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Pretty Little Liars - Tick-Tock, Bitches (Season Premiere) - Review: "The Clock is Ticking on PLL"


7.01 - "TICK-TOCK, BITCHES"
Directed by Ron Lagomarsino
Written by I. Marlene King
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

SEASON GUIDE





'TICK-TOCK, BITCHES' REVIEW

"When it ends up like this, it's called first degree murder."

This could be the final ever season premiere guys, and upon reflection, that makes me really sad - but also happy, because I loved this season premiere. I didn't love it as much as, perhaps, 'Game On, Charles', but if this is the final season, they started it off right. We all knew Hanna would be alright, though the writers did try and throw a few curveballs to throw us off. We're way smarter than that, and the whole #SaveHanna campaign was a bit of a useless campaign. I did, however, enjoy the chase, and the 24-hour format, which it had some pitfalls, was a nice change to a regular episode. It added some kind of urgency, and the very opening scene of season 7 begins in a way that may be familiar to us fans of Desperate Housewives. Remember when the ladies of Wisteria Lane helped cover up Alejandro's murder in the season 8 premiere? Housewives began its final season with them burying the body, just as Pretty Little Liars is ending its run with an opening of grave-digging. I'm not complaining too much, as I did like it, and I am wondering whose murder they are covering up 4 days after the events of the premiere?


"You've got 24 hours to give me Charlotte's real killer or Hanna dies. Tick-tock, bitches."

So the 24 hours begin when the girls, along with Mona, Caleb, Toby and Ezra, find 'Hanna' hanging in the Belltower. For a moment, I thought it was Hanna, but I knew she wasn't actually hanging because it was tied around her body, so I thought she'd wake up, and it was just a warning to the girls. But then, they pulled off the face of this 'corpse' to find a doll, and this whole dead body thing is just a cruel joke by A.D. Still not finding these extremely realistic masks believable, and it's kind of killing my perception of reality in this show. Though I guess Spencer said it best in Hanna's dream, I still want some dose of believability in these 'mask' scenes that seem to be popping up all the time now. I did love their reactions when they saw her hanging though, and it was rather heart-wrenching for them to think, even for a minute, that their friend was dead. I doubt they'd ever kill any of the mains off at this point, so it's good to see how they'd react if one of them did die.

"I don't need to know what we are tonight, I just need to be with you."

I love the sense of teamwork in this episode, including the involvement of Mona, which allows some dynamics to shift as they go off into little groups to collectively work together. Aria and Ezra, who I would consider Daphne and Fred, decide to go to Alison's house to see if they can find the red jacket. They're mission is thwarted by Eliot Rollins, who comes in and causes them to hide in the closet. It is a rather creepy moment, especially when he's locating a secret key and later pulls out a huge saw. This guy is just strange on another level. I couldn't really care all that much for the Ezria scenes, but I did love how they escaped just before he looked inside the closet - very horror movie type stuff. Aria going off to Snookers to find the British or Aussie guy was a good little scene for her to ride solo, especially when B26 started playing. It kinda hit me too, even though this is another couple I'm pretty much over, but the memories were all flooding back to me due to the big shout-outs to the very first premiere, while this could be the very last.

"You should lock this door, these days you're not safe anywhere."

I can't mention Spencer without mentioning how rude Caleb was in this episode. He was pretty much a dick. I felt like we took a step back with his character, even though I can kinda understand his intent on finding Hanna, but he's such a bitch when he's stressed. What I love about Spencer in this episode, is kinda how much I felt Spoby was getting back on track too, as well as her scene with Mary Drake. Firstly, though, when she and Toby are breaking into the room at the Lost Woods Resort, I really felt the chemistry rekindle, which began in the season 6 finale. It's not just a fluke, and I am starting to like Toby a bit more again after he sorta derailed. I like all of the investigations into Mary Drake too, with the reveal that she flew into Philadelphia one week before Charlotte died, which is rather suspicious, but she's most likely not the killer anyway. She's travelled the world a lot too, which comes in handy when she wants to speak all these languages that Spencer is also starting to understand. It made me feel like Spencer should have been her daughter instead.

"I was born first, and she was born jealous."

I really loved the scene with Mary Drake though, and I felt like a lot of things she said was just rich with subtle subtext. "I know enough about your family to know they are excellent secret-keepers." There's going to be a huge past here, one that will need so much more exploration, and I really hope the writers can make it coherent and understandable without confusing the plot. It seems Mary was responsible for a child while it died while she was babysitting, causing her to go in and out of Radley, and that Jessica turned everyone against her. I'm sensing a lot of sibling tension here, just like we kind of can with Spencer and Melissa, who Jessica even notes they "look like twins." See what I mean about the subtext? It's rather straight-forward yet hard to really decipher. I am loving the arrival of Mary Drake, as bizarre as it is to see what looks like Jessica to be alive. Her make-up and hair look very Gothic too, which is a good style choice I guess. More dark and unfriendly.

