Pretty Little Liars “Game Over, Charles” Review (Season 6 Episode 10)

Pretty Little Liars Game Over, Charles Season 6 Episode 10 (8)

*Slow clap* Well, I’ve got to hand it to show-runner I. Marlene King. If this whole TV thing doesn’t work out, she’s got an easy career in reverse psychology to fall back on. Of course, as millions of viewers and fans will attest, that career seems to be working out just fine for her, as it stands. As for the second act, we’ll see…but for now, well-played, Ms. King, well-played, indeed.

Needless to say, spoilers abound from here on out, so if you don’t want to know anything, you should stop reading now. Not kidding.

Okay, let’s get started. First and foremost, just last week I was saying how the show had obviously abandoned the whole “transgender” thing, because, well, why wouldn’t they? King made no real major comments to dissuade anyone of this- why would she? After all, her entire plot twist revolved around it. So, she just let everyone think that the show would never go there in a post-Caitlyn Jenner world, and let sleeping dogs lie. (There were some well-planted bits of subterfuge, however, like this one.)

Smart move, because most everyone in the press just assumed it was true and abandoned any thought that it could possibly be the case, as the show couldn’t possibly go there, right? As did most fans, who, like myself, swarmed around a host of other potential solutions, with primary suspects being Wren, Caleb, Ezra, Toby, Lucas, et al. with an assist from everyone from Melissa to Jenna to even the long presumed dead Maya.

While some thought that maybe Charles was dead and someone else, possibly female, might be avenging his death for whatever reason, only a select few held hard and fast to the whole “transgender” theory, and those people clearly deserve a round of applause themselves, for sticking to their guns. I myself am on record for not going there, but I’m actually kind of glad, as it made the fact that the show totally did go there that much more surprising.

So, what did I think of how it was handled? I think it was handled as well as it could have possibly been handled, under the circumstances. After all, when you think about the story given, although Charles/Charlotte/Cece did indeed put a lot of people in jeopardy, she ultimately only harmed one person, Wilden, who was planning to out Ali as being alive. Instead, she witnessed one murder first-hand (Bethany’s of Toby’s mother), accidentally assaulted the person she loved in Ali (who, of course, didn’t die), and yes, did admittedly torment the girls and kidnap them and put them in a dollhouse/underground bunker from hell.

None of that is good, and she should absolutely be locked up for it- as Hanna would probably put it: “Bitch is crazy,” after all. But it’s easy to see where the girls would be able to get past it, especially Ali. (Jason, on the other hand, might have some issues to work out in therapy, for a long, long time! Yikes!)

Hell, if you think about it, what Mona did in some ways was worse: she unapologetically killed Bethany for no good reason other than to protect her own social status, thinking it was Ali. Granted, she could have killed ALi later on when she picked her up, but I guess Mona thought better of it when Ali agreed to leave town to get away from whoever was trying to kill her, little knowing she was sitting right there with her!

Plus, it turns out Mona was the one who tried to run down Hanna with her car. You know someone’s crazy when another crazy person (Cece) is all like, “That bitch is crazy!” (Pot, meet kettle.) Indeed, Cece said she distanced herself from Mona because she had “no loyalty to her friends” and was entirely too off the rails for her liking, and thus, couldn’t be trusted. And this from someone who’s easily certifiable themselves, even if you look past the fact that she was wrongfully imprisoned in the first place, having never intended to hurt Ali as a child, nor had she killed Toby’s mom, thus keeping her there even longer.

So, yeah, I was okay with the way the show handled it, but it remains to be seen what rest of the world will think. It goes without saying that social media is probably blowing up right now, with some upset that they were wrong, and others ticked off that they might have been right had they not been convinced otherwise by answers from King and company that seemingly led them to believe that the show would never go “there” with the transgender thing.

Still others, no doubt, will be upset that they DID go there. I can hear it now: how could a show that was so LGBT-friendly make the ultimate villain be a transgender person? Don’t they know they’re setting the cause back years in the process? Um, no. It’s a show, people. Hate to break it to you.

Besides, the very fact that some thought it might go this way is a testament to the fact that fans know the show all too well, and more so, the source of their inspiration, particularly the Hitchcock influence, and this was a very “Psycho”-influenced ending, which is exactly why a lot of us thought it could be that in the first place, myself included. The only reason many of us abandoned the theory was because of the way transgenders were seen as of late, thinking that, even if they show had planned to go there, it surely wouldn’t anymore because of the bad press such a decision would receive alone.

