Pretty Little Liars' Season 3 Premiere: "I Play With Body Parts"

Pretty Little Liars S03E01: "It Happened That Night"

I think it’s about time we accepted the truth about Pretty Little Liars: This show is never going to make total sense.

I’m not saying it doesn’t work from week to week—and believe me, I enjoyed tonight's Season 3 premiere, "It Happened That Night." But after all the twists and turns and shocking reveals, I really can’t deal with trying to get a handle on it all. It didn’t entirely make sense that Mona was “A,” and it doesn’t really make sense that she isn’t, and frankly, barring some supernatural explanation, I don’t see how the writers are going to tie up every loose end sensibly when all is said and done.

That’s fine. Honestly. In many ways, this is the same show it always was, whether or not “A” was unmasked. Sure, it was a nice step forward, but we’re going to keep going around in circles until Pretty Little Liars ends for good. And if The Secret Life of the American Teenager is any indication, ABC Family will keep this franchise going as long as it possibly can.

I needed to get all of that out of the way, but duh, I’m thrilled Pretty Little Liars is back, and I thought the season premiere showed a lot of potential. The mystery has deepened, however unbelievably, and the characters have grown. There is still a repetitive quality to Pretty Little Liars’ stalling, but the emotional core is stronger than ever. I'm as interested in the widening conspiracy as I was in Emily’s burgeoning alcoholism, Ella’s begrudging acceptance of Ezra, and Mona’s wacky catatonia.

I’ve always liked the characters: I wouldn’t have stuck with a meandering mystery for this long if that weren’t the case. But they’re suddenly behaving in more complex and interesting ways. Of course Emily would withdraw after Maya’s death, but I expected PLL to gloss over the grieving period. And Aria and Ezra’s relationship, which has always been pretty to look at but rather two-dimensional, feels like a real romance. I’m even willing to believe that Ella would take the couple to dinner, though I don’t envy anyone that awkwardness.

I’m also glad that Mona remains an important presence. Her transition from BFF to villain was a little too fast—the end of last season propelled her into full-on evil, and while that makes sense as far as “A” is concerned, it was still tough to swallow in terms of the Mona we knew. Now we can see that Mona isn’t bad so much as broken. To some extent, we knew that already, but in the season premiere, we got a clearer sense of her mental state. Her blank stare, the way she saw through Hanna—that’s dark, and it’s great TV.

As for the mystery, we know that Mona wasn’t working alone, but we knew that already. We know that Garrett probably didn’t do it, because how easy would that be? And I think it’s telling that he has information on Alison but not on Maya—if he’s telling the truth, that could mean the murders aren’t as related as we thought. We know that Lucas is somehow involved, that an anonymous texter is still trying to set the girls up, and that Spencer and Toby haven’t had sex yet.

(Okay, that last point might not be relevant to Ali’s murder, but it’s certainly worth noting. Also worth noting: Toby’s abs.)

The final scene gave us a hint of a much darker “A,” the perfect cap to an episode that already felt more mature than those of last season. “Mona played with dolls,” “A” wrote. “I play with body parts.” It’s going to be a long time—like, a really, really long time—until we get the answers we want, and even then, as I’ve said, they probably won’t make as much sense as we’d like.

So let’s just hope for a continued mix of believable drama and high-stakes crazy. Oh, and a higher body count. I hate to think that new and improved “A” is bluffing.

Comments (17)
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Ezra and Aria scenes are creepy. Mona was my fave character, hope she stays in it. Good start though, I want to see the girls get punished more and more of Hanna in that bikini top - wow.
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first for all those concern MONA IS NOT "A" if you heard what Mona told Spencer in unmAsked Mona said to Spencer their was still time for her to join the "A" team which Mona is a part of but not the PUPPET MASTER, Mona is fine, she is just doing her part!! I'm more worried about Emily it's quite obvious that Maya's death is having a big impact on her!!
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Marlene King said herself that Mona was 'A' so yeah, you should do research. Second of all while Mona was 'A' there is a higher upper, and other people that are now little "slaves" if you will.
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first of if their is an upper as you put it, that just makes my point more right, MONA is not the PUPPET MASTER, second a lot of people thought like I did Mona did say join the A TEAM which imply that she is not "A"
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I haven't seen the episode yet but I'm super excited for the Game of Thrones crossover!! Arya Stark and Ezra as a couple!?! Now you're starting to get creepy Ezra. We're not in Westeros, it's not okay to bang 13 years olds.
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haha we fixed the error, nice catch. So difficult to NOT think of Game of Thrones when you hear that name!
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The episode was a good, as you pointed out, the characters have grown over these months, and I like that. So, a good start to a hopefully good season.



Am I the only one that thinks the seasons of PLL should be shortened considerably? Both seasons felt a bit padded at points. I really think it would be way better if they shortened it to 13 episodes a season.
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Glad its back cant wait for more
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I noticed the same thing re: character development. I'm glad they didn't just go back to square one. They allowed Emily to become a little darker and more troubled, and I liked the callback to her friendship with Toby that has nothing to do with the rest of the group. It only made sense that she would turn to someone close to her but not as directly involved as the other girls.

Also, good to see that Hanna is not just a ditzy airhead, but has a strong sense of loyalty and empathy and won't just give up on Mona.

And Aria and teacherdude behaved almost like a real couple instead of the annoying angsty Romeo+Juliet vibe they had in previous seasons. The friendly bickering was a nice touch, and Aria's mother accepting their relationship, but still having a hard time seeing them together in public, that also made sense.

I can deal with the mystery plot getting a little less believable if they continue to flesh out the characters like that (and if Toby continues to take off his shirt).

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OMG Toby's body is ridiculous! I think he's working 12 pack abs right now. I would so tune in to him just walking around shritless for 41 minutes. Screw the mystery!
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He might have a great body, but his face sure SUCKS!!! He could cover it with a bag and walk shirtless
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Omg Toby's body. If the show was just an hour of him walking around shirtless I would be a happy girl. Hot damn he has improved the most sence the shows begining. I love the darker feel to this season. While it is hard to follow all the different loose ends and we may never find out everything I'm ok with it, well mostly ok with it. As long as the mystery stays up and we get the answers to the big questions I will be happy.
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I've never really liked the story in this show. It used to be a show I had on in the background when doing other stuff. Then in the second season it became a show I watched when cleaning my room an so on. Now I watch it for the same reason I watch Gossip Girl. I have no interest in the story, but the hair and outfits are just FABULOUS!!
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