Has there ever in all the history of Ye Olde Pretty Little Liars been a character who was so very clearly, literally, obviously a red herring as one ADDISON DERRINGER? Hi, this season’s final Big Bad goes by the initials A.D. and fired a gun at Spencer that no one can find, would you like to meet Ali 2.0 and make some predictions?
Spoiler: Addison doesn’t matter, at all.
THIS WEEK’S MVP
Mona, always, obviously. She’s getting Hanna work, she’s getting Hanna revenge, she’d get the whole damn game solved if only the Liars would just let her live her truth as One Of Them already.
Runner-up to Holden, for saying to Aria what we have always wanted to say to Aria when it comes to any of her various Ezra-related meltdowns: STOP.
THIS WEEK’S LVP
Emily, we STG, the single lesson you needed to NOT take away from your specific high school experience was to try to out-blackmail a mean girl, ESPECIALLY when an A is in the picture.
Runner-up to Holden, for following up his true hero moment stopping Aria mid-meltdown to remind her that Ezra has Important Man Feelings she shouldn’t rush, and he needs to be given time and space to not communicate with her at all about their engagement while Nicole’s return is front page news.
BIGGEST SHOCK/BEST SURPRISE
Peter Hastings, for managing to be an even bigger cowardly shit than we could have predicted after Veronica’s big reveal last week. JFC, Peter, you don’t deserve one single Hastings woman. You don’t even deserve a DiLaurentis woman, tbh.
The first Rosewood faculty member to be legit close to being ridden out of town on a predator’s rail was not Ezra Fitz or Byron Montgomery or Handsy Lacrosse Coach Ian or even Cool Guy Counselor Bro Jesse, but rather Emily Fields, a queer WOC.
Runner-up to our very own Rosemary:
She totally called it. #MurderJumanji
THAT’S SO ALI
This might be us projecting, but Ali sure seemed to be guiding the Liars into playing the game in a very precise way this week. Which, as they say on the webz: huge if true.
We see you lurking.
We sure hope you’re back/endgAme, Ali! Keeping all our fingers crossed over here.
PREVIOUSLY ON PRETTY LITTLE LIARS
The girls were gifted a game of Murder Jumanji (Scooby Doo Edition) from A.D., but that truly upsetting development was completely overshadowed by the Liars’ various personal problems, which, k, live your lives and everything girls, we can’t let the patriarchy/systemic gender-based terrorism keep us from thriving, Illegitimi non carborundum etc. etc. etc., but also maybe like, figure out who smuggled Murder Jumanji into the barn where Spencer sleeps??
Anyway, Mona convinced a Senator’s daughter to wear a Hanna Marin Original™ then convinced Hanna to see her help as purely intentioned then convinced all of us she is a true gift from any and all gods. Spencer was shot with a .22 that’s still missing/not the gun Jenna had. Ali is pregnant and Paige is barely keeping it together as a non-resentful coworker, and Emily Fields, Swim Coach, is trying very aggressively to Be Supportive of both of them. Thanks to Hanna’s expert bridal advice, Aria is still planning her wedding to Ezra with the help of resurfaced GWB/wedding chef Holden, despite the fact that Ezra absconded to New York last week to help welcome Nicole back to the land of the living and hasn’t called her once since. Mary Drake gave birth to Spencer in Radley back in the 1940s. A.D. has proof that the Liars killed and buried Rollins and will send their asses to prison if they try to turn the Murder Jumanji over to the cops.
So, same old, same old.
Liar’s Lament Summit
This board game from hell has the Liars up in leather jacket-clad arms — or at least, Spencer’s caving to play it last week does. While this would seem like the perfect moment for them to take a breath and come together to decide their next move, none of them are in that headspace. Instead, they all set to arguing about basic reality. Who sent the game? Who’s running it? Who’s controlling Jenna? Who’s Jenna controlling? Who will forgive Spencer? Who’s still stuck in high school? Who parks in the faculty lot now, HANNA??
Well, Jenna’s just a “vindictive blind girl,” Hanna mutters. “How can she create a board game if she can’t tell that her blouse is turned inside out?” That may seem rude, but don’t worry, it’s just the first of A BAFFLING number of jokes about the GIRL THEY BLINDED.
