“Pretty Little Liars” recap (5.01): The Rise of the Vanderarmy

LUCY HALE, ASHLEY BENSON, TROIAN BELLISARIO, SHAY MITCHELL, SASHA PIETERSE

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Alison DiLaurentis returned from the dead, a beautiful phoenix who admitted to eating her fair share of humble pie from the trash cans at bus stations over these last few years. She doled out answers about how Spencer didn’t kill her, but about how Ali herself did kill Ian on Spencer’s behalf, and about how she pulled Hanna from that lodge fire, and about how she held court in her backyard the night she died, a parade of every person in Rosewood dropping by to swing something at her head, and oh my god, Aria, no, she didn’t sleep with Ezra! Christ, you haven’t changed at all! Speaking of whom: Mr. Fitz got shot in the gut by A. Aria cried and shook her fist at the sky as the pigeons flitted from tree to tree, their whisper of chickpeas! chickpeas! echoing out into the Manhattan night.

It is Noel Kahn to the rescue once more, as he explains to a dozen cops that he, alone, ran up to that rooftop when he heard someone getting their guts pumped full of lead, and all he saw was Spiderman in civvies leaping across rooftops. One wonders why he’s suddenly so altruistic but then one remembers that his cabin came to life and nearly killed two of these girls and also he one time played the guitar in Aria’s face while she sang in his face. He has a lot to make up for. Aria tries to wrestle her way out of the Liars’ grip as they watch Ezra get loaded up into an ambulance. Alas, she is but a tiny thing with minimal kung fu training.

Where is A, though? Just max relaxin’ on top of that ambulance as it drives away.

The Liars yell at each other for a little while about What Would Sun Tzu Do and decide that he would buy a burner phone to tip off the police that Ezra needs a bodyguard at the hospital and then split up to do some deception to save his life on their own, because when has a cop ever brought anything into their lives but some straight-up bullshit. Emily’s like, “Look, I don’t want to make things weird, but just in terms of math, it’s not really fair for me to sacrifice Ali so that Aria can have more golden days of cake-eating with Mr. Fitz. Back me up here, Spencer; your boyfriend was resurrected once, right? And Hanna, didn’t that girl from The Ring kill Caleb over in Ravenswood? I’ve still got one dead girlfriend and I dumped Paige on the way here — so all my eggs? Kind of in this basket.”

But no, her homosexual pleadings will not be heard. Aria and Ali head off to be murdered in Midtown while Emily and Hanna and Spencer head off to be murdered in the East Village.

Back in Rosewood, the Hastings clan returns home to sulk around and keep secrets and shit-talk Spencer like they used to do back when Ali was alive the first time. Old habits. Melissa hates Ali so bad. Like, it’s not just that she was dry-humping Ian or whatever out at the kissing rock or that she stood by and smirked while Melissa did incest with Jason; it’s also that she was a catalyst for every dumb thing Spencer ever did. Which, for once: I don’t think we can blame Ali for Spencer being a gorgeous, gorgeous psycho. Seems to me she came into the world that way, all fire and competition and grande Frappuccino in hand. Melissa wants to come clean about the secret she whispered to her dad in the finale — both to her mom and Det. Holbrook, who shows up with the news that Cece Drake escaped from jail and is on her way to wherever the Liars are right now — but her dad cuts her off and tells her to lock it in her pocket and take it to the grave.

LUCY HALE, SASHA PIETERSE

Before Aria and Ali arrive at the hospital, Aria connects some dots and asks if Ezra followed them and A followed Ezra and that’s how come Ali almost got shot in the face. Like, is that why she had to stay away so long, because of this exact thing? Yes, actually. But also: “Aria, Ezra entered into a romantic relationship with you knowing that you were going to be his underage subordinate, in the hopes that he could make a career as a True Crime novelist by mining you for information about me, your presumed dead best friend, and then he watched you and your best friends get tortured for years without intervening. But he did get shot tonight, on our behalves. That was a nice thing to do. Do you think you’ll get back together with him?”

Aria doesn’t know. She’s waiting to see if further flashbacks will reveal him to be less of a felonious creep.

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