DISCLAIMER: If you haven’t watched all seasons of Pretty Little Liars yet, this blog post will contain spoilers.
The idea for this blog post came to me during a Twitter conversation I had at the beginning of April with the lovely Isa (check out her YouTube channel, she’s hilarious!). We were talking about tv shows and, inevitably, Pretty Little Liars came up. We both agreed that the show has gone a bit downhill after the first few seasons (to say the least) and it got me thinking: how do I really feel about this tv show that used to be an absolute favourite of mine? Since the first episode of season 7B is being aired tonight (boy, that date really snuck up on me!), I thought it would be the perfect time for a little reflection on what has been going on in the show up until now, and my expectations for the final 10 episodes.
I mean, where do I even begin…? This show is a complete mess. It started off as this wonderfully thrilling thing and many a times I’ve told people that I think it should have just ended after the big season 2 reveal. I mean, maybe a third season to really wrap everything up nicely would’ve still been acceptable. But we had a decent, believable reveal with Mona being ‘A’ and then they went and ruined it with 5 more seasons of red herrings and just general ridiculousness. When people ask me why I insist on watching Pretty Little Liars until the bitter end, I have no decent answer except: “I want to finally know who ‘A’ is”. And I have to admit that I do have a weak spot for the main characters: Hanna Marin, Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings and Emily Fields. I ship them with certain other characters (#Haleb, anyone!?) and I root for them every step of the way (except when they lose yet another piece of vital evidence in the most ridiculous way or refuse to go to the damn police for the gazillionth time, of course… I mean, really!?). Yeah, you guessed it: I have a major love-hate relationship with this crazy-ass show. Let me explain why…
Mona Vanderwaal. Now this is the only ‘A’ that actually makes sense to me. I watched the first few seasons twice because I was able to convince my dad (yes, a grown-ass man liked watching this show) to start watching it and I watched it with him after I’d already seen everything. So the second time around I already knew Mona was going to be revealed as ‘A’ in the season 2 finale and I could spot a lot of hints that pointed her way throughout season 1 and 2. It all seemed very well-planned and thought out. It would’ve honestly been the perfect ending. Of course Mona was stalking and bullying Alison, the bane of her existence. And of course someone as mentally unstable as Mona would go back to that same bullying when her friendship with Hanna was threatened. Ironically, it was her bullying of the girls that actually brought them closer, but still. Her stalking of Alison back in the day and her fresh new friendship with Hanna would have given her plenty of insight into the other girls’ lives and lies. Thus, she had the information, she had the motive, and she was pretty much an allround perfect ‘A’.
I have to say, I did enjoy the sick and twisted Mona we got to meet while she was at Radley (and even after she got out), which is something we probably wouldn’t have seen had the show ended after her big reveal. But what it did for me was only solidify the fact that she had indeed been ‘A’ all along. She was this wicked mastermind with a hunger for revenge and it all just made perfect sense. I even grew to love Mona as a character (and a big kudos to Janel Parrish for portraying her role so wonderfully!) simply because of her wickedness. You don’t just ‘steal’ the game from Mona Vanderwaal. It’s hard for me to believe that someone like that would take orders from another person, especially since she has been confirmed to have been Alison’s original stalker. Sure, she might’ve called in help if she suddenly needed to stalk four girls instead of just one, but I think she’d have been the ring leader and not just some lackey.
That does bring us to one very important question, though: is Mona truly as crazy as she is made out to be during (and shortly after) her stay at Radley? It almost seems as if that period of being mentally unstable was an act at times. Something to help her get away with having stalked Alison and those four girls. Sure, she was sent off to Radley Sanitarium, but she wasn’t sent to prison. And we all know now how easy it was for her to get in and out of Radley almost unnoticed so she could continue the ‘A’-game. I mean, she would have to be some sort of genius sociopath to pull most of these things off, sure, but sociopaths are good at pretending to fit in. They don’t act crazy or deranged at all. That’s why they’re so scary and dangerous. I believe Mona never truly ‘lost it’, and even in moments where she seemed at her most delusional, I think she was still plotting things out and saying just the right words to get people where she wanted them to be.
Part of me still hopes that Mona will be revealed to now be ‘Uber A’ (seriously though, how many more ridiculous nicknames for this stalker are they going to come up with?), especially since I still think she can’t be trusted. Yes, she has helped the girls out a few times, but she has also worked against them for a really long time. Even in season 7A, she has done some fishy things which make me think she is still playing the game.
