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27 August 2014 @ 02:51 pm
Pretty Little Liars: "Taking This One To The Grave" Episode Review  
Pretty Little Liars 5.12 "Taking This One To The Grave"

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.
Current Mood: accomplished
M: PLL - All About the Liarsmfirefly10 on August 27th, 2014 10:27 pm (UTC)
As much as I LOATHE that they killed Mona, Janel Parrish will still be a pretty big part of the show. She'll take over the ghost/flashback role Sasha/Alison had in the first 4 seasons. And I think Mona's mother will be around, too, though I'm less sure of that one.

I liked the episode, but ITA with you about it being too obvious that Mona would be the one to die. It's been obvious most of the season, tbh, but especially in these last two episodes. I think the only other possibility was Melissa.

I have no clue what they're doing with Alison. They keep claiming that the twin theory is wrong/they aren't going there, but they also claimed Mona wasn't A so...I don't think Alison killed Mona, though. I think it was a guy in a blonde wig. Possibly Jason or Lucas.

I'm bummed that this means we won't get more Spencer-Mona sleuthing time. Those two were magical together. And I'm incredibly sad that we no longer have the Mona-Hanna relationship to look forward to. I don't know if they could've ever repaired their friendship, but I found their dynamic endlessly fascinating and I wanted so much more of it.

On the one hand, I'm glad they killed someone who is actually relevant to the plot and not likely to have been killed for completely unrelated reasons (RIP MAYA!) But on the other hand, I really wish it had been Ezra. Would've solved SO many problems that way.
Tinkagwaevalarin on August 28th, 2014 06:03 am (UTC)
I'm so sad to see Mona gone. It's not that I /liked/ her, exactly, but she was such an interesting and complex character who brought so much to the show. So even when it became pretty obvious in the course of the episode what was going to happen, I kept hoping that she was just going to fake her death. Even through those last few seconds, I willed her to suddenly blink or something. But it seems it's actual real and final this time (though I'm still catching myself wondering if that could be a very life like doll in the trunk or something, but that probably mainly tells you how suspicious that show has me by now with its constant twists and turns). I will miss her too, for sure.

I was very confused about Toby's graduation as well. I also wonder what that accident was all about. It seemed so random, considering we saw him a little grumpy and with a cast but otherwise okay pretty much right away.

I'm very glad Caleb is back in the game, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the Bethany Young mystery and Spencer's arrest will lead.

ETA: Oops, sorry, that wasn't supposed to be a reply.

Edited at 2014-08-28 06:04 am (UTC)
Renée: Pretty Little Liars. Emily.rogueslayer452 on August 28th, 2014 06:18 pm (UTC)
I kept hoping that she was just going to fake her death. Even through those last few seconds, I willed her to suddenly blink or something.

Same. I kept hoping all the obvious signs wouldn't be true, and when it was announced there was no body in the house I had hoped that the ending would just remain ambiguous. But then, you know. That image of her pale face with a blank stare in the trunk is gonna haunt me for a long time.

I think what most upsets me about this death is how wasted it seems for such a character they allowed to grow, you know? Mona was a completely complex, three-dimensional human being who was still very young and still dealing with her own issues. And I know I said that it's a blessing that they were able to keep her around for as long as they did, but I still feel like we were cheated because of how this episode was setup. I always thought that Mona would've at least survived the series, you know? She wasn't of the core girls, but she was still an integral part of the characters and the story and there's still so much we have yet to know or understand about her, along with seeing her grow and evolve. Her and Hanna's friendship being on the mend, if possible, her reconciliation with the girls, her relationship with Mike. Like, she was a person underneath all of the cryptic secrets and ulterior revenge agendas.

I'm sure we'll see her again in flashbacks, but it still feels slightly cheapened by the fact that she's, you know, dead. Just, my emotions aren't really processing how I feel about everything right now. I have to say, besides Maya, this is the only death on this show that has truly upset me in this way.

It seemed so random, considering we saw him a little grumpy and with a cast but otherwise okay pretty much right away.

