Welcome back to my weekly review and recap of Pretty Little Liars. To catch up on the previous episode, click here.
Creator and executive producer I. Marlene King promised this would be the #SummerOfAnswers for Pretty Little Liars fans.
“Game Over, Charles,” the highly-anticipated summer finale, delivered just that, but they weren’t necessarily the answers most fans were hoping for.
It should be needless to say, but this recap is filled with spoilers. Do not even think about reading this unless you already watched the finale.
Don’t jump, you A!
The episode opens with Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Hanna (Ashley Benson), Spencer (Troian Bellisario), and Alison (Sasha Pieterse) walking upstairs to Radley’s rooftop. When they reach their destination, they see A clad in trademark black hoodie about to jump as police officers storm outside of the building.
However, even after all of the torture this villain put them through, the liars don’t want A to die. The girls say now that they know A’s story, they understand.
Regardless of everything A hears, the anonymous character makes moves to jump as the girls scream, “No!”
And in true suspenseful PLL fashion, the episode flashes back.
Earlier that night
At prom, the liars call Kenneth’s (Jim Abele) home phone with the hope of getting in touch with Alison and Charles’s father, but have no luck. We can overhear the girls’ mothers screaming for help from the DiLaurentis basement. They should get out by the end of the episode, right?
Sara (Dre Davis) joins the girls and tells them that Tanner has questions for all of them while they theorize about Alison’s whereabouts. Soon, they realize they are not alone, as Aria hears footsteps. When they investigate, the girls find the red-cloaked figure wearing a mask, and it turns out to be none other than Mona Vanderwaal (Janel Parrish). Mona has been following Ali since she got back in town and learns that Charles has his own cellular network with servers located at the Carissimi Group. The girls venture off to find Ali.
A drags Jason’s (Drew Van Acker) body across the floor while Ali wakes up in a bed at Radley and sees family photos on the wall. She gets distracted when she sees her father lying on the other side of steel bars. Meanwhile, the girls park outside of the Carissimi Group and notice cops stashing bags in the back of a van. They wonder why they are moving this stuff in the middle of the night. When they get inside, they try to crack a code to break into a room. Sara informs them that Charles used to give her a red, white, and blue cupcake on Sept. 7. So they successfully enter the room with the code, 0907.
At first the room looks plain, but it ends up opening to a much larger well-lit room with a touchscreen center panel. Sara opts to stay outside because it’s “a little tight in there.” Eventually, the wall closes in and the touchscreen reveals a giant hologram (because A knows about technology!). The girls get a firsthand look inside Ali’s room and they see her looking at Kenneth and Jason’s bodies.
However, the big twist comes when they see A in the room with Ali, and when the elusive hooded figure turns around, it is revealed to be…CeCe Drake (Vanessa Ray)?
Yes. The anonymous crazy person we have been theorizing about for over five years happens to be a minor character who has only appeared (though often mentioned) in 12 out of the last 82 episodes since the series revealed Mona as the original A. We haven’t seen CeCe since episode 5.13, “How the ‘A’ Stole Christmas.” This is why fans are saying “What?” not in shock but to question the writers’ creativity. However, CeCe’s backstory ends up being quite interesting and answers several lingering questions.
NEXT: Who killed Toby’s mother?
Warning: Pronouns will be switched around several times in the next few paragraphs. For clarification purposes, “Charles” will be used to reference flashbacks, while “CeCe” will be used to reference the present.
What happened when Charles tried to drown baby Ali?
CeCe recounts the moment when she and Ali were young and she went by “Charles.” Charles (Dylan Garza) would never leave his little baby sister’s side when they were younger. It was like having his own “living doll.” When baby Ali cried, Charles tried to put her in the bath tub to cheer her up but accidentally dropped her into the water, nearly drowning her.
Even though this was clearly an accident, CeCe says that she always wanted to wear dresses as a boy and Kenneth never allowed it. This was another reason why Kenneth sent Charles to Radley. However, Jessica DiLaurentis (Andrea Parker) assures young Charles that she loves him very much.
