Pretty Little Liars finally answered for a lot, but still has a lot to answer for. While the season 6 mid-season finale was satisfying in many ways, there were also many less than desirable qualities it inhabited. In terms of storyline, arc, continuity and specific social issue choices that the creators made, it left an overall bad taste in many fans’ mouths.
Warning: This article contains spoilers from the Pretty Little Liars season 6 mid-season finale.
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Let’s face it, finales are tough. So many shows reach a season finale where even die-hard fans are thinking (despite constantly wanting more), “man, this would be a perfect place to end the story.” When a show tacks on an additional season just for the sake of doing so, not for the value of the story, it almost always shows through. The story from the beginning of Pretty Little Liars has been about who ‘A’ is and wrapping the mystery behind the villain who’s been tormenting these girls all these years, hopefully leaving all parties a little wiser from the experience. In the season 6 mid-season finale, the story could have quite easily wrapped all of this up. ‘A’ was revealed to be CeCe Drake, aka Charlotte aka Charles DiLaurentis. She went through her involvement with the girls from her very beginning, as a child living with Alison and feeling trapped in a boy’s body. We got to understand a bit of her motive and sympathize with her mental state. However, the story didn’t end there. Some mysteries were intentionally left open for the next season, which takes place 5 years later, and looks by all means as if the girls are now being chased by someone other than Charlotte.
A show with such mystery that leaves fans coming up with so many different theories can be tricky. This is especially true of today’s day and age, with social media being such a platform for fans to voice these theories and opinions. As hard as they may try, showrunners are going to hear some of these theories and true fans hope that it doesn’t sway them from the original story they set out to tell. It is because of this that ‘A’s reveal was so disappointing.
The Reveal of ‘A’
While it definitely was surprising to see CeCe under the hood, it didn’t feel creative or original at all. Over the course of the show, ABC Family has dropped many clues to ‘A’s identity, all leading in different directions. This is an obvious choice because it causes fans to run in different directions with their theories. But when these clues contradict each other without any resolution, that’s when a finale really disappoints.
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CeCe made the claim that it wasn’t until two years after Alison was missing that she even knew she was alive for certain, which she found out at the lodge fire. If you remember, this occurred during the third season. If this is the case, then why was ‘A’ seen digging up Alison’s grave in episode 3×01 and making a necklace of the teeth? If she had dug up the grave, would she not have realized that it wasn’t Alison’s body?
When we first heard of Charles, it was said that he was 15 months older than Jason. Jason is 24 when Alison is 18, so CeCe would be 7 when Alison was born. However, CeCe says she was taken to Radley at the age of 5 for the incident with Alison in the bathtub, but if she was 5, Alison wouldn’t even have been born yet.
It’s also revealed that Toby’s mother didn’t in fact commit suicide. The girls sympathize when they realize that Toby spent his whole life living the lie that his mother chose to leave him. Jenna moved to Rosewood when Toby’s father married her mother after they had been dating for a year. She was a freshman when this happened, which would mean that she was only about 13 years old when Toby’s mother died. This would make CeCe about 21 when she witnessed her death, though this episode claims she was 12.
Lesli Stone says she only heard Charles’ name once, the night he escaped from Radley. However, by the time of the escape, Charles was presumed to be dead and Charlotte would be the only name to be heard.
None of these errors are huge to the storyline, but are small things that fans are sure to have noticed. However, when a story aspires to be as meta as this one, where everything ties back in some way (much like HIMYM, LOST, Game of Thrones, etc.) details like this should be crucial to the storyteller.
When inconsistencies like this occur, it leaves fans wondering if the creators had the conclusion plan from the get-go or painted themselves into a corner and had to come up with a cop-out. There are hundreds of reasons why a storyline could change. The studio may disapprove, the actor for the character they wanted wasn’t available, etc. This could even be why the ending of the episode was so open. There are certain questions left unanswered that possibly Cece couldn’t be the answer to. Which might explain why the new mystery 5 years later is still out there, to answer those questions. If that’s the case, here’s a list of the questions we must demand answers to in the next season.
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-Who killed Mrs. DiLaurentis?
-How did Ian die? Why kill himself when he was newly married and expecting a child?
-How did Mona know where to find Ian?
-Where is ‘Tippi’?
-Who was ‘Beach Hottie’?
-What was in the barrel that half of a season was centered on?
-How did Mrs. Grunwald fit into all of this?
-Did ‘A’ kidnap Sarah? Where was she during that time?
The worst part about this is that a lot of these questions have in fact been answered – but not in the show. Marlene King addressed many of these questions on a very surfaced level in interviews and on social media. Platforms like that are not how a show should answer storyline questions. If we’re meant to know the answer to something in the story at this time, the show itself should be the only platform to do so.
The Transgender Issue
Finally, one of the most disappointing aspects of the episode; its treatment of CeCe as transgender. This year has truly been groundbreaking in terms of transgender acceptance. The widely speculated stories of Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner have drawn attention to the transgender community in a very positive way. With Pretty Little Liars being a show targeted at a younger audience, this could be one of the first perceptions of a transgender person for a lot of the viewers. For a series so focused on acceptance of different communities, it seems irresponsible that they portray the first transgender character to be mentally unstable. Sure, the girls empathized with her unique and tragic circumstance and being sent to a mental asylum at young age is likely what caused her mental instability, it’s still the fact that the only transgender character is the craziest one. We’re still in a delicate state as a society for how transgenders are represented. A small connotation that the character responsible for stalking, murdering and general sociopathic behavior is also transgender may not hold for most adults, but there’s a big chance younger audiences subconsciously associate the two characteristics.
Pretty Little Liars season 6 returns January 2016 on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)