“Namaste, bitch.” This is the single greatest line in an episode full of zingers, as A.D. tries to ruin Hanna’s career, kill Caleb and really ruin the zen of Sydney WhatsHerFace in this episode of Pretty Little Liars, titled “Hold Your Piece.”

While the board game has been a really fun addition to the last-ever half-season of Pretty Little Liars, it still feels like the show is spinning its wheels with only a few episodes left until the series finale.

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Instead of knocking down mysteries and answering long-simmering questions, this last half-season has been spending far too long on weird diversions (high school student Addison in the previous episode) and exploring the same relationship drama we’ve seen over and over again. 

Goodbye Yvonne, Hello Cliche

Anyone who has ever seen television before could have guessed at Yvonne’s ultimate fate, not only because she’s a woman of color in Rosewood — a place that seems to be toxic for POC — but also because she’s standing in the way of the Toby and Spencer relationship. 

I expect both Marco and Nicole to be hit by asteroids before the end of the season. Bringing her out of the coma for a quickie wedding and one last send-off seems a particularly crappy touch for a character who was never a person so much as a plot device. 

Plus, who wants to go to Moscow in the winter for their honeymoon? #FakeNews

And, of course, Spencer is just conveniently there in the hospital moments after Yvonne dies to comfort Toby. Unless Detective Marco Fury holds the key to some important mystery, why are we spending so much time on his relationship with Spencer if she’s just going to backslide into the inevitable Spoby pairing? 

The problem with a lot of the “five years forward” storylines and characters is that they’ve always felt like placeholders until the show could shuffle them off and return to the status quo. So there’s never been any reason to invest in any of these storylines. 

Why should I care about Spencer and Marco, especially in the last 10 episodes of the series, when it’s obvious that she and Toby will be pushed back together again? Why am I wasting time watching this play out when I could be watching Aria go crazy and try to murder people all over Rosewood? 

Learning more about Marco’s backstory and his complicated relationship with his mother (and surrogate mother) is only interesting if I should invest in his relationship with Spencer or if he’s part of the mystery. So at this point, since it seems clear that the Marco and Spencer ship is taking water, I certainly hope he has an important part to play in the A.D. of it all. 

A shorter season made me believe there would be less place-setting episodes and yet everything but the premiere has felt like we’re treading water. 

You know things are weird when Aria is tracking down clues and bluesnarfing, and Spencer is off in a useless subplot worried about her love life. Are we in the upside down? Are we suddenly in the Berenstain Bears universe? What is going on, Pretty Little Liars?  

With only a few episodes to go, now is the time to push the gas and race towards the finish, not take the scenic route through subplots we barely care about. Still, there’s enough good stuff in this episode to make for an enjoyable time. It’s hard to seriously dislike an episode in which Aria “pocket-sized” Montgomery is the muscle. 

Aria Goes Full Honey Badger

The episode opens with a crying baby on the board game phone driving Spencer insane. It turns out that it’s Hanna’s turn to play the “endgame,” just like the cobbler foretold. Recapping Pretty Little Liars has led to me writing some weird sentences, but that’s probably one of the weirdest. 

While the girls talk about bluesnarfing Sydney WhatsHerFace (she’s from the storied line of East Coast WhatsHerFaces), Aria sees Nicole on television talking about how her love for Ezra got her through captivity. 

You know in Kill Bill when the screen flashes and the crazy music plays? This basically happens inside Aria’s mind, as she totally dissociates from reality. “Oh, someone’s gonna get bludgeoned to death with salt water taffy tonight,” she whispers to the television. 

Aria then spends the rest of the episode being more weird and wonderful than she’s been in a very long time. There is a special place that Aria goes to, insanity-wise, when things get crazy between her and Ezra, and it is the most special time to watch Aria. Who knows what she might do?! She might trash someone’s place or learn bluesnarfing in five minutes or break a girl’s arm with her own yoga bag. There’s no telling. Aria is a wildcard! 

While Spencer goes to play ping pong with Marco, and Hanna deals with her dissolving career, Emily and Aria pick up the Nancy Drew slack and get hot on the tail of Sydney. They think that she has a connection to Jenna and even think she could be the second shooter from the blind school. 

After doing some online digging and taking one technology class from Caleb, Aria is suddenly an expert hacker. Has her break from reality caused some kind of adrenalized hyperreality? Emily is just mostly trying to prevent Aria from murdering someone this episode. 

