Pretty Little Liars season 5 episode 14 review: Through A Glass, Darkly

Pretty Little Liars has been renewed for two more seasons. Will establishing an end-date mean it finally starts to provide answers?

This review contains spoilers.

5.14 Through A Glass, Darkly

Let’s be honest, Pretty Little Liars has burnt a lot of audience goodwill at this point. Whether it’s the red herrings, the actually-compelling dead ends before they’re revealed as dead ends or the deaths of fan-favourite characters, there has been a lot of disappointment for the average PLL watcher over the last couple of years.

But then there’s the prospect of an end date that’s now been set two and a half seasons from Through A Glass, Darkly, and that clarity permeates even the silliest moments of this winter premiere.

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We will, at some point soon, find out who A is, and we’ll also presumably uncover what the heck is going on in Alison’s head. Having an end date on a show like this, as Lost proved, not only quells the fears of an ever-frustrated audience, but it also gives the writers much more freedom to go forwards with plot and character development – two things that were noticeably stagnating.

So this episode needed to be a statement of intent more than anything, and there were definitely elements of that. Alison has been arrested for her supposed crimes, for one, making it only a matter of time before she is cleared of the charges and the Liars’ attention can turn to someone less ubiquitous, and the girls are quite literally contemplating their futures after the A ordeal is over.

The timeline on PLL has been kept deliberately, hilariously vague up until now, but we’re finally seeing the Liars talk about college. Will they ever be able to make their way out of Rosewood, or are they going to be perpetually stuck in town due to outside interference? I kind of liked Aria’s suspicion over her mass rejection from colleges, for example, even if there are a million better ways to use Caleb than in a scene with Aria.

Just look at some of the older characters like Jason or other members of the NAT club – they’re still as mixed up in things as anyone, so there’s no guarantee that Aria, Hanna, Spencer and Emily will be any different. In a lot of ways Toby’s the smart one in this equation for becoming a cop – getting deeper into the mystery before he can dig himself and those he cares about out of it.

As much as I enjoy it when characters like Spencer, Hanna or formerly Mona cut through the mounting nonsense and figure out what’s really going on, it’s sometimes even more satisfying when the guys start talking sense and helping out.

Mike’s lecture to Aria about latching onto Mona only now that she’s gone was brilliant (can we have more from Mike please?), and Caleb has always been the voice of reason when the girls needed one. Ezra is the weak link, of course, which is why I’ll always be disappointed that we didn’t see Caleb’s reaction to the whole book thing.

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One person who did get the heck out of Rosewood this week was Paige. I’ll be honest, I’ve historically had as little interest in Emily’s love life as I do in Emily herself, but that scene was so beautifully written and played by the actresses that for one moment, I understood the appeal of this couple.

Even more than that, I felt the truth in what Paige was saying – that the past four and a half years have made her doubt whether there’d actually be anything left once the girls were no longer fighting. Spencer’s touched on it before, and there’s was brief exploration of it in season 5a, but it’s fascinating to wonder just how the Liars and their various cohorts will cope when there’s no longer anything to fear.

And it’s that frantic need to find answers, running parallel to the audience’s own desperation, that looks set to fuel this half of the season. They were all so sure that Alison was the person behind Mona’s murder that even Spencer was willing to plant evidence, but I feel like that false certainty was more to do with denial that stupidity. They need it to be over, and they’re now willing to lie to themselves to make that happen.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, How The A Stole Christmas, here.

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