In any case, whatever Spencer did the day before, Emily refuses to play — both literal Murder Jumanji and A.D.’s grander meta game. “I won’t let some whackjob force me to go back to high school!” she declares (she parks in the FACULTY LOT). She pulled the “go to the cops” straw this week and so tosses that out as an idea — “Rollins’ death was an accident and he was torturing Alison, so he, like, kinda deserved it,” blah blah blah — but like, that’s never going to happen, so the Liars all take it exactly as they should: as a goodbye.
After Em storms out, Hanna, the Liar who unilaterally tried to take a butcher knife to the game last week, has a sudden change of heart, declaring that if they’re gonna play, they need to be in it together.
“We are,” Spencer, the Liar who unilaterally started the game last week, assures her.
This will go well.
You’ve Been Messin’ Where You Shouldn’t Be Messin’
Aria and her sixties-era red booties descend the metal stairs of Ezra’s apartment, where we guess she is staying despite the fact that he is Out Of Town and she has actual family who presumably would like to mourn the loss of their evil chimaera wolf son have a dinner or noir movie night or two all together. She is stopped short by a reporter from the Philly Inquirer, who is just desperate to get in touch with Ezra for a fluff piece about “the local author who was reunited with this fiancé after her jungle kidnapping.” Aria is so over it, and we are so with her. “Nicole Gordon was never his fiancé — I am!” she snaps, and we are suddenly not so with her after all.
“Oh! I didnt realize there were two of you!” Phil the Reporter (real name: Jared, don’t @ us) exclaims, and while all celestial bodies aligning, the Bethany-Young-Is-Spencer’s-Twin theory will eventually pan out (making Rosemary insufferable for having called it so early), we can’t help daydreaming over the idea of Aria having a Dark Twin. Like, what would that even LOOK like?!?
All het up, Light Aria heads over to the Rosewood Wedding Planning Store. SHE’S the fiancée, dammit! SHE’S GONNA FIANCEE SO HARD. Luckily for her cool, GWB Holden is hard at work in the RWPS kitchen, cooking for another wedding. They were supposed to plan Aria’s wedding menu, but she’s clearly having a wedding-related existential crisis, so she helps him stuff some mushrooms instead.
Totally chill, Holden asks what’s up with Ezra and Aria explains that Nicole’s parents (!) got Ezra an apartment (!!!) in New York next to her hospital (!!!!!). Holden tries to console Aria by pointing out that she has history with dudes that she never told Ezra about, so maybe give the guy a break. The only problem is SHE ISN’T CURRENTLY LIVING IN AN APARTMENT PAID FOR BY ANY OF THOSE DUDES’ PARENTS TO KEEP HER CLOSE TO HER FORMER DUDE WHILE SHE IS ENGAGED TO ANOTHER DUDE. If that sentence seemed ridiculous, it’s because this entire plotline is freaking ridiculous.
Holden makes a tomato run, during which time Sparia has a quick tête à tête and Spencer eats half his fancy mushrooms (see below), and by the time he’s back, Phil the Reporter has managed to send a fully sourced and photographed version of that fluff piece about Ezra and Nicole live (WHAT IS TIME). Unable to talk or think about anything but her dumpster fire of a relationship, Aria bails.
To be completely specific, Aria buys a bag full of salt-water taffy, drives to New York, and attempts to con a nurse outside of Nicole’s hospital to let her in after visiting hours to see her “friend.” What her plan was from there, we’ll thankfully never know, because we hear someone shout her name, and Aria turns to find that Holden has followed her (!) all the way to New York (!!!) to stop her (!!!!!).
“Don’t do it!” he tells her. And because Ezra’s shadow over her life has conditioned her to see men following her great distances in the dark as a positive, she lets him talk her off the ledge and into dinner, where he tells her that “the road to every altar is paved with bad decisions” (lol jesus dude) and that she should give Ezra a little time. Then he feeds her pizza and man at this point we don’t care that he isn’t Liam and we don’t care that he’s an Ezra apologist, just MARRY HOLDEN INSTEAD, ARIA.
