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Pretty Little Liars - Welcome to the Dollhouse - Review: "Raise Your Hand If You Feel Personally Victimised by Marlene King"


5.25 - "Welcome to the Dollhouse"
Directed by Ron Lagomarsino
Written by I. Marlene King
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

Season Guide




Mona is murdered and Alison is suspected of being the murderer. Hanna is then arrested as her accomplice. Andrew mentions Mona in a negative light to Aria. Toby tells Spencer he got his police badge to protect the one person who matters the most to him - her. Alison tells Jason she let a lot of things happen that she shouldn't have. The jury find Alison guilty of murder which leads into the arrests of Spencer, Aria and Emily.


'Welcome to the Dollhouse' Review

THE KIDNAPPING

Okay, wow! If that wasn't a finale then I don't know what the hell is. I know a lot of people are reacting negatively to the Big A Reveal but to be fair, we all knew deep down that one answer would equal about five more questions. And remember, Big A isn't the biggest A out there. There's still Uber A who we have to contend with so at least this wasn't the Biggest A Reveal that will ever happen in Pretty Little Liars - it's far too early for that! I'm quite satisfied with this new A-arc as we had Mona's turn of A, now Charles, but there's still someone pulling the strings. We don't really get that hint in this finale though that there's a bigger A out there. They would have to do something pretty crazy to top Charles right now because what Charles is doing is definitely crazy.

The amount of trouble Charles must have gone through to know the route the van with the Liars in was going to and then ambush the vehicle with armed officers (I'm assuming armed, if Toby can carry a gun I'm sure more experienced officers would have a gun too) is extreme. It was a fantastic opening though when the Liars were sitting inside the van, being a tad emotional that was starting me off with the waterworks ("I love you guys") when BOOM! The van is hit and the girls are screaming and falling around. We never see the outside though which I thought was awesome because we are completely isolated along with these girls from the outside world and we are in the same boat as them. They don't know what happened - we don't know what happened.

INSIDE THE DOLLHOUSE - MONA IS ALIVE!

The dollhouse aspect of the episode was very creepy. Each of the girls being in a replica of their rooms was actually pretty perfect, but in a sadistic way. Charles is really dedicated to torturing these girls, it's almost poetic and I kind of want to congratulate him on a job well done. Round of applause for that Charles! I thought the girls would be in some sort of building like a sound stage with the set of the dollhouse, but as we discover at the end, it's actually underground. That makes the dollhouse absolutely more scary. I don't know if I can say enough times how much I love the dollhouse storyline. It's totally melodramatic and extreme but I prefer it when Pretty Little Liars is more exciting than dull. This dollhouse is anything but dull.

I wish I never read that spoiler leak posted on this site a few weeks ago because the reveal of Mona being alive would have totally shocked me to my core. We saw her dead in the trunk of a car!! Janel Parrish did say in an interview that Mona was drugged while being transported to the dollhouse, giving her that dead appearance so it explains that. But even though I had suspicions regardless because the characters kept circling the drain trying to find her body AND the fact that Pretty Little Liars is just two resurrections short of The Vampire Diaries, I still would have been shocked by her appearance at that piano.

And what a glorious return for Mona it was - at first confusing, but totally awesome. The blonde hair did catch me off guard before Mona slipped off the Alison mask. I thought it might have been Alison's twin or something and boom, the Alison-twin theory would be implemented since it was in the books. I love Mona and I never wanted her to die so I am overjoyed that she is alive! I don't care that it's a little unbelievable and been-there-done-that, this is where my love for a character trumps all logic of a show. As long as she's back and breathing, it's all good. I genuinely thought Mona was brainwashed into being Alison so I sighed with relief when it turned out to be an act.

#TEAMHASTINGS!

"I don't know where they are... but I do know who took them."
"We're listening."
"It's A."

