Pretty Little Liars: Wanted: Dead or Alive – So Long Sara (Review)

ASHLEY BENSON

Perhaps the least “believable” episodes of the series, “Wanted: Dead or Alive” tries to make us believe that the liars  think Elliot is alive, well and able to kick Alison’s arse.  The disguised policeman in Ali’s room showed no signs of being injured yet she asks, “Elliott?” This just before the cop smashes her head into the mirror. Pretty Little Liars manages to  throw caution and logic to the winds. It also looks like a case of “So long Sara…”

Before addressing the possible exit of Sara,  let us look at how long it took anyone to dig Rollins’ grave up to see if that nasty bit of work was still there.  Literally Spencer and Hanna wait until the last few minutes of the episode to stumble through the woods and start shoveling.

Once they do, under surveillance of someone using night vision,  the face of Rollins is seen and the two agree he is still there.  But is he really. With all the latex masks making appearances in this season, they should have pulled on the bloke’s face to see if it came off.

Alison got a big handful of mask when she grabbed at her attacker’s face (although when seen in the long shot, the mask looked undamaged). So A.D. is still using “Mission Impossible” tactics to terrorize the Liars.

Another big question has to do with Sara.  (It was nice to notice that she had her “ninja black” outfit on with matching beanie.) What was she up to and where was Jenna?  Where was she off to in such a hurry?

It was quite shocking to see Sara laying lifeless in the hotel room tub but is she really dead? So many characters have returned and done a “walking dead” (as Spencer put it) that it will be surprising if Sara does not return.

Alison being set up by “Rollins” to bring the cop into her house was pretty well done. So too was the “cop” adjusting his mask a’la Scooby-Doo. (A bit more subtly done than the 2002 film but all the creepier because of it.)  A nice touch was the “Honey I’m Home” message  in red lippy.

The Liars are now back together after the  red coat fallout.  Aria tells Ezra all her secrets and he asks her to marry him again. This time she says yes. Cause for celebration may be in order but there is still the issue of that phone call.

Mary Drake believes (she says) that Rollins is after her. She also reveals that she had no idea  Charlotte was her baby. (Congratulations on the world’s nastiest looking C-section scar.  Cece, aka Charlotte was wrenched out of his mother over twenty years ago, that huge black line was the worst scar ever. We hope that Mary sued the surgeon who did that.)

It is patently obvious that Noah Kahn (Brant Daugherty) is the guy under the mask.  Which makes it  look like Pretty Little Liars is running out of substitute boogey men.  Although it does look like Marco could be involved somehow. He is, after all, asking a lot of questions.  Except the  detective seems to think Rollins is really dead and not hiding at all.

Back to Sara.  The girl was clearly up to no good. Dressed all in black and rushing to leave made Ms. Harvey look very guilty of something.  Regardless of what she was really doing, Sara has been taken out of action.  Left languishing in a tub with blood oozing from her head, Harvey has been, it seems, terminated with extreme prejudice.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on Freeform. Tune in and see if Sara is really dead.

Cast:

Guest starring Dre Davis as Sara, Tammin Sursok as Jenna and Nicholas Gonzalez as Det. Marco Fury.

Pretty Little Liars: The Talented Mr Rollins – Dead in the Headlights (Review)

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

Before going any further on a breakdown of Pretty Little Liars and “The Talented Mr. Rollins,” let us address the elephant in the episode; the “death of Rollins.”  After being caught dead to rights in the headlights of the PLL Nancy Drew club’s car, the uber villain has his face shoved through the windshield.  A great shot, Elliot’s head and face surrounded a space caused by broken glass and not a shard on any PLL or in the car.

What?

As the camera records the Liars and their reaction to the horror facing them (Sorry for the terrible pun.) there are a few scratched faces and not one little piece of windshield anywhere. (Another quick complaint here.  Why no airbags?  Was the collision with the faux Rollins not enough to register? Or was it more dramatic with Hanna getting a boo-boo on her face?)

