This review contains spoilers.
Speaking on behalf of the majority of Pretty Little Liars fans in this episode, in response to Mona’s question of “do you trust me?”, Hannah replies, “sometimes”. As we enter these final ten episodes of the crazy, emotional, often transcendent ride that has been this show, we’re at a crossroads. We can approach the end with suspicion and measured expectations, or we can just relax and go along for the ride.
Because while a lot of people were let down by the Charlotte reveal a season ago (it feels longer, doesn’t it?) we cannot disregard all of the wonderful things the show has done. The Mona reveal was one of them, and the commitment to character over mystery another. For me, it doesn’t matter who A.D. turns out to be, because that boardgame and what it might do to the Liars is so darn intriguing.
First, though, there’s some housekeeping. Spencer didn’t die from that gunshot wound, as could have been assumed, and Toby and Yvonne are also still with us. While Toby has a dainty cut above his eye, Yvonne is in a coma. This is one of two things that infuriated me about this otherwise fun premiere – Toby should have died and we should not be watching a show that would incapacitate Yvonne just so the shippers can have their happy ending. What was even the point of that cliffhanger ending?
And there’s plenty of shipper action to go around, with Haleb more solid than ever and both Ezria and Emison seemingly navigating the rocky waters necessary to get to their eventual endgames. Yes, fans, everyone is in love and there will be no surprises in the Liars’ love lives. I hope you’re happy.
All of this is the weakest part of the episode, especially when we have to watch Alison be an absolute snot to Emily and Paige. I guess this was supposed to be a return to the Alison of old, the queen bee unleashing her claws on anyone who dared encroach on her territory, but there’s none of that original spark. She’s just being petulant, and pushing away the one person who’s never abandoned her.
“Don’t kiss me again until you’re sure,” Emily says to her. And she’s right to.
Meanwhile, outside of the main mystery and the arrival of A.D.’s boardgame, one delightful detour is Hanna’s fashion business and Mona’s efforts to help her. The writers seemed to forget about the friendship between these two for a while, preferring to pair Mona with Spencer, but it’s lovely to see them interact like friends again. Of course, as much as Mona insists she has no ulterior motive, we can never be so sure.
Aria is continuing to plan her wedding even though her fiance is currently preoccupied with his ex-girlfriend who’s just been rescued from years of captivity, mainly because she can’t fathom how she and Ezra wouldn’t live happily ever after. For some reason, we’re treated to the return of Holden, who has the great line, upon hearing of Aria’s engagement, “and they say high school romances don’t last”.
So. With that all out of the way let’s get to the main event. Spencer finds a delivery from A.D. on her kitchen table, which turns out to be an elaborate scale model of Rosewood with a high-tech board game inside. Let’s make a promise now to not question how the hell A.D. managed to build this thing. As the Liars say, Noel wasn’t smart enough (I respectfully disagree) and Jenna’s way too blind.
When Veronica returns from the Hastings victory cruise, Spencer point-blank asks her if what Mary said was true. It’s confirmed – Spencer is the biological daughter of Peter Hastings and Mary Drake, adopted by Veronica when Jessica revealed the mistake to her. Peter had thought Mary was Jessica at the time, which possibly means that Peter was Charlotte’s father too.
So this doesn’t go down well with an already wounded Spencer, and she decides to go against the group’s wishes and play the game. It’s great, I love this whole conceit and it makes me so excited to see the rest of the season. For now, she’s only tasked with going to see Toby at the hospital (a classic A frenemy tactic) and receives a jigsaw piece and a letter from Mary in return.
We’re starting small, but much chaos is promised. As Toby quite astutely says, maybe the whole town has to disappear before they can leave (snowglobe theory, anyone?), and the only way for that to happen is to burn it all down. The Hastings, the DiLaurentis’s, the NAT Club – this all started long before Mona decided to get some revenge on the Liars for stealing her friend, and it will continue long after the discovery of A.D.’s identity.
Who will survive, and what will be left of them? We’ll find out soon enough.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Darkest Night, here.