Can I get a show of hands from everyone who thought Veronica and Peter Hastings were an absolute dream team? I love that the parents really took charge in this finale though it's important to note that only Spencer's parents were present here. I thought all the parents were going to be in the finale as it was revealed a few weeks ago but never mind. I cannot wait to see how the other parents react to the news of their missing children and that A is back. I want, more than anything, is for all the parents - Veronica, Peter, Ashley, Ella, Byron, Pam, Wayne - to band together and take charge in the investigation. No sitting back letting Tanner and Rosewood PD call the shots because they weren't much help before. I loved that Veronica and Peter got their hands dirty in this by actively seeking out answers - taking to Alison, going to Caleb's - and they were even ready to come clean with their secrets. "No more secrets". Please writers, more of the parents in season 6!

THE UNWRITTEN PROM

I just wanted to quickly mention Spencer's incredible parents before jumping back into the main finale points with the awesome dollhouse. It's so bizarre that there's a whole system in place in there. Mona has it down though and I liked that even though she's been trapped in there for months, she didn't just sit back and be a victim. She actively went about discovering the place and where everything is. It was convenient that there were three minutes on the clock where the power shuts down for the girls to convene but I'm glad it did because it allowed us to get a glimpse into their thoughts and next actions. It helped with understanding the entire deal with A wanting the girls to decorate a room for a fake prom. The scenes in the room were fantastic though. I especially loved when they were getting sorted into their assignments and Hanna had food and she was like "bite me." Charles has a wicked sense of humour.

The plan that Spencer and Mona come up with is to trick A into giving them the materials to shut down the electricity. It's so sneaky that it actually worked! A gives them exactly what they need but they need to be sneaky about it so they stage a fight between Spencer and Emily. It was beautifully done of course though we did see this trick before in season two. Fortunately this is a new A so they can recycle ideas and pull them off. They manage to make a camera that can do what they want and Aria gets to have it since she's the photographer. What I love the most though is when the girls actually go to the prom in their fancy dresses and Natasha Bedingfield's Unwritten playing. The scene is so creepy with the mannequins too and adds a whole new level of insanity. And Charles is among them!!

BIG A IS REVEALED AND CLOSING THOUGHTS

I thought "finally, the girls are getting one over on A" when they got Charles out (loved that bit too) and their plan was restoring my faith that these girls can actually do something useful and productive against A. I don't understand though why Hanna was preaching five against one earlier in the episode to have them fleeing the moment their plan works wonders. I mean, at least tie the dude up, unmask him and make sure he can't escape before running riot. It's still an exciting moment and the whole sequence was done fantastically. When I could see Spencer lacking behind the others, I thought she was going to get caught by A, but it turned out she had other things in mind - search that room that was always bolted shut! That's right Spencer, you get those answers! We already got a name before - Charles - so we know who A is, but now we need to know who Charles is. The reveal was helpful and doesn't hand us the answers on a silver platter - and I'm so grateful we weren't. I will discuss this whole thing in the A's Mysteries at the bottom of the review so to read more about that, go further down!

The season ends with the girls running outside and we think FREEDOM! But there's a big-ass fence and to add salt to the wound - it's electric. Fortunately Spencer was on top of her game and potentially saved their lives before they become Pretty Deep-Fried Liars. It was great for Tanner and Toby to find the little basement thing that Charles was hiding in before to control the dollhouse but with the girls still being trapped there, how is Charles going to control them? Are there back-up controls in the dollhouse? And why would the control room be miles away from the actual place? Must be a chore to get there. And for once this season, Toby didn't annoy me. He was actually useful and I hope the writers go about fixing what went wrong with Toby this season.

I'm going to be positive for season six early and say it's going to be an awesome season already! The way the finale ends makes the potential for season six way more exciting than the set-up for season five. Yes, Alison turned out to be alive at the end of season four which was a huge, huge deal, but going into season five we only really had to look forward to seeing how Alison would fit back into Rosewood. Now? The girls are trapped in the middle of absolutely nowhere in a dollhouse with A! Tell me that's not an exciting direction going into the sixth season!

Overall, I thought it was a great finale. Big A Reveal was done as well as they could without giving too much away and it wasn't the A reveal I cared all that much for anyway. I'm waiting for that to happen in about a year's time. But Pretty Little Liars is starting to test my pretty little patience.


