Aria's secret is revealed, the police close in on the liars and one liar says, "I do," in this episode of Pretty Little Liars. The liar bond is tested in a way it's never been before in "Choose or Lose" when the liars realize that one in their midst has been playing for the other side.
Director Norman Buckley has helmed almost more episodes than any other director on Pretty Little Liars, and he certainly gets an action-packed and emotional episode as his final outing. The scenes between the liars, and especially the scenes with Tanner, really crackle with a special kind of energy. Watching the camera as Aria skulks around in this episode is so fun, and that last shot of Mona's little smile is so much of what's great about this show.
As the series winds down, we're seeing the swan songs for many of the talented people who have worked on this show for seven years. Thankfully, these final episodes have given the cast and crew plenty of chances to shine.
The tale of Dark Aria has been this half-season's most compelling storyline, and it seemingly comes to a close in this episode. The reveal causes tension between the always-close liar group, however, sending all the liars off into some very dark places.
It's too bad Aria has had to wait until the final half of the final season to get such a meaty storyline because Lucy Hale is fantastic playing an Aria always on the verge of losing her cool.
Time for a Little Romance
This episode is all about relationships, both the ones formed with friends and the ones formed with lovers. If anything, this episode is a love letter to the "shippers," the fans of all the romantic relationships on the show. If you've loved Emison, Haleb, Spoby or Ezria over the course of the last seven seasons, there will probably be a moment in this episode to make you smile.
For those who don't care as much about who ends up with who, it does seem as if every relationship is coming together in the worst way possible. Hanna and Caleb get a quickie wedding at the courthouse because they're in love but also because they don't want to testify against each other. Emily and Alison still have the weight of that terrible baby storyline around their romance. Spencer and Toby have what seems like a one-night stand after Toby's fiance dies. Ezra and Aria spend most of their time prior to hooking up discussing how he lied and betrayed her multiple times throughout their relationship.
Sure, all the primary relationships on the show have a big moment in this episode, but almost none of them are just wholly, purely romantic. In Rosewood, the best you can hope for is that when your girlfriend takes you into the woods, you don't end up caught in a bear trap.
My sincere hope is that we're getting all the romantic clutter out of the way early so that the last two episodes of the series can focus on resolving the show's many mysteries and giving the liars strong moments before the end.
Dark Aria is Discovered
It appears that being on the A.D. squad has been generally good for Aria's whole look, as she's rocking a cute outfit and hairstyle while donning the hoodie in this episode. Normal Aria wears stripes and plaid together; evil Aria sticks to a more neutral color palette. If the liars had only noticed that Aria was wearing more gray and less giant feather earrings, they could have figured out it was a cry for help.
Of course, the person who really notices that Aria is being shady is Mona, who info-dumps everything she's figured out about Aria on the liars. The other girls can't believe that Aria would do such a thing, while Aria spends most of the episode shredding evidence and donning black hoodies. Don't underestimate Aria just because she's tiny. There is a lot of madness contained in that one tiny package.
Mona plays the girls a recording of A.D. talking to Aria, and they set up a trap for her in the woods. Aria tries to explain that she went to work for A.D. to protect Ezra, but the joke's on her because the rest of the girls do not care one bit about Ezra. "Ezra would have went to jail!" Aria wails. "So what?" Alison says, in perhaps her best line this season. Thank you, Ali. We were all thinking it.
Unsurprisingly, the rest of the liars are pretty mad that Aria betrayed them, even though Aria tries to bring up the fact that they've all done shady things. "Remember when you kidnapped a child, Spencer?" Aria tries to reason with the other half of Team Sparia. "Yeah, but did he die?" Spencer says, not having it at all. What's a little light child-napping between friends, right?
For most of the episode, Aria is left out of group discussions, and it makes the liar group dynamic feel so strange. I never realized how much all four of the main liars are needed in those group info-dump scenes until Aria is missing. It's also painful to see the friendship between the liars hurt so badly, especially right before the end of the series.
