After spending roughly 35-40 hours watching the first two seasons of Pretty Little Liars, Greg Kaplan decided he had seen enough and bailed on the show. That leaves PLL-expert Mike Caiola and I to break down what the heck just happened on the season three midseason finale.
Vinny Ginardi: Wait, WHAT?!
I’ll admit it, just like the rest of the of the Pretty Little Liars community, last night’s revelation left me stunned, speechless, and immediately wanting more. How could Toby, perhaps one of the only characters outside of the core four with whom we have come to completely trust, be one of the hooded figures whose identity has teased us from the very beginning? Even more so, how could he betray Spencer, who he had just declared his love to?
Looking back though, Toby is the most logical character to be “A”, or part of the “A” team, or whatever. Compared to everyone else, he actually has a logical reason to dislike Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily. All the way back in season one we learned that the girls somewhat pinned the incident causing Jenna’s blindness on him, causing everyone and anyone to perceive and treat him as an outcast and degenerate. He has a believable reason to want to seek revenge on our protagonists, unlike Mona (who we learned has superpowers that help her escape mental institutions) who was just lazily tagged as being jealous and crazy. The writers did an excellent job (kind of a rarity) of making the audience suspect Toby early and then dismiss the possibility of him being “A” by showcasing him as caring, sensitive, and misunderstood guy. More importantly, the reason the unveiling packed such a hard punch was because Toby was presented as this trustworthy character for a season and a half.
This puts the show in a unique position going forward. Up until this point, we had only known as much as the girls had, gathering clues right along with them. For the first time, the audience now knows more the main characters. I’m sure this will lead to several “ARE YOU KIDDING ME, CAN’T YOU SEE THAT TOBY IS A” moments and an overall increasingly disgust for Toby as he continuously manipulates Spencer. I mean, can you imagine how different your perception of the Toby/Spencer scene would have been in this episode had you already known the truth about Toby?
Outside of ending though, I wasn’t impressed with this episode. I’m not sure why they showed the clip of the girls at the crime scene in the beginning of the episode. It completely gave away that something was going to happen to Caleb (why else would Hanna be going hysterical?). Opening scenes that show bits and pieces of the future are suppose to build drama (something that Breaking Bad does so well), not diffuse it. It also wasn’t too surprising that Nate was Maya’s killer (though once again, a weak motive), and I was worried for a little while that he was going to be the one to commit the betrayal.
But luckily, he wasn’t. For a while I thought the series was starting to drag on, but the shocking ending of the midseason finale has me reinvested in the show. And who knows, maybe Toby will be a Severus Snape situation where in the end he is ultimately good. I can’t wait to find out.
Also other stuff happened in this episode so I should mention that too. Caleb gets shot! I mean did you see that coming? If you watched the first minute of the episode you did! Vinny is right, the flash forward they did at the beginning clearly sets up that something horrible is going to happen to someone only Hanna loves. Let’s review shall we? People that only Hanna loves: her mother, Caleb, and Mona. Ok, you can pretty much guess it’s going to be Caleb. And since the plot is fairly Caleb heavy (for him) and he has a gun you kinda know he is getting shot. It would have been better if we had just seen police sirens or something. Or you know what? Nothing. If it was a normal episode, I would have no clue Caleb was going to get shot and it would have blown my mind. Stop trying to be fancy I. Marlene King (the writer for the episode)!
So what else happened? Oh yeah, Nate was a psycho. If you didn’t already see that coming, I’m sorry – it was kind of obvious. I’m pretty sure he turned to the camera last episode and said, “I’m going to kill that bitch, shh”. Ok, maybe not that obvious but he was kind of creepy. And knew way too much about Maya for a cousin. I have some pretty close cousins but I don’t know what earrings they wear or their scarf preference! Creep. So yeah, I had a suspicion he wasn’t really Maya’s cousin. But to try to kill Paige in front of Emily for “stealing Maya away” is crazy talk. Emily never even met Nate nor knew she was “stealing him away”, so why we he punish her? I think I. Marlene King just wanted another quick and cheap reason to make him crazy. Tisk, tisk, I. Marlene King. Plus c’mon Paige, don’t you have a copy of Ned’s De-classified guide to school survival? I’m pretty sure there has to be one or two chapters on surviving a crazy guy pretending to be your girlfriend’s late girlfriend’s cousin!
So that pretty much sums everything up. We now know that Mona can leave whenever she wants (and has been according to the end of the episode before), that Toby is “A” part duex, and that the next person to make a girl cry should be Ezra. And after Aria’s heart is broken, she’ll probably need a rebound guy, so to make this official I’m going to call dibs now.