Pretty Little Liars recap: 'Choose or Lose'
We’re down to the final three episodes of PLL — and fortunately, this week moved things right along and raised the stakes in the process
Ali and Emily are at home in their love nest when they decide to go back up to bed. But there’s a surprise waiting for them: The game — complete with the big new puzzle piece Aria “won” last week — is sitting there waiting to be played.
But just as they start to wonder whether A.D. might still be in the house, there’s a knock at the door. It’s the cops, who, armed with search warrants, proceed to hit each of the Liars’ houses. And yes, they take their phones. The search is bad enough, but Emily and Ali are clearly in a panic about how they’ll explain the game. Turns out they don’t have to worry about it: By the time a cop makes it up there, the game has vanished as quietly as it came.
Spencer takes charge of the situation and storms into the police station. But instead of Furey, she finds Det. Tanner in his place. She explains to Spencer that Furey told her everything about their relationship and took himself off the case. Now, Tanner says she’s giving Spencer a chance to tell the truth. Of course, Spencer doesn’t take that bait (or that life preserver). She leaves, but not without getting some threatening words from Tanner, ripped straight from a network cop drama: “You should know something: I’m a closer.”
At The Brew, Ezra is fighting with the cops, asking for a list of what they can and can’t seize. As he follows the police out the door, Aria gets a phone call — but not from her phone that the cops took. A.D. has hidden another one, just for her, inside a vent. Aria’s getting close to the end of her rope, so she stands up to A.D. “I want to meet you… I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me.” A.D. hesitates, but eventually agrees to a time and place — as long as Aria wears The Uniform.
In a quick flash of a scene, we see Mona hanging up a call. So was she making the call as A.D.? Or just spying on Aria to protect her? I don’t know how she’d be able to hack into that brand-new phone if she weren’t involved in some way… but it also feels too ridiculous for Mona to be a part of this again.
Ashley Marin, meanwhile, has figured out that Hanna needs help but can’t figure out exactly why. Still, like the good mother she is, she lets the gang (plus Caleb, minus Aria) hang out in a Radley suite. Spencer’s gotten them all burner phones, but they’re all a little confused about why Aria isn’t there. Emily and Ali let it slip that they’re together (to which the responses are just “cool” and “about time”), and Caleb talks about a program he’s writing to track the game’s internet connection via cell towers.
But soon things get serious, when Hanna finds the cell phone from the game on a room service platter. It goes off immediately: “CHOOSE OR LOSE. Just one plea, the rest go free. If no one steps up, you all go down.” Then a countdown of 36 hours starts.
Of course, Mona enters, right on cue, and tells them if they want an explanation, they could try asking Aria. “I think she’s on the A.D. team.”
Spencer asks for details, and Mona reminds them that Aria wasn’t at the school or Ezra’s book event the night of the locker incident, and that she was the only one near the Hastings’ house when that creepy recording started playing. Oh, and Mona saw her get a puzzle piece at The Brew. She even plays a recording of the phone call between Aria and A.D., but Spencer still wants “concrete proof.” Mona consents, but warns, “Just remember. You asked for it.”
Just outside that room, in the Radley hotel bar, Spencer runs into Toby, who’s sporting a thick widower’s beard and looks like he’s been through a lot (I mean, he has). He’s in town because Tanner called him in for questioning, but he invites Spencer to come join him at his cabin if she wants. Spencer turns the conversation back to the investigation, and Toby says he doesn’t know what Tanner has, but she seems to be building a solid case.
After dodging a questioning Ezra, Aria races out of the apartment to meet A.D. at — where else? — a creepy, empty playground. A.D. texts and says, “You DO look good in uniform,” but when Aria heads into the woods, she runs straight into the girls. (Thanks, Mona!)
To her credit, she confesses immediately that she was trying to meet A.D. They’re hurt and furious, obviously, but even after Aria explains her case with the police report, they aren’t letting her off the hook. Emily mentions the “Choose or Lose” order, which Aria knows nothing about. It’s Spencer, though, who actually seems the most angry — even after Aria reminds her that she once kidnapped Ezra’s kid for A. It does nothing. “Because of you, my parents are getting a divorce,” Spencer seethes. “You’ve ruined everything I ever had.” Hang on, when did Spencer forgive her creepy, good-for-nothing father?! When he gave a speech about protecting his family? Get out of here, Spencer!
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The fight ends when Tanner summons them to the station — though Spencer makes Aria find her own ride. At Rosewood PD, Tanner outlines the evidence she has against them: pieces of glass from Lucas’ windshield in Spencer’s shower drain, plenty of Radley hotel footage… oh, and apparently none of these idiots know how to clear their search histories, and I personally think they should go to jail for that alone. Anyway, she can’t actually arrest any of them right then, so they go home.
