Shay Mitchell as Emily, Sasha Pieterse as Alison.
Welcome back! I know it’s been a long, hard three-month stretch. So much has changed in our real world since we last ran around with our Liars. And yet in Rosewood, as always, time remained suspended, and we were left to wonder: What happened to Hanna? Why do we care about who killed Charlotte? What’s a Mary Drake? If Elliot’s real identity was a secret, why did he bother having a fake American accent? Why does A have a second initial now? Are we too old for this show? As is the grand tradition in these esteemed, trademark-pending Pretty Little Power Rankings, I will not be able to answer any of those plot-related inquiries with certainty!
1. Mona (last episode: 4)
The only thing wrong with Mona is that she keeps slumming it with this off-brand Scooby Gang instead of splitting for the more glamorous, devious life she deserves. She knows exactly what you need to cover up a murder — “Charcoal absorbs the smell of death” — and she can use her headset thingy to hear other people’s cell-phone conversations, and also her hair looks great. Caleb keeps having the most patently dumb ideas, as if he shopped for strategy at a Trump rally — “There are two of us, we could take her!” — and Mona’s cool disdain for these non-suggestions only endears me to her more. (Her reply to that tactic: “And then what, waterboard her?”)
2. Spencer (last episode: 7)
“And then your little emoji boards the plane and flies to the country.” Oof. Well, in case you were wondering how that relationship with Caleb was going and you somehow missed the neon flashing sign above Caleb’s head that read STILL IN LOVE WITH HANNA, that telling detail about how Spencer’s been spending her downtime ought to make things quite clear.
That said, I’ll give her points for her solid answer to the question about whether she and Melissa are close — “occasionally” — and for pumping Mary Drake for information in a manner that, if not subtle, is at least plausible considering the circumstances. I can’t believe Caleb texted her to not let Mary in. Caleb is an amateur.
3. Mary Drake (last episode: 1)
Mary Drake, a.k.a Brunette Jessica DiLaurentis, sure is up to something. But the fact that all the Liars are convinced she is “A.D.” is pretty much all the proof you need that Mary is just another dark weirdo roaming Rosewood’s streets. She gives us such gems as “Jessica turned everyone against me … she poisoned them all against me” and “I was born first and she was born jealous.” Oh, and Mary only came back to town because she found out Jessica was dead. Yikes.
4. Elliot (last episode: 2)
I get that television is a visual medium and you need to show some weapons in your murder show, but I literally laughed out loud when I saw that knife straight out of The Knick just hanging out, loose, in Elliot’s briefcase. Anyway, the guy seems to have a plan, which is more than I can say for the rest of these dopey Millennials.
5. Toby (last episode: 12)
Wait, is Toby an ex–police officer or a current police officer? Did he get fired or fake-fired or placed on leave? Is the leave over now that we’re five years in the future? Am I conflating his plot with Michael’s from Jane the Virgin? Either way, A+ lock-picking skills.
6. Emily (last episode: 3)
I’m sorry to snark so much so soon, but I nearly died when Emily whisper-gasped, “Did you kill Charlotte?” and, as Ali’s eyes popped open, that comically loud whoosh sound effect came in and Ali started babbling for God’s forgiveness. Emily takes this fragment of non-information from an obviously medicated, not-even-really-awake Ali and determines that she confessed to killing Charlotte. This is the least legit confession since Brendan Dassey’s. She still has some slow-burning thing happening with the blonde at the Brew, so, that’s another peripheral character whose name I guess we’ll have to commit to memory at some point.
7. Aria (last episode: 9)
Great leather jacket, mediocre life choices, terrible timing. Aria Montgomery, everybody! Does she really think that this four-day stretch they have to get Hanna home alive is the best time to initiate a define-the-relationship talk with her once–statuatory rapist? Also, you can’t just order “beer” at a bar. That’s like walking into a diner and asking your waiter for “sandwich.”
8. Creepy McCreeperson’s Mask-Making Emporium (last episode: not ranked)
Apparently still in business!
9. Caleb (last episode: 11)
Dude, we get it: Your loyalties/heart/dick belong to Hanna, now and forevermore, ever since you were wandering through the air ducts of Rosewood like Simba lost in the jungle after the death of Mufasa. But seeing as you are technically still Spencer’s boyfriend, you might want to cool it with the I-just-want-to-cut-a-bitch, knight-in-shining-short-sleeve-button-down act. Caleb spends the entire episode making all these rash decisions — the same kind of harebrained nonsense that got Hanna locked up in that Shrieking Shack in the first place — and trying to prove his badassery by acting first and thinking never. He is toxic masculinity manifest.
10. Hanna (last episode: 6)
Who could ever have predicted that being the bait in a barely thought-out plan would go so badly for our fair heroine? At least she hallucinated a Spencer who could tell her, in riddle form, how to escape from this prison. (Even in Hanna’s subconscious, she needs Spencer to come up with clever solutions to her problems.)
11. A.D. (last episode: not ranked)
I AM NOT GOING TO LEARN WHO THE NEW ‘A’ IS. Just because you are “Freeform” now doesn’t mean you can change the name of the villain. Names are not changing. A is A, period. A.D. is annoying to say and also to type and also no.
12. Ali (last episode: not ranked)
She’s trapped and drugged by her husband, who tricked her into marriage only to keep her rotting-but-alive in a hospital that looks like no hospital I have ever seen. I’m just struggling to find a way to not think this is super-annoying. What happened to awesome Ali, the one who was vicious and calculating and seductive and brutal, like early Cersei Lannister by way of “Blank Space”–era Taylor Swift?
But! I think there’s potential here if we want to read this whole scenario as a Gone Girl–style critique of marriage: Ali is a stand-in for women who, once wed, become spectators in their own lives, helplessly sidelined by their husbands, forced to be silent, pretty, and docile. Elliot has basically diagnosed Ali with hysteria; it won’t be long before this chick starts eating her own wallpaper.
Or it could just get boring, frustrating, and pointless. A power ranker can still hope.
13. Ezra (last episode: 10)
Forgot he was in the episode until I was looking over this recap and realized I was missing his name, so.
14. The vaguely porn-y, B-horror-flick look of Hanna’s scenes (last episode: not ranked)
She’s in her underwear and a tank top for reasons unclear. The photo that her captor sends around to the gang — which the camera keeps lingering on in a not not creepy way — looks like something she shot herself during a sexy Snapchat session. She gets doused in gasoline while we watch her through her torturer’s night-vision goggles, as if it’s some kind of Zero Dark Thirty–themed wet T-shirt contest. And when she wakes up from her dream, she’s so obviously posing with her ass in the air and her back all arched and … didn’t we just watch all the Liars get sexy-tortured in that underground dollhouse? Could we not, please?
Lingering Concerns: When Hanna goes missing, she’s presumed to be on the verge of being murdered for four full days and no one thinks it’s a good idea to (1) talk to the cops (I know, I know) or (2) contact Ashley Marin? Why doesn’t Spencer have bangs in Hanna’s dream?
These days you’re not safe anywhere,