In the shocking mid-season summer finale, we have the girls teaming up with Mona to figure out what Alison is planning along with finding out the connection between the DiLaurentis family and Bethany Young. The final several minutes determines the fates of two individuals.
Mona Vanderwaal, In Memoriam
I don't think I've been this distressed and disappointed in having a speculated theory proven wrong. I truly thought, especially since it was initially announced that there wasn't a body found in the house, that Mona would have been presumed dead but was actually unknowingly missing, or had been part of an elaborate plan. But then those last few seconds happened, and I feel incredibly disheartened.
What pisses me off, though, is how glaringly obvious they were making her fate be throughout the whole episode though. From the opening scene with Hanna being the most in distress to seeing more of Mona's entire character, from her home and seeing her mother to her apology to the girls and talking about college and her future. Hell, even in the previous episode talking about how she should have "fallen off that cliff" back in S2. Like, that is textbook signaling a character's inevitable fate right there, and I'm pissed that they even did that. Like, I know red-herrings can be exhausting and irritating when overdone, but so is trying to squeeze as much character development and screentime into their last episode. That, to me, is too forced of a way of a sendoff. As narrative choices go, they really should have done better with that.
Mona does die in the books immediately after being discovered that she's been part of "A", though the show made the conscious decision to keep her character around and further explore her motives and relationships with others, and that was a smart choice because it allowed us to see Mona as a three-dimensional human being instead of just a villain. Her complexity, her intelligence and genius, her role as a victim and an antagonist was by far one of the most fascinating aspects of the show. She brought something to the table every single time she appeared, her relationship with the girls was complicated but still held something strong. We've seen many sides to her character since the very beginning of the show. Things honestly won't be the same without her, and she'll truly be missed.
Your memory will live on, Mona Vanderwaal. ♥
Alison DiLaurentis: The Tides Have Turned
I'll admit, the more the episode went on, the more I'm convinced that they're going to be doing something in relation to the books (warning: massive spoilers).
Now I understand the show hasn't been following the books exactly in regards to many storylines and plot sequences, but with everything surrounding he mystery of Bethany Young it's furthering my suspicions that that's where they plan on leading towards. It also makes sense given the major shift in this episode alone, granted the show has a history of doing that intentionally to broaden the suspicions of certain characters even when it's way off the mark, but if they are thinking about doing what I think they're gonna do to coincide with the books, then it makes more sense to really set all this up for the ultimate reveal. It might even align perfectly or be something else entirely, but I definitely think the Bethany Young and DiLaurentis storyline will be that particular connection that ties everything together.
In case that's not what is gonna happen, then I'm still trying to fully understand precisely what they were doing with Alison in this episode.
Like most of the characters, Alison is quite complex herself. We don't know the entire story of what happened to her, and we don't know precisely what she's been planning since the very beginning. I do believe Alison is still holding onto her instinct of self-preservation, but this unfortunately has cost her the four best friends she's had, and with good reason since she hasn't been entirely trustworthy herself since they reunited. While this episode painted her as a villain, I don't believe she is as such. She's not entirely a victim since she has instigated many things that hurt plenty of people, before and after her disappearance, but she's not the one behind everything that's been going on. What exactly is happening with her? Why is she gathering her own army, admittedly recruiting the army that Mona herself tried to organize against her? What is she planning and what are her true motives? Was Mona right about Alison, or is that just a red-herring? We have the rest of the season to figure that out.
I'm torn between wanting Alison to be how she was presented before in the beginning of the season, or actually becoming a mixture of the book version. Needless to say, her character is complicated and complex and makes me have an array of feelings about since I care about what is happening with her and her relationship with the girls.
Things I liked about the episode:
++ Despite my irritation with why they decided now to show it, I actually did enjoy seeing the Vanderwaal home. Just seeing inside of Mona's bedroom gave an insight to who she was; the decor, the way everything was setup, which is a heavy contrast from the room we always known her to have (the "A" lair). Also her mother, which unfortunately this will be her first and last appearance.
++ Janel Parrish has always slayed when playing Mona on this show, but in this episode, being her last, she slayed even more and brought it all with every single scene she was in. I will miss her terribly. ♥
++ "Read her boobs. Girl loves Christmas." I lol'd. Also, yay for Caleb being part of things again and returning to his hacking skills.
++ I liked how the girls acknowledged how smart Mona is, and even if they're not besties they need each other especially in dire moments when they are all on the same side of things. She's been the mastermind of the greatest moments of hacking and investigating. The "because she's Mona" explanation says it all. I'm just so glad that we saw all of them join forces one more time.
++ I was partially right about who would get arrested. I'm not entirely sure how Spencer is gonna get out of this, though, since even with Melissa's confession Spencer is still an accessory since Melissa only did what she did because she thought she was protecting Spencer thinking she was the one who hurt the girl.
Things I didn't like:
++ As mentioned above, pretty much the lack of narrative subtly.
++ The fact that the most fascinating character (Mona) has left us while the most boring characters (Ezra, Paige) still exists. Just, why?
++ The logic this show has can be utterly ridiculous: like the fact that Toby has graduated from police academy within like a week or something when the girls haven't even left high school yet after five seasons, or how it's suddenly Thanksgiving and almost Christmas for them. I know there's been time lapses and such, but it makes me hope that by the end of this season the girls would finally graduate already. If the show continues onto the next two seasons and they still haven't left high school I'm gonna laugh so freaking hard.
Overall: I'm not going to say I hated the episode, but I did hate how it was structured and I hated that Mona had to die because I loved her so much. Her character was intriguing, her arc amazing, and everything about her was just phenomenal. I fell in love with Mona and it's a shame about what happened to her, though considering that they could have killed her off way earlier, it's a blessing that she stuck around as long as she did and I'm eternally grateful for her presence throughout the seasons. Now we have other things to understand and figure out, like with Alison and who really killed Mona, and how the mystery of Bethany is going to be solved.