Because she loves Aria the most, Spencer is the first one to relent and go to see Aria. She's still furiously mad at Aria's betrayal, but she knows what it's like to feel backed into a corner and do something you're not proud of.
"This is the worst thing I've ever done, Spencer," Aria says. "Wait ... didn't you kill someone? Name rhymed with Fana? Worked in a costume shop?" Spencer wonders. Aria's eyes are blank. That murder isn't registering.
Of course, Spencer changes her mind about forgiveness when the police return with Aria's stuff and reveal that a traffic camera in New Hampshire put her outside of Rosewood at the time of Dunhill's murder. Spencer, Rosewood's favorite murder suspect, leaves Aria's house in a huff.
As the episode ends, Aria realizes that she can't just let her friends rot in jail. She calls up A.D. to tell them that she's planning on turning herself in for the murder, but A.D. says it's too late for that. Then her 'A' team phone self-destructs like she's in an Inspector Gadget cartoon. Go, gadget, go! Darth Aria jumps in her car heading to the liars and leaves a message saying she thinks she knows how to make things right.
Unfortunately, her car starts acting up, so she pulls onto the side of the road. She thinks she hears something in the trunk. When she opens it, she discovers Archer's body.
When has a liar ever opened a trunk to discover anything positive? If you think something's in the trunk, don't pull off to the side of an empty road by the woods. Aria would know this if she had been more than an occasional guest star in the plot portions of Pretty Little Liars for the last seven years.
And, whoops, it looks like the police are pulling up right behind her. This doesn't look like good news for Aria.
The Police are Closing In
The episode opens with a familiar, stern and welcome face: it's Detective Tanner! I want to know what Tanner has been up to in the five-year time jump. I like to imagine it was a lot of e-mailing affirmations to Toby about how he could get that promotion if he just believed in himself and also a lot of therapy. Whatever Tanner's been up to during the time jump, she's returned to Rosewood just as eager to put the liars behind bars as she ever was. Tanner has some unfinished business with these girls.
It turns out that Marco Fury (still a ridiculous last name) took himself off the case, which is honestly something he probably should have done a long time ago. Now that Tanner is on the case, she's zeroing in on Spencer and her friends even further. She tells Spencer that she always thought the liars were guilty of something (besides being fabulous), and now she's going to find out what that is.
This leads to search warrants on all of the girls' living quarters. Aria shreds that police report before the police make it to her house, while the rest of the girls are pretty much caught unawares.
This is especially true for Emily and Alison, who are just looking to have a morning quickie when they discover the board game in their bed. If this had been Mona, that probably would have turned into an awkward, terrifying and probably pretty sexy threesome with the board game.
When the police go into the bedroom, however, the board game is gone. Is it going to turn out that A.D. is a ninja?
Spencer is especially stressed since most of the investigation seems to be focused on her. The liars, plus Caleb, gather in a room in the Radley to figure out their next steps. It looks pretty bad for all of them, and even worse when the game phone shows up in their room service. "Choose or lose," it tells them, prompting them to pick one liar to take the fall for the murder within the next 36 hours or they all go down for it.
To the liars' credit, even after finding out that Aria betrayed them to A.D., no one ever suggests just giving her up to the authorities. Instead, they spend what might be their last day as free women hooking up with their main squeezes.
Things get especially tense in a great scene where the liars all sit in chairs facing Tanner in a suspect lineup room while she grills them about the evidence she's found. That evidence includes bloody glass from a windshield found in Spencer's shower.
Tanner tries to get the liars to give their side of the story, explaining that not telling her the truth in high school was the reason they all ended up trapped in a bunker. To be fair, I think there were a lot more reasons than dishonesty that got them trapped in a bunker, and also it's possible that Tanner is not the world's best cop.
