dead when she asked Marco to look for Mary Drake. But it all starts to fall apart for this girl, even though she wears an excellent Olivia Pope–esque coat to her failed meet-and-greet with Mary Drake. Alas, her cute cop boyfriend busts her. Turns out she was sloppy the night she and Marco met and made a stunning mistake — using Rollins’s credit card to buy their round of drinks — leaving a paper trail as clear as Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs back to her feet. And she gets spotted at the airport with Wren, of illicit-make-out-in-the-pilot fame, by Ezra. I hope she finds a way out of this mess. It would really be a waste if our most impeccably dressed Liar wound up in prison garb.
5. How these girls keep calling Rollins “Archer Dunhill” in death, even though that is never a name they used while he was alive (last episode: not ranked)
I am mostly irritated because this is confusing for me, but am also docking points for implausibility and name absurdity.
6. Aria (last week: 5)
Aria begins this episode crouched on the ground, hiding behind a dumpster, and it does not get much better for her from there. The big bad A insists on video-chatting with her through some creepy software that makes her look just like Aria except for a kind of floating, off-center mouth. What could possibly be in Aria’s folder that would make her give herself over as a henchman to this faceless, nameless monster? If she’s protecting Ezra, I will crawl through the screen, steal all of her motorcycle jackets, and burn them in a bonfire on the lawn of Rosewood High. (Also, I don’t buy her in florals. Have we ever seen her wear something like that flower-print top before? I think someone is attempting to project innocence through her fashion because she’s feeling extra-guilty these days.)
The one thing I can say for this pint-size Benedict Arnold is this: She finally stands up to Ezra about his objectively selfish and juvenile dealings with Nicole and her family. I am especially proud of her for cutting off his claim that she put him in the middle: “You’re in the middle. I did not put you there.” She’s right! Maybe this brush with the criminal life is giving Aria clarity. If she’d dumped this guy altogether, I’d have moved her up higher, but predictably she and Ezra are making up, if coolly, by the episode’s end.
7. Ezra (last episode: 12)
On top of everything, like how annoying Ezra is on a good day, this whole Nicole plotline does not hold up on close inspection. Think about this: You’re Nicole’s parents. Your daughter just survived some unspeakable horror. You finally have her back, safe and sound, in your arms. You’ve presumably fallen out of touch with your daughter’s boyfriend, because why would you keep up with this guy? Makes no sense. When your daughter is back in your custody, you … panic, forget how to function, and call on the boyfriend — who is now engaged (!) to another woman (!!) who used to be his high-school student (!!!) — for every single hiccup you encounter? Even in some best-case scenario where Ezra and Nicole hadn’t broken up, I highly doubt that her parents would be like, “We’re not thrilled with this new doctor. You know what? Ezra should definitely be summoned to the hospital to sort this out, as we are utterly incapable of handling this ourselves.”
Ezra does not even go through the motions of having a conversation with Aria about his choices re: traveling to see Nicole, disappearing with no notice, spending their money on all these trips and hotels, the fact that Aria is obviously going through something traumatic and he doesn’t even notice, etc., etc., etc. This is exactly the kind of husband he’s going to be, Aria! Get out of there and call up Jason DiLaurentis! I miss him and honestly they were real cute together.
8. Paige (last episode: 9)
Paige’s hair makes her look like a suburban mom in 1976 who bought some hot rollers and thought, “Well, if Farrah can pull it off, why can’t I?” She is truly awful at pretending to have empathy. “What a nightmare,” she says to Emily of Ali’s situation, her voice as dead as Noel Kahn. Do we think she really meant it when she said she was saying good-bye to Emily for the last time? I hope so! Finders keepers, Iowa.
9. Ali (last episode: 7)
Okay, give me a second to prepare here. [Breathes deeply into a paper bag.]
If Ali were a real human person in this totally bizarro circumstance — the craziest insemination situation since Jane Villanueva accidentally got knocked up with Rafael Solano’s sperm once upon a time — then yes, duh, obviously, I would support her choice, as a woman, to do whatever she thought was best for her and her family. But because Ali is a fictional person, I’m going to go ahead and say, WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE, YOUNG LADY? Ali was all set to get an abortion. She knows that (1) this pregnancy was forced upon her without her consent or knowledge, (2) the baby has some mystery dad that could be ANYONE because A is a straight-up psycho — like, I would not put it past A to have used Spencer’s dad’s sperm or something weird just to complicate these relationships even further, and (3) IT IS NOT EVEN HER BABY AT ALL. So why is she carrying this pregnancy to term? Emily Fields is 22 years old! Girl has time. So does Ali. If these crazy kids want to make a go of parenthood together, they have decades to do it.
Look, if this made sense for their characters, I would maybe hold back from the ranting. But it feels like a shocking, gross violation of both Ali and Emily forced into the show just for the sake of giving them a reason to be stuck together for the rest of their natural lives. You know what also could have brought Ali and Emily back together? Meaningful character development! But alas, here we are, with Emily making googly eyes at whichever person in the room has most recently paid attention to her, and Ali bending her entire nature to fit whatever plot contrivance the writers stick her in.
10. Emily (last episode: 4)
Should Emily have any say over what happens here? My gut instinct, given everything stated above, is: not really! (This would be different if Emily had frozen her eggs with the intent of using them herself — see: Jane and Rafael — but she didn’t. She donated them with no intention of ever knowing anything about the pregnancies that did or did not result from that donation.) But instead of keeping her issues to herself, Emily ultimately word-vomits them all over Ali, and she proposes the truly preposterous idea that Ali, Emily, and Paige could all work out some sort of arrangement so that Emily can keep both points in her love triangle in her immediate proximity to assuage her mind-boggling insecurities. One of Emily’s reasons is that she doesn’t want A to “win,” which, WHAT? When Emily tells Paige she has to do this, and Paige is like, “That’s what makes you Emily,” I wrote in my notes: Oh, you mean making a badly thought-out, immature decision based on a fleeting feeling of closeness and responsibility for Ali? Yes, SUCH an Emily move.
Also, Emily tells Spencer that part of her logic is that she keeps thinking about the letter Mary Drake wrote to Spencer. “I don’t ever want to write a letter like that.” Emily, good Lord. Ali isn’t talking about giving the kid up for adoption or, in some Moses-style scenario, just stashing it in a basket and sending it down the Schuylkill, hoping some well-to-do family will take it in. She’s deciding between having this baby she will keep and raise herself or terminating the pregnancy as planned. You don’t have to write a letter if Ali terminates the pregnancy because Mike Pence hasn’t yet gotten around to mandating all women who get abortions write sad letters to be read aloud at their fetus funerals.
Lingering concerns: What was that whole thing with Lucas selling Hanna’s factory space? Can Spencer and Marco’s relationship survive this latest homicide-related setback? Isn’t Aria supposed to have a job?
If this snowball keeps growing, there is nothing I can do to help you,