CeCe clarifies that Kenneth and Jason aren’t dead. They just can’t move, much like Mona couldn’t move when she was in the trunk of CeCe’s car last season. CeCe looks down on her father and points out that he never visited her. As the girls watch, they realize they feel sorry for Jason but not for Mr. DiLaurentis.
The only people who ever visited Charles for the next seven years were Jessica and Aunt Carol. When Charles turned twelve, Jessica even got him a yellow dress for Christmas and would even buy him the same clothes as Ali for the next several years.
Who killed Toby’s mother?
In a flashback, we see Charles, clad in a dress, as he talks to Bethany Young (Jessica Belkin) about getting out of Radley on the institution’s roof. When Marion Cavanaugh (Karla Droege) comes outside, Charles quickly hides, not wanting to be seen. Bethany promises to distract her but pushes her off the roof instead. She tells everyone that Charles did it, since no one would believe the boy wearing a dress.
It turns out that Jessica paid Darren Wilden (Bryce Johnson) off to make sure Mrs. Cavanaugh’s death was ruled a suicide. For years after that, the doctors put Charles on drugs but let him out for a funeral, a funeral for Charles himself. The DiLaurentis family held a ceremony for Charles’s “death” at Aunt Carol’s house and Jessica finally accepted Charles as her daughter, Charlotte (whom Charles/CeCe will be referred to as for the rest of the recap).
NEXT: Who killed Bethany Young and who tried to kill Alison DiLaurentis?
How did Charlotte get back together with the DiLaurentis family?
After we see Red Coat set a bomb on the rear west wing on the second floor at Radley, Charlotte details how she ended up with the DiLaurentis family in Cape May. After getting “out” privileges to take classes at UPenn, Charlotte got bored and wanted to reunite with her family. She called in a fake bomb threat to get classes canceled and went to Rosewood on school picture day, where she posed as CeCe Drake and flirted with Jason.
Jessica didn’t know that Jason’s girlfriend was actually his sister until the day the DiLaurentis family left for Cape May. Jessica confronts Charlotte on her front porch and tells her that Kenneth thinks Charles is really dead. However, Jessica allows Charlotte to pose as CeCe for the entire vacation.
Who hit Ali on the head on the night she went missing?
As much as Charlotte wanted to tell Ali the truth, Bethany ruined everything. She stole Charlotte’s clothes and snuck out with the intention of hurting Jessica after finding out about an affair with her father. Charlotte sneaked up on a blonde figure and hit her on the head with a rock, hoping for it to be Bethany but it turned out to be Ali. Jessica buried Ali with the intention of protecting Charlotte and pays Wilden off to take her daughter back to Radley without saying breathing a word of what happened.
Who killed Bethany?
In tears, Mona comes clean that she intended to hurt Ali the night she disappeared but ended up hitting Bethany on the head with a shovel. However, as we know, Melissa was the one who actually “killed” Bethany, since she was the one who buried her alive.
How did Charlotte take the A game from Mona?
After the girls learn that Rhys Matthews was just a decoy, Charlotte reveals that she befriended a drugged-up Mona after she was unmasked as the original A. Charlotte learned everything she could about Aria, Emily, Hanna, and Spencer. Once Mona snapped out of it, Charlotte sent her riddles and rhymes so they could work together as an A team.
Once Charlotte got out of Radley, she attempted to befriend the girls with her best Ali impression. Charlotte was angry that all of Ali’s supposed friends were happy she was gone. However, Charlotte noticed a blonde girl in a red coat watching over the girls.
NEXT: The identities of Red Coat and Black Widow are revealed!
Who is Red Coat?
Charlotte knew that if Ali were alive, she would come for her friends if they were in trouble. Charlotte sent in a decoy Red Coat to Thornhill Lodge to distract Mona while she trapped the girls. However, all hell broke loose when Shana showed up and locked the girls in the lodge.
