Pretty Little Liars “The Gloves are On” Review (Season 6 Episode 13)

TROIAN BELLISARIO, ASHLEY BENSON, SHAY MITCHELL

So, I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of digging the new vibe of “Pretty Little Liars” since the time jump. Yes, the first episode back was a bit exposition-heavy and for the most part, didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know from the “5 Years Forward” special, save the murder of Charlotte, but now that we’ve settled in with the characters as they now are…well, let’s just say “The Gloves are On”- but probably not for long.

Interestingly, even though this was clearly a bit of a transitional episode as well, it still worked for me, mostly because, unlike in the past, they didn’t over-milk things for longer than they should have. We actually got most of the answers we were looking for. For instance, they didn’t drag the Sara Harvey thing out any longer than they needed to, revealing that all that happened was, after Emily decked her the night Charlotte was caught, she went to raise herself up from the floor and got electrocuted by some live wires in the area- simple as that.

No major plot, nothing really intentional on the part of the girls, she just had the misfortune to put her hands where she shouldn’t have. Yes, she wouldn’t have been in that position if Emily hadn’t hit her- but Sara also wouldn’t have been in that position if she hadn’t gone along with Charlotte’s nutty plot, either, so who’s really to blame there?

That said, I know everyone just hates the character, but for me, watching her swivel her head just so, like the Terminatrix or Michael Myers when he rises up from the floor to go after Jamie Lee Curtis in the original “Halloween” just hits the sweet spot for me, personally. I like the quiet menace of Dre Davis in the back half of this season, and the way she seems to be lurking around every corner, especially insofar as Emily is concerned. I halfway expected her to say to Emily: “This is your conscience, bitch! Are you listening?”

IAN HARDING

Likewise, still digging the ongoing “Dark Ezra” saga. Yes, the show was still cagey about whether he actually killed Charlotte, but come on- we all know he didn’t. Whenever this show points the finger at someone this hard, they never are guilty. Sara might be the only example of something like that actually panning out, and look how THAT went over with fans. Fortunately, the show is making up for that one in spades, by making Sara genuinely creepy.

Ian Harding is nowhere near as convincing as Davis is, but he’s good with the whole “I’m going to raise my voice louder to communicate I’m pissed” gambit, and that part of it is at least effective. Or maybe it’s just the way the girls jump when he does it that helps sell it really well. Either way, this Ezra is infinitely more interesting than “normal” Ezra, so I’m totally good with it. But yeah, the only thing he’s guilty of is being a day drinker and causing “incidents” in public.

However, easily one of my all-time favorite characters on the show, Melissa (Torrey DeVitto) was back, and as per usual, she stole every scene she was in. Longtime readers of this column will recall she was right at the top of my list of potential “A” suspects, with Cece right behind her.

SHAY MITCHELL, RYAN W. GARCIA

Turns out I should have stuck with my number 2 choice, but I think the show threw most of us with that whole transgender twist, which I know rubbed a LOT of people the wrong way. In retrospect, though, it was just a clever way to throw people off the scent of the big reveal of a mystery that should have been solved some time before that.

Had they not stalled so much, so many people wouldn’t have figured it out like they did, and they wouldn’t have had to come up with the whole twist in the first place, thus ticking off certain people, notably in the LGBT community. That’s what happens when you string along people too long- it comes back to bite you in the…well, “A,” shall we say?

Anyway, Mellissa was just great all around, IMHO. Easily my fave moment of hers was when she picked up almost immediately on the vibe between Spencer and Caleb and when the former denied it, said, without missing a beat: “Really? ‘Cause I know how you like to shop out of other people’s baskets.” Burn! Melissa should know- Spencer certainly did just that to her once upon a time. (And I am so using that phrase if something like that ever comes up IRL.)

Chances are, Melissa won’t be around for long, which is too bad, but you never know. Maybe she can be “A 2.0” her own damn self. I know I would be 100% on board with that. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, but the actress already has a day job elsewhere, so it isn’t likely. Then again, it’s not as if Cece were omnipresent for a while before she reared her ugly “A” at the girls either, so it could happen.

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Speaking of Spencer, once again, the show didn’t beat around the bush when it came to the Caleb situation, either. First, she talked to Hanna, as a proper friend would, clearing the air of what many of us feared- that she’d already hooked up with Caleb in Spain and was hiding it from her, which proved to not be the case- and asking for permission to date him, which Hanna granted her.

That said, she certainly didn’t waste any time in cashing that good will in, with her and Caleb already hooking up before the episode even ended. Way not to waste any time, girl! I know a lot of the Spaleb haters- who have dubbed the match “Cancer” (think about it) – aren’t going to be thrilled with this development, but it totally works for me. As much as I like Caleb and Hanna together, he and Spencer are generating some real heat together, and even haters need to admit this. That hook-up was HOT, y’all. I’m just saying.

