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Pretty Little Liars - The DArkest Knight (Summer Finale) - Review: "#PLLDeathTrap is a Trap!"


7.10 - "THE DARKEST KNIGHT"
Directed by Arlene Sanford
Written by I. Marlene King and Maya Goldsmith
Reviewed by Gavin Hetherington

SEASON GUIDE





'THE DARKEST KNIGHT' REVIEW

THE FINAL EVER SUMMER FINALE

I'm sad. A little sad, anyway. And I'm rather torn up about this episode, as per usual. I came in with realistic expectations and I think it helped with my enjoyment of the episode - because I did like it, very much so. Better than 'Game Over, Charles', most definitely, as they weren't just standing around talking. No, this episode had a lot more thrills and tense sequences, which are usually my favourite parts of Pretty Little Liars. But with the positives, come the negatives of such a big concept episode. Marlene promised us a most spectacular death, and I was quick to jump the gun and assume that the death would be someone I'd care about - or would be someone close to the Liars. Instead, it turns out the death was just like the first 2 big deaths of the season, so it really did not separate this episode from any that came prior. A lot of predictable outcomes and a few questionable decisions by the writers - but all in all, a good enough summer finale that will keep me watching the final 10 episodes.

"I'M PREGNANT"

A few revelations happened in the course of 42 minutes, and one of them was Alison revealing she is pregnant. It was foretold by a lot of people who took Alison being sick at school as a sign of pregnancy - well guys you were so right! I was still taken back by the way it unfolded, when Alison just blurted it out to Emily who had just come to take up a spare bed. The entire Emison interaction here did feel rather forced, and I can't help but wonder what goes through Emily's head - she is seeing Sabrina, right? Have I got that totally wrong? Because Emily is caught between Sabrina, Alison and Paige at the minute, and I think we all know she would choose Alison over everyone else. I do quite like Alison and Emily together, but I don't want it to happen like this. It's very dishonest of Emily, and it feels like she is just playing the field because she expects everyone to be okay with it.

I could then understand Paige's frustration, even though I still find her to be rather sketchy. It was pretty hilarious to see Alison's reaction to Paige being inside Spencer's house, telling Emily that she is using this to get close to her, only for Paige to sort of have the same argument later outside Alison's house. Both girls are competing for Emily's affection, and for once, Emily will need to make a decision herself. Will she ever cut her strings? Possibly not. But I agreed with Alison about Paige, and I agreed with Paige about Alison, so I'm a rather conflicted mess right now about the whole thing. But it also helps that I really couldn't care less anymore about Emily's love life, and the only important thing Emily did in this episode happened to be her leaving her phone at the worst time imaginable.

POOR ARIA

Well, I couldn't help but feel sorry for this one in this episode. It seemed like things were perking up for her - Nicole hadn't been found, and Ezra was on his way back to her. This led to her making their home look all nice and ready for him, only for him to be a no-show. When she was on the phone, worrying that his plane would have landed hours ago but there was no sign of him, that maybe he died. I was secretly hoping that would have been the case. I'm all for romance but I was hoping the big death of the episode would shock me that the writers would actually do it. Boy, I was wrong. It's what I get for hoping for something rather sadistic, because they would never take that risk. And for Aria, this return of Nicole will open up so many more doors for her - I hope.

But what a shot in the face for Aria when she sees, on the news, the reunion of Ezra and Nicole. That's just cruel, right there. I am rather surprised the Ezria fans didn't get some solace in this episode, and instead, the chase for the Ezria endgame continues. I'm happy she is alive - only because this will have a lot of storyline possibilities in 7B. Will Ezra bring her to Rosewood? Does this mean Ezra will be out of the picture for a little while, giving Aria some space to be like she was in the last episode (which I preferred)? It's such a complicated predicament for all parties, so this could either go horribly wrong or horribly right. I'm ready to watch the fireworks.

