Immediately following the events of the finale, Ezra is being taken to the hospital for his gunshot wound while the girls plan to stage a way of luring "A" away from him. They separate, with Aria remaining in the hospital while the others go with Alison to safely hide out while waiting news of his surgery so he can reveal who "A" is. Meanwhile, back in Rosewood, Mona is setting up plans, the Hastings family gets some unexpected news, and we get some shocking reveals as to Melissa and Shanna's involvement in all of this.
Shanna, Mona, Melissa, and the "A" Team
I'm not surprised that Shanna was revealed to be the person involved in the shooting and had betrayed Alison, considering when Ezra had woken up it was quite predictable his reaction since she had been in the room and conveniently sneaked out, though it's still quite sad considering they had known each other ever since they were kids. Imagine having someone you thought you could trust since childhood turning on you like that. But it makes sense in a way. Shanna had gotten close to Jenna, someone who hated Alison, and since we don't really know Shanna's viewpoint of Alison this entire time throughout the years it could have been entirely possible that Shanna felt similarly and it took Jenna's incident to make her understand that.
However, this only confirms her being the shooter on the rooftop. It doesn't necessarily prove her being the "A" this entire time. She was just another recruit with an axe to grind, just like Mona.
What I found fascinating is how, from this episode alone, we're seeing a bit more of the connection with other characters and their alliances and collaborating with each other. It really makes you question the motives of others or what they're playing at, especially when you still don't quite know what's in their heads. Melissa Hastings, for example, is quite an enigma herself. We had seen her speaking with Jenna and Shanna the night when the lodge had caught on fire (which Shanna admitted to setting, and I'm guessing was originally setup by Jenna), she had previously admitted to Spencer that she's been protecting her since before everything had started, and she seems to know a lot more about what happened the night Alison had disappeared, she had conveniently returned the night the girls were meeting with Alison, she had revealed an unknown secret so massive that it startled and shook her own father, and now she's seen meeting with Mona during that little meeting of hers. While there are certainly some major players in this still, Melissa is the one that has been withholding a lot of information and is holding most of the pieces to this gigantic puzzle.
Cece, Noel and Alison collaborating together was quite a surprise. Before we knew that Alison had been in touch with Noel, though Cece still being on friendly terms with her was unexpected since we had previously been led to thinking she now hated Alison. However, with Shanna having turned, who knows if Cece is the same way and had been using Alison this entire time, especially since we knew that Cece went to see Mona at Radley, among other things (unless that was all staged to get more information). Regardless, I did like seeing their little scene together.
And finally we have Mona, who is seen speaking with and recruiting new people in regards to the news about Alison revealing to have been alive and the possibility of the girls returning with her. I'm not entirely sure that is "A" related, but we know that the "A" Team isn't just a few members. Some of those who have participated in "A"-like activities had done so because of their strong feelings against Alison, which is a vulnerability that is easy to manipulate. Those who Mona is seen speaking with were the former victims of Alison's torments, all who probably have enough motives to get back at her if they had the chance to. With Mona, she is speaking about remaining together, being protected, but at what cost? Paige is seen amongst the group, because she, too, expressed a strong intense hatred for Alison (so much that she even admitted to Emily that she didn't care of Alison died for real), and I'm guessing Mona called all those who have been terribly victimized and tormented by Alison back in the day. However, she seemed very dubious of Mona's story, because she knows better since Mona is someone who has ulterior motives, though she stayed because of seeing Melissa which was suspicious enough. So I'm very interested on what Mona is planning, because she talks about the others being "protected", which I'm assuming is something along the lines of "A" talk (joining, being protected of anything happening to you, unless you betray the group, etc.)
Things I liked about the episode:
++ I'm loving that we're seeing Alison's vulnerability along with the girls questioning her, because it shows that while they can stick together it doesn't heal the wounds over the last two years. When Alison makes the phone secretly they all pause what they're doing to listen in. Spencer questions Alison either allowing them in or pushing them away, and Emily confronts Alison about leaving abruptly while they're sleeping. Alison may have her reasons to not tell them everything in order to keep them safe, but they also have gone through hell and back for her and them wanting answers is completely justified. I'm looking forward to seeing more of this in future episodes.
++ It's a blessing that we get to see different filming locations. Alison and Aria walking around New York, the theater, the hospital, etc.
++ I'm intrigued and curious about all these new things happening, at least in terms of characters and what will be happening now that the game has changed in re: to Alison revealed to being alive. Secrets, trust, betrayals, ulterior motives, etc. Who knows what will happen when she returns to Rosewood.
Things I didn't like:
++ There's apparently going to be more background on Ezra, because it seems that Fitzgerald is something that raises a red flag if the detective was doing extensive research and was surprised to find out he was a Fitzgerald. In a way I am curious as to what this all means, but unless the show is willing to expose Ezra for being a massive creepy stalker (with plenty of evidence supporting this) I don't want more of him unless he is dead and this is after the fact. Also, it might have been cliche but I'm disappointed they didn't go the memory loss route. It would have been simpler to have him either not recall who he saw on the roof or not remember anything at all. But idk.
++ I'm still not a Paige fan, despite her skepticism about what Mona was attempting to sell. She definitely is someone who will (and does) blame Alison for splitting her and Emily up, even though she's the one who did that all on her own. And not for the first time, either.
++ In a way I'm kind of disappointed with the Shanna reveal. It's not surprising considering how we've gone back and forth about her alliance, and as I said it makes sense, but after everything it seemed so sudden. Also the assumption that it's all over when it's clearly not. Remember that "A" is always one step ahead of them, and Shanna, while good at lying and keeping things under wraps, doesn't seem like the person to easily get herself caught like that. So while they caught one perp, it isn't the end of the "A" harassment. It will probably get even worse now that Alison is back alive.
Overall: My show is back! It was a pretty solid season opener. I liked the level of suspense, of waiting and not knowing, and especially of seeing other perspectives too. I like that we're seeing the girls with Alison for real this time, dealing with all the "A" stuff, and I can't wait to see how things are going to be different now for all of them. I'm hoping the fifth season will deliver on exploring more on that.
Pretty Little Liars has also been renewed for two more seasons, which makes me incredibly happy!