Pretty Little Liars season 5 episode 13 review: How The ‘A’ Stole Christmas

The Pretty Little Liars' Christmas Special is all the good and the bad of the show wrapped up in a festive bow...

This review contains spoilers.

5.13 How The ‘A’ Stole Christmas

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but the Pretty Little Liars Halloween special is something I look forward to each October. It’s usually a mess of silly fun and watered-down horror tropes, which is what this show is built on, and it’s also a nice little visit to Rosewood in between half-seasons that whets the appetite for its proper return in January.

This year, we didn’t get our annual Halloween episode, but Santa brought us How The ‘A’ Stole Christmas instead. And Pretty Little Liars certainly made the most of the change in holiday. This is pretty much everything you’d expect a Christmas with the Liars to look like, with evil snow globes, elaborate winter formals and absolutely no parents to speak of. It’s the good and the bad of the show all wrapped up with a bow. Merry Christmas!

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As with a most of the special episodes, there’s a lot of water-treading and no really attempt at answering questions, but just the mere presence of Alison and the aftermath of Mona’s murder in the previous episode ensure that it’s not a waste of fans’ time.

Alison is separated from the rest of the group for much of the action, spending most of the hour dreaming and remembering with the help of a ghostly Mona and Jessica DiLaurentis. Here, we see yet another glaring hint that the show is going down the twins route of the books, but the question still remains how.

One flashback establishes that Alison’s mother had gone to great lengths to ensure Alison cover up any sign of another girl connected to the family, but adult Alison apparently has no recollection of the incidents.

But it’s all standard stuff, ending with the threat of Alison coming to a sticky end at some point before the finale of the show. More and more since Alison became a fully-fledged character on this show, it’s obvious that she worked much better as an idea for the rest of the girls to work off of, delivering cryptic clues and keeping them together with a common goal. Now, Mona occupies that role, deified by Hanna and the rest despite all of her misdeeds.

But I do like that the show has remembered to let Hanna grieve, as her friendship with Mona was always one of the most compelling sub-plots of the show. Far more compelling, say, that any of these girls’ romances.

Speaking of romances, complaining about Ezra’s continued presence is their lives feels redundant at this point, but seeing him take part in the fan-service Santa boxers scene towards the end of the episode crossed a few more lines I didn’t even know I had. Book or no book (stalking or no stalking), he’s still their teacher, isn’t he? I did enjoy the ponies anecdote though – please let us spend more time with the Fitzgeralds.

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On the same note, the last remaining ordinary adult male in Rosewood – Holbrook – finally seems to have fallen for a teenage girl after holding out for an entire season. There’s a chance that Alison was kissing someone else dressed as Santa, and his creepy words directed at Aria were just a way to inform her that he knew about her role in things, but on this show its far more likely that he’s just decided join Rosewood’s club for creepy guys dating teenagers.

So this was a pretty standard episode of Pretty Little Liars, just with a little more tinsel and turkey. A is still scheming, Alison is still ambiguous, Toby’s still boring, Ezra’s still a creep – business as usual. While we wait for the new season to start – the first with an end date known – that will do quite nicely.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Taking This One To The Grave, here.

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