This kind of brings me to my more important point I wanted to make about the current state of the show. I like how, though the scenario the girls have found themselves in is all-too-familiar, the lens through which they are seeing it through isn’t. Yes, we are definitely seeing glimpses of the teens they used to be- old habits die hard, after all- but also of the grown-ups they are swiftly becoming.

LAURA LEIGHTON

For instance, it was all too easy to do some of the crazy shiz they used to get up to as minors…but now, there’s a real price to be paid for it. Not that there wasn’t before, really, when you get down to it, but you can feel the weight of it more, now that they’re older. Note how both Hanna and Spencer worried not only about how what they were involved in would affect not only themselves- but their moms, as well. Their younger characters were way too self-involved for all that.

Not that either one didn’t love their moms and would be willing to do anything to help them- i.e. the things Hanna did to help her mom when she took that money from her former job- but they didn’t tend to think about how their actions would reflect poorly on those around them. That’s called maturing as a character, and I’m really happy to see the show’s writers embracing that and allowing their characters to grow like that.

Not that, of course, any of this stops the girls from lying to most everyone around them, but they’re much more keenly aware of it now. They’ve all been there, done that, and know all too well what the consequences can be. Lest we forget, they did all end up getting arrested at one point. Can they avoid a repeat of that this time around? We shall see.

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Other stuff: Lorenzo and the police are all over that missing security footage from Chez Radley, and all eyes are squarely on the girls, as to be expected; Aria took matters into her own hands with the Ezra the author situation and turned in what little stuff he had to his publisher- and looks to be considering continuing for him on her own; and Lucas is back and is apparently crazy-rich from a game app and if I didn’t imagine things, there was a bit of a vibe between him and Hanna now- certainly more so than she had with doofy Jordan. (“Let’s get physical,” indeed.)

Also, in another bit of mystery-solving, we discovered that, as some suspected, Emily was selling her eggs to someone for cash, hence the injections and the like; and she finally came clean with her mom about dropping out of college- not that she had much choice in the matter, as Pam opened up a letter addressed to Emily from Pepperdine and found out the hard way beforehand.

Meanwhile, reporter Damien (Blake Berris, “Days of Our Lives”), who I think is up to more than he let on, informed a clueless Spencer that Mona had tried to join mother Veronica’s campaign and was shut down immediately by her and then Mona promptly offered up her services to the competition, who accepted- meaning that they no doubt have some serious inside knowledge about the Hastings. NEVER make an enemy out of Mona- you’d think even Veronica would know better by now.

TROIAN BELLISARIO, ASHLEY BENSON, SHAY MITCHELL

Of course, the big reveal was that there was a new “A” in town, who may or may not be the one who texted Aria with the sinister message: “You know who did it and I’m going to make you talk.” Followed by a devil skull emoji, because of course it was. Either way, we saw someone tossing the old “A” wardrobe into the trash and searching the internet for a new “uniform,” so look for this new “A” to have an all-new look, apparently. Might the clown mask have been a hint? (Also seen were what appeared to be one of Aria’s freaky dolls, the Ali mask, and various other former “A” paraphernalia.)

I suppose the obvious choice here for top new “A” contender is Ali, who would certainly have access to all of Charlotte’s stuff, and possibly Sara, as well. The two could certainly be working in cahoots- it’s not as if Sara hadn’t done it before- she’s a follower, not a leader. We also know that Ali clearly suspects one of the girls of killing Charlotte- most likely Aria, and guess who got that first text?

Still, a bit too obvious for my money. I’m sure they want us to think it’s probably Ali, who was absolutely noticeable by her absence in this episode, but that just seems too easy. Chances are, if Ali is involved, she’s a partner as well, not the leader. More than likely, this new “A” is someone older, and someone with ties to everything that’s happened on the show to date somehow. I know it’s an all-new mystery, but I still think it’s tied into the old one, and no one involved in the show has really denied that, so I’m sticking with it.

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I’m going to hold off with any further predictions for now until we know more, but mark my words- it’s not Ali or Sara. Or Ezra, for that matter. I don’t think any of them killed Charlotte, either. I suspect we have new suspects to meet as well, who will turn out to have various levels of involvement, just like before.

The good news is, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet that the show will end after the next season, chances are good that will be the case, which means we won’t have nearly as long to wait on this mystery as we did the last one. They might end up doing a movie, but I think the lead actresses are going to want to cash in on their fame and do something else sooner than later.

As much as I’d love the show to continue ad infinitum, I also want to see it end strong, and in retrospect, given the largely negative reaction to the last big reveal, they might want to quit while they’re ahead on the next one. Hopefully, they’ll come up with something that satisfies the masses more this time around. We can only hope.

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So, any suspects for the new “A” on your radar as of yet? Do you think that the person who killed Charlotte and the new “A” are one and the same, or two different people? If so, who do you think did what, if anyone comes to mind? Will there be a team this time around again? If so, who do you think will be on it, of the people we’ve met thus far? Any general predictions for the next episodes or the rest of the season as a whole? Sound off down below, and I’ll see you next week!