Pretty Little Liars season finale recap: Taking This One to the Grave
One Liar lands in jail just as another high schooler lands in a body bag.
A Pretty Little Liars finale is essentially what fans want out of the show every week. There’s intrigue; there’s humor; there’s romance; and there’s real, disturbing, potentially traumatizing drama. Those are the things that combine to make Rosewood a place worth revisiting, and this finale had all of them. In fact, this finale did what every episode has tried to do all season: It finally took Alison to the next stage of character development.
Five seasons ago, Ali was the mean girl whose life ended too soon. Then she became the former mean girl whose life had been taken from her by an anonymous bully. Now? She’s gone full-on Heisenberg. Wait, there’s a more relevant Breaking Bad reference here: Ali has gone full-on Todd. That’s right. She’s a sociopath.
After years of lies, that’s what the girls have deduced, thanks to the help of Mona. And that’s what has led us to the crime scene at the start of the hour, where Aria, Ezra, Hanna, and Emily stand outside of a house as the police ask for their statements. But just as “A” texts to let them know that it’s all their fault, we flash back 36 hours prior to the crime, where Ali is taking a (voluntary) polygraph at the police station and the Liars are gathered at Mona’s house.
At first, Mona refuses to help the girls take down Ali based on the fact that she’s already number one on Ali’s hit list—she has no idea—but if she can’t help them, she will apologize to them. In a major red-flag moment, Mona apologizes to the Liars for taking out her anger toward Ali on them. And then once again redeeming herself, she changes her mind and calls Lucas to report a “Code A.”
Only, what Mona discovers when she gets to The Brew is that her army has now become Ali’s army. All Crazy Mona has left is Lucas and four desperate Liars in need of help. So she agrees to help them, but in secret. More specifically, in the bathroom, where they come to the conclusion that Ali is quite literally a sociopath.
According to their theory, Ali constructed the perfect group of friends to manipulate in order to keep herself amused. She’s got Spencer, the smart one, Emily, the loyal one, Hanna, the admirer, and Aria, the compassionate one. It’s like Ali and her four dwarves. Only, these dwarves are sick of being treated like crap. And as soon as they realize that Ali must’ve gone to the cops to end the game, they see that, in order to end a game, Ali has to be running it. What game? The one Mona started. Just like that, we’ve got our “A.”
So while Mona goes out to get some information on Ali’s confession, the Liars use their time to meet up with what Mona calls their “bed buddies.” Aria and Ezra spend their time making his grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, which he’s been invited to, while Paige finally shuts Emily up with a kiss in the hallway. And it must’ve been a decent kiss because it lands Paige an invite to help Emily decorate her house for Christmas. Also decorating are Caleb and Hanna, who seem to be on good terms. And then there’s Spencer, who gets to see her man in uniform for the first time. And because the very idea of reality is a moot point in Rosewood, Toby is already graduating from his super-speedy police academy. He came to remind Spencer about tonight’s ceremony. She says she’ll be there. Spoiler: She won’t.
But it won’t be because she’s dead. It will be because Ali is framing her for just about everything. Namely, Bethany Young’s murder. When Mona gets her hands on Ali’s confession, the Liars hear Ali talk about Spencer’s drug problem on the night she disappeared. And by the time Caleb shows up—Hanna can’t resist telling that face absolutely everything—things only get worse. Apparently, he found out that Ali is completely off the hook for Bethany’s murder, and Spencer is 100 percent on it. In the police’s mind, Ali found out Spencer’s drug problem and promised her she would keep quiet. And then, to gain favor with Ali, Spencer murdered Bethany. Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense, but it’s Rosewood, so you know.
NEXT: “A” commits murder
Operation: Steal all of Bethany’s records from Radley is a go! Literally, Hanna is saying “Code: Go” into her headset. Who put that girl in charge anyway? On the ground, we have Spencer and Mona, interesting choices considering both are former patients at Radley. This just proves that Radley is full of the worst nurses in the world, and not only because they dress like they’re stuck in WWII. Do they really not recognize their former patients? Guess not. And no, they don’t see that gigantic headset either. Really, Mona? You have military-grade encryption software, but you can’t get a bluetooth?