“The Talented Mr. Rollins”  finished on a massively impressive note. Elliot’s lifeless face drooling blood from its open mouth framed by broken a windshield was priceless on a number of levels. A case of poetic justice combined with a sort of bitter irony since Toby only just discovered that the real Rollins is a 58 year old man. In other words the dead guy in the Liars’ windshield is not who he claimed to be.

Despite the lack of broken glass this was an enormously satisfying end to the episode.  It punished Elliot for being a cruel and sadistic douche and combined the hapless groups normal mode of operation. The PLL club runs headlong  into all of their investigations leaving  dangling threads,  incorrect conclusions and friends along the wayside.

(Another word of complaint: How is it that every time someone goes into Ali’s old house Elliot turns up soon after. Is this a case of supremely bad timing on the Liars’ part or does Rollins have E.S.P.? Of course now he is dead Elliot will not be turing up to  foil any further plans of evidence gathering…)

The Amish connection was an excellent touch. Another case of pure irony had Elliot and Charlotte heading to the community. Considering that the uber religious sect have some pretty strict views on life, the fact that former fella  Charlotte and Elliot were canoodling on the farm would have caused the farmers to have a fit.

Mary is conspicuously absent in this episode.

A lot detecting was done by the Liars.  Aria finding what was in that locked ottoman at the end of the bed and Spencer putting two and two together to find that Elliot was making latex masks all pointed to Elliot being the new Uber A.

Leaving the main plot aside for a moment, romantically the pretty little liars got back on track. Emily sorts things out with her crush, Spencer clears the air with Caleb and Aria sent Liam packing.  Plus Toby gets engaged to Yvonne.

“The Talented Mr. Rollins” also brings back the doll theme when Aria and Hanna talk with the Amish girl who knew Charlotte. Ali’s sister gave the farmer’s daughter dolls that were dressed as the Liars.  Also at the Amish farm, Aria learns about Hanna’s introduction to the cattle prod when she was held captive.

Elliot discovers that someone has been in his trunk and reacts accordingly. He takes Ali from Welby and makes a run to the lake.  The good doctor forgets the first rule of taking drugs long term, patients build up a tolerance.  Ali recovers in the car and bashes Rollins’ head against the window. She then leaps from the vehicle.

The Pretty Little Liars are following, although they took a short cut to head off the car ahead. Ali runs past the headlights and immediately after, Elliot runs in front of the speeding vehicle.  He is struck by the front of the car and has his head shoved through the windshield.

TROIAN BELLISARIO
Troian Bellisario as Spencer

Earlier in the episode Spencer tells Emily that they are trapped in Rosewood until Ali’s issues are resolved. With the death of Elliot Rollins the Liars may be stuck in the small town for a lot longer.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on Freeform.  Tune in and see how this last season pans out.  The remaining episodes should reveal much. For example, who Elliot really was and exactly how  Mary fits in?

Cast:

Pretty Little Liars: Charlotte’s Web – The Good, the Bad, the Guilty (Recap/Review)

Pretty Little Liars follows up the midseason premiere death of Alison’s transgender sister with Charlotte’s Web, which feels a bit like “The Good, the Bad and the Guilty.”

 SHAY MITCHELL, ASHLEY BENSON, TROIAN BELLISARIO, LUCY HALE

Pretty Little Liars follows up the midseason premiere death of Alison’s transgender sister with Charlotte’s Web, which feels a bit like “The Good, the Bad and the Guilty.”  The cast are broken into the good; Hanna, the bad; Aria and Sara, and the guilty; Aria (maybe) and Ezra (equally maybe). It is revealed that the death of ‘A’ was not an easy one as Lorenzo tells the Liars that Charlotte’s neck was broken before being thrown from the church tower.

The first part of the episode spent a good amount of time trying to convince viewers of Aria’s guilt, clearly a waste of effort as the Montgomery is too slight to have lifted Charlotte let alone break her neck. The focus then shifts, only a little early on and then more so after Aria returns to Rosewood, to Ezra.

Furious that his Nicole is obviously dead and that Ali’s sister is free to roam the streets and go to church at four in the morning, this revelation occurs on the day that he and Aria see Charlotte head into the church. Rather interestingly, this means that these two were the last to see Charlotte alive…

Sidenote: Is it just this viewer or does Liam look like a younger version of Ezra?