And King and Co. did nothing to dissuade us of it, as well they shouldn’t have. Why blow your own plot twist? But yeah, they went there all right, and we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out tomorrow, I suppose. Or, for that matter, if, like “Twin Peaks” before them, now that the main mystery is solved, more or less, that viewers continue to tune in for several more seasons for a new one, or tune out in droves, like they did with that classic show. I can only comment so much on the new mystery, as there wasn’t that much to go on.

We know Ali’s a teacher (!) five years down the line, and either married or living under an assumed name, and that someone male is after her for some reason and that they’re now in town, which one assumes is Rosewood, as Ali declares that she intends to stay there as the girls leave at the end to go off to college. So, if it’s Rosewood, she’s likely married, if not, then she’s somewhere teaching under a different name. Looked like Rosewood to me, though. That’s about it, save that the girls were back to help her with whatever this new dilemma is. We shall see.

Until then, I’d have to say that I didn’t have a problem with the solution to the current mystery whatsoever. It did indeed seem like everything lined up with the events as we were given- though a re-watch might be necessary to make doubly sure. (I’m guessing more than a few will be doing just that in the meantime until the show comes back, so brace yourself for a lot of “plot hole” complaints, and I’ve no doubt there probably are some.) Either way, it felt believable and I could live with it overall.

I suppose the one minor complaint I have was in regards to Sara Harvey’s involvement. We never really found out how Cece knew her, unless I missed something, and there must be some reason she was willing to go so far to help her, I should think. I was sort of hoping that Red Coat and the Black Widow were different people, but as we now know, they were one and the same. Apparently, Sara is also being released from the hospital at the end, and is none too happy with the girls, even though they have every right to be upset with her, as she did indeed lie blatantly to them, especially Emily. (Nice right hook, BTW, girl!)

As for Cece, one assumes she’s back in an institution, though that’s probably where she belongs. Even if her only real casualty was Wilden, she’s still clearly unstable, and though some may complain about it, I don’t think it had anything to do with her being transgender, so much as it did with the way the people in her life treated her because she WAS transgender, if you get my distinction. Kenneth is as much to blame for it as anyone, for instance, and her mother wasn’t exactly helping by covering things up left and right, even if her heart was in the right place.

The way I see it, Charles/Cece was dealt a bad hand, and things spiraled from there. If anything, it’s sort of a cautionary tale as to what can happen if you treat a person with genuine gender issues like they’re crazy- eventually they might just become crazy for real. Especially if you surround them with other people that actually are struggling with mental issues, i.e. Bethany and Mona. I don’t think Charles was born bad- he was turned that way. Either way, Charles is no more, anyway. What’s left is actually Charlotte, aka Cece, and Cece clearly has some big-time issues.

Don’t know if there’s any hope for her, but maybe an institution is the best possible place for her, especially now that her real story is out. Maybe one day, with the right medication and treatment, she’ll be acceptable for being out and about in society. Only time will tell. Until that day, if it ever comes, her tale is more sad than offensive, I think, and I truly felt sympathy for her, despite all her questionable actions, and I got the sense the girls did, too. Hell, even Hanna managed a semi-kind word when Cece threatened suicide. I think most fans will, too, even if they’re a little disappointed that “their” theory was wrong.

So, there you go. I look forward to hearing other people’s take on all of this, and don’t doubt some of it will be negative, as tends to be the case when a solution isn’t yours, and/or that solution is controversial. Going back to “Twin Peaks,” I remember also being a little disappointed at the solution to that mystery- at first. But once I had some time to think about it, I realized it was not only the one that made the most sense, but the one chosen for maximum impact.

I think “Pretty Little Liars” did the same, and I don’t blame King and company for sticking to their guns, even though they had to know it was going to be a controversial choice, especially with all the transgender issues in the news as of late. I think they handled it as delicately as they could have, under the circumstances, and I didn’t find it distasteful at all.

About the worst thing I can say about the episode was that it was definitely full-on exposition city, a la the “Architect” in “The Matrix: Revolutions.” Many complained when “Lost” went for the emotional ending over the “Architect” one that explained everything, but I think “PLL” managed to have its cake and it eat too by going for both, and for me, personally, it worked. Now all King can do is wait and see how the rest of the world feels about it, and let the chips fall where they may. I, for one, can’t wait to see what she comes up with next, but good luck following up all that!