With Hanna and Caleb in the car and Aria inside “volunteering,” Emily is stuck at home distracting Ali, who claims she “seriously” saw the hair rise on the back of Em’s neck when she said hello. Ali, you did not “seriously” see the hair rise. A) You’re 20 feet away from her. B) You do not have some sort of laser vision that allows you to see through Emily’s luscious locks, which is currently covering the back of her neck. Anyway, Emily tries to convince Ali that she wants to make up, but after falling for an age-old trick and leaving her phone with Ali for half a second, Ali reads a text from Hanna about Holbrook showing up at Radley. Again, ladies. When you have a cyber stalker, put a lock code on your phone.
Emily confronts Ali by asking if she’s “A,” but Ali storms out and gets into a car with the twins, whose names are Cindy and Mindy. (That sentence sums up everything wonderful about this show.) Paige decides to follow Ali in her car and claims that they drove out to an abandoned farm filled with a dozen cars. Seriously, Ali has an army.
She also has a connection to Bethany, and it’s a big one. In the recordings of Bethany’s sessions, Bethany talks about how she thought Mrs. D liked her but that it had been a lie. Turns out, Mrs. DiLaurentis had an affair with Bethany’s father and had been visiting Bethany at Radley. Brief pause for theories! So Mrs. D had multiple affairs? Or is Peter Hastings also Bethany’s father? Or could it be that Bethany’s father was also Ali’s father? Considering how close Ali and Bethany were in age, could the twin theory come into play here?
And break! Back to the action: On the way out of Radley, Spencer gets a call from Toby who’s rushing to his graduation when he gets into a car accident. But don’t panic! Cadet Toby only broke some bones. He’ll be fine. By Thanksgiving day, he’s all patched up and ready to eat, unlike Spencer, whom Holbrook arrests for the murder of Bethany Young. But Operation: Get Spencer Out of Jail will have to wait.
Back in her room, Mona is hard at work listening to Bethany’s recordings. Just as Ezra arrives at Aria’s, Mona calls the compassionate Liar to reveal that Ali had lured Bethany to Rosewood. Ali knew about her mother’s affair and was jealous. Mona claims that Ali wanted Bethany dead. Then, Mona says the words we’ve been waiting to hear: “Alison is ‘A’ and I now I can prove it.” Well Mona, you definitely shouldn’t practice threats in a mirror, especially when a hooded blonde, who we can only assume it Ali, is standing right behind you.
By the time the Liars get to Mona’s house, there’s blood everywhere. Like, everywhere. The police haven’t found Mona’s body, but they’re declaring it a homicide based on the amount of blood lost. Mona was murdered, a fact that doesn’t make sociopathic Ali so much as bat an eyelash.
And in the final moments of the episode, we get the show’s weakest moment, followed by its most daring. “A” going to Emily’s front yard nativity scene and swapping the baby Jesus for the Mona doll felt forced and too over-the-top, even for Rosewood. Just as a general guideline, let’s leave Jesus out of things, huh “A”? But as for the show’s most daring moment, when “A” retreated to his/her car, Mona’s dead body was lying in the trunk. The camera zoomed in on her face first, and then slowly, her open eye.
For an ABC Family show, this is one of those moments that’s so disturbing that it deserves a round of applause. When it chooses to, Pretty Little Liars can really push the envelope of what it means to create teen drama. With that one moment alone, the story of a cyber bully fully became that of a sociopath, as if fans had stopped watching high school drama and walked into Dexter‘s world. It was risky. It was bold. And it was the show’s shining moment.
(Current) top suspect: Alison DiLaurentis
What did you all think of the finale? Were you shocked by Mona’s death? Is Ali “A”?