Aria spirals into black and white insanity in this episode of Pretty Little Liars
, which also includes a surprising proposal, a murder confession and a whole lot of dancing. Who knew that what we really needed so close to the end of Liars
' seven-season run was a jailhouse musical sequence? "Driving Miss Crazy," delivers some truly weird and wonderful stuff, even if the season still feels like it's killing time.
As an individual episode, there are so many great moments. When you step back and consider how close we are to the finish line of the series, however, the episode feels a lot less essential. We're no closer to solving any of the myriad open mysteries and loose threads this show loves to dangle in front of us. We're not even much closer to answering the mysteries started this season, such as the identity of A.D. or the father of the Emison baby.
I love an insane Aria dream sequence as much as the next person, and I wouldn't have traded seeing Mona belting in prison guard gear for the world, but it makes me more and more nervous about the series finale. Even though the finale is planned to be two hours, I'm afraid the show is going to wait to pack seven seasons worth of answers and reveals, leaving us with an overstuffed info dump like when they revealed Charlotte as 'A.'
With only two episodes left before the finale, it's time for the show to start closing some narrative loose ends before the end is nigh.
Jessica's Murderer is Revealed
One mystery definitively answered in this episode is who murdered Mrs. DiLaurentis. Although we had previously been told it was Mary Drake who murdered her sister, it was confirmed by none other than Mary Drake herself.
Apparently, Jessica and Peter had been planning to murder her in the same way using medication for a condition the two sisters shared, and Mary just flipped the script on Jessica and changed out her pills. Between fathering half the town and covering up copious murders, how does Peter Hastings get any actual work done?
It's really too bad that Alison is visiting Jason in Offscreensville during this revelation. Who knows if the show will really have enough time to explore how Alison feels about this whole situation, provided that Spencer doesn't keep this particular Hastings family secret in the vault with all the other murders?
At this point, two out of four Hastings have planned a murder and then accidentally murdered the wrong person. This is why you never send a Peter Hastings to do a Veronica Hastings job.
For his part, Peter Hastings is pretty chill and unrepentant about the whole "attempted murder" thing. "You'd do the same thing, Spencer! If I'm being honest, I'm a little disappointed you haven't murdered anyone yet. Why can't you be more like your sister?" Peter yells and then storms out of the room when confronted with his crime.
"Well, I guess I'm not a state senator anymore," Veronica says, in what is obviously the most unrealistic part of the episode. Like committing a crime has ever dissuaded anyone from getting into politics. I watch House of Cards (and also the news); I know the score.
Once again, Peter Hastings has ruined Veronica's life, and Veronica just kind of shrugs and throws her dreams into the trash. Veronica, you know that divorce exists, right? I feel like someone needs to gift Veronica an Eat, Pray, Love vacation where she can find herself and then kick Peter to the curb.
While Aria's burner phone gift from A.D. throws the Hastings family into even more turmoil than usual, Spencer is meeting up with Mary Drake in her car and in the middle of the woods at night. You know, real parental bonding locations. "Sorry about murdering my sister, but in my defense, she had it coming," Mary Drake says. "That checks out," Spencer replies.
Mary offers to take Spencer on the lam with her, especially considering that Marco has been getting even more aggressive with Spencer about all the convenient destruction of evidence that's been going around. Spencer doesn't back down from Marco for one minute, continually using their former love connection against him.
Mary Drake might want to do some mother-daughter bonding while on the run for murder, but Spencer isn't as excited by the prospect. She tells Mary that she has to stick around for her dumb friends and her dumber parents, but she tells Mary to forgive herself because she's already forgiven her for everything.
It's a pretty moving scene, and Andrea Parker has consistently made Mary Drake into a compelling character completely different than Jessica. I could see this being our last glimpse of Mary, and if so, I think we leave the character on a nice note of redemption.
He Had It Coming, He Only Had Himself to Blame
Aria is doing the cell block tango in this episode because her secret file is finally revealed. It turns out that during Aria's flip-out over Ezra's betrayal, she filled out a police report about Ezra and their inappropriate relationship. A.D. now has their hot little hands on that police report and is making Aria dance to their twisted tune.
Aria -- bless her tiny little heart -- is not the world's most stealthy creep, and she goes through the whole episode acting like the most shady person on the planet. Pretty much everyone notices at some point, but because they're so used to Aria not mattering to the main plot, they just assume it's some more Ezria nonsense and brush it off.
Ezra, however, notices that Aria doesn't seem psyched about all of their wedding preparations, like dance classes and picking out their first song. I guess none of that could be because your previous girlfriend just appeared out of the woods? Or because her name was basically taken from the book the two of your wrote together? The fact that Aria has a laundry list of complaints she could have about her relationship with Ezra that would take several paragraphs to outline is probably not the best sign for their future marriage. Just saying.
