It was a dark and stormy night—and if you know anything about storytelling, well, that means something bad is probably going to happen. In a barn, on just such a night, we meet the five BFFs of "Pretty Little Liars." The girls—Aria, Spencer, Emily, Hanna and Alison—convene despite the torrid weather to booze and gossip. And it's plain from the very beginning, that Queen Bee Alison knows more than her fair share of secrets. "Friends share secrets," she says. "That's what keeps us close." But the five were not destined to be close forever it turns out, because when the girls wake hours later, Alison is nowhere to be found. "I've looked everywhere for her," Spencer says. "I think I heard her scream." Uh-oh!
Fast-forward a year later, and though no progress has been made on Alison's missing person case, a lot has happened since her disappearance. For one, Aria and her family left town for Iceland (random) on her father's year-long sabbatical, and they're just now returning to Rosewood.
It turns out the BFFs aren't the only ones with secrets, as Aria promises her dad she'll keep his as well. What could it be? We'll find out soon enough. In the meantime, Aria drops her bro off for lacrosse practice and heads into a bar for a burger while she waits. A burger—and a boy!—that is. Mr. Cutie Pants at the bar just graduated from the local college, and assuming Aria attends the same college, asks what she's majoring in. "I'm leaning toward English," she says. What a coincidence! That's the exact subject Mr. Cutie Pants teaches! "I'd like to know more about you," he says. So they get to know each other by making out in the bar bathroom. Classy, for sure.
For Hanna, Alison's disappearance put her the next in line for most popular girl at school, and she grasped that title with open arms. Apparently, she's also become a klepto to boot, as we see her five-finger a pair of pricey sunglasses at the mall with shopping bud Mona. It looks as though she's about to get busted, but instead the security guard hands her the purse she left behind. What self-respecting girl forgets her purse? Sheesh!
As Aria walks into English class the first day of school, she runs into Spencer, who tells her the remaining three friends have lost touch over the year. As the two are gabbing at their desks, in walks—perhaps you guessed it—Mr. Cutie Pants from the bar! He's their teacher! And that's when it happens: Aria receives the first of the ominous messages: "Maybe he fools around with students all of the time. A lot of teachers do. Just ask your dad. -A" As we learn through a flashback, Alison was with Aria when they stumbled upon Aria's dad making out with someone—someone who's not Aria's mom—in a parked car, which means the message's gotta be from the presumed dead Alison, right?
After school, Emily takes a gift basket over to her new neighbors who have moved into Alison's old house. She meets Maya, who invites her in and seems eager to get to know her ASAP. Maya offers her some weed, and the two awkwardly sit on her bed to light up. Meanwhile, Spencer, we learn, has converted her barn into a loft and intends on moving in for her junior year, except her high-maintenance sister decides she's going to take the loft instead and move in with her boyfriend, Wren, whom Spencer meets for the first time. Later, Spencer and Wren run into each other on the deck, and the two seem to have some sizzling chemistry, with Spencer telling Wren she's the first of her sister's boyfriends she's liked. But that's not exactly the truth.
The next day at school, Aria confronts Mr. Cutie Pants—er, Mr. Fitz—telling him she thinks it could still work out between them. "I think you're amazing, Aria," he says. "When I first met you, I thought, who is this girl?" She tells him she's still the same girl, but he says they can't.
As Emily and Maya walk home from school, the camera spends a prolonged moment zoomed in on their almost-touching hands, giving an ever-so subtle hint that there may be more to this friendship, which is reaffirmed when they share an awkward peck on the cheek. What will Emily's boyfriend think?! We soon may find out as Emily receives her own cryptic note from A in her gym locker the next day: "Hey Emily! I've been replaced. You've found another friend to kiss!"
At Spencer's house, the sexual tension is running high as well, as she runs into her would-be-brother in-law in the kitchen while the two are conveniently in their bathing suits. She complains about a sore back from field hockey practice, and he offers to massage the spot. "Oh, that's awesome," she groans as he's rubbing the offending knot... until sis comes home, leading to yet another text: "Poor Spencer. Always wants Melissa's boyfriends. But remember, if you kiss I tell. -A"
Hanna is the last to receive her message—after she's arrested for shoplifting those designer shades. "Be careful, Hanna. I hear prison food makes you fat. -A" Her mom says she'll get her out of this mess, which we find out a little later involves her getting it on with the detective.
Just as all the girls are thinking Queen Bee Alison may be making a reappearance, it happens: Alison's body is found under the gazeebo of her old house. As the four BFFs reunite at the funeral (after Aria has a steamy makeout sesh with Mr. Fitz in a church stairwell), they spot an apparently blind girl named Jenna being guided down the aisle. We've been hearing hints about this mysterious Jenna throughout the episode, but who knows what her deal is. Whatever it is, her presence causes a a stir among the girls.
When the service concludes, the girls are met outside by the detective who tells them he WILL find out what happened that summer. Dun, dun, dun! And then, in unison, the girls' phones begin to ring with one more message: "I'm still here, bitches, and I know everything. -A"
Who's sending these cryptic messages if Alison is dead? Or is she dead? And who's Jenna? These Pretty Little Liars don't seem to be telling. What did you think of the episode, Crushers?