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Pretty Little Liars 7x18: Choose Or Lose

Fairness is overrated; the truth is what counts.

Pretty Little Liars 7x18: Choose Or Lose

FIRST OF ALL:

Happy final episode, Norman! Murdercabin wouldn't exist without you; we appreciate your thoughtfulness and artistry and commitment to telling smart stories about smart ladies (and the men who ruin their lives). THANK YOU. We'll definitely see you on all your next projects; forever fans, here.

NEXT: let's just hope this episode served as all the relationship endgame we'll get. Two more episodes of no bed buddy time, pls thk u.

AWARDS

THIS WEEK'S MVP

The Marin-Riverses takes top honors this week. Not so much for their mystery-solving prowess—even if the surreal heights this show hits makes board game triangulation, delightfully, A Thing, Rosewood is still a hundred streets too small for “within a block” accuracy to mean a single thing—as for the fact that they collectively looped in Mona and Ashley, two of the ass-kicking-est, get-shit-doners ever to cross the Rosewood city line.

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They also managed to lock down the only ship worth sailing on this show (we can admit this despite our #Spaleb leniencies because we are Mature Adults), even if it was just so that they couldn’t be forced to testify against each other, which, mazel tov!

This award is shared, of course, with Mona and Ashley, who both manage to be the best at what they do while also looking fly as hell while they do it.

THIS WEEK'S LVP

Aria, Aria, Aria. Someone give this girl a crown made of braids because she was queen of the epic fail this episode. Everyone knows that the first trick out of the Villainy 101 textbook is to tell someone to get dressed up in a conspicuous outfit (see: black hoodie), and meet them at a specified place and time (see: Murder Woods, dead of night), only to have someone ready in wait to catch them!!!

The fame of this trick is second only to training your body to endure Australia’s tasteless, odorless iocaine powder on the very off-chance you might someday go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line, and Aria fell for it hook, line and sinker.

BIGGEST SHOCK/BEST SURPRISE

Well it *would* have been Dunhill’s corpse showing up in Aria’s trunk, were it not for the fact that last week’s promo promised her horrified shock at uncovering what literally could only be that.

So…we guess Tanner swooping back in to take over for Marco after the hastiest exit a romantically-compromised adult male detective has made from Rosewood yet. Marco! You were CRACKING THE CASE! Not that we don’t want Spencer to stay out of jail, but, like, the degree to which you were compromised was not significantly changed in the last several eps. You should have either dropped out weeks ago, or continued assiduously documenting your entanglement as you trucked along. Now you’re gone, and we and the Liars are stuck with a detective whose main focus seems not to be finding justice regardless of the outcome, but specifically nailing the Liars down for a bad FEELING they gave her years ago, when they were minors who were kidnapped and tortured for months, for which she somehow blames them???

BIGGEST NO-DUH

Ezra’s insistent self-flagellation-as-absolution actually made the predatory problem worse by forcing Aria (and the viewers/Ezria fans) into mounting a vigorous counter-argument.

Runner-up: at least one Liar washed the GLASS from her HAIR down her shower drain, where it was found by Tanner’s intrepid CSI team.

MOST LIT ALLUSION

Duh:

Runner-up: we’re not *positive* Love You More is the Lisa Gardner title that was sitting on the Brew-ba-roo shelf behind Aria when she was retrieving the A.D. phone from behind the heating grate, but if it WAS (the spine design seemed about right), Goodreads sure has a gem of a description for us:

“For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable.”

THAT'S SO [YOUR TROPE HERE]

Much bed buddies, so Freeform.

(AKA Spoby and Emison hookups in known favorite murder locales, ugh)

PREVIOUSLY ON PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

Mona finally got in on the game, and everything was good.

THIS WEEK

It's a Summit Raid

Alison’s back from Out of Town and apparently not sleeping too well, which, fair. Emily entices her with an offer of morning tea and/or sex, but as they back into the bedroom, MurderJumanji is waiting for them in the bed like the third in some kind of hellish ménage-a-trois. We notice Aria’s newly-added puzzle piece, but before they can figure out where TF this game came from and whether or not the person who left it there is still in the house (Spoiler alert: they are), a banging sounds at the front door.

The police have arrived! With a search warrant! And they’re confiscating phones and documents and, as Em manages to learn right before the cop at Hanna’s Lucas’ loft takes Hanna’s phone literally from out of her hand, teddy bears! Yep, ALL the cops are at ALL the Liars’ various other people’s homes, and only Aria had time to shred anything before they got inside.

