Recap: The End of #PLL As We Know It

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Please be aware that there are spoilers for Pretty Little Liars in the post ahead.

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Ever since my last Pretty Little Liars post I have been constantly theorising, ready for the end of the show, which was confirmed to finish after its seventh season. From the first episode, titled Tick Tock Bitches, the PLL train steamed ahead with ten episodes before breaking after the mid-season finale, leaving a string of shocking cliffhangers in its wake.

The beginning of season seven begins with Uber A on the hunt for Charlotte’s murderer, despite Hanna having confessed to killing her and having been kidnapped as a result. Not only are the Liars trying to #SaveHanna, but they’re also trying to figure out who is behind the Uber A game. There has been so much confusion surrounding whom identifies as whom, as Uber A has since been disclosing their texts as AD. There had also been much talk of an Avenger, but this only seems to complicate the matters more. Ever since the Uber A story line was introduced in the second half of season six, everyone has become a suspect, but at the beginning of seasons seven, Alison DiLaurentis was looking particularly shady. Is Ali texting the Liars to avenge her sister’s murder, and believing her friends had something to do with it? Meanwhile everyone in Rosewood is pointing fingers and suspecting Alison as the killer instead. Or is it someone else entirely? Someone completely outside of the Liars’ circle.

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But it’s not too far into the episode that things start getting a little bit strange. Inside the shed, where Hanna had been kidnapped and locked up by Uber A, she is visited in her dream by Spencer who sings her to sleep with the same lullaby that pops up throughout the series Hush Little Baby. Of course, this began to raise suspicions as dream-Spencer was seen without her usual fringe, and that specific lullaby had been previously linked to Mona and Mary Drake, Alison’s aunt and Jessica’s twin sister, leading us to believe that perhaps one of them was posing as Spencer with the help of the masks that have been ever so popular this season.

Mary Drake has been another interesting character that has been introduced this season, but the trouble is, we can’t seem to figure out which side she’s on, and neither can she. First she tortures her niece Alison to insanity, then decides that Elliot Rollins, her co-conspirator and Ali’s husband, has gone too far and withdraws from the revenge plot. Then, after Elliot apparently screws her out of the Carissimi Inheritance that was promised to her, we can’t decide whether or not she’s telling the truth. It seems she’s around to help the Liars, but doesn’t let on how much she knows or what else she’s up to, except that she has recently bought the Lost Woods Resort, which has always been a place of much speculation since the beginning of season one.

As the episodes progress, and the Liars decide to rescue Alison from the clutches of her husband, but the plan to break Alison out of Welby goes dangerously awry. Elliot kidnaps his wife from the institute and drives her into the woods before her friends can get to her. Luckily, their car is followed by the Liars who are able to keep tabs on their whereabouts. When Ali makes a run for it, trying to escape her cruel husband, Hanna runs Elliot over and kills him, and rather than explain the rabbit hole of confusion and lies, the girls decide it’s best to cover up the murder and dig a grave for him in the woods.

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The girls are quite obviously falling back into old habits, and that’s not the only element that has resurfaced. Cue Mona, Queen of all things crazy and dangerous, come to save the day and help the Liars cover up their mistakes. Mona stops the Liars from getting themselves into trouble and helps them stage a narrative that shows Elliot had skipped town, once the news of his shady behaviour comes to light. Mona, time and again, has proved herself useful with her high intelligence and skills she used as the Original A, making sure the Liars stay out of trouble.

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She also found an unlikely accomplice in Caleb, who also has gone to great lengths to keep the girls safe, so when Caleb disappears and days later a sighting of “Elliot Rollins” has been reported, it’s hard not to conclude that he’s masquerading as the sketchy doctor to help fuel the girls’ cover up. There was even a scene that showed Caleb and Mona’s synchonicity, leading fans to wonder whether the two have been going undercover together longer than we thought.

