‘Pretty Little Liars’- “Emoji A.” Marks the Spot

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As we head into the season finale of the penultimate season of “Pretty Little Liars,” I felt it was high time we took a look at the various possibilities of answers for the ever-present question of “Who done it?” that drives most of the series. At this point, we already know the “why,” at least to a certain extent. As I surmised early on this half-season, there are actually two villains at work here: one who killed Charlotte (Vanessa Ray), aka Cece Drake/Charles; and one who is actively trying to cover that up.

There are also likely “minions” working for these people, meaning that, as in the past, there are teams in play here. For the sake of making the conversation easier, let’s label them “Team Emoji A.” and “Team Killer B.” As evidence for their existence, look no further than the fact that it would be hard for anyone to do all of this stuff alone, without some help. Whether or not that help is willing or forced is a matter of some debate, which we’ll get to.

For instance, we know that Sara (Dre Davis) has the help of her driver (Shawn Kaiser), which has allowed her to keep a lower profile when assembling some of the things she needs to work in the shadows. From her behavior, we also know that she’s been actively pursuing information on Charlotte, as evidenced by her constant presence at Radley and her fascination with exploring the underbelly of the building, aka that spooky basement area underneath the main building.

She’s also repeatedly stayed in what was formerly Charlotte’s old room at the Radley, and has obtained various blueprints of the Radley itself. Now what exactly she’s looking for remains a mystery, but what she claims in a conversation with Ali is that she’s trying to understand Charlotte more, but I think that’s a smoke screen for what she’s really after.

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This leads me to “Emoji A. Team” theory #1. I think that Sara could be “Emoji A.” and that she wants to pick up the “A. Game” from where it left off, but she needs more info on the girls to do so. As such, she’s actively looking for Charlotte’s “stash” at the Radley, aka where Charlotte stored all the info she’s amassed on the girls over the years. She’s clearly convinced it’s at the Radley, but hasn’t found it yet.

In addition, she’s also actively trying to figure out who killed Charlotte, which inherently means that she herself didn’t do it. To that end, she’s been keeping a close eye on the girls and doing her best to flush out the perpetrator. However, she’s not as skilled at it as Charlotte was, as evidenced by the fact that Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) was easily able to outfox her when he crashed her hard drive with that message she downloaded in the false hard drive that she thought was going to be the security footage from the Radley the night of Charlotte’s murder.

That footage was initially erased by Hanna (Ashley Benson), with the hard drive then taken by her mother, Ashley (Laura Leighton), who to the best of my knowledge, still has it stashed somewhere. Faking that they had it, Haleb left it for “Emoji A.”- aka Sara in this theory- who hooked it up to her computer, subsequently downloading a virus which wiped out her hard drive and included a message from Caleb telling her that they “could change the rules of the game, too.”

Hitting a wall, Sara went back to Square One, aka Radley, but by then, the room she was staying in had been compromised and she knew it, so she left, later having her driver rent a room for her under a different name. Sara knew because when Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Aria (Lucy Hale) broke in, they climbed down the ladder to the basement and exited the building through the secret passage, but subsequently forgot to cover their tracks in Sara’s room later on, and we saw that Spencer disturbed her stuff when she went through Sara’s drawers and found the blueprints, which, to the best of our knowledge, she never later went back to and put everything back in its right place after.

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So, coupled with the fact that she was at odds with Ashley with not letting anyone into her room ever, Sara checked out, after covering her own tracks and walling up the secret passage, as evidenced by the scene in which Ali (Sasha Pieterse), Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Hanna snuck into her room after she’d checked out and discovered that she’d done so. Note also we saw someone posing as a maid around the same time, giving the room a once over.

My thinking there is that it was Sara, making sure she’d eliminated all traces of her being there- or anyone else, for that matter, as in her “team.” Not only did it look a little bit like her, despite the presence of a mask, but it would make sense that someone as paranoid as she is would want to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything.

