Disclaimer: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Cinema Sentries with a free copy of the DVD reviewed in this post. The opinions shared are those solely of the writer.
This seventh and final season begins after the girls spent Season Six slowly healing from the Dollhouse imprisonment and attempting to finish their senior year in peace. At Prom, they finally found out the identity of A, who was CeCe Drake. Not only was that a surprise, but it was revealed that CeCe was really Charles DiLaurentis, Alison’s unknown and secret brother. Conveniently, the show jumped five years ahead after that reveal, and the Liars have come home from their post-college years at the request of Ali. Many hijinks ensue, and by season’s end, Hannah is kidnapped, Ali is committed to a psychiatric hospital, and there is a new “Uber A” to fear and dread. For more, check out last season’s wrap up.
Onto the fun and games of Season Seven. The most important bit about this final season was that the #winemoms talk about the basement! More (or less) on that later. Anyway, not only was Hannah kidnapped, but she was tortured with a cattle prod. That’s some nasty shite right there. And the new Uber A refers to themselves as “A.D.”, and A.D. demands that the Scooby Liars find Charlotte’s killer in exchange for Hannah. In 24 hours. Gasp! Why couldn’t A.D. ask for a bitcoin payment like every other right-minded hacker/techbully? Oh what a pickle.
After much sleuthing and random guessing, the girls assume, tearfully, that Alison must have killed Charlotte. Something about a red sweater, yada yada yada. They drop the dime on Ali and meanwhile Hannah somehow escapes the shed/outhouse/yurt where she’d been not just poked with a cattle prod, but also soaked with a power hose. Yikes! Luckily, she stumbles through some woods for a sec, and comes out to a dark road. A car approaches! Hooray! It’s driven by Mary Drake! Damn, now what? Hannah gets in. What would you have done? (I’d probably have gotten in as well.)
“Killer” Alison is still locked up in Welby, the local psych hospital. (Remember, Radley is now “The Radley”, a fancy-shmancy hotel). It’s honestly sad to watch Alison so out of it, and being mistreated by her fake husband/fake doctor Elliot. He keeps sedating her when she periodically becomes lucid and pissed off at him. She’s strapped down to her bed, and flails around as much as the straps will allow. (Not a whole helluva lot, but she gets supreme points for effort).
Since Mary D. dropped Hannah off with the girls (not the police or a doctor, that would be too logical), she gets a warm shower and “something stronger than coffee.” She is also debriefed about Mary Drake, Alison, etc. And in about a nanosecond, she’s going to get a great offer from Lucas to join her in business venture. It’s cool, Hannah, ignore those warnings about signing contracts too soon after a major life change - like a bloody kidnapping!
Oh, Lucas is crazy rich right now because of his techie smarts. Alright, Lucas! But he could be A.D. for the same reason. Boo, Lucas! In other news, Emily has gotten a job at Rosewood High as the swim coach. And Paige is inexplicably back on the scene, competing with Emily for the job, but was instead named Athletic Department Supervisor. This will get interesting.
Not too long after that, Hannah trots off to NYC to find her fiancé Jordan. She breaks off the engagement, but not till after a flashback of their meet-cute. Bummer. They were cute for a bit. Of course, this means that she’s now available for Caleb, who is still with Spencer. (And Toby is still with Yvonne, in case anyone is keeping score of the new “ships.”)
Speaking of changing ships, Ezria broke apart previously, and then started to rekindle things in the “B” part of Season Six. Now they are --- drumroll (or eye roll if you prefer) --- engaged! It was a bit rocky at first, Ezra set up a beautiful scene with candles and a ring, and Aria had to take a long, long pause. Finally she accepts his proposal and she begins to plan a wedding. However, before they could even discuss table settings, they learn that Nicole, Ezra’s deceased girlfriend, might not be so deceased after all. It puts a wee damper on things, but they tentatively go ahead with their plans.
