Having come late to the Pretty Little Liars verse, it did not take long, seemingly, to get into the storyline and various plot devices on show. “Seemingly” being the operative word here, since each new season finale “reveal” left this viewer a little nonplussed…The biggest reveal, Charles is Charlotte (is CeCe) resulted in a “Wait…What??” moment. The very end of the finale, which features a jump into the future of five years, shows the liars getting back again to save Mrs. Rollins, aka Ali.
While the biggest jaw-dropping moment had to be the Charles is CeCe reveal, there were several other things in the Game Over, Charles segment that were, to say the least, eye popping. (Never mind most of these reveals actually stretching the suspension of disbelief required to breaking point and beyond.) The Star Trek, or Mission Impossible, type technology during the whole CeCe exposition, aka reveal sequence, was that bit…too, too. Even the “billion dollar club” Carissimi Group could not have that type of “techno” at their fingertips…
*Sidenote* did it annoy anyone else that the “meeting CeCe/mistaking her for Ali” scene ended with Vanessa Ray’s character standing outside the coffee shop, with the girls inside being visible in the window, and that CeCe’s< and therefore our, view of Aria, Em, Hanna was clearly a video shot of the liars and not a real view of them inside the coffee shop?
Back to the Game Over, Charles season finale, let us look at what works and what does not, from the viewpoint of someone who missed the start of this party, in other words the first four seasons.
All roads lead to Radley. This works perfectly, even if one never watched any prior seasons. Every scenario led back to the place. Even the Carissimi Group was a tie-in for crying out loud, Radley was the elephant in the room. Nuff said.
Sara was a plant/baddie. This also made perfect sense. There was never any point where this girl did not feel “off.” Right down to the kiss and snuggle that led to her moving from Em’s house, “so we can date properly,” scenario. While it was never clear who she “worked” for, it was clear that she was not the victim she claimed to be.
Mona as creepy accomplice. This works brilliantly. The girl is odd and quirky and not in a good way.
Mr. DiLaurentis is a douche. No issues with this “reveal” at all. The man has always been a rotter, even Hanna, who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, realized this.
What Does Not:
Charles is CeCe This one could be debatable. The decision to pull out the old transgender trope card sort of works…just. That said, what is odd, again from a late arrival, is that CeCe (Vanessa Ray) is drop-dead gorgeous. As good looking as the younger Charles was, would he have really transitioned so well? Also, wouldn’t Ali have noticed that CeCe’s equipment was a bit different? This reveal feels forced and like the series creator’s are catering to GLAAD and the LGBT community for brownie points.
The secret room/door at the Prom. This one is sort of self explanatory.
Mona as super computer genius. Mona tells the liars that she started “snarfing” Alison the minute she got back in town. Snarfing, for those in the know, means taking large files or documentation without permission aka information theft via WiFi. Seconds after the “snarfing” comment, Mona then says that since she could not get a lock on Charles’ location she coded a program to decrypt the signal source and…” Another, wait…what? moment. It just feels…forced.
The 3D holographic monitor screen and that computer Mona accesses. Nope. Too technologically advanced and once again, Mona knows how to use it. Perhaps the young lady in question has been shown to be a computer whiz in previous seasons and if so, apologies to the show’s writers are in order. But seriously? The monitor? Come on folks.
Ali is murdered…Twice.CeCe kills Ali and Mona does as well. The former with a rock in front of her/his horrified mother. Turns out that the killed Alison was really Bethany all along. Mainly a problem in that it does not make a lot of sense that both CeCe and Mona killed Bethany.
*Sidenote* Hands up all those who thought that, by the end of the episode, CeCe was going to turn out to really be Bethany and that Charles was really dead…killed by CeCe?
The secret room leads to Radley. What?? Spencer and Hanna went to the Carissimi Group offices before, questioning the CeCe DiLaurentis plant Rhys, and not only did they not notice that the building was near Radley, but the show’s creators never bothered to mention it either. In the season finale, however, there is a secret passage connected to the secret room that leads to Radley where CeCe, Alison, Mr. Dilaurentis and Sara are. Sure…
Food for thought:
Not long after Mona’s show of expertise, Spencer defuses CeCe’s bomb, which accomplice Sara turned on, just in the knick of time. This little event, like the rest of the season finale feels convenient and contrived. While the final episode is annoying, a lot one might add, it could have worked just fine if the program makers had not decided to do the entire reveal in one episode.
This end episode screamed two-parter. Sadly, it was not and the whole multi-reveal feels forced and hokey. A disappointing end to a season that, for the most part, has been clever, funny and addictive. The question of just who Charles was, apart from being A, was huge as was his motivation for the horrible things he had done.
The girls searching for an answer was entertaining and thought provoking. The whole, he is alive, he is not thread was great and the whole Charles is a girl now, could have worked beautifully if the writers and the producers had taken a bit longer to deliver the reveal…In a two parter.
Long term fans of Pretty Little Liars may be perfectly happy with the series end episode. If this is the case, apparently it is not a good idea to come late to the liars party without some serious binging first. That said, some of the issues brought up here would not disappear with a binge “catch-up” of the show or having the season finale as a two-parter. They do not work, full stop.
The show will be back in 2016 and the first title of the first episode appears to be a riff on “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” from the Daphne Du Maurier novel Rebecca. I could be wrong, but with the time jump, of five years, in the finale and the Rebecca reference, it looks like the next season is going to be flashback city.
The season finale was a little disappointing and forced.