The fact that Sara got another copy of the blueprints for the old Radley Sanitarium, as well as had her driver rent her another room says to me that Sara realized something- or thinks that she could have- and needed to get back into the hotel to further explore it. What that is, is hard to say, but I’ll go with the location of Charlotte’s secret stash for now.

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Now let’s take a side trip into the “Killer B Team.” This is the person who actually killed Charlotte and is now trying to cover their tracks. To me, the most obvious suspect here is Mona (Janel Parrish). After all, Mona was held prisoner and tormented longer than the other girls, and yet she actively tried to have Charlotte released, claiming at the hearing to determine Charlotte’s fate that she could relate to the situation, having been “A.” herself previously and that she got a second chance, so why shouldn’t Charlotte?

The gambit worked, especially with only Aria objecting to Charlotte’s release, and Mona was free to execute her latest plan: to kill her and reclaim the “A.” mantle. By her own admission, she said that she was at the Two Crows Diner and called Charlotte the night of her murder to meet her there, but according to her, Charlotte never showed. What if, after that, Mona left the diner, tracked her down, eventually finding her in the vicinity of the church, and killed her then, framing it to look like a suicide, albeit unsuccessfully?

Since then, Mona has been keeping tabs on everyone, making sure that, if and when anyone got close to finding out the truth, she buried it. The evidence of this is her nearly running down Emily to get back the alleged murder weapon, the handle that likely came from Melissa’s suitcase- but only AFTER Emily touched it, you’ll notice.

This is because, the initial plan, once the murder was exposed for what it really was- in other words, not a suicide, as staged- was to frame Melissa for the crime. To do this, Mona either used the footage of Melissa confessing about her part in the Bethany scenario- you’ll recall she buried Bethany’s body the night of Ali’s alleged “murder”- in a video she left for Spencer. I think Mona either had the video or knew about it, and used it to blackmail Melissa into meeting her, with the plan to frame her for the murder. However, problems arose when Melissa paid the money, but then promptly left town after, before Charlotte’s murder.

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Needless to say, Mona needed a new scapegoat for her crime, so she kept an eye on things, and when someone reported that they saw an “attractive brunette” at the Two Crows, and then Emily confronted her about it, she knew that it was likely “Emoji A.” trying to figure out who the real culprit was, so she arranged a meet with Sara, assuming that she was the most likely person to be “Emoji A.”

What we saw in the last episode was a meeting of the Alphas of their respective groups, sussing each other out to see what they did or didn’t know. Mona needed to know that Sara didn’t know that she was the killer and instead suspected someone else, which she obviously does, and Sara only showed to see if Mona knew anything, which naturally, Mona being Mona, she didn’t reveal a thing.

Another reason for the meet was to try and protect her own minion: Lucas. “Leave HIM alone,” Mona said at the Sara showdown, meaning Lucas, who she’d enlisted to provide a shelter for the girls that she knew full well that they would hang out in and talk about what was going on in, allowing her to eavesdrop on them and keep an eye on what they did or didn’t know.

Maybe Lucas was in on it, maybe not. It’s entirely possible that Mona just used him for the loft, which she used to spy on the girls. I think that he does have feelings for Hanna, so I can’t imagine that he staged the attack in his loft, but he certainly opened the door for it, allowing the killer to infiltrate his computer-based system and stage the attack, which I think was Mona.

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After all, wouldn’t it be just like her to actually stage it while she was on the premises? That’s precisely why she showed up, even though she knew she probably wasn’t welcome. I think Aria was just an unfortunate victim of not-so-friendly-fire in an event just meant to freak out the girls and make them talk about things, so that Mona could listen in, in the aftermath of the event.

Note also in the meet with Sara, how Sara chided Mona about how the girls would never entirely forgive her for what she’d done to them, a fact which I think she is keenly aware of. This is why she’s all but given up on making it happen, but also part of her motive: she didn’t just kill Charlotte because of what Charlotte did to her, but to the girls.