This leads to an interesting twist. As series sometimes do, in final episodes, they like to bring back some old faces. Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother, for example, paraded a line of forgotten guest cast members near the end of their series for some silly fun.
This last PLL season includes Noel Kahn, bad party boy; Sydney, annoying swim chick; Jenna (who is really not forgotten and manages to pop up tap-tap-tapping her white cane often enough), and Mrs. Grunwald of all people! Remember that weird old lady with the wonky eyes? She was a quirky character on Liars and Ravenswood, the short-lived PLL spooky spinoff, but she wasn’t evil. She appears in the "Exes and OMGs" episode to tell Hannah that she had a vision that the Liars were in trouble. Hell, if you knew anything about our beloved girls, they are always in trouble.
Another old face is Holden Strauss, who hasn’t’ been seen since Season Three. Welcome home, kiddo! Back in the day, he and Aria used to be each other’s beard - Aria used the excuse of dating Holden to secretly see Ezra, and Holden vice versa so he could secretly train in martial arts (dude had a bad heart or something else precluding contact sports). Now, Holden is a sort of wedding planner or caterer, and he and Aria become reacquainted while she’s doing her wedding thing. Let me know if you spotted other familiar faces during this season. Oohh, almost forgot, Detective Tanner (the ever cryptic Roma Maffia) appears as well.
In this last season, the violence increases. There are shootings, Spencer gets shot in the shoulder. Also car accidents, Toby and Yvonne crash to avoid a deer in the road. Of course, the aforementioned kidnapping. In addition, Caleb gets attacked by a board game (really!), Aria got burnt at Hannah’s bridal shower, and I’m sure someone stubbed a toe or broke a nail at some point.
And oh, boy are there deaths. Hannah accidently runs over Elliot/Archer Dunhill, killing him, and the girls, for whatever convoluted reason that fits their odd logic, decide to just bury him in the woods without telling anyone. Seems legit. Sara Harvey dies in a bathtub; Noel loses his head, literally; and Mona drops a snow globe in fear of someone killing her (which doesn’t happen, but still…). Also, Yvonne succumbs to her injuries, but this frees up Toby for Spencer and poor girl is barely cold in the grave before Spoby bump uglies again.
Also, cross reference with old faces resurfacing, is Wren. I’ll get to his death in a bit
There is also some good news, albeit the delivery method was whack. Alison’s pregnant! By Emily! At first, she assumed that the father was Elliot/Archer, which naturally does not please her. “Yes, sweetie. Daddy was a cruel psychopath.” Weirder still, she’s not the mother. But she’s pregnant. But she’s not the mother…wait, what? OK, hang on. Remember last season when Emily was selling her eggs to earn cash? And she found out that someone had broken into the egg bank and stole her eggs? And furthermore, in this season, while Ali is still stuck in Welby, she’s sedated again, and brought to a different room. Bright lights, probes, aliens…nope, it’s a rather freaky insemination by Archer.
Yup. Emily’s eggs found a home in Ali. They don’t know who the dad is yet.
The rest of the season is just as bonkers. Aria joins the A team, she gets her orders from a shape shifter (AD using some kind of image scrambling tech on their phone) and does nutty stuff like wrecking Ali’s baby nursery. Now, while some have suspected that Aria was indeed “A”, we know she’s not, and like the rest of the chumps, liars, has been coerced into doing some crap things.
Mary Drake turns out to be Spencer’s biological mother! Of course. Does anyone in Rosewood not have a twin or a weird backstory? Spencer is pouty with Veronica for a bit, and is all touchy-feely with Mary, which feels forced, but hey…whatever.
PLL plays fast and loose with time jumps now. The second half of the season is “One Year Later”. Hey, after a five-year jump, one year is nothing. Ali and Emily’s babies are born, yes…plural. Twins, of course. And of course, Emily and Alison are now “Emison” a true ship. On the flip side, Aria found out she is barren, the old-timey word for "infertile". She finally tells Ezra, and he’s fine with that. He already has a son from a previous relationship, a fact that everyone seems to have forgotten. Oh, and that book he wrote is turning into a feature film. Sweet!
