Charlotte's killer is revealed — and someone goes to jail for Archer Dunhill's death
I can’t believe the penultimate episode of PLL has already come and gone… and it wasn’t really that great of an episode! Here’s hoping for a shocking, satisfying finale (where the resolutions still somehow feel inevitable) next week.
When the episode opens, it seems like Det. Tanner is going to get her way: She’s fast-tracking her arrest warrants for the Liars, and Aria’s having trouble swatting away the helpful cop who keeps buzzing around trying to help her with her car trouble. You know, the car Archer Dunhill’s body mysteriously got dumped into!
The gang has gathered, sans Aria, to discuss Mona being A.D. (do you guys not know there’s one more episode? There’s no way she’s A.D.). Ezra is there, and he’s furious at the way the Liars treated Aria, especially since all of them have made mistakes. When he storms out to look for her, Caleb follows and helps him track her location.
Meanwhile, Aria’s holding a conversation with the corpse that keeps rolling around in her trunk. “Keep it quiet back there, I’m trying to think,” she says, before running through her options, hearing another thump, and saying, “Good. Glad you agree.” I admit, this was funny — but did anyone else feel that the writing was a little extra this week? I felt like they were trying to shoehorn more jokes than usual into every conversation, and some of the dialogue felt stilted.
Anyway, our newlyweds, Caleb and Hanna, go to stalk Mona — who gets a message on the Two Crows Diner stationary saying, “TIME FOR PIE. BE THERE.” Mona leaves, and they follow.
Meanwhile, Mary Drake leaves Spencer one last wine bottle message, and the two meet. Mary says she has a going-away present for Spencer and Alison: The Lost Woods Motel. Apparently, her plan is for the girls to mortgage the inn to pay the legal fees they’ll inevitably have. Not really a bad plan — but I still wonder who in her right mind would actually want this building, especially after all the bad things that have happened there. Stop trying to make The Lost Woods happen! Just burn it to the ground!
Ezra finds Aria, just as she’s about to turn herself in to the cops. “I’m not letting you make more sacrifices,” he tells her, reminding her that A.D. gave her an airtight alibi. “There’s nothing linking you to what happened with Dunhill!” he says.
“His body’s in the trunk of my car,” Aria responds. (Okay, that writing was good.)
Spencer joins Hanna and Caleb at the stakeout, and they all note that Mona looks nervous to see whoever she’s meeting. Hanna reminds them that Mona was supposed to meet Charlotte the night she died, but Charlotte never showed up. Caleb and Hanna get snippy with each other, and Spencer says, “You guys are arguing like you’re married or something.” They give each other a look. Oh, that’s why no one congratulated them last week! No one knows! Still, it was kind of a weird thing for Spencer to say, given that Hanna and Caleb have been together for like, what, seven years off and on? In young relationship years, that practically is married.
Caleb takes the opportunity to storm into the restaurant and confront Mona (and eat her pie). He says they’re going to take her — and the game — to the police, but she tells him that somebody stole it from her. “Somebody’s always stealing the game from me,” she says, twice — a sign that she might be losing it. Mona gets a note from a waitress, then springs up, telling Caleb she has to use the restroom before they leave. Famous last words.
She races into the restroom — as Hanna, Caleb and Spencer follow — but by the time they get there, Mona is gone. Of course, she dropped the note, which read, “LEAVE NOW.” They find a secret passage in the wall, and Caleb and Spencer go explore, because Caleb doesn’t want Hanna going into any more dark holes.
Meanwhile, Ezra is trying to convince Aria they should leave Rosewood, and Aria says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave her friends. That’s nice, but yes, all of you should leave Rosewood! Ezra decides to go deal with the body in the trunk. “I have a master’s degree in American literature,” he says. “There’s nothing I can’t handle.” Was that supposed to be like, I know how to do stuff because I’ve read about it? Or was it a joke like, Ha ha, I have no skills? It doesn’t matter anyway, because when they get out to the car, the body is gone.
The next scene is one we’ve been waiting for since before the time jump: It’s Ali writing Mrs. Rollins on the chalkboard, and the other girls racing in to say, “He’s coming!” Then, the room darkens as they stack desks in front of the door… and a green monster arm reaches through the wall. It’s a dream. You’re telling me the scene we’ve wondered about for a year was JUST A DREAM!? NO THANK YOU.
Ali and Emily had been talking in the living room when someone started pumping in gas from the fireplace. Turns out it was Emily’s nightmare — A.D. must have put them both to sleep so they could sneak the game back into the house. A video of young Ali plays on a loop on the game’s phone. “We don’t have a lot of time,” she coyly repeats.
Back in the tunnel, Caleb admits two things to Spencer: (1) He doesn’t think Mona is A.D. anymore. “A.D. doesn’t get messages. They send messages.” And (2), he and Hanna are married, by the way. Spencer congratulates him, but he says there’s part of him that wants to say he’s sorry. “Don’t you dare apologize for being with me,” Spencer says. “And don’t you dare forget it — any of it. Because I won’t.” Dramatic phrasing, but nice message.
Hanna, out on her own, is walking by the bell tower when she sees flower petals floating out of it. She goes inside and finds Mona at the top — but something isn’t right. Mona’s wearing braids and glasses, looking like she did in the early years of high school. And when Hanna asks what she’s doing here, Mona says, “Waiting for you, Charlotte.” (Recap continues on page 2)
Then, a flashback: Charlotte is at the window, and Mona comes over to her with flowers. Charlotte asked why Mona wanted to visit her when she was in the hospital, and Mona says that she didn’t visit, but she kept an eye on her. And it was a close enough eye that she knows Charlotte was lying to her doctors, lawyers, and even Ali about being better. “You’re going to start hurting people again,” Mona says.
