Pretty Little Liars season 6 episode 9 review: Last Dance

The end of the game is approaching. Next week, Pretty Little Liars will finally reveal who it is behind that mask...

This review contains spoilers.

6.9 Last Dance

Prom night is a rite of passage, even for five girls who’ve have spent their entire high school career running away from mean girls, escaped Radley patients and omniscient secret siblings. One of them has come back from the dead, another been a Radley patient herself, and two of them have actually become murderers. But prom is still important, and this show was never going to miss an opportunity to get their cast dressed up.

We open on a sequence revealing that all four mothers are actually in town and on screen at the same time. The girls have been disinvited from prom and graduation on safety grounds – Charles robbing them of the little high school school experience they still have – but Veronica has arranged for them to have a private party in the haunted barn. It’s where the nightmare started, points out Aria, so why not end it there?

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Meanwhile, Charles doesn’t even seem to care about the four Liars this week, focusing his attention on Alison instead. It makes sense, she’s the first to learn his/her identity at the end of the episode, but it’s been endlessly frustrating this season to watch Alison still keeping secrets from her friends.

After being fingered as an agent of A last week (read: undercover cop), Clark is suspiciously MIA at the start of the episode. This of course leaves room for Ezra to lurk around the Brew, make Aria coffee and sit down to pass judgement without invitation. His idea this week? He wants to take Aria to prom after all, mainly because the cancelled night means he won’t have to dance with his underage ex-girlfriend in a room full of his former students.

We knew this show would never allow a prom episode to happen without all the main significant others in attendance – well, all except for Paige – but the ABC Family marketing team did a good job of making it look like Caleb’s trip to New York was a bigger deal that it turned out to be. He showed up in time for a dance, and is now officially an Information Risk Analyst in the city. If it’s still her dream, Hanna can come too. Ya done good Caleb.

While one couple make plans for after graduation, another is realising the complete lack of a future they have. Ezra is moving to Thailand and Aria to LA, thankfully, so it looks like they’ll be the couple who have to find their way to back to each other after the time jump.

As said, there’s no Paige, so we’ll have to make do with Sarah as Emily’s date. It feels slightly wrong, even if they have a sweet naivety to them, and there’s still a possibility that she isn’t completely what she seems. The other rogue prom date is Lorenzo, who is being given the benefit of the doubt by Spencer of all people, merely because he expressed interest in Alison for all of five minutes before turning on her.

Never mind that he’s the cop assigned to protect her, or that he’s another adult male in Rosewood interested in a teenage girl. Or that Alison has been acting alarmingly out of character all season. We’re told he sees the vulnerable, damaged girl behind the fierce veneer of calculating sociopath, and that’s supposed to be enough.

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The most fun to be had from this episode is with the mothers, who get drunk on red wine, spill their own twisted family secrets and set about solving the murder of Jessica DiLaurentis all by themselves. Yes, it’s likely that Kenneth did kill his wife after discovering that Jason wasn’t his biological son, and it says a lot that Ella, Ashley, Veronica and Pam can work that out in one evening, faster than the police and their daughters.

The back-up prom doesn’t last long, as the Liars soon follow Alison to the real Rosewood High prom in search of Charles. It feels wrong that Alison’s dress isn’t red or black, though I suppose it would clash with the bad guys’ attire, but it’s all gloriously over the top anyway.

Aria looks as crazy as ever with a Mini Mouse bow in her hair, Emily’s wearing earrings bigger than the gothic crown on her head, Hanna is curiously in the same colour scheme as Alison but with more boots and boobs, and Spencer is in green velvet and gold like the goddess she is. There are Red Coats in cloaks and black hoodies with red cloaks worn over them, as you’d expect. The episode runs with the Red Riding Hood theme, which is perfect.

Because we’re seeing all four mothers and budgets are probably being saved for next week’s finale, we hear about but don’t see the colourful student body of Rosewood High. We’re told that Noel Khan took Bridget Wood, who is 85 per cent tequila and has her dress on backwards, Lucas is there but almost definitely didn’t take Jenna, and it turns out that Ezra really doesn’t have a problem dancing with Aria in the school gym. The biggest head-scratcher is the absence of Mona, but then she’s probably under one of the hoods.

What we’re all waiting for, though, what we’ve been waiting for these last three and a half seasons, is the big reveal. This might be one of those examples where the reveal of who is far less interesting than the why or the how, but for now we’re left with the sight of Alison’s face as the mask is removed. It’s a powerful image, and really reminds you of just how well the show has covered up A’s identity thus far.

We’ll finally know who it is next week, guys, and much more besides. Buckle up, the end of the game is approaching.

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