Warning: Contains spoilers for literally all of Pretty Little Liars, including the recent finale.
If you’ve never seen Freeform’s Pretty Little Liars before… don’t bother. Save yourself the time.
I began watching Pretty Little Liars 7 years ago at the ripe ol’ age of 14, as the embodiment of the show’s intended demographic: young and naïve. I was instantly hooked by the storyline of a missing Alison DiLaurentis and her friends left behind, who began to receive anonymous threats from a stalker known only as ‘A’. 7 years of my life I spent watching this show, trying to keep up with its twists and turns and its weirdly incestuous family tree – and in hindsight, the only fun part was laughing when an actual horse figured out the final mystery before any of the human characters.
Before getting in too deep, I’d like to state for the record that although I’m not a huge fan of the show’s writing (nor most of the characters), I do love the cast. Whilst Troian Bellisario (Spencer), Janel Parrish (Mona) and Sasha Pieterse (Alison) were the stand-out actors of the show, the whole cast did the absolute best with the rubbish scripts that they were given.
The last ever episode (broadcasted on the 26th June) revealed that our violent, psychotic and generally messed up A.D. was none other than Spencer’s angry, long-lost, British, evil twin called Alex Drake. Naturally.
The finale saw the real Spencer getting knocked out, dragged into some high-tech prison cell, and waking up to a ‘mirror reflection’ of herself, who then shouts ‘boo’ at her. Simultaneously, Pretty Little Liars fans everywhere lost their shit. For we were right. The writers had run out of ideas.
Ms. Mirror Reflection introduces herself as Alex, who tells her tied-up identical twin that she knew their half-sister Charlotte, who had told her about how she used to be A, bullying and torturing the girls just ’cause she felt like it, really. After Charlotte was murdered, Alex trotted off to Rosewood to seek revenge and to steal Spencer’s identity, life, and friends.
Alex also knew Wren, whose sperm she used to impregnate Alison via IVF, along with Emily’s eggs. Because she wanted to. She also forced him to shoot her in the shoulder, so that she’d have a scar identical to Spencer’s. Because she wanted to. At least the girl paid good attention to detail, unlike the writers who created her.
YouTube: Pretty Little Liars 7×20 Clip | Wren and Alex Scene
Five minutes after Alex brings Ezra into the lair for figuring out she wasn’t Spencer, they manage to break out of their cells and search the dungeon for an exit whilst being chased by Alex, who is somehow miraculously a far slower runner than her identical twin. As luck would have it, the rest of the group have met them halfway after discovering the dungeon underneath Toby’s house. There’s a cliché ‘I’m the real Spencer!’ / ‘No, I’m the real Spencer!’ scenario before Toby asks them both what Spencer’s favourite poem is. We’re now blessed with Troian Bellisario reciting Spencer’s favourite French poem, and Toby tears up as he understands every word. Good thing Spencer was Toby’s French tutor for a fortnight back in season one and now he’s apparently fluent, right?
To put it lightly, fans aren’t thrilled with the cop-out ending to a seven-year-long story. More questions have been raised than answered – almost all of them beginning with either ‘why’ or ‘how’. Why would Alex shoot Spencer in the shoulder if she then had to shoot herself in the shoulder to pretend to be her? Why has Wren only ever dated Spencer, Spencer’s twin, and Spencer’s other sister, Melissa? Is his type that specific?
What’s annoying is that we could have stopped watching the show about two years ago. This reveal had absolutely nothing to do with Charlotte’s reveal as the previous A back in 2015. It was essentially a whole new show. We were hoping for an A.D. who had been in control of the previous two As, pulling the strings since the very first episode with a motive lasting years. We also wanted A.D. to have a motive that actually involved Hanna, Emily and Aria, who seemingly spent the most part of a decade being tortured simply through association with Spencer and Alison. Did we get any of that? Of course not, this is Pretty Little Liars. We got a completely new character with a distracting cockney accent instead.
The ending of the episode doesn’t get much better. Weeks ago, when we were introduced to a stuck-up student who Emily and Alison teach, named Addison, we all rolled our eyes and knew exactly where this was headed. Cast your minds back to the first ever episode of Pretty Little Liars, friends, and try to remember the very first scene. Alison’s missing. “She’s gone,” says Spencer, “…I think I heard her scream”.
Ladies and gentlemen; we were given the exact same scene, with the exact same dialogue, besides a certain name swap…
“Addison’s gone,” says a random girl with glasses, “…I think I heard her scream”.
I’m no screenwriter, but I’d like to suggest that reusing a scene that was broadcasted seven years ago with the exact same dialogue but different actors might not count as good writing.
The episode should have ended with the scene shown before that. Mona Vanderwaal won the game. Her game of torture, which she invented as the first A. Except this time, it’s not the Liars that she’s targeting. I present to you: the finale’s best scene by a mile…
YouTube: Pretty Little Liars 7×20 Series Finale Clip | Mona Watches Over A.D.
With a sigh, I hereby change my opening statement. If you’ve never seen Pretty Little Liars before, just watch the final episode on Netflix with a glass of wine and the knowledge that I. Marlene King is really, really proud of it… even the tap-dancing scene at the beginning.