ABC Family’s charming teen soap Pretty Little Liars is nothing if not a guilty pleasure. And last night’s season 2 premiere, which found the show back with new episodes for the first time since March, certainly delivered on that deliciously guilty front. One of my favorite, delightful moments was a quick exchange between two of the show’s main BFFs Aria (Lucy Hale) and Hanna (Ashley Benson), after the gal’s secret-wielding nemesis “A” had struck yet again, while the foursome was at one of their newly mandated therapy sessions. “How is ‘A’ always one step ahead of us?” Aria asked her group of pals in disgust, after they stormed from the shrink’s office. But it was the biting response from the always-fiesty Hanna that got me: “I’m starting to think that b—- has super powers!” Bam! And that’s exactly the way I like my Pretty Little Liars: sharp and sassy.
But also, the dialogue got me thinking: Hanna, you can’t seriously be just now realizing the power that “A” has, can you? “A,” as we’ve all learned, is craftier than MacGyver, slicker than James Bond, and less traceable than Lisbeth Salander. And that’s exactly why we all watch this show. But regardless of that tiny detail, it was yet another great episode of the teen sudser. I’ll dash off a few of my overall thoughts from the episode below, but mostly I want to hear what you thought in the comments section at the end of this post. So read on — but note: there are SPOILERS below — and then sound off. Please!
The episode’s title, if you happened to catch it before watching, might have given an idea of what was coming down the pipeline. Yes, a slug like “It’s Alive” definitely suggests that the presumed-to-be-dead-in-last-season’s-finale Ian (Ryan Merriman) may still be alive. As the episode revealed, no one could find a trace of Ian’s whereabouts, which certainly doesn’t make him dead. The four girls, who saw Ian hanging dead in the belltower at the end of last season, did have a little contact with him (or someone using his phone and posing as him) at the very oh-my-gosh end of the episode, via text messages to his wife and Spencer’s still-pregnant sister Melissa (Torrey DeVitto).
And it does seem likely that the person sending the texts from Ian’s phone is indeed Ian. “Ian’s alive!” Spencer (Troian Bellisario) gasped after she queried him about what he and Melissa were planning to name their baby (Taylor) and he correctly answered. The big question is, of course: How the hell did Ian survive that strangulating fall in the belltower and get away even though the girls all say him dead? How could he have pulled that off? It’s mind-boggling, to be sure, but this show will undoubtedly figure out a way to explain it away that is only slightly ridiculous. (Executive producer Marlene King told me that we’ll learn what really happened with Ian by episode 4 of this season.)
Another big development of the hour was the introduction of therapist Anne Sullivan (Annabeth Gish), who the girls’ parents forced them to see as a precautionary measure after their accusations about Ian. Of course, therapist Anne got virtually nowhere with the girls, although they did strongly consider telling her about “A,” since the shrink wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone else what they revealed behind closed doors. “Do we want to talk about that thing?” Aria asked the girls. And they almost spilled the beans, until Spencer realized that “A” had struck, by putting Aria’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Ezra’s (Ian Harding) diploma in Anne’s office as a warning that basically said to the girls: Don’t say a word about me to anyone, especially this therapist. Cue the “super powers” comment from Hanna.
The reversal in their plan to tell therapist Anne, however, only worked against the girls, as the confounded woman then suggested that the foursome be broken up…a bit. Explained Ella (Holly Marie Combs) to Aria: “She doesn’t think you girls are capable of maintaining a healthy friendship at the moment, so she’s recommending you spend some time apart.” It also seems like therapist Anne may also get some love from “A,” as we watched her leave her office late at night with someone creeping around in the background.
There were lots of other details in the episode that are basically just at the tasty morsel stage as of now: Toby (Keegan Allen) and Spencer finally reunited, despite the protests of her parents; Alison’s brother, Jason (the newly cast Drew Van Acker) mysteriously moved back to Rosewood; Ella moved back into the Montgomery household after her separation from Byron (Chad Lowe); Noel Kahn (Brant Daugherty) returned to Rosewood High from suspension; Emily (Shay Mitchell) faced the reality of moving to Texas; Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) returned to beg for forgiveness from Hanna, who ended her friendship with Mona (Janel Parrish) after finding out she trashed his letter to her; and Aria kept things cool with Ezra.
And of course, there was the short tag at the end of the episode, where we saw the leather-gloved “A” presumably deleting the video files from Emily’s computer while being shown around the house by the real estate agent leasing out the property. How the hell does he/she/shim do it? Yet again, Hanna said it best: “super powers,” indeed. “A” is simply mystifying and wonderful.
Overall, a lot seems to have been put in motion for a juicy season 2. Do you agree? Did you enjoy the premiere? What storyline is intriguing you the most so far this season?
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky