‘Pretty Little Liars’ Season 7: Pretty Little Line-Up

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Though a marked improvement over the first half of the mid-season, there’s no denying that many of the last few episodes of “Pretty Little Liars” have amounted to a lot of set-up for the impending finale, even more fan service and the show getting all their ducks in a row in general.

Not that’s anything necessarily wrong with that, but for a series rapidly approaching its finale, it sure does feel like the typical shenanigans of any given “PLL” season, rather than the reveal-a-palooza we were promised.

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Don’t get me wrong: I’ve enjoyed the mid-season on the whole. Yes, there were some unfortunate blind alleys that led nowhere (the whole Addison nonsense, which played more like the set-up for a spin-off; the whole thing with Hanna and her would-be fashion line; etc.) and felt more like biding for time than anything else.

But overall, this back half of the final season feels like the show getting back-to-basics, which is fine, given all the insanity that’s gone on, particularly over the last couple of seasons. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

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I, for one, loved all that. The whole Dollhouse business? Excellent. The completely deranged, did-they-actually-go-there Charles plot-line? Complain all you want about it being “insensitive,” it was also engaging, fun TV. To me, the more far-out this show gets, the better it is.

At the same time, I do get that, as the show winds down to its end, how they would want to bring things back around to where they all started- four (now five) girls being stalked by someone who seemingly knew all their secrets. It’s also why the show is pushing the whole “Mona is A.D.” thing. Those were simpler times. It’s also complete BS and a total fake-out, but more on that later.

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Getting back to the last few episodes, here are the main developments. In “The Glove That Rocks the Cradle,” the heat was on Spencer in particular, literally, as her and Detective Marco’s relationship hit the skids big-time after he began to suspect she was directly involved with the disappearance/murder of Archer Dunhill, even going so far as to bring her in for questioning.

Of course, we all knew that Marco was never going to be endgame for Spencer, so their “relationship” crashing and burning is no big shocker, though I was a little surprised at how quickly he disappeared from the series on the latest episode- all the better to bring back none other than Lieutenant Tanner (Roma Maffia) herself to close this case once and for all, so I can’t say I’m complaining.

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A lot of Spencer’s potential downfall rests on a receipt she likely signed after using Dunhill’s credit card the night he died at the Radley- the very same night that she met and hooked up with Marco for the first time. Given that, it’s no wonder Marco recused himself from the case- he’s a regular Jeff Sessions. 🙂

Hanna retrieved a computer hard drive for “A.D.” that seemingly only contained a Patsy Cline song– but which she recognized as one that was played in the Dollhouse. Spencer, in the meantime, meets with Marco to plead her case, to no avail, but something does come of it- she swipes some footage of Lucas recanting his testimony that served as Hanna’s defense on the night of Charlotte’s death. He says that he thinks Hanna is innocent, which is why he lied on her behalf- but he wouldn’t put it past the girls to have been involved in some capacity.

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The girls attempt a “sting” operation to catch “A.D.” in the act of retrieving the hard drive from the locker at the school they are supposed to leave it in. Hanna ropes in Mona to help on the sly, without the other girls’ knowledge, which Mona is understandably resentful of. (“I’ll help you and your friends like I always do, then I’ll crawl back under a rock,” she spits.)

While several of the girls do the drop/trap thing at the school, Aria does “A.D.” dirty work by replacing Ali’s baby mobile with a typically nightmarish one, featuring the girls represented by Barbie-type dolls hanging from a pair of black gloves, and trashes the room and splashes red paint like blood all over the place.

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She escapes just in the nick of time to avoid being caught by a returning Emily and Ali, who are horrified by what they see. Ali was also pushed by an unseen figure at the school stake-out, which was predictably a bust. (“A.D.” had a hole in the back of the locker to retrieve stuff without being seen.) Because of the timing of it all, they know the nursery thing couldn’t be “A.D.”, so they know “A.D.” has a colleague helping.

Hanna and Caleb trash the room at the Radley that most likely contains the receipt incriminating Spencer by flooding it when they can’t find the actual piece of evidence- which means “A.D.” probably already has it. They also see Lucas on the security cameras, obviously there to meet someone, and a report back from Mona saying she didn’t see anything at the school.

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Marco calls Spencer and flips out on her for stealing evidence, but she threatens to blackmail him- no wonder he takes himself off the case. The girls corner Lucas back at his place, as he is looking for something there. He says that he received the comic he and Charles wrote as kids with a note telling him to meet at the Radley, but claims no one showed up.

He also says there was a second, unfinished comic, and that it was still missing, and that he pulled Hanna’s funding because he couldn’t convince any investors to go in on his business with Hanna and had lost a fair sum of cash in the process. We later see that, of course, “A.D.” has the missing comic.

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The big fan service moment in this episode, beyond maybe Ezra announcing his engagement to the world at a promotional event for his and Aria’s book, was the somewhat inevitable hook-up between Emily and Alison, who finally confessed her feelings for Em after the prodding by Paige a few episodes back. So, Emison is at long last a thing for real. Happy, ‘shippers?

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In the following episode, “Driving Miss Crazy,” we discover what “A.D.” Is holding over Aria’s head- a police report that would have incriminated Ezra for having unlawful relations with a minor, aka sleeping with his student when he was a teacher, lest we forget that was a thing. Weirdly, as icky as this thing has always been, it’s oddly hard to hate Ezra, probably because of actor Ian Harding’s admittedly inherent likability. (Though he was fairly convincing during the “Dark Ezra” saga, so…?)

Marco turns his attention to Hanna after striking out with the Spencer receipt thing, but gets nowhere. Hanna does admit, however, to the girls that she let Mona in on things, which goes over about as well as one might expect. Aria sneaks in a phone at the Hastings house that features a recording incriminating Peter, who freaks out about it- like we didn’t know he was dirty.

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In it, Mary says she killed Jessica and framed him for it with pills she took from his house because she suspected Peter and Jessica were going to try and kill her, which may be true. Peter is pretty unapologetic about the whole thing, but Spencer and Veronica are unamused. They do stop short of calling the cops on Peter, though, thanks to Spencer.

Mona and Emily pose as a lesbian couple- a pairing you never thought you wanted until it happened- and pay a visit to the doctor that was responsible for implanting Ali with Em’s eggs. He isn’t very forthcoming, but Mona steals a magazine from his office, and they go to his house and go through his stuff, find some evidence and confront him again. Naturally, he doesn’t know who “A.D.” is, but he does have an email handle.

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Hanna tries to get ahold of the shovels the girls used to bury Archer, but they are already gone. The farmer there explains they were collected for evidence in a possible crime, but as we see in the next episode, that’s not expressly true. Spencer meets with Marco to hash things out, then finds Mary Drake hiding in her back seat. They go to the Lost Woods Resort together to talk in private.

Mary admits to stealing the pills from Peter and going after her sister, but says she did it to protect Spencer. She asks Spencer to run away with her, but Spencer declines, though she’s obviously tempted by it. Too bad- those two could be a regular Thelma & Louise, lol. (Speaking of spin-offs…)

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In another bit of fan service, Caleb declares his love for Hanna to her mother and asks her to marry him. Hanna, not Ashley. (Though, either would be fine with me, lol.) We then get a truly bizarre B&W musical sequence that was a primo WTF “PLL” moment, as Mona sang “Jailhouse Rock” to Aria and Ezra was punched repeatedly in the face, which, let’s face it, more than a few people were probably onboard with.

The punching, not the singing- I’m not sure anyone was onboard for that, given the internet reaction, as lovely a performance as it was on the talented Mrs. Parrish’s end. But you know, priorities, and this wasn’t one, though I would have loved to see a full-blown “PLL” musical episode in the past. (The Film Noir one was great, though.)

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Aria gets a “reward” from “A.D.”, which turns out to be another puzzle piece, which Mona spots her retrieving from the Brew. Needless to say, this puts Aria on Mona’s radar big-time, which explains what happens in the next episode. Spencer returns home to find her parents have discovered the note Mary wrote to her. She says that she knows for a fact it wasn’t Mary that planted that recording, but they aren’t entirely convinced.

Veronica announces that she will have to withdraw from her senate seat, due to fear that Peter and Mary’s doings will be used against her by whoever did plant that recording. Oh well. Even in “PLL”-land, politics are messed up, I guess. Too bad, Veronica would have killed it, I’m sure.

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Aria places the puzzle piece in the appropriate place on the game board and gets her real reward- the police report she never filed on Ezra. Emily gives Mona the phone that Aria planted at the Hastings house to see what she can find on it. She also has some info on the doctor investigation from earlier that she uncovered, but Mona shoos her off, and as the camera pans inside, we see why- Mona’s got a brand-new lair!

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Finally, in “Choose or Lose,” Em and Ali go upstairs to the bedroom to find the game waiting for them- time to play another round. But what’s this? A new puzzle piece? Looks like someone else has been playing on the sly. Cue the doorbell- it’s the cops, and they’ve come prepared for once. They have a search warrant and they waste no time in gathering up evidence. Ali rushes upstairs to retrieve the game- but it’s already gone, meaning that “A.D.” must have been in the house just now.

The cops also hit the other girls, even going so far as to take- gasp!- their phones. Aria doesn’t have to wait long for another, though, as “A.D.” calls her shortly thereafter on a brand spanking new one. Aria wants to meet, saying she’s done quite enough for “A.D.” at this point, which seems fair. “A.D.” says to put on the hoodie and all black and head on down to a secret meeting location, but we see Mona on the other end, either listening in or posing as “A.D.” herself.

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Spencer rushes down to confront Marco about all of this, only to find him gone and Lt. Tanner in his place, ready to crack skulls and take names, not necessarily in that order. She might have saved the girls once upon a time, but now she’s out for blood, convinced there’s more to the story. Well, duh.

The girls, sans Aria, meet up at a hotel room at the Radley, thoughtfully provided by Ashley, who knows something’s going on, because duh. Spencer passes out burner phones and Ali and Emily confess to Emison, which shocks no one, including the audience, no doubt. Honorary “PLL” guy Caleb says he has a new plan to track down “A.D.” via cell towers.

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A phone rings, and it turns out to be hidden in a covered room service platter. It’s from “A.D.” naturally. The message says they have 36 hours to decide which of them is going down for everything. If they don’t choose, they all lose- title alert! Mona has a suggestion for who should do it: Aria.

She tells them about her suspicions about Aria, laying out all the evidence. Aria wasn’t at the school the night of the exchange, or at Ezra’s book event like she should have been, so she could have done the freaky mobile/nursery assault thing. She was also in the Hastings house just before the recording presented itself, so she could have planted the phone. Mona also saw her get the puzzle piece at the Brew.

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The girls want more, so Mona gives it to them, playing the recording she made of the convo between Aria and “A.D.” Shortly afterward, Spencer runs into a bearded Toby, because it’s time for more fan service. Ostensibly, he’s in town to talk to Tanner, who wanted to question him, but we know why he’s really here: it’s Spoby time! He warns her that Tanner seems to be closing in on them, but doesn’t have much in the way of detail.

Aria goes to the meet with “A.D.”, but is shocked to instead run into the girls, who tell her she has some ‘splaining to do. Aria attempts to do so, but it’s clear they aren’t happy. Spencer in particular is nasty about it, which is somewhat ironic, given that she was once “Team A” for a spell. They tell her about the “A.D.” ultimatum and storm off.

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Everyone assembles at the police station to be grilled by Tanner, who gives them a chance to come clean. She has pieces of glass found in Spencer’s shower drain from Lucas’ car’s windshield, which was mysteriously replaced right around the time of Dunhill’s disappearance.

There’s also incriminating security footage from the Radley and dubious search history files found on their computers, which is ridiculous at this point, as the girls should really know better to cover their tracks. It ain’t enough to arrest them, but she’s getting close, so better to confess now- or they might all pay the price. Needless to say, no one does.

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Aria calls “A.D.”, furious over what he/she/they have done, saying they broke their arrangement. She goes to throw out the phone, but “A.D.” tells her not to and to hang in there until tomorrow, when it will all make sense. The rest of the girls play the blame game, before Emily drops a truth bomb on Spencer, reminding her of her own past actions with the “A” game.

Caleb finally tells Ashley what’s going on with Hanna, which neither Ashley nor Hanna is happy about, but they get over it, because Caleb is so charming, lol. Spencer goes to Aria to kinda-sorta apologize, but then storms out when the police come in, returning all of the evidence they seized and telling Aria she’s been cleared. It seems that Tanner was sent footage proving that Aria was in New Hampshire the night of Dunhill’s disappearance. Except we know she wasn’t, as so does Spencer.

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Aria tells Ezra about the police report she almost filed, but he already knew, having found it before she shredded it. He’s not mad because, as he put it, he’s made his share of mistakes. You think? She promised to tell him everything that’s been going on, but first wants to hook up. We then get a ‘shipper’s paradise of love scenes, as everyone does the same, including Spoby, while Hanna and Caleb make it official, with a little help from Ashley and a Justice of the Peace, working after-hours. Who knew Ashley had such pull now?

Everyone gathers the next day for the final countdown of the “A.D.” clock, but Spencer decides to put an end to that prematurely by smashing the phone with a rock before it happens. Conspicuous by her absence is Aria, who calls “A.D.” and says she’s going to turn herself in to Tanner and take the fall for everything, but “A.D.” says it’s too late for that- the clock has already run out.

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“A.D.” claims that Aria is free and the phone literally self-destructs, “Mission Impossible” style. She races to her car and calls Spencer, leaving a message that she has an idea of how to set things right, but then her car also self-destructs and she has to pull over. She gets out to check the trunk, presumably for a spare tire, and is stunned to find what appears to be Archer’s dead body, as indicated by his missing finger.

Naturally, the cops pull up right then, leaving her just enough time to close the trunk. This is what “A.D.” calls freedom? Methinks “A.D.” needs to check their dictionary- I think they might have confused it for incarceration. That is where we leave poor Aria, who made her bed and now must lie in it, I’m afraid.

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While all this is happening, Caleb and Ezra follow a lead they got from the aforementioned cell towers. Caleb arrives at the location and realizes it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from Mona’s, so they head there. We see Mona inside her apartment/lair, checking out the game, which pops up a new piece: a jail cell. Mona smiles and that’s where we end things for now.

Unless you’re new to the show, there’s no way you’re falling for that gambit again. Every fan knows by now that if the show is pushing one suspect really hard, then there’s no way it’s going to be them, at least in terms of the “true” villain. The girls asked Mona to help suss out “A.D.” and that’s exactly what’s she’s been doing- working overtime to collect as much info as she can to do just that.

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Yes, there is an awful lot of incriminating evidence on display, i.e. the shovels and what have you- but that’s just Mona being careful to get ahold of anything that could bring the girls down, not to actually bring them down herself. Maybe I’m wrong, but I sincerely don’t think so, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Lest we forget, though, they did an awfully similar thing with Ezra a while back- remember his Ravenswood hideout?

Besides, that’s just how Mona operates. We’ve seen that before, too, in her Lost Woods Resort lair. Mona is an obsessive, by her own admission. After she was exposed as “A,” she warned the girls about how addictive the “A” game could be, and was hesitant to go there again, lest she get wrapped up in it all again.

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Of course, that’s exactly what happened, leading to Mona nearly being killed, entrapped in the Dollhouse even longer than the girls, and all but helping to train Charlotte into being the next “A.” Now, to paraphrase “The Godfather,” every time she thinks she’s out, they pull her back in.

By letting Mona in on the literal game- as in the board game from hell the girls were sent at the beginning of the back half of the season- she’s gone all-in to figure out who this “new A” is, at the risk of her own sanity, and despite the fact that the girls have all but admitted that she’ll never really be part of their group and that they’ll never really trust her, save maybe Hanna, to a certain extent, as the two have more of a history together.

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As if to prove that fact, Caleb and Ezra are no doubt about to burst into Mona’s new lair and do a whole lot of accusing, but I don’t think it will amount to much in the end. It’s just too obvious, for one thing, and there’s no way that, after all this time and all the crazy things that have happened over the course of seven seasons, that it’s going to be as straight-forward as “Mona did it” again- because she’s Mona.

I can’t imagine that, as completely nutbar as the whole Charles thing was, that the show doesn’t have something equally as deranged planned for the big finale, or close to it. Hell, I’d be a little disappointed if it DIDN’T strain credibility, at least a little. Look at all the loose ends they still have to tie up, after all.

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That’s what’s made parts of this final run of episodes a little frustrating, as a lot of it plays like “PLL’s Greatest Hits.” Still, even as it treads water at times, it’s hard not to enjoy the show, almost in spite of itself. I mean, come on, don’t deny it wasn’t rewarding seeing Aria finally break bad, as it were.

Yes, we all knew she’d come back around, and she was just doing it as a means to an end. As she herself pointed out, it wasn’t anything Spencer herself hadn’t done before, even going so far as to basically kidnap a kid at one point. As for her accusation that Aria “broke her parents up”- um, yeah, I hate to break it to you, but that train should have left the station ages ago.

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If anything, it’s miraculous that they made it this far, with all the things Peter alone has been up to- and much of that was known to Veronica, mind you, including the various affairs and Spencer’s “real” mom. It’s stuff like this that is the reason that I remain convinced that, as I’ve maintained for some time, that “A.D.” is almost certainly Melissa working in cahoots with someone.

Why wouldn’t she hate the girls, especially Spencer, in spite of her claims of trying to “protect” her? Spencer was basically the equivalent of a bomb dropped into the middle of her family. And she tried to steal her man, to boot! (As in Dr. Wren, who is OBVIOUSLY still in the picture, as we saw in the airport scene.)

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I also have no problem whatsoever about it involving a Spencer twin, aka the “Twincer” theory- who better to pit against Spencer and the girls than her own evil doppelganger? Lest we forget, “Twin Peaks” was an obvious influence on the show, and that show had multiple twins as well, and yes, for those who don’t know, one of them was indeed evil and is currently wreaking havoc on the current incarnation of the show.

In addition, it’s just nuts enough to qualify as enjoyable, after all the other crazy stuff they’ve done on the show. Mona as “A.D.” is dubious to me, but Melissa, Dr. Wren and Spencer’s evil twin working together to bring the girls down once and for all? THAT I have no problem with, because it’s just the suitable level of insane to be about right, given all we’ve seen to date.

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Also, look at all the evidence. Twins run in Spencer’s family- on the Jessica and Mary Drake side. So does insanity. Spencer also has trouble with addictions, which could explain “our” Spencer having trouble separating reality from fantasy, which could come in handy to explain away seeing “double”- literally. Even when she was clean, she could just chalk seeing anything crazy to PTSD or withdrawal-type symptoms.

I also think it’s why Spencer quickly came to terms with Aria’s betrayal. Not only has she done it before herself, and so gets why Aria would do it as well, but she knows what’s it’s like to be pushed too far. For that matter, you could also easily substitute Alison within this scenario- as in Ali’s the one with an “evil twin.” It would explain how she could be so omnipresent all this time, and all of the aforementioned things I said about her family still apply, i.e. twinsanity runs in the fam.

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That means that, as I’ve maintained, it was actually Lucas who was looking for Charlotte’s killer. So he was “Emoji A,” which is a completely different thing from “A.D.” The show itself has already all but confirmed this, from establishing that Lucas has been friends with her all the way back to when she was Charles, and they wrote a revealing comic together that had an “A”-type persona within its pages; to his recanting of his testimony defending the girls.

That just means he probably knows who did it, so there’s no need to help them out anymore. It’s obvious he has no ill will towards Hanna, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it against one of the other girls, especially if he’s figured out that it was one of them that did it. If you go along with my above theory, then it could well be “evil” Spencer or “evil” Ali that did it, but Lucas may or may not know that they even exist, assuming they do- though I wouldn’t be surprised if he does, either.

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Think about it- if he was friends with Charlotte/Charles all this time, then he would have been privy to all sorts of info about the girls, and helped her along the way with tormenting them. At some point, he claims to have backed out of the arrangement when Charlotte took things a little too far- likely because of his feelings for Hanna- but he almost certainly knows more than he lets on.

So, there you go. That’s where I stand on all this, as we head into the final couple of episodes. It’s kind of shocking that it will all be over in a few weeks. Yes, us fans wouldn’t want the show to overstay its welcome- though some might argue it already has. Apparently that hasn’t stopped them from hate-watching it, though. I think seven seasons feels about right, though they could have probably accomplished more or less the same thing in six, or even five.

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But that’s sort of the nature of TV series, isn’t it? You want viewers to keep coming back, so you stretch things out, even when you probably shouldn’t. I don’t think “PLL” went too far with it- I’ve seen daytime soaps that are far worse at such things- but they definitely pushed the limits. We’ll see if they can bring it all home in a matter of episodes. Fingers crossed they do, but it’s a lot to ask for, what with all the loose ends they still have to wrap up.

What do you think of the last season of “Pretty Little Liars” so far? Are you onboard with it or frustrated by the pace at which things are happening? Do you think they’ll be able to pull off a satisfying ending? Who do you think “A.D.” Is? Do you think “A.D.” and “Emoji A” are different people/groups? If so, who is involved with each? Who would you like to see return to the show in its final weeks? Sound off down below and see you for the big finale!