"We're about to hand over one of our own for another."

Emily usually involves herself with Alison these days, and it's clear she's the one who thinks of Alison the most. While most of Emily's scenes didn't move the plot forward, including a rather useless scene with Sabrina, the finding of the red jacket, as well as the tearing of her emotions between friends, was rather pleasant to watch and gave Emily some kind of use. I hope she is involved more in the mystery this year in that she's given a lot more to do, as I have felt Emily has been underused a lot in the past now. This could potentially be Emily's chance to shine, and I desperately want her to shine. I enjoyed Alison's "crazy" scenes in Radley, and the suspicious Dr. Rollins is becoming more and more villainous. Not only was Hanna getting tortured, but Alison too. It looks like Uber A, A-moji, A.D., whatever, has a thing against blondes. What I want to see is Emily help Alison get out of this mess, and give her something very worthwhile to do. She's obviously got it wrong when Alison asked for forgiveness in her crazed stupor, so she needs to start thinking more logically from now on.

"You can't leave me in here, I'm begging you!"

Hanna had it the hardest this episode, as we all expected coming into this. While the "dead" Hanna was an obvious red herring, the torturing of her in the barn was rather psychotic. I have no idea what the guy was spraying on her (petrol? just water?), but it didn't look pleasant. What I found rather creepy was the Spencer dream, as nice as it also was that she inspired Hanna to start finding a way out. At first, I thought it was someone with one of those stupid masks, but the dream made more sense. I loved that it was Spencer she dreamed of, and I loved the words of wisdom Spencer gave her about reality and dreams. I couldn't make some sense of it myself, but it helped a lot. Why did she have to start singing Hush Little Baby though? It just made it so much more creepy, but in an unnecessary way. Regardless, she encouraged Hanna to find her way out of that barn, even if it did mean she would end up on the road with Mary Drake! I liked this 'ending' of Hanna's story in this episode, as it means she's not completely out of danger just yet.

"I'm gonna make sure you live a long life... rotting away in here."

Just to quickly mention - that ending with Dr. Rollins! Did his accent change at the end there - do we think he could be Wren in a mask? I think that's just totally outrageous and bizarre and it would be far too much if he does turn out to be Wren in a mask, but I still can't tell if his accent changes when he delivers that above line? All throughout the episode he creeped me out, and I really can't wait for his downfall. He didn't have much interaction with Mary Drake, unless he is the "British" guy on the phone to her that they tried to track. And what was the big-ass saw for? Who is he planning on using that on - or to construct something? My mind may be a little too morbid and he could just be building something, but I wouldn't put it past this creep.

EPISODE VERDICT

I really enjoyed this season seven premiere! Thinking it could be the last one, it does add a sense of finality to it, and a sense of hope that all the answers I'm searching for will be answered in the next 19 episodes. I loved all of the girls storylines - even Emily's, who found use in finding the red jacket. But, I usually do end up loving the premieres/finales more than the middle episodes these days, so I can only hope the season doesn't fall to pieces in the next few episodes. Please remain consistent, season 7!

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EPISODE AWARDS

Prettiest Little Liar: Spencer Hastings.

Boyfriend Material: Toby kinda grew on me in this episode.

Biggest Asshole: Caleb, actually. I know he was trying to help but he was rather rude.

Most Sympathetic Character: Hanna, poor girl is going through Hell... again!

Favourite Episode Pairing: There are some Spoby feels still lingering in my bosom here, even if I have been over them for the better part of a year and a half now.

Best Line:"Something real is actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact [...] A dream is an experience, and an experience is real." - Spencer Hastings.

Funniest Line: "Calling me names isn't complimentary." - Mona Vanderwaal. It's really not funny, but there are no funny lines in this episode really.

Best Moment: Hanna escapes the barn and is on the run, but runs into Mary Drake.

Saddest Moment: Hanna's dream and her conversation with Spencer - "I'm scared Spence".

Creepiest Moment: Aria and Ezra in the closet while Elliot comes in, acting all creepy.

Shadiest Moment: Mary Drake's conversation with Spencer.

Funniest Moment: There were none in this episode.

Damned Disappointment: How long is it going to take before we find out who the girls are burying?

Biggest Question Mark Award: Who is it that the girls are burying at the start? Elliot?

Biggest ReveAl: Mary Drake is the one driving the car when she finds Hanna.

What did you think of the season seven premiere? Did it live up to your expectations? Let me know your thoughts on the first episode of season seven in the comments and tune into the next episode, airing on Freeform on June 28th!



About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
Award-winning author of the 'Abyssal Sanctuary' series. As Senior Staff, Gavin joined SpoilerTV in August 2014 and reviews Dead of SummerDevious Maids, Mistresses, Pretty Little Liars and Salem. Gavin will write previews for Empire and Shadowhunters, and backs-up Once Upon a Time, Reign and Scandal. Gavin also writes special anniversary articles, most recently Charmed. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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