It was probably done for the dramatics of the episode. Because there really wasn't any need for that to happen, other than he couldn't intervene to help Spencer when she was being dragged away. Anyway, it was pretty pointless because I'm sure that Toby will be fine in the next episode we see him in.
Renée: Pretty Little Liars. Spencer Hastings.rogueslayer452 on August 29th, 2014 05:57 am (UTC)
It's just, her death upsets me so much. I mean, like you said, at least it was something plot-related and it's not like her character was completely wasted, she had an important role to play even after the big reveal in S2, but I felt like there could have been more done with her involvement and seeing where things headed, especially with how things started reversing for her once Alison returned. You know?

And yeah, she'll be in flashbacks for sure, which I will be grateful for, but it just won't be the same, you know? I felt like there was so much more to explore with her character, development-wise, especially with her relationships with other characters. Seeing if she and Hanna could mend things, her relationship with Mike, how she would have reconciled properly with the girls and seeing them sleuthing together (esp with Spencer, like my goodness those two geniuses would do incredible damage together if they wanted to), etc. Like, I understand it was for plot reasons, but still. It upsets me that, for a character as complex and heavily fleshed out as Mona was, it's such a great loss.

They keep claiming that the twin theory is wrong/they aren't going there, but they also claimed Mona wasn't A so...

Yeah, I don't really trust what they say in interviews anymore since it's all contradictory and misleading information. At this point, until we're 100% confirmed in canon, I'd say it's pretty fair game to believe that they are heading in that direction, no matter how much they try to deny it.

I don't think Alison killed Mona, though. I think it was a guy in a blonde wig. Possibly Jason or Lucas.

I just keep thinking on who else had motive on killing Mona. Everyone is going to think Alison because she definitely had the only motive we know so far, but it's pretty obvious to think it would be her, which means it isn't. We're just meant to think it's her because of everything the episode setup to making her seem suspicious, especially with that final shot of her looking on. Besides, whoever did it was totally wearing a wig. There is no way that was Alison, the hair didn't match up. So who could it have been? Lucas may have done some questionable things, but I don't really see him committing murder. Jason is debatable, we never really saw them together (I don't think?) in the same scene so it wouldn't be plausible unless he had a good reason from someone else to do the deed. Cece? She's killed before, it would be entirely possible she would do it again for someone. Someone theorized that it could have been the twin, if they are indeed heading in that direction, hence Mona's shocked reaction.

Whoever it is, I'm pretty sure is the same person who killed Mrs. DiLaurentis.

But on the other hand, I really wish it had been Ezra. Would've solved SO many problems that way.

lol, it totally would. I just don't understand why he's still around, and why Aria (and the show) has TOTALLY FORGOTTEN all the shady shit he's done. Ugh.
M: PLL - Emaya kissagemfirefly10 on August 29th, 2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
Her death doesn't upset to the extent Maya's did because, again, there seems to be an actual purpose for it and it'll actually relate to all the 'A' crap but still...There were many other people they could've/should've killed if they really needed a death. And like you said, they've now wasted all the potential for her relationships with the girls and her continued redemption arc.

This show is so irritating when it comes to Ezra. Like, how can you do the Zack/rape culture storyline on the SAME show that allows Ezra to get away with YEARS of stalking and manipulation? I'm sorry, but no. Ezra should be in JAIL, not casually dating Aria again like it's no big deal because of that time he got a little bit shot. Your gunshot wound of faux-redemption isn't fooling anyone!
Renée: Pretty Little Liars. Emily.rogueslayer452 on August 29th, 2014 10:03 pm (UTC)
Ugh yes, completely agree re: Ezra. Unfortunately, that is their own fault for setting them up for being the ~romantic couple~ since the beginning of the show only to reveal that yes, he's a massive creep who has been obsessed with, manipulated and stalked underage girls, only to backtrack since it would upset all the shippers and, of course, ~tru luv~ and all of that nonsense. Just, gross.

The show had done a good job at calling out the inappropriateness of the men in the girl's lives, so it's bullshit that Ezra gets a free pass all because of the whole "fan favorite couple" excuse. Like, please, get real and actually own up to what you outted his character to be, ffs.