Ezra confronts Aria and wonders if she ever really forgave him for preying on her as a teen and stalking all of her friends. Somehow, Ezra Fitz has managed to make himself the victim of a story in which he spies on the teenage girls in his English class. Stay classy, Ezra. He says that they've weathered every storm which, again, were all created by his own creepy behavior.
"Aria, I think we can all agree I've made some mistakes," Ezra says. "Like, I should have done a true crime podcast instead of a book. Do you think it's too late to make R-Town?"
Then the best thing in the whole episode happens: Aria has a Chicago-flavored black and white dream sequence in which Ezra is beaten in jail while Mona sings "Jailhouse Rock" in a prison guard uniform. I feel like that previous sentence doesn't even accurately describe the bizarre wonder of this dream sequence.
There is so much happening and it's all wonderful, and it ends with Veronica Hastings telling Aria that she wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire. That's a brutal burn, pun very much intended.
A.D. finally leads Aria to her puzzle piece in the Brew, and Mona catches her eye while she's holding the envelope. When she puts the piece in the board game, she finally notices the police report.
So is this the end of Aria's reign as A.D.'s helper or just the beginning? Dark Aria has been one of the best parts of this season so far, and I'd love to see more of her in the hoodie.
Back into the Woods
Ashley Main is back, she's got a wine buzz going and she is pissed that her daughter is once more under police suspicion. She tries to get Caleb to tell her what is going on, but he makes up a bunch of lame excuses, proving that he might be a worse liar than Aria.
Hanna tries to find the shovels they used to bury Rollins to clean up some loose ends, but the guy she's feeding a story about a broken-down car to tells her that the police already came for those shovels. "Excuse me, sir. Do you have a beer stein? I would like to bury some evidence."
Later, Ashley Marin turns up at Lucas' loft, where Hanna is still squatting despite knowing that Lucas is all out of cash, and it's mostly her fault. "It's okay. I'm really turning this cardboard box into the perfect tiny home," Lucas calls up from the alley.
When Ashley starts to grill the two on their new relationship, Caleb gets all true love romantic instead of revealing that Hanna has straight-up murdered a guy with a car. I think Ashley Marin of all people wouldn't judge someone for vehicular manslaughter. That is Ashley's power move. That, and drinking entire boxes of wine in one sitting.
Caleb's true love declaration eventually becomes a wedding proposal, and suddenly everyone is crying. "I brought some wine because I thought someone was going to jail, but this can be celebration wine instead!" Ashley says joyfully. If only she knew it was kind of both.
Later, Hanna meets Caleb in a tent in the woods because everyone at the Radley is giving him the stink eye thanks to those destroyed receipts.
Caleb has had such a compelling character arc on this show, from hobo living in the air vents at the school like the Phantom of the Opera to hobo living in a tent in the woods. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I guess no one in this town can really escape who they were in high school.
The two do a cute and lame wedding ceremony in the tent with cigar rings as Caleb tells Hanna that he was serious about his proposal. Then they hook up in that tent in the woods, just like they did back in high school.
Baby Daddy Drama
If you commit a crime in Rosewood, who ya gonna call? Mona Vanderwaal!
The liars are upset when they realize that Hanna has told Mona about the game but, really, they should just be grateful that Mona would help their ungrateful butts after the way they treat her. I mean, you run someone over with your car one time and you never hear the end of it!
Mona teams up with Emily to try to discover more about the whole Emison baby situation. Emily is not happy about this team-up but plays along when they go to the office of the doctor who performed the procedure on Alison, pretending to be a couple.
Mona makes every scene better, but these scenes make me sad that we didn't see more of Mona and Emily interacting over the course of the series. Shay Mitchell has excellent comedic timing, and the two play well off each other.
Stonewalled by the doctor in his office, Mona steals a magazine with his address and then, sadly, we're denied watching Mona and Emily pick through trash together -- though it has led to my brilliant spin-off idea, Mona and Emily: Dumpster Divers! I feel like A&E would love that show.
The doctor is rightly terrified of both Mona and Emily when they find proof that he received a payment big enough to pay off some of his medical school loans. He says he doesn't know the identity of the donor, but he does have an ID number.
Later, Emily comes by to see Mona at her apartment with the burner phone that Aria dropped at Spencer's with the Hastings family secret audio file. With Caleb down at bone town with Hanna, they need someone to break into the phone. Mona takes that evidence but is weirdly cagey when Emily wants to come into her apartment and hunt for more clues.
A cool shot of Mona looking at a suspicious Emily through the cloudy peephole in the door draws back to reveal a real Doomsday Preppers, crazy conspiracy wall situation going on at Casa de Mona. Not only does she have diagrams of the board game on her wall, but she also has pictures of the major characters and, most important, a bunch of dirty shovels.
Is Mona protecting the liars or playing A.D.'s game?
What did you think of the episode? What's Mona up to? Did you like the dream sequence? Do you like Dark Aria? And what did you think of the Haleb proposal? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
(Image courtesy of Freeform)