‘Tis the season, Liars fans, for some good ol’ fashioned PLL holiday spirit! Which, in Rosewood, means an enchantingly beautiful and simultaneously horrifying Yuletide Ball complete with both Santa, A, and Ali; a ghostly MonA/Jacob Marley mash-up; and the liArs and their significant others taking over the Hastings’ home to play house together. There’s lots to recap, so let’s get to it, hmm?
Lindsay: We open with the liArs strolling down Rosewood’s Main Street, looking at store windows and talking about how they miss MonA (she was murdered in the last episode, if you don’t remember) and how much they hate Ali. So, a little bit different than where we left off. Spencer is out on bail for MonA’s murder, and as they’re walking, Hanna is served with a note that MonA left for her should she bite it at the hands of A. Spooky, but typical MonA forethought.
Jess: MonA’s lawyer (because of course she had one) also gives Hanna a bunch of maps of Ali’s house, with all of Ali’s secret hiding spots marked. Cha-ching! Even from A’s trunk, MonA’s still helpful. Also worth noting in this opening scene? How Grinch-like all the liArs feel (except Em, who loooves Christmas). They are NOT excited about the “I’m rubbing ruining your lives in your faces” Ice Ball that Ali’s throwing.
Lindsay: Speaking of the Ice Ball, Lucas (playing Santa tells Spencer that he’ll do whatever he can to help her and the other liArs defeat Ali’s army. They seem to have some plan to sneak out of the party, and then Ali arrives, with four masked ladies-in-waiting in tow. Why are they in masks? And why does no one notice that skulking figure in a white fur hooded cape? It’s the winter version of what the KKK would wear. I also want to put out there that Ali’s dress is way too matronly for her, especially since Sasha Pieterse is actually 18 in real life. Anywho, Aria sees Ali kissing Santa Claus (the puns are strong with this episode), who turns out to be #HotCop (Holbrook). Merry statutory and a happy jail time to you, Holbrook. Ali chases that hooded figure through a “winter wonderland maze”, because of course there’s a maze in every episode, and guess who it is! It’s CeCe! Welcome back, girl. She hands Ali a custom fragrance she made for Ali in Le Marais (since CeCe has been in Paris). They get down to business soon enough, and it seems like CeCe is rooting for Ali to take down the rest of the liArs.
Jess: While CeCe and Ali are catching up and Em and Aria stake out the Ice Ball, Hanna and Spencer snoop around the DiLaurentis’ house, using MonA’s maps. They want to find proof that Ali killed Bethany to exonerate Spence. Hanna finds a passport with Ali’s pic and the name “Holly Varjak” (a Breakfast at Tiffany’s reference, btdubbs), a Mad Hatter jack-in-the-box, and a letter from Bethany to Ali from summer camp (“Can’t wait to see you on Labor Day weekend!”). Camp? How did Ali possibly have time to do ONE more thing that summer?! Spencer finds a bunch of personal ads that prove Ali was communicating with SOMEone through the ads (like she did with MonA the summer before she died). And Toby watches the action from his wheelchair in Spencer’s room, a la Rear Window. He spots a hooded figure with a knife in the DiLaurentis’ living room, where Spencer is hiding under a table. Hanna gets knocked out by A because she leaves her phone downstairs and doesn’t get Spencer’s warning text — what is this, amateur hour? This is season 5, Han!
Lindsay: Also at the Ice Ball, Trouty Mouth and Jenna corner Emily and tell her that they are only doing what they need to do (aka be friends with Ali) to stay alive. Everyone thinks that Ali killed MonA, so I’m glad we’re all on the same page. Hooded CeCe and Ali try to take a back way to leave the party, so Em and Aria follow them in hot pursuit (as do Paige and Lucas), only to find that it is not CeCe and Ali, but the twins in scary Ali masks. Creeeeeepy.
Jess: Can we talk about the wonderfulness that is MonA as Jacob Marley taking Ali through her own version of A Christmas Carol? First of all, MonA looks amazing, and not even “for a dead girl/ghost” amazing. Just...amazing. She’s all dressed up for Ali’s Ice Ball, natch. Second of all, her very appearance is preceded by a vision of Mrs. DiLaurentis, who warns Ali: “She has a lot to show you. Pay attention.” Will Ali? Probs not because she interprets this (as she tells CeCe) this as her mother trying to save her from MonA. Um, no.
MonA shows Ali the Christmas past, present, and future, which involve 1) Young Ali learning how to lie after she discovered two identical presents and is instructed by her mother to pretend she only saw one (Present-Ali asks MonA if the second gift in the past was for Bethany, but MonA’s not telling.); 2) Ali alone watching A Christmas Carol; and 3) Ali in a coffin with no legs and no one at her funeral...except the woman in the black lace veil (who turns out to be Mrs. D). The Black Widow tells Ali that “it’s all [her] fault” and “they’ll be coming for [Ali] soon.” And then Ali goes to hell! Spooky.
Lindsay: As the liArs sit in the afterglow of not being killed by A, they’re all like “hey, now we know Ali knew Bethany, we rule!” It’s never that simple, liArs (and beAus). You know it’s never that simple.
Pretty Little Secret Santas:
- Even from beyond the grave, MonA’s still a badass. When Ali asks her a question about her first A Christmas Carol flashback, MonA responds, “It’s not gonna be that easy, bitch.” BOOM, MonA Marley, out.
- “Mean girls stay mean.” Preach it, Hanna. I love that Hanna schools the mini-Ali and her crew at the ambiguous “hand out prezzies to children” event she and Caleb are working (dressed like elves), but I’m not sure she’s allowed to tell a ten-year-old that “in Rosewood, bitches get buried.” But, you know, whatever.
- Toby is in a wheelchair with a cast (he broke his leg in a car accident in the last episode) and a long-lens camera? It’s obviously very Rear Window, and I appreciate Marlene King bringing in something 16-year-olds won’t know about.
- Why is Jenna at the carol singing? Who invited her? Who led her there? Trouty Mouth? I just don’t care about seeing her anymore.
- Paige is wearing a suit. Because she has to wear pants to make sure we all know she’s a lesbian. We get it, guys.
- CeCe’s Ice Ball outfit? Part Santa, part Silver Surfer, part KKK robe. It’s...weird.
So we end with the liArs and boyfriends/girlfriend all celebrating Christmas together like it’s totally normal to hang with your BFF’s boyfriend who also happens to be your English teacher but WHATEVS. Ali watches through the window and walks away sadly. Boohoo, bitch, you deserve it. Anyway, the liArs are happy because the Bethany letter might help Spencer...but then they walk outside to find a tree and a “Merry Christmas, Bitches!” from A. And with that, we wish you a happy holiday season and a happy new year! Leave your festive thoughts on this A-tastic episode in the comments, and we’ll see you in January!