Pretty Little Liars brings us all the highs and lows this week. We see some real strokes of brilliance — Marco’s crime-solving, Caleb’s crime-doing, Mona’s refreshing honesty about her second-tier status among the Liars — and of course we are given some breathtaking idiocy. Per usual, this idiocy comes in the form of juvenile romantic maneuvers and an enduring refusal to learn anything from the 10 billion times these suspicious characters have been interrogated by the police. It is, by and large, a rough episode for the girls and a stellar one for the boys in this week’s Pretty Little Power Rankings.
1. Officer Marco Elevator (last week: 1)
Ladies and gentlemen (there are gentlemen who read these recaps, right?), we have a hat trick! Officer Marco lands the No. 1 spot in the PLPR for the third week running. I feel like Marco is a gift the PLL writers gave to us after we spent years giving them so much shit for sending the world’s least competent police officers to Rosewood, a town with a homicide rate so stunning it makes Twin Peaks look like Pleasantville. We asked for a cop who knew what he was doing — and also one who was hot, because obviously — and boy, did the PLL powers-that-be deliver.
Marco is both as honest and humane with Spencer as he can reasonably, professionally be. He tells her to “do yourself a favor and get a lawyer,” which is exactly what I am going to tell Spencer later on in this recap; he doesn’t even let her take off his jacket when she shows up all needy at his place because this gent will NOT be honey-trapped; he has basically solved Rollins’s murder and is thisclose to having all the evidence he needs to prove it. Yes, he gets foiled in his receipt-retrieval mission, and yes, sleeping with Spencer wasn’t exactly the sort of move that will make him Employee of the Month down at the station, but the guy knows what he’s doing. He also helpfully corrects Spencer’s deeply misguided ideas about how the justice system is supposed to operate.
2. Caleb (last week: not ranked)
Of course Ashley Marin called on Caleb to set up the security at the Radley, even though there were presumably adults with experience more suited to the task. And of course Caleb is too smart to let Hanna embark on what would for sure be a failed mission without him. I am also impressed by his willingness to own up to the fact that he is partly to blame for Spencer’s drunken slip-up at the Radley — to Spencer’s face, not just in private, which is more than I can say for Hanna. When Hanna is unable to unearth the receipt in question (must mean somebody over at A.D. headquarters has it), Caleb is the one with the very smart plan to bust a pipe so the room floods and the police can’t find what they’re looking for.
3. IS ARIA’S FILE A POLICE REPORT ABOUT HOW EZRA IS HER STATUTORY RAPIST (last week: not ranked)
IF SO: !!!!!!!
4. Jillian (last week: not ranked)
“Ezra, I understand that your life is … [the greatest pause of all time] … your life.”
5. Mona (last week: not ranked)
I place Mona in a relatively high spot this week, even though she didn’t have a lot to do, because I believe telling Hanna the truth in such a vulnerable, no-bullshit way is an impressive power move. (Also, I love how she mocked Hanna’s atrocious attempt at coming up with a cover story on the spot: “Don’t bother, it’s like watching a frog try to jump out of a pot of boiling water.”) Mona’s reaction to realizing Hanna’s friends will never, ever accept her as one of the pack, no matter what she does, is brutal and perfect: “How many times do I have to save all of you until I’m finally part of the group? Well, you might as well head over to the high school. Seems like we never left.”
6. Hanna (last week: 3)
Why does Hanna have half-crimped, half-fried-with-a-straightener hair for the duration of this episode? It looks so trashy. Anyway, plus points for loyalty, minus points for being blinded by the aforementioned loyalty. Hanna breaks even, then gets a bump for looping Caleb in when she clearly couldn’t handle her turn alone.
7. Lucas (last week: not ranked)
I know the show needs its red herrings, but this late in the game they just wind up making me feel annoyed that I wasted whatever time and energy I had invested in a theory. Lucas didn’t know that Charles and Charlotte were the same person because they were only communicating via email, a catfish-esque scenario I find entirely plausible. Lucas also feels guilty for whatever torture Charles-Charlotte inflicted because he spent most of those emails railing against “mean queen Alison” and her pack of lackeys who stood by and did nothing while he suffered. Again, this makes perfect sense. Just want to bask in that for a hot second: A reveal on PLL that abides by the laws of logic. Also, I laughed out loud when Lucas corrected Spencer, who called his work a “comic book”: “It’s a graphic novel.”
