Welcome back, ya creeps! We made it to the endgAme—the final ten episodes of this hellscape we call our once-favorite television show. Hopefully we'll survive this together and finally learn the truth behind all those damned secrets they've been keeping. And if we do...well, then Rosemary will have to murder all of you, because that's apparently how secrets work in Rosewood.
Also! Spoiler alert! This is an artist's rendering of what the group text behind this post looked like Tuesday night:
Rosemary is the old one.
Yep! Your OG Murdercabin recappers, Alexis and Catie, much like a courageous (and possibly fatally dumb) Paige McCullers, have leapt back into the fray* to clink metaphorical mugs with the inimitable (sign, Alexis) Rosemary. Down that mean street no woman should go, who she herself is not mean, etc etc etc.
Truthfully, only Alexis is back this week. Catie is still mastering being a “Doctor” or whatever (live shot), so she'll be popping in more sporadically. But we BONDED over the incredible ~whole first minute~ of the premiere and the meatless panel discussion that followed at Paleyfest LA in March. How could we NOT come back to join Rosemary on this??
The cast of Pretty Little Liars at Paleyfest, minus two Liars and a ToboCop.
Rosemary, Alexis and Catie subjecting themselves to an unhealthy dose of teenage frenzy.
Rosemary doing her best Ezra Fitz impression and creeping on Ian Harding.
Surprise! Internet friends are real, and so great that even the most disappointingly smash-the-patriarchy-free PLL panel couldn’t ruin the memories.
*Full disclosure: Alexis and Catie did not watch all the episodes that Rosemary so gamely covered last summer. Many! But not all. But as you all know, Rosemary’s recaps more than suffice. We’re sure we didn’t miss much.
This Week's MVP
The Scooby-Doo font UberA has styled the Liars’ Lamentation game with. Jinkies! What a retro nightmAre. (We guess this also doubles as this week’s MOST LIT ALLUSION, huzzah!)
This Week's LVP
If we’re being salty, Freeform itself for the decision to not screen this whole episode three weeks ago at PaleyFest LA, as if there was some bombshell dropped that just could not risk being spoiled.
If we’re being real, Hanna, but only by dint of the fact that her entire storyline was drawing and fitting dresses, and not trusting Mona. Honestly, someone give the show an award for finding a way to give a Liar even less to do than Emily all of 6B.
Biggest Shock/Best Surprise
We guess the fact that Daddy Hastings is a bigger sleaze than we (and Spencer) even knew. Does he top KenDad yet? Maybe not; serial adultery is probably less morally egregious (and certainly more quotidien) than denying the humanity of your child and institutionalizing them/effectively erasing them from existence over their gender identity, but man does it seem like Peter is sure trying to make it a tie.
Biggest No Duh
The fact that even senators’ daughters know that in A’s Rosewood, Mona Vanderwaal doesn’t know you—you know Mona Vanderwaal.
That's (FINALLY) So Ali
Welcome back, ya animal.
PREVIOUSLY ON PRETTY LITTLE LIARS
WHERE EVEN TO BEGIN? The Liars found footage of Noel torturing them in the dollhouse (Alexis: wait what), so Hanna kidnapped him to force info out of him (Alexis: what??), at which point, as per uzh, Mona had to come to her rescue. Alison is pregnant (Alexis: wutttt) with what we’re supposed to assume is her ex-husband/torturer’s baby. Haleb happened; Spoby happened; Emison kinda happened. Ezria was about to happen till death do they part, but then they found Nicole in the jungle so Ezra had to rush off to rescue her. Toby and Yvonne maybe died in a car crash - as close to natural causes as Rosewood would ever allow. And finally: Jenna and Noel lured the Liars to a house of horrors where Noel decapitated himself with a DAMN AXE and Jenna shot Spencer in the DAMN CHEST and Mary Drake showed up and told Spencer she was her mother.
…Okay. Alexis missed a LOT.