RED HERRING #1
Toby Cavanaugh. When this was revealed at the end of an episode somewhere in season 3, I was in absolute shock. How could Toby do this to Spencer!? And what about Emily, weren’t they close friends!? I’m serious: I was horrified. That was the worst betrayal Pretty Little Liars had ever seen up until that point. I just couldn’t believe it. I was so angry. At Toby. At the show. At ‘A’. At almost anyone that wasn’t Spencer Hastings. I was praying it wasn’t true. That it was just some sort of nasty ‘A’-ploy to hurt Spencer (and the other liars) to her core. To really break her. But then when I started thinking about it, it did make some sense. Toby had always been a bit suspicious. He never seemed to be completely honest. About anything. There was just something about him that was… Off. If any of the girls’ romantic interests were part of the ‘A’-team (who came up with these names!?), it actually made sense for it to be Toby.
And then they revealed that Toby had only joined the ‘A’-team to protect Spencer… I was about ready to quit watching the show entirely. What a lame cop-out! Yes, every single viewer was shocked and hurt and angry about Toby being involved, but at least people were talking about it. People were feeling something. It was painful, but it made the show so much more interesting. After this, I seriously expected them to then do the same with every single (serious) romantic partner any of the liars had ever had, just so they could drag out the show a tiny bit more. Would I have been pissed if Toby had truly been on the ‘A’-team? Hell yes! I was. But it would’ve been a lot better than the lame-ass excuse they came up with afterwards. It would’ve been so raw, so hurtful – a real betrayal. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit relieved when this information surfaced, but looking back on it now… The show could’ve been so much better had they just stuck to the whole ‘Toby is A’ deal.
RED HERRING #2
Spencer Hastings. I mean, this one was a bit predictable. She joined the ‘A’-team because Toby was supposed to be dead but apparently still alive. It was all very Bonnie and Clyde. Yawn. I don’t think anyone believed, not even for a second, that Spencer was a true part of it all. Would it have been an amazing reveal at any other point in time? Absolutely! How crazy would it be if one of the liars turns out to have been behind all the torture all along? If one of the liars has been betraying her own best friends for years now? But the Spencer-reveal just did not cut it. It was overall just too obvious that her only concern was finding and reconnecting with Toby (oh yeah, and there was this little thing called ‘Red Coat’, too). Out of all the red herrings they’ve thrown at us over the seasons, I think this one tops it as being the least shocking or believable.
RED HERRING #3
Ezra Fitz. Now this. This I could believe. Even though I have to admit that I am a little bit of an Ezria shipper (although after the whole Nicole-thing… not so much anymore), it is weird – not to mention illegal – for a high school teacher to start a relationship with one of his students. Two, even! Technically, Alison would’ve been one of his students if she hadn’t gone missing before he started teaching at Rosewood High. Which is also kinda suspicious in itself… Why did he start teaching there after Ali went missing, and why did he strike up a relationship with one of her best friends? Yes, in both cases it seemed as if he didn’t know their true age (both Ali and Aria lied about being college students when they first met him), but he still should’ve ended the relationship with Aria as soon as he saw her sitting in his classroom. And yet, he didn’t. He would’ve made such a great and believable ‘A’. He’s always been a bit fishy (like Toby) and why else would a grown-ass man associate himself with teenage girls? I mean, apart from his romantic relationship with Aria, he was trying to be friendly with her three friends, too. Why them? To be able to better stalk them, of course!
The whole scene in the ski lift in which he confessed to Aria that what he’d been doing was writing a book about Alison and her four friends… That was an even lamer cop-out than the whole ‘Toby just wants to protect Spencer’ thing. Again, I was about ready to quit watching the show. So we’re supposed to believe that his shady behaviour stemmed from the fact that he was indeed kinda stalking the girls, but only to get information for his novel? He created this whole lair-looking basement, just for a story? Come on, I. Marlene King, you can do better than that! Although, on second thought… No, you probably can’t. And you know what made it even worse? Aria forgiving him for it all! Okay, so he wasn’t ‘A’, but he was still stalking you and started a relationship with you just so he could write a book about Alison. That is some messed up shit all on its own. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he’s a fine-looking gentleman, but that is a little bit too much psycho for my tastes.
CeCe Drake. Or should I say Charlotte DiLaurentis? Or wait, no, it’s Charles, right? Yes, that is correct: ‘A’ has gone through life by no less than three different names and identities. Three! This reveal was honestly just such a mess. It was all over the place. So CeCe Drake turned out to be Alison and Jason DiLaurentis’ adopted sister, Charlotte DiLaurentis, who was actually born as Charles Drake, their (male, in case that wasn’t clear yet) cousin. Confusing, I know. Look, I get that the show wanted to appear ‘current’ and include a transgender character, but to introduce one like this… Come on! I was honestly laughing throughout this entire reveal. They had to be joking, right? The whole thing has just become too complicated to be plausible.
