After a creepy and confusing mid-season finale, Pretty Little Liars returned this week with a special Halloween treat (or trick?), "The First Secret."
This flashback episode wasn't really meant to unravel the mysteries of the show, but it did give us some interesting peeks into life in Rosewood prior to Ali's untimely death and "A's" reign of terror. Plus, there were lots of spooky dolls.
The series regularly utilizes flashbacks to depict Ali from the perspective of each character, but this promised to show Ali as she really was. However, I felt there weren't any new revelations about her character. She was as mean and manipulative as ever. She didn't even exhibit much fear, even when being stalked.
However, we did get to see her in a new role: she's the queen bee who's finally encountered a little competition.
Toby very rightly assesses his new stepsister, Jenna, by telling Emily, "She gets what she wants." Someone should have told Ali that before she tried to intimidate Jenna. Obviously, both girls are accustomed to getting their way, and I couldn't wait for their confrontation at the party. It was refreshing to see Ali seething at the sight of someone not immediately jumping at her every command or bending down to wipe her shoes.
Although I don't really like Jenna in the course of the regular series, I have to say that I preferred Jenna's Lady G over Ali's. Her costume was way more provocative and did get a lot more attention (unfortunately, that will easily become negative attention with Ali's help). Also, the fact that she didn't fawn all over Ali's offer of friendship made me like her a lot more than Ali's sheep-like friends.
AND...Jenna and Mona were friends?!? Did they remain close after Jenna's accident? Mona seemed pretty desperate to be popular and pretty forlorn with her position at the geek table. I wonder how badly she wanted Ali out of the way.
The episode had its up and downs, but mostly I liked how the flashback format showed us our little liars when they were under Ali's thumb. We returned to the days when Aria was semi-goth, Hannah was chubby, Spencer was (overly) determined, and Emily was still pretending to be straight. Plus, it was cute to see the "inside" nods to future events, like Aria bumping into Ezra at Hollis College. I definitely like the characters a lot more in the present because they can be themselves without Ali constantly terrorizing them.
Why were they friends with her again?
So what was "the first secret?" It turns out that "A" has been around a lot longer than we thought. He/she stepped into Noel's place as part of Allison's Halloween trick. Then, "A" sent Ali one his/her signature texts. When asked who it was, Ali merely responded that it was a secret. Does she know who "A" really is? Or was she just faking to keep from looking spooked?
I was really hoping this episode would give us some insight into "A" and the mystery surrounding Ali's untimely death, but I was disappointed by the lack of anything substantial.
Except... there was that creepy story from the opening. Ali tells a young boy about the psycho twin who stabbed her sister in the chest and was sent away to an asylum. Later, we see a car marked "Radley Sanitarium" in front the town's haunted house. Does Ali really have twin like the popular fan theories suggest? Or is this just the writers having fun with us?
Consider it a question to ponder under PLL returns in January. Hmmm....