For starters, I need to talk about Spring Breakers. Yes, I understand that this is the finale and I should be appropriately freaking out about the maybe reveal of Red Coat, but this is also the first post-Spring Breakers episode of PLL. I am wildly obsessed with Spring Breakers (I have lost all of my friends over this thing and I don’t even care), and everyone should see the damn movie when it opens nationwide on March 22nd. NY & LA have been very blessed by having access to the movie a week early, which means I celebrated spring break in NY all last weekend. Adults who are old enough to actually attend R-rated movies can see this puppy; if parents are monitoring the Internet use that is allowing you to read this very sentence, wait until you are in college on this one. Don’t disobey your parents and lie to them about the movie you’re seeing – I did that and ended up so emotionally scarred that I watch/write about Pretty Little Liars every single week. Ashley Benson is a superstar and I continue to kiss Hefty Hanna’s feet until the end of days.
Now – THE FINALE!!! This finale wasn’t as good as the last finale, mainly because I love a good time jump narrative structure, but also because the lighthouse scene between Emily and Evil Fake Cousin Nate was a highlight for all of PLL till the end of time. All the girls looked very mature and beautiful tonight, which is a plus in everyone’s book – there were some standard colossal fashion missteps, but everyone’s hair was flawless. I will also say that the climax of the episode was the most ambitious scene PLL has ever attempted, to somewhat mixed results. More on that later – we start the episode with the girls celebrating high tea at Spencer’s house, which no one questions. Spencer is planning some sort of grand soiree over the weekend, which clearly means something very bad is going to happen to everyone in Rosewood. PornStarMom is visiting (/hiding out in) NY so she is safe. Hanna asks the difference between a crumpet and an English muffin, which is honestly a really solid question and appropriate given the current social event. Spencer is planning something wicked – ABC Family was nice enough to remind us of Spencer joining Team A during a seizure-inducing “last week on” montage.
Black Hood is hanging out in the Black Hood Van of Death, transferring cell numbers from the van’s database to Black Hood’s mobile. This is like the hacking scenes in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, only more sinister and featuring more tattoos. Black Hood looks a little sketch doing all of this, but Mona is rather nonchalant. Mona is drinking some kind of evil concoction from an “IS IT FRIDAY YET?” mug, which doesn’t make sense because a true villain would love weekdays and especially Monday into Tuesday. There’s no way insane villains enjoy days everyone else enjoys. That’s just not right. I think I’ve been watching this show too much and my thinking is very paranoid/warped. Mona is bad news.
BABYSITTER WANTED – Hanna is thinking up a wonderful way to trick Malcolm into outing A, which seems like a smart idea until you realize Malcolm is 7 and doesn’t even know how to jump on a bed properly without sending himself to the hospital. Idiot little boy, A should have killed the brat when she had the chance. Aria and Spencer clearly think this babysitter exploitation is a bad idea; Aria’s eyeballs look as big as humanly possible in protest, stretching to the point where Aria might actually be a vessel for alien life where her eyeballs are actually their spaceships. My younger brother used to always manipulate the babysitter into giving him a donut in bed, so I think it’s about time that the babysitter starts getting her own sort of revenge. Spencer has started washing her hair, which means that I’m going to trust her. Shana is swimming at Rosewood, has a creepy connection to Spencer and then lurks away. Hanna hates Shana, but why? “Because. She flirts with everyone but me.” Hanna wins all of the awards for this comment. Ashley Benson is God’s gift to us.
EZRA IS BACK AT ROSEWOOD. I repeat, the teacher that began a wildly inappropriate relationship with one of his students has been allowed back on school grounds. Rosewood is a lawless place. Ezra says he’s not going to accept the teaching gig; the whole situation didn’t go his way. However, there is a much more important return to our favorite small PA city – JENNA. JENNA IS BACK!!! JENNA!!! JENNA!!! JENNA!!! JENNA!!! JENNA!!! Okay, I’m done. We only had to survive a couple of episodes with zero Jenna and zero CeCe, but I’m so glad this hot blind bitch is back in town to stir the pot after being missing for far too many episodes. A is literally texting Jenna from her own damn porch. Wait, is A texting Jenna? This finale plays with perception a lot, as PLL really loves manipulating the audience. What a surprise! I just remembered that Jason’s body is missing after the elevator fall and I can’t stop laughing/crying. Too many emotions at once.
Hanna is interviewing for the babysitting position, because girl does not give up when she thinks she has a winning plan. Hanna jokes about Malcolm liking “fast cars and fast girls.” When Hanna learns that Malcolm is a big fan of trains, she calls, “ALL ABOARD THE HANNA EXPRESS!” Yep, Ezra should feel really safe leaving his son with Hanna. Naturally, no one in Rosewood knows how to take care of his or her own and Ezra decides Hanna can babysit Malcolm once to see how things go. Because, well, no big deal if Malcolm is killed this one time. Ezra and Aria share an awful scene where Aria’s tights are really distracting because they feature 994 colors at the same time. “Nothing about us feels right anymore,” whispers Aria between tears. DAMN RIGHT, HONEY.