MONA'S BACK, BITCHES

One of the things this summer finale did right was bring back Mona. It's been excruciating not having her around, and she continues to prove herself as the Liars' best ally. Everything she did, everything she said in this episode was just pure Mona magic. I loved that Hanna phoned her about the abduction of Noel Kahn, rather than the others, because she knows Mona could sort it. "Next time, call me before you go on the run and abduct someone, makes my life so much easier." Girl I love you. I also loved her tailing Jenna too, and the scene with Caleb was a small, but pretty great moment, as they sat in silence and she gave him the sugar and whatnot. Just perfectly executed. I shouldn't have been surprised that Sydney was pretending to be Jenna in that moment, since her return was known, but I forgot about her completely, so it was a nice surprise for me when she takes down the hood. Girl looks so much like Jenna with the glasses on.

GOODBYE, TOBY

After a couple of years of disliking Toby and Spencer together, which probably happened around early season 4, I finally started to really ship Spoby again. What a bittersweet way of saying goodbye, and Spencer has always been the best at saying goodbye (like when she quoted Winnie the Pooh to the girls). I didn't expect her to ask him for one last kiss, to say goodbye. So hard to watch, yet it felt right, you know? Like this is supposed to happen. I would have been fine if Toby had never come back, and was the high school sweetheart that got away (because not everything in life is that perfect), but instead, the writers decide to have a car crash out of nowhere, showing a very bloody Toby and Yvonne. It was just too forced, a way to keep Toby in Rosewood, and to get rid of Yvonne so Spoby can happen. I seriously hope they don't kill Yvonne, because that would make it a huge cop-out to get Spoby back together. I'm not about that life, and I do want Spoby to reunite, but not in this way. It would be awful.

THE #PLLDEATHTRAP BEGINS

The main juice of the episode, though, is Hanna's decision to kidnap Noel and the consequences of that very reckless decision. I'm very glad Hanna decided to go rouge, as it led to the tense and anti-climactic final 10 minutes of the episode. The whole investigation that kept the girls in police protection was a nice touch, because I loved their plan of getting out by recording them having a conversation, to meet Noel and Jenna on Elm Street (horror film fans will see right through that). Hanna soon realised her mistake that Noel is not Mary Drake's other child, but he is still involved in the dollhouse, so Hanna really should have settled for that. Instead, she made yet another mistake by keeping him hostage, only to find out he is not A.D. either. Again, though, I can't fault her for making this bad decision.

It wouldn't be a PLL finale without some kind of isolated location where a lot of fun and madness could ensue, and even a little chase that ends badly. I loved the location, and it reminded me of a Halloween episode of the show (I do miss those episodes now). School of the Blind? Creepy as, and it was very clear that Jenna was behind most of it. I was pleasantly surprised to see Mary Drake lurking in the place too, as I was wondering where she had gone. I hope the girls had the sense to copy the files on the drive before they headed there, because if not, then that's the second time they lost it when they had every opportunity to keep a copy for future use. Or they should have held onto it, until they got the camera back in a fair trade.

A HEADLESS NOEL

Okay, so while I was hoping for a bigger death, when Marlene said it would be the most extravagant death of the series - I'm pretty sure decapitation is right up there. I was just a little disappointed by the whole scene. It was scary enough, with the girls separated, and Hanna and Emily upstairs with Noel trying to find them. It really wasn't hard, but the scene was over before it even really began. I loved the axe that Noel had, it added a sense of danger like a good ol' horror film. But then a tiny little fight ended with Noel being pushed by Emily to have his head sliced off. It's so morbid and I love it in theory, but I was hoping for a bigger, more chaotic fight. It was just a little too easy. His head rolling down the stairs and Jenna kicking it unknowingly was rather hilarious.

But I did love how tense it was for the other girls, when Jenna is walking around pointing a gun, not able to see them. It's a terrifying concept, because she could do anything with it, but it could have also been so easy for one of them to karate-chop the gun out of her hands when she was nearby, or tackled her to the floor. But I enjoyed how tense it all was, from the very dark lighting so the girls had to sort of get a sense of what it's like to be Jenna, to the walking up the stairs and what soon followed. I love Jenna, and I was so glad she wasn't the death after all. It would have been more impactful, for me at least, if it was her and not Noel, because I'm just glad he's dead, without feeling any sort of devastation by it. But Jenna, she's going to be in 7B now, and I'm excited for that, especially after what she did next.

