thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Pretty Little Liars Finale Recap: “‘A’ Day” (Season 2, Episode 25)

In Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps, Television on March 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

This week, on the season finale, the PLLs wore some masks; traveled to a Psycho-like hotel in search of A; Spencer found A’s lair but was tricked by Mona; and Mona was revealed as part of the A team. Read on for more on this week’s crazy episode!

Mona is A! (Or at least part of the A-team.) How do we feel in our hearts and souls?

Melissa: Sad! I believed in Mona’s redemption, up until this very episode. But I also still kinda love her, because she is such an evil mastermind, and it was gratifying even to me (Spencer’s biggest fan!) to see Mona outsmart Spencer for a few moments. (The muttered line, “Cashmere sweaters……” was so hilarious to me. What a reveal for Spencer!) I also feel like this was a half-reveal. Mona herself admits that she’s only part of the A-Team (a fact the rest of the PLLs seem to be blithely ignoring, God only knows why) and I feel like she’s clearly not THE mastermind, as the closing tag shows her saying, “I did everything you told me to!” I’d say whoever is pulling Mona’s strings is the real (wo)man behind the curtain…

Chelsea B: The whole Mona storyline over the last half of this season felt so weirdly centralized that it was always suspicious. However, I did think Mona did a good job of bluffing with Spencer (Master of Suspicion) up until she was good and ready to show her hand. She knew the black swan thing would be a tipping point, for reasons I’m still unclear on. I suppose I mostly feel validated, but interested in more details about the Mona/Vivian Darkbloom partnership because if her story about shopping in Brookhaven and running into Ali wasn’t entirely fabricated, the red coat that appears in the final scene has important implications.

Phoebe: Yes yes and yes! So, I loved Mona’s final monologue about lipstick and things. It was so creepy and amazing and felt straight out of Psycho (as did the rest of the episode I suppose). And, I was gratified to find out that Mona is actually super smart and kind of like an evil Spencer. And, the red coat at the end I feel like is a sign that Ali has a twin. Okay, so I just really want Ali to have an evil twin who is running the show.

Sarah T: I was only really sad when I thought Mona was dead — when her eyes flew open and she checked her watch I was flooded with relief. Because as Melissa and Phoebe say, it turns out she’s a pretty awesome psycho-villain-genius, just as she was a pretty awesome superficial mean girl with a heart of gold and a pretty awesome eager nerd with braids and glasses. Mona just gets five stars whatever she does in my book. However, I feel awful for Hanna, who really loved Mona and must be experiencing serious trust issues (and now Lucas is implicated too?).  Good thing Dr. Sullivan is back in town. OR IS IT? Trust no one.

Do you think Mona’s flashback with Vivian Darkbloom was real or made-up? And who is Mona talking to in the final tag?

Melissa: I feel uncertain about the thrift store flashback. I mean, clearly part of it was a lie designed to get Spencer to take the bait and go back out to The Psycho Resort, but I also felt that I could see Ali and Mona having joined forces at just such a moment (if, in fact, Ali is still alive and perhaps part of A, which is a renewed possibility for me). There was something believable about that moment of connection, when Ali recognized the thirst for popularity that also drove her. She could deal in that currency. And what? Was that Vivian Darkbloom talking to Maya at the end? It was so reminiscent of when Ali went to go see Jenna in the hospital, and the red coat was surely meant to suggest Vivian (though perhaps it was a red herring? Couldn’t resist). Is that what’s up? Ali faked her own death and now roams the land recruiting minions in hospitals, preying on their disabilities and vulnerabilities? But what for? And why would she be after the PLLs?

Chelsea B: Yes, yes, yes. Melissa is right. I think the story was at least kind of true, but the important part lies (ha) in figuring out what exactly is false.

Phoebe: I concur … I am all about the twin/faked death storyline. But, I think that Ali was legitimately scared but also wouldn’t torment the PLLs like A does. Thus, it makes me think that A can’t be a faked death Ali, but could be an evil twin situation (particularly given the red coat at the end). And, I think that flashback is real but also that maybe Mona sees who Ali is watching. I think it is real because of the postcard piece that we see Ali give to Mona with her number on it. Like I am not entirely sure that Mona was part of A at that point and she never confirms (I think) Spencer’s suspicion that she was in fact watching Ali vs. seeing Ali in the store.