Our Lady of the Holy Summits
As Spencer is being rushed to the ER, her EMT, in an attempt to keep her conscious, keeps asking her the most basic of questions: Who’s your mother? Ah yes, that question movies and television and all of Catie’s med school professors have agreed is the most normal and obvious to ask anyone suffering from a major injury and in danger of blacking out. Wren knows what we’re talkin’ about!
But seriously LOL has this EMT *been* to Rosewood? At this point, Spencer’s mom could be anyone who lived within a square block of Peter Hasting’s insatiable libido.
Anyway, summit: the Liars race through the hospital doors behind Spencer’s whizzing stretcher, and start wondering, very loudly, if Noel Kahn’s decapitation means the end of AD forever. Oh, honey, no—we have ten episodes left, remember?
And then! Toby, bloody and neck-braced, is wheeled in behind them, definitively not dead.
ONE WEEK LATER: Time Is a Flat Circle
Here Comes the…Bride?
Aria has packed a bag and is leaving Ezra’s **for good this time, for real** when she opens the door, and lo, there he be! (Sorry, everyone.) They hug. (Sorry, everyone.) He notices that she has packed a bag, but rather than letting her leave, he takes her bag upstairs with him. She fills him (and Alexis) in on Current Events in Rosewood, “and also idk it’s whatever I’m not worried but um, how is Nicole?”
Ezra explains that Nicole had broken bones that didn’t heal properly out in the jungle, so they’re having to break them again to reset them. Now Nicole is at a recovery facility with her parents in New York, and seems as uninterested as we are in talking to Ezra. Good on you, Nicole!
Ezra’s recitation of The Nicoliad is interrupted when Aria’s phone buzzes, and our dude is at least useful enough by now to understand that any Liar receiving any text takes precedence over anything else going on, and doesn’t stand in her way as she races out the door.
The Price is Never Right
The text Aria got turned out to be one SOSing her to the Murder Barn, where the rest of the Liars (and Ali, who we refuse to consider a TruLiar while the show continues to ignore Mona’s claim to the same) await. They are standing around a huge black box with an even huger red bow. Bows are **kind offffff** Aria’s thing, so they waited for her to open both it and the accompanying envelope.
To quote the official Freeform tumblr (for the first and hopefully last time): No.
Aria does not accept this (in the wise words of Jake Peralta: Smort). Noel’s dead; Jenna’s gone. It’s gotta be over, right? Lolololololololol oh bb, no. No. But that is very sweet that you would think so! The Liars remind her that Jenna and Noel, rather than being AD themselves, could just as easily have been either 1) working for someone else, or 2) running their OWN game, completely separate from AD. Comforting! Also, completely destroys Aria’s reasonable refusal to accept reality. And so, they open the box.
It’s a creepy board game version of Rosewood that comes to life the moment it sees them (do not try to tell us it doesn’t see them)! There are five painstakingly detailed Liars gamepieces perched on the edge. “ENDGAME, BITCHES,” the digital readout on the side scrolls ominously (sidebar: at what point does A/UberA/Amoji/AD calling them bitches does it stop being cute? Alexis feels like…long ago). SUPER FUN.
It’s time to play…Murder Jumanji.
Ali apparently drew the "let's loop the cops in for once" straw this week, and so offers that as the first suggestion, but the others rightfully assume that the game will either explode or successfully frame them for murder if they try. Their ultimate decision? To not do anything for the moment, *including* playing one single turn. We’re not sure that that choice doesn’t come with a side of possible explosion/murder framing, too, but hey, we don’t have the years of experience being stalked that these ladies do. You do you doing nothing, girls!
Aria, naturally, takes this lack of action as an opportunity to complain about her relationship problems—namely, that she’s afraid Ezra hasn’t told Nicole about her, much less the fact that they are engaged. Like seeking out like, it is Hanna Aria chooses to offer these anxieties to. Hanna, of course, offers up the most terrible advice she possibly can in return: Just keep planning your wedding and wait for him to dump Nicole.