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But it’s not only Mona who has come back from episodes past. One of the fans most loved characters, Jenna, arrives back in Rosewood with Noel Kahn in tow, and their arrival unearths more information about Elliot Rollins, who appears to have stolen the identity to protect who he really is – Archer Dunhill, his initials conveniently being AD, which is the latest pseudonym that Uber A has chosen. The Liars think they have it all figured out, as Jenna is still harbouring some venomous feelings towards the girls, until Jenna and Noel start making friends with the Liars’ long time fr-enemy Sara Harvey, and begin acting even more shady than usual. But when Sara Harvey turns up dead in that bathtub, and who had once been the girls number one suspect, it seems that everyone is running out of ideas as to who could be behind A Mask.

In the sixth episode, the ante was officially upped as the Liars uncovered the bombshell that Mary Drake had a second child whilst she was in Radley, which sent the PLL Army into free fall. To clarify, Mary Drake gave birth to Charles, who was adopted by Jessica and Kenneth DiLaurentis and transitioned when she was sixteen years old. Then Mary had a second child, also with an unknown father, and their identity was paramount to the Uber A story line. I had my own theories as to who the second child could be, and top of my list was always Spencer Hastings, who had a lot of similarities to Mary, and the fact that the DiLaurentis’ and the Hastings’ families had always been so entwined.

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Another character near the top of my list was Lucas Gottesman, who had been playing an important, and yet unseen role in the beginning part of the series. We never really knew too much about Lucas’s family, and he could have been a biological Drake, avenging the death of his birth sister Charlotte, which would give him motive to go after the Liars if he thought they were involved in her murder. Emily and Hanna were staying in Lucas’s apartment, which could easily have been bugged, as like Mona, Lucas managed to use his high intelligence to make millions of dollars. Hanna had even been driving Lucas’s car when she hit Elliot/Archer, and Lucas had also convinced her to go into business with him. Lucas has always been a passionate, if not, intense character with his ties to the A Team from way back in season one and two, and Marlene did confirm that the second half of season seven would come full circle.

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Hanna has also had a difficult season, and raised suspicions when theories of the second child started circulating. Could Hanna have been the second child? Maybe. Her likeness to Alison was very strong, coupled with the fact that Ali told Hanna the story about the evil twin, and her mother Ashley was then visited by the same little girl ghost on Halloween. Hanna’s father Tom had never been that interested in Hanna, and this season Hanna was even kidnapped by AD, so things were beginning to make sense – but it was all one big red herring to throw us off the trail.

The last person to have been accused of being AD and Mary’s second child was Noel Kahn, who had been shady from the moment we met him. Noel’s farther oversaw the adoption of the second child, leading the Liars to believe that it was the Kahn family who adopted the baby. Noel was even involved in the Dollhouse with Charlotte/Cece, after Emily and Spencer found a thumb drive with CCTV footage of the Dollhouse on it. Having said this, even after seven seasons, it’s still unknown as to what Noel Kahn’s role in the PLL End Game is, or what secrets Ali had on him, but at last in the tenth episode titled The DArkest Night, the second child was finally revealed.

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Spencer was confirmed to be Mary’s second child, and Charlotte/Cece’s sibling, seconds after Spencer was shot by Uber A/AD and Mary sung the Hush Little Baby lullaby to her, the same one that was sung to Hanna when she had been kidnapped. In my opinion, it was a little bit obvious that Spencer was Mary’s child, but that might only be because I spent A LOT of time theorising. As I said at the beginning of this post, the mid-season finale dropped a whole load of reveals including the fact that Alison was pregnant and Noel Kahn was killed… decapitated in fact…

So with what we know now, let’s look to the finale ten episodes of season seven, and examine how this crazy story could be tied up. I’m confident that the last ten episodes are going to begin with guns (literally) blazing.