Elsewhere in the PLL-verse, a fresh crop of Liars have sprouted in the halls of Rosewood High, led by Addison. She’s been alternatively giving crap to Emily and Alison, and an unlikely hero appears in the form of Jenna. Crazy, right? It was actually a beautiful moment, Addison and her posse are skanking and skulking around in the hall, and Jenna taps over to the group (she’s now a Life Skills teacher) and tells Addison and company that it’s time to get to class. Addison pretends to move, but instead silently waves her hand in front of Jenna’s face, cuz after all, girl is blind, right? Astonishingly, Jenna’s hand moves out, quick as a snake, and grabs Addison by the wrist, mid-wave, with this fiercely whispered warning, “I may not be able to see, but I can smell a bitch a mile away.”
(Pssst, Jenna’s keen sense of smell comes in handy later.)
Anyway, in the middle of all this second half of the season, a weird but kind of coolly elaborate board game shows up and the girls are forced to play. The game is also rigged with sharp things and poison gas if anyone tampers with it. (Caleb was a victim of the game’s fury, but he recovered just fine.) At one point, Mona gets a look, and is oohing and ahhing over it. I guess because of the fine craftsmanship and dope cunning that built the thing.
Speaking of solving things, the cops, mainly a Det. Furey, have been investigating Archer’s disappearance and getting closer to the truth, and Spencer especially acts guilty around him, when she’s not making out with him. (Yes, they had a thing after Caleb broke up with her to go back to Hannah). All kinds of evidence piles up, despite the Scooby gang's best efforts at stealing, burning, or losing said evidence. And our pal Tanner arrives at just the best moment to deliver arrest warrants - only for the girls - the guys, no matter how complicit they are, never get into much trouble.
Don’t fret, before anyone has time to don an orange jumpsuit, Mary Drake confesses to the murder of not only Archer Dunhill (a lie), but the murder of her dear twin sister, Jessica (a truth). Once again, the girls are free to go. Ya know…about Tanner, she’s not a softie, she’s pretty tough and doesn’t suffer fools lightly, but she definitely has the girls' best interests at heart. I like that in a hard-nosed detective. According to Tanner, "You're not criminals. Not really. Try and remember that."
Another interesting side plot was some weirdness between Pam Fields and Alison. Not bad weirdness, they actually were whispering and acting chummy, which got Emily all pissed off, and finally Alison had to tell the truth, Pam had given her Emily’s grandmother’s ring, so Ali could propose! Sweet!
Speaking of Pam, I promised to talk about the #winemoms. Remember last season on Prom Night? The moms were hanging out while the girls were supposed to be having a fake prom in the barn? And the mischief they got into, emboldened by a few glasses of Chardonnay? Locked in the basement? No one ever saw them get out of that predicament? Well children, the subject came up at Ezria’s rehearsal dinner; Veronica, Marin, and Ella were yapping and cranking about the bitchiness of Ezra’s mom, and Ella remarks somewhat plaintively,
“Sometimes I wish we were still in the basement. At least we had some peace and quiet down there.”
Veronica: “Oh my god. Do you remember how we got out of there?”
Ashley: “You know Pam didn't drink for a year after that?”
Veronica: “Forget I brought it up.”
The thing is, it was never explained how they got out? But it was cool to see the plot hole get addressed, if not filled.
Around this same time, Aria and Ezra’s wedding approaches, and some odd things were happening, that could only be explained by "the big reveal":
A.D. is Alex Drake. Right, the last name is familiar, like CeCe Drake, and Mary Drake. You see, Mary had twin girls, Spencer and Alex. (Again with the twins!) But for whatever reason, little Alex was spirited away to England, Mary thought she’d have a good life there. Wrong. Alex got stuck in an orphanage, and eventually ran away. As a young woman, she was a pub bartender, working the night that Wren stopped by. In all the gin joints, right?
