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Pretty Little Liars Season Four Finale Recap: Bring Up the Bodies

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - "A is for Answers"

Here we are, at the season’s end, with an episode that supposedly gave us answers but mostly left us with a whole lot of questions. Who was in the hoodie? Why would anyone ever hug Ali, and has Ali ever both read and understand any works of literature in her entire, manipulative life? Isn’t she tired of knowing nothing and being reminded of it all the time? So many things we may never, ever know. But unlike Ali, who takes approximately 1,000 years to get to the point of her story, I won’t bury the still-breathing human lede. Onward, to the season finale’s Pretty Little Power Ranking!

1. A (last week: not ranked)
“I’m everywhere and soon you’ll be nowhere.” I must bow down to this invisible, unstoppable little monster. Does anyone else wonder if A is J.D.? (From Heathers, I mean, not Ali’s mom.) Share your conspiracy theories in the comments!

2. Mona (last week: not ranked)
Nice work. But yeah, you should really burn those knee socks.

3. Ali (last week: 9)
This girl must be a freaking mastermind to get three out of four of the Liars to hug her after all the shit she has put them through. Given that everything Ali knows (1) “proves” the innocence of all the Liars and the Liars’s loved ones and (2) doesn’t frame anyone else, and even proves J.D. wasn’t the one bashing Ali’s brain, why would Ali have any reason not to tell the very people who could help her figure out who A is? NONE OF THIS MAKES STORY-SENSE.

Still, in terms of sheer power: Ali lives to drive us all insane another day. We are talking about someone who can get pulled from the depths of the dirt even after her own mother tries to bury her alive (by accident? Unclear). This is a kid who, at the tender age of 15, already knew not to mix speed with alcohol. She literally drugged all of her friends just to smoke out a cyberstalker. I swear, after the zombie apocalypse, it’s just going to be Ali and a bunch of cockroaches roaming the Earth alone.

Another thing: Those flashback scenes where Ali just shows up, in a hoodie, at all these old climactic moments—the bell tower, the lodge—remind me of that spoof video about seeing The Yellow King in the background of True Detective episodes.

4. Everyone’s coordinating leather jackets (last week: not ranked)
Seriously, they look so good. I wish we could have seen the episode when they all went shopping together. That said, the matching hair is a little jarring: was there a “let’s share the curling iron” scene that wound up on the cutting room floor?

5. Hanna (last week: 6)
HANNA GETS TO HOLD THE GUN. Do you think they had some big, cast-wide game of rocks-paper-scissors to decide who could do the honors? Maybe this was just to provide some closure; as we know, the last time Hanna got her hands on a gun, things didn’t exactly go well.

6. Spencer (last week: 5)
Hooray, Spencer didn’t murder anyone! That we know of, at least!

Also: “Geese honk.”

7. Veronica Hastings (last week: 14)
Holbrooke: You’re free to leave whenever you like.
Veronica: [gets up immediately]

9. Aria (last week: 10)
Smack in the middle of Ali’s urgent, informative reveal of how she spent the night she disappeared—and before Ali gets to the part that absolves Spencer of any guilt—Aria cuts in to be like, “Can we have a sidebar about my ex-boyfriend?” Sigh. On the bright side, we get a reprise of Lucy Hale’s cryface.

8. Byron (last week: not ranked)
Bryon, to Ali: I don’t think you’re that horrible of a person.
Ali: Well then, you clearly don’t know me very well.
Listen to her, Byron! Before it’s too late.

9. J.D. (last week: 4)
Oh, it’s no big thing, J.D. just buried her daughter alive. In other news, she coined my new catchphrase: “Never turn your back on a Hastings.”

10. Ezra (last week: not ranked)
OMG, flashback Ezra. Look at that undergrad-disheveled hair. Look at him reading Tender is the Night because he has such Fitzgerald-imposter syndrome. Look at Ali, pulling a classic clueless girl move as she Wikipedias the summary for the novel the cute guy is reading just so she can strike up a completely uninformed, flirtatious conversation with him. And look at Ezra, calling Ali out on lying about her age because he’s furious that she pretended to be 21 years old when she is still in high school! To review: When Ezra was in college, he was scandalized by the idea of dating a minor. After Ezra graduated from college, he started screwing one of his underage high school students.

Why does the show think the real cliffhanger here is “Is Ezra alive?” Even if he isn’t, it doesn’t matter, he’ll be in like 1,000 flashbacks next season anyway. The actual cliffhanger is WHO IS IN THE HOODIE, and I am for real losing my patience with all these seasons ending in some mysterious figure in outerwear.

