The Liars are back and still on the lam. We get some Sun Tzu theory from "The Art of War," and we find out who "A" is...well, an "A", one of them — how many are there now? Your recap, below.
Best use of a setting: New York City
We're in New York City, and Ezra's just been shot by "A". As he's rolled into the ambulance, the Liars forcibly hold back Aria, so the authorities won't discover her statutory-rape relationship with Ezra. Also, metaphorically speaking, she loves Ezra so much she'll fistfight an entire EMT crew.
Still, no one is ever safe in Rosewood or in New York City — from her hidden perch on a fire escape, Ali sees "A" catching a ride to the hospital with Ezra, barnacle style on the roof of the ambulance. So Hanna anonymously calls the cops to send a guard for Ezra's room at the hospital; this actually/magically works because there are always cops with nothing to do in New York.
Meanwhile, the girls set a trap for "A", splitting up and drawing the assassin out of the hospital after them into the streets of Manhattan. This isn't the real New York, but the "Pretty Little Liars" carnival version of the Big Apple, where everywhere looks like the Village, and women play saxophones on the street while wearing rollerskates, because bohemia. Ali eventually comes across a vintage, suburban playground, and hides behind a slide. "A" finds her. But wait! The four Liars ambush him/her. But wait! Suddenly there are a dozen more people wearing black hoodies and masks. They start West Side Storying all around the girls, in a creepy ballet of jumps and pirouettes. "A" must have advertised for assassins at a dance theater. Anyway, the cops show up, sending the masked Jets and Sharks sashaying into the night.
Most unbelievable plot: That these girls aren't grossed out by Ezra.
Aria is not alarmed that her teacher kept dating her after finding out she was 16. Then she discovers he knew she was 16 from the beginning. Then she discovers he previously dated Ali, even after learning she was 15 (maybe 14). Now, in the premiere, while Ali and Aria literally run for their lives, they pause by a subway exit to discuss Ezra's steadfast love for Aria. I don't buy it. This better be an elaborate set up, part of a scheme requiring the girls to pretend he's not a total perv, or maybe someone's trying to blackmail him, and he figures only 16-year-old girls won't be able to tell he's gay.
While Aria waits for him at the hospital, Ali takes the remaining Liars to a safe place, a theater where she and Ezra once went to eat sandwiches...hmm, come to think of it, maybe the big reveal will be that he's also 17. So we see a flashback of the couple in the theater, where Ezra tells Ali she reminds him of Holly Golightly, and then Ali asks who that is.
Best indication it isn't over: Whenever they say it's over.
The girls are eager for Ezra to wake up and tell them who "A" is, so this will finally be over. The girls even joke about what they'll do when they lead normal lives again, as if anyone in America wants to watch Hanna play field hockey — your fans demand you be stalked by killers forever. So, buck up, girls, and keep running.
Shana appears at the hospital, telling Aria that Ali sent her to protect her, guard-dog style. But when she hears that Ezra's alive and recovering, she leaves Aria behind to enter the room. Aria wakes up and follows her. Ezra wakes up, see Shana in the room with Aria and almost dies again from stress. Shana is "A"!
Doctors restabilize Ezra and he manages the strength to whisper "Shana" to Aria, but by now Shana is gone. Back at the theater, the girls discover that Detective Holbrook is hot on their trail, so they make a move. But before they can exit the theater, "A" shows up — without a mask. Bam! Surprise! It's Shana! Oops, never mind, you already knew that.
She says she's after justice. For Jenna. Ali says Jenna doesn't love her and is using her. But Shana can't hear that; she sees only love in Jenna's once-and-future sightless eyes. What she doesn't see is someone approaching from behind with the butt of a rife. Bam! Surprise! It's Aria! Okay, you probably knew that too.
Shana falls off the stage; Emily checks for but finds no pulse. Another self-defense killing with a silver lining. Aria: "It really is over." Um, what about the gang of other "A"s jazz-walking, by now, through Queens? And what about Ali's mother's murder? And what about the fact that the season just began? It won't be over until the ratings drop.
Mona is building an army of losers, collecting all the twerps, nerds, and "lezzie"s ever bullied by Ali. (Apparently she doesn't know how easy it is to just hire dance warriors in New York.) Also, Melissa and her father have a secret, and it has to do with Cece; she almost spilled it the cops, but her Dad wouldn't let her, then said it's something her mother can never know, and then took the whole bottle of red wine with him upstairs, which was even more selfish. Cece escaped police custody, and found Ali, who helped her out of the country by donating the passport and plane ticket Noel had in fact secured for Ali. And my favorite moment of the night: For a minute, in the hospital, "A" blended in by wearing a lab coat over the black hoodie and black gloves. Also, for what it's worth, I don't believe Shana is really dead — everyone who's died on this show has had to die twice.