As the clock on the phone counts down the final seconds, all the liars gather -- all except Aria, who doesn't seem to be keeping a very good watch on the time left on their countdown. Aria's new at being part of the plot; give her a break.
As the counter goes to zero and the phone asks them to choose, they all agree that no matter what happens, they'll still be friends and won't judge. Then Spencer smashes the phone with what appears to be a rock that was just lying around. "Why didn't we just do that sooner?" they wonder, while also freaking out about what's going to happen to them next.
Meanwhile, Caleb has finally gotten a signal on the board game using hacker magic, and he has Ezra driving him to where the signal leads. I'm going to assume that Caleb wasn't informed that Toby had come back out of hibernation, or I cannot imagine Ezra would have been his first call.
Caleb's hacker powers lead him right to Mona's door, where Mona is making love to the board game with her eyes. I'm not sure any of the couples on this show have ever looked at each other as longingly as Mona looks at that board game.
Romance in the Air
During what is possibly their last free 36 hours in Rosewood, things get a little sexy for the liars.
First off, Caleb tells Hanna's mom all about the murder, which seems like a real relationship foul. That was her vehicular homicide to share Caleb. Ashley Marin, well-versed in running people over with her car, has already called a lawyer. But before they can reminisce about the time Ashley ran someone over and almost ended up in jail, they have one little thing to get to first -- that little thing being marriage!
Caleb takes Hanna to the courthouse with some rings. It's not the way they pictured it, but it will allow them to avoid testifying against each other in court -- the way all magical romances begin! Ashley Marin pops out of nowhere with a bouquet and some mild parental disapproval (re: that murder) but also a lot of happiness that they're getting married. "When you find someone willing to destroy evidence on your behalf, you put a ring on it, Hanna."
Meanwhile, Alison is taking Emily to the woods for a romantic surprise. Wait, what? The woods? Where all the murder happens on this show? Tell me one positive thing that's happened in the Rosewood woods. I'll wait.
Alison is either the worst girlfriend ever or low-key just wants to get murdered to avoid this whole stupid Emison baby plotline. Either way, Emily is way too chill about this location.
Instead, Emily thinks the picnic Ali prepared is romantic. You know what's romantic? Not getting sexy on a pile of leaves where Spencer once found a dead body wearing Toby's motorcycle helmet. Emily's standards are so low that they're basically subterranean.
Speaking of Toby, he's returned to Rosewood to bro down with Detective Tanner and also to show off his gnarly new lumberjack beard. It turns out he's been living in a cabin in the woods, which does seem like a particularly Toby thing to do. Toby becoming some kind of Doomsday prepper out in the woods seems like a pretty logical arc for his character.
He tells Spencer that things aren't looking good with the whole Tanner situation. Then he really awkwardly invites her to his cabin. Damn, Toby; that beard has made him frisky.
Exactly how long has it been since Yvonne died? Given the time frame for everything else, I would guess at a couple of days to a week or two at the most. Yet, Toby is acting like he went on a months-long spirit quest in the woods. He found himself and lost himself and then found himself again in the two days it took for Spencer to be accused of another murder. Time is a flat circle in Rosewood. (Speaking of which, a Toby and Tanner season of True Detective would be amazing.)
Spencer shows up at Toby's door, and soon the two of them are falling into bed together. Considering that she's wearing something different in this scene than the later scene with the countdown, is this more grist for the Spencer twin theory? The Spencer twin theory would at least explain why Spencer's bullet wound has been magically moving all over her body this season.
Finally, Ezra reveals that he knew all about the police report that Aria was trying to bury. He tells her he understands that she was angry because he knows that he's a dirtbag. That's just something that he's accepted about himself. Before they can have any kind of serious conversation about the nonstop horror that is their relationship, Aria hops on top of him and talking isn't on the top of their priority list.
What did you think of the episode? Did you love all the shipper moments or want to know more about the mysteries? What will happen to Aria now? Have you been enjoying dark Aria? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
(Image courtesy of Freeform)