Spencer’s back in the interrogation room at the Rosewood Police Department. She’s spent more time sitting here than she has at her own family’s dining room table, and it shows. The RPD Detective she isn’t dating is hammering her with questions about how she murdered Archer but she doesn’t crack. Every time she says “I don’t recall” her power grows and his strength is diminished. By the end, she’s spitting it out before he can get the questions out of his mouth. He says she should slow down. She cocks her eyebrow at him and is like, “That’s the opposite of what Detective Marco Fury was saying when I whipped off his belt in the elevator the night we’re reminiscing about right now.” Fury comes in and tells her to lawyer up. She accidentally used Archer Dunhill’s credit card to buy drinks the night he died and as soon as he finds the receipt she’s going to prison for eternity.
When Spencer tells the Liars about Dunhill’s credit card, Hanna flips her lid and starts hollering about how dare Spencer get drunk on that night and what was she thinking and she put them all at risk mishandling evidence, etc. Which is hearty talk coming from the girl who slept with Spencer’s boyfriend that very night and also one time got drunk at a frat party and tried to bury a gun in the yard. Okay and I remember an entire season Hanna was so fucked up about how she became Ali after Ali died that she drank every beer in Rosewood while wearing splatter-painted jeans and being rude as hell to Emily.
Really, though, Hanna’s lashing out because she feels guilty because of the aforementioned Caleb situation. Her plan to assuage her shame and foil Detective Marco Fury is to break into the Radley’s receipt room and destroy the Dunhill receipt. Caleb can help because obviously Caleb set up the Radley’s security system so obviously he knows how to take it offline for ten minutes at a time. They sneak into the receipt room while everyone else is in a staff meeting but there are about a hundred thousand boxes in there and they can’t find what they’re looking for and their time is running out so Caleb just floods the place. These two are so very made for each other. Remember when Hanna tried to destroy A by throwing her phone into the garbage disposal?
While Hanna and Caleb are engaging in their shenanigans, Spencer goes to Detective Marco Fury’s apartment where he does not invite her to take off her jacket but does invite himself to explain the justice system to her, which is just about the most hilarious thing I have ever heard in my life. The number of times the Liars have been tossed into an interrogation or a holding cell or community service or jail or an asylum because the police in this town came after them instead of the people who were torturing them has got to be close to a billion. Spencer actually tries to explain this, that in her experience the only justice for victims happens when the victims themselves stop their predators by whatever means necessary. The Khaleesi Method, if you will. She begs him to let this one slide. But he can’t. So she just goes ahead and helps herself to the evidence he’s got laying around on his coffee table.
Said evidence is a flash drive of Lucas telling the police that maybe the Liars did, in fact, kill Charlotte, even though Lucas explicitly told Hanna that he had their backs re: an alibi on that night. Hanna still stands up for him, though, even though everyone takes a turn explaining why Lucas probably still has it out for them.
Conspicuously absent from their list is the reason he hated Alison so much from day one: “Hermie.” I had actually thought the writers might try to tie that into his relationship with Charlotte, her being his best friend from childhood and a trans woman and all that, and I’m relieved they didn’t. They have shown no inclination to get any of this stuff right, as evidenced by the fact that the Liars’ confrontation with Lucas ends with him misnaming and misgendering Charlotte over and over. Plus: I guess she was catfishing him? Truly nothing like making a trans woman your psychotic villain, murdering her, and then giving her a posthumus duplicitous internet personality storyline. It just goes from worst to worst-er. Charlotte was emailing with Lucas pretending to be Charles during earlier seasons and together they made some comic books — excuse me, graphic novels — about how Ali was the worst. Which doesn’t even make sense: Ali was the one thing Charlotte loved above everyone and everything else! Why would she be making murder books with Lucas about her?
I give up. Which means after all these years I finally have something in common with Aria.
Remember when you had to go deep in the forest and sit still in a barber’s chair in a ramshackle cabin to give your face away? Lord, but times have changed. Aria is now taking orders from Aria over FaceTime and she didn’t even have to spend a single the night in the woods. Today Aria commands herself to break into Ali’s house and wreck the new nursery. Hang some Little Liar dolls above the crib, smash and stomp on things, splash blood all over the place. That sort of thing. I am still unclear about why Aria is doing this. I think it’s to keep Ezra out of jail because A.D. knows he’s a statutory rapist, but, like, doesn’t literally everyone in the galaxy already know that? His predatory and illegal relationship with Aria hasn’t been a secret since season two.
At least Aria’s literal bloodbath keeps her away from Ezra, who has started his book tour. His publisher wants him to act like he and Nicole are happily reunited and Happy Ever After and all that, which is fine with Aria; she has somehow realized the best she can hope for at this point is Ezra making bank on this book so at least their dumb future together won’t be hampered by poverty. At a reading at the Brew, Ezra tells this group of adoring ladies that he’s not with Nicole anymore and is, instead, engaged to his former student, Aria Montgomery. They don’t react. They just sit there with glazed eyes staring at him. It’s actually kind of haunting. I’d have chop off my own ear to see them come to life, and — as one glassy-eyed mass — devour him. A group of women tearing Ezra Fitz to shreds, fighting over and gnawing on his limbs would be just the endorphin boost I need to get through these last three episodes.