Well, Aria, and A.D., who somehow magicked MurderJumanji out of Emison’s bedroom mere moments before one Detective Barry Maple stormed in and found…nothing.

Tanner? I Hardly Knew Her!

Okay, so we guess we were wrong earlier: not ALL the cops were serving warrants on the Liars. Notably missing was one Detective Marco Hotpants Fury, and boy is Spencer ready to read him the riot act over everything he just put her through.

Only, when she, a major suspect in an ongoing murder investigation, arrives at the police station to demand an audience with her sexy detective quasi-boyfriend to shout at him for continuing to do the job he promised her on no uncertain terms that he was going to do, she is met instead with the implacable wall that is NOT one Detective Marco Fury, but rather one Lieutenant “What’s in the barrel?” Tanner!

Despite not being able to solve a single case in the many single semester she chased the Liars around Rosewood, Fury brought her in to finish this Dunhill case when he realized that his interest was a bit too conflicted. She gives Spencer a chance to tell the truth about just WHY his interest was so conflicted, but Spencer has the good/mulish sense to keep her mouth shut and just shuts her mouth and stands to leave. Tanner, unimpressed, reminds Spencer that she’s a “closer,” and not only is she feeling pretty confident that she’s finally going to Solve A Crime, she’s pretty gleeful about it being one that will put away a group of torture victims she just always WANTED to be guilty.

Not that we want the Liars behind bars/your weird obsession with, like, MAKING these girls guilty to pan out, Tanner, but we’d freaking hope you’ve got this one in the bag! Fury basically handed you a solved case—even the RPD’s newest beat cops could close this one.

Anyway, while Spencer and Tanner were busy having their staredown, the police over at Ezra’s Book and Bean Bonanza were confiscating Aria’s phone, while Ezra was stomping around demanding that his hefty male privilege stop the whole machine from plowing forward.

"That's enough Twitter for a lifetime, boo."

As he follows the cops out, another phone rings. Aria takes the cover off a nearby radiator and finds a new cell phone with a missed call from A.D.—not “blocked,” but actually A.D. Fully pissed off, she calls A.D. back (who, notably, is using a totally different voice modulator than the last few episodes, male rather than female) and demands to meet in person. She’s EARNED her way onto Team Black Hoodie, she argues, and she’s ready for some ACTUAL, non-nightmarish, lowercase face time. A.D. doesn’t respond, and the line goes dead.

Cut to Mona, removing a receptionist’s headset while sitting at her computer and smiling her little Mona-smile. Was she the one on the other end of Aria’s new phone? Was she just listening in? Was she wrapping up a major international partnership deal for Hanna’s Fashion Brand? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.

Marin Moments™

Unable or unwilling to continue sleeping at Lucas’ loft, Hanna has packed up whatever sequined half-gown the cops left her into an overnight bag and come slumping into the Radley lobby to meet up with the rest of the Liars. She is stopped on her way up to their suite, though, by Ashley, who is extremely worried and ready to be brought into whatever hellish loop the rest of the Liars are trapped in. “Not now, mom!” Hanna sighs, “My childhood teddy bear is in jail with my phone! I don’t have time for this!”

This, surprisingly, does not make Ashley feel less worried! In fact, she DEMANDS honesty, Hanna! “Why are you always so quick to think I need help!” Hanna demands back defensively. “Do you?” “YES!” But, she’s not going to let Ashley give it to her, not this time. Ashley has spent too many years already putting herself right in between Hanna and extreme danger; as far as Hanna is concerned, it’s her turn to put herself between danger and her mom.

Oh, Marins. We love you forever.

The Suite Life with Liars and Caleb

Hanna heads up to where the other Liars-plus-Caleb-minus-Aria have gathered in the free suite Ashley has provided for them to wait out their homes being ransacked. Spencer, always prepared (and maybe a twin!), immediately starts handing out burner phones as the rest of them try to one-up each other on who has the most to be inconvenienced/endangered by after these police raids.

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Mid-bitch’n’moan, Emily lets it slip that she and Alison are sharing a bed (as in, sex) which gets a couple of approving eyebrow raises from the Liars and a couple of disapproving eyerolls from your recappers. “About time,” smirks Hanna. ABOUT WHAT TIME, we demand. What time have they had to do anything to make the other Liars think this is a natural and inevitable outcome?!?