How do we know that Aria seeking out Hanna was a case of like seeking like? Because Aria immediately takes this crappy advice! The next we see her, she and Hanna are shopping at Rosewood’s Wedding Planning Store (almost certainly the same one that made Hanna’s and Aria’s mom’s weddings such complete successes) when a vaguely familiar dude walks in. JK, it is Holden, resurrected from Generic White Boy Purgatory to stir up some drama probably. We can’t remember exactly who Holden is or what season he appeared in (they were each other’s beards when Aria was dating Ezra and Holden and his Medically Weak Heart were doing Fight Club, but it truly does not matter), but we’re livid that they would resurrect anyone other than our precious angel baby Liam who called Ezra out on his creepy bullshit, who Rosemary also didn’t remember at first, but thank Vanderjesus Alexis came back just in time to remind her of.
ANYWAY, here’s a boring, reasonably attractive guy who seems happy to see Aria but also as creeped out as we are that she’s engaged to her old teacher. Holden attempts to ask Aria questions about her wedding to help kickstart the planning, but she clearly has no idea what she wants or if it’s even going to happen. Great sign! Hanna rubbed off perfectly, thanks.
Even more great: as Holden walks her home down Rosewood’s street, they run into Ezra, who’s rushing off to NYC because Nicole’s parents asked him to. “No time for questions! I definitely do not see this other man you are with and don’t care about what wedding you may or may not have been in the middle of using even more of your emotional labor to plan without my input at all!!”
Uhbbbbye, bitch! Don’t let the doll graveyard hit you on the way out.
Do My Little Turn on the Cat(Fight) Walk
So where did Hanna go, that left Aria to face Holden and Ezra all alone? To LIVE HER LIFE, DUH.
Step one to living her life already happened that morning, and probably the night before, and every morning and night for the past week+. That's right: Haleb is back to near-constant naked time. Caleb woke up that morning wanting more doing it, but Hanna was only in the mood…to chase some bad guys. Jenna, specifically. He tried to distract her with her Fashion Designs and telling her to let him take care of the hard stuff, that she should just draw some dresses, and honestly, how did Caleb become so terrible?
But it worked. Hanna took his advice, and instead of trying to figure out what the EFF is going on in this hellscape of a town, she sat down at an outdoor café to draw dresses. At least she did it in the angriest, Hanna-dancingest way possible! This is where Mona, in all her neon blazer glory, finds her. “Too bad about Noel,” she says. “Well. No, not really.” And then immediately, with basically no pivot, she begins gushing over Hanna’s designs. UGH. LUH YEW GIRL.
Without missing a beat, Our Queen tells Hanna that if she dresses the right person, she could make it big. And luckily, Mona knows, like, everyone.
To the end of time.
So Mona sets up a meeting at The Radley for Hanna with Catherine Daly, a senator’s daughter (oh là là) who needs a dress for an upcoming event, which is where Hanna absconds to just when Aria’s wedding planning needs her most. After some light Marinwaal flirting, the ex-BFFs ratchet up their PR game and invite Catherine to try on dresses at Hanna Marin Studios™ which is actually just Lucas’ apartment that Hanna is still crashing in, and PS now we and you remember that Lucas exists and is also rich because of his very genius skills with computer programming. ~*~Foreshadowy, no?~*~
The fitting goes swimmingly, and Catherine is ready to wear Hanna’s dresses to her big event, regardless of how showy they are for the occasion, but then she tells Hanna to have “her boss” call her and all of Hanna’s good vibes disappear. Mona is trying to take credit for her work! Bounce her off her own label! *extremely Aria voice* MONA IS THE DEVIL.
When Mona shows up later, Hanna lights into her for all of these perceived injustices. “It must be my natural aura of authority and knowledge,” Mona says, all innocence but also hubris, swearing she’s just trying to help Hanna’s business. And let’s be real: Having Mona do her PR is honestly the best thing that could ever happen to Hanna. WHY DOES EVERYONE ALWAYS SHIT ON MONA. MONA IS AN ACTUAL SAINT. To prove her innocence, Mona immediately calls Catherine to clear things up and starts ordering Hanna business cards, gold embossed with BOSS under Hanna’s name.