Wren was gob smacked! Why would Spencer be in England? Finally, he realized that this doppelgänger was really not Spencer, but a mysterious twin. Sheesh, Wren, you spent enough time in Rosewood, this should not be so shocking. Anyway, the two become best pals and eventually romantically involved. Alex learns all she’s missed and is resentful. She also finds out about her half-sister, Charlotte. She and Wren hatch a plan for her to secretly go to the States and begin to insinuate herself into life in Rosewood, as Spencer! When she meets Charlotte, they bond for life, and Charlotte wills all her money to Alex. See, it’s not so bad to be Alex, is it?
Much more manipulating and machinations ensue as it’s revealed that it was Wren’s sperm that was used to fertilize Emily’s eggs. Also, Alex appeared to Hannah while she was imprisoned. Hannah assumed it was a helpful dream, but it was really Alex. Which meant she was part of the kidnapping. Turns out she also slept with Toby, again, pretending to be Spencer. She pulls things off quite brilliantly, with Mona, Noel, and Mary’s help. Pretty sure Jenna and Sara helped as well, but things got so muddled, it’s hard to keep it all straight.
Interestingly, it was Jenna (and her keen sense of smell, which deserves its own billing by now) that helped bring down Alex. She was talking to fake Spencer in the street and realized she smelled all wrong. Not stinky, but wrong perfume. She then called Toby and warned him, “Spence’s not Spencer.” Toby then does some hard thinking and grabs a book of poetry. Hmm, some of us would have grabbed nunchucks or a Glock 9mm, but fine Toby, let sweet words be your defense. Why not?
So while everyone else was getting ready for the big wedding, Spencer wasn’t really Spencer! Spencer had been smacked by Mona and knocked unconscious and woke up in some kind of jail, her ankle cuffed to the bed. Ouch! Turns out Alex’s biggest beef was that she wanted Spencer’s “perfect life” and even lost her temper with Wren when he wouldn’t call her “Spencer.” So, she killed him! Why not? She was also unhappy with the Rosewood gang because Charlotte, had been murdered, and Alex wanted revenge. Big time. Why not?
Alex and her team also kidnap Ezra, to mess up the wedding, and that worked quite well. Lots of runny mascara on Aria’s part. Soon enough though, Spencer had copped a bobby pin from her mom’s hair when they hugged (Mary had been there earlier, acting like she really cares, and who knows I think she might!) and began to pick the lock. Quick as you please, she and Ezra are out and running around this underground place only to find themselves back at the beginning. Turns out this locale was on the site of the house that Toby built, but sold to a mysterious buyer. Seriously, these people ought to be way more suspicious!
Because of Jenna’s warning, and Toby’s hard thinking, the Scooby gang show up to rescue Spencer and Ezra. Hooray! Except…wait…Spencer and Alex are dressed the same, sound and look the same, who is the real Spencer Hastings? Toby, using his noggin solves the puzzle. He poses a question to the two of them, “what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”
Naturally, smarty Spencer answers in French and wins the day! Shortly, a cop is taking Alex into custody. Mona, who is now not on the A team, mentions that she had already called 911. Yippee! Aria and Ezra get married, finally, Hannah finds out she’s preggers, Spencer and Toby seem close, Emison are doing just dandy and swell. The girls get all teary when they need to say goodbye, and…dissolve cut.
Next we hear some haunting French music, and we see Mona, with a beret, (seriously?) working at a shop in Paris. She finishes her sale, while a handsome French hunk comes in, acting like a boyfriend. Wait...he looks familiar…didn’t we…could it be…? Yes, he was the "policeman" that "arrested" Alex. Turns out Mona couldn’t resist playing the game just a little bit more, and we see Alex and Mary Drake wearing creepy dresses, sitting in the shop’s basement drinking tea. Turns out Mona has been keeping them prisoner in her own dollhouse!