Now Someone Else Is Getting All Your Best
While Aria traps herself in the Rosewood Wedding Planning Store kitchen all day following the Murder Jumanji summit, Hanna opts for locking herself up in Lucas’ loft. Mona storms in in a frenzy, crowing about how Catherine Daly, the Senator’s daughter, has finally chosen a Hanna Marin Original to wear to her big event. But as she starts pulling out the dresses she showed Catherine, Hanna realizes that Mona went through her closet rather than choosing from the options that Hanna had pulled for her. And guess what? The one Catherine picked is NOT an option. Hanna refuses to let her wear that one, but gives absolutely zero explanation as to why, because apparently she has never once met Mona before. Mona assumes Hanna just feels insecure. “No masterpiece is ever complete,” she says. “If someone hadn’t pulled the Mona Lisa off Da Vinci’s easel, he’d have given her a perm.” Mona, you are a masterpiece. “When did you have a perm?” Hanna retorts. HANNA. YOU ARE A CHEF D’OUEVRE.
Hanna continues to obsess over the dress after Mona leaves, even ignoring Caleb when he attempts to entice her with food. L’horreur! She finally explains the deal: this is a dress she designed when she worked for Claudia, the evil fashion designer who Caleb blames for breaking them up (eyeroll). “She gave me like 20 suggestions on how to fix it,” Hanna opines. And how many of those did Hanna take? “19,” of which the most important was the belwithout which, Hanna declares, the dress is basically pure garbage (NGL, y’all, Rosemary’s expert eye says the dress is basically garbage anyway […Alexis…kind of liked it…]). Caleb tries to boost her confidence with making out, but dude, if food didn’t help Hanna, like, what’s a little frenching gonna do.
Hanna spends the afternoon trying to get ahold of Claudia at her studio, presumably to check in and let her know what was going on with the garbage dress that Claudia one hundred percent does not remember, but Claudia’s new assistant cuts her off. Then Spencer texts about Jenna being back in town and playing the victim to the cops, but won’t answer her damn phone when Hanna tries to call back, so Hanna just has to swallow her anxiety and anger and call it a day.
Not in PUBLIC, Mona!
She and Mona meet up at the Radley, where we find out that Mona’s got all kinds of insane fashion connections (no durphy, Eddie Murphy) who are willing to loan her — and thus, Hanna — clutches and earrings and bangles and on and on and on with which to style the clients she dresses. But as they’re literally drooling over a clutch, Jenna walks in with her new blind posse, wearing a exact copy (but for the virginal whiteness of it) of Hanna’s dress.
Mona does not eff around. She stomps over and hilariously/terribly announces, “Yo, Jenna, it’s Mona. Where’d you get the dress?” Jenna will only say that it was a gift, then hurries off to catch her Uber. “Why is she shuffling around in that instead of an orange jumpsuit?” Mona demands. “It’s the dumb game,” Hanna mutters. “WHAT GAME?” Mona demands harder. “WHAT GAME HANNA???” But Hanna, like the rest of the Liars, don’t know a good Mona when she’s staring them right in the face, and so all she does is roll her eyes and dissemble in response.
When Hanna and Caleb pull up to the cobbler’s shop where the shoes Hanna had been getting repaired for Catherine are, they find Jenna and the other blind mice loitering around outside. There’s also a bright red BAIL BONDS sign behind Jenna’s head, and like six other store fronts, but obviously Jenna’s presence, in Hanna’s dress, means she MUST be planning to steal Hanna’s shoes, too. Obviously.
While Hanna goes inside to find the cobbler, Caleb confronts Jenna on the sidewalk. “Her smell clings to you,” Jenna says which ranks, like, 7th on the list of creepy things she says in this episode. Inside the cobbler’s shop — which is, OF COURSE, dark and old-timey and murdery and full of medieval shoe-making torture devices and a completely unnecessary human-sized cage — Hanna, who has never watched her own show, immediately wanders back into the human-sized cage housing dozens of shoe forms and half a dozen cobbling contraptions. Somehow reasoning that the absentee cobbler stored her fancy shoes on the very top shelf inside this very dark cage in the very back of his shop, she climbs up on a chair, at which point the cage door slams, the contraptions come to life, and she is flashing back to the torture during her kidnapping last season.
Welcome to Rosewood: the human-sized cage capital of the world.
Caleb saves her, naturally, but not before she gets a text: “Wait your turn, bitch. It’ll come, and you’ll be ready. – A.D.”
We are so sick of A.D. calling these girls bitches.
