Taking place four weeks after where the S5 finale left off, the girls have been trapped within the underground dollhouse prison for nearly a month, succumbing to grueling punishments such as being locked outside for days after their initial attempted escape, from starvation to possible hypothermia and other psychological means of torture to get them to "learn their lesson". Back in Rosewood, the police have been trying to track down Andrew Campbell, believing him to be the culprit behind kidnapping the girls. Meanwhile, Alison works with Toby, Caleb and Ezra in hopes to bring Andrew to her without the police to lead them to the girls. "A", of course, means to lure Alison to where they are holding the girls. The ending leads the girls to make their final escape to freedom.
Things Take A Dark Turn
I knew from interviews that the girls were going to be affected by what happened to them while being held captive, but just factoring in how long they've been held, never mind whatever they went through after those doors closed. Trapped outside in the harsh weather conditions with no food or water was bad enough, but undergoing psychological torment that we, the viewers, never see leaves so much to the imagination of what they experienced that they came out from their rooms completely and utterly broken. Not entirely broken, of course, because they're survivors and stick together to fight their way out, but they certainly endured some rough and painful shit to reach that level of breaking their spirits just a bit. I do hope we get some explanation of what happened, if not with someone else than with each other, to share their personal experiences from suffering at the hands of their sadistic tormentor. They will be having PTSD after this, for sure.
Mona went through the worst, I think, because she was simply the placeholder for the real Alison. "A" planned on keeping her around long enough before finally leaving her to rot inside the hole. The other girl, Sarah Harvey, the one who had disappeared around the same time that Alison did all those years ago, was trapped down there as well. We don't know precisely whether she was there all that time or kept somewhere else, but it really makes you question "A"'s motives on why these particular girls.
Was Sarah chosen specifically or was she just practice for when "A" could finally get all of our girls? Considering that they had been planning on holding the girls there for a while, with all their stolen personal items from their bedrooms to make it their "home", perhaps it was all pre-planned. But why? For what purpose? What significance does all of this hold?
You know what's absolutely terrifying? "A" knocked the girls out several times, leaving them unconscious for several hours, and goodness knows what else they did to them. Granted I don't think the show would go that dark, but seeing how demented and deranged this person actually is, it's not far beyond the possibility, especially if they're definitely a guy.
Things I liked about the episode:
++ I loved how it was a continuation from the finale, the pacing, the creepy and terrifying claustrophobic atmosphere, seeing how helpless the girls can be even when they attempt to fight back. It was just amazing seeing how the premiere paced itself similarly to last season's finale. We spent a significant amount of time with the girls, and that time jump so we truly get a sense of how much they've had to deal with since they had been captured. Everything will surely change after this, because you cannot bounce back to normal life after suffering such a traumatic experience. Not just the girls, but their families to. This episode really brought in how mentally they were being broken, the deterioration of their mental state, but also not enough to fully break them completely. Because it just fueled their fire even more, and I loved them just doing whatever by the end in threatening "Charles".
++ The scene with them in the "morgue" was really chilling. I mean, they were naked under there, that meant that "A" had undressed them and placed them in that position. Unless it was Sarah who did that, then that is undoubtedly disturbing to even think about. *shudders*
++ I'm so happy that Alison was working with the guys to help locate the girls. I mean, I'm glad that the police where finally doing something productive, but let's be real. The Rosewood police haven't been efficient in many ways, and clearly "A" wasn't going to follow by their rules. Only Alison and everyone else who has been targeted by "A" knows how "A" operates. And I liked that Alison was willing to put herself at risk knowing that there is a crazed psychopath out there if it only meant to save her friends.
++ Also, digging the short hair on Alison. It looks cute. ♥
++ Seeing the girls dressed up like their younger selves if only to fulfill their particular roles as "Alison's posse" was messed up and certainly psychologically damaging even more. "A" forcing them to play dress up and play their respective roles is just, god, so creepy.
++ I loved seeing the girls being defiant against "A" in this episode. In little ways, sure, but especially after their harsh punishments. They've just had enough. Even Mona, who gets the worst treatment of basically being discarded and left alone. Go girls.
++ EMILY/ALISON HUG! ♥
Things I didn't like:
++ I wished we saw the parents in this episode. I know we're going to be seeing them in the next one, and that this episode was more about the girls than it was to anyone else, but it would've been nice to see how their families were dealing with this. We only get a sample of what they may be going through from the newspaper clippings "A" has the girls look at, which indicate that they're not doing too well. It wasn't something I hated, but it was something I wished we saw more of, a.k.a. their parents and families panicking. (I also know that they can't get all the actors at once, I don't know how they're contracted on the show, but I would love to see them all together in an episode with their daughters after this.)
++ It was an impulsive decision and something done as a risk in hopes to escape, but I kind of wish that they hadn't burned everything in that room because it would've been some nice evidence to look into for who is responsible behind all of this. Basically, every time I watch this show I always am concerned about evidence.
Overall: Such a solid, strong season premiere that held the momentum from the finale. Sadly, this momentum won't last. I wished we had more time in this place, but I was impressed with how things were handled and it makes me anticipate to see the aftermath of what the girls went through. Hopefully the investigation will continue on who captured them, more information concerning "Charles" and solving the whole "A" mystery once and for all.