What did you think of the “Pretty Little Liars” mid-season finale? Were you satisfied with the outcome? Or were you disappointed? Did you guess the identity of Charles correctly? Or were you way off? How about Red Coat and the Black Widow? Did you have any idea they were one and the same? Or who it was? What do you think will become of Cece and Sara? Will old habits die hard and they come after the girls again? Or will the new mystery be something else entirely? Sound off below, and see you for the next episode!

Post-Mortem: Okay, so having checked out some of the reactions, it’s obvious that many have a problem with the identity of “A” and her…um, minion, technically. Some of the complaints are valid, for instance, many echoed my complaint about not explaining how Cece met Sara and why she did everything she did for her. Was she paid to? Were they lovers? Did Cece blackmail her? Don’t disagree with this complaint at all.

Likewise, it was never discussed how Cece recruited and dealt with her other minions. This part wasn’t hard to figure out: she blackmailed them into submission or dangled some crucial piece of info to lure them in, i.e. Toby wanting to know about his mom. There are a number of other mysteries, which if you haven’t seen, are dealt with in this interview with I. Marlene King, so that takes care of those as well.

Yes, it’s a bit of a cheat to simply roll these answers out in a Q&A when they could have easily just did it in the episode itself, which could have stood being at least a half hour longer, IMHO. But at least she has the answers to give, showing that some thought was put into matters at least. Still, we don’t know, for instance, what happened to the Pretty Little Moms, and that would have been an easy enough fix in an extended episode.

Ditto what became of Kenneth and Jason DiLaurentis, besides Jason having to wrap his brain around having tried to hook up with his sister, that is, which would be a given. (Suddenly, my incestual theories in my last articles aren’t looking so far-fetched, right?) King did acknowledge that the identity of who killed Mrs. D. on the other hand, was intentionally left unanswered, so we clearly have a little more mystery to go, in spite of the many answered here tonight.

Now, onto the biggest complaint, the fact that it was Cece in the first place. I was right there with everyone in thinking it was likely Wren, with an assist from GF Melissa and Cece, but let’s face it, despite all the clues that led myself and others to that conclusion, what exactly would have been their motives? Sure, Melissa had good reason to hate Spencer, for hooking up with Wren, and Ali, for stealing incriminating videos of her, but what about the other girls? Were they just caught in the crossfire? One could make similar complaints about the other main suspects as well.

But Cece, on the other hand, made sense, within the context of the given scenario. She overheard the girls badmouthing Ali, so she turned against them and plotted to make their lives hell, because it was her sister. Once a different “A” was blamed in Shana, she quit for a while, only to resurface because she realized she enjoyed being “A.” At that point things got taken to another level, with her going so far as to attack Ali at one point, and of course, the whole Dollhouse affair, but by then, it was also clear that Cece had a freaking screw loose as well. Crazy doesn’t really need a reason, but we got a valid one, IMHO- much more so than any I can think of for any of the other suspects, as elaborate as some of the theories were.

Yes, it wasn’t foolproof plotting- the biggest flaw so far was the scene some cited where Ali visited Toby in JD prison and his mom was still alive. If that was true, how could Cece and Bethany have still been kids when Bethany killed his mother? That’s bad one, admittedly, but the vast majority of it lines up, and in a much more perfect way than any of the other theories I’ve heard, so I can live with them having made one glaring mistake in exchange for most of it working for me. I don’t doubt there’s more but for now, that’s the only one I had a problem with, really.

So, there you go. I get that some were disappointed, but it seems to me that most were disappointed they weren’t right more than anything, but I’m more of the mind that it would have actually been more disappointing if I had been right, you know? I wanted to be fooled, not be right on the money, so the way it worked out, even though Cece was high on my list right up until the “Charles” reveal, I still was, even if it was a bit of a cheat. But it was a well-executed cheat, and that I can live with.

Those who can’t, well, that’s your problem, really. I’m sure some (but likely not all, no matter what they say) of those people will stop watching when the show returns, and good riddance to them. If you’re going to be a baby about it- “I was wrong and that sucks, wah!” or “My theory was better than Marlene’s!”- then forget about you. Us loyal fans will keep watching to see what comes next, and what Marlene and Co. come up with next. Like I said, I can’t wait. Who’s with me?