Sarah T: Yeah, I totally think Mona did run into an evil-twin type at the store and that that evening, she called the number as instructed and began her conversion to the A-team in exchange for popularity lessons. Plus, as Phoebe and I were talking about last night, the A team would have provided Mona with the community and friendship she craved — particularly after she “loses” (but not really) Hanna to the PLLs upon Aria’s return. So my guess is that Mona officially joined the A team right at the start of season 1, but that she was already in Vivian Darkbloom’s pocket.

What happened to Maya, and do you think it’s related to Ali and A?

Melissa: I feel entirely uncertain about whether Maya is really dead or not – too easy of a “psyche!” play to pull at the beginning of next season since we never see an actual body. I’m trying to remember how she disappeared – weird tag with a gun involved, somehow, but we found out now that Mona had the gun. Mona couldn’t have killed her if she was playing Tokyo Drift with Spencer up in the foothills, right? I do think if Maya’s dead, then the A-Team had something to do with it.

Chelsea B: I’m confused. It seems pretty obvious now that the Maya contacting Emily has been A, but what does that mean for real Maya? She’s been held hostage all this time? She joined the A-Team? Someone killed her and dumped her body at Emily’s house? Whyyy? Everything has to do with Ali and A, so unknotting that mess will be fun for the PLLs next season. I hope Maya isn’t dead, but I also hope she isn’t on the A-Team and it seems unlikely that both of those things could be possible.

Phoebe: I concur. I think that Maya was maybe kidnapped by the A team and maybe they tried to recruit her? But, she refused and so they killed her! Or, maybe she knew something about A or figured something out and so was a threat to them and their continued tormenting of the PLLs? Also, that final scene where they are holding Emily broke my heart. And, it is definitely related to A since A and her/his team seem to be the cause/root of all evil in Roseburg, PA.

Sarah T: I think Maya’s death may have something to do with either a) her finding some murder-related evidence in Ali’s old house or b) whatever the weird thing was with the mysterious ex from camp and talking to Jason in the street. If she knew she was being threatened/in danger, that would also explain why she wanted to run away and tried to get  Emily to come with her.

Would you like this all-expenses-paid overnight stay at the Lost Woods Resort? It comes with a free taxidermy squirrel.

Melissa: I thought the Lost Woods Resort was delightfully campy, and I appreciated all the Psycho references in a teen show. The shower scene? The taxidermied animals? The creepy middle-aged women photographs? Such great details. I also thought it was so unrealistic and hilarious that four teenage girls could just go to a motel by themselves, no worries. I still feel anxious checking into motels and hotels and I am in my late twenties. Finally, the A Lair was really creepy. There’s something so terrifying about a Mastermind Lair filled with pictures, clippings, and clues. It’s uncanny.

Chelsea B: No, thanks. Firstly, it violates my if-there’s-no-Sephora-it’s-too-rural rule. Secondly, I haven’t seen Psycho in years, but Melissa’s right that there were enough spot-on references to make my skin crawl. Creepy, vampire-fast shadows are a PLL specialty, and there were way too many of them surrounding the Lost Woods Resort to ever be okay. Also, dolls are to taxidermy animals as PLLs are to…?

Phoebe: No, thanks. I would avoid that resort like the plague. It was so creepy! And, I find it insane that four teenage girls would go there on their own. Also, hilarious that it is A’s lair! Especially given Mona’s kind of Norman Bates role in the finale episode.

Sarah T: Yes, one ticket please.

Jenna Thing: What Is Her Deal?

Melissa: I loved the continuing bombshell motif, with her slathering red lip stick on at every second. I remain convinced that she is part of the A-Team. Garrett’s take-down was just too convenient, and there were those sketches of the Black Swan in the A-lair. I bet now that she, Noel Kahn, and Mona are in this together, and the whole boy-fight was a little bait-and-switch designed to make the girls sympathetic to Mona.

Chelsea B: Ugh, I don’t know. She still skeeves me out. So manipulative and sneaky.

Phoebe: Ooh nice on the bait and switch! I think you might be correct. And, I am loving Jenna as this kind of femme fatale, as Sarah said last week. I still can’t get over how AMAZING her final sequence where we learn she can see was. AAAH so good!! Also, I loved seeing her drive the car this week. But, what did she give A? Or whomever it was that she met in the park with her awesome car?

Why did Toby have to pretend not to love Spencer in order to get Dr. Sullivan to return to Rosewood?

