There were once five best friends. They were a lot of things, but they were known for the easiest cliche they fit into — the athlete, the artist, the brainiac, the fashionista, and the Queen Bee. Ali (the Queen Bee) ruled her crew, and her crew ruled the school. And then everything changed. Ali (Sasha Pieterse) went missing. From that day on they became four — four women who were no longer standing by as their best friend bullied them and others. Instead, they were four women who had to grab on to each other and fight back as someone bullied them.
For seven years of their life they were tortured by an anonymous villain who went by initials. And for the last seven years, we've watched it all. We rooted for one of the best representations of friendship on TV, we rooted for our favourite couples, we tried to figure out who exactly was A and Uber A and then AD, and the whole time we theorised how it would all end. In tonight's series finale of Pretty Little Liars we pick up a year from last week's episode. They haven't received a text or a doll or a creepy message of any kind this whole time.
A lot has changed. Ezra (Ian Harding) and Aria (Lucy Hale) are visiting Hollywood sets because their book is being optioned for a movie — their book is also so popular it has somehow already become required reading for Rosewood High School students. Ali and Emily (Shay Mitchell) are still teaching at Rosewood High, and they are the mothers of twin baby girls. Jenna (Tammin Sursok) also got a job at Rosewood High teaching life skills, of all things. Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Hanna (Ashley Benson) are still married, trying to get pregnant, and both successful in their fields. Caleb sold his software company to Lucas (Brendan Robinson) and Hanna's fashion line is taking off. Plus, Mona (Janel Parrish) has now been released from the sanitarium and is living with Hanna and Caleb, much to Caleb's chagrin.
The girls are all back together for the first time since they walked away from Liar's Lament because it's Ezra and Aria's wedding weekend. I'm not sure why they wanted to get married in Rosewood, yet they do. This is the town where Aria learned Ezra had been stalking her and her friends, this is the town where Aria was almost killed by A or AD on multiple occasions, this is the town where Ezra got fired from his job as teacher because he was dating his student (Aria). Why did they want to return?
The only thing more surprising is that the rest of them live there — Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Emily, Ali, Caleb, Hanna have all moved into the very place that was their personal hell for years. Sure, the place has changed. Lost Wood's Resort is now a beautiful hotel thanks to Ali and Spencer's hard work. Melissa (Torrey De Vitto) and Spencer are actually getting along, and the girls don't jump every time they get a text message. But, it's still Rosewood, and they should be scared.
They never figured out who AD was last week. Liar's Lament ended and they decided to just forget about the mastermind that had been stalking them for years. They decided the game was over, but they were never in control of the game. I repeat: They should be scared.
The first night they all unite at the Lost Wood's Resort — the place that was once the headquarters of A — and they are already being watched again.
Cue: the first black hoodie reveal. Melissa (Torrey DeVitto).
Ezra and Aria share their wedding planning details with everyone. And it all seems pretty normal — the in-laws aren't getting along, but they are happy. Who is not happy? Hanna and Caleb, who are fighting over Hanna's decision to house Mona. Plus, it's pretty clear that Hanna regrets that Caleb and her never had a big wedding or honeymoon. However, all the couples retreat to their rooms, and a montage of sex scenes begins. Well, except for Spencer and Toby (Keegan Allen), instead of a steamy night of sex, the two former lovers spend the night playing scrabble. That's when Aria receives a phone call.
In Rosewood, when the phone rings, it's bad news. Aria learns that she cannot have children. At first she considers calling off the wedding, but the girls convince her to open up to Ezra instead. Ezra says all the right things — they can create a family through so many different ways, infertility doesn't change who Aria is. And the wedding is still on.
Cue: The second black hoodie reveal. Mona. It was never Melissa, but Mona wearing a mask of Melissa's face. She calls AD, and it becomes clear that Mona still doesn't really know who AD is.
The halls of Rosewood High show us exactly what hasn't changed. There are still teenage bullies using dolls to terrorise others. Addie, the new high school bully we met earlier this season, is now the one terrorising all of the students and teachers. She has her own group of minions, including Maya's (Bianca Lawson) niece, who follow her orders. Maya's niece feels, just like the Liars once felt, chosen by Addie. Emily and Ali both try to talk to the students, but it seems like there is nothing they can do but watch history repeat itself all over again. (Make sure to read to the very end, so you realise just how literal I mean this).
