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Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists - Sex, Lies, and Alibis - Review: "Bring it on, bitch" + POLL



Previously on PLL The Perfectionists:
Former manipulating queen bee turned presumed dead girl turned reformed respectable English teacher lands a job in the same university as the girl whose life she ruined as a teenager (and ended up paying for it by getting framed for her fake murder), and that's just what happened BEFORE the spin off even started. In the pilot episode of PLLTP, we are introduced to the baby liars who want their leader dead, but should be very careful about what they wish for. Alison wants to helps them before they crack under the pressure while Mona has managed to upload her consciousness onto the entire campus security network achieving true omniscience.
Baby liars:
Under tragic circumstances, Nolan Hotchkiss, was pushed off a roof and somehow landed exactly on one of the fence spikes instead of splatting straight down. Ava can't hold back her tears or suspicions towards Caitlin. We're treated to various gratuitous awkward supercuts of Ava and Nolan from literally one episode ago while Ava sobs and looks out the window staring in her own sad music video, or recreating that scene from Twilight where Bella sits in front of a window for a year.

Our girl is not doing well but grief is a good look on her and I'm not just talking about her outrageous funeral outfit (As Ashley Marin once said, "it's a funeral not a Nicki Minaj concert". Frankly, Ava's a lot more entertaining when she snaps and throws shade at everyone.

Everyone is dealing with the loss differently, Dylan is having recurring flashbacks of hooking up with Nolan, to his boyfriend's distress who's clueless about the hooking up and blackmailing. Dylan jokes that it's very Nolan to haunt everyone in life and death. Now that's immortality my darlings. Andrew is worried about how incriminating Dylan's Agatha Cristie essay sounds and that's a question the show is posing for its viewers. Were they right to want Nolan dead or even murder him? Like a true liar, Dylan is keeping his mouth shut about everything.

Caitlin stresses over her own essay and how "Miss Dilaurentis" saw right through it because apparently in this university if you write an essay defending a certain viewpoint your TA will automatically assume you're going to apply it in real life and murder someone. She's also dealing with a lot of guilt, partly for predicting Nolan's death down to the exact fence spike but mostly for being happy he's dead and gone.

Her incredibly dull token British boyfriend, Jeremy, encourages her to enjoy being free from Nolan's secrets and just live her life. He tells her all sitting backwards in her car trying to feed her tater tots, can he leave? Caitlin tells him she's tired of sneaking around and only going on car dates but that's all she keeps getting. Girl this guy’s such a bore, boot.

With Nolan dead, our baby liars find themselves liberated but confused. Where do they stand with each other now that they don't have to pretend to be friends? Dylan is the first to reach out and try to get to know his fellow murder suspects better and ends up very amused with Caitlin's quirks (Apparently in Dylan's eyes taking 3 sugars in your coffee is a quirk). The two are together when news breaks out that Nolan's death was indeed a homicide which obviously spells trouble for them, so they rush to Ava's.

They sneak up on her while she’s asleep to tell her they didn’t kill Nolan but she is not hearing it. What’s becoming apparent is that our baby liars are not actually friends, they're only fake friends out of convenience who have to keep close keep their alibis straight. So now they start blackmailing each other into keeping up the posse act at least until the funeral, where they enter hand-in-hand in the trademark slow-motion funeral montage. PLL parallels everywhere!

Nolan’s mom asks for Caitlin to be in the front while Ava silently resents her for pretending to be the grieving widow. After the service, they all get a text, and 7 years of PLL has trained my brain to associate texts with an immediate threat. But it's not A, it's Alison who's always watching over her babies.

You can also cross "mysterious new character arrives in the funeral to cause more drama" from your PLL funeral bingo because Mason, Nolan's handsome childhood friend (and possible murder suspect) comes to offer his condolences and Dylan can't keep his eyes off of him. He's no Jenna Marshall or Shower Harvey but I'll take it. Detective Booker (played by Klea Scott) also introduces herself after the service as we finally meet our antagonist!


While I am deeply saddened that Roma Mafia's Linda Tanner did not get assigned the case of the Hotchkiss murder, it looks like Detective Booker is just as dead set on catching these liars and to make matters worse, it's the same detective who was after Ava's dad. Just like the original liars, our babies love to discuss the murder they're being framed for in public, for everyone to overhear.

As for Mason, he also turns out to be Caitlin's ex and offers his condolences to her, as well as an alibi, while Dylan does some sleuthing in the Hotchkiss mansion to find Nolan's stash of secrets before the cops do. He stumbles upon the first flower he sees labelled "Rosa Taylor" but instead finds a note from someone who already found them and is taunting him for.

That same person may have been lurking behind them during Nolan's vigil when they heard someone whisper "It’s just like you imagined it”. Seriously, this new A has no subtlety or class. Realising that someone's officially trying to set them up the liars return to the scene of their murder fantasising in the woods, and find a gum wrapper. A key PLL clue if I've ever seen one. Ava admits that she feels completely abandoned without anyone on her side and makes one more step towards accepting her newfound allies' help, and she's gonna need it...

