This review contains spoilers.
4.24 A Is For Answers
When is it time to pull the plug, as viewers, on a show as maddeningly secretive as Pretty Little Liars? Sure, the clue is in the title but, after four seasons of mystery and an episode genuinely titled A Is For Answers, I was expecting to feel a little more enlightened right now. Who tried to kill Ali? We still don’t know. Who is A? We don’t know that either. What do we know? Well, they’ve done a pretty solid job of contradicting themselves on the Ezra story over the last few weeks, and it’s becoming abundantly clear, given the vast amounts of previously shown video footage from the night Alison was ‘murdered’, that the writers themselves might even have lost the plot.
The whole episode, as promised, hinged on Alison’s story of the night her life was stolen from her. We wasted no time getting to this part, with the person on the roof revealed to be Noel (obvious, given that he’s a pretty prominent guest star), and we learn that Noel has been blackmailed into helping Alison due to some secrets of his own. Old habits die hard, eh? That’s all we learn about Noel, however, and I guess he’s been brought back here merely to remind everyone he’s alive in time for a juicier role next season. More relevant returnees include Ian (in flashback) and Melissa and, along with them, mention of the elusive NAT club.
We get plenty of flashbacks, some of them from previous episodes (we miss you Jenna!), some of them new, and they function as a decent recap of everything we’ve previously learnt about that night. Alison met up with Toby, Ian, Byron and Ezra, before Spencer confronted her with a shovel, slipped, and revealed her secret drug addition to her most devious friend. That’s when she went back home to an increasingly shifty Mrs D, who then witnessed her daughter being hit over the head with a rock. Burying her alive (albeit unknowingly) and then covering up – possibly in cahoots with Mr Hastings – who could she possibly be protecting?
That’s part one of our unanswered questions, with plausible theories as to who the Hastings and DiLaurentis families have in common getting narrower. Even if Mr Hastings has been under the impression for the past two years that Spencer was the person who killed Alison, that stills only leaves Jason, Melissa or Alison’s (as yet unconfirmed) twin sister on the list of possible suspects. Melissa told her dad something just out of earshot and his shock indicates that someone just as connected to him was to blame after all. Short of a twin, my money’s on Jason but, as proven by this season of misdirects and red herrings, I’m probably way off.
Speaking of cover ups, this was the episode in which we discovered that, despite everything the men of Rosewood have done since Alison’s disappearance, none of them apparently slept with a 14/15-year-old Alison. Not Ezra; not Ian. But we know she had a pregnancy scare and some point, and that points the finger at the only predatory male left on the show – Wren. The apparently male tormentor who popped up at the end of this episode also throws him into suspicion again, and I’m still not letting Toby or Wilden off the hook, no matter what the increasingly convoluted sequence of reveals indicates.
Part two comes with the final few shots of the episode, in which we see Jessica DiLaurentis buried by an unseen figure in much the same way as her daughter. Now, if we were expecting a final-shot reveal of who the person with the shovel was, then we were going to be disappointed (not for the first time in the hour), but it wouldn’t be foolish to think that the two killers were the same person. Despite the fact that CeCe pretty much functions as Alison’s twin in the television incarnation of this story – and was wearing the clothes found in Alison’s bedroom last week – she’s currently being held by the police and couldn’t really have gotten across town in time to do any grave digging.
Despite some neat little recaps and mini-reveals (such as Mona being the one to save/send Alison away), A Is For Answers finished off season four on a frustrating note. Disregarding the backpedalling that has gone on since the EzrA reveal, the second half of the season was stronger than the show has been in a while but, with promises not delivered on and satisfying answers dropped in as red herrings with alarming frequency, it’s hard not to assume that the writers are just making it up as they go along at this point. Are we just treading water until they get their twelve-episode notice? Will there be any suspects left at all once we reach an end date?
As we leave the girls in the midst of yet another A chase, Ezra apparently dead in Aria’s arms (spoiler: of course he isn’t dead), I wonder whether the teased second part of the episode (aka the fifth season premiere) isn’t just a ploy to get us coming back. It hardly matters at this point of course, because those of us left are addicted to the mystery for its own sake, and you won’t catch me giving up on the show even if they hold out on answers until the series finale. We’re all addicts and, just as we didn’t leave when Toby was exonerated, it’s a certainty that we’ll be back for season five. See you on June 10th for part two!
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Unbridled, here.
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