What’s Right Is Right But You Ain’t Been Right Yet
To absolutely no one’s surprise, Veronica and Spencer spend this entire episode acting their asses off in gut-wrenching scenes. When Spencer walks into the House of Hastings while Veronica’s on the phone, she correctly guesses that it’s Peter the Libider (Does this work? No? Too bad. He’s terrible, that’s all he gets) avoiding seeing or talking to his daughter who got shot in the chest days before finding out she was adopted because he couldn’t keep it in his pants even after accidentally fathering one DiLaurentis. COOL, BRO.
Speaking of shitty family members, what does Melissa know? Spencer asks, voice venomous. Veronica swears they all love her and that Melissa isn’t aware of any of the gory details. “So only you and dad could understand the bitter irony of me checking into the same mental hospital where I was born,” Spencer says with a hollow laugh. Veronica tries to tell her she understands, but nope, don’t even, woman. Neither you nor Peter understand anything: you were the only ones who got to walk out.
When she’s alone again, Spencer calls Detective Marco Furey and he LITERALLY runs, like in his jogging clothes, to see her, in her barn. Pretty certain she’s got his sympathies under lock and key, she asks if he wouldn’t mind making finding Mary Drake a top priority. Why? Oh, nothing, just that she is actually my birth mom and had me while she was locked in a mental hospital and no one knew she even existed until after her twin sister was murdered and buried in this very backyard. Just that.
Because he’s, like, obsessed with her, Marco does in fact make finding Mary Drake his top priority. He and Spencer meet at the station to discuss (thank Mona for some propiety), and he asks where she found the letter, reasonably suspecting that whoever hid it away might have more details that could help them. He’s ASSUMING her parents are the someones, which obviously is not right at all, but Spencer doesn’t have to tell him anything one way or the other as a sudden telltale tap tap tap signals Jenna’s surprise arrival.
Where’s she been? Hiding. Why has she been hiding? Noel. What’s she talking about? Stockholm Syndrome, basically. Marco warns her they aren’t alone, not wanting her to say anything incriminating around a non-officer, we guess, to which she replies, “I know. I can hear her breathing. Hello, Spencer.” This one? Might rank top three for this week’s creepy Jenna lines.
She then dives into the world’s most melodramatic monologue about how Noel, Rosewood’s #1 sociopath (ha), wanted to kill her, too, and recruited her because he thought she had answers and money. She had to play along at that house of horrors because he’d kill her if he suspected she wasn’t a thousand percent in, and she only brought the gun to protect herself. At this, Spencer drops the “bish plz” look she’s had this entire time and lunges at Jenna. “OH MY GOD YOU ARE SO FULL OF I—“ but Marco holds her back and has his deputies take Jenna away. Spencer calls her the sociopath, but Marco points out the bullet from Spencer’s wound doesn’t match Jenna’s gun, so, like, chill, okay?
Spencer goes to Aria, complaining that Jenna has “balls the size of churchbells” as she shovels Aria’s stuffed mushrooms into her face. Aria asks her if finding Mary is a good idea. Spencer admits that she’s still trying to figure out things about herself that have never made sense (TWIN THEORY?) and knowing Mary Drake might help her understand. (LIKE IF SHE HAS A TWIN???)
Back at the House of Hastings, Veronica is trying so desperately hard to be a good mom. She wants to get Spencer a desk in her new office, but Spencer announces she’ll be finding work elsewhere. Veronica’s surprise is interrupted by a phone call from her realtor. They’re selling the house. “Severing ties with this town would be healthy for all of us,” she explains. Severing ties with that town would be healthy for THAT ENTIRE TOWN. Spencer’s like “Fine, great, sell this veritable graveyard of high school girls see if I care.” And even though it was HER idea to sell it, Veronica is upset that Spencer…isn’t upset? There were just a lot more tears when she planned this convo.
You Keep Losing When You Oughta Not Bet
Mere steps from the FACULTY LOT, Emily and Paige are talking about important Rosewood swim team matters loudly and in the swim team’s locker room when their conversation, duh, turns to Alison. Emily’s apologizing and Paige is whatevering, and oh whaddyaknow, an evil-looking high school student is eavesdropping on them and hears them talk about how they were former lovahs. Her name, OF COURSE, is Addison. Addison Derringer. You know, just like how Alison would sound if you had a derringer stuffed in between your teeth. Also: A.D.
