This review contains spoilers.
6.14 New Guys, New Lies & 6.16 Do Not Disturb
Let’s talk about the new ‘A’, or whatever it is we’re calling them now. The new big bad of season 6B and beyond is a little bit rubbish, and I’m not entirely sure whether that’s intentional or not. Maybe it’s a generational thing, and younger Pretty Little Liars fans love the new emoji texts, or maybe we’re not supposed to think this person measures up to either Mona or Charlotte in threat-level or cleverness.
They also appear to be one step behind in a way their predecessors never were, with the Liars’ efforts to turn things around on their new tormentor actually appearing to work. Yes, Caleb is a whiz on the computer and has probably picked up a few extra tricks in the last five years, but surely it shouldn’t be that easy to hack into A’s computer? And to wipe their entire hard drive? It doesn’t make any sense.
The ‘hiding in plain sight’ wrinkle introduced in New Guys, New Lies is interesting in theory but extremely silly in practice, and so far the actions of A – setting up a fake meeting for Spencer, making Aria suspect her father of murder – are small fry compared to stealing and mutilating a body or running one of the girls down with a car. The words ‘evil emoji’ are actually uttered. As always, the Liars are doing a pretty good job of getting themselves into trouble with or without outside intervention.
The most pressing example of this is Ashley destroying the back-up security drive in order to keep the police away from Hanna, taking us right back to season one. And she’s not the only parent going back to old habits, with Byron’s sneaking around at The Radley revealed to just be him and Ella getting back together in secret. Ella’s return is supposed to confirm Byron’s alibi for the night Charlotte was killed, but we can take that with a pinch of salt.
The same goes for Alison’s assurances that Sara hadn’t been near Emily’s hospital room after her procedure. Was she there? Was it someone else? The framing of Alison over Emily’s bed after the ‘attack’ seems to suggest either seriously or playfully that it was actually Alison, and it’s convenient that this came straight after we were reminded that Charlotte had used Sara’s likeness for her sister to create a replacement family.
People have a tendency to swap blonde girls’ identities in this story, so is it so hard to believe that Emily, in her drug-addled daze, mistook her old friend for her current enemy? Is Sara faking her injuries like she did her Stockholm Syndrome? Exactly who is she manipulating and how much? There are so many questions circling Sara Harvey right now, some more interesting than others, but I’d still be shocked if she was A.
In a perfect world the new A would just be a collection of past characters all working together again – Lucas, Mona, Melissa, Jenna – the old guard. The town that A created, and the girls who couldn’t escape.
On a romantic note, it’s still fun to watch the increasingly awkward dynamic between Spencer, Hanna and Caleb shift and change as the three of them figure out their place in this brave new world. Spencer and Caleb are very much in the honeymoon stage just as Hanna and Jordan’s love is being clawed at by past mistakes, and I honestly have no idea how it’s all going to settle once the storm has passed.
And we spent so much time focusing on what might happen to Hanna and Spencer’s friendship that we forgot about Caleb and Toby’s. That moment in which Toby realises what’s happening was almost physically painful, and so far I absolutely love the new ways the writers have found for these characters to interact.
Ultimately, that’s what’s most fun about Pretty Little Liars‘ time jump, with the new mystery as usual just acting as the cherry on top. That said, so far one side of the show has translated far better than the other, even if Caleb’s switch-around on A was the first true thrill-moment of the new season.
I want the new villain to be someone we already know, but more than anything I just want to keep watching the girls come back together, changing the rules as they go. That’s their happy ending, gaining some goddam self-control over their own lives and the people who get to be in them.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Gloves Are On, here.