Anyway, Caleb, a master hacker, has kept himself busy throughout all of this endgaming by figuring out like five hundred years after the game showed up in their lives that it must use an IP address to operate, and so he’s trying to triangulate its signal. “That’s why they call you 2 genius 2 furious!” Hanna quips, verbatim, right before skipping off to find some grub.

Only, surprise! It’s not a BLT under that room service cloche, but the MurderJumanji cell phone!

Yep, take note, RPD: this morning, the Liars were in possession of four operational cell phones. Since your raid? They are up to five!

“Choose or Lose,” the phone menaces at them from its bed of lettuce. “Just one plea, the rest go free. If no one steps up, you all go down. 36:00:00…35:59:59…35:59:58…” Yes, yes, we get it, A.D. Trying to tear the Liars-plus-Caleb-minus-Aria apart. Tell us something we don’t know!

Just then, Mona shows up and wastes exactly zero time before telling them that Aria’s on the A.D. Team (thanks, A.D.!).

“Explain,” Spencer demands. And so Mona starts listing the evidence on her perfectly manicured fingers. First: locker/trashed nursery. Second: the recording of Mary Drake and Peter Hastings. Third: Mona saw Aria find a puzzle piece at the Brew. Fourth, and most importantly: today’s intercepted phone call. She plays them part of it, but Spencer demands concrete proof, which a damning recording of a phone call apparently is not. Mona calmly folds her hands in her lap as she warns Spencer that she asked for it.

Cut to Lt. Tanner on the phone, assuring the Lady In Charge (we assume) that, given what they found in their many raids, she will be able to file charges within the week. As she clicks off, Rosewood High’s 2017 valedictorian brings her an evidence bag with what appears to be broken glass found in one of the Liars’ shower drains.

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Meanwhile, a rogue Toby’s beard appears at The Radley. Wait! That’s a rogue TOBY! Looking lost and confused and unshaven, like some sort of mountain man who’s been living off the grid for forty years before wandering into the city center of, like, Dubai. Spencer spots him immediately, of course, and they sit down for a chat in Rosewood’s historically most private nook, the center of The Radley’s bustling public bar. He’s “hanging in there” after Yvonne’s unexpectedly tragic/dumb death and tells her he likes the quiet up at his cabin. He invites her to come up there sometime but she demurs, because she knows all too well what kind of things happen in Rosewood’s isolated cabins, thankyouverymuch. In any case, Toby, it turns out, is in town at the behest of Tanner, who, unlike Fury, wasn’t too tangled up in the sheets with Toby’s ex to bring him in to be questioned about the Dunhill case. “Should I be worried?” Spencer asks. To which Toby’s immediately like, “uh, well, did you do it?” To which Spencer not-so-calmly and coolly runs away.

Summit in the Murder Woods

Following the directions A.D. eventually texted her, Aria is dressed in Black Hoodie-black and attempting to sneak out the back door of Ezra’s Ballybrew, but a cat burglar she is not. Ezra catches her in the act almost immediately and requests that she weave him a story that makes any kind of sense. Unfortch for him, his phone rings and when he answers it (it’s his dumb wedding brother, Wes), she disappears into the night like a tiny, inept ninja.

She spends so long waiting in the middle of the playground that A.D. has time to text her and compliment her “uniform.” A twig breaks in the woods behind her, and, convinced that this time she FINALLY has the drop on the devil, Aria takes off directly into the Rosewood Murder Woods after them. But as she creeps through the brush, someone yanks her hoodie off!

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It’s Hanna, and she is PISSED.

The Liars take turns with rounds of “how could yous” and “why Aria whys” before Aria explains that she HAD to do it or else A.D. would throw Ezra in jail because of that old police report she made about him but never filed. To which Alison retorts that she basically chose to throw them in prison to keep Ezra OUT of prison, which, yep! Spencer is especially angry, since her parents are now getting a divorce because of Aria’s actions. “You’ve ruined everything I ever had,” Spencer screams which is 1) factually not true and 2) a total exaggeration considering her father is Peter Hastings, and those neighborhood ladies didn't impregnante themselves, if you get our drift.

Anyway, it’s about that time that Alison gets a phone call from Tanner, asking them to come to the station, and Spencer spits at Aria to find her own ride. Like, damn. Way harsh, Spence.

Station House Summit

And finally, like halfway through the episode, we get an actual All-Liars-Present Summit at the Rosewood police department, though the other Liars look like they’re ready to throw Aria in jail themselves.

