If I could give about ten people in this recap a tie for last place, I would do it. That is the stunning degree of incompetence and powerlessness on display in this week’s pointless little blip of an episode. I don’t get it: With only nine hours left to provide closure on approximately 17 billion story lines, why is Pretty Little Liars treading water (swim pun!) with these nothing plots about barely relevant characters instead of going all-in on the stuff that we actually care about? Think of this week’s list as a Pretty Little Powerless Rankings. Liars, I’m not mad. Just disappointed.
1. Caleb (last week: 3)
“If you believed in your talent half as much as I do, you would see this moment for what it is. Take it and run.” Sigh. Caleb also does a great job of swooping in at the last minute and saving Hanna from some haunted shoeshine kit that was trying to murder her, and he prevents Hanna from smacking Jenna in the street, and — most important — he doesn’t do anything so profoundly idiotic that I had to pause my TV and write, “WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL” in my notes. Bless you, Caleb, for saving me from caps lock.
2. Officer Marco Elevator (last week: not ranked)
“You sounded fragile, what’s wrong?” !!! Honestly, if someone said something like that to me in real life, I would laugh/spit-take in their face. But that’s the magic of television, friends. Related: What a week for stand-up, menschy boyfriends, and boyfriend-like figures in the Liars’ lives! So, Marco Elevator continues to be one of the only competent police officers Rosewood has ever seen. He even knows how to (mostly) draw boundaries between his personal relationship with Spencer and his professional obligations as a cop investigating her case.
3. Spencer (last week: 4)
Plus points for all the quality, if technically platonic, face time with Officer Marco Elevator. I know that this show has a thing for all these girls winding up with their high-school honeys and that as soon as Yvonne’s never-ending coma, you know, ends, Toby will find his way back into Spencer’s arms/heart/bed. But in the meantime, can I dream of a better world? A world where Spencer and this guy — who I just figured out is the hot baseball player hooking up with Kara on Being Mary Jane, you’re welcome everybody too lazy to IMDb that yourselves — fall for each other, solving crimes by day and hooking up by night? Anyway, Spencer at least has the composure to be around Veronica without screaming at her, to find a new job, and to go to the police with useful information. She is remarkably calm for someone who found out that her entire identity is a lie.
4. Ali (last week: 17)
She basically does nothing this episode besides make fun of Jenna’s blindness (don’t worry, I’ll get to that in a bit), but at least she sounds more like the Ali we used to know: snarky, impatient, perfectly condescending. I love that she dismisses rookie pain-in-the-ass Addison with “at least when I threatened adults, I looked up from my phone,” which (1) doesn’t really account for the fact that Ali faked her own kidnapping, which is fairly above and beyond Addison’s crimes to date, and (2) isn’t even true. Also, her wardrobe is improving.
5. Jenna (last week: not ranked)
Jenna spins some story to Officer Marco about being afraid of Noel, and to be completely upfront with all of you, I did not follow it on account of it being boring. Also, even if Jenna can identify all these girls by their respective scents, it is exceptionally disturbing for her to say things like “her smell clings to you.” Still, her presence makes everybody nervous and she has not just one but two sidekicks at her side at all times.
6. Mona (last week: 1)
You know it’s a weak week when even Mona barely displays her usual sass and strength. She goes through Hanna’s closet without asking, kicking off some whole unnecessary drama around a dress that Hanna didn’t exactly design herself. She says that wearing gloves “makes you look like a junky or a stripper” when, the last time I checked, wearing gloves in the correct environment makes you look like Amal Clooney. She didn’t even know Jenna was back in town! What happened to the Mona who was three steps ahead of everyone? I expect this firecracker back in fighting form next week. This show needs her, badly.
7. Hanna (last week: 2)
Ah, I see, Hanna has to go to the cobbler — whose office is dark and abandoned in the middle of the day because sure — and somehow get trapped into a giant shoe cage (?) where she is attacked by cobbling supplies in a way that reminds her of that wet T-shirt torture shack. Yes, what a valuable use of our limited time left with these characters. Such character development, such plot progression. Wonder if Lucas is ever going to pop back into her life like, “Hey, since you and Caleb are obviously in it for the long haul and I was just letting you live in this apartment because of my massive crush on you, maybe it’s about time you moved out?”
