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Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists - The Ghost Sonata - Review: "That which we call a rose"

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Did you miss me? After a week and a half's absence, I have escaped the dollhouse I was locked in by my own back-up writer and I have a lot to say about this week's episode written by Joseph Dougherty and directed by Roger Kumble, and if you were wondering: the episode's name references the titular Swedish play by August Strindberg.

Previously on PLLTP:
The liar's guide to murder masterclass is officially in session as Alison schools her students on how to run from authority figures, do sleuthing in remote cabins, and solve murders with gum wrappers.
Baby Liars
The baby liars are still taking their first steps in the world of murder solving so naturally, they think that Nolan's best childhood friend and rival Mason, is the one who pushed him off the roof, and is also threatening them. But is it ever the first suspect?Mason, seemingly all knowing of all their secrets and not at all subtle, asserts his status over the baby liars by claiming the throne of the college douchebag.That's not just a figure of speech, as he takes his dead best friend's seat at the lecture hall causing drama with Ava who was about to tackle him.

He announces Dylan will be taking over his assignments just like he did for Nolan unless he's willing to risk his relationship for it and tells Caitlin to lose the British boyfriend because he's not good for her. He does make some good points even if he's a manipulative dick. All the while, Dana Booker is hot on everyone's trail. Ava has her own confrontation with her and suggests she gets an office instead of stalking everyone on campus.

To prove that Mason is the one leaving dead rats in their cars and menacing letters on scoreboards, Caitlin agrees to meet with him at the students' union with hopes of taping his confession. If Mason is the tormentor, would he really announce that he killed Nolan? We love liar logic. Instead, Mason taunts her with her mother's cheating scandal which sets her off and causes her to explode on Ava and lie.Jeremy becomes suspicious of Caitlin's sneaking around and they end up fighting, just like every couple in this episode.

It's like a battle for who will have the most mental breakdowns in one day, and Caitlin seems to be winning. This is a turning point for her as well as her fellow liars who start letting go of that perfection-obsessed facade they all clinged to by leaning on each other. As Caitlin grows closer to Dylan and Ava, she becomes fed up with being Claire Hotchkiss's spy, she asks her to drop the investigation on her and her friends and reassures her of their fake alibi. She turns to her liar mentor for advice, and Ali repeats a classic older quote about secrets having a way of keeping friends close, which prompts her to come clean to Ava about something from their past.

It turns out the real rat has been Ava all along, for outing Ava's parent drama to the school. Not as big as murder, but it's a big betrayal for Ava who wanted to be free from the burden of her family's mistakes and start fresh. Ava is pissed because she views Caitlin as an all perfect daughter vetted for the Oval Office and doubts she knows a thing about shame or parent baggage. The still unnamed A is forcing them to reveal their secrets just like Mona used to, and it's for the better

This makes for a huge set back in their relationship as Ava has just started to open up and trust in them. Ava is the queen of trust issues going back to her father abandoning her but apart from the anonymous threats Ava also receives an unexpected gift: a classic PLL music box she finds on her bed, and she thinks was left by her father. It triggers another unnecessary flashback to her super attractive dad showing her around the campus while Ava was more preoccupied with the feds investigating him. At least Ava's big secret has already been exposed so she doesn't have to worry about any more threats (other than following Mason the night of the murder)

After receiving his own anonymous threat with a pictures of him and Nolan in a hot tub, Dylan is cornered about their affeir during which he and Andrew were supposed to be exclusive. Mason turns up the heat by meeting Andrew behind his back and flirting with him because everyone on this campus is sexually fluid and manipulative. The big secret unravels when Andrew finds a medical note for Dylan's secret injury (why did I think it was a nicotine patch) and as the #protectiveboyfriend, Andrew demands to know what else he's been hiding from him and so Dylan gives him what he asked for resulting in their breakup.

Somehow he's free to leave their ridiculously fancy dorm room and move somewhere else without making any arrangements but do we really care about them? Ava checks in with him to make sure he's doing ok and it's these types of moments that PLL really knows how to sell, friends being there for each other no matter what.

Glinda and Elphaba
There's something undeniably satisfying about Alison Dilaurentis, finally having agency in the mystery instead of being a pawn of the game. Usually, Mona is the one calculating every possible outcome to find the answer before anyone's even asked a question and yet so far it's Alison who's unravelled almost the entire plot. Together they make the best A team and no cop that there is or was is ever gonna bring them down, not even Dana Booker who's trying her hardest to figure Alison out. As Alison remarks, a lot of people have tried.

