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Tuesday, Aug 3, 2021
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Pretty Little Liars S5x13 How the ‘A’ Stole Christmas

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Deck the hall with boughs and bodies, fa la la la la…. Pretty Little Liars first Christmas special brought us all the glitz, glamour and shiver inducing creepiness we could ask for this holiday season.

Our little liars are making the best of a bleak situation (with Spence going on trial for murder soon), enjoying the rare snowfall in their cozy little Pennsylvania town. Rosewood has managed to be snow free ’til now, so it looks like Mother Nature decided to hit them with four years of snow in one night. Welcome to winter, ladies.

Emily is still in I Love Christmas mode, speaking of wishes, while Hanna seems to be the only one truly mourning the loss of Mona. Ever the strategist, Mona had a backup plan should she bite the dust, sending Hanna handmade blueprints of Ali’s house, including her hiding places, via lawyer. Looks like the girls have been given one final mission to take down Ali. Liars Unite!

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Alison Dilaurentis is back on top, Queen Bee, seemingly loyal minions in tow, throwing the biggest party of the season. It only seems fitting the Ice Queen would celebrate her victory with an Ice Ball. Unfortunately for Ali, her rampant imagination has her starring as Scrooge in a PLL Christmas Carol. Things are about to get spooky.

Ali’s dream adventures begin with a childhood flashback of simpler times and a much more innocent Alison. Little Ali finds presents hidden in her piano, opening them, confused to find two identical yellow dresses. Mrs. D catches her, warning her to never tell her father about the second dress. They rehearse the lie, and a monster is born. Ali’s spirit guide is Corpse Bride Mona, looking fiercely fabulous even in death. Who knew black lipstick and sunken eyes could be so chic?

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Toby has managed to survive the car accident from the summer finale with a broken leg, which has led him to a life of peeping tommery in an homage to the classic Hitchcock movie, Rear Window. Apparently, it is part of the plan in Operation Raid Ali’s House. Spencer is feeling a bit discouraged, refusing to let hope in, convinced this may be her last Christmas not in a jail cell. For once, the cautious Spencer is saying Carpe Diem (I’d say YOLO, but I can’t bring myself to go down that slippery slope), revealing her sexy Merry Ho Ho “gesture”. Toby, you lucky dog.

Hanna has given up tight skirts and stilettos for elf clothes and shoes that jingle to work the church youth group Christmas event with Caleb. She shows off a hidden talent, sign language, with a deaf girl, before Caleb points out the next generation Ali picking on her. Hanna takes things into her own hands, calling out the mini mean girls. When assertive has no effect, Hanna gets real. “You know you should start looking over your shoulder because you’re making a lot of enemies, and in Rosewood, bitches get buried.” Round one to Hanna. Mini Ali leaves alone, while the other girls see the error of their ways.  Caleb is a mixture of amused and proud of his girl.

Rosewood High Choir (including Emily, Paige, Aria, Jenna, Sydney, and inexplicably, Ezra) is singing for the local nursing home. Ezra has chosen now to give Aria his “low key” gift: very sparkly, probably very expensive earrings and wrap bow ring. Also an exquisite, perfectly Aria dress. Boy, those Fitz(geralds) are not big on subtlety, are they? Sydney has found the courage to speak to Emily, who is obviously not over the whole ‘Sydney is secret besties with Jenna’ thing. Sydney tries to explain Jenna isn’t the devil they think she is, but Emily is having none of it. Paige shows up, upset her parents want her to come to California after Christmas. Emily doesn’t take the hint (more on that later), but Aria interrupts to point out the mistletoe before Paige can explain. A mistletoe Paily kiss commences. ❤

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Ali has transformed her new twin minions just in time for her big ball. It’s events like these that almost make me wish I lived in Rosewood. The parties are elaborate works of art in and of themselves, pulling out all the stops to create an elegant, whimsical wintery wonderland for Ali to rule over. The liars are dressed to the nines, in so many sparkles, jewels and glitter, one may have to avert their eyes should a spotlight hit them. #fashionicons

For some unexplained reason, Lucas is in front of the camera as Santa Claus instead of his usual spot, the photographer. He and Spencer have a little tete a tete to confirm he is in fact on Team Liars. Ali chooses her entrance well with a power song, emerging from the top of the staircase flanked by her minions. Bow down, little bees. The queen has arrived. Spencer and Hanna use this opportune moment to slip out for some trespassing, you know, the usual.

Aria, who is on Ali watch, is able to sneak a peek behind the curtain to witness Alison making out with an unknown Santa. He seems too thin to be Lucas, so who is this mystery Saint Nick? Aria reports the news to Emily, but the pair is gone by the time they return to the curtain. They check on Lucas, who’s still in place, and begin the search for the couple. Aria is stopped by Holbrook, in a Santa costume more akin to Billy Bob Thornton than Tim Allen. He feels the need to poke the Ezria bear, making sure she knows he knows about her and Ezra. Aria picks up on his enhanced creep factor, putting him at the top of the Secret Santa list. Ezra spots Ali wandering into the Winter Wonderland Maze (seriously? It’s like she’s asking to be ambushed). A White Coat is following her, which she soon spots in a mirror. No worries though, it’s Cece, the psychopath who should be in Paris, not Rosewood. Uh oh.

