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Pretty Little Liars - Game Over, Charles (Summer Finale) - Review: "Are You Happy That _____ Is A?"


6.10 - "GAME OVER, CHARLES"
Directed by I. Marlene King
Written by I. Marlene King
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

SEASON GUIDE




'GAME OVER, CHARLES' REVIEW

The time finally came to reveal A. Following the cliffhanger of the last episode, my excitement for this episode could not be contained. I knew I had to go into this episode with lowered expectations or I was just going to disappoint myself, but fortunately I did like the episode, and while I was initially a little skeptical by the A reveal, I ended up feeling satisfied by the explanations and some of the answers. I mean, a lot of it makes sense and it made me go "ahhh" several times, but at the same time... you know when you just don't feel fully happy with something and you just have that little leftover feeling of disappointment? What I love and hate about this show is that it makes me feel like this a lot and I always seem to have mixed feelings when it comes to sharing my opinions on an episode. This was a good, dramatic summer finale but I think the thing I'm most disappointed about was that most of it was just standing and talking.

So the big reveal was A, and it's something we have waited for since Mona "handed the game over". I think everybody's money was on Wren (and it wouldn't surprise me if the writers did have Wren as their A guy but had to change it last minute when everyone figured that out) but it was a nice surprise, for me, that it was CeCe Drake. Her grand total of episode is just 12, but enough to make an impression. I didn't really expect CeCe to be Charles as having him transgender was a neat little twist. It didn't shock me to my core like it probably should have, but it still surprised me. By the time she was revealed, I was yelling at the screen to show Charles already. I didn't expect him to be a woman. Just a little before that though, when the girls found the secret room and Sara said she was staying back - that was a major red flag for me. I knew before that something was off with her and now it's confirmed. But I'll get to Red Coat/Black Widow in a bit.

So Charles' backstory was a good one and I was totally drawn into it. It was such a shame that he was really just a product of bad parenting, and Kenneth just sounds more like a dick. Maybe he's the real villain in this story. I do feel for Charles and what he went through as a kid, being locked away for an innocent mistake and basically having your father disown you. It's actually something I can partly relate to. The flashbacks were a huge part of the episode, obviously, and it was a lot to fit into 45 minutes, but CeCe kept talking and the girls kept listening. I didn't mind that so much until the reveal of who killed Toby's mother came on. It was a very good scene and I would have believed it had the timeline matched up. Instead, it must be like 7 years out or something because didn't Marion catch a teenage Toby about to kiss Alison in the season 4 premiere? Aren't CeCe and Bethany older than the other girls, so they shouldn't have been like 12 in the flashback. That didn't make sense, but maybe it was just a momentary lapse by the writers. It's easy to forget storyline dates and how things match up when the show has so much history.

I really enjoyed the flashbacks of Charles after he became a woman. Anybody know how that happened, by the way? Did Mrs. D pay for surgery to turn Charles into Charlotte? Either way, I always liked CeCe's sass and seeing her back to her roots with Jason and with the girls sure was fun to watch. Side note, how fake did that window look that CeCe was looking through after meeting the girls? I think it was some sort of special effect involving a DVD. But I appreciated the effort. I liked when things started to heat up with the story, with Bethany dressing up like CeCe (who had the same clothes as Alison) to hurt the family, but CeCe mistakingly hit Alison with the rock thinking she was Bethany. That was nicely tied up too and made sense due to the same clothes connection. I'm glad that was explained, and that Mona was the one who 'killed' Bethany. I'm quite taken back by her murderous tendencies before she became A. I guess her initial madness had to come from somewhere, and can I just say how happy I am Mona is back in the fold like this. She was missing from this season too much, but I like how she remained on the sidelines keeping watch and trying to solve the mystery by keeping tabs on Alison and Charles.

Flashing back to Mona in Radley too was awesome and explaining how doped up she was that she couldn't remember it was CeCe who visited her, instead mistaking her for Alison. It makes total sense and restores my faith in Mona a little bit more. I found a few of the things Mona has said in the past few episodes shady and I worried she was back on the A Team, but faith restored. My heart was a little in my mouth when CeCe talked about Mona running Hanna over with the car. I thought maybe Hanna would ignore Mona and keep her anger to herself, but instead, when Mona apologised, she said "I know." Hanna has grown up so much and I like that she's moved past that. Here's to Hanna and Mona being besties again five years in the future. It also makes sense that, since she stole the game from Mona when she was at Radley, that her explanation would be that she was getting revenge for her family. Mona, being so out of it and fresh off her A hit, would have said so much stuff about the girls to CeCe, and that the girls were glad Alison was gone. CeCe loved her sister so I can understand that she would want revenge for that. Nobody talks trash about a DiLaurentis, right? Then I absolutely loved the flashbacks to season 3 during the fire when Alison saved them. It all made total sense there what CeCe did and trying to find her sister. The relief on her face that she was alive was genuinely moving and as much as I hate what CeCe has done, I see that she's done it all for Alison. But then we have the reveal that Sara Harvey is Red Coat and I am not surprised at all. We've only really known Sara for 10 episodes now so I'm not invested there and I knew something was fishy about her. But still, I guess it gets rid of that identity problem.