In the car, Aria calls A.D., even angrier than before. “I don’t like being lied to!” she yells. “You were never going to meet me. You just wanted to blow up our lives. You got me to turn against everyone I love.” A.D. says their relationship isn’t over until they say it is (scary) and then Aria can’t even press the END button on the phone. But just as she’s about to chuck it out the window, A.D. says, “Don’t… tomorrow’s another day.”
The other Liars are sitting around at The Brew trying to figure out what to do about the whole “Choose” situation. Someone moans about going to jail, and Emily says, “This time around is kind of special… we did kill a guy.” True!
Hanna asks if anyone noticed anything different about Mona, but no one really takes her seriously. As if on cue, the phone goes off: They have 24 hours left to choose. They go around blaming themselves — Hanna because she was driving, Spencer because she used that credit card, Ali because she, uh, married “whatever his name was.” Then Emily reminds Spencer that she should really be the most understanding about Aria, because “A.D. convinced you to play the game first.” Thank you, Emily!
Someone else is spitting truths… but not exactly the welcome kind. Ashley Marin asks Caleb what’s really going on with Hanna and who she’s covering for about Archer Dunhill, and Caleb finally just tells her the truth. (Truth seems to be a new theme for these final three episodes, which makes sense.) Hanna is pissed at first, but they’re in love, so it’s all fine. She apologizes for getting Caleb involved in all these messes over the years, but something tells us he doesn’t mind.
Spencer heads to Aria’s, not exactly to apologize to her, but something close to it. Aria does apologize, and Spencer says, “I wish I could forgive you, but I might have misjudged you.” Still, she admits that, “None of us is blameless, so I do want to say I’m sorry for—”
They’re interrupted by a knock at the door: It’s the police bringing Aria’s files back. It seems Tanner has gotten proof that Aria was in New Hampshire, 300 miles away, on the night of Archer’s murder. Um, WHAT? A.D. providing Aria a solid (and fabricated) alibi?
Soon, Ezra comes home and explains that he found the police report. Aria apologizes for ever writing it, and Ezra (rightly) acknowledges that he started their relationship with a lie. But Aria brushes that off and says she’s going to tell him everything… right after they hook up one more time, “Because I’m not sure you’ll still be here when I’m done.”
As they reconnect, Emily and Ali have a romantic, night picnic in the woods, and Spencer visits Toby’s cabin. Everyone is having their “It might be our last night before jail” rendezvous, but Caleb and Hanna are doing it even bigger.
Caleb surprises Hanna by taking her to a justice of the peace that Ashley — their marriage witness — has convinced to stay open after hours. Ashley tells Hanna she’s already hired a lawyer for all that murder stuff… but first, they can get married and enjoy their evening. YAY! So here’s the wedding we were teased all season. But I still wonder… will we get another? Clearly, all the rest of the couples are in relatively good places, too…
The next day, the Liars (plus Caleb) all gather together for the countdown to run out. Well, everyone except Aria. Hanna makes everyone swear that no matter what happens, everyone else has to understand. The timer goes, and the phone says, “CHOOSE OR LOSE. WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE?” Spencer makes the choice for them: She smashes the phone with a rock. (“Why didn’t we think of that earlier?” Hanna says.)
Then, Caleb’s cell tower-tracker program finally gets a hit, so he calls his bro Ezra to investigate.
Meanwhile, Aria is alone in the apartment, and she calls A.D. one last time. She tells them she’s going to turn herself in to Tanner for the murder, but A.D. says it’s too late. “Time ran out. The game is over. And guess what? You won. The prize chosen especially for you is an unlimited supply of freedom.” Then the phone literally self-destructs by setting itself on fire. Aria finds her own phone in the police box and calls Spencer, racing out to her car.
She’s telling Spencer’s voicemail that she thinks she’s found a way to make things right, when something happens to her car. She stops it, gets out, and opens the trunk… to find Archer’s dead body sitting inside. (Well, we think it’s him: It’s missing the right finger.) Of course the cops pull up right as she slams the trunk closed.
Meanwhile, Caleb and Ezra follow the location signal… all the way to Mona’s. They’re watching her through some sort of thermal camera that can see through walls (like, what? Is that real? Can a regular 20-something in Pennsylvania buy something like that?!). They don’t enter the apartment, but we do… and there’s Mona, looking lovingly, curiously at the game, as a little jail cell pops up out of the grass. Mona puts her glasses on to look closer, and a little half smile twitches onto her lips.
So… is she still a red herring? Is Mona involved somehow? And what’s the status on the Spencer-twin theory? Did Toby get a long enough mourning period? Is anyone going to congratulate Hanna and Caleb? Should Aria marry a man who knew she was in high school when they got together?
We’ll see if the final two episodes answer any of these questions. I can’t believe we’re this close!