Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Boss A (no, for real, you guys) sent the Liars a sentient board game that spits out helpful bits of information and various threats from time to time. A letter from Mary Drake. A video of the Liars burying Rollins after shattering his brains with a car. Veronica confessed that Spencer was, in fact, born in Radley to the twin sister of her dad’s mistress. Hanna got back to the correct business of letting Mona boss her around. Paige and Alison started a slap fight in the teacher’s lounge about who was the shittiest to Emily in their youth. Aria started planning her wedding to Ezra for a time to be determined after his resurrected girlfriend’s bones are rebroken and rehealed. And Alison is pregnant with a mystery baby.
Spencer is taking the Mary Drake news pretty well, on a scale of one to that time her hair turned to lightning and she landed in Radley where she shuffled around in the dark until she decoded the pirate map Mona left behind and found the basement where Ali’s ghost was just a-dancin’. Peter still hasn’t worked out his “passport issues,” but he has called to check in. Spencer doesn’t want to use the phone to talk about the fact that: her birth mother is not her real mother; her whole sister is actually her half-sister; her formerly dead best friend is actually her half-cousin; and her legit dead stalker/kidnapper is also her half-cousin. Melissa has not come home to Rosewood to discuss these issues either. Probably because she thought the messiest thing a person could do is make out with their half-brother, but Spencer’s just gotta win at everything.
Spencer does want to find Mary Drake, though. Ask her a couple of madhouse baby questions. So she bebops on down to her home away from home, the Rosewood Police Department, to talk to Detective Fury about shelving his other APBs and putting one out on Mary. Spencer’s really losing her edge, not only because she asks the police for a favor but also because Fury literally says “you sounded fragile on the phone” right out loud to her and she lets him live. Season three Spencer would’ve had him buried in that hole with Rollins in Annabeth Gish’s Tory Burch boots faster than you could throw a rock and hit a murder clown in this town.
Their investigation into Mary’s whereabouts stalls when Jenna Marshall arrives weaving quite a story. She wasn’t Noel Kahn’s partner, see; she was his blackmailed accomplice. And yeah, she had a gun, but it wasn’t a shootin’ Spencer gun. It was a shootin’ Noel gun, just in case. But he ended up cleaving his own head from his body so she didn’t need it after all. He promised if Jenna helped him, some of Charlotte’s money would go toward getting Jenna another eyeball transplant. Jenna’s like, “You remember, Spencer, why I needed a new pair of eyeballs, don’t you? A second new pair, I mean. You remember why the first ones stopped working?” Spencer does, indeed, remember that Thing. Fury wants to know more but neither of them have the time to explain it.
I do, Fury! Here’s what happened:
Jenna was forcing her stepbrother, Toby, to sleep with her and also she went as Lady Gaga to Noel Kahn’s Halloween party even though Alison explicitly told her she was going as Lady Gaga to that party, and so the Liars sneaked out one night and threw a stink bomb at her in her sex shed. Well, it wasn’t a stink bomb; it was fireworks. Jenna went blind. Toby got a tattoo to commemorate his freedom, and also he went to jail for the fire that destroyed the sex shed. Alison had a really busy day the day Jenna got her blindness diagnosis. She’d been down in Hilton Head teaching her parrot to sing Ezra Fitz’s phone number, and she had plans to do a sleepover with her friends that night and then meet up with Ian at the kissing rock after she drugged her friends to sleep, but first she had to rent a storage locker and hide some sensitive information inside it and then sew the key to the storage locker inside a doll’s head and drop it off at Emily’s house. After that she went to visit Jenna in the hospital and said to stay away from her friends because she had video evidence of her being a monster to Toby and she’d share it with the cops if Jenna didn’t skedaddle.
The night got away from Ali after that. Aria’s dad came by to yell at Alison for knowing he was having an affair. Her brother tried to chop off her head with a hockey stick. Her arch rival, Mona, also tried to chop off her head, with a shovel, but ended up killing an escaped asylum patient who looked like Ali instead. Okay and then an entirely different escaped asylum patient did whack Ali in the head, thinking it was her escaped asylum roommate, and Ali’s mom saw the whole thing from the kitchen window and buried Alison in the backyard. This sorceress from the college in the next town over stopped by and pulled Alison out of her grave (she wasn’t dead, just holding her breath), and then Melissa wandered over and buried the dead asylum patient, thinking it was Alison who had been killed by Spencer.
Alison went to a hotel with Mona and they brushed each other’s hair and then Ali put on a wig and disappeared for a couple of years, letting everyone think she was dead, during which time Jenna taught herself to play the flute and tie cherry stems with her tongue and got her first eyeball transplant (which failed), and she and the Liars have been at each other’s throats ever since.
Anyway, Jenna leaves the police station and spends most of the rest of her day messing with Hanna. The Senator’s Daughter has chosen one of Hanna’s designs, but it’s not one of the designs Hanna offered up. It’s a dress from Hanna’s closet that Mona rummaged around and found before their “boundaries treaty” and Hanna goes a little grapes when Mona shows it to her. The reason why is that Hanna’s old boss gave her most of the ideas for the dress, so Hanna isn’t really sure if it’s her design or her boss’ design. Caleb says it’s Hanna’s design because Hanna’s boss broke them up and also says the dumbest thing that has ever come out of his precious hobo mouth: “If you believed in your talent half as much as I do, you would see this moment for what it is.”