8. Spencer (last week: 4)
Ms. Spencer Hastings-Drake. My, my, my. I went back and forth on this one. When I first saw her in the interrogation room and witnessed her brazenness about her elevator tryst with Marco — “I do remember unbuckling his belt,” okay, sweetie, nobody asked, this isn’t brunch, rein it in — and noted that she was dumb enough to engage in this discussion without a lawyer, I assumed this was some kind of nightmare. But no, it was real, Spencer’s bad choices and all. Spencer spent much of this episode making real dicey moves: swinging by Marco’s in a desperate plea to tempt him with her sad-sexy vibes (a very Lana Del Rey tactic that, on a lesser man, might have done the trick); stealing the drive immediately after being rejected; and threatening to bring Marco down with her. I’m also relieved to see someone has the chutzpah to tell Emily that she’s making an awful lot of assumptions about her baby-raising arrangement with Ali, not that it does much good.
9. Ali (last episode: 9)
I’ll say this for Ali: She got her sass back. “I knew pregnancy would come with some crazy erratic mood swings, I just didn’t think they’d be yours.” What a shock, Ali is being cavalier about prenatal vitamin consumption. (Emily is micromanaging this because of course she is. She and Ali are kind of living out the plot of Baby Mama, except Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have way better chemistry.) I know I shouldn’t let myself get too hopeful about Ali’s timely tumble down the stairs — the Inviolable Rules of Television Health and Medicine dictate that there should at least be a scare that Ali lost the baby in that fall, even if it turns out to be just fine — but I can’t help myself. We can still turn this Titanic of a ship around!
10. Emily (last week: 10)
Guys, you know I just can’t with this one. I wonder what will happen when Emily realizes Ali only wants to be with her in the aftermath of a brush with death.
11. Everyone being so condescending about Spencer’s screw-up when they all would have been murdered and/or arrested 84,173 times by now without her (last week: not ranked)
Spencer admits that she drunkenly used Rollins’s credit card by mistake at the Radley and signed her name, which, combined with security footage, is not the world’s most flattering situation for her or her friends. Ali, who, let us not forget, kicked off this fine series by faking her own kidnapping, snaps, “Did you screw anything else up?” When Spencer says no, Hanna replies, “How would you know? You were trashed.” I would list all of Hanna’s rashly planned and horrendously executed plans here, but I’d run out of internet
12. Aria (last week: 6)
Aria’s current status: A.D. makes her trash her friends’ shiny new nursery and she gets booted off her own book tour because the publicist would really rather not distract from the love story of Ezra and Nicole, and Ezra’s idea of a respectful, thoughtful first step toward repairing the relationship he all but shattered by being so obsessed with Nicole is … ballroom dancing classes? Oof. To avoid confrontation, which would require her to communicate openly and honestly with a man she has deemed worthy of being her partner for life, Aria essentially agrees to Fates and Furies herself so Ezra can launch his literary career. As for that wreck-the-nursery sequence: Could she be any clumsier? Ezra isn’t the only one who needs those dancing lessons. I like her hair color, though. Seems redder this week, no?
13. Ezra (last week: 7)
It’s not a great sign when your fiancée says something as loaded as “I just can’t commit” to your (seriously so basic but fine) suggestion that the two of you take ballroom dancing together. Ezra responds to predictable PR advice from Jillian by sitting in the dark, waiting for Aria to come home so he can blame this definitely foreseeable situation — one he and Aria got into together, because she is the emotional masochist who agreed to co-write a book about his love story with someone else as if she were his presumed-dead ex-girlfriend — on a mean publicist. When Ezra told the crowd at his Q&A, “It was an exorcism of sorts, writing the book,” I made such loud fake-vomit sounds that my neighbors probably think I have food poisoning.
14. When will these hapless child criminals learn to NEVER SPEAK TO THE POLICE WITHOUT A LAWYER (last week: not ranked)
I expect this kind of bush-league bullshit from Emily. You know I expect it from Aria. Hanna would consider a repeat viewing of Legally Blonde preparation enough for a police interview. But Spencer, honey, YOU PARTICIPATED IN A HOMICIDE. And not “participated” the way that one cute stoner always “participated” in your group projects by falling asleep on his desk while you did all the work. This chick got her hands real dirty and she has seen some shit. Get. An. Attorney. Keep this attorney on retainer. Make your fake parents pay for said attorney in a futile effort to buy back your love and trust. But for the love of Officer Marco Elevator, don’t just up and skip into this interrogation room totally solo — not once but TWICE — just so you can walk into a trap of saying, “I don’t recall,” before an officer even asks you a question.
15. Prices at the Radley (last week: not ranked)
Spencer only paid for one round and her tab was $79?! Ugh, could the Main Line be any bougier?
Lingering concerns: So what’s the deal with Patsy Cline? Does everybody trust Lucas again or do we still think he’s hiding something? Whatever happened to all the cute brothers in this town? Will we ever see Mike Montgomery or Jason DiLaurentis/Hastings ever again?
I guess you didn’t know me as well as you thought,