Emily is led by one of Ali’s minions to a secluded lounge area, where she reveals her identity, Sydney. And Jenna. They insist they are working on Team Ali to cover their own butts, but have no real loyalty towards her. Here’s hoping that’s true. Ali, Jenna, and Sydney together seems like it would form some kind of unholy trinity and none of us wants that to come to fruition. All involved believe Ali killed Mona. At least we’re all on the Ali is a Crazy Person train. All aboard!

Cece has brought Ali her own personalized perfume back from France. Is there a way to bottle deception, brimstone, and essence of  demonic youth? Cece reveals the other liars are at the party looking to take down Ali. There is no way Ali hasn’t spotted them by now, so I’m unsure why she acts surprised.

Meanwhile, Hanna and Spencer have broken into the Dilaurentis house. Spencer handles the downstairs area while Hanna searches Ali’s 2nd level hiding places. First up, Ali’s room. Hanna finds a fake passport taped to the inside of a birdcage. She brings the passport to Spencer who puts everything together as only she can. The fake name is Holly Varjak, furthering Ali’s obsession with Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Spence has found newspaper clippings revealing Ali has been talking to someone through personal ads, much the same way -A gave her marching orders to Mona. It’s not looking good for Ali right now.

The rest of the group back at the party have been ruminating on Holbrook’s part in this whole scheme. Emily admits she knew Cece was in New York that night, that Ali helped her escape the country, that Holbrook must’ve been in on it. Ali and White Coat come out of the maze. Emily and Aria immediately follow them through the back halls of whatever this giant venue is. Paige and Lucas cut them off. Only it’s not Ali and Cece, it’s two random blondes wearing the elusive Ali masks and the pair’s clothes. Ali should have a magic show in Vegas, her disappearing acts are on par with David Copperfield.

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Back at Casa Dilaurentis, Hanna has made her way up to the attic. She finds a key to Ali’s treasure chest of useless objects (although the Excellence in Archery award worries me a bit. Knowing Ali has Katniss Everdeen skills can’t be a mark in the plus column.) Toby has been window watching this whole time a la James Stewart, hoping Grace Kelly makes it out before the creepy tenant comes home. However, -A is already in the house, brandishing a scary looking knife.

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Spencer manages to hide, but Hanna is upstairs completely unaware. Hanna cuts open a small crawl space to find a jack-in-the-box. She realizes the clue isn’t IN the box but ON the box, Mad Hatter, leading her to the tower of hat boxes nearby.

Spencer waits until -A has left the room, then sends a warning text to Hanna. Only Hanna left her phone downstairs. Spence shows Peeping Toby both phones. In a desperate attempt to get Hanna’s attention, he sets off his flash bulb as fast as he can. Hanna is clueless, totally wrapped up in her investigation of the hat boxes. Ali had a fan club of pen pals,  and then, the money note. A letter from Bethany to Ali accepting the invitation to visit on Labor Day. Finally, concrete proof Ali knew Bethany and lured her to Rosewood the weekend she was killed. Spencer has broken a picture frame and made a rudimentary weapon from a glass shard, following -A up towards Hanna. -A gets there first, Hanna screams, Spencer finds her passed out on the floor, the attic window open. The girls assume -A went out the window, but we know better. The creepy voodoo baby mask from Halloweens past is hiding among the other grotesque masks and this one has human eyes staring back.

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Ali is safe at home in her pajamas when Ghostly Mona returns to haunt her with depressing holiday movies. Oh, and a coffin. Can’t forget Christmas future, now can we? Ali walks up to the casket, opening it to reveal herself. Ali asks when her death will occur but Mona only replies Ali is the only one that even cares. Black Veil Woman appears and reveals herself to be Mrs. D. She warns Ali of the oncoming storm, shadows soar over the walls, Ali tries to escape, but resistance is futile. She awakes terrified to a testy Mona. “Wake up, it’s Christmas! And I promise, you don’t want to miss it.” Then, zap! Ghost Mona disappears.

Team Liars have convened at the Hastings house, all dejected to be missing Christmas with their families, who were all conveniently out of town the day before. All is forgotten however, when the studly men of PLL parade down the stairs sans shirt in their Santa boxers. (and an adorable Paige with shirt, of course. This is ABC Family, not Showtime). Now, THAT’S my kind of Christmas!

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Paige admits to Emily that her parents don’t think it’s safe for her in Rosewood anymore, they want her to MOVE to California, not visit for winter break. They share a tearful hug…. is this the end of Paily? Not that I blame Paige’s parents, though. She’s only been through half the terrors the rest of the girls have and they are the only ones to get out of dodge before their daughter really gets hurt.

The group celebrates Christmas together with a beautifully put together dinner with a different kind of family, a family we choose, our friends. It’s so wonderful to see the girls and their significant others have a peaceful moment to be grateful for all they do have in this crazy, messed up world. Sleigh bells jingle, ashes fall into the roaring fire. It must be Santa! Everyone rushes outside to see a decked out Christmas tree in the backyard. Alas, this is Pretty Little Liars, not a Hallmark movie. Lights on the barn flicker to life line by line, “Merry Christmas, Bitches -A”  You can have the holidays, girls, but in the new year, a new battle begins. Cheers!

 

 

Sitings: www.abcfamily.com, yourreactiongifs.tumblr.com

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