Sadly, they do not cannibalize him. He goes home to Aria and she’s like, “Sure, fine.”
All right. Let’s do this Emison thing. Which, if I’m being honest, seems like exactly what someone said out loud in the writer’s room when it was time to plot out the last half of this season. I know y’all want me to weave gold from straw one more time and paint you the most beautiful word poem about these two finally getting together. And maybe a side poem that gives Paige the send off she deserves. But may I be candid with you? If these writers had collectively and consistently given a fraction of the care to Emily’s relationships that I gave to honoring those relationships by breathing my whole heart into coloring in their lines, you would not need a word poem or a recap from me. What happened on screen would speak for itself and we would all be a blubbering mess on our bedroom floors. Alison and Emily’s final moments in this episode should have been the climax of the entire show. As it is Alison cannot even answer the simple question that should have been the writers’ through line from day one: Why did she keep pulling at Emily and pushing at Emily and hurting her and holding her close and begging her to go away?
The closest you ever get to this answer is in this show’s most glorious episode, “Shadow Play,” during which Joseph Dougherty penned a diary entry from Ali about Emily called The Mermaid. “Shadow Play” is the essence of Pretty Little Liars distilled. One of the greatest hours of TV ever made and certainly the best thing PLL ever did. The craftsmanship and care that went into every movement, every line of dialogue. It was a character study and a love letter that honored every one of these women, and especially Paige and Emily and Alison.
Now, though: Here is Emily creating a nursery for the baby Ali’s carrying. Here is Emily building a crib and enduring questions from Spencer about what in the world she’s thinking tying herself to Ali like this. Here is Emily snapping at Ali to take her vitamins like they’re proof Ali has worked through every way Emily makes her tremble and decided to really, truly stay. Here is Emily holding Ali close as A wages war on the next generation. Didn’t Paige leave yesterday in Rosewood time? Emily begging her to stay and suggesting some kind of parenting throuple and holding her cracked heart open in her hands, and it’s 24 hours later and Ali says she’s made up her mind and she wants to make this whole family thing work with Emily, and they’re kissing and the music says its endgame. (If you ever go back and rewatch this show, notice how the music goes berserk every time you’re getting sold on an emotional moment where the writers didn’t do the work; when Emily and Sarah Harvey kiss it’s basically the Hallelujah Chorus at ear-splitting decibels.)
This moment should be everything. And I mean everything. This moment where the resurrected Dead Blonde Girls throws off the chains of the patriarchal power structure that has kept her oppressed and abused and on the run for her entire goddamn life by claiming her queerness and laying hold of the one woman who saw every angle of her vulnerability and brilliance and madness and never stopped loving her.
Instead you’ve got a sloppy love triangle in which no one’s motivations make any sense and it ends with Emily asking the ultimate why of Alison Dilaurentis — the crux of this entire show — and Alison answering, “I don’t know.” The things you spent five entire seasons pondering? The hinge of my entire personality and the explanation for at least half my behavior? Shrug! She says all her relationships failed because she was really in love with Emily, but THAT’S INSANE. Ali’s relationships were with Ian Thomas, who stalked and videoed her and her underage friends and staturory raped her; Ezra Fitz, who needs no introduction; Cyrus Petrillo, who slashed her up in a basement when she was homeless; two adult male cops who were investigating her kidnapping and attempted murder; her dead husband who drugged and tortured and impregnated her with her friend’s eggs and some unknown sperm without her knowledge or consent; and heavenly Emily Fields. Ali’s relationships didn’t fail with those predators and monsters because she was in love with Emily; those weren’t even relationships.
Can I just.
Truly, I must.
“You’ve always protected me, Em.”
“Then why did you always push me away?”
“Because I didn’t want to need protection. I saw things I shouldn’t have, knew things I shouldn’t know. I made myself hard to survive, and I tried to make you and the others hard for the same reason.”
“I thought — after you left, I spent years thinking you hated me. For how I felt about you.”
“I hated myself, for letting you get so close, for wanting you, for hoping you might see me — really see me — and want me too. I’ve never been good enough for you.”
“You’ve never seen yourself the way I do.”
“I know. It’s terrified me. It still terrifies me.”
“Because I’ve never stopped wanting you.”
“I want you, Emily. In every way. And the family me and you and this baby could make together.”
This pregnancy storyline would still be gross as all get out but at least something would make sense. At least someone would have tried to tie the fractured pieces of Alison DiLaurentis’ character together. This whole show should have been building to this moment. The payoff should have flattened us. But it’s puppets now; you can see the strings hanging down over a stage of slapdash sticks. A billion hours of Ezra Fitz’s bullshit and this hurried insult for the couple whose story could have shaken the queer storytelling canon down to its foundations.
The Risen Mitten is doing some art at the end of Charlotte and Lucas’ graphic novel. It’s a tree and there’s a gravestone underneath it. I guess the final chapter takes place in Spencer’s backyard.