Mona has always desperately wanted to be part of the “in crowd,” and avenging the girls by killing Charlotte was part of her misguided attempt to do so- only the girls didn’t react the way she thought they would, so she’s cutting her losses. Crazy is as crazy does, after all. This is also why she’s attacked various members of the core group- because they won’t forgive her. But note that Hanna has emerged relatively unscathed, because Mona has always had a soft spot for her.

The other option here is that “Emoji A.” is the one who has attacked the girls one by one, in a misguided attempt to try and get them to confess. She hasn’t directly attacked Spencer or Hanna yet, simply because she hasn’t gotten to them yet. Given the election-based deadline, she probably has something big in store for Spencer that will derail her mother’s run entirely. As for why Sara attacked Ali, it’s because she thought she would be an ally (pun definitely intended), only to discover she was anything but in that confrontation in the classroom.

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This brings us to the long-rumored “twin theory.” Creator I. Marlene King has hinted that the twin will be revealed in the finale, but who is it? I think, as in the books, it’s Ali. I know a popular theory is that it might be her mother, Jessica DiLaurentis (Andrea Parker), as evidenced by her appearance in the hospital room, but I don’t think so. I think that was merely a hallucination. Besides, we already know that her mother is dead, so what would be the point in having a twin if one of them was dead, to paraphrase the theme song?

Ergo, Ali is the one with the twin, and the actual twin is doing what is called “gaslighting” her, which is to say, trying to drive her crazy. The reason being: she wants her money. The evidence here is the wry title of the season finale: “Hush, Hush Sweet Liars,” a thinly-veiled spin on the movie title “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte” which is about two people who team up to drive a woman insane in order to inherit her vast fortune.

In this scenario, Ali’s twin and Dr. Rollins have teamed up to do precisely that, drugging Ali to the extent that she’s out of sorts more often than not and acting in a decidedly non-Ali sort of way. The evidence of all this is plentiful: her odd behavior when Sara visited her at the school, her claims of being drunk the night she asked Aria to marry her and Dr. Rollins, her falling down the stairs, and her out-of-it behavior at the hospital.

Yes, granted, in the latter case, she would likely have been on something because of the hospital factor, but my theory is that, combined with whatever Dr. Rollins was giving her, it made it even more effective, opening her up to even more manipulation, as evidenced by the fact that she saw her mother and not only that, but her mother “vouching” for Dr. Rollins and what a “good man” he is.

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I think Ali’s twin posed as her mother to drive home how trustworthy Dr. Rollins was, thus helping to cement his alibi- aka the “conference” he’s going to be attending- for whatever Dr. Rollins and the twin have planned, likely Ali’s murder. Once Ali is dead, then Ali’s twin will take her place with Dr. Rollins and none will be the wiser because no one even knows about the twin in the first place, save Ali herself, who, you’ll recall, has had various recollections of the twin’s existence over the past few seasons, notably in the Christmas episode.

Keep in mind, all of this is going on concurrently with all the “Emoji A.” and “Killer B.” business, which is to say, it has nothing to do with either of those things whatsoever. Or does it? This leads me to “Killer B.” theory #2.

What if, instead of Mona, it was actually Ali’s twin and/or Dr. Rollins who killed Charlotte? Think about it. Ali’s twin already had the plan in motion to kill Ali and take her place, but then something unexpected happened: Charlotte was released. I think Ali’s twin thought that there was no way that the other girls were going to vouch for Charlotte to be released, and with her in a mental institution, she wouldn’t be a problem to Ali’s twin and Dr. Rollins’ scheme to kill Ali and take her place, inheriting her fortune in the process.

But then Ali managed to successfully recruit the girls, save Aria, to vouch for Charlotte and ensure her release, with an assist from Mona, and that was a problem, because now, if they killed Ali, they still had Charlotte to contend with. So, armed with a host of potential suspects conveniently in town already, Ali’s twin and/or Dr. Rollins bumped off Charlotte and set about framing the girls for it, keeping them in town and jumping through hoops in the meantime until an arrest was made.

