On the season three finale of Pretty Little Liars
, everything we thought we knew went sideways and everything goes crazy in the best way possible. In an episode that felt both long and much too short at the same time, alliances are reformed and some puzzle pieces fit into place.
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But this is Pretty Little Liars, after all, which means we're left with more questions than answers. Who was the body found in the woods? What (or who) was in the trunk? Is Alison really alive? Is there a second 'A' Team?
And how many beautiful Rosewood ladies has Shana actually hooked up with off screen? There's more action happening at that year-round Halloween store
than at Rosewood's "pink drink" loving lesbian bar.
As per usual with this show, as one question is answered five more pop up to take its place. We should have known we were in for a bumpy ride as soon as we saw Jenna, who has been entirely absent from this half of season three. On Pretty Little Liars
, just because a character is gone doesn't mean they aren't still planning your murder .
The latter half of this season has been nicely building up to such an action packed episode, where mysterious red coated strangers fly in on planes, houses are set aflame, and the girls are all saved by a ghost. With so much action and so many mysteries flying at the audience fast and furiously, however, some of the emotional moments didn't land with the same impact as they might have in a less crowded episode.
Take the reunion of Toby and Spencer. Or the breakup of Ezra and Aria. By moving at such a rapid pace, the episode obviously had to skim a bit on the emotional impact of these breakups and makeups. But perhaps, in the case of Toby and Spencer, that was on purpose?
Toby's Alive and Shirtless, But Is He Really A Good Guy?
Wearing her subtle super-villain dark eye makeup and black nail polish, Spencer lures Toby "pretty eyes" Cavanaugh out to a diner to reunite. It turns out what Mona offered Spencer in the last episode was the information that Toby wasn't actually dead. Spencer should have just checked social media, everyone has been saying that for weeks!
Toby explains that he signed up with Mona on the 'A' team for the same reasons Spencer did: protection and information. Spencer buys the explanation, especially when Toby's baby blues cloud up with tears. Also, the promise of more shirtless Toby probably didn't hurt.
Unsurprisingly, Toby's shirt is off about five minutes after we discover he's alive and not evil. This show has priorities and my friends, they are the correct priorities. I knew they could never really kill the abs off the show. Without Toby around, who would go running with no shirt, or build houses with no shirt, or wear doo-rags with no shirt?
I'm pretty sure Toby was taken down by the 'B' team entirely because by putting on his shirt, he closed off the source of his powers. Like Superman pretending to be Clark Kent, Toby with his shirt on is just not as useful in a high-stress situation.
Do we really trust Toby though? The episode didn't have a lot of time for protracted explanations, but even so, Toby's struck me as rather weak. He just said "same as you" to Spencer, misted up, and then popped his shirt off. As explanations go for terrorizing you and your friends for months, it's kind of weak sauce isn't it?
I can't decide if the show decided to only skim Toby's motives to keep us guessing as to which side he's really on, or because in an episode this packed they just really didn't have time to delve into everything Toby's done and how it could possibly have helped Spencer and the girls. I guess that will need to be an issue they address in season 4.
For now, Spencer and Toby are back together grossing out Mona. Although perhaps Toby will have bigger fish to fry, considering the 'B' team handily set him up for a little arson.
Turning The Tables
This week, it's Hanna's turn to be a bad babysitter. Despite the fact that she has zero experience keeping children alive and seems more likely to let little Malcolm play Grand Theft Auto than with his train sets, Ezra agrees to let Hanna babysit. Solid plan Fitz.
Thanks to some clever manuervering by Spencer, who sends a picture of her and Ali to Hanna's phone, Malcolm IDs his kidnapper. This leaves Hanna, Aria, and Emily in shock. Surprisingly enough for Team Sparia, Aria is willing to jump to the evil Spencer conclusion the fastest.
Perhaps it's just because she's in a bad mood after breaking up with Ezra and then doing a goodbye makeout tour all over the high school. It's not really goodbye unless they make out in the hallway, in the classroom, and on the principal's desk while he asks them if they're still seeing each other "socially." That's the only way Aria knows to break up with someone.
"How can we know if Spencer is scary evil or just regular Spencer-level scary?" they wonder. "Leave this to me you guys," Hanna says calmly, turning up the music so no one can overhear their conversation. "I've done some things this season. I've seen some things. I am one with the criminal lifestyle now." It's good to see Hanna's run as crime Buddha continues.