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You can’t sit with us.

Tanner shows them the glass she found in Spencer’s shower drain, and tells them it’s a match to the glass found under Dunhill’s fingernail. They’ve also got footage of Spencer at the Radley (elevator hookup included) from the night Dunhill disappeared. Also also: none of them have been clearing their internet search history. C’MON YOU IDIOTS. You should’ve lawyered up like SIX AND A HALF SEASONS AGO OMFG, but at LEAST CLEAR YOUR COOKIES. Caleb should've created a sophisticated software that deleted your search histories every hour on the hour, so we considered this one on him. Luckily, the Liars also seem to realize they’re up manslaughter creek with nary a shovel paddle, because they all bail soon after that.

On the way home, Aria calls A.D., yelling that she was set up, that A.D. only wanted to blow her cover. The file has been destroyed so Aria’s done—she’s about to throw the phone out the window when A.D., in their scary new man-voice, stops her by reminding her that “tomorrow is a new day,” and while the words in that sentence may sound like a promise, the intent is clearly a threat. Y’know, A.D. HOPES Aria will consider dropping her vendetta against the A.D. team…or else.

The other Liars, meanwhile, have gathered to privately debrief out in the open at The Radley lounge, where Hanna wonders aloud at the insanity that, after all this time, one or all of them finally (again) is actually about to go to prison. “I mean, we did kill a guy,” Emily shrugs, which is a generous article choice on our last count. Noel? Wilden? Garrett? Ian? Cousin Nate? Their backyards are full of guys they all but killed!

Hanna’s not paying attention, though. She’s too busy thinking back to how Queen Mona graced them all with her presence that afternoon, and how…off? She was? Maybe? Which seems like an off-hand comment, but almost certainly will have importance later on (Is Mona AD? Is she a twin? Is she actually their queen???). But alas, no one else noticed Mona being anything other than Mona, and just then the MurderJumanji phone buzzes to alert them that they only have 24 hours left, prompting each Liar to offer themselves up as the one who should go to prison. Hanna was driving! Spencer used the wrong credit card! Alison married the guy (Rosemary would vote Alison, actually)! Emily does not offer but does point out that in-fighting is what A.D. wants, and if Aria hadn’t been tempted by A.D. first, one of them would’ve been. Spencer, for one! “What do you mean?!” Spencer demands. Um, girl, YOU started playing the game first, yo! Spencer, suddenly looking a tad chagrined, gets up to leave.

Either some time passes, or just across the lobby, Ashley finds Caleb and insists he tell her what the heck is up with Hanna. Caleb acts like he’s not going to, and he and Ashley smolder at each other enough to raise a few recapper eyebrows (like did they do it…with each other?), before he comes clean, which is so totally NOT his place. Back at the loft, Hanna is rightfully upset, but, because the dudes on this show NEVER have to pay consequences for their actions, he kisses his way out of it.

Spencer arrives at Aria’s with an old photo of the gang. Aria apologizes, which Spencer isn’t ready to accept just yet, but she is ready to look hard at her own sketchy past, and admit how culpable any and all of them could or have been.

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We, for instance, can be blamed for not remembering any of these old storylines you keep bringing up.

Suddenly, Tanner walks in to return Aria’s stuff, explaining that loathe as she is to admit it, Aria had a solid alibi for the night of Dunhill’s murder. “Too bad you’re not as lucky as your friend,” she says to Spencer, who, convinced (and correct!) that Aria is getting some pretty major favors from A.D., angrily stomps out the door.

Across town, Caleb has taken his beloved to City Hall in the middle of the night. Hanna, we mean. He’s taken HANNA (although, Ashley is there, too). He wants to marry her, he even has rings! And he makes the very Rosewoodian point that if they are married, they can’t be forced to testify against each other! “Are you down?” he asks, in what is the only way a former hobo-ghost might ask his true love to marry him. She says yes, and they kiss, but Caleb, Hanna thinks, did not think about the fact that it’s the middle of the night and the Justice of the Peace isn’t in her office.

It’s at that moment that Ashley waltzes in. She’s got a bouquet and a lawyer and she’s ready to get Hanna out of this shit. But for now, she’s gotta get her daughter hitched. And unlike Caleb (or…WITH Caleb?), she had the foresight to call in a favor and get the Justice of the Peace out of bed for this.

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"Have I ever told you the story of the time I saved four women from a locked basement?"

Sex Break! Freeform!