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The plan is to finish everything off by election night, at which time whoever they decide will take the fall for the murder will be sealed. I think it’s Spencer. After all, she has a history of being in Radley and was once a suspect in Ali’s “murder.” She also has a history of abusing prescription drugs.

Couple this with the fact that there have been all manner of shady doings within Veronica’s campaign, all of which can be traced back to Spencer- in fact, they already were, but Caleb ended up stepping in to take the blame instead, throwing a wrench into those plans temporarily, but it can always be said that he was just protecting his girlfriend, as it is fairly common knowledge by now that the two are dating.

After all, they haven’t exactly made a secret of it, given all the public displays of affection- remember when Spencer inexplicably chose to tend to Caleb’s wounds on a park bench in the town square? So, it would be easy to prove that Caleb took the fall for Spencer and that she’s the one who has been doing crazy things all along, and thus, could be capable of murder.

Another potential theory, speaking of all this, is that it’s actually Spencer herself that has the twin, and that’s why her behavior has been so oddball and erratic, from taking up with Caleb, to making sure she was spotted with him in public. If true, then it’s Spencer’s twin that’s setting her up to take the fall for Charlotte’s murder, but I’m not sure why that would be.

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I mean, to what end, really? Spencer’s family is rich, and there’s a hell of a lot more people that would need to be bumped off to inherit that particular fortune. Unlike Ali’s situation, where she’s the only one in town, there’s Veronica (Lesley Fera), Peter (Nolan North) and Melissa (Torrey DeVitto) to contend with. Yes, Melissa’s out of town at the moment, but still.

Although maybe that’s why the focus shifted on Spencer. Maybe the initial plan was to frame Melissa for Charlotte’s murder, but Melissa can’t stay put in Rosewood long enough to be framed for anything (gotta take advantage of those fugitive fly rates, after all!), so the team went with Spencer instead. But again, to what end, really, unless Spencer’s twin just hates her family and wants to bring them all down- it would certainly destroy Veronica’s chances of getting elected in the process.

I don’t know, though. I like the Dr. Rollins in cahoots with Ali’s twin theory better. It just makes more sense. Granted, this show isn’t always known for making much sense, but that theory makes the most sense in terms of what we know so far, and everything lines up a hell of a lot better than with the Spencer twin theory, IMHO. But you never know, which is why I’m including it here, just in case.

Alright, final thoughts. I’m going with Sara as “Emoji A.” and Dr. Rollins and Ali’s twin as Charlotte’s killers, with Mona simply caught in the crossfire, along with the girls. Of all the theories, this is what makes the most sense to me, personally. It would be cool if the killer and/or tormentor were one of the girls, but I don’t think they will go there.

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In some ways, I hope they do, if only to surprise us, but it’s hard to justify any motives, beyond Aria clearly having PTSD from her Dollhouse experiences and not wanting Charlotte out. True, the others have the same reasons for wanting Charlotte dead, but only Aria was obviously still tormented by it as overtly. The rest seemed to have moved on, even Mona.

One particularly amusing theory I heard was that Aria was the psycho and that she’s obsessed with Ezra (Ian Harding) and stalked him to South America or wherever he was and killed Nicole, along with any other girl that showed an interest in Ezra. Note also that it was Lucy that did the most media of the girls, and who announced the show’s impending fate on James Corden. Could it be because she knows something we don’t and that she’s not long for the show?

Maybe, but I kind of doubt it, as much fun as that would be. That said, there’s still one more season to go, so they could still go there, even if Aria isn’t Charlotte’s killer. As in, she could still be involved with Nicole’s and the other “femicide” victims and that won’t be revealed until next season. We shall see, but I don’t think that Aria will be among the culprits in tomorrow’s finale.

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What do you think? Who are your chief suspects? Who do you think killed Charlotte? Who is “Emoji A.”? How about the twin, assuming there really is one? Do you have any major suspects I didn’t mention? By all means, post your crazy theories below, and join me late tomorrow night for the big review of the big reveals!