Previously on Pretty Little Liars, the most competent Slytherin mastermind you ever met in your life got outplayed by a psychopath who carried a bonesaw around in his messenger bag and didn’t even have a pilot’s license, to the point where she couldn’t even enjoy it when her friends ran under him with a car and he died of a thousand windshield cuts right in front of their eyes. Emily dated everyone with even a glint of madness in their eyes and then she dated no one and then she sold her eggs to pay for a bender she went on in college and A stole them. Unrelated, Ali’s pregnant. Noel Kahn kidnapped Hanna and then chopped off his own head. Someone shot Spencer. A deer tried to kill Toby and Yvonne. And apparently this one summer Peter Hastings impregnated literally every woman in town.
Spencer’s fine. Aside from a few unanswerable questions peppered at her by the EMT on the way to the hospital — Who’s your mother? How many girls, total, were buried in your backyard? How is Hanna still not gay for Mona? — the most trauma she suffers is being strapped in an arm sling for a week. Toby also is fine. If memory serves me correctly, he crashed a motorcycle and that truck Spencer bought him by pawning Melissa’s engagement ring, so this is old hat for his hard head. Yvonne, obviously, is going to die. (Women of color, stop coming to this town!) It takes a full week for Veronica to return from wherever she’s been gallivanting. Peter of course got held up at the airport by “passport trouble” and double of course Melissa wasn’t flying in for this shit. Last time she used her luggage, the Liars spent an entire season accusing her of bludgeoning Charlotte to death with her suitcase.
A couple of years ago, Spencer would have stewed on it and investigated it for herself, but she’s a grown-up now and she’s seen enough dismembered bodies at this point to know when it’s time to get down to business, so she just straight up asks Veronica if Mary Drake is her biological mom. And yes. What happened was Jessica DiLaurentis kept showing up at the backdoor to borrow the lawnmower, a cup of sugar, Peter’s dick, etc. So Veronica didn’t think anything about it the day she showed up and said she had a sister. Who also slept with Peter. And was pregnant with his child. In Radley. Veronica did what anyone would do. She hired a limousine and sat in the backseat in the parking lot of a mental institution until Spencer got born and then a guy dressed like the 1940s brought baby Spencer outside and handed her over to Veronica.
Veronica says Spencer was only in the world for five minutes before Veronica held her, and that she’s been holding her ever since. Except for all the times she’s been Out of Town, which is basically every day since Spencer turned 15 and the found the first corpse in the garden.
This is only Spencer’s second biggest problem. Her biggest problem is all the Liars’ biggest problems. Noel was not A.D. because he’s in two pieces now and A.D. is still out there sending them gifts. For the final ten episodes, it’s an electronic board game powered by an iPhone and sometimes it pings on and asks you Truth or Dare. And even after all the clowns and dolls and barns and decapitations and trials and talking birds and cheese doodle raccoons and rats and worms and feather earrings, a Liar’s first impulse is always to select the opposite of Truth. When Spencer cranks up the game (after agreeing with the other Liars that none of them will play the game), she chooses Dare. It’s easy: She goes to visit Toby and quotes Gatsby at him and for her effort the machine spits out a letter supposedly penned by Mary Drake. It starts “Dearest” like some kind of Carol Aird and literally says the words “I’m sorry you’ll be a baby born in a madhouse.” Her penmanship is very good, in addition to which I would like to observe that “the madhouse” has its own letterhead and preprinted envelopes.
Oh, the game A.D. sent is called ENDGAME. Just FYI.
Speaking of which: EZRIA!!!!!! Ezra, as you know, is engaged to his former student and stalking victim, Aria. He is also betrothed to a dead girl who was resurrected and has a few broken bones that need to be rebroken and doesn’t know about the engagement he got himself into when she was dead. (None of these engagements are to be confused with the glorious Jackie Molina who was Ezra’s fiancé when Aria first found his Website Page; nor should you confuse them with Alex Mack, the mother of Ezra’s fake baby, Malcolm.) So while Ezra jets up and down the eastern seaboard to deal with his no-longer-kidnapped soon-to-be-ex, Aria takes the advice of the worst fiancé in history, Hanna Marin, and decides to go ahead and start planning her wedding to Ezra so that it will “be ready when he comes back.”
When Aria shows up at Brides R Us, it’s Holden who is working the register. Holden! Remember Holden? He was my favorite hobbit and legal courtship Aria participated in. He says, “Aria Montgomery! You almost gave me a heart attack!” as a way to help you remember that his main storyline was that he belonged to a secret underground society of ninjas that his parents disapproved of because he has Exploding Heart Syndrome. Anyway, JK. Aria didn’t really give him a heart attack.