One of my favourite theories so far, the calls back to the original That Night of season one, is that Alison was pregnant when she decided to fake her death and leave Rosewood, and that Beach Hottie was the father. I believe that Beach Hottie was Darren Wilden, which was why he was so interested and invested in her whereabouts, and makes sense why Cece then killed Wilden to stop him going after Alison. With the presence of Eliza, the little Amish girl, I think it should be considered that Eliza is Alison’s daughter, especially so because in the book series of Pretty Little Liars, Wilden’s character is Amish. This plot may have transferred over from the original source material, with Alison seeking shelter with Wilden’s estranged family to take care of the child. This would also tie in nicely as to why Alison was so fearful of seeing the Wilden mask when Elliot and Mary were driving her to insanity.

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I still truly believe that Melissa killed Charlotte for telling Wren about Bethany, but as to who could be Avenging Charlotte, at this point, is something I’m wondering about a lot. I think she also killed Sara Harvey, who was originalling trying to avenge Charlotte’s death. I believe Sara was close to revealing the murderer to the Liars, believing Spencer was in danger as she wasn’t Melissa’s biological sister. Obviously being family is a really strong motive, especially those trying to avenge Charlotte, hence why Mary and the second child (now Spencer) were really high up on the list. Another motive would be Charlotte’s love interest, hence why Elliot Rollins was a suspect, but now that he’s dead, someone else could be taking that role, but who? Wren? Charlotte and Wren have obviously been in contact for far longer than their recent phonecall, revealing Bethany’s killer. And why would Charlotte bother to tell on Melissa to Wren? Was it because she was jealous?

Another favourite theory of mine is that Alison DiLaurentis has been behind the A Game the whole time. From the moment she planned to leave Rosewood up until now, Ali might have been pulling the strings, maybe with Charlotte or not, but I think that would be pretty cool if Freeform can pull it off. Regardless, this coming April all of our questions will be answered and, hopefully, we will finally know everything! Do you have any theories that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

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Franklin (Part 3)

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Haley and I became inseparable. If we weren’t in class together, we were catching up at lunch, usually in the music room, and we always sat next to each other on the bus home. We started writing songs together, playing music and goofing off. Sometimes Jared would join us on bass, but it wasn’t until senior year, when we were playing open mic nights around Nashville that we realised we had a good thing going.

Haley practically lived with us, especially over the summer months. It was becoming tradition on the last day of school to walk home together instead of take the bus. Mom and Dad would be waiting for us and we’d have a barbecue that evening. It was always sunny on the last day.

Tim would make a fire and we’d sit around, cook sausages, toast marshmallows and eat s’mores, and talk about how much fun we were going to have over the summer. For Haley and I, that usually meant writing more music.

Afterwards, we would all set up camp in the basement, watch movies until the early hours of the morning and eat chocolate, just because there was no school the next day. Tim would fall asleep eventually, but Haley and I would always stay awake to watch the sunrise from the roof of the garage.

We sat there quietly, the red tones of Haley’s hair illuminated in the sun’s glow. She caught me staring and smiled.

“We’re not going to be able to do this next year,” she said.

“We will, it’ll just be…”

“Different,” she finished and forced a weak smile.

“We’ll be thinking about our future, and making the most of the time we have left.”

She sighed. “Mom is really against us going to college together.”

“Whatever,” I shrugged. “That’s our decision.”

“I just feel like I’m not ready, you know?”

“I know.” She looked out at the rising sun again, and I wrapped my arm around her tightly. “I bet you wouldn’t mind getting away from your mom and John though?” I said.

“Yeah,” she whispered.

“It’s not fair that he treats you the way that he does. I know you don’t think so, but believe me he treats you like shit.”

“He doesn’t hit me,” she replied.

“It’s not about that.” I kept quiet because I didn’t want to argue with her. I didn’t want to ruin the moment. “I just hate him hurting you,” I muttered, picking at the holes in my jeans.

Haley laid her head on my shoulder, and I rested mine on top of hers. Haley was right, leaving wasn’t easy no matter what we had to face. Leaving meant change, just when everything was starting to make sense for us.

We stayed like that for a while. We would be thankful for another year in Franklin, pushing the thoughts of the last “last day” from our minds.

