By Lizzy Buczak

Well, the good news is we finally know who killed Charlotte. (Yes, she is ACTUALLY dead contrary to popular online theories.)

The bad news? This episode of Pretty Little Liars was by far the most ridiculous of the season and we’re still no closer to finding out who A.D is. In fact, the girls seem to think that it’s “all finally over” and don’t even care to figure out who has been tormenting them this whole time. How many times have they just assumed it was over, only to get sucked back in, the same way Mona did.

But there, I said it – the final episode before the 2-hour finale was ridiculous and that was kind of a letdown. Maybe they are setting the scene for the big reveal but I’m terrified it will be a disappointment; a waste of 7 years.

When the episode kicked off, it seemed like Tanner was confident that she was finally going to arrest the girls. If there was anyone more sure of the #endgame, it was her. Over in the liar’s corner, it didn’t look any better for Aria, who was trying to weasel her way away from a cop with Dunhill’s dead and fingerless body lying right there in her trunk. A.D’s little game has gotten much messier mainly because the liars have actually committed a crime.

You can see that the liars are finally starting to cave under all the pressure. As Ezra politely pointed out, they allowed A.D to break up their friendship and they pushed Aria to the curb for doing something out of fear, which they’ve all done. Their one advantage against this monster is their ability to forgive and stick together and they just haven’t done that for their most loyal friend. And it’s taken a toll on her. Aria tries to keep it together but when we see her literally TALKING to a thudding corpse in her trunk, you can’t help but think she’s the next Radley patient. Oh wait, this crazy town got rid of its only mental hospital and turned it into a swanky bar… never mind. Would a dead corp thud around like that if she wasn’t breaking? Probably not. I’m guessing this was one of A.D’s minions hiding out in the back.

Caleb breaks the news to the rest of the girls – Mona is A.D. Obviously us viewers know that’s not the case since we still have a 2-hour finale ahead of us and that would just be too simple. I’m actually surprised Caleb so willingly jumped on the crucify Mona train, knowing all he does about A.D and manipulation. They decide to stalk Mona – who gets a note on Two Crows Diner stationary saying “time for pie, be there – and despite Hanna’s objections, Caleb confronts her. She’s obviously not willing to talk but you can tell something is really off with her. She’s scared, fidgeting and keeps blaming Hanna for pulling her back in. She’s not even enjoying any of her pie, which may or may not be a hint at Ezra being A.D. Who else eats pie on this show? Literally, no one ever.

Before Caleb can get any more out of her, she receives a note that reads “Leave Now” and makes her big escape through a TRAP DOOR in the ladies room. Oh, Rosewood and it’s conveniently placed trapped doors that lead into tunnels that Caleb and Spencer willingly go into. Carefree is the way to be when you’re trying to take down your stalker.

The time in the tunnel was very telling for shippers of the Spaleb friendship. First, he admits that he doesn’t think Mona is A.D anymore, then he informs Spencer that he married Hanna earlier that night, then he apologizes for pursuing her to which she FLIRTILY replies “don’t apologize and don’t forget cause I won’t.” Okay, I see you, Spencer… I’d be flirting with my friend’s husband in a dark tunnel as well since you know, you might not make it out alive.

They do make it out alive because the tunnel conveniently leads to the bell tower, where they arrive just in time to save Hannah, who climbed up there to confront a delusional Mona, rocking pigtails, glasses and a sweater circa pre-season 1. The whole scene is purposefully confusing but serves to show just how much of an impact these games have had on the girls, specifically Mona. She’s retracted back to her safe place where the only trouble she had to deal with was Ali’s bullying. Mona believes she’s seeing Charlotte the night of her murder then proceeds to tell Hannah exactly what went down; she confronted Charlotte who was just released from Radley but hadn’t changed, she was just going to play the same games and Mona wasn’t about to let her.

“You’re going to start hurting people again,” Mona said to which Charlotte responded, “Who’s gonna stop me? You?”  She then continued to taunt Mona, gloating about how she ruined these girls and their perceptions of themselves, which forced Mona to go to extremes, pressing a screwdriver to her back and threatening to push her off the bell tower if she didn’t jump herself. It was a tense moment as you wondered if Mona had the guts to actually kill someone that probably would have deserved it.

Mona might be deranged and crave control but she’s not a killer. At least not intentionally. She DID kill Charlotte but it was a complete accident. Self defense if you will.  And it seems like she kind of regrets not being able to do this one thing correctly. As sad as it is to see, I prefer this Mona than black-hoodie-vengeful Mona. She saw that the liars needed her and acted, not even considering how much it would set her back mentally.

While all of this is happening, Spencer gets one final wine bottle note from Mary Drake and meets her at the Lost Woods. As a goodbye gift, Mary tells Spencer that she’s signing over the motel to her and Alison because she knows that they’ll need the money to pay for all the lawyers. And she’s not wrong – the cops are closing in and Tanner has signed warrants for each of them.

Ezra is finally able to locate Aria, who is making her way to the Rosewood police station after getting approval from a dead guy. He convinces her not to turn herself in and then assures her they need to get out of town. But first, they have to get rid of the body in her trunk and he’s got a plan because he has a “master’s degree in American literature.” Honestly, corniest joke ever. How did we never realize Ezra is SUCH A DORK?! When they get outside, the body is missing from the trunk. How someone moved a goddamn body and no one saw a thing, I will never know. Unless we do believe that A.D’s minion was playing dead and made a run for it when the plan went awry.