Emily is rescued by former flower-child Sabrina (she of the “drug candy”  that got Toby in so much trouble last year) when her credit card will not work on the Hollis Medical Institute’s  parking machine. Later, it is revealed that all those hypodermic needles from the previous week’s episode must have something to do with Emily’s  mystery blood treatment.

What Em is having done is not clarified but it could have something to do with a “hepatitis” (A, B, or C). Much later Sabrina is asked not to say anything about bumping into Emily at the Institute.

Hanna finds the key to her mother’s security suite and learns that Aria lied about where she went in the wee hours when Charlotte was being murdered and Hanna was hydrating.  Apart from wondering what Aria was really up to, Hanna is more worried about Caleb meeting her latest squeeze, Jordan.

Spencer is convinced that she influenced the person who murdered Charlotte with her criminology study on the “Honeymoon Murderer.” Aria is taken off Ezra and the job of getting the next book from him is passed to Liam.

Later Aria talks her boss into letting her try again and she explains to Ezra that they will not take back the advance. He gives Aria the “first draft” of his second book. She asks him where he went the night that Charlotte was killed after they met. Ezra tells her home.

Sara Harvey shows up twice, each time with her hands covered. When Emily visits her father’s grave Harvey shows up, looking weird and not a little creepy.

Hanna proves to be quite adept at playing Nancy Drew and after finding the “incriminating” footage of Aria and Ezra, deletes the evidence.

ASHLEY BENSON
Hanna and Emily…

Aria tells the other Liars, sans Ali,  what happened on the night Charlotte was killed and it seems like now Ezra is the new suspect. Spencer then explains that she told Ezra about her murder case study, she believes that Ezra copied the murderer’s MO and killed Charlotte to keep Aria safe, or out of misplaced anger about Nicole’s death.

Spencer’s mother clarifies how she feels about her and Emily tells her dad about what happened at school and that she lost her scholarship after he died.  When Sara Harvey shows up, Em leaves.  Later flowers are put on a freshly dug grave (Charlotte’s?) and as the camera gives a POV shot of entering a limo, the drivers says, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

It never ceases to amuse at how capable Hanna is at computerized tasks, or at manipulating a CCTV security system.  Ms. Marin is not the sharpest file in the manicure set the best of times.

By the time the show ends, Alison tells Lorenzo the she believes her friends could well be responsible for Charlottes’ death; a 180 degree turn around from before.  As usual, Pretty Little Liars crams a lot of things into one episode:

A lot of “things” unsaid,  relationships that all feel a bit “mix and match” and more questions than answers.

Sidenote: Whoever did wardrobe for this episode? Hanna’s nighty looked like something Granny Smith would wear, not a 20 something fashionista.  Makeup and lighting also looked pretty shaky this week with Alison looking as though she  had been beaten about the face and eyes…

As usual kudos to the cast: Sasha Pieterse Lucy Hale, Ashley Benson, Troian Bellisario, and Shay Mitchell. Oh and for the older  fan, more Nia Peebles please.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on Freeform. Tune in and try to keep up with all the twists and turns.

 

Pretty Little Liars: Of Late I Think of Rosewood (Review)

If there was any doubt that things were going to be different in Rosewood after the midseason break of Pretty Little Liars, the release of CeCe, aka Charlotte, aka ‘A’ proved that it is not too late for things to go south, again, in this odd little verse.

 HUW COLLINS, SASHA PIETERSE

If there was any doubt that things were going to be different in Rosewood after the midseason break of Pretty Little Liars, the release of CeCe, aka Charlotte, aka ‘A’ proved that it is not too late for things to go south, again,  in this odd little verse.  In what may be the longest time ever in a seasonal break, in Rosewood the “liars” have all aged five years.

Once again, the girls decide, to an extent, to stand by Alison (Sasha Pieterse) and “lie” once more for their friend. Only Aria (Lucy Hale) breaks down and says what she really feels; ‘A’ still terrifies her and even the older version of herself is scarred to the bone by the experience. (Kudos to Hale for knocking it out of the park with her train tale.)