~

Present Day

Mom closed the lounge door. I felt suffocated, smuggled blind, kicking and screaming into a situation that I had been trying to avoid. I hated confrontation, especially now. Haley and I had argued so much recently that I was sick of it. Haley paced the room, and I could see the rage in her eyes.

“You didn’t say anything, you just left.”

“I couldn’t do it, I thought you of all people would understand that,” I cried.

“I do, Taylor, but I thought something had happened to you.”

“I buried my father, that’s what happened.”

“I know this has been really tough for you, but if you had just… left a note… or -?”

“I just had to take some time out,” I insisted. My eyes were burning into hers, but not the way they usually did. “Things were getting… too hard.”

“I know that.”

“So why don’t you get off my back?” I could feel the heat rising from me.

“I’m not on your back.”

“Well, it feels just like that.”

“I know we’re not the same kids anymore, Taylor, but don’t treat me like a stranger.”

“I’m not.”

“I came down here because my boyf… my friend, my best friend, isn’t okay and that’s what friends do. What happened to night time walks around campus, or studying together after class or just playing music, like we used to.”

“We’re not those people anymore, Hales.”

Tears started welling in her eyes. “You haven’t called me that in a long time.”

“Jesus – I can’t do this -,”

“Why can’t you write music in front of me anymore, Taylor?” She asked. I couldn’t give her an answer no matter how hard I tried. “Is it because the songs are about me? The songs that we used to write together about our identity and friendship, about Franklin and us – do you remember that?” I avoided her gaze. “Are those songs we used to write now about me? Why did you push me away?”

“I don’t write music in front of you anymore because I can’t bear to – because everything has changed since then, Haley.” I took a breath, trying to work out everything that was going on in my mind.

“Taylor -,”

“I didn’t mean to push you away.”

“I think ‘cut me out’ is a more appropriate phrase.”

I thought I hated her for that.

“It’s because I care about what you think of me,” I cried. “I care if I fail in front of you. For so long I’ve spent my time looking after you, and I cannot accept the fact that I need looking after too.”

Haley closed her eyes, and let a small tear fall onto her cheek. “I know that.” Her voice was dry, and she sniffed loudly. “I’m here for you.”

“I’m not okay…” I resigned myself to it. I couldn’t pretend anymore. “I needed to come home and be with my Mom. I can’t settle at college knowing she’s here on her own.”

“She has Tim.”

“I know, but Tim has his own family to think about.” I saw in Haley’s eyes that she knew how I felt. “I thought I could go back to college but I don’t think I can,” I said.

She nodded. “If you think the best thing to do is come home then…”

“I know,” I reassured her. “I never thought we’d be having this conversation either.”

“It just scares me that I have to do this without you,” she whispered, and stepped forward to wrap her arms around my waist. I rested my chin on the top of her head, inhaling her scent all over again. I felt a stab of guilt, but I couldn’t decide what was right. “Where are we now?” She asked, looking up at me.

“I’m always going to love you, Hales. That’s all I’ve got.” She nodded, and I kissed her forehead, then looking down at her. “I’ll take you home?”

Haley looked up at me again with her big eyes blinking back tears. A ghost of a smile crept onto her face.

“Alright,” she said.

Franklin (Part 2)

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Haley and I first met in freshman year at Franklin High School. I was moving up with the rest of my grade, so I knew a lot of my classmates already, but Haley didn’t. She moved around the hallways like a fish out of water.

“So, what’s her story?” Jared asked me, as we walked past her down the corridor.

“Who?”

“The new girl.”

“How should I know?” I shrugged.

Jared gave me a look. “She looks kind of cool, though.”

I nodded. “Yeah, I like her style,” I agreed, thinking about how girls always dyed their hair peroxide blonde and wore tight jeans all the time. Haley didn’t seem to follow that trend. “I overheard her saying to Miss Williamson that she moved down from Indianapolis when her Mom got remarried.”

“See,” Jared grinned, and shoved me playfully. “I knew you’d hear something.”

“Are you coming to check out the music room?” I deflected, feeling the tips of my ears go hot. “I hear they’ve got six string basses.”