“Who’s gonna stop me? You?” Charlotte sneers. “Do you still see her when you look in the mirror? The loser, the pigtails, the frumpy sweater? I still see her.”
She goes on: “None of you are sure when you look in the mirror. None of you are really certain who you are. I did that. I took that away from you, the same way everything was stolen from me. And now I’m back, and everything that happened before? That’s gonna feel like a picnic.”
After a few more taunts, Mona has had enough, and she pushes Charlotte toward the window holding a screwdriver to her back. Charlotte says she doesn’t have the guts, but Mona goes on. “People will think you committed suicide your first night here,” Mona says. She tells her, “Jump or I’ll push you.”
Then — back in the present, Mona almost pushes Hanna out the window, but Caleb and Spencer get there in time. Mona just puts her glasses back on. They think about taking her to the cops, but Hanna says not while Mona’s in this weird, regressed condition. Walking out, they find the last two puzzle pieces for the game on the side mirror on the car.
The whole gang gathers together, and Spencer explains that Mona went back to a safe place, mentally, before all the ‘A’ stuff ever happened. Aria suggests calling Dr. Sullivan, who I seriously can’t believe is still alive. Caleb brings the game back, and when they put the pieces in, the puzzle makes a really freaky looking face.
The phone flashes: CLAIM THE GRAND PRIZE, and Elliot Rollins’ staff ID shows up on the screen. The phone says THE EYES HAVE IT, and when they use the phone to scan over the puzzle’s eyes, a little person crawls out on the screen. It’s an augmented reality app! This show has seriously thrown all the new technology it can into these last couple episodes. (I’m not mad. I am obsessed with this — it’s very Black Mirror.) Anyway, the little cartoon onscreen tiptoes to a “mystery location,” which pops up and turns out to be Aunt Carol’s house. I don’t even remember if Aunt Carol was a real person anymore, you guys. Who is anyone?!
They go there, obviously, and figure Archer Dunhill’s body must be buried in Charles DiLaurentis’ fake grave. They’re about to start digging when Aria asks, “Do we really want to do this?” Ali tries to say they have to, but Aria pushes back. “Do we?… Don’t you see? If we want to stop the crazy, we have to stop acting crazy.” That’s actually… very logical! So they walk away, but then a bulldozer and a dozen cops come crashing through the woods with flashlights and spotlights. The Liars still have shovels in hand. “You ladies need any help?” Tanner says.
At the police station, they try to figure out what to do, but Spencer says all they can do is tell the truth. But then Tanner comes in and says the body was identified as Archer Dunhill, but there’s just one thing she has to do before they all talk.
Then, a light turns on, and through the glass they see Mary in another room. She confesses to killing Archer, using details from the actual crime so the story adds up — and confesses to killing Jessica. Apparently, Jessica’s murder was the blackmail Archer used to keep Mary doing things for him. She signs the confession as Spencer, Ali, and the rest of the Liars look on in sorrow.
Tanner comes back in and tells the girls they’re free to go. They stare back in disbelief. “You’re just gonna let us go?” Hanna asks. Tanner says they haven’t done anything wrong… have they? “You used to think so, up until recently,” Aria says.
Tanner explains that the DA is “a simple man” who likes cases tied up, and Mary Drake’s story gives them that. He wouldn’t want to bother with a wild story or a “box of loose ends.” They keep pushing their luck, asking Tanner if she believes Mary, and if she believes Mary killed Archer. “What I believe and what I can prove are two different things,” she says. “Go home. You’re not criminals, not really. Try and remember that.” They leave, and Spencer wants to say a last goodbye to Mary — but Mary just does the PLL “Shhh” and follows the cop to her fate.
The girls go back to Mona, who’s going to be picked up by Dr. Sullivan soon. Hanna apologizes for showing Mona the game, but Mona is happy that she was needed… “Just like you needed me to take care of Charlotte. I’m sorry I messed that up. Nothing ever happens the way it’s supposed to with me.” Wait, what?
There’s more to the flashback we saw earlier, where Mona was about to push Charlotte out the window. Turns out she didn’t: She throws her onto the ground inside the bell tower, hoping that she’s shown her “what dying tastes like,” and that Charlotte will remember it for the rest of her life. Of course, Charlotte isn’t about to walk away all changed. “I knew you didn’t have the guts,” she says, then lunges for Mona. “They will never love you!”
They fight, and when Mona finally gets the upper hand, she pushes her against a wall… where Charlotte hits her head on an exposed piece of metal. She’s dead — but Mona can’t make it look like a suicide anymore. Still, that’s why the police never found a murder weapon. And it really does seem like Mona saved them from even more years of torture by killing Charlotte once and for all.
Back in the present, the game says, “CONGRATULATIONS.” Was it listening to hear Mona confess this whole time? The Liars stare at the game after it turns off, dumbfounded that things can really be over. They don’t think A.D. has any other leverage on them, or anything else A.D. could want to know… but of course, they can never quite be sure.
Over a mournful song, the camera slowly pans over the game with a sort of reverence. Then, suddenly, we’re in the backseat of a car, where the Liar figurines are stuffed in a Ziploc bag. The camera moves to the driver’s seat, and there’s good ol’ hoodied, gloved A.D., literally driving off into the sunset. Um — what? Are you going to make a U-turn back here for the finale, pal?
So Liars: There’s one episode left, and I guess, only one real answer left. Who is A.D.? Spencer’s twin? Jason? Melissa? A parent? For the very last time… leave your theories below.
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