This “Old Home Week” episode shows that the ghosts of Rosewood, Radley and ‘A’ are not resting easy.  As evidenced by the playing of Fleurie’s “There’s a Ghost” with lyrics that mention  masks (more lies) and ghosts (‘A’ and all the victims of the entire incident previously) this second half is going to be full of revenants that refuse to lie still.

It comes as no real surprise that once CeCe is let out that she dies. Initially thought to be a suicide, by the end of this  episode of Pretty Little Liars, it is revealed that Charlotte was dead before exiting the church bell tower.   At least two suspects spring to the fore; Mona (Janel Parrish) who dramatically crumples up her pages-long prepared statement to pronounce that Charlotte should be released and Sara Harvey (Dre Davis).

Standout Moments:

Aria revealing that she is far from normal after her time in captivity and being tortured by ‘A.’

LUCY HALE
Aria revealing that the trauma is far from over…

Sara Harvey showing up at the funeral looking drugged out of her mind.

Spencer’s The Wizard of Oz quote from the munchkin coroner; who pronounces the Wicked Witch of the West:

“Really, most sincerely dead.”

Hanna (Ashley Benson) moaning at the cocktail party that there are no “special drinks” and calling Radley a “Squirrel Factory.” She then starts the ball rolling with “Electroshock Margarita?”

Spencer; again, with her drunken confession at the revamped Radley “Squirrel Factory” aka,  “sanitarium:”

“I thought it wouldn’t matter what we said to the judge… because I thought they would never let her out. I thought that we could just lie for Ali one more time and it wouldn’t matter. But it did. They let “A” out.”

Overall Thoughts:

It is fitting that at the Charlotte Cocktail Party  Spencer (Troian Bellisario) brings up the lies told at the hearing.   Her “testimony” which, out of all the girls’ was the most straight forward was the most impressive.

 TROIAN BELLISARIO
Lying one last time for Ali…

At the cocktail party, that Alison does not attend as she is welcoming Charlotte home,  the only “liar,” apart from Spencer who does not get into the drink renaming drill is Emily (Shay Mitchell).  Lucy does come up with “Manic Depressive Mai Tai” just before Spencer professes that she loves her friends lack of good taste.

ASHLEY BENSON, SHAY MITCHELL
Hanna and Emily

In terms of dramatic reveals, the dead body of Charlotte, carefully covered up except for that right-hand clutching the crumpled flower, took second place to the arrival of a clearly stoned Sara at the funeral. (And haven’t we seen something similar in Rosewood before?)

Sidenote: What a great turnout for a mad-as-a-hatter kidnapper who tortured several young girls for an enormously long time. Clearly, being a DiLaurentis means that all past sins are forgotten come funeral time…

Before the end credits roll the funeral ends and  Alison leaves with Dr. Rollins, Mona zooms off, Sara floats to her car and Lorenzo (who has clearly been promoted in the five years the liars have been away) stops by to tell Hanna, Emily, Aria and Spencer that a)Charlotte was murdered and b) Not to leave town.

There are a number of familiar faces that turn up although Nicole was not one of them as apparently she was abducted by revolutionaries in South America while building houses.

Patsy Cline’s Crazy plays out the episode and the song sets up the end-scene rather well. Pretty Little Liars is about to get cray-cray all over again and it is almost like five years never happened…away from Rosewood…for those who “got away.”

Since the title of the episode is a “homage” to an old Twilight Zone episode, “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville;” where the protagonist of that old segment  wanted  to return to “days gone by” it seems that this episode of “Liars” may be heading “back” to the way things were before ‘A’ was un-masked.

The second half of season six airs Tuesdays on ABC on their new Freeform, replacing Family. Tune in and see where this mystery will head now that CeCe is “dead.”

 

Pretty Little Liars: Season Finale: Wait…What?

The Liars sans Ali
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.

What Works:

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.

Final Verdict:

The season finale was a little disappointing and forced.