The game is officially over on Pretty Little Liars, and we need to discuss the finale. Major spoilers ahead — read at your own risk.
I’ll admit it: I didn’t watch Pretty Little Liars when it first premiered. The concept didn’t make sense to me. “It’s just four pretty girls who lie a lot?” I thought. “Do better ABC Family.” But then one day, to build up the season 1B premiere, the network aired an all-day marathon. I had nothing to do, so I decided to prove myself right. Instead, I was sucked in for the next seven years.
Now here we are, the day after the series finale, processing everything that’s happened — and there’s been a lot. After many hours of sorting through the feelings brought on by final two-hour episode, I have to argue: it worked.
There are plenty of fans out there who would strongly disagree, so let’s break it all down. First, and most importantly:
We got answers
I. Marlene King and the PLL cast have been reassuring fans since the beginning of the season that every question would be answered by the show’s end. And, though it felt painfully slow, those answers did come. But this time, the reveals came at such a rapid-fire pace that it was almost hard to digest. The biggest, and most controversial, reveal was the identity of A.D.
Turns out, it was Spencer’s twin sister Alex Drake. More specifically, it was Spencer’s BRITISH twin.
(Let’s take a moment to address Troian Bellisario’s accent. While most were expecting an accent closer to Wren’s, it was actually a pretty good cockney accent. Not all Brits speak the same, and the showrunners opted to keep Alex from a very specific region. Was it a bit much? Yes. Was it the worst part of the twin storyline? No.)
Now, back to business. Not only was A.D. revealed, but Emison’s baby daddy was as well. The unknown sperm donor was Wren Kingston – before Alex killed him and turned his ashes into a diamond necklace. (Oh yeah, they dated. Wren has a Hastings complex apparently.)
There were plenty of smaller reveals sprinkled in — Ezria were the other couple to get married and Jason is now working with Toby, among others — but those hidden identities were the most looming.
The only disappointing cliffhanger? How exactly did the girls’ mothers use alcohol to escape the basement …?
Along with its supply of answers, the PLL finale had another thing going for it.
Pretty Little Liars has always been a drama. Even so, I. Marlene King has striven to find a balance between the heavy and the light, with the show’s relationships adding extra heart to the series. The series finale leaned more toward the light overall, and that was exactly what it needed.
Granted, Spencer and Ezra being stuck in an underground bunker that rivaled the dollhouse — and was a beautiful Truman Show reference — was pretty dark. But there were more moments of laughter than anything. From Alex’s thick accent (it wasn’t bad, but it was funny) to seeing the PLL moms drunk, this was one of the most humorous episodes of the series.
Of course, you can’t have PLL with no drama at all, and so the arc of Alex came to be. It was enough drama to sustain the story, but not so much that it couldn’t be resolved in the single episode.
Then again, that led to its own problem.
What didn’t work
After seven years, most fans expected A.D. to be someone unexpected, but at least someone familiar. Revealing Alex as Uber A was, for some, infuriating.
To be fair, Alex has been around for a few episodes, we just didn’t know it. But more than that, would it really have been believable if A.D. was someone we’d known since day one? “A” always held a grudge, but seven years would be a bit much for a single person, even if they did jump into the game later than the rest.
Motivation was key when it came to “A” or “Big A” or however you preferred to refer to her. Alex’s drive struck a deeper nerve for fans.
For Alex, it was the fact that she drew the short stick in the family lotto. Her mother sold her, and her twin sister was adopted into an apparently perfect life without struggle. But remember, Charlotte’s motivation was essentially the same, she just didn’t want to fit in with the girls — she wanted to crush them.
The angle here helped sell Alex’s crazy side. She was completely in control of her faculties, she just had a warped sense of fairness.
The real problem with the finale was simple: Addison Derringer. We really don’t need to go looking for her in the form of a spinoff.
And finally, the truly best part…
We got a cameo
When Aria and Ezra’s wedding is interrupted by a phone notification, it was hard not to roll your eyes around the world thinking it was a new, new “A.” But in the funniest turn of events, it was just the photographer: I. Marlene King herself.
Very few shows have a perfect series finale, and Pretty Little Liars was not one of them. But for seven years of black hoodies and stress, “Til DeAth Do Us Part” deserves some love.