As far as clearing things up, “A is For Answers” was the most effective finale Pretty Little Liars‘ has ever had. Though it asked its fair share of questions, it answered some that had been left open since the first season. Since the show’s going into its fifth year and is apparently ready to go in new directions with new mysteries, previous wrinkles have to be ironed out, and it was nice to get a PLL finale actually resolving a few things rather than just heaping on more questions like it has in the past. By the end of the episode it felt like something had been accomplished despite A remaining masked, and this finale was an excellent showcase for Sasha Pieterse as an actress and Ali as a character as she told the Liars exactly what happened the night she “died”.
After spending the bulk of the show in various states of disbelief at Ali’s cruelty, this episode humanized her quite a bit. Her past self is still pretty abhorrent though it was given a focus as she tried to save her own life. The finale glossed over her more terrible qualities, but that was a necessary step since an episode told mostly from her perspective on the most harrowing day of her life probably wouldn’t have have been as effective by reminding the audience how monstrous the girl at the center of it could be. For the most part the show’s never captured the fact that Ali’s also a teenage girl and amazingly in over her head since she’s such a larger-than-life character and often goes out of her way to seem more adult, but when she started crying recalling being buried alive by her own mother, it was an apt reminder of how young the girls are. It seems obvious the show is going to try to integrate Ali into the group next season, and that can’t happen without some sympathy being attached to her, or without resolving what went down between her and Spencer.
Which is nothing.
For all of Spencer’s worrying she didn’t do anything to Ali that night. When she came at her with the shovel, she slipped and dropped her pill bottle, revealing her secret and losing all of her violent resolve. In the face of Spencer’s distress, Ali agreed to keep it a secret. Chances are, had Ali’s night gone differently, that secret would have reared its head in a particularly Ali-type way (like her comment about Emily enjoying Beyoncé’s video too much), but it was nice to see Ali genuinely concerned and comforting instead of immediately switching into conniving mode. Afterward Spencer went to sleep in the barn, and Ali went home to be attacked in front of a horrified Jessica who buried her alive, thinking she was dead.
So Jessica’s been popping up in Spencer’s bedroom and glaring at her from windows because Jessica watched her daughter be “killed” by someone who was not Spencer and actually buried Ali herself?
After Grunwald rescued Ali, Mona found her on the road and got her cleaned up at the Lost Woods resort before suggesting that Ali play dead and disappear. I assume it’s a conscious effort on the part of the writing to make Nerdy Mona over-the-top and creepy, but I always wonder what’s changed so much now when Mona’s in much better control of said creepiness and not letting it seep into casual conversation. How Ali wasn’t totally freaked out in her already fragile state by Mona’s affected tone and forehead kissing is a mystery. It’s my understanding, though the episode was a little unclear in this regard, that Mona was the A threatening Ali, but she didn’t attack her but got what she wanted by steering Ali out of town.So the person who “killed” Ali and the A sending her messages were not the same.
Though the identity of Ali’s attacker remained ambiguous, it’s someone Jessica was willing to lie for, and the obvious answer is Jason. What a pickle to find yourself in, having to cover up for your son after he kills your daughter. Unless PLL comes up with some other reason Jessica would accidentally bury her daughter alive while hysterically repeating “What have you done?”, my bet is on Jason with his tumultuous relationship with Ali and in his own druggy haze that summer. But PLL favors a roundabout route in these matters, and it’ll all probably come back around to some random character (like Noel!) later on.
Ali only broke her self-imposed exile from Rosewood to come to the aid of her friends. Her first return was after Mona hit Hanna with her car, but Ali pushed Ian from the belltower (though he was alive afterward), and she pulled Hanna from the fire (but she didn’t pull out the others). Considering how Ali left things with the girls, it helps that she’s seemingly been making amends by helping them though it certainly doesn’t make up for everything. Sure they’ve been through the ringer since Ali “died”, but it hardly changes much of what she did pre-“death”, and Hanna had it right when said she wanted to hug and slap Ali at the same time. It’s very nice that she’s alive and well, but everyone knows Ali was a terror, including Ali.
While all this was happening Detective Holbrook tried his hand at being semi-competent in his search for the Liars and Ali. Though it’s hard to take Sean Faris seriously as a person of authority, especially when he’s sitting across a table from Veronica Hastings, it was nice to see that some cops in Rosewood aren’t totally worthless.
They aren’t infallible though since Spencer’s car led them to a different location than where the girls were (a screwup that’s so remarkably understandable I almost couldn’t believe it made so much sense), and it was A who found them. ABC Family’s mostly hilarious whenever it tries to do anything even remotely violent as something about the movement always trips them up and makes it look laughable so watching A chase the girls with a gun didn’t have the desired effect. Despite A being one creepy dude/dudette, it seemed like an escalation to have a gun and be firing it at random. To be fair this was the closest A’s ever gotten to Ali, but if this A wasn’t the one trying to kill Ali the first time, why are they so set it on it now?
Since the show had to end on some sort of cliffhanger, it’s Ezra’s life hanging in the balance. It’s a dumb cliffhanger really, definitely not up to par with other season-enders especially since Marlene King’s already said Ian Harding will be around next season as a regular. But this turn is undoubtedly a nice one for Ezria shippers who can take some solace in their ship still having legs after Ezra got shot trying to defend Aria. Personally I think it would be more effective if he died….
Though Ezra’s fate appears to be up in the air, Jessica’s is more certain. I hope she was actually dead when she was put into that grave because being buried alive seems like a terrible way to go. And of course this opens up the question of why Jessica was killed. A was all the way in Philadelphia so was it another A or was it the person who “killed” Ali?
I guess we’ll find out
in two years next season.
- Good for Brant Daugherty on being able to collect a paycheck for this episode.
- There’s a lot of important information floating around with various characters. Ezra thinks he knows who A is, Cece does know who killed the girl in Ali’s grave and is after Ali now, and Melissa knows as well. But like I said,
two yearsnext season.
- Ian’s reaction to seeing Ali in the belltower was so understated I strongly doubt the writers had Ali in mind for the particular doer of that action.
- I laughed at Emily asking if they could make the jump to the neighboring building, and Spencer immediately saying no. Actually, Emily and Spencer may have made it being more athletically inclined, but Aria, Hanna and Ali? Not likely.
- Only on television do people get shot and stop to admire the scenery.
- No one can enjoy a Beyoncé video too much okay? There’s no limit to enjoying Beyoncé.
Leave your thoughts in the comments.