Following Spencer’s hasty departure, Ezra and Aria have a heart to heart. In the most boringly anticlimactic ending to a storyline that’s been building up for half a season/seven years, Ezra knew Aria had that rapist file, and like, guys, he is absolved of all guilt because he says he deserved it! Probably still does! So we guess it’s okay after all and Ezra isn’t a bad dude because he KNOWS what he did was bad and he and—no, no, no, Aria, he really WAS bad, he probably DID deserve it, probably still DOES deserve it—no, no, no more of that talk now, shh, let him apologize—sorry, right: he and Aria can live happily ever after!

Anyway, they have sex.

Cut to Alison and Emily, joyfully traipsing through woods that have been privy to the murder of every cop, lesbian and stray teen in the central Pennsylvania area. Emily wants to raise a baby on the road, away from anyone in the entire world except for Alison, which honestly sounds like an utter nightmare. Alison surprises her with a picnic in the woods, one filled with a weirdly large amount of extremely Sapphic fruit piles and burning candles.

Anyway, they have sex.

CUT TO Spencer showing up at Toby’s cabin. “You invited me, remember?” She bounces in, cool, calm and collected, and definitely wearing a different outfit from when last we saw her. Is this…Twincer? Come to seduce Rosewood’s newest widower?

Anyway, they have sex.

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~*~ Break for sex interlude ~*~

This is also the moment where Rosemary would like to point out that every single Spoby fan who bitched that Spencer broke some sort of all-important lady friendship rule by dating her friend’s ex, is probably shitting their pants in excitement that she is now having sex with Toby, a man whose brand new wife died tragically/dumbly a mere three episodes ago. At least Spaleb had the excuse of a five year time jump!

Gametime, The Summit

They all stop having sex and make it back to the barn in time for the time clock to run down. Everyone, that is, except Aria. Hanna makes them all swear that no matter what any of them decides to do next, the rest will understand and no one will blame anyone else for anything. They all swear…except, notably, Alison. We also notice that Spencer is in yet another new outfit. Just then, the time runs out, the phone alarm goes off, and Spencer smashes the whole thing to bits with…a large rock? That she just had inside the barn? Perfect timing, too, because Caleb’s found the game and he’s taking his favorite Sleuth Bro to help him get it.

Aria, meanwhile, gets a call from A.D. She tells them she’s going to end all of this by turning herself in for Dunhill’s murder, but A.D. cuts her off, telling her she’s won the game and her grand prize is freedom—even if things are about to get very messy for her friends. Then the phone EXPLODES Galaxy Note7 style, literally catching fire as it falls to Ezra’s wood floor. Not bothering to put out the phone fire, Aria digs her normal phone out of the box of evidence that was returned to her and runs for her car.

Once she’s on the road, she tries to call Spencer, but her car dies. She gets out, goes around to the trunk, and when she opens it…

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THE ROTTING, FINGERLESS BODY OF ARCHER DUNHILL IS INSIDE OH DEAR GOD. And of course, as she stands there in shock, the cops pull up. Looks like Aria “won” the game all right…

Sleuth Bros Be Sleuthin’

Caleb and Ezra are able to triangulate the game’s IP address to none other than Mona’s apartment. Or rather, “a block away from Mona’s apartment!” as Caleb, shocked, realizes aloud.

 

From the hall of her building, they use whatever heat technology they have on Caleb’s iPad to see that Mona’s inside with the game.

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Mona stole the LITERAL GAME from A.D.

What we see, however, is that Mona looks more like her first-season self, fresh-faced, bespectacled, bangs pinned to the side, and we’re starting to wonder just how many twins we’re gonna get…

NEXT TIME

Mona’s come unhinged we GUESS, and we find out who “killed” “Charlotte” (WE GUESS).

KISSES,

A(lexis and Rosemary)

<-- Pretty Little Liars 7x17: Driving Miss Crazy

Pretty Little Liars 7x19: Farewell, My Lovely -->

Rosemary Hallmark's photo About the Author: Rosemary lives in Little Rock, AR with her cute husband and even cuter dog. At 16, she plucked a copy of Sloppy Firsts off the "New Releases" shelf and hasn't stopped reading YA since. (She's still got a soft spot for the swoony, contemporary stuff.) A former magazine editor, she is now a freelance writer, graphic designer, art director and photo stylist. The rest of her time is spent drinking cocktails, renovating her house and laughing at her husband's ridiculous Pretty Little Liars theories.
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