And that’s it. That’s all Hanna gets to do this week. Live your life, girl. We guess you’ve earned it.
If you spent the last eight months biting your nails over whether Paige or Emily got the Rosewood swim coach job, FEAR NOT. Emily is now the new swim coach, and Paige is now the new athletic department supervisor, because Rosewood Athletics was as desperate to keep Paige around as we were (Alexis still doesn’t understand why Paige crossed the Mississippi again in the first place, but she’s glad to have her back regardless). They’re celebrating their new positions with the school staff when Ali walks in, fresh from the doctor’s office. She’s having a “perfect” stranger’s baby, even though we all know there was no way AD let Emily’s “perfect” eggs go to waste. When Ali realizes Paige got the job, she angrily storms out.
To make matters worse, Paige and Alison are on the same Vague Teacher Committee at school, and their first meeting goes SWIMMINGLY (get it?). Ali’s being a passive aggressive (lol okay just aggressive, welcome back, girl!) beyotch, bringing up the past and reminding everyone that Paige was kind of a teen creep/high school nightmare. “Right Emily?” she keeps saying. Paige reminds Ali that she wasn’t exactly a model student, and the scene escalates until Emily has to yell at Ali to STFU.
When they’re alone later that night, Emily lights into Ali, both for beating up on Paige, and for refusing to let Emily or any of the Liars in to love her.
“When someone gets close it makes you itch, so you swat people away like they’re bugs," Emily tells her. “My life is a hot mess,” Ali says. “Everyone’s life is a hot mess,” Emily retorts. Ali complains that all her memories are lies, which is hilarious because the last like 10 years of Emily’s life have been ruined thanks to Alison’s lies. Emily asks if, when Alison kissed her the other night, if it was because she wanted to, or because she didn’t want Emily to leave her alone. Ali doesn’t know. “Please don’t kiss me again,” Emily says and leaves.
When Emily attempts to apologize to Paige for Ali, Paige is like nahhhh. “Don’t make excuses for her, it’s demeaning,” she tells Emily. OK THANK U THO. But Emily makes excuses anyway, forcing Paige to point out that “some people make a habit of getting rescued the way other people make a habit of jumping in after them.”
Paige, we love you. Please stay, and please don’t die.
First, some Toby news: he’s awake! We know this because Aria, of all people, goes to visit him in the hospital. He’s pretty beat up, but at least he’s not in a medically induced coma like Yvonne. Aria literally doesn’t know what to say, because when have Aria and Toby ever talked in the past? But at least now we know what’s up, and also AD has something to hang over Spencer’s head. Guilt. It's guilt. Because while Aria is doing Spencer’s emotional labor ON TOP OF Ezra’s, Spencer is meanwhile home from the hospital and lurking around…her own barn?...peeking through the mail slot and windows, rightfully worried as to what could be awaiting her there. She’s looking a little worse for the wear, which could just be because she got shot but could also mean we’re in for a season of Baddie Spencer, which we’d be totally down for.
Lurking never explained, Spencer goes straight from the Liars’ Game Summit to see Detective Marco Fury, who explains that they have proof that Jenna and Noel knew Elliott Rollins. Then without so much as a “This might be upsetting,” he pulls out a gun in a Ziploc bag and sets it in front of her. It’s the gun Jenna shot her with, Spencer is confident. But Fury explains that it’s a .45 and she was shot with a .22—and the .22 is still missing, just like Jenna and Mary Drake.
Spencer, shaken, returns home to find Veronica, evidently back in Rosewood for the very first time since her own daughter was shot, in the chest, with a gun. WHERE HAS SHE BEEN THIS WHOLE DAMN TIME JFC. Peter had “passport problems” so he’s currently fulfilling his role as absent father to the hilt.
“What happened?” Veronica asks, even though her daughter was shot and hospitalized and you’d think she’d know that by now. In response, Spencer gives a hilarious dry recap of all of 7A (see Previously On, also Alexis thanks you) then tells Veronica that Mary Drake told her she’s Spencer’s mother.