“Nah, I need to go ask Vanessa to Winter Formal. I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Alright, later,” I said, ducking into the music room and picking up one the guitars on a stand. I sat down on a nearby chair and gave it a strum. When I looked up, Haley was standing in the doorway wearing an oversized Phil Collins t-shirt and her trademark frizzy hair. We were a mess of acne, bad haircuts and thick eyeliner back then, but I still thought she was cute.

“Hi.”

“Hi,” I smiled, strumming a few chords again. I really hoped she hadn’t overheard mine and Jared’s conversation.

“You’re really good.”

“Thanks,” I stuttered.

She shuffled through the doorway and sat down on a chair opposite me.

“I’m Haley.”

“Taylor.”

“That’s a nice name.”

I had never heard my name be described as nice before. I shrugged. “It’s alright.”

“You’re really good,” she said again, looking down at the guitar I was playing.

My words stuck in my throat. “Thanks. Can you play?”

“Not really. I sing and write songs but they usually suck.”

I shrugged again. “I’m sure they’re alright.”

She smirked at me, but I wasn’t sure why, and I could feel my ears going hot again.

I cleared my throat. “So… the Alaskas are playing in Nashville on Saturday,” I said. “Do you know them?”

“Are they from Alaska?”

“No,” I laughed. “They’re Swedish.”

“They sound cool though.”

“Well they have this album coming out; it’s called We’re Not Actually from Alaska.” Haley snorted. “I know,” I laughed with her. “But they’re really good… and I was thinking of going…”

“Is this a really long winded way of asking me out?” She asked.

“No. I mean – yes. I mean.” I could feel myself sweating. “Do you wanna go? I mean, with me – to see the show. If you want to…”

Haley looked at me, her eyes big and blue, and her goofy smile showing the gap between her front teeth. She had a nice accent, and suddenly I found myself smiling.

“Alright.”

Taylor – Taylor!” I shook the thoughts from my mind. Back in the coffee shop, Tim was waving his hand in front of my face with a sympathetic smile.

~

The next day, I was still thinking about Haley and me, as I lay on my bed staring up at the ceiling, admiring the poster for The Alaskas I bought at their concert. I suppose it was mine and Haley’s first date. I don’t remember if The Alaskas were any good or not, but I’ve had the poster ever since.

Mom knocked on my bedroom door. “Are you alright, honey?” She asked, pushing it open.

I sat up, leaning on my elbows. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

Mum stood in the doorway clutching our home phone. “We had a strange voicemail from Haley this morning. Maybe you should give her a call?”

“Okay. Yeah – maybe,” I nodded.

Mom smiled and closed the door again. I looked towards my phone on my bedside table, which hadn’t vibrated since earlier that morning. Thirteen missed calls. I knew Haley would want an explanation from me but she must have guessed where I was.

I thought about her finding my empty room, all the clothes gone from the wardrobe, my truck gone from the parking lot. I hadn’t left a note but there were still books on my shelf, which I thought made it clear I would return at some point. I just didn’t know when. There was so much I had to do, get over what happened to my Dad, finish college… put things right with Haley… continue with my life. It all seemed so impossible.

I got up off my bed and headed downstairs for some milk. As I got to the stairs, I overheard my Mom on phone in the hall. I sat down at the top of the staircase and listened in, resting my forehead on the banister, like I used to do when Mom and Dad would argue.

“… I just feel like he gets mad at me every time I try and make sure he’s alright.” Mom said into the phone. “Of course, he isn’t alright, his father is…” She sighed deeply. “I don’t know how to help him, Tim. I know he’s gone back to college since but that doesn’t change anything. I’m glad he’s home, at least I can keep and eye on him here… I’ll talk to him, I will… what? Come on… Tim, tell me… they broke up?”

My Mom started to cry. A wave of crashing disappointment washed over me. Everything flashed into the forefront of my mind. Haley and I. Running, laughing, drinking, crying, shouting. They had been talking about me. My Mom was crying and they were talking about me and me and Haley had broken up and my Mom was crying.