(Also, I'm actually confused on why Ezra hasn't been investigated for his relationship with Aria, since the authorities seem to already know, and yet that's not been an issue? Like, I know the police aren't competent in Rosewood, but you'd think they'd make a big deal about an adult man dating an underage girl/former student him his. If anyone should have been arrested in this finale, it should have been Ezra, not just for all of that but for his surveillance and whatnot.)
(Deleted comment)
Renée: Pretty Little Liars. Hanna.rogueslayer452 on August 28th, 2014 07:27 am (UTC)
For real. I know they always try to do something epic for a mid-season finale, but this one felt incredibly off in many places.
Samarsakuraberries on August 28th, 2014 03:25 am (UTC)
I didn't realize how much I liked Mona until she was gone. Humanizing her so much in this episode was made things pretty obvious, yeah, but it also meant that we were gutted by her death at the end. =/

I feel like this whole 'Alison is a sociopath' thing is kind of coming out of left field? The way this episode painted Alison as a villain felt really bizarre considering since the start of this season they've been humanizing her. She felt so one-dimensional here, particularly with the Morgana-esque smirks and creepy stares.
Renée: Pretty Little Liars. Spencer Hastings.rogueslayer452 on August 28th, 2014 07:24 am (UTC)
They definitely wanted to add that emotional punch, but I would have been gutted regardless since I loved her character so much. It's just not gonna be the same without her there. :(

No you're right, it really did come out of left field, and it's why I felt this episode was rather off. I think this is the fault of what the show does way too often, unfortunately. Whenever the girls suspect someone of being "A" the filming intentionally shifts into showing that person as being more ominous and shady than they normally would be until they are proven wrong. Sometimes it works, but when they spent nearly the entire time this season humanizing Alison and showing us her vulnerable side, even when she's alone and without an audience, the ~suspicions~ don't fit. It really did make Alison to seem more diabolically one-dimensional than how we've been shown previously, and despite how Sasha slayed in her scenes, the more I think about it the less I like how they did the episode.
hamarakissa: PLL - Spencer // Distraughthamarakissa on August 28th, 2014 04:42 am (UTC)
I was so sad to see the end of the episode and actually see the Mona is for sure dead. I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Mona per say - as someone else mentioned below, I think Mona will be in flashbacks, etc just as Alison was; or so I hope she is.

I agree with you that I don't like how they truly Pushed everything into this episode with who Mona is on the inside of things. It was nice seeing more of her, but they should've done this sooner. I loved that Janel always puts 110% on the table with her acting skills - she's amazing to watch as Mona :) I'll miss her character so much and to what she brought to the PLL cast. I'm not sure I believe that it was Alison that killed Mona - I think it was still someone else. I've never read the books - but for that sake I'd like to think that Alison isn't truly that evil and there's still more behind that story. Alison definitely has lost her 4 best friends and yet she has a new army of girls - so that dynamic will be interesting.

As for time lapse - I really hope they graduate soon, because how can Toby be out of a 2 year police academy? All of that is just so O_o If they're still in HS next season, etc - WE HAVE ISSUES :x I'll laugh with you :)

The snark and commentary from the characters are always so much fun :)
Renée: Pretty Little Liars. Spencer Hastings.rogueslayer452 on August 28th, 2014 06:59 am (UTC)
Yeah, Mona will become the new "flashback girl" similar to how Alison was for the majority of the show, so she won't be completely gone from our screens. Still, it's heartbreaking that she had to go out like that. :(

I'm not sure I believe that it was Alison that killed Mona - I think it was still someone else.

Oh, I definitely think it was someone else for sure. The blonde hair didn't match up to Alison's actual cut or hairstyle at all, it was pretty obvious it was a wig. Plus, it would be too easy to point fingers at Alison. If it had been, Mona would've reacted quite differently, imho. So whoever broke into her house/room was someone she least expected.

Alison definitely has lost her 4 best friends and yet she has a new army of girls - so that dynamic will be interesting.

I'm actually curious as to how that happened in such a short period of time, since didn't most of the school not believe her story? And some were even victims of her past bullying? Though it's interesting how it's such a role reversal, in a way. Remember how others treated Mona after she was initially released from Radley, until she managed to win them over rather quickly? That's similar to what Alison seems to have done.

It will be interesting seeing how this new dynamic will affect the girls and the balance of things on the show.

because how can Toby be out of a 2 year police academy? All of that is just so O_o

lol, I know right? The continuity doesn't make any sense, it's like they're rushing things only to have him be present when certain events happen. Although I don't like that they only had him be there just to get in a car crash that really doesn't do much of anything, other than create more ~drama for the sake of the mid-season finale.