Mona is not around for this conversation because she’s gotta zip here and there for jewelry and a handbag so bedazzled you want to lick it. (What is her job right now? Whatever it is, it is beneath her!) All Hanna has to do is go to this shoemaker to pick up a pair of heels for the Senator’s Daughter to wear to the ball. Well, wouldn’t you know it: Jenna’s outside the building with a couple of her friends getting ready for band practice. Caleb says he’ll handle it so he rushes up and grabs her white cane and menaces her. She smiles at him like a wolf because the list of men who have behaved this way toward her include: Garrett Reynolds (died on a train, stuffed in a box), Cousin Nate (stabbed in the guts, bled out in a lighthouse), Darren Wilden (shot, stashed in the trunk of a car), and Noel Kahn (beheaded). While Caleb is accosting Jenna and she’s planning his death, Hanna sneaks by.
It’s dark as night inside the shoemaker’s shop and of course the building comes to life like a haunted castle and starts attacking Hanna. Sneakers flying at her head; boots marching toward her, using laces as lassos; sandals flapping around in her face like so many evil butterflies. A pair of kitten heels locks her in the cage(?) where the cobbler keeps his blacksmith grinding wheel(??) and she starts having flashbacks to last season when she was trapped in that strobe light barn getting hosed down in her underwear. Luckily Caleb rushes in and frees her from the cage before an army of Clogs can clomp her to death.
Later as Mona and Hanna are debriefing this witchery, Jenna arrives at the Radley Wine Bar wearing Hanna’s design! It is a fine comeuppance for Hanna who said only just this morning that Jenna cannot tell if her shirt is on inside out. Parenthetically, I’m not exactly what you’d call “stylish” but this dress that Hanna and Mona and Jenna and the Senator’s Daughter are freaking out about is literally what the employees of the Marbella wear on Jane the Virgin every week, so I’m not sure it’s that big of a fashion coup. I’m also not sure why a random girl wearing the dress in a random bar in a random town puts a wrench in the Senator’s Daughter’s plans. Is she worried about an investigative fashion reporter coming to town and doing a deep dive on who wore it first/better, because if so, someone should tell her that investigative reporting doesn’t work inside the Rosewood city limits.
Case in point: This magazine guy shows up looking to do a feel good piece on local author Ezra Fitz being reunited with his once dead fiancé and Aria snaps, “She’s not his fiancé; I’m his fiancé!” And that’s that.
Aria spends the day in the kitchen with Holden, chopping tomatoes and fretting about whether or not Ezra was engaged to Nicole and didn’t tell her. She spends more time worrying if Ezra omitted this fact than she did about those several years Ezra omitted the facts of his secret double life writing a secret true crime novel about her dead best friend behind her back. She gets so worked up about Ezra and Nicole being engaged she buys some saltwater taffy and flies to New York to sneak into Nicole’s hospital and ask her. And Holden also flies to New York to stop her. And then they eat pizza. (Remember Ezra’s brother who attacked those guys with that pizza that time?)
Holden says Ezra just needs some time. Holden says this is much harder on Ezra than it is on Aria. Holden says some people have real problems, Emily.
To wit, Ali and Paige and Emily are at it again with their Rosewood High School shenanigans. There’s this entirely new character named Addison who is a jerk and she wants to do bong hits with her boyfriend instead of homework and swim team practice, so she invents a story about how Emily is a molester of high school students. Addison says Emily stands too close and touches too much and gets weird with the students in the shower and blah blah lesbian predator blah blah. There’s more discussion, suspense, and investigation about whether or not Emily’s going to get into trouble for being inappropriate with students in one episode than there was about Ezra Fitz’s bullshit in seven seasons. And Ezra Fitz WAS AN ACTUAL PREDATOR.
Emily and Paige talk about their long sordid history and secrets out loud in the locker room, and then Emily and Ali do the same out loud in a classroom, and Addison is like, “Well, since these bitches never learned to whisper or close a door…” And she snaps a photo of Emily tucking Ali’s hair behind her ear and shows it to Paige to try to rile her up. But Addison is an amatuer. She brags about lying about Emily being gross with her in an email, and then one of her teammates forwards the email to the principal. Hide your secrets in a lair filled with masks and drones and trophies covered in rat’s blood or don’t have secrets at all, Addison.
Alison is worried that her baby is going to grow up to be like Addison because Addison reminds her of herself, but for one thing, Addison clearly does not have adrenalized hyperreality. And for another thing, it’s Emily’s baby, Alison. Come on.
A.D.’s game gives Emily and Ali another literal puzzle piece, and Spencer deduces that A.D. is building them a map to take them to a place to show them some things. Is it just me or does this A.D. actually seem kind of helpful? I hope Spencer is right and this is a map right the fuck out of Rosewood and as the Liars follow it past the city limit sign in the finale, a gloved hand paints the population to zero and the entire town just goes up in flames. Mona pulls up in a car like she did the night she rescued Ali after she died. The Liars pile in the back. “Game over,” Mona chirps. “I win.” In the passenger seat, Maya St. Germain hits play on Lemonade and they ride off into the night.