Melissa: All of this confused me so much and I don’t trust Toby. I have become the official skeptic, it seems, because I think he’s part of the A-Team too. Also Dr. Sullivan. I think they’re all in on it still, and now Toby has to pretend to be in love with Spencer again. I think this because of that ominous line Mona said, about how what the A-Team wants now is for the girls to be at ease, sleep with the windows open, let their guard down. Toby would sufficiently distract Spencer. I don’t think Toby was always part of Team-A, but I think he might have gone over when he thought Spencer cheated on him. He still thinks she cheated on him with Wren, remember? And I also want to know who is Dr. Sullivan’s son? Is it Toby? Maybe Dr. Sullivan + Mr. Hastings = Toby, which would be creepy, but you just never know in this show.

Chelsea B: Me, too, Melissa! I don’t understand. Dr. Sullivan seemed especially suspicious (maybe the entire mental institution she put Mona in is a ruse and will become a massive A-lair!) in the scene following Mona’s fall. This show isn’t good for trust issues. Everyone is a suspect.

Phoebe: Yes and yes! I do not trust Dr. Sullivan at all. And, Toby I am pretty suspicious of. I feel like it is one of two things with him. 1) he is on the A team and pretending to love Spencer to put her at ease, like you said Meliss or 2) that he was genuinely angry at her and pushing her away. but then when she was in danger he realized he just wanted to be with her. However, I am very suspicious about both of them and feel like the PLLs can’t trust anybody!

Did anything interesting happen at the masquerade ball, in your opinion?

Melissa: I was amused in this scene by how all the girls were being sooooooooooo themselves. Spencer was being totally Harriet-the-Spy but blundering into danger by being too trusting (girl has got to stay away from high places during season finales, okay? Don’t go near ledges, bell towers…probably not lakes either, just to be safe). Aria was swooning over Mr. Fitz and consequently forgetting that their lives were in mortal danger (BOOTY CALL OR BODY BAG? MAKE A CHOICE, ARIA!!!) Emily was trying to be patient and kind and developing good friendships and helping people be honest about their feelings, but forgetting about the mystery. And Hannah was torn between her friends, Caleb, and Mona, and getting her heart stomped on by mean girls.

Chelsea B: I loved Spencer’s outfit. The mustard chiffon, black ribbon, and sequin/rhinestone collar? Yes. That was interesting. Also, Ezra and Aria? Way to be bold, I suppose. Why was Aria’s dress so bad?

Phoebe: I too loved Spencer’s outfit. But, thought the masquerade was SO boring and took forever and didn’t seem to have a clear purpose. And, poor Hanna! I love her so much and who will she trust now??

Sarah T: I was also really frustrated with how much nothing happened in this scene, with the girls just gazing languidly at Black Swans across the room or into their love interests’ eyes and then occasionally trying to follow someone and failing. It felt like such filler! But I like Melissa’s reading of how themselves the PLLs were all being.

Relatedly, was the Black Swan thing a fake-out? And what do you make of the Black Swan/Jenna/Lucas summit?

Melissa: My thoughts = ???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!?????????__________________?????????????????

Chelsea B: It did seem likely that the Black Swan could be Melissa (because otherwise it has to be a totally new character, right?), which means Melissa’s been faking her pregnancy. I could totally buy that since her belly has been the same size for like 4 years.

Phoebe: Hahaha Melissa and a faked pregnancy! That would be amazing. So, I thought that maybe the black swan is the A mastermind whom we have yet to meet (twin??). But, that what that one shot of Jenna/Lucas/Swan revealed was who else was perhaps on the A team. Like that A recruited people hurt by Ali and/or the PLLs to destroy all their lives. So, like Lucas is now part of the A team post Hanna rejecting him and knocking him out of the boat at Spencer’s lake house.

Sarah T: I think the Black Swan was totally the (still theoretical) evil twin, because black swan/white swan (Vivian Darkbloom/Ali)! Yes? And, the summit disturbed me horribly because: not Lucas too!

Why can’t Melissa tell the difference between toffee- and peanut butter-flavored frozen yogurt? And what’s her angle with the PLLs in the kitchen?