It's not just the Liars that reunite at Aria's rehearsal dinner, but the mothers, too. They mention the best scene of all time — when the mom's got drunk and A locked them in the DiLaurentis' basement. They even ask, "Do you remember how we got out?" Although, unfortunately, that is one question we will never get answered.
The rehearsal dinner turns out to be lucky for everyone but the couple being honoured. Ali proposes to Emily right after. Spencer and Toby hook up finally. Hanna and Caleb agree Mona cannot stay with them and they finally stop fighting. However, Aria and Ezra get into a fight the night before their wedding. Ezra learns Aria has known she couldn't conceive for a month or more, and they have a heated goodbye.
It's the day of the wedding, and it's Rosewood, so that means nothing good. Spencer hears music and assumes Toby has come back after their night together. It's not Toby, but Mona. Mona punches Spencer in the face, and Spencer wakes up locked in a glass dungeon. She is staring at what appears to be a reflection, but it's actually her twin. Yes, the popular fan theory that Spencer has a twin is once and for all true.
Cue: the third black hoodie reveal. Alex Drake (Troian Bellisario). And she's not alone, she is being helped by Mary Drake (Andrea Parker).
So what is the backstory of Alex Drake, or as we've known her this whole time, AD?
Mary Drake did indeed give birth to two girls that night. One was always kept a secret from the Hastings and Jessica DiLaurentis (Andrea Parker). The doctor offered Mary money to pay for her freedom in exchange for the first child. Alex was sent to live with a rich family in London. They ended up dropping Alex off at an orphanage, where she ran away from when she was 10. She grew up alone without family or friends.
Fast forward about eleven years and Wren (Julian Morris) meets Spencer's twin, Alex Drake, in a bar. Wren thought Alex was Spencer at first, and Wren ended up telling Alex everything about her two sisters — Charlotte (Vanessa Ray) and Spencer. Eventually Wren fell in love with Alex. (Yes, he went from Melissa to Spencer to Melissa to Spencer's twin; so Wren really has a type). Wren even introduced Alex and Charlotte to each other. The two Drake sisters who had been abandoned and mistreated their whole lives bonded instantly. Charlotte, her boyfriend she met in Paris, Archer (Huw Collins), Wren, and Alex spent all of their time together. But, eventually, Charlotte missed the game, and returned to The Liars.
We all know what happened when Charlotte came back to America. She created a doll house, kidnapped the Liars, and eventually got caught. Once she was revealed as A, she was locked up in Radley again. When she was released Mona killed Charlotte, and Alex never saw her sister and best friend again. At this point Alex came to Rosewood, and started occasionally pretending to be Spencer so she could learn what happened to her sister. She is the one that comforted Hanna when she was locked up, she is the one Ezra saw in the airport, she is the one that kissed Toby goodbye and gave him the book before he tried to leave with Yvonne (Kara Royster), and she is the one that had sex with Toby in the episode two weeks ago.
Alex created Liar's Lament to find out who murdered Charlotte. Eventually it became about more than revenge though. She was jealous of Spencer's life. She wanted the kind of friends that would stick up for you no matter what happened. When she saw Hanna forgive Mona for playing the game again, and when she saw all the Liars forgive Aria for joining the AD team, she decided she wanted to be Spencer. She wanted to be friends with the Liars, and she wanted Toby. Her desire to be Spencer was so extreme that she killed the only person who still knew her as Alex — Wren. But, first, she implanted Ali with Emily's eggs fertilized by Wren.
Quick pause: how did Emily and Wren possibly create a blonde daughter? Just wondering.
While we always thought AD had a lot of helpers, turns out she worked more or less alone. Jenna knew that Charlotte had a sister who had inherited all of Charlotte's money, because Jenna and Charlotte did truly become friends. Alex is the one that kidnapped Jenna the night that Neol (Brant Daugherty) died and Jenna was willing to be loyal to AD (without ever knowing her identity) if Alex would pay for Jenna's eye surgery. Alex did pay for Jenna's surgery, but the surgery didn't work. Alex no longer had a need for Jenna. She was able to leave the game behind and go back to her normal life without ever knowing who AD was. Alex killed Sara (Dre Davis), and she blackmailed Sydney (Chloe Bridges) once because she needed money.
