On the way to another prison, the van gets stopped and the girls are gassed and they wake up in an elaborately designed secured facility that "A" disguised as a dollhouse-like replica of the girls' rooms and Alison's house. They are then forced to play their respective roles while trapped there. Meanwhile, Spencer's parents finally get clued into what is happening re: the "A" situation and both them and the boys go to the police to try and track down where the girls were taken. The season ends not where one suspects....
The Puppet Master vs. the Dolls
The entire fandom basically got trolled, in both the best and worst possible way.
Granted I knew that the identity of "A" wasn't going to be revealed in the finale, since I looked it up that it was going to be revealed in the beginning of next season instead of this one (because how else are they going to lure fans back in unless they leave it on a cliffhanger?) However, we got several steps forward with major clues to mull over about the possible revealing of who is behind all of this, and why.
Mona, on the other hand? I was not expecting at all. The reveal that she was still alive seemed almost like a rehash of Alison being alive after her disappearance, though in hindsight it makes sense. When you take into account that when they showed her body in the trunk it truly did look like she was officially dead, though since "A" likes to play with their toys it would seem to be that they probably injected her with something to paralyze her and then place her into their elaborate makeshift dollhouse to play the part of Alison (also disturbingly fitting since Mona wanted to become Alison for a time). This sets off the framing of Alison for her supposed murder and getting the girls arrested, thereby allowing "A" to kidnap them and place them all alongside Mona, too. When you look at it from that perspective, it's almost too perfect of planning it's scary. Whoever constructed this is quite twisted and psychopathic, especially since wherever the girls are they seem to be in a secluded area where nobody can hear them.
The construction of the "dollhouse" is also textbook psychopath, it reminded me a lot of the creepy murderers who would reconstruct certain things from childhood and trap their victims there to become their dolls in recreating something, again either from childhood or their own concoction and amusement. And of course now we're getting closer to the identity of at least one of the "A"s involved.
From what we learned from the finale, Spencer deducted from letter blocks that whoever is holding them hostage is "Charles"; though that could be a number of things, much like the whole "Varjak" situation. Is it their actual name? A codename? Something to string the girls along (because why would they leave an anagram of their name unless they wanted one of them, especially someone like Spencer or Mona, to figure it out)? At least we know whoever it is there is a connection to them and the DiLaurentis family. Based on the footage and pictures, possibly twins? Jason having a twin? Or did Jessica have other children we don't know about? What about the identical dress that young!Alison found that she was told to keep quiet about? What that alluding to Bethany Young, who could also be related to the DiLaurentis family as well? How many siblings/half-siblings do Spencer and Alison have? So many more questions are arising now because of this finale.
But even though we have more questions, at least there's progression. We have more people involved now, the parents and the police, and we're getting somewhere with why "A" is doing all these things. Possibly. I am of course reconstructing my own theories about this.
Things I liked about the episode:
++ The entire atmosphere was unsettling and disturbing. Them being arrested and placed in prison was bad enough, but being trapped and locked away in "A"s lifesize prison dollhouse and forced to play more games? That is even worse. Them realizing how trapped they truly are made me feel claustrophobic for them. It was truly creepy and well-done.
++ MONA IS ALIVE. MONA IS ALIVE. MONA IS ALIVE. ♥ ♥ ♥ Like, sure it was a complete fake-out on the show's end to make us believe that she was gone for good, and they even mentioned that yeah she was dead for real (though honestly how can you successfully hide something like this without making sure people won't come to that conclusion idek), but I don't care about MONA IS BACK AND ALIVE AND IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY ILU MONA NEVER LEAVE ME AGAIN. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
++ I felt bad for Mona, though, because she basically was trapped there for months playing "A"s sick little playhouse game. Playing the part of Alison, being a good girl or else she would be punished, essentially being psychologically tortured until she was able to do whatever "A" told her to do. Again, this is a sick, twisted individual who is doing this and is able to twist and bend people at their will for total control. Of course, Mona is a smart cookie and has been able to figure out certain things and not forget herself in the process. That's my girl. ♥
++ Hanna basically being relentless in wanting to get out of there. I would be, too, if I was in her shoes. She is having none of the charade. And basically all the girls using their heads in trying to find a way out of that place, being resourceful and sneaky in trying to trick "A". Amazing, I loved it.
++ Loved that staged fight though between Spencer and Emily, mimicking their previous staged fight they had in the earlier seasons when they were playing who they believed to be "A" at the time as well. Excellent callback.
++ The mannequins at their faked constructed "senior prom". There is nothing creepier than mannequins esp in that setting, jfc. :S
++ The parents (at least Spencer's parents) finding out the truth! Finally. I think I feel more relief whenever someone new is in the know about "A" and what the girls have been going through for years.
++ Tanner finally cooperating and focusing the investigation where it should be rather than thinking the girls are doing this to themselves or having one on her. Granted I still think Tanner knows something else, but we'll see.
++ Even though Alison was only in one scene in the finale, Sasha continued to knock everything out of the park.
Things I didn't like:
++ Less about not liking but more with the confusion about some of the things we didn't get to. Why was the gas mask important for Mona to have? What about the cryptic message/anagram that Spencer found behind Mona's hairbrush in a previous episode? Where was Holbrook and how does he factor into all of this? Also Andrew as well? Are they all working together?
++ I feel like the finale should've been two hours long instead of one because there are still so much to uncover and understand.
Overall: I know some fans are going to be disappointed about the lack of the "A" reveal (though honestly idk what y'all were expecting), but I was absolutely enthralled with this finale, simply due to the structure and what was happening. I knew we weren't going to get the answers we wanted and it was a way of enticing us to come back next season to uncover the truth and see how the girls are going to get out of this situation. But for the finale itself it was quite a ride, and started off with a huge bang with the girls being kidnapped and trapped inside "A"s playhouse. "Welcome to the Dollhouse" is an appropriate title to have for what this finale had to offer, and it really plays with the creepy factor of what "A" is capable of. The cliffhanger basically allows us to see that this "A" isn't kidding around, and they are truly going to have to find a way out of this by themselves.
Season Five Overview: The fifth season started off strong, with Alison returning to Rosewood and giving us more to her than just that mean girl from the past, and things definitely hit a peak with the events of what happened t Mona and the aftermath that took; the season unfortunately hit a dull point in the middle though and for the latter half of the season it felt slow and not progressive enough, particularly with all the flings the characters were having that had zero point to the plot which, all things considered, we needed more of when there's still so much left unanswered. The season ended on a strong note, though, with these last few episodes. So overall, I say the season was rather good, and I loved having not just Alison back but also Mona returning in the end. My two favorite characters, which I'm hoping both will still play a major role next season as well.
Season Six Hopes: The girls to break free by themselves, the reveal of Big "A" (the "A" holding them hostage now) and the beginnings of the reveal of Uber "A" (basically omnipresent Overlord "A"); all the parents being involved with what is happening so the girls don't feel so alone with keeping secrets anymore, more Alison and Mona, and Alison/Emily scenes pls. And for Ezra to be revealed as Uber "A", but that's just my own hopeful wishing.