Spencer follows red coat into the bathroom, only to find it's Hanna in the coat. The girls now know they can trust her because she has no idea who the mysterious stranger is either. Reunited, the girls begin to devise a plan to figure out who is behind all this nonstop nonsense they've had to put up with.
Is There a 'B' Team?
We know the 'A' team involved at least Mona and Toby. But is there a 'B' team? Or did half of the 'A' team just turn on Mona at the last minute to set the house aflame? I have many questions about the fire and what role the finale's resurfacing supporting players had to play.
First we see Jenna, not wearing any kind of weird hat at all, which means there is serious business at hand. She's telling someone her vision is getting worse and eventually will be gone entirely. Just when I was finally getting used to her scarily pretty green eyes too. Who is she telling? Paige's ex Shana of course!
This was my first "What the what?!" moment of the night. They seem pretty chummy (dare I say even romantic?) with each other as they hold hands. And soon they're meeting up with the second or third sketchiest person in town, Melissa, to yell about Spencer's fake party.
How are they all involved? Were they on the 'A' team? Or are they on a different team entirely? Did they set the fire at the house, since they saw the party invite and knew where the girls would be? Once again, the more we learn on this show the more we realize we don't know.
I Was Saved By A Red Coated Plane-Piloting Ghost!
The girls' big play (along with Toby) is to sneak into the house with the fake party and find out who red coat is without being seen. While Mona is awesomely rolling her eyes at Spencer and Toby's PDA, red coat herself is piloting her plane into Rosewood. Because why not right?
The liars sneak upstairs like cat burglars and only Aria is wearing a beanie in this situation, because she is Aria. While they are waiting, Mona sends Spencer and Toby off into the woods to meet up with red coat. Unknown to the liars and Mona, mysterious forces are conspiring to lock them in the house and deep fry them.
Outside, Spencer and Toby split up because neither has ever seen a horror movie before. "But I think this is a bad idea!" Spencer whispers. "Of course it's not, I've only been hanging out with Mona for the last few months and obviously that only makes you more sane," Toby reassures.
Then five minutes later Toby is bashed on the head with a flashlight and the arsonist throws the lighter down next to him, where he helpfully picks it up. "Thanks for getting your fingerprints all over that evidence!" whispers a voice from the bushes. "Oh no problem, it's my pleasure," Toby says.
Back at the house/deep fryer, Aria nearly goes full honey badger at Mona when she realizes Mona has never actually seen red coat either. Spencer, meanwhile, is traipsing through horror cinema woods after red coat. "Alison?" she wonders.
Outside the burning house, the sooty liars are dragged out by red coat. Hanna opens her eyes to briefly see Alison. Somehow, Alison and her magical red coat got past the ten foot high wall of flames and dragged out all four girls without getting burnt to a crisp herself.
Apparently Alison has seriously built up her upper body strength in the afterlife. If you have a scenario where "super strong ghost" is really the most logical explanation, that's probably an issue, storytelling-wise.
Both Mona and Spencer agree with Hanna that they saw Alison too. So is Alison actually alive? Remember, Alison was able to fly a plane. And she did have a red coat as Vivian Darkbloom.
I'm not sure about the almost Hulk-like ability to withstand fire and drag out people at least her own body weight. That might be something she learned undercover in CIA training or in her new role as one of the X-Men. The only burns Alison used to be good at avoiding were the verbal kind.
What's In The Trunk?
As the episode draws to a close the slightly crispy liars, plus Mona, pull up to Wilden's seaweed covered police car. Inside is the laptop, playing Ashley's hit-and-run on a loop. Wait, that car took a dive into Rosewood's shallowest seaweed-filled pond and yet the laptop is still working? What brand is that and where can I get it? That's the kind of product placement worth its weight in gold.
On the laptop, Shana and Jenna come to help Wilden up and out of frame. So perhaps Wilden is much more involved than we had even previously suspected.
Then all the girls, even Mona, get a text from 'A'. "You're mine now, kisses- A." As they pop open the trunk, the girls all jump back and gasp. Who is in the trunk? Jason? CeCe? Gwyneth Paltrow's head? Or is it something other than a dead body?
The final image cuts to a hand bursting out of soil and being helped up from above. Wasn't this also an episode closer in the past? (I'm blanking on what episode though.) How many zombies are there in Rosewood exactly?
What did you think of the season three finale? Is Toby really good? Is there another team? What's going on with Shana, Jenna, Melissa, and Wilden? And who is in the trunk? Sound off in the comments!
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(Image courtesy of ABC Family)