They're free from the dollhouse, but the Liars' problems are just beginning.
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC Family

Well, Liars, tonight’s episode had its share of tired, familiar elements—a too-easy arrest, the ghost of Spencer’s “drug problem,” new characters I just don’t have the energy to care about yet—and some new ones, like actual torture, and perhaps a budding romance for Ali? Look, I was happier when she was mean, too, but she’s so boring as the saintly survivor. I’m ready for her to seduce Toby’s hot new cop friend, Lorenzo, whether her intentions are good or evil.

Let’s start with Andrew Campbell. Toby arrests him almost immediately, after catching him running through the woods. Aria, who was the closest to Andrew recently, is ready to accept this. “It makes perfect sense,” she tells the others. “Andrew’s always been there on the edge of things.” Yeah… but this is season 6 of PLL. We know the drill: No way in hell are they arresting “A” in episode 2. My money says he’s out of jail by next week, and there’s some sort of Rosewood-rational explanation for his behavior. If they hadn’t closed Radley, I’d think they would just lock him up there instead.

To speed things up, Aria goes to the police station with her mother (who’s suddenly back from wherever she was, ready to be a parent again). She tells the detective she never saw “A” unmasked when in the dollhouse, until the detective says the only evidence they’re missing is someone actually seeing Andrew at the scene. “I did see him,” she switches, quickly. “I’m telling you, I saw his face. It was Andrew Campbell.” She’s lying, and Ella and the detective know it.

They’re building a case against Andrew, with his surveillance equipment and creepy, anti-female manifestos, but so far, there’s no word on Charles DiLaurentis (of course). Ali asks her dad, who quickly shuts the conversation down—there’s no Charles DiLaurentis in their family. “Well, then I guess that person made a mistake,” Ali says of the person who “mentioned” Charles to her. Mr. DiLaurentis’s eyebrows did a very weird furrow/twitch at this point, which definitely means “I am hiding a giant secret that you will find out soon enough.”

Another story line I’m just sick of: Spencer with her pill addiction. The girls all come home from the hospital with bottles upon bottles of prescriptions, especially anti-anxiety meds, but Mrs. Hastings tells the hospital not to give Spencer any. (Sidenote: I especially loved the part where Aria explains to her mom what each medicine does, as if this high schooler who was just kidnapped should have to explain her meds to her mother.) Spencer, like the other girls, hasn’t been able to sleep since they returned, so by the end of this episode, she’s holding one of Aria’s anti-anxiety meds in her hand, considering it. Snooze.

How is everyone else coping with their return? Pretty poorly, as you might guess. Emily breaks into her military father’s safe/locker and finds his guns, then makes multiple trips to the shooting range, against her mother’s wishes. I’m shocked Emily hasn’t tried to follow in her dad’s footsteps sooner, actually: She’s strong, she’s angry, and with all the deaths she’s experienced, you might say she’s been to hell and back even more than the other girls have.

Hanna’s post-kidnapping reaction is the most normal to me. She strips the wallpaper and furniture from her old bedroom until it looks nothing like A’s dollhouse replica. Before, I thought those replicas were just a good trauma-inducing device while in the dollhouse, but now I’m realizing how sick and twisted it really is: Even now, when the girls are (relatively) safe, they won’t feel safe because even their own homes remind them of being in that dark place.

NEXT: What really happened in the dollhouse

Speaking of the dark place—it is the summer of answers, after all, so we learn pretty quickly what the unspeakable thing was that happened to the girls. In one of A’s most sadistic moves yet, he forced the girls to torture each other. Spencer and Emily have flashbacks of sitting in a jail cell-like room in front of three switches, each with a photo of one of the girls in front of it. A says, “Choose one, or all will suffer.” Hanna explains it to her mother: “He just played games with us. Truth or dare. Who do you love more, me or her? Who deserves water today, me or someone else?” Andrew’s manifesto said he fantasized about watching the girls scream. Whether or not he’s “Charles,” looks like he got his wish.

Let’s move onto lighter fare, shall we? Toby has a new cop partner named Lorenzo: “Part of Rosewood P.D.’s ‘fresh perspective.'” Was that a self-aware joke from the PLL team, or just a dig at the police department? Lorenzo is hot, and he’s new in town, so Ali immediately makes him her target. She sees him at church, and when they speak afterward, he says he won’t tell anyone he saw her there. Later, she explains that she doesn’t want to look like she’s going to church for show. New characters stress me out a little because I don’t know their motives: Is he playing Ali, or is she playing him? Is she trying to get close to him to influence the ongoing investigation? Is she a cat looking for a new mouse to toss around before destroying it? Or is she a savvy 17-year-old girl with a crush? Regardless, with Garrett dead and Holbrook gone, we needed some uniformed fresh meat.

Not all new characters are welcome, though. I do not want to know about Sarah Harvey. I do not want it, Sam I Am! Emily talks to Sarah at the hospital, and learns that two years ago, before she went into the dollhouse, she had run away. She got hit in the head, and then, creepily, she says, “And I was down there, and I thought, well now I know what happens to bad little girls.” Her mother ostensibly picks her up at the hospital (according to Emily’s mom, although Emily questions whether it was really Sarah’s mother), and we don’t hear from her again until the end of the episode, where she’s lurking outside Emily’s house.

She’s run away again, and we get some eerie insight into her family life. “When I was gone, people were very sympathetic with my mother,” she says. “They paid attention to her. Then I came home and spoiled everything. I should have stayed in that hole.” Not only does she speak like a chastised child (“What happens to bad little girls”; “I spoiled everything”), but it sounds like this relationship might have shades of psychological abuse. That, or Sarah’s spinning tales of her own. Are we even sure her name is Sarah? She does have some sort of head on her shoulders, though, because she tells Emily she saw “that guy they caught,” a.k.a. Andrew, on TV. “Are you sure it’s him?” she asks, watering that seed of doubt that had definitely already been planted. And given that she’s been in the hole with “A”/Charles for two years (also hard to believe, but okay), she probably knows what she’s talking about.

In the final, wordless montage, the girls seem to be planning something on the phone (revenge?), but we can’t hear what anyone’s saying. What are they planning? Will Sarah tell us more? Will Ali find out who Charles is? Just a few more questions to add to this summer of answers.

Episode Recaps

Pretty Little Liars

Four little liars and a being named “A” (who may or may not be the fifth little liar) try to live their lives in Rosewood. It’s complicated.

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