After the mid-season finale, the show fast forwards five years where the girls, now in their early twenties, have finished college and gone in their separate career paths and living their lives without any threat of "A". They have been called back to Rosewood, by Alison, who wants Charlotte released from the psychiatric hospital and all their testimonies would make it possible. Which means lying to the court regardless of their true feelings. The girls aren't happy with this request, but they give their testimonies, and Charlotte is released. But the next day Charlotte is found dead, and now the girls are trapped in Rosewood as a murder investigation is now going to take place.
Five Years Forward: Nothing Has Changed
I have to say, this mid-season premiere was quite underwhelming and predictable.
Alison asks the girls to lie, they reluctantly do so, Charlotte gets released, something horrible happens to her, another murder happens in Rosewood with the another predator out to destroy the girls. It's pretty much the same-old situation, just with the girls now being young adults rather than teenagers.
When the concept was announced that the show would be moving five years into the future mid-season I was originally excited. I wanted to know where they the girls would be psychologically, how they would have changed, how they would deal with their everyday lives after all that has happened to them. But then the disappointing mid-season finale happened, and reading up on what we have to look forward to for the remainder of S6B, my excitement has been dwindling away. While I'm sure we'll be getting flashbacks to fill in those spaces of what happened with the girls during those last five years we never saw, as to coincide with their current state of minds, this mid-season winter premiere just didn't have the right tone for the show as it came back. Instead of feeling impressed or intrigued, I just felt bored.
Things I liked about the episode:
++ I did, however, like that they haven't forgotten about the girls' PTSD (for now, at least) and are continuing showing how what happened to them, what Charlotte did to them especially in that dollhouse, deeply affected them and still lingers even after years later. Aria breaking and just letting out her feelings about what happened, telling the truth for once, was such a relief. She couldn't allow herself to lie when she is still scared, when she still has flashbacks, when her PTSD and anxiety still run her life. This is something I'm hoping we get more with the other girls, as well. Emily is also showing signs of this, though this could be more to her father dying than anything else, but it certainly contributes to her PTSD.
++ I understood where Alison was coming from, with her attempts of getting Charlotte released. She emphasizes with her because she was also horrible to people. Perhaps not to the extremes that Charlotte did, but Alison did some pretty reprehensible things during her youth, especially her manipulation of her friends, and was given a chance to change and reform and become a better person. She probably sees that Charlotte deserves a second chance, as well. Granted she did gather up the girls in pleading for them to lie for her in order to get Charlotte released because she wanted a family (thus making it about her and not taking into consideration what her friends went through), which is not okay, though I do understand where Alison's mind went in terms of wanting Charlotte to be home with her family. Similar with Mona who, even though she could have gone through with crucifying Charlotte with everything that was done to her, she declined, knowing that she also was responsible for the things she committed while under the guise of "A". Sometimes forgiveness is the first step of moving forward. It still doesn't negate the feelings of the others who felt uncomfortable and unsafe with Charlotte out from confinement, of course.
++ Spencer looks amazing with bangs, and Hanna looks absolutely gorgeous.
++ Emily/Alison moment. ♥ (Are we ever going to resolve their sexual tension from last season, or is Marlene still thinking that Alison is straight because lol nope she isn't Emily and Alison had sex okay and there was something there and they just abandoned it.)
Things I didn't like:
++ Killing Charlotte. It was predictable, and in a bad way. They introduced a transgender character (albeit in a rushed and poorly executed fashion) only to kill her off an episode later. While I'm betting that we'll be seeing flashbacks of her, I am just infuriated by this decision.
++ Sarah Harvey. Such an irrelevant planted "plot device" character who should have disappeared entirely.
++ They killed Emily's father. Fucking what? One of the only good fathers on this show and they killed him off? I knew the character had heart problems, but we didn't even see him for a last time. Ugh.
++ Not sure how I feel about their new texting feature...
++ What is with the fashion on this show lately? It seems to have regressed overtime since the first season when everything was so stylish and fashionable. Granted, some characters are on point, but the others, especially Alison? I don't buy. The girls are in their early twenties, and yet the show is having them dress like they're much older than that. Hell, I'm in my late twenties and I still dress like they did in the first season.
++ The fact that the main couples on the show aren't together anymore. I understand that five years have passed and that it's realistic that some couples do tend to drift apart and go their separate ways of what they want to do with their lives, and perhaps we'll see some flashbacks or get more info as the second half of the season plays out, but just the way it was introduced to us doesn't sit right with me. I mean, obviously they're gonna get back together at some point because, well, they are the beloved couples of the show and the fact that they setup this whole thing where most of the girls are romantically involved with random ass dudes means that shit is going to be corrected somehow. I am just glad that Emily doesn't seem to be romantically involved with anyone; she has her own issues to deal with. However, I am just not here for the implications that Spencer and Caleb are going to have a fling with each other (which I heard was rumored, not clarified yet, but this premiere certainly leads me to thinking it might be semi-true); look, I am a multi-shipper and most of these lovely character are shippable with each other, but don't turn this into Gossip Girl where everyone is having sex with everyone just to create unnecessary ~drama just because you've run out of ideas. Just saying.
++ Are we ever going to find out the unanswered mysteries from previously? Like who was in the barrel? Who killed Jessica DiLaurentis? How did the girls' mothers get out from the locked basement? Where the hell is Jenna and Lucas and all the other characters that seemingly had a hand in some of the events from previous seasons? Probably not, it'll just be added the the pilot of unresolved mysteries and major plot holes of the show.
Overall: While not horrible, I wasn't impressed. The disappointment from the mid-season finale has unfortunately bled through my viewing of this premiere. I am still going to see it through to at least the end of the season, but alas, I'm afraid my previous enthusiasm for Pretty Little Liars is fading. I might stop after this season if things don't significantly improve or doesn't pique my interest with anything, because as much as I love these characters and the actresses, it honestly feels like it has run its course. It had potential with several things in previous seasons, but they kept wasting it, and this premiere demonstrates that they are basically running on fumes to keep things interesting. I personally preferred the show to have remained with the girls as teenagers in high school, only lasting four or five seasons, with a possible special episode or mini-series with them as adults confronting a new and final mystery.