And the mysterious Red Coat turns out to be…Sara Harvey?
I’m starting to see a pattern here. Sara has only had a physical presence in 10 episodes throughout the entire series and the only other time the show even referenced her was in episode 4.14, “Who’s in the Box?” The payoff did not seem as satisfying as it would have been if Red Coat had a larger presence since the beginning of the series.
So why did Charlotte keep playing the game? And are we going to excuse her for trying to murder the girls?
After the girls fingered Shana as A, Charlotte used this as an excuse to quit the game, but it turned out to be too addictive for her. She also admits that she never planned on hurting any of the girls because she “loves all of her dolls.” That’s why she kidnapped them and kept them alive.
Who is the Black Widow?
Charlotte killed Wilden because he found out Ali was alive and didn’t want her to tell the story. She sent in the Black Widow to Wilden’s funeral to confirm he was, in fact, dead.
And Black Widow is…also Sara Harvey. Red Coat and Black Widow were the same person? Cheap.
After hearing the truth about Sara, Emily tries to find a way out of the room. Spencer finds a secret door behind glass that Mona shatters with a piece of metal hidden inside her heels (because even a former A comes equipped). While the girls head to Radley, Mona stays behind to hear the rest of the story.
NEXT: Looking to the future!
This place is about to blow!
We learn that Charlotte went back home to say goodbye to her mother before leaving town but stumbled upon her body. This devastated Charlotte, since Jessica was the only one who ever really loved her.
The girls reach Radley and find Sara about to set the bomb. When the alarm sounds, Charlotte uses this as a cue to set off a detonator, but little does she know that Spencer has already disarmed it. I mean, we all knew Spencer was smart, but who knew she had 007-level espionage skills?
Soon, Ali joins the girls and tells them that Charlotte is headed to the roof. Sara tries to run away, but not before Emily gets one good punch in. Now I feel kind of bad about rooting for this couple.
The girls reach the roof in time and Ali says five simple words: “Charlotte, please don’t do this.”
And with that, Charlotte gets down, removes her hood and mask and says, “Game over.”
Ummm. What? That’s it?
Labor Day Weekend
As the girls pack up for college, they say their goodbyes to Ali, who is sticking around in Rosewood. We find out that the hospital just released Sara.
Five years later…
We see a teacher named Mrs. Rollins write her name on a chalkboard. It’s Alison DiLaurentis! Or should we say Alison DiLaurentis-Rollins? A grown-up Aria, Emily, and Hanna enter her classrooom with fear because someone is coming for Ali and that it’s time to leave. But then Spencer enters and says that it’s too late because he’s already here.
NEXT: Unanswered questions and final thoughts.
1. What were the cops moving out of the Carissimi Group in the middle of the night?
2. Who killed Jessica DiLaurentis?
3. How did Sara start working with Charlotte? Was she ever really held captive in the dollhouse? Did Charlotte brainwash her?
4. I can’t take the credit for this question because one of my friends actually pointed this out. But was Charlotte really telling the truth about all of this? She constantly talked about coming up with a good lie. Could this be one of them?
5. Where are Charlotte and Sara in the time jump?
6. Who did Ali marry? Could it be the new character, Dr. Rollins (played by Huw Collins), who will be introduced when the show returns in January?
7. Why do we still watch this show?
8. Seriously, why are so many people out to get these girls?
9. How does A have access to cool technology?
10. Is it January yet?
11. Wait, are their mothers still trapped in the basement!?
If I had to base this review solely on initial reactions to the A, Red Coat and Black Widow reveals, it would get a 0/10. It seemed as though the writers realized they could book Vanessa Ray for one episode and decided, “Hmmmm…wouldn’t it be cool if she was A?” And the Sara thing was too anti-climactic. Also, there are one too many plot holes that one blogger graciously pointed out.
However, I’m still tuning in when season 6B airs in January 2016!
What did you think about the Big A Reveal? Sound off in the comments!