I love it straight to death when Aria has to explain her whole stupid deal with Ezra to people who haven’t been convinced it’s normal by daily saturation. “And they say high school romance doesn’t last,” Holden quips, and then realizes Aria has no idea what time of the year she wants to get married, just for starters. Or what she wants to wear. Or what food will be there. She clanks a couple of fancy tea cups around, disinterestedly.
The only thing more awkward than this party planning shenanigan is that Paige and Emily and Alison all work at Rosewood High School now, and the only one who has moved past what happened here in their youth is the one who was literally attacked by the building. ACT NORMAL BITCH and all that. Paige is the athletic supervisor, Emily is the Sharks swim team coach, and Alison is still a professor of literature. There is also an administrator named May, who frankly seems dumber than all of them. She was there during their time as students which means, first of all, that she’s aware none of them attended class enough to graduate. You’ve got Emily over here who was addicted to pain pills, getting poisoned by her own sports cream, swam into a wall and nearly killed herself. That’s your coach. You’ve got Paige who had a field hockey penalty named after her, did that ol’ dunkaroo to Emily in the pool, and made a habit of competing in the lightning Olympics with her bike. And Ali. She was dead, she wasn’t dead, every missing girl in Pennsylvania was buried in her empty grave.
May, you know I love all three of these psychos, but aren’t there more qualified candidates? Maybe people have heard the word and stopped moving to this town. (Maybe the real endgame is, as Toby hints, the Liars just blowing up Rosewood and bouncing.)
Paige just wants to wear a blazer and be Emily’s boss and keep rolling with her narrative that Alison is a perpetual victim because she wants to be one and Emily is her perpetual enabler because Ali bewitched her with some kind of curse. Fine and fair. From Paige’s perspective that read makes perfect sense. Ali just wants to feel the touch of Emily’s unconditional love while simultaneously never wanting to feel the touch of Emily’s unconditional love, and she thinks Paige is a brat who tried to drown her perfect mermaid. Also legit from Ali’s point of view. Neither of them work this out like adults who should both: a) not be living anywhere near this town, and b) not be pursuing anything romantic with anyone ever until they’ve completed a mandatory ten-year therapy program. Instead they work it out by snipping at each other across the table from poor May, who just wants to talk about the bake sale.
It’s all “You held Emily underwater.” “Well, you faked your own death.” “Well, I also pulled her ass out of a burning barn.” “Well, I spent an entire season trying to get her to move the fuck outta here.” “We had plans to go to Paris!” “We had plans for diners and donuts!” “You made a thousand masks of your own face!” “You had those bangs!”
Later that night, Emily tells Ali not to try to kiss her again until she’s got her head screwed on straight. Paige orders a bunch of blazers from the Gap and Googles “make my hair even gayer.” And May totters around the cafeteria in the dark mumbling about pizza Friday.
It’s good the writers are giving Emily some romantic entanglements this final season, but the best homosexual thing on Pretty Little Liars continues to be Mona Vanderwaal’s love for Hanna Marin. Hanna wakes up next to Caleb and pinches him “to make sure he’s real.” She decides to focus on her career this week and he says he’ll focus on finding out how many people were shooting at Spencer.
Hanna’s idea of focusing on her career is to sit outside at a coffee shop and color her dress designs real hard. Luckily, Mona peeps her and swaggers in there to make the magic happen. Her mourning over her dead ex-boyfriend Noel Kahn can best be described as: gloriously non-existent. She snaps some pictures of Hanna’s designs and promises to pull a couple of the ten million puppet strings she’s holding in her hand at all times — and lo! Hanna gets a meeting with the celebrity daughter of a senator. Mona’s dressed like the manager of Jem and the Holograms this whole time, by the way, which makes it even more amazing when the senator’s daughter drops by Hanna’s “studio” to try on a dress, loves it, and tells Hanna to have her boss call her.
As casually as Mona fussed with Hanna’s hair pre-meeting, she explains the mix-up by saying she simply exudes “a natural aura of authority and knowledge.” Truest thing anyone’s ever said on this show. Mona makes it right by calling the senator’s daughter to say Hanna knows what Hanna means and that’s that.
The Liars regroup in the barn to shame Spencer for turning on the game. Hanna opts to stab it to death with a giant knife that’s just laying around, but the game springs to life and shows a video of them burying Rollins after the aforementioned car smashing. So, you know, same ol’: Play my game or the incriminating video of you goes public.
Jenna’s sitting in a dark room on a mini-throne drinking some tea and doing some thinking about this and that and the other thing. Why the Liars continue to mock her blindness even though they’re the ones who threw a firecracker at her head and robbed her of her vision, for example. A ghost dressed in scrubs throws a three-ring binder into her lap and she fingers the Braille and smiles like Christmas morning when she gets to the part where it says “endgame.”