Let's Discuss: 'Pretty Little Liars' And the 5 Year Time Jump

"Pretty Little Liars" took its much anticipated 5 year leap forward, during the premiere of season 6B. Just as “One Tree Hill” did before, “Pretty Little Liars” decided to skip over those awkwardly redundant college years and the strange year of “self searching” that follows by cushioning an extra year into the timeline.

 If you missed the “5 Years Forward” special, it was easy to get a little lost in some of the off-screen happenings that occurred post-leap. Thank goodness for online recaps. So where are the Liars now? Well, most of them are exactly where you’d expect them to be professionally and exactly where you wouldn’t anticipate on a personal level.

Aria remains haunted by A's reign of terror, whilst pursuing a career in publishing and she's still estranged from Fitz. Fitz has become a best-selling author (yep) and is as emotionally despondent as ever. After he embarked on that Greenpeace-style mission to South America with Emily’s BFF at the end of last season, things didn’t turn out well.

His girlfriend was killed in a revolt and he returned broken and traumatized by the experience. Rivaling Fitz’s melancholia was Emily. The last 5 years haven’t been kind to her either. Her father died, she's struggled to make it through college and she hasn’t found her career calling yet.

Not too far off from Emily’s depression was Spencer, who following graduation from Georgetown is working on Capitol Hill and as the episode develops, starts helping her mother with the elder Hastings’ campaign for Mayor. Spencer and Toby have broken up (RIP Spoby).

Thanks to a major cash infusion from his inheritance, Toby has gone full blown Noah Calhoun (minus the intense beard); feverishly building his dream home. No, you’re not alone if you heard the loud echoes of “The Notebook” stirring in this storyline. Wonder if Spoby will also share a passionate moment in the rain? Hmmm

Now to the Liars who are thriving. Hanna is by far the happiest when the season begins. Her career in fashion is going swimmingly. No “Devil Wears Prada” here. It seems she skipped over the whole intern thing. Or has she? Unfortunately this brings us to the saddest breakup news: Haleb is no more. Apparently the two went in different directions (how is this possible given their united devotion to each other?) and Hanna is now engaged to a guy who is not Caleb.

Stranger yet is that it appears Spencer and Caleb might have a secret thing going on, on the side. There were strange more-than-friends vibes jumping off the twosome at Radley 2.0. Here’s to hoping Caleb and Hanna can find their way back to each other like OTH’s Lucas and Peyton did.

Remember after that series’ time jump, those star-crossed lovers were also broken up and one party engaged to another and they still managed to overcome it all for a happily ever after. So keep the faith, Haleb fans!

Unlike most of the Liars who are in romantic limbo, Ali has married Charlotte's therapist and works as a teacher at the Liars’ old high school.  Her newfound career status makes perfect sense in a darkly ironic way, given she’s always been great at giving instruction to willing pupils.

She’s also been nursing Charlotte back to health and working in concert with her husband to free ex-A. Ali is the catalyst for the Liars’ return as she summons them to free her sister, in spite of the fact Charlotte terrorized them for 5 years and there’s a lot of reason to think she’s still capable of it.

It’s more than reasonable to doubt the mental health professionals in Rosewood’s ability to determine who’s actually sane, especially when one of those professionals is married to Ali. Ali is still the self-serving manipulator she’s always been and her hold over the girls proved to be as powerful as it has ever been.

Aria was the only one who didn’t kowtow to Ali’s insensitive demand, telling the judge about the PTSD she still suffers from. Spencer has always been the defacto leader of the group when Ali’s unavailable and she shared her desire to just give Ali what she wanted. Her inner strength and backbone are still as non-existent as they’ve ever been.

The girls really need to get a mind of their own and stop acquiescing to everything Spencer says just because she lords her perceived educational superiority over them. Why the girls can’t see Ali for the dastardly individual she truly is remains shocking. They’ve spent 5 years away from her poisonous influence and within an episode’s time, they were under her spell all over again. 

The true intellectual giant of the series, Mona, is an apparent shadow of her former self. Whether she’s really as vulnerable as she appeared in the premiere remains to be seen. One could easily see a scenario where Mona was pretending to be broken and forgiving just to get Charlotte out of the asylum so she could exact her own revenge and throw suspicion off of herself. Charlotte’s fate by episode’s end would be a surprising one.

That’s if you believe she’s actually dead. We’re talking about a show in which the main plot point was finding out who murdered a much alive Ali. Who’s to say Ali didn’t orchestrate the entire thing so her sister could be free and away from the watchful eye of authorities? Something to think about. 

One thing is certain the second half of season 6 is getting off to an interesting start, already benefiting from its much needed time boost. Adding a strong dose of character involved mystery to the canvas alongside the always looming murder mystery is a good place to start.

[Featured Image by Freeform]