Wow. Who saw that coming?
Okay, a lot of you. I wasn’t totally shocked by the unmasking of “A” during Monday’s season finale of Pretty Little Liars, but it still caught me a bit off-guard. Actually, I had two very different reactions to the episode, which was definitely one of the most enjoyable all season. On the one hand, I thought it was well executed and thrilling; on the other hand, I don’t know if I really buy it.
Massive spoilers ahead. Read at your own discretion.
"UnmAsked" really was Pretty Little Liars at its finest. The build-up to the reveal of Mona as “A” was appropriately suspenseful. Like the Halloween episode, the finale delivered on the creepy factor: that motel, the Norman Bates wannabe, the lair where “A” did all her dirty work. The Psycho references were heavy-handed, to say the least, but they were also pretty fun. For those of us who appreciate soapy teen thrillers and Alfred Hitchcock, it was nice to see a little overlap.
Once Mona outed herself to Spencer, things got even darker. It was great to see “A” out in the open: Mona’s hooded sociopath persona was actually terrifying. And I appreciated how devastated Hanna was by the reveal—for most of the series, the liars have been focused on their “enemies,” like Jenna and Garrett. It was only recently, when they began to suspect Melissa, that they entertained the notion of a personal connection to “A.” Of course it had to be Hanna’s best friend. The poor girl suffers the most out of all of them.
Well, aside from Emily at the end of the finale—her breakdown at finding out Maya was dead broke my heart. I’m assuming the body really was Maya’s, in which case figuring out who killed her will likely be our next major mystery. There is still a lot left to be explained about Ali’s murder, but I’m fine with Pretty Little Liars stepping forward a bit. And it’s not as though these deaths aren’t connected. Next season could focus on discovering the connections between Maya and Alison.
But let’s back up a bit and start to pick this episode apart. Looking back on recent episodes, Mona as “A” makes sense, but I find it hard to believe this was planned from the get-go. Regardless of whatever silly explanation Dr. Sullivan gave about Mona’s mental state, it’s just not possible she did all of that. Now, I understand the whole “A” thing requires some major suspension of disbelief, but I do find it a little too convenient. Then again, it looks as though Mona wasn’t working alone, which does make the scenario more plausible.
Then there’s the question of her motivation: jealousy over Hanna. Seriously? We learned at the end of the episode that someone else has been pulling the strings, so Mona’s revenge over having her friend stolen may have been secondary. It just didn’t make sense to me. What does that have to do with Ali? Why was Mona terrorizing her in the first place? Besides, Mona’s been such an on-again, off-again friend to these girls, I find it hard to believe she was so torn up about Hanna all along. And if she was manipulating them for two seasons, why wasn’t she always on her best behavior? That would have made the “she’s evil” reveal a lot more surprising.
There are so many loose ends that need to be tied up, which makes sense—Pretty Little Liars is a huge hit and will keep going for some time. But for all its huge moments, the finale still felt like it was holding back. It’s not so much that the show left me with questions, but that there was so much the liars themselves never bothered asking. We got this very clean unmasking of “A” and then a lot of exposition that did little to unravel the central mystery. Dismissing Mona as a nutjob with some attachment issues doesn’t really explain anything.
And despite all of that, I really liked the episode. Pretty Little Liars is never going to be as methodically planned as, say, Lost, but I’m not watching the show because I want something realistic and grounded. I’ll put my faith in the writers that many of these dangling threads will be wrapped up next season—and anything that’s not, I can probably stand to let go of. I’m still having fun with this series, and that’s more than I can say for too many of the other shows I watch.
– Were you satisfied by the big reveal of “A”?
– What’s the biggest question you still need to see answered?
– Who killed Maya, and why?