Do you want to hear a scary story? Sometimes, the writers of our favorite TV shows decide to care about something — really, really care about it — even though it isn’t interesting to anyone else in the whole world. Doesn’t matter what you say or how loudly you say it: These writers won’t listen to logic. Or reason. Or entertainment value. Or plot relevance. I could go on. We see it time and again. Someone on the Homeland staff thinks we’re watching for a tragic, star-crossed love story. Someone over at Nashville spent all of season one convinced we were tuning in for a behind-the-scenes look at the mayoral race. And someone in the PLL writers’ room apparently decided: “We have our audience’s attention for one hour between the summer and winter seasons. I think we should spend approximately one third of this valuable time on a bus.”
The bus will not do anything exciting. It will not crash or go off course. I’m pretty sure it’s not even a metaphor? I don’t know. Basically, Caleb — I know he’s not one of the four leads of this program, but hear me out — and that girl from Make It or Break It are going to flirt, sort of, but also not, and at one point they’ll try to steal chips from literally the bus’s only other passenger. It’s like Speed, if Speed were incredibly slow and completely ignored Sandra Bullock.
Ravenswood, you got your backdoor pilot, okay? You have officially monopolized more than your share of PLL time. You overstayed your not-actually-scary, Instagram-filtered welcome. You have your very own season premiere! Get off my lawn, Ravenswood. And for the record, if Caleb is going to have cute, sexy tension with anyone who isn’t Hanna, it’s going to be with Ashley Marin. #cashley4ever
When we last left our Liars, they were about to get all gussied up and crash a costume party. Time for a special Halloween edition of the patented Pretty Little Power Rankings!
1. Hanna (last episode: 4)
Do I think Hanna actually knows how to operate a rotary phone? No. But I do believe that her reaction to getting locked in a phone booth would be to say, “This is not happening. This is seriously not happening”? Yes times a million. Also, if it weren’t for Hanna saying “I think A has Ali,” I would have completely forgotten what the Liars were even looking for. A, Ali, gas mask man, all of the above?
Hanna also gets some of the best lines of the night. For instance, here is her wisdom on wearing a corset: “It’s torture. What is this crap? I’m never complaining again about a sports bra.”
2. The Liars’ completely batshit costumes (last episode: not ranked)
Everybody take as deep a breath as your corsets will allow, because we’re doing a wardrobe breakdown. Before we begin, allow me to say how I love that, in the rush to get dressed and hurry to this party before they lost the Ali trail, our Liars still had time to reapply their makeup and do elaborate, era-appropriate hairstyles.
Spencer looks like she is running a Victorian orphanage, or perhaps just caring for a Victorian orphan, like Samantha the American Girl Doll. Never let them see your throat, Spencer! Emily could have Googled “slutty pimp + Downton Abbey” and wound up with that half-costume she got stuck wearing, which appears to have come with a collar and Indiana Jones hat but no shirt because, sure. Aria, as per usual, has the highest accessory density of all the girls (accessory density = bling per square inch of body surface). She also gets a Mad Hatter hat. Hanna is going to a sparkly garden party in an Edith Wharton novel, but first she’ll be posing for the cover of a romance paperback in which the heroine always has a “heaving bosom” or some such boob-centric breathlessness.
3. Emily (last episode: 16)
Emily thinks the haunted house could be “from Prohibition, or the Underground Railroad.” I feel like maybe Emily doesn’t know what either of those things are.
That said, she is part of the best exchange of the episode:
Spencer: One of us knows how to change a tire, right?
Emily: And you’re looking at me because I’m gay?
Aria: No … It’s just that, you’re the sporty one.
4. Miranda (last episode: not ranked)
Blah, blah, boring Ravenswood backstory, blah, we’re both foster kids, blah. Miranda wins a few points for asking Hanna, “Do you always dress like prom night on the Titanic?” But then she loses them all again for her obvious pathetic lonelygirl fishing with the countless references to how she’s “used to doing things” by herself and “being alone.” Someone get this girl a copy of Wild and her very own bag of corn chips, stat.
4. Blind dude on the bus (last episode: not ranked)
Remember when Liz Lemon pretended to be crazy just so people would leave her alone on the subway? I’m not saying he was faking it; I’m just saying, you do what you have to do to protect your corn chips.
5. Spencer (last episode: 2)
When Spencer is left alone in the mansion, she somehow winds up in this greenhouse section that looks suspiciously like the greenhouse from season two. She gets in a fight with gas mask guy and he knocks her out cold. Where’s Martial Arts Jake when he might be remotely useful? Where is Magic Mike?
6. Mrs. Grunwald (last episode: not ranked)
If anyone can explain to me what anything Mrs. Grunwald said in this episode actually means for the plot of this show, you shall be rewarded with a GIF from one of the greatest Halloween movies of all time. It’s not “cryptic” when even someone who is paid to be paying attention has no idea what you’re taking about, PLL! The theme for the Sunday Times crossword can be cryptic. The Westing Game is cryptic. Mrs. Grunwald’s “One of you has been touched by the one Ali fears the most” is just lousy fortune cookie material. (I like Spencer’s “It’s gonna be me” reaction face, though.)
7. Ali (last episode: 10)
Anyone remember what Ali told Hanna at the hospital? GIFs for you, too!
8. Aria (last episode: 6)
“I told you I felt fresh air!” Aria, upon opening the door to a room with an open window. Because you can really feel that cross-ventilation through closed doors.
9. Ezra (last episode: 3)
Is he board shorts? Is he the man in the gas mask? Is … oh, screw it. Given that he was the big cliff-hanger at the end of the summer, you might think a more significant portion of this episode would have been dedicated to furthering that plot or exploring Ezra’s character, i.e., what does he know and when did he know it? But, nah, he just gets to speak in a vaguely ominous way and run the Rosewood carpool.
10. Caleb (last episode: 9)
Caleb, look at your life. Look at your choices. You are abandoning your awesome girlfriend and her even awesomer mom to shack up with a total stranger who is rocking a sad copycat version of your haircut and live in a town that is (1) haunted (2) kind of boring? And — okay, sorry, not to dwell on this plot point, but really — why not just have Caleb find the grave with his name and photograph on it and then decide that he has to stay behind? Wouldn’t that make his decision to up and leave Rosewood just a tiny bit more believable? (I realize that it’s all relative when it comes to plot twists and character choices being “believable” here but, come on.)
11. Random citizens of Ravenswood (last episode: not ranked)
Mini Redcoats! A lot of people dressed as soldiers! That Cinderella girl and her cousin, who we meet for all of thirty seconds before never seeing again! Cinderstranger falls into a grave and her cousin’s reaction is like, “I told you it wasn’t safe here.” Um, what? Yeah, don’t play near open graves, as my mom always says.
12. The flashlight app on Hanna’s phone (last episode: not ranked)
Remember Spencer’s flashlight? It really was the brightest.
Lingering concerns: What kind of town throws a party in a graveyard? Do you think that guy really looked like Ryan Gosling in a certain light? Did Aria seriously ask about zoning laws in the middle of a haunted house? Do you want me to look or not?
Did you miss me?
PLL fans who’ve read the books: keep your spoiler-filled knowledge to yourselves! TV talk only, both below and on Twitter (@jessicagolds), please and thank you.