Pretty Little Liars series finale recap: 'Til DeAth Do Us PArt'
A.D. is finally revealed as the series comes to a close.
After seven years of twists, turns, fake-outs, network name-changes, and scary text messages, it’s hard to believe Pretty Little Liars is finally over. And while the show did its best to wrap things up, there still were plenty of moments that required a little suspension of disbelief. But that’s the show we know and love (and sometimes hate), right?
More analysis to come… but here we go, for the last time.
We start with the girls drinking coffee at night (that should have been a clue), discussing Mona’s lock-up and reminiscing about how they used to Google murder weapons and get “that tingly feeling” when they knew A was watching them. Lucas tap dances by in a white tux, and then Jenna follows in a ringmaster’s uniform on a white horse. Oh. It’s some kind of dream. Turns out it’s Mona’s, and when she comes to at Welby, someone’s in her room. “I never would have guessed it was you,” she says. “Are you here to kill me?”
Cut to one year later: Ezra and Aria are wandering through a studio lot the week of their wedding. Turns out their book just might become a movie. Everything’s coming up Ezria!
At the DiLaurentis-Fields house, Emily is feeding a baby… no wait, two babies! She and Ali have twins, Lily and Grace. They’re adorable, but something seems “off” with Ali.
Shortly after, she meets with Mrs. Fields at the Radley. “She doesn’t know you’re here, right?” Mrs. Fields says, before alluding to something about Emily being “taken care of.” Ali says, “Like I promised you, I will always be here for her.” The words are nice, but the tone is strange. What’s going on?
Ali and Emily might have babies, but Spencer has a pet: She’s bought a horse named Bashful, and she chats with Melissa at the stable. “I was hoping you’d consider swapping the barn for your old room,” Melissa jokes to Spencer — the first callback to the PLL pilot that we were promised in this finale. Toby comes around to say hi, and though the horse is temperamental and apparently only likes Spencer, he takes to Toby easily. Awww.
Ali’s still teaching English at Rosewood High, but required reading has changed a bit since we were in school: She’s teaching Ezra and Aria’s book. (Is it that good? Honestly?) A student chimes in about how Aria stole Ezra from Nicole (oh great, like they needed more people involved in their drama), another student calls Ali a “lesbo,” and that awful girl Addison we met a few episodes back says to Ali, “I could bury you… but then, it wouldn’t be the first time someone buried you alive, would it?” Whyyyy can’t someone punch her in the face?
Things get worse in this weird world of high school drama: A Deaf student finds a doll with a hearing aid in her locker, and it has a knife thrust into its chest. Apparently Addison is the bully (big surprise). Jenna — also a teacher at Rosewood, naturally — tells Addison to get to class, but Addison just makes fun of her for being blind. Real gem, this one! Then Jenna gives my favorite line of the night (for the last time!): “I may not be able to see, but I can smell a bitch a mile away.” YES JENNA!
Surprisingly, everything isn’t great with Caleb and Hanna, despite their past year in which apparently Hanna’s designs have taken off, Caleb sold his software (to Lucas), and they bought the loft (from Lucas). They would be nowhere without Lucas. Anyway, Mona’s going to live with them after getting out of Welby, and Caleb is less than thrilled, but Hanna still feels bad that her forcing Mona to play the game triggered her relapse and subsequent breakdown. Of course, shortly after Hanna and Caleb leave, Mona disappears.
That night, they have Aria and Ezra’s bachelorette/bachelor party, which is just all the couples having dinner at the Lost Woods, which Spencer and Ali now co-own after Mary gave it to them. (Best line during the party? After screams are heard in the distance and someone asks, “What was that?,” the answer is “Christians.” Apparently there’s a camp nearby.) All appears to be going smoothly, until we notice they’re being watched by a hooded figure: MELISSA HASTINGS?
At night, all the couples sleep together, although Hanna and Caleb just do it because they’re trying to have a baby, and Spencer and Toby just play Scrabble, then actually sleep.
Aria gets woken up by a phone call, which she answers frantically: “Hello? Are you sure?” Melissa watches out the window as Aria starts crying, telling Spencer, “I can’t marry Ezra.” Then Melissa removes her face (okay, mask), and who’s underneath? Mona, obviously. It’s always Mona.
Everyone tries to comfort Aria as she alludes to this big secret, and outside, Mona calls someone and wants to use what Aria’s saying, but the person (FaceTiming as Mona, which I’m only just now realizing was a giant clue to A.D.), says it was just a test to see whether she’d wear the Melissa mask. Inside, we learn that Aria’s upset because she’s found out she can’t have kids.
(Recap continues on page 2)
In prison, Spencer goes to visit Mary. It’s been weeks since Spencer’s last visit, apparently. She asks how Mary is holding up, and she says every day is a challenge, but she tries to keep her hopes up. “You can say it,” Mary says. “Hope breeds eternal misery.” (Another pilot reference!) But Spencer says she doesn’t believe that anymore. And also, she needs Mary’s help.
That night, everyone goes to Aria and Ezra’s rehearsal dinner, including Mona — which literally no one is happy about but Hanna. “The last time she saw you, she tried to push you out of the bell tower,” Aria reminds her. “Yeah, and she feels bad about that!” Hanna says. Sounds a lot like the time Mona tried to run her over with a car… is Hanna secretly the biggest saint of this group? What gives?
Emily talks to some high school kids who are catering the dinner — the girls in Addison’s clique. One of them is Maya’s niece, and Emily tries to tell her she’s better than being friends with a bully. “You don’t say no to someone like Addison,” she says. “She’d have to be dead first.” Are they seriously trying to make this a spin-off? Baby Plastics didn’t happen in Mean Girls, and Laguna Beach season 3 about L.C.’s sister was a bust. Don’t try to make a spin-off out of the exact same story, pleeease!
The BEST part of this whole rehearsal? The moms talk about THE BASEMENT! Apparently they don’t talk about the way they actually got out of the basement… but suffice it to say, it must have been bad. This might have been the most satisfying scene in the entire finale. I am still obsessed with #winemoms.
Later, Aria finally talks to Ezra about the fertility stuff, and apparently she’s been keeping this fear from him for a long time. He’s angry — about the hiding, not that she can’t have kids. It feels like kind of a random problem to throw into the finale, to be honest, but it makes sense a bit later.
Meanwhile, Emily is still trying to figure out why Ali’s been acting so weird, especially when she saw her mom slip something into Ali’s purse earlier. She pushes, and finally Ali confesses that she was going to propose. She had something planned, but she does it off the cuff, and it’s sweet. Guess Emison Endgame really happened — and given the last few episodes, it actually wasn’t that much of a shock?
Toby is staying at the Radley when Spencer comes to knock on his door. “Coffee, at this hour?” she coos. “You’ll be up all night.” She kisses him, and they hook up with the intensity of that night at Toby’s cabin.
In the next scene, Spencer’s back at home, cleaning off her bathroom mirror. Piano music plays, and she follows it. “Toby? Is that you?” Mona comes out from the darkness and snarls, “Deja vu, bitch.” She punches her and knocks her out.
When Spencer wakes up, she’s on the floor in some sort of jail cell. There’s a mirror on the wall, and she starts looking into it — but then the movements stop mirroring hers. There’s another Spencer. YEP, you guys were right: Spencer has a twin!!!! How do you always get this stuff right?! (And also, how are they not done with the twin thing by now? How many twins can you throw at us?!)
That’s not all, though: Mary Drake is there, too, outside Spencer’s cell. “We didn’t think you’d wake up so soon, Spencer.” Are you kidding me? Great mothering, Mary. Great.
Briefly, at the Radley, Ezra asks someone to keep something quiet, then runs into Spencer. Also, a cop tells Ali and Emily that Mary Drake has escaped, and they should all stay vigilant. Again, great.
Back in the cell, Spencer asks Twincer who she is. “I’m just a girl who met a man when he came in from the rain,” Twincer teases. NOT FUNNY. In a flashback, we see her bartending somewhere in England, when Wren comes in. Obviously, at first he thinks it’s Spencer, but he eventually realizes this is a completely different person, and shows her — Alex Drake — a photo of Spencer on his phone. Apparently, she started to cry. And over the next few days, Wren explained everything. Melissa apparently was already “out of the picture” — and now Alex was in it. (Really, Wren? Three sisters?)
Let’s pause a quick sec. I want to buy this. I don’t fully hate it because all the Twincer predictions and analysis primed me for it, I guess. And I do think Troian is a fantastic actress, especially in the scenes later where Alex is pretending to be Spencer and she lets her accent slip through a bit to give us a tiny hint. But did she really need to have a Cockney accent?! Couldn’t she just be regular British, if she had to be British at all? On that note, did they have to make this some sort of bizarro Parent Trap (where no parents are being trapped)? I don’t know.
The timing of what Alex reveals also feels “off.” She goes straight into saying, “After Charlotte died, I needed closure,” without telling us the circumstances of how she met Charlotte or why she would have cared that much about her death (besides the obvious half-sister thing). But before we get to that, Spencer tells Alex she’ll never pull off pretending to be her, and Alex says she already has:
- In the barn where Hanna was being tortured with the cattle prod.
- When Spencer was looking at a photo album at the Hastings’.
- When she asked Toby if she could kiss him one last time.
- Cabin sex with Toby.
- When she introduced Ezra to Wren at the airport. (Recap continues on page 3)
Apparently all the A.D. torture is less about avenging Charlotte’s death (though that’s part of it) and more about Alex being jealous about everything Spencer has: friends who love her, a family, money, etc. Even though she has Charlotte’s money now (Charlotte left her everything), it wasn’t enough. “This is about friends,” she tells Wren. “Even when they make huge mistakes, they still love each other.” Wren wants her to tell them the truth, but she obviously jumps straight to, “I could never be one of them. Not as Alex.” Then, she begs Wren to shoot her so she can get the exact same gunshot scar as Spencer. It’s like The Prestige! Yes, I’m sort of thinking of every twin movie that’s ever existed, but that’s PLL‘s fault for being a little cliché.
Alex explains that her plan was to pretend to be Spencer with Wren, but he always saw her as Alex. So she killed him instead of breaking up with him, and turned his ashes into a necklace. (Oh, and one more thing. But we’ll get there in a sec.) She leaves Spencer in the jail and heads off to Aria’s wedding.
There, she asks to hold one of Emily and Ali’s babies, and walks over to the side of the room to whisper to it. “You have your daddy’s eyes,” she says. “I knew Wren would make pretty babies.” Oh. My god. Did she harvest his semen right before she killed him? Earlier? Later? We did not spend enough time in this episode on the murder or this, honestly.
Spencer and Mary are back in the cell, having lunch, like a normal mother-daughter pair. (Not.) Apparently Alex drugged Mary before bringing her here, but has promised she’ll keep Spencer safe. “And in time, you’ll earn her trust, and she’ll let you out of your room,” she says. NO, MARY. This is not how this works. Spencer is your child, too! This is not okay!
Yes, we’ve all been wondering why no one knew there were two babies when we literally saw the birth scene. Apparently while one baby went to the Hastings, Mary basically sold the other one (Alex) so she could get out of Radley. She went to a wealthy couple in England.”I thought she would live a Cinderella life,” she says. To which Spencer brilliantly replies, “Have you read Grimm’s Fairy Tales?”
Alex had “issues,” so her parents gave her to an orphanage — and even took their last name back, making her a Drake once again. She was sent to the “Ambrose Home for Wayward Children”: Just like Rosewood had Radley, a sanitarium from the 1950s, apparently the Rosewood equivalent in England had an orphanage from the 1830s? “Wayward Children”?! She ran away at 10 and apparently went straight from the orphanage to being a bartender downtown.
Mary seems to let Spencer out of the cell… and then slams the door in her face. This whole thing feels like the worst betrayal of all. What’s Mary Drake’s deal!? I know she’s a little crazy, but I was under the impression she really loved Spencer. You don’t just let one daughter torture the other one, Mary! Look at your own life. If you know one thing, it’s this. Anyway, in the quick hug where Spencer thought she’d be released, she snagged a bobby pin.
Back at the church, Aria has apparently received a text saying Ezra isn’t coming to the wedding, and she’s sobbing. (This felt like an abrupt transition: Why did we see her crying before we learned about the text? It’s not like it was some kind of reveal.)
But as they start calling and looking for him, we see where he is: in the cell across from Spencer. Apparently, he tells Spencer, he was making a reservation she recommended, when he ran into Alex (thinking it was Spencer). After he pressed her for answers since she seemed so confused, she… basically knocked him out and kidnapped him. He’s still got his sense of humor, though: He calls their pen a “do-it-yourself dungeon” and apologizes that sarcasm is a defense mechanism when he’s about to be murdered.
Alex comes back, and they try to convince her she doesn’t have to kill them. But it turns out it isn’t about wanting Spencer’s life or her friends — it’s about Toby. “He settled for Yvonne, and now he’s free to be with his one true love: me,” she says. I’m sorry… Toby is great, but I find it hard to believe he’s so great that a deranged stranger would go to these lengths to get him. (Although, there was the whole Jenna thing, so maybe Toby has some hidden talents or something?)
We learn more about Jenna, Sara, and Sydney’s motivations, too: Sydney was basically blackmailed because Alex knew she was stealing from the bank where she worked, Jenna wanted money for another eye surgery (fair, especially given who blinded her), and Sara was in because Charlotte had said her “greatest treasure” was hidden under Radley. But instead of the gold Sara dreamed of, Charlotte really meant the file folder.
In another flashback, we see Charlotte happily leaving a flight with Archer (wow, they’re really in love), while Wren has set up Charlotte and Alex to finally meet. They get along swimmingly, and the whole foursome has a jolly time gallivanting across Europe. But then Charlotte missed the power of the A-game and went back to America. Alex begged to come, but Charlotte warned her to stay as far away from the Hastings as possible. Before she leaves, she gives Alex an envelope with Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits in it. Passing torture music on from sister to sister! How sweet.
Of course, Charlotte never came back. She did tell Alex never to trust Spencer because she’s “toxic” — but Alex won’t kill her because she’s family. Ezra, on the other hand? There’s no reason for Alex to keep him alive.
Alex goes back out into the world to be Spencer, and goes to the stable where Spencer was supposed to ride with Toby. But the horse freaks out when she gets near. The horse knows!
(Recap continues on page 4)
You know who else knows? Jenna Marshall. Alex is waiting for Mrs. Hastings outside her office, where Mrs. Hastings is giving Jenna legal advice (which has to do with Addison, whom we don’t care about, Freeform! We don’t!). Jenna asks “Spencer” if she’s wearing different perfume, but Alex tries to brush it off. Jenna calls Toby immediately. “This may sound weird, but I don’t think Spencer’s Spencer,” she says. This was a bit of a leap, but I admit, I kind of bought it. We all know Jenna has spidey senses — and she just told us like an hour ago that she can smell a bitch a mile away. Alex definitely fits that description.
What’s less believable is that after Toby rushes over to the girls and Caleb, they all decide in like 30 seconds that the evil twin theory makes perfect sense. Toby believed Jenna because the book Spencer gave him when she gave him that final kiss (so, the book ALEX gave him) had no notes in it, and he knew Spencer’s copy was full of notes. I guess that makes sense, but still, for a gang who convinced each other not to call the cops hundreds of times over seven years, I can’t imagine they’d buy this whole thing as quickly as they did. As Emily says, “Out of all the insane theories we’ve jumped to, Spencer having an evil twin has to be the most insane.” Yes, Emily. You’re right.
Meanwhile, Alex and Mary are fighting because Alex promised Mary she wouldn’t hurt Spencer. Isn’t this the same promise Archer made to Mary about Ali? Stop trusting people, you idiot! Alex knocks out Mary so she won’t stop her when she tries to kill Spencer.
At the same time, the rest of the gang is getting ready — with Mona’s help. Apparently Wren came to Welby to kill Mona, so now Mona is playing the game to beat Alex. They find out where the dungeon is located — turns out it’s in the house Toby built that had a mystery buyer. I cannot believe that Toby would build a house for Spencer and not ever look into the identity of the buyer. Anyway, now we know.
Back in the dungeon, Spencer and Ezra are trying to escape after Spencer picked the lock with a bobby pin from Mary’s hair. They finally find a door to the outside… but it’s not quite the outside. They’re still somehow underground, or under a dome that looks like a fake Rosewood. It’s like The Hunger Games. Or, obviously, the Dollhouse.
The gang isn’t far behind, and they’re freaked out to see that Alex has furnished the cabin to look exactly like Spencer’s barn. Man, that Carissimi money goes so far!
Alex comes out into the fake yard and hits Ezra, as Spencer tries to reason with her. “It’s not too late to be family!” she says. “Yeah, it is,” Alex says. Of course, they’re wearing the same outfit, and when Toby rushes in brandishing a gun, with the whole gang behind him, he isn’t sure who to shoot. This is also a cliché of every twin/clone movie and show of all time: loved one has to decide which one is the real one! Obviously, he does it by asking which poem in the book she gave him was her favorite, and only Spencer knows what’s actually in the book. (Charlotte and Mona definitely would have had answers prepared, Alex. Do your research!)
Mona has called 911, so a cop rushes in to take Alex into custody. Apparently Mary Drake got apprehended down the road. “Well, no one can call you Loser Mona anymore,” Alex says, to which Mona replies, “You don’t know the half of it.” Wait, what?
Aria and Ezra get married in the chapel where the bell tower is, because why would they try to find any other church than the one every funeral and murder has happened in? That would just make too much sense. In this second, real wedding, Aria is wearing a much better, much more Aria-like dress than the one she had on for the wedding where Ezra didn’t show up. (A cell phone goes off during the ceremony, but not to worry: It’s just showrunner I. Marlene King doing one last cameo and making the show’s signature “Shhh” sign. Cute!)
In the last scene with all the girls, they talk about future plans: Not only do they have a new group text, but Hanna is pregnant, and Aria and Ezra are looking into adoption agencies right after they get back from their honeymoon. Aren’t these girls all like 23? Maybe 24? You have time, guys!
Then, we jump to Paris, but it’s not for Aria’s honeymoon. At a doll shop, a beret-clad Mona is ringing up a little girl who’s buying a doll for her sister (noooo! no more sisters!). They leave, and a strong-jawed Frenchman kisses Mona and asks if she’s coming to dinner. She says she won’t be long, he leaves, and she closes the store. Then she walks down to the basement where there’s a little dollhouse, and she gives the dolls a plate of food. “Teatime, pretty girl,” she coos. And then the camera zooms out, and behind the plastic dollhouse is an entire room where Mary Drake and Alex sit, all dolled up and in frilly dresses, enacting the scene Mona set in the little dollhouse. “She can’t keep us here forever,” Mary says.
“Of course she can,” Alex says. “She’s Mona.” How did… oh right, Mona’s the one who “called 911” before, so I guess she just paid someone to kidnap Mary and Alex and send them to Europe. Mary did tell Alex they could go on a mother-daughter trip across the pond. Guess her wish came true.
And in one more scene that was so stupid I don’t even want to write it, the high school girls we met earlier are having a sleepover, and the door’s open. Word for word, they mimic the opening scene from the pilot, from Addison going missing to the girl with glasses (the Spencer) coming back into the room and saying, “She’s gone.” For the last time, no. We don’t want more of this!
With that, Liars, we say goodbye. We have our big answers: A.D. is Alex Drake, Spencer’s twin. Wren is the daddy (and dead). Mona is… still dealing with her issues, as is Mary Drake. The Liars are all having kids very quickly (save for Spencer, who, I’m guessing, might never), the Wine Moms got out of the basement in some weird way, Jenna turned out to be one of the best people around, and we never have to deal with Radley Sanitarium again.
So, for the last time: What do you think? Was the Twincer/Alex Drake reveal satisfying? Was the accent a bad choice? For those of you who always suspected Wren had something to do with this, was that satisfying? Should Melissa have been more culpable somehow? Does Alex’s life sound like it was bad enough to drive her to murder and torture? (The answer is no, not really.) And finally, what will you miss the most? For me, honestly, I think it’s the clothes, good and bad, and one-liners, good and bad. That, and the heartbreak of getting the rug pulled out from under our feet repeatedly for seven straight years. (Just kidding, I won’t miss that.)