Previously on Pretty Little Liars, demigod Alison DiLaurentis harnessed the power of the elements to bestow four unique spells upon four Little Liars. For Hanna Marin, Hobo Revelio, an incantation meant for tracking down and eliminating peepers and creepers. Hanna, however, used her magic to find true love with a computer hacking vagabond. For Spencer Hastings, Suscipio Wackopedismarts, a charm to summon the collective knowledge of the internet and infuse it into one’s own brain parts. Alison intended Spencer to amass her wisdom and build an arsenal of nuclear weapons for Alison’s own personal disposal. Instead, Spencer sought straight As and perfect SAT scores. For Aria Montgomery, Bestia Conquestus, an enchantment to give its caster control over the minds of animals. It was an army of monsters Alison wanted, but it was fanged and folklorian jewelry Aria created.
And finally, for Emily Fields, Sappho Incendio, a hex to destroy the eyeballs or organs of any girl on earth. But Emily Fields’ heart was too pure to power such sorcery, and so in her graceful benevolence she created a counter-conjure, which she cast into the night under the light of a harvest moon — and lo, the hearts of women did catch fire! But the flames were affection! The blazes were passion! The embers were devotion! An entire generation of extradimensionally attractive women lit up with lesbonic urges! And they, each and every one, set out on a pilgrimage to Rosewood, PA to win the heart of young Miss Fields.
Some have lived. Some have died. Still, they journey on.
But Alison DilLaurentis knew us all in our hearts before the creation of the world. She knew the four Liars would betray her. In her foresight, she also crafted magical friendship bracelets. Four for the Liars, a half dozen spares for the Gatsby pawn shop, none for Gretchen Weiners. And one friendship bracelet to rule them all, one friendship bracelet to find them, one friendship bracelet to bring them all, and in mortal peril bind them!
The Precious was bestowed upon Mona Vandwerwaal. For season upon season, Mona sojurned In Town — and then, as the prophecies foretold, she cloaked herself in a black hoodie and struck back against Alison’s betrayers. “Game on, bitches!” was her battle cry, and the game, indeed, was on. She poisoned, she blackmailed, she baked cupcakes, she drowned hobbits. She sacrificed herself on the altar of a BEAUTIFUL TOYOTA.
And now she sits in Radley Sanitorium, where once again … she lies in wait.
It has been five months since Garrett was arrested for killing Alison and Mona was carted off to Radley Sanitorium, looking inexplicably sexier than ever. Despite the fact that Peter Hastings is a pyromaniac and also the fact that shit just explodes in Rosewood on the regular, that barn in Spencer’s yard it still standing. And a lightning storm is surrounding the barn like always. Like William Carlos Williams is in there channeling Ali’s spirit.
The Liars are catching up after a summer of torture-free bliss. Spencer used a Time-Turner to earn her master’s degree from Hollis College in three months; Aria hosted her first photography exhibit, a series of black and white portraits of lovers with paper bags superimposed over their faces, which the The Rosewood Gazette called, “frankly fucking terrifying”; Hanna bought one of those “Word of the Day” books to read while watching her soaps; and Emily built houses in Haiti and tried to come to grips with the axe-murder of yet another girl she loved. Emily’s drunker than a peach orchard boar, and when the Liars try to curb her liquor intake, she shuts them down by snapping, “You can tell me how much to drink when Toby and Ezra and Caleb get hit by a meteor and mauled by a rhinoceros and sniped by a serial killer, respectively.” It’s Rosewood, so that might happen tomorrow, but in the meantime, they let her seek comfort in the open arms of her flask.
This whole thing is purposefully, awesomely pilot flashback-y, and so of course the Liars wake up in the middle of the night to find that the thunder has consumed another one of their number. This time it’s Emily. But don’t worry — she didn’t sneaky-creep up to the kissing rock to dry hump Ian; she just wandered on down to Rosewood Cemetery to dig up Ali’s grave with her bare hands.
Theme song! Secret, keep it, wocket, pocket, grave. You know the drill.
The Liars track down Emily in the graveyard hovering over Ali’s empty — empty, I said! — grave with a shovel and a smirk, and Spencer Spencers into action: “Wipe the prints! Bury the shovel! Man the battle stations! Steady the lesbian!” Unfortunately there are only two people on this show who can be trusted to destroy criminal evidence and Aria and Hanna are neither of them. They walk about four steps away from the grave, sprinkle some leaves on top of the shovel, dust off their hands, and call it a day.
Back at the Hastings’, Spencer seriously goes, “Emily, undress for me.” And Emily tugs at her shirt and goes, “All of it?” And Spencer says, “All of it.” I’m not making that up. I promise. That’s what happens. And then #BooRadleyVanCullen’s collective brain explodes. Then Emily throws her shirt onto the fire and #BooRadleyVanCullen’s collective heart explodes. Sure, Emily’s going to dilly-dally with a boy for a minute in an upcoming episode or two, but that’s life, man. She’s seventeen years old. She’s grieving. Cut her some slack with that. Her real crime against lesbianism is destroying a plaid button-up. It hurts me to see that checkered tartan go up in flames. It hurts me in my soul.