After finding the rose in the cabin, Alison is dead-set on Taylor being not-dead, speaking from her own fake-death experience from Rosewood and the same gut feeling that told her Mona was alive when she was abducted in the dollhouse. As the infamous Hanna Marin once said "No body, no grave, no proof". Of course, we the liar's audience are already aware of Taylor being alive, a plot twist that was given straight away so as not to drag out yet another fake dead blonde twist, but seeing Ali figure it out is gratifying. Taylor definitely makes for an interesting character... if she ever decides to show up.

Mona shows Ali her code, like a proud parent, and dumbs it down because while Ali may be street smart she did not attend a single class of high school. The original algorithm was meant to identify students who were potentially dangerous and yet someone is messing with it to create new criteria. So far the matches have been Caitlin, Alison, and a mystery person. Mona's game plan is to meet with Caitlin in a student-mentor meeting and see what traits she shares with her girlfriend. Caitlin confesses her life goal of being the first olympic gold medalist to sit in the Oval Office, which reminds Mona of a very determined friend of hers but is that not the perfect description for Spencer Hastings? After Mona gathers all the intel she needed she dismisses Caitlin and then almost gets impaled by a screwdriver from a maintenance worker nearby.

While they juggle their work responsibilities and murder solving, our queens also have some relationship drama. Alison receives the devastating news of her and Emily's official divorce papers. Still reluctant to move on from her marriage, she turns to Mona for clarity who echoes what we've all been thinking: she moved to a new city and left her children behind so clearly she's over it. Mona also asks for Alison's opinion on how she should proceed with her anonymous chess rival when they ask her out.

In her search for clues about Taylor's alleged suicide, Ali stumbles upon an (incomplete) collection of the Oz saga and her interested is peaked by some annotations made on a map in Ozma of Oz.( The same book that Shay Mitchell's character in "You", Peach Sallinger, was obsessed with) After meeting up with Claire for tea and a lowkey interrogation, Ali connects the dots and is lead to a seemingly deserted RV in the forest and as she opens the cabinet to find the missing novel from Taylor's Oz collection, the patchwork girl herself, Taylor Hotchkiss, finally returns. The two formerly dead blonde girls face-off right before Taylor manages to flee and lock Alison in the RV.

In the episode's intense last minutes, Mona also has a breakthrough while getting ready to meet her anonymous "Bad Bishop". She manages to tracks down Ray's address despite him not being anywhere in the faculty list and is lead to a regular A lair filled with newspaper clippings, reports, suspect lists, and creepy instruments right before Ray himself, the worker who almost impaled her earlier, walks in and shuts the door. You fool, the Vanderjesus has defied death and the laws of space and time, you are no match for her.

Category is:
Iconic line: Mona gets ready for her mystery date by checking herself in the mirror and whispering "Flawless" as she twirls her hair and then checks to see if the mirror is another one of those security installed live feeds.

Killer look: I can't get enough of Alison's trenches. Whether it's the white, blue or grey one ,the costume department has nailed down the look of new Alison. My question is, when is it time to bring back her iconic red one? Vivian Darkbloom rises.

Queer eye: Make way for team Vanderlaurentis now that Emison is officially dead and gone. Emily kept the kids but Alison kept Mona so who's the real winner here?

Most guilty liar: Mason may have been the one who stole Nolan's stash of secrets but he's not the killer. My new guess is Ava's shady dorm mate who's had enough of their bs.

PLL throwback: While waiting for Mason to show up, Caitlin gets a text from -A that reads "I see you". A is not back, unfortunately and that was just Ava but this tease could be foreshadowing an eventual return of the hooded blackmailing entity.

Lingering mysteries: Is bad bishop our big bad or a character we already know or both? What is Ray's motive? When will Mona reveal to Alison that the security system of BHU goes well beyond your normal campus protection. Will Emily end up with Paige after all?

Rating: 4/5 poor rats who have been killed in the making of the PLL tv shows

Watching Alison and Mona on this show is like an oversaturated ominous dream that we don't deserve. It's true that PLLTP wouldn't be half as good without them and I am so grateful that Beacon Heights exists as the spiritual successor to Rosewood. I can only hope for a return to Rosewood itself.

Let us know what you thought about Taylor's big return and everyone's heart getting shattered in a million pieces this episode in the comments below!

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