“He just doesn’t need this right now,” she choked out as the doorbell rang. “I’m sorry, honey. I have to go. I’ll call you tomorrow.” Mom put the receiver back on its holder and opened the door. “Oh my God,” she said, as Haley stepped in out of the rain.

“I’m sorry,” Haley said, and then looked up at me. “But I didn’t know what else to do.”

Franklin (Part 1)

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Franklin was originally a short story I wrote in my second year of university, and was my first assignment to achieve a First class mark. It’s a piece I am immensely proud of, and wanted to share it here in a serialised form for my readers to enjoy.

Franklin

by Clare Holman-Hobbs

My Mom always used to say “if you ever feel afraid, all you have do is come home.” I thought about her words long and hard as I stifled a yawn, the sun rising over the dusty hills of my hometown. Franklin wasn’t far now that I was seeing signs for Nashville. My cell phone vibrated on the passenger seat next to me but I ignored it, and kept my eyes on the road.

The UNC campus had been dark when I left, probably around midnight. I would be lying if I said I had made the decision to come home rationally, but I couldn’t sit in the four walls of my dorm room any longer. As I headed out towards my car with my heavy duffle bag slung over my shoulder, I glanced up at Haley’s window. I knew she’d worry about me, about where I’d gone when she knocked for me in the morning for breakfast like usual. I considered going back for that reason alone, but I didn’t want another argument.

I shook the thought from my mind, realising I had almost passed the turning. People were stirring on the streets of Franklin as I turned down Main Street, commuters passing by on their way into the city and shops owners unlocking their doors. I drove further into the suburbs, passing house after house until I got to mine. It hadn’t changed a bit since I left; only this time, the driveway was empty. I pulled in, taking the space where my father’s car used to be and shut off the engine. I sighed, looking at the worn out wood of the porch, the swing swaying slightly in the breeze.

I got out of my truck, slamming the door behind me and checking my watch. After composing myself, I rang the doorbell, reminding myself to breathe. After about a minute, the front door creaked open, and my mother emerged from around the dark oak that separated us. Her face was pale.

“Taylor. I heard your truck. I thought it was you,” she said quietly. “What are you doing here?”

In the shadow of the cold, empty house that I had fled from months ago, I asked myself the same question.

~

After I got back, my brother Tim and I met at the coffee shop in town. I had spent a lot of time in the basement; trying to make my fingers move coherently enough to play a decent song on my guitar, but it all came out in fragments of an un-tuned mess. Tim took one look at me and knew I needed a break, practically marching me out of the front door and into his car. In the café, he sat across from me, shaking the sugar packet between his thumb and forefinger.

“I couldn’t believe it when Mom called,” he said, breaking off the top of the packet and pouring the sugar into his coffee.

“I know,” I agreed, forcing a weak smile and picking up a packet of sugar from the bowl on the table.

“Little bro – back in town,” Tim muttered, sipping from the steaming mug.

I poured the sugar into the coffee and stirred it, taking a sip; beautiful and bitter, just how I liked it. I sighed and tried to relax.

Tim noticed my posture. “You didn’t bring Haley back with you?”

“Not this time.”

“How come?”

I inhaled deeply, trying to begin. Tim raised his eyebrows at me.

“We’re not together anymore; she doesn’t know I’m here.”

Tim’s eyes widened. “Are you serious?”

“Yeah.”

“Taylor and Haley. Like Lennon and McCartney. I never thought I’d see the day.”

“I know,” I sighed. “I can barely believe it myself.”

“What happened, man?”

“Well, I can’t listen to Fleetwood Mac anymore.”

Over his shoulder, I saw a girl with deep chestnut curls. My breath caught, heart hammered against my chest, eyes transfixed on her as she turned her head. It wasn’t her. It couldn’t be.

I looked back to Tim and opened my mouth, but I couldn’t find the words, or the strength to begin to tell him of our downfall, of how everything had changed, and how I had lost the best thing to ever have happened to me. I had lost Haley. I may as well have lost a limb too.