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Pretty Little Liars - Game On, Charles - Review: "Best Premiere Yet?"

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Directed by Chad Lowe
Written by I. Marlene King and Lijah J. Barasz
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington


The Liars are kidnapped by A and Ezra and Caleb try to locate them. Andrew listens in on Veronica Hastings' phone conversation to Melissa, having previously hinted to Aria that the world was better off without Mona. The Liars are placed inside a dollhouse with exact replicas of their bedrooms and cameras watching them. Peter and Veronica Hastings go to Toby, Ezra and Caleb and tell them they know about A, who find out from Alison. Mona is alive and kept in the dollhouse, having pretended to be Alison, she shows the girls the faults with the system. Spencer tells the girls A's name - Charles. Charles forces the girls to recreate their Prom. Caleb helps the police find the van, which is found at the old Campbell Farm but nobody is there. Tanner sees on the monitors inside of the girls trapped. The girls trick Charles for a moment while they try to escape. During the fiasco, Spencer watches a video with Jessica DiLaurentis and two blonde-haired boys giving baby Alison a kiss.


Oh wow. By some miracle, Pretty Little Liars has managed to find a way to reboot in a way that makes the show pretty exciting again. By reboot I mean they've opened up so many possibilities that the show can go down now as we head deeper into the penultimate season. It's a hard feat for a show that started to go downhill before heading into a whopping sixth season, but Pretty Little Liars has done the impossible. I just hope it's sustainable throughout the next 9 episodes. On to my review:

I was wondering what the first scene Janel Parrish was talking about when she said it would be the most shocking and we'd see something from the finale in a different angle without thinking about it. She was right as I wasn't expecting there to be another girl trapped in the dollhouse, let alone Sara Harvey who went missing two years before! Poor girl, she would have been forced to play Alison for 2 whole years before Mona came along. With Mona put in the hole before the real Alison would make her debut at the dollhouse, no doubt that's what Charles made Sara do when Mona showed up which explains why Sara looked so wild. I thought she was Bethany Young at first because we saw that photo of the actress on Instagram but I realised later on that it was Sara. I'm really glad the premiere began just moments before the finale ended with the girls running out of the dollhouse and into the area with the big fence as it was a great moment to end last season and a great moment to start this one.

"You may be a dude, but you're still a bitch!"

One of the things I was anticipating before season six started was "how is Charles going to react to the girls' betrayal?" Well that was answered pretty quickly as he locks them out in the freezing cold - thunder and lightning and torrential rain. It was an awful punishment. It's also weird how Spencer would say Charles felt like a pen-pal from when they were little. Charles has to be someone close to them for Spencer to think that and must have something to do with their childhood. Anyway it was a great scene to have the girls huddle close together during all this and contemplate how long it takes to die from starvation. They're outside for 2 nights before Charles lets them back in. My crazy paranoid mind thought Mona was in on it when Charles smoke-bombed the place and Mona just stood their screaming before Charles grabbed hold of her. It seemed fishy to me but that theory was debunked by episode's end.

And just how creepy was it when the girls were lying like bodies in the morgue? That was so messed up and for a second I was like "nooo" but Spencer thinking that the whole purpose of it was to make them look dead so their families wouldn't look for them chilled me to the bone. I wish we saw the families and what they were going through during the three weeks the girls were gone. They still might do that in flashbacks, or they'll tell the girls what happened while they were away. It was a little funny when Mona came in with the trolley as it reminded me of Harry Potter on the Hogwarts Express - "anything off the trolley dears?" - and Mona was acting weirder than usual. Turns out she paid a visit to the hole, which is something even I wouldn't want to experience. This season has already elevated the darkness that was present in the end of season 5 and cranked it right up to ultimate.


The time jump of three weeks is perfect. It allows enough time for us to ask questions about what happened during that time, and it wasn't too long of a jump to take away from the girls' current situation. I'm glad we got to see Alison in this role she had in this episode as she tried to find the girls and worked with the police (and against them) to do whatever it takes the locate the girls. My feelings for Alison weren't the best last season overall but she appears to be turning over a new leaf and has realised how much the girls mean to her. I was taken back by how insistent the police and media were of Andrew being the main suspect. I'm not sure he is. His journal article was messed up, to say the least, but there's no way he's Charles or Uber A. The reveal will be a surprise to us so they wouldn't reveal it to be Andrew this early in the season and we won't find out until episode 10. It does make me wonder what Andrew has been up to and where he is now.

The When a Stranger Calls moment in Alison's house was good and it was better to know that the whole thing was set up by Alison, Ezra, Caleb and Toby to throw the police off their scent. It was clever of them to use the "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" song to make them go to Campbell Farm while Alison had planted hints in her emotional plea to Andrew about where she wants to meet him. I didn't get those hints myself until she revealed it and I can't be the only one, right? It wasn't the most obvious but when she did say "lost in the woods" my paranoid mind overworked again and thought Alison knew where the girls were anyway and was maybe in on it. I know, I'm just as crazy as the people in Rosewood. My bad. Anyway I didn't think it would be so easy for Alison to trick Andrew, but it definitely worked which I liked actually because the pacing was quite fast in this episode.

