The season 5B premiere puts Ali behind bars and solves absolutely nothing for the Liars.

By Abby Johnston
Updated March 11, 2015 at 04:17 PM EDT
Pretty Little Liars Recap
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC Family

Our favorite Liars are back in black (as per usual), as the midseason premiere of Pretty Little Liars opens at Mona Vanderwaal’s funeral. Seriously, it’s uncanny how many funeral-appropriate outfits the fabulous foursome have at their disposal. Then again, these girls know the stages of grief like the back of their hands.

Over the years, they’ve done this song and dance with their actually-not-dead best friend, a corrupt cop, a sister’s ex, said not-dead best friend’s mom, and other disposable Rosewoodians, all of which makes them the perfect candidates to deal with the pretty insane and definitely atypical aftermath of Mona’s death. Much like loyal viewers of Pretty Little Liars, Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily aren’t phased by bumps in the road. And season 5B has set itself up to have a lot of those.

The girls find themselves, three months after Mona’s demise, singing yet another swan song to their high school classmate. Everyone is convinced that Alison is Mona’s killer, which easily explains her absence from the ceremony. So when Ali shows up to assure Mrs. Vanderwaal—at her own daughter’s funeral, mind you—that she definitely didn’t kill Mona, Mrs. V slaps the bejeezus out of her.

By this point, the Liars face the funeral crasher without batting an eyelash, somehow managing to diffuse the situation without mussing a hair on their loosely curled heads. And Alison, if you really wanted to convince people that you didn’t kill someone, you could start by not showing up to confront her mother in a pink floral dress. Apparently she doesn’t have quite the amount of funeral experience as the rest of them.

So, can we talk about that slap? Mrs. Vanderwaal did something we’ve all wanted to do to Ali at some point. Even if you buy into the sympathy that the show occasionally asks you to feel for Alison, she is an undeniably frustrating character. Later in the episode, Aria calls it the “slap heard ’round the world.” I also feel that this could be more symbolic of this newfound pact that the Liars have against Ali. Everyone has lost any patience or, at least, basic-level trust in her, and they seem hell-bent on bringing her down within the remainder of this season.

Anyway, when we last saw the girls, they were at an uncharacteristically carefree Christmas soiree with their significant others, which was basically the gathering of the hottest people in Rosewood. Everything seemed to be going well until perma-Grinch “A” strung a not-so-festive holiday wish into the side of the barn: “Merry Christmas, bitches.” Of course, the holiday bliss needed to end. (Remind me to never do Christmas vacation in suburban Pennsylvania.)

NEXT: Baby, you’re a firework

So now, it’s time for the post-holiday hiccups. New testimony that put Spencer in the backyard at the time of Bethany Young’s murder might mean that her bail will be revoked. Aria is dealing with her sulky brother (alright, we’ll give him credit, his girlfriend did just die) and not getting into any of the six colleges she applied to. Hanna’s best frenemy just died, and frenemy’s mom is offloading some pretty heavy shit on Han. And, finally, Emily’s girlfriend is being forced by her parents to move to California to escape the toxic McMansion suburb that has turned her existence into a living hell.

The new year also means new levels of creepy. Cue the return of Mrs. Grunwald! Remember that blue-eyed soothsayer who was kicking around Ravenwood? She’s back, enlisted by Hanna to help find Mona’s missing body, which can apparently be done by sniffing the rose on Mona’s tomb and holding a stuffed dog. It seems as if Grunwald will be here for a bit, so expect some pretty measured, almost monosyllabic nonsense this season. Thus far, the only thing Grunwald has revealed with her powers is that Mona is in the ground and surrounded by insects. If you needed to call in a psychic to tell you that Mona’s body is probably buried, then all of this turmoil has taught you nothing, Hanna.

In their first mission to bring Alison down, the girls band together to chip away at her alibi at the time of Mona’s death. First, Spencer goes after her half-brother Jason with some sisterly love terrifying yelling, reminding him that Alison is likely a sociopath and, despite that, the DiLaurentis parents loved her more than him. That, accompanied with some not-so-subtle hints from Hanna to Mona’s mother that there could be cameras in the house (which she already knew after Spencer and Em broke in), and Ali’s alibi is shattered thanks to some devastating footage showing Mona fighting off her blonde attacker.

With that, Ali is opened back up as a suspect and subsequently arrested. In light of this information, Spencer is also let off the hook, saying that they now suspect Ali for the murder of Bethany. So, season’s over! We know who “A” is! It was delivered with a friggin’ bow on top. Her name is Alison! It starts with an “A!”

Buuut, as with everything in Pretty Little Liars, it can’t be that easy, which can mostly be deduced by the number of episodes they have left to fill. Alison’s ominous warnings as she was being arrested blatantly pointed to the hypothesis that she isn’t “A.” And a strange attack on Aria in Ezra’s newly purchased bookshop (RIP The Brew) casts doubt on the hunky older boyfriend. Also, why is Toby all of a sudden a cop who is actually allowed to work on his girlfriend’s case?

At least for a moment toward the end of the episode, the girls seem to be at peace. Ebullient pop music plays over the scene as they discuss future “A”-free plans in the backyard. They are done with college applications. Maybe this is their real chance to carry on with their ridiculously hot partners without fear of their lives being disrupted by a dangerous stalker. And as they pause to watch the fireworks shooting across the sky, three streaks of red interrupt their happiness. The streaks cross over one another one by one, forming that one fateful, familiar letter. “A.” And as the sparks fade into the night sky, so does the girls’ chance of ever working through this in therapy.

The only thing we can know with certainty is that we might never know if Alison is the mastermind behind this all. And in the back of our minds, we know that there is some absurd plot twist on the horizon that will flip the story around to make “A” look like someone else entirely. It’s best just to let these things play out.

Episode Recaps


Pretty Little Liars

Four little liars and a being named “A” (who may or may not be the fifth little liar) try to live their lives in Rosewood. It’s complicated.

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