She was revealed to be ‘Big A’ who had taken over the game from our ‘Original A’, Mona Vanderwaal. Why? Because she hated the four liars because a drugged up Mona in Radley Sanitarium had told her that they were glad Alison went missing. I mean… Is that really a reason to spend so much time torturing those poor girls? Is that the best ‘Big A’ can come up with? That’s seriously disappointing from someone who is supposedly this big mastermind with tons of resources and a knack for revenge – a revenge that runs way deeper than “boohoo, they’re happy my cousin/adoptive sister is probably dead”. I mean, grow up! Yeah, she claimed the game had become like an addiction after a while, but that still seems like a pretty lame reason to me. I’d just hoped ‘A’ would’ve been a bit more badass than that.
UBER A (really?)
So, CeCe/Charlotte/Charles was revealed to be ‘Big A’, the one behind it all. She was the big reveal. The true evil. And then she is murdered a few years later (after a five-year time jump) and suddenly ‘Uber A’ springs up. I mean, if a show has to come up with things like ‘Original A’, ‘Big A’ and ‘Uber A’ (and let’s not forget about ‘A.D.’) you know they’ve taken it too far. At some point, this ‘Uber A’ was even referred to as ‘A-moji’ because they used emoji at the end of their messages, instead of the oh-so iconic ‘-A’. You’re just becoming a parody of yourself at this point.
This ‘Uber A’ is now the one we’re all after. The final answer. All will be revealed in the upcoming 10 episodes, and I for one cannot wait for it all to be finally over. There are some decent theories out there over who could be this ultimate evil that’s been making these girls’ lives a living hell, and I think my favourite is probably Wren Kingston. There has to be a (decent) reason for his shady behaviour, and from what I’ve read, him being this ‘Uber A’ would tie up most (if not all) of the loose ends this show has created over the years.
MARY DRAKE (oh come on, another one!?)
Jessica DiLaurentis’ twin(!) sister no one ever knew about. CeCe Drake’s biological mother. And apparently, now also Spencer Hastings’ biological mother. What? When Spencer was revealed as Mary’s infamous second child, I found it laughable. I’d seen the theories floating around, and I’d seen some signs on the show pointing in that direction, but I’d honestly never expected it to be true. I thought the show was trying to throw us off with their hints, like they’ve done so many times before. It’s just such a ridiculous idea that Spencer Hastings, the literal embodiment of what it means to be a Hastings, the girl that fits into her family so perfectly, is Mary Drake’s child. Jason DiLaurentis had already been revealed to be her half-brother, so what does that make them now? Her father is his father, and her mother is his aunt… Yeah, that’s fucked up. I’m not entirely sure how Mary Drake fits into all of this. I mean, yes, she is Cece/Charlotte/Charles’ biological mother and worked together with Dr. Rollins/Archer Dunhill to avenge her daughter’s death and get all of the Carissimi Group’s money. But I feel like there’s something more about her, too. Something they haven’t told us yet. I think it’s fishy that she “went travelling a lot” ever since she was released from Radley Sanitarium (oh yes, she was a patient there too… pretty much everyone in this show has been a patient there!) and she went to Latin America… There is something about Latin America. Isn’t that where Nicole (Ezra’s new lover and Emily’s friend) went missing? What is up with that? How do Mary Drake and Latin America fit into this whole ‘A’ story? Or are they just new red herrings trying to distract us from what is really going on? Mary Drake remains a mystery to me, and I’d honestly rather they had never introduced her in the first place. It just overcomplicates everything.
And apart from all those, there have been a million others the show has tried to make suspicious we haven’t really gotten a clear (or plausible) answer to. Just to name a few: Sara Harvey, Noel Kahn, Melissa Hastings, Jenna Marshall, Peter Hastings, Byron Montgomery, Paige Matthews… The list is endless. I think I’ve suspected literally every character of any significance over the span of six and a half seasons; it’s ridiculous. There are so many loose ends, I think it’s almost impossible for them to wrap all of those up in just 10 episodes. I mean, I hope they do, but I don’t think they will. It’s going to be so frustrating, though. Because we have all these amazing fan theories (I might do a separate blog post on my favourite ones somewhere in the near future, if that’s something you’d fancy) and the show just can’t live up to them. There are so many unanswered questions, so many things that don’t add up. And the show creators just sweep them under the rug as if nothing ever happened. I mean, they have 10 episodes left to redeem themselves, and I really do hope they make the most of it, but seeing the circus this show has become… It’s highly unlikely.
Apart from this one huge post with all of my thoughts kinda cluttered together (sorry if it became confusing! and I’ve only just touched the surface of it all, too), I’m also thinking of writing shorter reaction posts after every new episode. If that’s something you would like to see, please let me know in the comments down below or via social media!