But wait, there’s more. The final scene is takes place in a barn or fancy shed, not unlike Spencer’s. It’s a dark and stormy night, and the camera pans over a group of sleeping teen girls, just like in the pilot episode of PLL. There are lit candles flickering, (dangerous, but it’s a pretty image) and as one of the girls wakes up, she realizes that Addison isn’t there. Yes…it’s Addison’s crew, and just like in the pilot, they stumble around in a daze until a mini-Spencer approaches from the outside, saying she’d been looking for Addison everywhere, but she was gone, “I think I heard her scream.”
I’m hoping I. Marlene King (E.P. and PLL showrunner) does not go down this path to find Addison. One, because she’s a cruel, annoying twit (Addison, not King) and two, because…just…no. Please. No. Once was wonderful - for a show with countless plot holes, farfetched storylines, and unrealistic wardrobes - PLL worked, and worked well. The show was nominated for and won countless awards such as People’s Choice, Teen Choice, GLAAD Media, TV Guide, Banff Television Festival, and more. Despite the madness, the characters were real, they showed growth, and the theme of cyberbullying is timely. To do any kind of spin-off would be a waste.
The show really had top-notch dialogue writing. So many great lines, like this one, Ezra to Aria, regarding how to deal with the dead body in the trunk of her car, “I have a master’s degree in American literature. There's nothing I can't handle.” Now there are other shows with funny lines, and well-written too, like Big Bang Theory, for example. But often it feels like the script trips over itself to get to the next funny line, or sight gag. On PLL, there’s plenty of the mundane lines like, “God I need coffee” or “Did you study for the calc test?” Admittedly, PLL was not a comedy, but every character had chances to crack wise over and over throughout the seven seasons, and they nailed it.
Of course, great dialogue is nothing without good direction and acting. Check, check.
I’m sorry to see the show end, it was my Tuesday-night guilty pleasure when my husband and sons were out at their bowling league, and it was tough to find something to replace it during the off seasons. Hey, I’ll live, and so will the fans. But on Tuesday night Freeform has introduced The Bold Type, a show for a similar demographic, and it’s rated at 100% at Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad. My take - I think I’m getting hooked.
I never noticed this before, but the theme song of the show, “Secret” by the Pierces, a Los Angles band, has such a French feel to it, n’est-ce pas? I think it’s the accordion accompaniment. If it weren’t for the liars standing over a prettily made-up corpse in a coffin, you could almost picture them strolling along the Seine at sunset. Almost. This really seems to line up with Alison and Mona’s obsession with France.
- Inside the PLL Sheets - Fluff about filming the series’ sex scenes
- That PLL Boy is Mine - Short segment about “Spaleb”, Spencer and Caleb’s brief ship. Cute for about two seconds.
- A PLL Proposal - About the Ezria proposal. More fluff, but it was sweet.
- A Surprising Mary Drake - Meh, OK, but a bit longer would have been better.
- Hot for Haleb - Not bad.
- Say I Do - Some nice background about Aria’s original wedding dress, seeing the stills made the viewer really appreciate the beauty of the gown.
- The Final Sendoff from Rosewood - A decent summary of how the cast and crew felt about wrapping up. Spoiler, there were many tears.
- A.D.: The Ultimate Suspect - Worth a look.
- Thank You to Fans - Meh.
- Pretty Little Liars: A-List Wrap Party (Special) - this was about an hour-long group interview with the main cast and King, hosted by Jeannie Mai. Her slightly exaggerated enthusiasm was a lil’ bit grating, hey, not everyone can be a Chris Hardwick. Still, as the interview went on, I think she was pretty genuine, as were the girls. This already aired after the series finale, but it’s nice to have it to re-watch for the diehard fans. There were some photo booth confessions that didn’t contribute that much, but overall a decent final wrap-up.