Veronica: “Mary Drake is clinically insane.”
Spencer: “That’s not a denial.”
After a quick commercial break, Veronica explains the whole sad deal. One day, many moons ago, Jessica DiLaurentis knocked on her kitchen door and started straight up volunteering incredibly dark and personal family secrets, which tbh seems extremely out of character for a DiLaurentis??? but okay we’re going with it. So, apparently she had a crazy sister in Radley who was pregnant, and they knew who the father was. YUP, Peter Hastings!! Not long after he knocked up a woman who wasn’t his wife (Jessica), said woman appeared to him in a restaurant and he could not resist the temptation of cheating on his wife YET AGAIN, so he had sex with her. But turns out, it was only Mary pretending to be Jessica to exact her revenge on…Jessica? Peter? Everyone?
Anyway, Veronica was so saddened at the thought of her husband’s baby being put into adoption services that she took the baby, forgave her low down dirty dog of a husband, and raised Spencer as her own.
Nobody puts baby in a corner, unless it for three months, the amount of time it would take for a newborn to look like this.
Not moved by this story, or the memory of how equally hard Veronica was on Spencer to uphold the Hastings reputation as she was on Melissa, Spencer freaks out and runs back to the barn.
Wine-drunk and mom-sad, Spencer decides to play a quick round of Murder Jumanji. It challenges her to some Truth or Dare, and when she chooses Dare, it tells her she’ll get a reward if she visits Toby in the hospital. Their reunion is…whatever. We literally cannot summon even the fakest of enthusiasm over all these ships. He clearly blames himself for Yvonne’s current state, and Spencer tries to comfort him and blah blah blah, old man glasses.
For Your Consideration (we're over it)
Spencer gets home from the hospital and the game lights up again. It prints her prize: a magnetic puzzle piece tucked inside a crumbling old Radley Sanitarium envelope along with a letter Mary wrote “to her child” from inside. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way…the Hastings deserved to be punished. I wanted to hurt them. You came out of a hateful act, but that doesn’t mean you are hateful. I write this because I am ashamed. I need you to forgive me someday. Your mother, Mary.” Veronica is no paragon of motherliness, but we honestly can’t figure out why she’s being lumped together with Peter here. Probably we aren’t supposed to figure it out! Mary was not well. It doesn’t matter.
Later, Veronica finds Spencer asleep on the couch. She sees the letter lying next to Spencer’s face, and bucks out expectations by intentionally ignoring it. This would seem impressive, were it not for the fact that she must somehow also be intentionally ignoring the HUGE, OMINOUS LIVING GAME BOARD ON THE TABLE. Those Hastingses. They’re something else.
Later-later, when the Liars meet back at the barn, Hanna is pissed that Spencer played the game. “What gives you the right???” is her question now, and basically the Uber Question they have still none of them found the answer to since sophomore year.
As far as this particular moment in time goes, Spencer was drunk and on meds and questioning her…maternity? (Rosemary asked her husband if this was a thing, as in, like, questioning paternity, and he just stared at her). Are those legitimate excuses? Hanna doesn’t care. She tries to take a kitchen knife to the game board, but it immediately starts flashing video footage of the Liars digging up Elliott Rollins’ deader-than-dead body in the woods (WE TOLD YOU IT COULD SEE THEM).
"Hi, Miley? Get your copyright lawyers."
“Can’t stop playing now,” the game says. “Winner take all.”
Jenna is in a dark room drinking tea. Not just a dark room—like, an actual void in the universe. Nice. Someone in scrubs and latex gloves takes her teacup away. “You promised me you’d tell me about the game today,” she says to seemingly no one. ScrubGloves shows up again, handing her a book written in braille. As Jenna reads, she seems horrified. “End game,” she whispers, and a psychotic smile spreads over her face.
In playing the game, the Liars start to question everything—especially each other. “You may think you’re winning the battle, but I’m winning the war,” Ali says. Welcome back, TruAli. May you be the UberA you were always mean to be.
rosemAry and Alexis