11. Emily (last week: 7)
Basically does nothing, but I love her for her real talk:
Ali: Ezra told me I reminded him of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Emily: Do we really need to hear the rest of this?

The follow-up is also great, even though Emily is not involved: “I thought it was a compliment because Audrey Hepburn played her in the movie,” says Ali. “But it turns out she’s just a big phony who couldn’t even name her cat.” The best part about this is how Aria is so pissed, like GOD, ALI, HOW DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND CAT THE CAT? As if we needed more proof, Ali is no Blair.

12. Officer Holbrook (last week: 8)
Separating the Hastings, lying to them about other Hastings’s whereabouts, and underestimating the intellectual horsepower of Veronica, greatest attorney in Rosewood? I thought you were maybe semi-decent, Holbrook.

13. Melissa (last week: not ranked)
Not totally sure what she’s doing here (the whole “I ran into Toby in one of the biggest, most densely populated cities on the face of the Earth” rang false to me for some bizarre reason) or how she’s relevant to the proceedings, but I like her coat. Very Olivia Pope.

14. Cece (last week: not ranked)
I enjoy having this sassy Penn grad around—is this the first time a girl on this show hasn’t worn eyeliner? Just wondering—but am not entirely sure what she contributes to this episode, unless next season begins with her actually spilling the goods on who killed not-Ali.

15. The running joke about Hanna’s eating habits (last week: not ranked)
The fact that Hanna struggled with her weight in the past is one of the most vital and humanizing things about her; in moments when she seems to be acting out of a vicious, desperate insecurity that appears out of whack with her current social status, her history as “Hefty Hanna” explains her behavior. But we are now veering dangerously close to The Magical Metabolism of Rory and Lorelei territory, which is distracting at best and insulting, both to us and to the character, at worst. If Hanna gains weight easily, how can she be scarfing down cookies in every single episode and still be Spring Break forever skinny? Why not have Hanna’s stress-eating result in her really gaining weight, which would be such an interesting, complicated route for the show to take? Pick a lane, PLL.

16. Ian (last week: not ranked)
I’d sort of put his creepy pedophilic videos out of my mind (along with Ali’s Lolita-inspired code name, Vivian Darkbloom) but I guess I have no choice but to bring them up now. If Ian was going to take those videos on his computer where anyone could see them (strikes me as unlikely), wouldn’t he store them in an encrypted folder, something password-protected? With filenames that are slightly less obvious than “JENNA_TOBY” or whatever those were? Eh, anyway, see you never, Ian.

17. No one ever calling the police (last week: not ranked)
The night Ali got almost-killed, there were so many opportunities when any reasonable human, or even an unreasonable human, would have called the police. When Ali got that text outside Jenna’s room, for instance. When J.D. saw Ali get ATTACKED. What kind of mother doesn’t call 9-1-1 and instead is like “well, I don’t feel much of a pulse here, guess I better get digging”? I’m not saying the police would have solved everything—that would be boring, plus untrue to the show—but the police officer who showed up could have been Wilden or somesuch corrupt cop, and screw things up on purpose.

18. Mr. Hastings (last week: not ranked)
To J.D., out loud, in a police station: “The police are asking pointed questions about Spencer. Do we still have an understanding?” How did Veronica ever marry this chump?

19. Noel (last week: not ranked)
When this show has its eye on the murder-and-mayhem prize, PLL is the master of the cliffhanger. Which is why it is so disappointing (also, confusing) when the answer to last episode’s “OH MAN WHO DID THEY SEE?!?” question turns out to be… Noel. It honestly took me at least a few minutes to recognize him (all these guys look so much alike, straight out of Abercrombie-ish central casting) and also to remember, when was the last time we saw him? Was he doing something notable? Do we care? Does he even go here? Of all the people who could have induced a legitimately gasp-worthy return—Caleb, or Mona, or Magic Mike, or someone’s parents, or anyone we’ve seen in the past dozen episodes—PLL picks this guy, whose relevance is never made even remotely clear? Why would he know anything about Ali, or care about her, or be invested in keeping her secret, or get involved in her batshit crazy world in the first place, etc., etc., etc.

Lingering concerns: Am I supposed to believe the girl who didn’t know the word “fabulist” would drop the word “reprieve” in casual conversation? How many times must we review that the correct nickname for the University of Pennsylvania is not UPenn, it’s just Penn? What does “NAT” stand for, “Need a Therapist”?

Did you download the new Beyoncé?

-J

PLL fans who’ve read the books: Keep your spoiler-filled knowledge to yourselves! TV talk only, both below and on Twitter, please and thank you.

Photo: Eric McCandless/Disney