Otherwise, it wasn't until AD lured Mona back into the game that she had anyone on her side. She didn't even reveal herself to still be alive to Mary Drake until a couple weeks ago. Alex helped Mary escape from prison. Mary offered to help Alex kidnap Spencer in exchange for Alex's promise that they wouldn't hurt Spencer. So, there we have it. Spencer is locked in a glass dungeon, as is Ezra.
Yes, it wasn't enough for Alex to just take Spencer's place, she still needed to terrorise the girls some. Alex kidnapped Ezra the morning of his wedding, making Aria believe she had been left at the altar. This pain allowed Alex as Spencer to comfort Aria, brought all the girls together, and kept Aria from going off to Paris. Alex is really good at dropping her British accent and doing a perfect impersonation of Spencer. She fools everyone...who can see.
Jenna notices that Alex smells differently and doesn't believe that she's talking to Spencer. She calls Toby, who puts the pieces together. He realises that is why Spencer's horse is suddenly so afraid of her, and he realises that when "Spencer" gave him a goodbye kiss and the book by her bedside table a couple years ago, it was really Alex. The book Alex gave Toby hasn't been read, let alone filled with Spencer's notes in the margins. Toby goes to the Liars, who weirdly believe Spencer has an evil twin right away. Mona, who has been spying on the liars, has enough information to turn redcoat. This whole time she has been working for AD to save the girls, to finally put an end to the game. She confronts Alex with the knowledge that the Liars are on to her and her loyalty is rewarded with Alex's location. Mona runs to the Liars and shares the location of where Alex is keeping Spencer and Ezra locked up.
At the end of the day the many people that were hurt by the Liars in high school come to their rescue. Jenna, the girl they blinded, figures out that Spencer has been kidnapped. Toby, the boy they framed for the fire, convinces them of Alex's existence. Mona, the girl they bullied, helps them located Alex. Ezra was right, it's their ability to forgive that makes them different from their tormentor, and in this case it saved Spencer's lives.
Alex is the one that bought Toby's cabin, his love shack for Spencer and him. The Liars, Caleb, Toby, and Mona all rush over. It is filled with exact replicas of the furniture in Spencer's home, except for the basement. The basement is an underground bunker. They show up just as Alex is trying to kill Spencer (with an ax, guys!), so that no one can ever find out Alex is an imposter. Toby has a gun, but he doesn't know which one is Alex and which one is Spencer. Yet, Spencer's french poetry skills, the exact thing that brought Toby and Spencer together in high school, helps Toby identify the real Spencer.
Mona called 911 and the police arrive just in time, for once. As Alex is escorted out, she says, "No one can call you Loser Mona anymore." Mona responds, "You don't know how true that is." At first this seems weird, until we see a bit into the future. Mona works at a doll store in Paris. She has left the Liars alone once and for all. I doubt they are friends, but they are probably no longer mortal enemies.
Mona can't escape dolls. She might have given up playing with the Liars, but she can't stop playing with dolls. This time her dolls are Alex and Mary. Yes, the police that Mona "called" were not actually police, but hired hands, who helped Mona kidnap her newest group of women to terrorise. I, honestly, do feel bad for Mary Drake being tormented by Mona for the rest of her days, considering I do think she loved Spencer.
Back in Rosewood, Ezra and Aria finally get married. In what has essentially been a very long wedding "special," the most controversial couple on TV gets married, and they find their own happily ever after. Emily and Ali are still raising their daughters and engaged. Toby and Spencer are officially together, and Toby and Jason (Drew Van Acker) are working on helping veterans adjust to life after war. Oh, and Hanna is pregnant. Like Hanna said, all the Liars are finally happy at once.
This could have been the end: The Liars finally happy and Mona playing with her dolls without consequence. (So, I guess all of them finally happy). Yet, it doesn't end there.
The true poetic justice is the last scene — it ends where it all began. Addie and her four best friends have a sleepover. In the middle of the night Addie and one other friend go missing. Right as the friend, who might as well be Emily, wakes everyone else up, the friend, who might as well be Spencer, returns saying she can't find Addie. She says, "I've looked everywhere for her. I think I heard a scream." We leave the show literally how it all started — a missing teenage girl, and the exact words that started that night so long ago.
Let's just hope these girls don't take seven years to figure out their baggage and secrets. No one deserves to go through all of that again...including us.