Episode Awards

Prettiest Little Liar: Spencer Hastings. I think without her, they wouldn't have been able to pull that escape plan off, even if it didn't help them escape. It was smart and finally we saw the girls pull off a plan right under A's nose that was actually perfectly executed. Runner-up would be Hanna Marin for her feisty spirit - I missed that in the past few episodes!

Most Macho Male: Caleb Rivers. He helped Tanner pinpoint the van's location (something none of the police could have done apparently). Plus, he pushed Tanner's hand off his shoulder haha.

Biggest Asshole: Charles. For once, Tanner was starting to listen to reason so she's not winning this award this week.

Favourite Episode Pairing: Veronica and Peter Hastings. It was actually amazing to see them learn the truth and get involved in helping find the girls.

Best Line: "You're not here alone anymore. There are five of us. And one of him, her, it, bitch!" - Hanna. Rock on!
"I don't care how far apart I am from you guys, I'll still be with you." - Spencer. "Same here." - Emily. "I love you guys." - Hanna. Start the episode with having me cry, why not?

Best Moment: The whole sequence from when Aria clicks the camera for the electricity to shut down to the end when it's revealed the girls are in way more trouble than we thought.

Saddest Moment: The start of the episode with the girls in the van. They are so scared but they're staying strong together.

Creepiest Moment: The fake prom with all those mannequins and Charles among them.

Biggest Question Mark Award: Where the hell is that place? It looks like it's very, very deep in the woods.

Biggest ReveAl: Mona is alive!!

Best Cat Fight: Spencer vs. Emily. It was a fake one like we saw in 'Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares' but it worked very well.


A's Mysteries

BIG A, NOT UBER A, IS REVEALED

Remember people, this is just Big A, not Uber A. We only just found out that there is an Uber A so you're more than justified in being upset about this. And I came across this which was funny:

Season 1 and 2: Who is A?
Season 3: Who isn't A?
Season 4: Am I A?
Season 5: Who the f*ck is Charles?

Season 6A will explore who Charles is so answers are coming. It's just a matter of patience.

THE GAS MASK

Okay, what was the purpose of giving Mona a gas mask? Was it a clue? The only person I remember wearing a gas mask is the Oxygen Mask Guy in season four. Was that Charles?

CHARLES DILAURENTIS

Okay, that video at the end with Jessica DiLaurentis, a baby Alison and Jason - and a boy who we can assume is Charles. A lot of people are saying it's Jason's twin brother because Jessica tells one of the boys, Jason, to tell his sister good night. But she does in fact just say this to one of the boys, not both. Jessica is Bethany Young's aunt, or she told her that fact anyway, though people do think she's actually Bethany's mother. I'm going to stick with the aunt theory and suggest that Bethany and Charles are Alison's and Jason's cousins and that Charles is avenging Bethany. It could explain Jessica's death and it's a motive to why Charles was trying to find Alison when it turned out she was alive and had that chase with the Liars to get her. The whole A stole the game from Mona when she was at Radley could place some connection there. I'm sure others have this theory too and it's a theory I'm sticking with for the time being.

ANDREW CAMPBELL

Andrew was only in one scene as he was tapping into Veronica's phone call with Melissa. That does support the detective or private investigator theories. Still strange and I was expecting more of Andrew in the finale.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT SEASON SIX

Straight from Marlene's mouth: "We will start next season right were we left off, with the girls trapped and they don't get out immediately ... season six takes place in a very condensed period of time." There's also going to be a 4-year time jump so we don't have to see the whole separate college storyline play out. I'm so glad actually because shows rarely transition from high school to college well and I'd find the college aspect boring so kudos for that.

But it was mentioned that there's a condensed period of time in 6A and the dollhouse storyline is going to play out a little which is awesome. The Liars are still trapped and won't get out in the premiere. Let's see how many Liars it takes to escape a dollhouse.

What did you guys think of 'Welcome to the Dollhouse'? Let me know what you thoughts of the Big A Reveal and the season five finale in the comments below! The sixth season is set to premiere this June on ABC Family!

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV on August 9, 2014 and will be reviewing 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, Salem and Sleepy Hollow in the 2014-15 season. Gavin's favourite shows include Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Desperate Housewives, The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Revenge, Scandal and much more. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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