Melissa: I laughed and laughed! Her flavor confusion was meant to be so ominous. Like, “Oooooooooooh, she’s cold; she can talk about murder and flavor without missing a beat!” Or like, “Crazy pregnant lady just eats and eats without regard for feelings.” Or something. It felt significant but hilariously so. Melissa still definitely knows something, and I wouldn’t trust girlfriend farther than I could fling a bloody lacrosse stick, because even if she’s not A, there is something sketchy afoot.

Chelsea B: Oooh! I thought this was a reference back to that episode when Holden bought that frozen yogurt for Aria and her mom in Philadelphia as a cover for not being with Aria when her mom arrived to pick them up from their (fake) date. Wasn’t it all important that he remembered that Aria’s “favorite flavor” was peanut butter? Melissa was trying to tip her hand by letting Aria know that was privy to that memory or information, but my poor little Aria just didn’t put it together. Yet.

Phoebe: So hilarious! And creepy! I felt like Melissa was so good at being a crazy person at this moment! Oh Chelsea, what good sleuthing! I feel like you might be very correct … Intriguing!

Additionally, there were some hilarious lines in this episode. What were your favorites?

Melissa: I loved when Aria said, “Parties and body bags go together like drinking and driving” and when Hannah said, “She wasn’t bagging a deer, that’s for sure.” I also loved how Spencer delivered the highly predictable line about hide-n-seek: “I always won!” Yeah you did, Spencer. Yeah you did.

Chelsea B: Sparia.

Phoebe: I loved Spencer’s line about winning. But, also the moment that Emily said something about Melissa and Ian’s fetus and all the girls thought it was gross was kind of awesome.

Hopes, fears, and predictions for next season?

Melissa: Hopes = Mr. Fitz finally goes away for real and we never have to see Aria staring dreamily at his plaid sheets again. Mona stays in the picture as an evil mastermind and gets to say more devastatingly sinister lines. Hannah and her mother have a heart-t0-heart about Mona’s betrayal. Spencer and Toby have true love again, though my fear/prediction remains that he’s evil and playing her now and that Dr. Sullivan is involved. Hope we never see creepy dollshops again, ewwwwwwwwwwwwewewewewe.

Chelsea B: Hopes: Spencer keeps dressing cute. Hanna and Caleb get serious and Hanna figures out either how to stop lying to him so much or how to stop being so angsty about all the lies. Fears: Maya really is dead–another teenage girl falling victim to violence. Predictions: I agree with you, M, that Toby and Dr. Sullivan are on the A-Team. Melissa is, too.

Phoebe: I think you ladies got it all … I fear that Toby is on the A team, and I hope that things go well for Hanna and Caleb. And, I also hope that the girls’ parents (and their moms specifically) get involved more. Oh man, I can’t wait for PLL to come back!!

Sarah T: Hopes – The villainous ladies of PLL (Jenna, Mona, possibly Vivian Darkbloom) keep killing it with their radical coolness. I second Chelsea’s Hanna and Caleb support for sure. All of our PLLs get a lot of therapy from somebody who isn’t Dr. Sullivan in order to deal with the fact that the only people they can for-sure trust are each other, their moms (except possibly Mrs. Hastings), and Emily’s dad. Fears – Maya’s death confirmed; PLL continues to push sheer skirts. Predictions – More on Vivian Darkbloom (yay!); Ezra and Aria continue to “go public” over and over again, forgetting each time that they have already gone public, Memento-style.

Poll results: Last week, we asked who you thought A was in anticipation of the big reveal. Most of you believed A was someone other than Mona, Melissa, Garrett, or Jenna. But, quite a few of you believed in Mona’s evil potential. This week, we discovered that A is a team and Mona is definitely part of it! But who is the ringleader? Vote for your favorite A ringleader below!

See you next season! In the meantime, please stay away from dolls.

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  1. I want something so totaly off guard like A to be Ezra or one of the girls to be.
    If it was anyone of them, I thik it would be Aria.
    I found the season finale a little boring as it stuck somehwat to the books plot. I wanted Mona to be good. But am excited that there is an A team. I def do not trust Tobey…I remeber there was one episode where the old lady called A or the team leader “Bright Eyes”, Tobey has the brightest eyes. I do not trust Melissa, but it would be great if she was just a red hearing…I want to be surprised and shocked…not oh ya I saw that coming….

  2. […] back, we thought a little pre-season catch-up might be in order. Read on for our thoughts on last season, our favorite and least favorite beaus, and some predictions for the PLL’s summer […]

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