As for the “Ezra is A.D theory,” I guess I could see how he’d be willing to help Aria cover up a murder if he knew that the body was already taken care of.

In the midst of all this action, we return from a commercial break to Alison writing her name on the chalkboard. It is THAT scene from season 6’s cliffhanger, the one we were all so curious about because the girls ran into the classroom yelling “he’s coming.” Turns out…. it was a NIGHTMARE SEQUENCE. We waited SO LONG to find out it was an irrelevant DREAM that Emily had with Rollin’s coming after Ali with a monster arm. I swear Marlene…. I’ll come to your house.

When Ems wakes up from her nightmare, she realizes reality is even worse. While they were knocked out, A.D snuck the board game into the house and a video of young Ali saying “we don’t have a lot of time” plays on replay. You can say that again. All the liars meet at the Lost Woods motel, where they put together the final pieces on the board game. The image reveals a creepy looking face, which I’m not even going to make sense of. The phone reveals that their grand prize is Rollins’ body and they use the phone to scan the board game to reveal an augmented reality app, which leads them to where the body’s buried. (Seriously, HOW SMART IS A.D? Augmented reality?!?!) Turns out, he’s at Alison’s Aunt Carol’s house. I don’t know if we ever met Aunt Carol or how she was involved, she could be A.D and I wouldn’t even know it, so there’s that….

The girls make their way out there, figuring that Dunhill’s body is probably buried in Charlotte’s fake grave. They’re about to get their hands dirty when Aria has a moment of clarity – why do they keep falling into A.D’s traps? Do they really think that by doing all the crazy things, they’ll stop it and get off scotch free? I mean, the whole point of the game is for them to lose. At first, none of the girls agree but then Spencer is like “homegirl is right,” and everyone follows suit. Except see, with A.D, everything is a TRAP and this was no different. They are caught red handed, at the scene of the crime by Tanner and a bunch of cops, who came equipped with a bulldozer for digging up dead bodies. Only in Rosewood.

So here we are in the final hour with no other choice but to tell the truth. What else can they do? No one will believe them about A.D. The boys are back at the cabin with Mona, who way to out of it to make any statements to the police. Then, something happens – Tanner tells them to get comfortable while she interrogates Mary Drake sitting in the next room for the girls to see.

After saying goodbye to Spencer, Mary pulled an Aria and turned herself in for both Dunhill’s murder and Jessica’s. Tanner is pleased with the confession, telling the girls they are free to go. Spencer can’t accept that her mother is taking the fall and asks if Tanner believes that she killed Archer. “What I believe and what I can prove are two different things,” she responds. Then she basically tells them to take the break and run with it because Mary Drake’s story checks out on all accounts, providing a perfect alibi for all of them. Say what you want about Mary Mr. Hastings but she’s pretty selfless.

“Go home. You’re not criminals, not really. Try and remember that,” she tells them revealing that she’s always known there was more than meets the eye here. Mary then exits the room, doing the “shh” sign to the girls. Looks like she’s been in on this secret we’ve been keeping since season 1. And that means, that UBER A, whoever he/she/it is, has to connect to the season 1 mystery of Alison’s disappearance somehow.

As the sun comes up, it seems like peace is finally on the menu for the liars. Mona confessing to Charlotte’s murder and Mary Drake taking the fall for Dunhill’s death seem to have ended the game once and for all. The girls stare at it with a blank expression, not sure where to go from here. They don’t have much right now but they have each other. For a moment, it really feels like the end of a chapter, a clean slate. If they knew what was good for them, they’d leave Rosewood in a heartbeat. But then, there’s still the question of who made it their life’s mission to torture them and carry on Charlotte’s games?

We then see A.D literally driving off into the sunset and I’m hoping he’s headed to Rosewood and not away. He may not have much leverage on the girls anymore but something tells me, he has a few more tricks up his sleeve, not to mention THE BIG REVEAL.

Aside from figuring out who Emily’s baby daddy is, our only major task is to figure out who the hooded figure controlling the game and the liars is. I cannot believe that it has been like 5 years and we STILL HAVE NO IDEA. I do have a few educated guesses and people that we cannot rule out.

Ezra because there are multiple theories proving he’s a creep.  Toby because he hasn’t been around much and he did play the game once upon a time. Spencer’s twin because there have been moments where it sure seems like there’s two of her. There are also theories that indicate Spencer may be Bethany after all. Wren because we didn’t just randomly see him at an airport as he’s “passing by”. Plus there’s next week’s preview that shows him SHOOTING someone. Jason because he’s been gone for too long and could have had reason to get revenge for his sister. Melissa because who the hell knows what her deal has been this whole time. Sidney because she’s working with A.D, obviously. Jenna because she’s blind and constantly shady AF, even revealing on multiple occasions that she’s been in cahoots with A.D. And of course, Lucas. I want to believe his innocence but could he really not have any idea what his old friend was up to?

Then my most shocking suspect – Mary Drake herself. She singlehandedly ended the game and saved the liars. Maybe she really is crazy and wanted to get close to her daughter to kill her because she truly hates that she’s a Hastings. It would definitely be an unexpected turn of events now that we (and the liars) began trusting her.

What’s your A.D theory?!

Here’s a trailer from next week’s finale to hold you over.

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