8. Addison (last week: not ranked)
I hate to hand it to this walking pile of Gen Z fashion clichés — come on, a choker and a center part? — but at least she is savvy enough to read the locker room and capitalize on what she correctly discerns is some teacher-on-teacher sexual tension. I love-hate how her accusations against Emily escalate in just a few sentences, from her to her friend to the entire team, and how she tries to use a photo of Ali and Emily hugging as proof that Emily is an adult who preys on minors. Contrary to what PLL will have you believe, there is a difference between a sexual relationship between adults and one between an adult and a child! Her initials are A.D. but I refuse to invest any energy in that red herring. It’s so lame it barely qualifies as a red herring. (Is there such a thing as a pink herring?)
9. Aria (last week: 5)
Doesn’t Aria have a job? How does she have all this downtime to just hang around Holden and mope and internet-stalk Ezra? If she does somehow have this much free time, why isn’t she in New York with Ezra, either supporting him through this complicated and trying time (lol) or watching him be oh-so-in-love with Nicole that she gets the closure she needs to bail? And when she finally makes it to New York with this unfathomably dopey story about saltwater taffy — because she, an adult, who is engaged to Ezra, also an adult, cannot call him and insist upon a serious face-to-face conversation about this entire situation — she abandons said plan at the last minute because Holden followed her all the way to New York just to talk her out of it. Has this girl ever seemed more pathetic?
10. Emily (last week: 7)
Can’t say I’m surprised to hear Emily cut some corners on that college degree because hoo-boy is our fair maiden a dumb-dumb. Where do I start with Coach Fields? Just being back in her high school seems to undo whatever maturing I have to believe she’s done since the day we met her seven seasons ago.
As I mentioned last week, it appears that Emily is spending significantly more time at Rosewood High now that she’s a swim coach than she did when she was a student. Doesn’t she also have to have a day job, like, at the school? Back in my day, most of the coaches did double-duty as gym and health teachers from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., which is what enabled us to have the very special experience of learning sex ed from the man who coached the wrestling team. Anyway, Emily gets master-manipulated by, and then coerced into blackmailing, a tenth grader. She has sensitive and/or revealing conversations in public places — which she should know to avoid, seeing as she used to eavesdrop on suspicious teachers and students at Rosewood all the time. The only thing she has going for her is her hair, which is consistently fantastic.
11. Veronica Hastings (last week: 11)
“All I ever wanted to do was to make you feel safe and nurtured and loved.” Yeah, if that was your only job … 3/10, maybe never parent again.
12. Wow, okay, we’re doing this every week: These girls making fun of Jenna for being blind when they are the ones who blinded her (last week: 16)
We’re not even 20 seconds into the episode when Ali rips the creator of the board game from beyond as the product of a “vindictive blind girl,” a term of art Hanna repeats and one-ups with, “How can she create a board game when she can’t even tell if her blouse is inside-out?” [Deep breath] You self-involved, sentient Bratz dolls! YOU BLINDED JENNA. YOU CANNOT MOCK HER FOR THE BLINDNESS YOU INFLICTED.
13. Paige (last week: 18)
The only thing worse than her personality is her truly atrocious hairstyle.
14. Holden (last week: 15)
I literally ughed out loud when I saw Holden featured so prominently in the “previously on Pretty Little Liars.” WHY IS HE HERE? His interest and sudden massive presence in Aria’s life make zero sense. Imagine if you had to spend this much uninterrupted time with someone you briefly hung out with in high school just because you accidentally ran into them on an errand. Also, why is Aria treating him like some kind of relationship expert? Helping out with the cooking at your sister’s catering company doesn’t make you an authority on marriage. And if you can’t grow that mustache, do us all a favor and just shave it. It’s giving me middle-school-dance PTSD flashbacks.
15. Spencer’s dad (last week: 14)
Can you even with the balls of this dude? This is his thought process, apparently: “Oh, shit, my daughter just found out that the woman she thinks is her mother isn’t really her biological mother and that she’s actually the product of an affair I had with this woman who was in an insane asylum, who I only screwed because I was already banging her twin sister, with whom I had a son, Jason DiLaurentis, who lives next door. Hmm, doesn’t actually seem super-pressing. I can make it home to talk to her about this in person by next Thursday.”
Lingering concerns: Why aren’t these last ten episodes centered around turns on this board game? Does anybody have any guesses about who this last-and-probably-least A is going to be? How far along in her pregnancy is Ali supposed to be? She keeps talking to Emily like it’s still possible for her to get an abortion, so seems like something the show should probably tell us, no?
How gorgeous! Tell me you don’t want to lick it,