Original Liars
The pilot barely scratched the surface of what's in store for our queens because this is officially the Mona and Ali show, ride or die. In the aftermath of someone dying on Alison's first week as a TA, our original liars lean on each other to make sense of things. The episode starts off with Alison receiving a text from the grave, which could mean a lot of things: is this another -A type situation? Did someone get hold of Nolan's phone to try and frame Alison?

Alison wastes no time and rushes to Mona, hoping she was the one behind it. She finds Mona channelling her adrenalised hyper-reality (or as Ali calls it "her beautiful mind") to solve Nolan's murder using differential equations. Mona is aggressively scribbling and humming the Teddy Bear's picnic, worried she inadvertently caused his death. These two catching a killer together, it just works so well.

See when Mona said "by my calculations, he could be dangerous" she literally meant that using her self-made algorithm she was able to predict that he could push someone to their breaking point enough for them to push him off a roof. She knew he could make someone snap but of course, she kept that to herself so as not to upset her employer, Miss Hotchkiss.


Throughout the episode Alison checks in on her girlfriend, bringing her favourite pie and making sure she's not letting her self spiral out of control... even if that means literally slapping some sense into Mona.

Mona lets out a Vanderjesus grin as she's suddenly reminded of the old Alison, the one who tormented her, sure, but also the one who inspired her, the girl whom she modelled herself after. While Mona tries to solve the murder with her code, Alison is wondering why the hell the world doesn't revolve around her. While the baby liars are worried they're being framed, Alison is determined she's the one who's being targeted.

Mona tells Ali to stop being a wuss and channel her old alpha-bitch persona, the one who used to "rule the world because she played her own rules". Like all of us, Mona isn't buying Alison's reformed act for a second and if they're really back in Rosewood all over again she thinks their only chance is to be themselves.

Alison's confession of caring for Mona and not wanting to see her hurt like due to her mental health makes her radiate with joy because all she really ever wanted was Alison's approval and love. They attend the funeral together, keeping an eye over their baby liars and discover that there was a convenient security black-out during the time of the murder which not only gives Alison the perfect alibi, but also confirms that the text sent to her was from Nolan himself asking to meet her.

Back at home, Alison gets scared to death by a drunk Claire Hotchkiss who's been sitting in the dark waiting for her. The level of professionalism in this university! Alison gets to hear more about the story of Taylor, which is almost identical to the story of the old Alison; the all perfect blonde girl who started getting paranoid over threats and no one believed her until she had to fake her death and disappear. She now lives in her house, has her job, and her boss even reminds her of her own mother, the late Mrs Dilaurentis. Buried any children in your backyard lately? They share a heart to heart as Alison offers her condolences and promises to take Mrs Hotchkiss's advice, and continue to inspire her students with her survivor's instinct. After all, that's why she was hired.

The very last scene is a culmination of every gear turning for Alison to ditch her goody-too-shoes and bring back her scheming Vivian Darkbloom redcoat. Detective Booker, the campus security agent, calls in the three liars for interrogation, Alison swoops in to protect them by making up a story of them meeting her at her house the night of the murder. As the Detective leaves, semi-convinced, Alison stares her down as Sasha Pieterse gives her most flawless teenage queen bitch look and mutters "Bring it on, bitch".

Play this at my funeral, put it on my tombstone, I am the new (old) Alison Dilaurentis’s biggest stan. No longer tied down by boring boyfriends or twins, the PLL student has become the PLL master and like the baby liars, I'm shook.

Category is:

Iconic line: “It felt like I was being buried alive one shovel of dirt at a time” Alison knows a thing or two about that, Dylan.

Killer look: Mona's bedazzled bow on her funeral dress. She's wrapped like the gift to humanity that she truly is.

Queer eye: Mona assures Alison she has a life here, even picking up a hobby by playing chess with someone weekly. "Who's the guy... or girl?" Alison asks. That's right, Alison has done us all a favour and put it out there that Mona's sexuality is still up to interpretation. These two will be making out by the end of the season, mark my words, this is our Killing Eve moment.

Suspect rankings: Do not get sidetracked by the screaming red herring that is Mason. I've started to build a case for why Taylor Hotchkiss did it. Was it not incredibly suspicious when Claire said that the Hotchkiss siblings never turned on each other? And wouldn't it make sense that Nolan would mistake Taylor for Alison when he asked her to meet him on the roof?

Verdict
Rating: 4.5/5 times I sobbed when Mona called Hanna because she misses her... the PLL dream lives on! And apparently, Spencer and Toby eloped? Way to go Marlene, tactfully sneaking that one last endgame into the spin-off. Am I mad that the only original ship that didn't make it was the only queer one? Perhaps, but I agree to let that go if Mona and Alison end up as the true endgame.

Episode 2 confirms what I already suspected, I love this show. I love that it's fully committed to exploring the new side to our original queens' relationship, and I've even started to tolerate the baby liars. What about you? Is PLL:The Perfectionists worthy of its title? Let us know in the poll and comments below!


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