When we go back to the girls and they see each other for the first time in weeks as they'd been locked up in their rooms (or taken to other places too I'd imagine), I was really shaking myself. Watching the girls and seeing how emotionally battered they were was quite heartbreaking. It was good too because it opens up so many questions about what happened and it makes me that much more interested in seeing where season six goes. I also love how Charles sort of time-warped them by making them look like their former selves, especially Aria's pink highlights. The scene worked so well as most of it was emphasised by what wasn't said, adding a whole new layer on a messed up situation. The arrival of Alison was an exciting prospect and I would have loved to have seen what Alison would have been like in the dollhouse. It added a new layer of terror too when we realise that Charles won't need Mona anymore. It was so sad when Mona was in the hole and Charles came and she was begging with him. Janel has solidified herself as a genuinely great actress in this episode.


From the moment Alison got back in her car and was instructed to drive, I knew this premiere would end with awesomeness. I honestly didn't think Alison's plan would work but it ended up working out too well. I thought when Caleb and Ezra followed Alison into the woods that they would give it away and ruin any chance of saving the girls, but the Liars timed the fire so brilliantly that it ended up saving them. I loved Spencer taking the girls into Charles' room of memories and then started to torch the place. Game on, Charles! Love that. Literally their timing could not have been more perfect as Caleb, Ezra and Alison heard the alarm and saw the smoke, leading to the much-anticipated reunions of the Liars with their loved ones. I honestly thought the girls would be trapped in the dollhouse for much longer as I. Marlene King suggested, but I'm guessing what she meant was that the ramifications of the dollhouse storyline will last a while. This means PTSD I am sure as the girls will not recover from their ordeal that easy!


A stellar premiere. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it was a better premiere than the last two seasons. Season six is off to a terrific start already and it makes me so excited to watch more. I'm a little worried too though because usually premieres end up being bigger than the follow-up episodes can handle, but with so many new questions buzzing around and the prospect of the dollhouse-saga having huge ramifications, my worry kind of melts away. This episode was filled with great moments - both terrifying and satisfying - and showed the girls really start to take control and fight back. Let's see what the future brings for our pretty little liars.

As a sort-of-related note, I haven't stopped listening to Natasha Bedingfield's song "Unwritten" since the season five finale. Just love it.


Prettiest Little Liar: Alison DiLaurentis. She didn't win this award at all last season and I would have given this to Spencer as she was brilliant in the dollhouse in furthering the girls to freedom, but Alison went out of her way to help the girls.

Most Macho Male: It's a tie with Ezra and Caleb, both joined at the hip in this episode to save the girls.

Biggest Asshole: Andrew. Even though we don't physically see him in this episode, what he wrote about the girls in his journal was messed up!

Favourite Episode Pairing: Caleb and Ezra.

Best Line: "You may be a dude, but you're still a bitch." - Hanna to Charles.

Funniest Line: "Is there anything you can recognise? A smell?" - Mona. "She's not Jenna." - Emily.

Best Moment: The girls set the room alight with Charles' memories in. Wicked move.

Saddest Moment: The girls getting out after three weeks and seeing each other for the first time, shaking.

Creepiest Moment: Aria and Spencer read a note from Mona, saying "He's Going to Kill Me - M" and we see Mona in the hole.

Biggest Question Mark Award: What the hell did Charles do to the girls in those three weeks?

Biggest ReveAl: Sara Harvey has been the replacement Alison for the last 2 years since she went missing - which is crAzy!

A's Mysteries


We got some more tidbit information about Charles in this episode, though not an awful lot that we will crack the case straight away. Spencer mentioned how familiar Charles felt, like they were pen-pals from when they were little. That's an odd thing to come up with but it must have some meaning that Charles is closer to the girls than we think and possibly rooted to their childhood.


There was one behind the glass in the room of memories and one in the control room watching between Alison and the girls. I thought it was just a mannequin behind the glass but he had to be the one to turn the sprinklers on right because the next moment he was gone.

What did you think of the season six premiere, 'Game On, Charles'? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to watch the next new episode on June 9 on ABC Family!

About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of 'Abyssal Sanctuary: Remnants of the Damned'. Gavin joined SpoilerTV in August 2014 and reviews 2 Broke Girls, Mistresses, Orange is the New Black, Pretty Little Liars, Salem, Scream Queens and Sleepy Hollow. Gavin will write previews for Devious Maids and Shadowhunters, and backs-up Empire, The Flash, iZombie, Once Upon a Time, Reign, Scandal and Supergirl. You can contact him at
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