Emily confronts Syd, while Aria breaks into her phone and memorizes her whole calendar. Aria is handling the dissolution of her relationship in some really healthy ways. Syd tells Emily that she got in too deep with Jenna and didn’t realize her “prank” of delivering the drinks to Mona and Caleb would lead to beheading. No one does, Syd. But this is Rosewood; all roads lead to beheading eventually. 

Back in the car and bluesnarfing Syd, they see she has an appointment with an eye clinic and overhear her making an appointment for Jenna to get another eye surgery, courtesy of A.D. She says it stands for anonymous donor. But when Aria strong-arms her (literally!), she doesn’t know much more than that. She says she’s doing the job for a client at her high-powered bank. Syd tells Emily to call off her attack chihuahua and then says Jenna isn’t taking her calls lately either. 

When Aria attacks, you’re going to want to protect your shins and also your earrings. She will take your earrings as trophies to turn into larger, more frightening earrings. Her earrings are so large because they are made from the earrings of her victims. 

Is this the last we’ll see of Sydney WhatsHerFace? Was she telling the truth? Will Aria be waiting outside her yoga class with a heavy bag of salt water taffy? Only time will tell.

As the episode ends, Aria desperately tries to get Ezra on the phone to tell him that Sabrina quit and she has to hire a new baker, but also she hates running his stupid business. Poor Emily; it’s always hard when one of your sister wives leaves the coven. 

Behind Aria, a shadowy figure rises from the couch. However, it’s not A.D.; it’s Nicole and she wants to talk. Aria is holding a giant butcher knife, so I’m not loving Nicole’s chances of survival.

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Hanna’s Career is a Hot Mess

Despite it being her turn to play the game, Hanna’s luck does seem to be turning around. Caleb shows up with a stack of newspapers with the senator’s daughter wearing Hanna’s designs on the front page.

Hanna doesn’t get to bask in the glow of career success for very long, however, because a fashion blog reports a tip that Hanna’s design is a knock-off. Later, they find a picture of Syd with her phone out behind the senator’s daughter at the charity gala and assume she’s the one that sent in the blind item.

This is definitely bad timing for Hanna because she has a meeting with the investors and Lucas, and now the investors are asking some uncomfortable questions about her time with Claudia. Both Caleb and Lucas independently try to tell her not to worry about it, but Hanna is very, very worried. 

Things go from bad to worse as the game starts playing when Caleb is over. It tells her to answer the door, and when Caleb does, there’s a doll with a mask of her face crudely stitched on. It’s basically the stuff that nightmares are made of. The message tells Hanna to check the appendix, which she realizes means cutting open the doll and finding out what’s inside. Hanna has been having a real love affair with butcher knives lately. 

Obviously, this means that Hanna finally has to tell Caleb all about the new board game from A.D. No longer in the dark, Caleb goes about trying to figure out how to crack into the game or disable it, while Hanna looks in horror at the piece of cultural appropriation garbage that A.D. wants her to wear to her meeting with the Japanese investors. Poor Hanna.

Hanna begs Caleb to save her from having to wear this hideous (and short) dress, and Caleb says he’ll try his best. While trying to break into the board, Caleb and Spencer have a momentarily weird moment and then get over their awkwardness to throw back beers like bros and talk about her love life. While Spencer is contemplating ordering Thai, Caleb gets gassed by the board and can’t breathe. 

Spencer desperately calls 911, so you know it must be bad. These girls never call the proper authorities. I’m surprised that Spencer doesn’t just give him a tracheotomy with a pen. 

Just as Hanna is telling Lucas what a great friend he is in preparation for giving her investors an eyeful, she gets a text that Caleb is in the hospital. She rushes off to see if he’s okay, leaving Lucas to take care of the investors. Caleb lives, obviously, but will probably not be messing with evil Candy Land again. 

Hanna gets a message that she’s forfeited her prize and takes it out on Spencer for some unknowable reason. Hanna has been a real pill to Spencer all season, which is crazy both because she’s the one who ended up with Caleb and also because she’s the one that kidnapped and subsequently beheaded a dude. Chill, Hanna. 

Unfortunately, because Hanna didn’t play her turn all the way through, Detective Marco Fury gets his own prize: a severed finger that probably belongs to the very dead Rollins. 

What did you think of the episode? Were you disappointed or did you love it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Pretty Little Liars season 7 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on Freeform. Want more news? Like our Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of Freeform)

Morgan Glennon

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV