By now there’s likely not a Pretty Little Liars fan left on the planet who doesn’t know who A is following Monday’s season finale and the big A reveal. But just in case, we have the re-cap!
While A’s identity was certainly the focus of PLL’s heavily Hitchcock-influenced finale we’re still concerned with what went down for Rosewood’s resident lesbian Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell).
In the weeks leading up to A’s reveal Emily’s been preoccupied with her search for her girlfriend Maya, who said I love you one episode, reverted to her old stoner ways that landed her in rehab the next and then hit the road saying she was heading out to San Francisco with a flower in her hair (I made that last bit up but you get the point). At any rate, Em’s love life has been fraught with worry and heartbreak with Emily internalizing blame for judging Maya’s predilection toward pot.
Although big A surprise was wrecked for me by a well-intentioned Facebook friend just shortly before the start of an A-themed viewing party at one of my best gay boy’s apartments, I kept it together and refrained from ruining it for anyone, lest the boys eviscerate me.
So you are forewarned, there are SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS ahead!
Ep. 2.25 – Unmasked
The episode opens with the liars sitting around Spencer's kitchen discussing getting close to discovering A’s identity while drowning their fears and anxieties in toffee ice cream (pay attention to that) when Spencer’s scary but hot sister Melissa descends upon them. Melissa (Torrey DeVitto) lets it rip that the recently imprisoned crooked cop Garrett and her dead ex Ian knew that their mean girl bff Alison was responsible for tossing the smoke bomb –or whatever it was –that caused Jenna to go blind. That is, if she was ever truly blind, since she appears to be seeing rather clearly these days.
Later, as the girls chitchat about what a mega-bitch Melissa is and Spencer debates that her IQ is on par with her evil genius sister, Mona (Janel Parrish) turns up to discuss the upcoming masquerade ball. She drops that she loves a vintage shop a few towns over, signaling that she may be familiar with the mysterious town of Brookhaven where Alison’s alter-ego Vivian Darkbloom liked to hang, and where the liars encountered creepy doll central.
Later, while hanging out in Ezra’s apartment? I’m so confused about this but all signs point to it being his apartment since Aria (Lucy Hale) says the bed is sacred ground – they discover a pen in a bag of Ally’s things that hails from a landing strip with nothing around for miles save for a crummy roadside motel.
Cue the beginning of the Psycho portion of the show when the nosey Nancy Drews head out to the motel that smacks of The Bates Motel, complete with a creepy, taxidermy-obsessed nerd. Like Marian Crane before her, Ally supposedly stayed in the motel’s room #1.
As fate, or the PLL writers’ room would have it, Hanna falls in the mud en route to room #1. She’ll need to shower, and Hitchcock fans know what that means! As Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Emily huddle together on one end of the sleazy room Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Aria conspire to steal the motel guest log.
Meanwhile, Hanna heads to the shower.
“I can’t believe you’re taking a shower in this place,” Emily says. “It’s gross,” right before her phone rings with a call from Maya.
As scary remote motels go The Lost Woods Resort has shitty cell service, so Emily, whose heart and hormones have won out over her head, plods out into the rain to find a working signal, leaving Hanna alone in the shower. Kudos to PLL producers for a spot-on shot of the showerhead that's right out of Psycho, thereby incorporating Hitch into the annals of teen pop culture history.
Hanna hears a phone ring and steps out of the shower to find the room empty but the door open. That one little ring may have saved her from eyeing the bathtub in a puddle of blood. The show cuts to commercial only to come back at daybreak with the gang gathered around the registration log and Hanna seemingly unscathed.
Emily is still eyeing her phone after unsuccessfully attempting to reach Maya, so she could kind of give a hoot about the whole mystery aspect of the show at this point.
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But then, one of the cutest exchanges of the episode occurs when Spencer urges Aria to help her put the registration book back in its rightful place before the Norman Bates knock-off returns. Aria makes a face and Spencer says, “Come on, we’re team Sparia,” mashig their names and playing into the hearts of many a fangirl!
Meanwhile, someone’s been staring through a peephole in the room next door like Norman did in Psycho. The person behind the peephole watches as Hanna flops on the bed next to Emily. Hanna's chagrined because Caleb can’t take her to the masquerade ball, which ruins her costume idea.
“What’s your costume?” Emily asks, and Hanna cops that she’s always wanted to be Juliet.
“Looking back I think I wanted to be Romeo,” Emily says, not realizing that she IS the lesbian Romeo of Rosewood.
“So, will you go to the party with me?” Hanna asks rather sheepishly.
“I’ll be your date,” Em says. “But I’m not dressing like a dude.” Aw, Emily would look totally hot in boi drag.
Next up, Spencer visits the DiLaurentis house -- where Hanna saved Jenna from a burning fire -- and Toby is there cleaning up the detritus from the fire. Spence and Toby exchange words, she leaves, and Toby gets a phone call from none other than the long-gone Dr. Sullivan (the always welcome Annabeth Gish). Duh duh. That’s the sound of the SVU gong for those of you who aren’t familiar with my recaps.
Cut to Jenna applying lipstick in the driver’s seat of a hot vintage convertible Mustang before meeting a stranger, who, from the snippet of sleeve the camera reveals, could be A. Jenna fires off a cheesy line about how she’s thought about what she would do if ever she saw this person again and then hands off a package saying, “They’re all going to be at the party. You know what to do.”
Next up it’s the liars big entrance at the ball and I gotta say I’m not loving the outfits, but that’s another story altogether. They reiterate that A has given them a deadline of midnight before some serious shit goes down and they vow to stick together, which is just bad news for the four of them with their collective ability to wander and get lost. They could all use a big fat Adderall prescription to keep them on task.
On the love interest end of things Caleb surprises Hanna by turning up last minute in a Romeo costume. It would appear a little bird named Mona clued him into the fact that Hanna has a Shakespeare fetish. But how did Mona know?
Spencer overhears the whole Hanna / Caleb / Mona exchange and compliments Mona for being a great friend to Hanna. That’s when Mona drops the bombshell that she was shopping in Brookhaven – the last place she saw Ally alive. Duh duh! Mona goes on to say that Ally was hiding out watching someone. Mona goes into a flashback in which Ally asks Mona to keep her mouth shut.
“What’s it worth to you?” Ally says to Mona.
“To be popular,” Mona replies, and with that Mona may have made a deal with the devil named A.
Aria wanders off into a dark area of the ball only to run into Ezra. Later, Ezra removes his mask and they make out on the dance floor in a cringe worthy –because the are so fu**ked--moment that likely had tween girls hearts exploding in living rooms across the country.
Next up, Spencer’s on the phone with Emily but Spence is not at the ball, she’s in a car with –wait for it – MONA! See what I mean about how these girls can’t keep to a plan? Spencer has figured out that the Lost Woods Resort room #2 may hold the key to the whole damned mystery the PLL producers have used to tease us for 46 damned episodes.
Cue more moments with the Norman Bates doppelganger, only he appears to be harmless in this Psycho homage. Spence and Mona nab the key to room #2 and open it wide-eyed.
Back at the dance Emily’s charging around alone in her peacock dress until someone taps her on the shoulder. It’s Paige (Lindsey Shaw) and she’s dressed like a "dude," or rather, like a girl looking really hot in a men’s suit. Well done Paige!
At the motel Spencer and Mona have happened upon A’s lair, which has been papered with photos of Ally, the liars and news clippings, something my girlfriend and I totally predicted from watching SVU episodes ad nauseum.
Emily and Paige sit down to chat. Paige apologizes for attempting to kiss Emily a few episodes back, which is funny, because I’m not sure she ever apologized for trying to drown Em back when she was a raging closet case, but that’s beside the point.
“Just forget about it,” Em says.
“That’s the thing. I don’t want to forget about it,” says a tenacious Paige. “I don’t want to forget about it. We have a connection. You can’t deny that.”
Em agrees that they had a connection. “I get it. I messed it up,” Paige says.
“You weren’t ready and that’s okay,” Emily offers.
“I wish I’d fought harder for you,” Paige says. And, as a someone who is not an Emaya fan, I’m with Paige. I wish she'd fought harder and that they sang lived happily ever after singing P!nk songs togeher. Looking adorable in her outfit Paige goes on to say that she cares about Emily and that she’ll be there for her. They agree to be friends. And that’s a good thing, because by the end of the episode Emily is going to need a friend or 40.
Cut back to Spencer and Mona and they’ve found a series of drawings of what they assume is A’s costume for the ball—the Black Swan. YES! Please tell me Natalie Portman is A! Or that she’s at least in Rosewood to hang out with lady killer Emily Fields.
Mona calls the liars to warn them that A is dressed as Oscar winner Natalie Portman. Suddenly someone dressed as the black swan appears at the ball as Spence remembers that big sis Melissa once dressed as the black swan. Meanwhile, Mona offers a Spence a stick of gum in the same wrapper Spence finds in Ally’s diary in A’s lair. One more time – duh duh!
Back at the ball the liars follow little miss black swan to discover she’s pals with Lucas, who disappeared after his boating accident with Hanna. More mystery and intrigue. I’ll stop with the SVU gong.
Just as Mona returns from her car where she’s been searching for gum for Spence after conveniently running out, nosey parker Spencer comes across cashmere sweaters – the very ones she and Mona had a conversation about episodes ago.
Wait for it!!!!! Spencer whirls around to find Mona in A’s signature black hoodie. Mona knocks Spencer on her ass and the next we see they’re hurtling toward somewhere with Mona at the wheel.
Meanwhile, the rest of the liars discover that the phone Mona lent to Hanna has been set to record every time it’s turned on. They put 2 + A together and realize Mona’s their omnicient terrorizer and blackmailer. They call Spence, who skillfully turns her phone on Facetime, and the girls are able to listen in to Mona’s compulsory origin story on how she became bad.
Essentially, Mona’s got bullied nerd syndrome that she’ll never overcome, and she’s frankly pissed that the liars stole Hanna back as their friend. This is just one of the many reasons bullying is bad kids! Aside from copping to her A antics Mona attempts to recruit Spencer by imploring her to, “join the A team.” Uh oh. There’s a team? We knew the reveal couldn’t be this easy. What would PLL do for its full 25-episode season three?
“How could you do it? You were always one step ahead of us,” Spence cries.
“You’re not the only genius in this car,” Mona replies. “You bitches underestimated me.”
“It’s not about betrayal Spencer, it’s about revenge,” Mona adds, and with that I’m not thinking about a PLL / Revenge mash-up in which Emily Thorne bitch-slaps A into oblivion.
At a point in the convo Mona spills that she’s taking Spencer to Lookout Point. Isn’t that a make-out spot? Anyway, after Hanna has a melt down about her friend Mona being A, the liars jump in a car and head to the Point to save Spence. A scuffle ensues at Lookout Point and Mona goes over a cliff pretty much at Spencer’s hands, even though Spence tried to grab and save Mona.
Following a commercial break Dr. Sullivan turns up out of the blue. The good doc offers up a cryptic answer to why she’s been missing for nearly a full season saying that Mona threatened her son, which begs the question of just who her son is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns up at Rosewood High next season!
A rescue worker calls out that Mona is alive just as Mona's alarm goes off to signal it’s midnight.
Cut to Mona sitting in a psych ward. Mona’s not A. She’s Norman Bates! Dr. Sullivan delivers a litany of Mona’s psychological issues. In voice over Mona fixates on her shade of lipstick that she loves – “toffee tango.” Melissa ate some of Aria’s toffee ice cream at the opening of the show – duh duh. Okay, I lied. That’s the last one.
The liars are on their way to Emily’s to rest and eat since mama Pam (Nia Peeples) has just arrived back in town. They head toward Em’s to find cruisers and ambulances surrounding the house. Not Mama PAM!!!
Pam comes running out and stops Emily. “Oh Emily, they found a body. They think its Maya,” she says, as a body bag is hauled away. Emily breaks down with the rest of the liars holding her up. Poor Emily. As much as I’ve longed for Bianca Lawson to land another job and for Emily to find a less annoying girlfriend I never guessed Maya would meet with such an ugly demise. Still, it’s PLL, so it might not be her. In a show that honors Hitchcock there’s plenty of room for doppelgangers, doubling and mistaken identity, so never fear Emaya fans. It's not over.
Finally, a catatonic Mona receives a visit from a red-trench coat clad stranger. Vivian Darkbloom perhaps?
Thanks to PLL for keeping us on the edge of our seat for two freaking seasons and for delivering an exciting finale that tells us just about nothing. I know I’ll be on the edge of my seat come June 5, when season three kicks off.