Pretty Little Liars: ‘A’ reveal has mixed responses

The Liars, Holly Wade, Kettle Mag
Written by Holly Wade

Spoiler alert: If you still haven’t found out who the mysterious ‘A’ from ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars is then you should probably stop reading now.

For fans of the show, the mid-season summer finale was always going to be a must-see, with ‘A’s identity finally being revealed to all.

We’d been left on a cliff-hanger the week before with protagonist Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) looking straight into the eyes of the hooded predator. But who the hell was it going to be? And why had they been praying on Hanna (Ashley Benson), Aria (Lucy Hale), Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) for so long?



Years of speculation

Over the years there have been many theories mooted from fans, and plenty of red herrings introduced throughout the show. Mona (Janel Parrish), has always been involved with ‘A’, but there was also that time that Spencer took the stalker’s side. And remember when Aria’s boyfriend Ezra was spying on the girls? Allegedly, just to write a book, but a bit weird all the same.

Last Tuesday, the finale was aired in America, with UK viewers able to watch on Netflix the following day.

It wasn’t long into the episode that ‘A’ was finally revealed to be CeCe Drake (Vanessa Ray), Ali’s apparent best friend. Over the past few episodes, following the girls’ kidnapping, all leads have been pointing to sinister Charles DiLaurentis, Ali’s brother, who was sent to the Radley institution because Mr Di believed his son was trying to kill the baby. BUT Charles and CeCe are in fact one and the same.

An important message

Despite the initial surprise of the revelation, the following story from CeCe was intriguing and an interesting commentary regarding how society percieves those viewed as different.

We followed young Charles, who liked to dress up in girl’s clothing much to his father’s disdain. Despite the love of his mother he was an outsider in the family, but loved Ali and always wanted to take care of her. After the bath incident, where Charles was only trying to make Ali stop crying, he was sent away to Radley where things went from bad to worse.

After becoming friends with Bethany Young, an incident on the roof led to the troubled girl pushing Toby’s mum to her death – fans were relieved to finally know for sure that it wasn’t a suicide. Blaming the murder on Charles, Mrs Di was forced to pay off Radley workers to cover up the accident.

With the help of his mother, Charles was able to transform into Charlotte, though she was still stuck in Radley. After escaping from the institution, she tracked down her siblings, eager to see what they were now like.

Okay, so this is where it all gets a little bit weird as, under the alias of CeCe, she began dating her brother Jason. Not that they ever did anything sexual. Because that would just be bizarre, right?



It all got a little bit confusing

Then it was Cece who hit Ali over the head, believing it to be the unhinged Bethany. Which means  it was Mona who actually killed Bethany thinking that it was Ali. Stay with me. All the ‘A’ traps that followed were done by CeCe in an attempt to find out if Ali was safe. 

The show responded in some pretty varied ways to the transgender storyline. In some respects, it is quite progressive for a teen American show to introduce a transgender character. The fact that it was ‘A’ gives some pretty mixed messages though. 

CeCe’s story is tragic in itself but seems to link being transgender with being mentally unstable. If you look a little deeper, the road that the show was probably trying to take is to accept people for who they are. After all, if Mr Di had just been proud of his son and helped with the transition then none of this would have happened. As Ray said, Charles/Charlotte being transgender had “nothing to do with her being a villain.”



What an anti-climax

The revelation was a bland and too rushed. Then again, after five series of wondering and speculating, whoever turned out to be ‘A’ would have been a disappointment. Interestingly, in the books by Sara Shepard, Ali has a twin sister named Courtney who is sent to Radley.

So, why such a drastic change?

Executive producer, I. Marlene King, was one of the few who decided on the twist the tale would take almost four years ago. “I knew we had so many years to build this story and make it layered.”

But there are still too many holes in the plot for such a well-thought out story. Perhaps the transgender twist does add another dimension, but it’s also problematic. 

In typical Pretty Little Liars style, we were left with just as many questions as ones that had been answered. 

What had happened to CeCe?

Who did kill Mrs Di?

Did Spencer tell Toby the truth about his mum?

What is Mona doing now?

And what about Sara? During the episode, we discovered that she was the other Red Coat and was also part of ‘A’s plan. Was she ever kidnapped by ‘A’, or was it all just an elaborate ploy?

The final scene showed a five year time jump with Ali in a classroom writing ‘Mrs Rollin’, on a chalkboard. Then, Hanna, Aria, Emily and Spencer arrive, shouting “he’s coming!” 

Who is ‘he’ and what is going on? 

We’ll have to wait until January to find out.