SPENCER DRAKE

When Jenna shot someone, and all I could hear was screaming during the whole commotion, I really loved it. Finally, some true danger for the girls, and it became clear that the liar she shot was Spencer, when the girls had no idea where she was. Seeing her crawl on the ground (some of it from the promo) was so intense and it had my heart in my mouth, in all honesty. While I know she won't die, the fact that she was shot and crawling on the ground for her life was still shocking and painful to watch. Only to then have Mary Drake come out of the shadows to tend to her, and the girls to run up the stairs and join her with their devastated, shocked reactions - it was all so great to watch. Again, Spencer being Mary's child was predicted, but I still loved how it was revealed, with Mary singing "Hush Little Baby", to tell her "I'm your mother". They really shouldn't have had Spencer open that family album a few episodes back - that was just a dead giveaway. But great scene and great end to the episode.

But wait, there's a bit more! Jenna was pulled into a truck by someone - someone even she doesn't know. This someone is A.D., so at least we finally got some kind of physical interaction with this person, just in time for the credits to roll. It's not Mary, it's not Jenna, or Noel, or Sara, but someone entirely different. Cue the theories (which I'm sure half of them will be spot on). Wren, maybe? I don't know, but I did love how this episode ended, despite a lot of predictable outcomes. Spencer is going to survive, we know that, Toby will probably survive, and Yvonne will probably die. But there's a lot of questions opened up at the end of this, but unlike the ending of 6x10, where there wasn't a definite end in sight, I wasn't left frustrated or angry. Instead, I'm excited, because we are going into the final run, and we will get the answers we need in these next 10 episodes. No more beating around the bush, this is it. This is the end.

EPISODE VERDICT

I'm going to be rather lenient against Pretty Little Liars, because of the predictable outcomes that happened in this final ever summer finale. To be honest, a lot of it was only because I had read fan theories that almost always turn out to be right. I guess that's partly my fault, but in this case, some of it was from my own analysis of 7A. I do like how things tie together, even if it becomes predictable, it just means it makes sense, and PLL is usually known for making no sense. A lot of tense action to put this above the last mid-season finale, though some of those tense moments ended in such an anti-climactic way that I couldn't help but feel somewhat disappointed, despite trying to keep my expectations at a reasonable level. 10 episodes to go now, and I am still excited to see how this one ends.


EPISODE AWARDS

Prettiest Little Liar: Mona Vanderwaal. I just wish she had of been in the School for the Blind too, she would have shown Jenna AND Noel who rules PLL.

Boyfriend Material: Toby Cavanaugh.

Biggest Asshole: Noel Kahn. He got what he deserved, but I'm still disappointed in that respect.

Most Sympathetic Character: Jenna Marshall. She's an asshole alright, and she shot Spencer, but I like her drive for revenge. She's never going to forgive them, ever.

Favourite Episode Pairing: Hanna and Mona!!

Best Line: Jenna: "Tonight, you get to be me."

Funniest Line: Alison: "To quote my dead husband 'karma's a bitch'"

Best Moment: Jenna walks with the gun in the house - the tense levels were through the roof.

Saddest Moment: Mary Drake cradling Spencer as she bled.

Creepiest Moment: Emily picks up the baby doll.

Shadiest Moment: Paige blowing up at Emily - I still can't fully trust her.

Funniest Moment: None.

Damned Disappointment: The #PLLDeathTrap was certainly not the big death I anticipated.

Biggest Question Mark Award: Are they really going to kill Toby?

Biggest ReveAl: Spencer is Mary Drake's child, though it was predicted.

What did you think of last night's summer finale? Did you love it? Hate it? Let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments and join me in an agonising 8 month wait for the final 10 episodes, airing in April on Freeform!



About the Author - Gavin Hetherington
SpoilerTV Senior Staff Writer and award-winning author of the 'Abyssal Sanctuary' series. Gavin joined SpoilerTV in August 2014 and, as of 2016-17, reviews Pretty Little Liars and Salem. Previously, he reviewed 2 Broke Girls, Devious Maids, Mistresses and Sleepy Hollow. Gavin also writes special anniversary articles, most recently for Charmed and Desperate Housewives. You can contact him at gavin@spoilertv.com.
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