Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game: The Slowdown Before the Finale

Pretty Little Liars S02E22: "Father Knows Best"
The Lying Game S01E19: "Weekend of Living Dangerously"

I always start to get extra antsy near the Pretty Little Liars finale: I think that’s normal, as the series tends to build up to an explosive conclusion. But now that I also have The Lying Game’s finale to worry about, I’m not sure how much more I can take. Big things are on the horizon—are you as stressed out as I am? And with that in mind, was I alone in finding Monday’s episodes of both shows to be a little bit disappointing?

Maybe "disappointing" isn’t the right word: Pretty Little Liars was solid, but it also felt very much unfinished, and I guess that’s the point. There is so much in the air, and this episode felt especially light on answers. Maya is M.I.A., the moms are getting involved, Byron doesn’t know that Aria and Ezra are still dating, Melissa might be a suspect in Ali’s murder, and there’s a gun missing. There’s a gun missing! Let’s talk about that.

Are you familiar with the concept of “Chekhov’s gun”? In Chekhov’s words, “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” This theory isn’t always so literal—the basic idea is that when you set something big up for the audience, it has to pay off. In this case, “Chekhov’s gun” is an actual gun, and you better believe someone is getting shot by season’s end. In an earlier review, I suggested Garrett might be the trigger-happy shooter, but now I’m not so sure. And if I had to pick a victim, I’d say there’s a target on Peter Hastings. Just a theory.

Until that gun goes off, we’ve got plenty of other drama to worry about. I’ll admit, I’m surprised that “A” might have something to do with Maya’s disappearance. I figured she just ran off, but now it looks like things are more complicated than that. But here’s another idea. Back in Season 1, some of you suspected that Maya might be “A,” and for the first time in a while, I’m a little on board with that theory. I don’t think she’s entirely responsible for what the liars have been going through, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she’s involved. Maya just doesn’t feel like a victim to me: She knows more than she’s letting on, and this whole disappearance could easily be staged to throw the girls off.

Enough about Maya, though. (Really, I’ve been over her for a while.) Ashley and Ella are taking a more active role in their daughters’ lives, and I’m glad to see them finally wising up—Ella gets extra points for also realizing that Aria and Ezra are still a thing, and doing what she can to deal with it. But it’s Ashley who’s the sharpest in terms of the “A” situation. She is not going to let it go easily, and I love the way she shrugged off Aria’s story about where the police report came from. Maybe it’s because Laura Leighton was on Melrose Place, but Ashley is definitely my favorite Pretty Little Liars mom. Here’s hoping she can stay involved in the mystery without getting herself hurt.

And what about Melissa? Her explanation for palling around with Garrett didn’t make a lot of sense to me, and she seems way too quick to jump on the, “Our dad is a lying monster” bandwagon. Sure, he covered up being Jason’s father, which is definitely shady, but I can’t help but wonder if Melissa is trying to deflect attention from herself. It’s getting to the point where I don’t really trust anyone on this show, except for the core four. And Mona, strangely enough.

Then again, isn’t that the way Pretty Little Liars likes it? “Trust no one” has been the mentality from day one, and the show would be failing its mission statement if we suddenly started taking anyone at his or her word. We’re close to finding out the true identity of “A,” but even that feels like only the beginning. There’s the fallout, there’s the backstory, and there’s the simple fact that “A” is probably more than just one person. I don’t want this season to end, but I also don’t know how much longer I can wait. Bring it on—just, you know, gently.


Monday’s episode of The Lying Game had the same sort of almost-there quality: We know we’re getting answers very soon, and we’re biting our lips in anticipation. I’d say The Lying Game was a less satisfying episode overall, if only because it gave us a very obvious reveal and a lot more deflection. Because of Derek’s death, the stakes on this show do feel high, but the inconsistent plotting is making me anxious in a different way. Short version: Please let the conclusion to this season be good?

I just feel like The Lying Game stalls more often than Pretty Little Liars, even though I give both shows crap for dragging their feet. Perhaps it’s because The Lying Game’s mystery is more confined in a sense—there might just be less story to tell. I’m also so bored by most of its subplots that I get annoyed every time we stray from the Sutton and Emma stuff. Yes, this means I’m going to complain about Laurel again, but I’ll hold off on that for now.

I will say this, Rebecca continues to be the best addition to this show, and I’d argue she’s the saving grace of the second half of the season. Charisma Carpenter does great work with the role, and she adds a conflict that was sorely missing at the beginning. Aside from the twins, she’s the most compelling character on the show, which is probably something of a problem. I’ve said this before, but The Lying Game just hasn’t been as good as Pretty Little Liars at developing strong characters. Remember Justin? I know, it’s best to just forget.

Characters aside, this last episode of The Lying Game seemed eager to rush some things it could have actually spent more time on, like mending the rift between Emma and Ethan. We couldn’t have held on to that for another episode? I’ll admit I didn’t like them hating each other, but I do enjoy it when Sutton manipulates everyone around her. One big confrontation doesn’t really cut it for me. And yes, by the end of the episode, Emma and Ethan were on the outs again—but this was a different kind of conflict, and I don’t think it will stick either. Next time, let’s allow Sutton to pull the strings for a little while longer before she’s exposed.

As for the other revelation, I don’t think I’m the only one who's not at all shocked to learn that Rebecca is really interested in Ted. And I still maintain, as many of you do, that Rebecca and Ted are the twins’ biological parents. I expect we’ll get confirmation by the end of the season, which is good, because I don’t want to drag this out any longer. That opening-the-locket moment felt anticlimactic, since so many of us have guessed as much already.

Oh, and Kristin needs to wise up soon, because she’s basically the only innocent on this show, and I hate that she’s still letting Ted lie to her. Team Kristin, you guys. I want her and Emma to join forces against basically everyone else.

I said I would complain about Laurel again, but what’s the point? I thought her scene with Emma was great, and then the show had to go and ruin it with an unnecessary music performance at a retirement home. This crap must be contractually obligated, but it’s such a waste, and I hope they can find a way to tone it down next season. I’d probably bitch about it more, but Emma finally slapped Sutton hard, so I think I’ll just focus on that magic moment as I wait for next week’s episode.


QUESTIONS: PRETTY LITTLE LIARS

– Assuming the gun does come into play, who’s getting shot and who’s doing the shooting?

– How long until Ashley finds out what’s really going on with her daughter and the rest of the girls?

– Is Maya a victim or a villain?


QUESTIONS: THE LYING GAME

– Does anyone still doubt that Ted and Rebecca are the twins’ biological parents?

– When will we stop having to listen to Laurel’s band?

– How long until Ethan and Emma patch things up again?

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