Jenna is HOT HOT HOT now that she can see. My notes during this scene are mainly just the f-word repeated till the end of time, but I think that was really just the part focusing on Jenna’s heels and legs. It turns out that Jenna is a lesbian with Shana, or else something super fishy is happening when they rub their hands together. Maybe these girls are witches! Maybe we’re developing a new spin-off that’s half-Vampire Diaries, half-PLL. This also means that the A on Jenna’s porch is not Shana, but instead this Black Hood character waiting in the Twin Peaks diner. Someone walks in to meet Black Hood, described as “Pretty Eyes” – it’s TOBY!!!!!!!!!! HE IS ALIVE!!!!!! What an Easter miracle. I would not say that Toby’s eyeballs are his most defining feature (my vote – monster jaw). And under the black hood? Spencer, wearing a lot of make-up. SPENCER!!! Duh. I screamed a lot during this scene, for no real reason.
Spencer has been a part of Mona’s game so she could find answers – answers about Toby and answers about Red Coat. Spencer was the one hacking into Mona’s database for the cell number; Spencer knew she could find a way to get in touch with Toby. Spencer cements her status as the smartest person on the planet, and I bow in the presence of greatness (right now God has forsaken us). “Everything I’ve done so I could protect you” – Spencer and Toby are on solid terms again. A sex scene is in our future. Spencer was also the one to kidnap Malcolm and take him to the carnival, which is some elaborate plan to make Aria trust Spencer. Or something. Honestly, I don’t understand that logic and I’d rather just forget about the period of time where Spencer was locked up and didn’t think to deal with her dirty hair.
During babysitting, Hanna tells Malcolm that television rots the brain – “it’s your choice if you want to grow up to be stupid.” Hanna instead proposes this really fun game where she flips through all of her female friends and sees if Malcolm recognizes anyone. Turns out, Hanna just has all of her friends’ headshots in her iPhone photos and absolutely no nudes that she would have recently sent to Caleb. Regardless, Malcolm doesn’t bite; none of these girls are “Aria’s friend Alison.” Hanna alerts Emily. Emily is going for a midnight run, which seems stupid since she has a swim meet the next day. Emily spots Melissa, Jenna, and Shana yelling about something, something that looks like the invite for Spencer’s “party.” Lame. Emily once again thinks she’s Nancy Drew. Emily is probably drunk. I hope you all donated to the Veronica Mars movie.
Hanna tells Malcolm about the days when she would eat “peanut butter, frosting in a can, and have a party.” Frosting in a can is one of the true blessings that human beings have discovered. I hope season four deals with a really scary plot where Hanna begins binge eating frosting again, resulting in her own emotional meltdown. I wonder if the other girls are mad that Ashley Benson got to do Spring Breakers while they painted their nails and took pictures for Teen Vogue… Okay. Back to babysitting. Someone sends Hanna a picture of Alison and SPENCER. Malcolm recognizes the “girl in the blue shirt” – SPENCER. Uh oh. Spencer is in trouble. Team Malcolm! This kid of ambiguous ethnic background redeems himself.
The next day – swim meet at Rosewood. This scene is kind of genius. Spencer spots Red Coat walking into the meet, but then realizes that the visiting team is the Red Devils; red cloaks are everywhere. Spencer finally spots her Red Coat again, and follows our mysterious figure into the bathroom… only to find it’s HANNA. Actually, it’s a trap set by the Three Sane Liars – if Spencer doesn’t know the identity of Red Coat, then she’s clearly not doing the dirty with Mona. Spencer is wearing too much make-up and too much black. Spencer explains that Mona wanted to break Spencer in the woods with the fake Toby body so that Mona could rebuild Spencer into a new machine of revenge; however, it backfired, as Spencer was strong enough to use Mona in order to find Toby and develop a plan to figure out the identity of Red Coat. Emily is hanging out in the bathroom when she should be swimming.
Aria learns that Ezra took the job at Rosewood, after he blatantly lied to her. Aria is pissed – “You’re right. There never was a happy ending for us.” While this long breakup was super sad, I think the more important tidbit we learned here is that the Liars have 7 more months of high school. SEVEN. I have absolutely no idea how that is even humanly possible at this damn school. Even fantasy/horror-influenced high school dramas like Buffy the Vampire Slayer didn’t use high school as an endless metaphor for purgatory. Is PLL a Lost prequel…?
Here we go. THE CLIMAX. Okay, the more I think about this climax the more I realize it was kind of a grand ballet for these girls. I’m just frustrated that we didn’t get any concrete answers. The three Liars in trouble get ready for the big party – Hanna brags about her brand new Miu Miu shoes, which she will return tomorrow for a full refund. The girls look super glammed up for this random soiree. Someone takes a video of the girls from outside Hanna’s home, and it seems like Hanna’s windows don’t hold any sort of sound inside the house. Excellent. That someone videographer was Toby – he needed to convince Mona that the girls were en route. As soon as the three Liars arrive at the lodge, they switch into their sneaky boots and make their way into the house; we’re turning the tables on Mona! Meanwhile, RED COAT IS IN A GIANT AIRPLANE ON HER WAY TO THE LODGE’S LANDING STRIP. The budget for this episode just skyrocketed, and I’m obsessed with Red Coat having a plane.
Mona is the worst. Toby is pretending to be super rude so Mona still trusts him; as soon as Spencer and Toby are outside in the woods, they are secret lovebirds all over again. Spencer has the best gown of the evening, because it is gold and also to the max sparkly. I still don’t understand why this fake party was put together, or why anyone would actually want to go, but whatever. A party to celebrate Spencer getting out of the loony bin? That sounds uncouth. Spencer runs off to see Red Coat’s face, Toby heads in the other direction to discover some strangers roaming around the woods – I believe these strangers are Melissa-Jenna-Shana, but PLL is obviously infamous for showing us what they want us to believe. Sigh.
Mona is terribly upset when she’s corned by Aria, Emily, and Hanna - “Red Coat is everywhere and she’s nowhere,” according to Mona. That makes sense, Crazy One. One of the randos in the woods lights the cabin/lodge on fire, which is a nice touch. No one can escape! LOL! The fire illuminates the A-frame of the house, so the fire looks like an A. Get it? A!!! I could also be unhinged and hallucinating – please let me know if I should seek medical attention. Everyone is shocked to learn that Mona also doesn’t know who Red Coat is, but I don’t know why these girls assumed that a criminal mastermind would reveal themselves to a sad little girl that recently escaped from her insane asylum and joined the brainiacs.
Randos in the woods hit Toby in the back of the head; he’s knocked out, and they drop a lighter in his hand that features a wonky compass rose. This seems like a big clue for season four. Spencer follows Red Coat through the woods for 44 minutes of this hour-long episode, until Red Coat is seen pulling the three Liars from the burning house. Red Coat moves like Nightcrawler from X-Men. Hanna thinks she spots Red Coat’s face for a brief second… seeing the face is Ali? ALI IS ALIVE?!!???!! ALI IS RED COAT???!!! The show was clearly setting CeCe up for the big reveal, but the question of Ali being alive has always floated around the show. Also, how do we deal with the show’s recurring, shady references to Ali’s twin ? I haven’t read the book series so I don’t know anything. I do know that Chuck Bass was bisexual and owned a pet monkey in the Gossip Girl books, so there’s always that to cling to in times of need. The possible promise of Living Ali means my jaw is still on the floor. I always think I know PLL’s next big move and yet still find myself shocked. I’m a sucker for this sort of thing.
Hanna wasn’t dreaming; Mona is saying that Alison pulled them out of the fire, and Spencer also adds her voice to the “Ali is Red Coat” screams. We don’t have solid evidence, but this seems pretty legitimate. I’m sure season 4 will reveal that all of the girls are drug addicts living out their delusion alternate realty involving a rude blonde nurse named Alison, but this is a great development for now – it’s just the right amount of creepy with the slight possibility that the entire thing is totally false.
The Liars and Mona return from the woody lodge, relieved that they weren’t burned alive or fake blinded like Jenna. They’re relieved until they’re outside of Hanna’s home and spot WILDEN’S CAR FROM THE POND. THE VIDEO IS STILL ON LOOP. THIS CAR IS A TRANSFORMER AND IMMORTAL. We see PornStarMom hitting Wilden with her car… but then the video hits new footage - JENNA & SHANA HELP WILDEN OUT OF THE WOODS. Okay. Jenna is back in town and Jenna is ready to f**k some bitches UP. Our four ladies AND MONA receive a nice text – “You’re mine now. Kisses-A.” Spencer pops open the trunk. We receive a nice reverse angle form inside the truck, looking up at the gaggle of misfits; I’m sure Quentin Tarantino would be fond of this shot if he was fond of PLL (and QT is just crazy enough that he might actually watch this damn show). Everyone screams bloody murder.
The tag at the end of the episode loops us back to Ali’s Carrie hand, shooting up from the dirt as a cry for help; this was the season 3 Halloween tag. However, we get a few more seconds of footage this time around, and we see another hand dive in to pull Ali out of her grave. HOLY WOAH. Maybe Alison shook off that dirt, hopped in her Pussy Wagon, and rode off to kill Bill. Maybe Alison was being turned, and now she is a full-fledged vampire. PLL has become much darker and twisty, and while I’m up for the change (just like Harry Potter!), I kind of miss the playful, cartoon-y edge of the early years; thank God Almighty that Hanna is still around to lighten the mood. SPRING BREAK FOREVER. I’m sure the forth season will be bonkers – I. Marlene King recently tweeted about re-watching the pilot episode while writing season 4; King also hinted in the PLL Entertainment Weekly cover story that the show could draw to a close after the fifth season. I say 55 seasons. Minimum.
[Image Credit: ABC Family(2)]