Sara saying she's not a bad person was also an interesting moment. She has done so much to the girls and put them in some life-threatening situations but I liked how she turned it around and said she would never hurt them. "I love all my dolls." It's also true that the girls are still standing and stuff, but CeCe can't say she's not a bad person when her actions in the past have suggested otherwise. She did drive a car into Emily's house. She did almost kill Aria and Spencer in the freezer. The girls may still be standing but it wasn't her that saved the girls from the freezer, or saved the others when she's put them in those situations. It's just been dumb luck. They would be dead had the show been realistic, really. I wasn't expecting the killing of Wilden confession. Black Widow being Sara too was disappointing to me too. I wasn't the biggest fan of her being Red Coat but having her as Black Widow too just seemed like two birds, one stone. I wanted to be shocked but I never really was. I think by this time I've had enough of talking and apparently the girls have too as they leave to go to Radley. I loved when Spencer was working out A's exit and her deduction skills to finding where that exit is. Classic Spencer. We also find out that CeCe found Mrs. D already dead. Do we know who killed Jessica? I actually can't remember if we know but I don't think we do. But there's finally some more action when the girls arrive at Radley and see Sara setting up the bomb. It's pretty neat how Spencer can deactivate a bomb. I never knew she had the ability to do that but I guess this girl keeps surprising me at every turn. If she wasn't a victim of A, she could totally have been A. Best part of the episode? Emily smacking Sara right in the face. It's about time Emily caught up to her bullshit and called her out on it... with violence. Enough is enough, right Emily? Sara got what she deserved, yet I can't help feeling like maybe Emily forgives her and gets back together with her or something in five years.

I am so glad CeCe didn't kill herself. Now she will be in jail and it gives the characters time to visit her and whatnot. I can imagine Alison feeling sorry for her and going to visit her often, forging a new bond. That would be interesting to see. If Mona can redeem herself, then surely CeCe can. I just love CeCe as a character, I find her complex and witty and just thrilling to watch. I thought for a moment she would jump, but her "game over" was brilliant. Skip to Labor Day Weekend and we have the girls saying goodbye to each other. I teared up during this scene like so much. I know we won't have to suffer through the girls being apart since the show jumps ahead, but it's still so emotional. Makes me realise that in a year and a half, I'll be saying goodbye to these girls and it's going to be so hard. I'm ready for the show to end but at the same time, I'll be devastated to see these girls go from my TV screens forever. It was a very beautiful scene and shows just how much they care for each other, just before we go into the last leg of the show.

Five Years Later. To be honest, I thought they were going to do it a little like Desperate Housewives and give us a tiny glimpse into what the girls are like five years in the future. Fortunately they didn't as they began in the middle of some action. Alison, who is now a teacher at Rosewood High and also MARRIED to a Mr. Rollins (or maybe she didn't finish the sentence since she was interrupted), is apparently in danger. She has called Aria, Spencer, Emily and Hanna back to Rosewood to help her, and they come running into the classroom saying "he's coming for you!" But, uh-oh, he's already arrived. Just who is it? I'm thinking maybe it's just her husband and they're having a fight, and they've made it look way more dramatic than it is. I'm only saying that because I don't want to get my hopes up that it's going to be something amazingly delicious.

EPISODE VERDICT

I was expecting fireworks, and while we did get a little bit of a bang, it wasn't nearly the display I thought we would be getting. It was a very good episode, I have to say, even if a lot of people are too disappointed to say they liked it. I certainly liked it, but I can also see where those people are coming from. Not every answer was revealed (as shown in an interview Marlene King had to do to clear some things up) but it was enough as to not fill up an already bloated summer finale. Not the best summer finale, even with the high stakes reveal, but certainly not the worst. As much as I wasn't shocked to the core about CeCe being A, I do like that she is as her story makes sense and her connections to the girls. There are some major plot holes, like Toby's mother's death, but this episode did the best it could considering the circumstances. Perhaps if I went in with even lower expectations, it might have thrilled me more than it did. The ending leaves me with enough intrigue to look forward to the show's return in 2016, so it's done it's job right there. This episode could have been more but it never seemed to hit that mark.


EPISODE AWARDS

Prettiest Little Liar: Spencer, for locating the exit to the hidden room and disabling the bomb. She really should think of working for the CIA or something.

Boyfriend Material: There wasn't actually a strong male presence in this episode as none of the boyfriends were in it and Jason and Kenneth were paralysed on the floor.

Biggest Asshole: CeCe Drake for all the things she's done just because she didn't like that the girls were glad Alison was gone.

Most Sympathetic Character: In a way, CeCe. A victim of bad parenting, it's not her fault.

Favourite Episode Pairing: CeCe and Alison. I like their chemistry, hopefully Alison visits CeCe in jail five years in the future a.k.a. present day now.

Best Line: Spencer - "How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?" Emily - "What brilliant scholar said that?" Spencer - "Winnie the Pooh!"

Funniest Line: Hanna - "Isn't that what we're all thinking?" Everyone - "No!"

Best Moment: Emily punches Sara in the face.

Saddest Moment: The girls say goodbye to each other before departing.

Creepiest Moment: Alison sees her father on the floor, and Jason, thinking they're dead.

Shadiest Moment: Sara saying she was going to stay back and not enter the room. Red flags started there.

Damned Disappointment: I don't know how to put my finger on it but I guess some of the answers were a little unsatisfactory, such as the timeline screw-up of Toby's mother's death.

Biggest Question Mark Award: Are the moms still down in the basement? We still don't know who locked them in!

Biggest ReveAl: CeCe is Charles/Charlie/Charlotte/A.


What did you think of the summer finale, 'Game Over, Charles'? Satisfied with the answers? Reeling at more questions? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and be sure to check back when Pretty Little Liars returns January 2016 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 gavin@spoilertv.com.
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