::eyeroll so hard::
She gives Emily some major ‘tude about missing practice the other day for being *cough cough* “sick,” then stomps off to Ali’s English class. When the next bell rings, Emily stomps into Ali’s class right after her and goes straight for the confrontation. There was no record of Alison Addison being sick; she skipped practice, so she’s off the lineup for Saturday’s meet. “You sure you want to do that?” Addison asks, smirking, then gets up, smirking, and leaves. Smirking.
Emily turns to Alison like “kids these days amiright” and Alison agrees, “At least when I threatened adults, I looked up from my phone,” she literally says, with her exact words, as if it is somehow endearing. At this reminder of her own worst self, Alison worries her baby will end up that terrible (not far-fetched tbh) and Emily comforts her, intimately and in the school’s open classroom, when the camera pans out to show Addison standing outside, eavesdropping yet again and taking a few discreet snaps.
…which she takes straight to Paige, accompanied by the fakest of scared student sob-stories. “I was gonna go to the principal,” she says, falteringly, “but thought I should talk to you first.” She tells Paige she was benched for the meet because she skipped practice, but the reason she skipped practice was because she’s “not comfortable” with the new coach. She accuses Coach Fields of being inappropriate: staring at Addison and other swimmers while they change, getting too handsy, etc. etc., truly just the most awful things that no one, ever, should joke about or fake and should absolutely be taken very seriously, as seriously as this damn show should have been taking the ACTUAL statutory rape that has beenthe foundation of its favortie ‘ship for the past seven years.
Anyway, Addison says that Emily’s even inappropriate with other teachers, and shows Paige the snaps she took of Em and Ali in the English Classroom of Inappropriate Touching. The look on Paige’s face probably convinced Addison she’d pulled it all off, but we know better. That look? That’s the “oh not this shit again” look. Addison, you’ve woken a giant.
Later, Emily’s at the Brew, talking on the phone to Hanna about how she has no idea what Spencer is doing at the police station, or what is going on with Jenna, and how she’s just had the worst day ever, when who should appear like an avenging wraith from the back of the Brew but Jenna herself. She is flanked by two blind dudes, and they look fly (and suspicious) as heck. Em hangs up on Hanna and watches as Jenna sends a voice text, whereupon immediately a phone pings across the room. Addison’s phone.
It is at this point that Emily has had enough. She doesn’t care what she declared to the Liars the night before: she’s ready to play Murder Jumanji. ANYTHING to get Addison and the Jenna Thing off her back. “Yes, very good, good idea,” Alison says soothingly, leading her straight to the board in the barn that apparently Spencer gave them all keys to. “Here, you pick up the phone,” she tells Em. #BenchMe the screen says. “Press it,” Ali says. “What is it?” Emily asks. “Footage of Addison getting high with her boyfriend while she was supposed to be at practice, look at the damn time stamp!” Ali responds, barely keeping it together.
Taking every cue from Ali like the Stockholm Syndrome victim she is, Emily wastes zero time in using this to blackmail her student. She’s in Addison’s face the very next morning, threatening that if the teen doesn’t retract her statements about Emily, she’ll expose the video. EMILY. GET A GRIP. Paige finds them, thankfully, before things get too out of hand. She tells Addison they “found” an “email” from “her” in the computer lab, gloating about blackmailing a teacher, and they’ve sent it to the principal and her parents.
You guys. Paige HANDLED that shit, Olivia Pope-style.
One Of These Days…
A.D.’s boots are gonna walk all over these girls.
Later, as Emily is about to leave the school, she finds something in her mailbox: an envelope with a puzzle piece. She gets a text: “Embrace your darkness, Em. I’ve had to. It’s how you win the game. – A.D.”
Back at the barn, the Liars put the piece on the game board. Spencer thinks the puzzle pieces are making a map. It wants them to find something…or someone. Outside, someone watches them play the game.
Aria takes the knife when it’s offered to her!
A(lexis and Rosemary)
About the Contributor:
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. A Wyoming expat, she now lives in Maryland, where she runs the DC chapter of the FYA Book Club. She can be found talking about Teen TV on Twitter, and her longform criticism can be found on Authory.