This review contains spoilers.
5.12 Taking This One To The Grave
For anyone who’s ever seen an episode of television, the minute that Mona started to be a sympathetic character again was also the moment we all knew she was a goner. People aren’t sympathetic on this show outside of our core group of liars (and even that’s debatable), and even before the episode aired it was likely that the forecast #FAtalFinale would be the final hour for the original A.
It’s not because there’s nothing left to do with the character – Mona is one of the most entertaining, perplexing and malleable characters on the show – but because it would probably have the most impact on the characters and on the show. While Mona was around, the Liars always had someone to blame for all things bad and evil, and they also had a potential ally when Hannah decided to play the BFF card. She was the only one who could really match Alison in the crazy genius department, a tool never properly utilised.
Now that’s over, and they’re going to have to face the oncoming storm of Alison DiLaurentis all by themselves. Even if it wasn’t Ali who offed Mona in the most soap opera-y way possible (and the lack of a close-up ensures that it wasn’t), she most definitely has something to do with the Rosewood underworld. The prospect of her being in full-on ‘socio mode’ was floated during the episode and, though I doubt she’s ‘Big A’, the case against her is growing. There’s that army of losers to worry about, too.
Aside from the murder, the other big tease before the episode was who would be arrested. Unsurprisingly, it was Spencer, as the overwhelming evidence for her having murdered Bethany Young finally came to the attention of Holbrook and the rest of the police force. And Toby is now a part of that police force after the shortest stint at police academy ever, but a red herring car crash has put him out of action for the foreseeable future. Which is a weird story trajectory.
They believe that Spencer killed Bethany in a twisted attempt to impress her, which makes more sense when we learn that Bethany may have been a product of another Jessica DiLaurentis affair. But maybe it wasn’t another one? It is possible that the dead girl is actually another Hastings love-child, sister to both Alison and Spencer? It’s a long-shot, given that we’re still waiting on the twin theory to play out, but worth filing away in the wild speculation folder.
One of the best things about the episode was how involved the girls’ various ‘bed buddies’ were. Seeing Caleb back on his laptop was so glorious after spending so long with ‘haunted’, alcoholic Caleb, and even Ezra seemed more present in the A offensive than he has been in ages. For me, the show is at its best when peripheral characters like Lucas, Caleb and Toby are involved too, and this felt like one of those rare weeks when the writers agreed with me.
The worst thing about the episode was the lack of reveal, which has previously been a staple of the summer finale and something sorely missed from this hour. Where was our Toby in the hoodie? Or our Ezra in the black cap? Theorising about who killed Mona isn’t a new theory at all – it’s the same one we’ve had since the start of season three. Who is A? If it’s not Alison, then are we looking for another blonde girl? Could it just be a random person in a wig, Psycho-style?
It’s a little disappointing but doesn’t detract from the quality of the episode. Finally, this was an hour that brought our characters together and pushed them forwards – no dithering about whether to trust Alison, just action. Killing Mona may be a mistake for the show, since she still had endless potential and would have been wonderful as part of the core Liars group, but it was an effective move nonetheless. Who killed her? That’s part of the bigger mystery, so don’t count on finding out in the winter finale.
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