Pretty Little Liars / Screen

Pretty Little Liars: “Game Over, Charles”

There will never be a finale of Pretty Little Liars that isn’t ridiculous. That being said,  this one wasn’t as ridiculous as the others. It is, however, a lot more boring.

“Game Over, Charles” begins in media res, with a deceptively exciting opening as the Liars gather on a rooftop  attempting to talk down an apparently suicidal Charles. Then we’re zipped back to “earlier that night” when all the forward momentum abruptly halts and the girls stumble upon Charles’ “brain”, an absurd science fiction-esque control room with a live feed to the longwinded explanation for seasons worth of gameplaying. Alison’s taken to Radley, along with her temporarily paralyzed father and brother, where Charles tells all.

Charles isn’t Charles at all (which no one was surprised about), but Charlotte. Also known as Cece Drake. I’m sure there are a variety of reasons in canon why Cece isn’t a viable candidate for being A, and I’m equally certain someone will compile those reasons for reading tomorrow. BUt as far as this episdoe goes, I don’t mind it all. Alison and Cece were very close, close enough that Jessica remarked upon them impersonating one another, and the episode reference the Liars even mistaking Cece for Alison when they first met her. So I’m okay with Cece once being known as Charles, disowned by her family for the childish mistake of believing giving her  infant sister a hot bath was the best way to soothe her crying, and was ushered out of the family by a father uncomfortable by a son who identified more as a daughter.  Vanessa Ray does a nice job with the role, portraying a more frenzied and emotional Cece than we’ve seen before. Considering the soap opera-esque explanations for all that’s happened, Ray’s more natural performance in moments of upheaval at least roots the episode in something resembling reality.

Which is saying something since the extended flashback that is this episode isn’t exactly big on realism. It’s a giant info dump, and that doesn’t do anyone any favors. We’re just as much an audience (less captive but still) as the Liars, who watch Cece confess all via video, so distracted it takes them awhile to remember they’re supposed to be attempting escape. As silly as it is, you can’t expect PLL to do anything different, considering the negative amounts of subtlety in its possession. It deals more in overcomplicated riddles and mysteries that people stop caring about because they’ve you  left open so long. It’s only because the show is officially moving onto bigger, better and five year later A’s that we get this overwhelming amount of closure. And with so much to answer for, “Game Over” has to contort itself into ridiculous positions to make itself work, offering up explanations for almost everything.

That’s not to say the rest of plot isn’t riddled with PLL‘s characteristic holes. Why were Cece and Bethany young children on the roof when Toby was  a teenager at the time? Did Sara run away like she said and just fall in with Cece or was she actually abducted? There will always be a painful number of inconsistencies on this show, none as apparent as when post-finale interviews come out giving us all the answers the episode didn’t give us. It’s frustrating to say the least, but it’s very PLL.

And that’s all it is. Nothing happens that isn’t a blast from the past, and anything not involving A is left dangling. We only learn where the girls are headed off to college because of a final scene between them before they go, no word on what’s become of Alison and Lorenzo, where Cece goes now that her game is over or what happened to Jessica DiLaurentis (no one even comments on her death still being unexplained). Then it’s five years later, and Alison is Mrs. Rollins (I think that’s what it said) and rocking some very blond hair and being  chased by another dangerous someone.

It gives you a bit of whiplash, mostly resolving what’s been seasons worth of material only to have more coming at you anyway, but you take what you can get. “Game Over, Charles” is a typical PLL finale in plenty of ways. It deviates in that it actually marks some sort of resolution, but it’s also unsatisfying if you wanted anything more than that. The relationship between the Liars is only visited in those final scenes, the rest devoted to wading through cumbersome questions. It’s indicative of one of the show’s major flaws, the threat of it drowning in its own mysteries.

But until the show returns, we can at least satisfy ourselves knowing that it’ll be an almost fresh start and the water level will be a little lower.

Stray Observations

  • Of course Mona knew Clark was a cop. I can’t wait to see what she’s up to in five years.
  • There’s really nothing to say about Sara being Red Coat and the Black Widow and whoever else. She was around for half a season and PLL didn’t try that hard to make her less shady than she already appeared to be, and I’m tired just thinking about the inconsistencies involved in that. It’s also painfully boring that she was around at all, just so she could flirt with Emily and then get punched in the face.
  • So the moms are just still stuck in that basement five years later?
  • “Oh my God, Alison’s with Charles!” I’m sorry where did they think she was?

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