Somewhere between the Missing Drake reveal, a convenient decapitation, and the Liars being afraid of the aim of a blind woman (she's not Daredevil, you guys) on the season finale of Pretty Little Liars, you might have missed that "The DArkest Knight" capped off what had been called the "Summer of Romance." As straightforward as it seemed to be (get all the Santa Shorts Players back to Rosewood, pair them off with Liars, serve with A.D. unmasking), the course of true love never did run smoothly. And such is the case with the OTP couples. Please forgive me, Shakespeare.

The end of Season 7A brought with it some extra twists to that course and, while watching all reason and logic unspool in that abandoned school for the blind (seriously, I'm worried about the commercial real estate market in Rosewood), let's not forget that one of the OTP couples consummated their relationship, one of them found a new/old obstacle, one might've been saved by a horrific accident, and another could be irreparably damaged by the dumbest BS this show feels is OK to deliver to fans. Let's start with the one where Spencer takes a shot in the dark.

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So Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Toby (Keegan Allen) weren't exactly on for the entirely of Season 7A, what with Toby having a non-Spencer fiancée and all, but there certainly was a palpable tension between them. Toby's ill-advised confession that Spencer was his most perfect girlfriend and that he built a house for her was an unfortunate body blow. And while it certainly reestablished the connection between these two, does that justify Spencer asking for a kiss before Toby and Yvonne (Kara Royster) made their way up to Maine? Who asks for a farewell make-out session? "I know you're taking off for American Canada tonight to build a family with a woman you dedicated your life to. But do you mind if I roll my tongue into your mouth for a couple minutes before you go? I believe I deserve some PG-13 prima nocta."

Two things entered my head immediately. First, A.D. is definitely watching that one with some judgmental clucking and a telephoto lens. Second, Spencer was being so brash about getting one last smooch that I thought she was wearing some of that Peggy Carter knockout lipstick. Maybe her plan was to convince him to stay and, if he wouldn't, she was going to kiss him asleep and then drag him back to the Hastings compound. I don't know why Spencer is Poison Ivy all of a sudden when she's always been Batman. I'm just saying it was out of place.

But that might not be the end of Spoby anyway, since before he could escape the gravity of the black hole that is Rosewood, he got into (another) terrible car accident. Also I'm pretty sure his house was bought by A.D. like some kind of anti-Petra-from-Jane-the-Virgin situation, where this quaint little place is going to be be lair'd with Liar mugshot wallpaper and miscellaneous doll parts. Nowhere else for Toby to go but the warm embrace of Spencer's tiger cardigan.

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With the five-year jump, the institutional quagmire Ezra (Ian Harding) and Aria (Lucy Hale) seemed to blissfully ignore was removed and all that was left was a woman on the crest of success who was still in love with a sad sack townie. The silver lining to Aria going back to Rosewood and falling into the Fitz pit is that at least she wasn't waiting for him while she was away. Jason (Drew Van Acker) and Liam (Roberto Aguire) couldn't be more different but they were both success stories compared to the recovering creeping addict she left them for.

Sincerely, Season 7A might have been Ezra at his most likable, despite being such an easy target for fun-poking. The proposal was to be expected, and Aria's hesitation might be the most sensible (if surprising) thing she's done in at least two seasons. She also let Ezra fly away to see if he would return, but instead, she now has to best a woman who survived guerrillas to return to Ezra. Being more impressive than Ezra's philanthropist ex-girlfriend might be a tall order. And tallness isn't really Aria's game.

Chances are they still end up together. There's no telling what A.D.'s connection is to South American politics and why Nicole (Rebecca Breeds) happened to be kidnapped. But it'll eventually contribute to an Ezria happy ending. No one's an Ezrole 'shipper. Nizra? These sound like Pokémon.


With so much doubt for two of the more stable couples pre-time jump, Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) finally found their way to each other. Previous to Ms. Marin and Mr. Rivers pulling each other's clothes off, the Summer of Romance had been curiously devoid of the adult themes that permeated Season 6B. Haleb more than made up for it on the rug in Lucas's apartment. Lucas (Brendan Robinson), seemingly, can't catch a break.

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Haleb was one of the least contentious of the relationships. Caleb was never one of Hanna's authority figures. He was never a member of the A Army (that we know of). And he's never tried to drown Hanna even once. And while there's still a lot of time on the clock for the rest of the season, and any number of problems could come up between befouling that shag and their happily ever after, the reunion felt more like a permanent situation. That is, unless Hanna eats more fast-food leftovers for breakfast. Caleb seemed pretty upset about her cold fry habit.


Unfortunately, the success of Haleb spells the end for Spencer and Caleb to realize that Hacker and the Brain really worked. It's been a very punishing season for Spencer.


Is it me, or is Paige (Lindsey Shaw) getting more... anxious? Her return to Rosewood meant that that OTP couples were going to get together, and Paige has already shepherded Emily (Shay Mitchell) away from being happy with a normal human being. But she also seems to have the same hangups about Alison (turns out rightfully so — see below). She's also kind of a creeper, looking at people through windows and finding herself in awkward situations with the police so she could give Emily some paperwork (why does Paige have it?). Off and on throughout the series, Paige has been a suspect, and it seems like the show is ramping up that effort again. It would fit in with Emily's M.O. to get busy with the women who threaten her livelihood most.

On the other hand, it would be nice for Emily to have a stable, not suspicious significant other for a change. It's time for the Fields House for Wayward Girls to close its doors. Here's hoping Paily makes it through its more heinous obstacles.


When you look at any of I. Marlene King's tweets, you tend to notice something off. It has nothing to do with a human being communicating to the world images of her lovely children or celebrating the coworkers who make her job as showrunner for Pretty Little Liars uniquely special. It's not even the popularity of her tweets or how every word is parsed for clues about the mysteries of her greatest soap. The thing I notice is how quickly and efficiently a certain segment of the PLL fandom mobilizes.

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Not the Ezria faithful. Not those who are still angry about Wren not being in the hoodie at the end of 6A. The answer is the most cracked 'ship on the show. One that represents a power imbalance second only to the institutional one between Aria and Ezra. As soon as Marlene tweets, one of the first ten responses is usually someone who tweets, in all caps, EMISON. It's like if you were to step out on your porch to collect the paper on a beautiful morning and shouted a greeting at your neighbor, only to find that a brooding teen had materialized in your front lawn, growling the only word she cares to produce.

Emison. The lingering mouthfeel of a vomit burp. Emison. The collected filth in your intestines. Emison. The smell of sweaty sock fuzz trapped under your toe nails.

Part of me likes the idea of Alison's (Sasha Pieterse) sexual fluidity. While the show never comes out and directly says that Ali is bisexual, if that fluidity is sincere, it's a well-done representation without labels. But there is doubt that hangs over any positivity. Despite the attempt at redemption for our blonde queen bee, both of her stints with Emily have been short-lived and have taken advantage of Em's everlasting crush in order for her to regain some authority. Both times have been when Ali's life might feel like it's at its most out-of-control (returning to Rosewood where A could find her, and possibly having the child of a psychotic grifter). Manipulating Emily's emotions could be a way for Alison to regain some semblance of control.

As long as Alison has that power over Emily, and as long as Emily is all too willing to cave to that power, Emison will always be a little disturbing. So to watch a maybe-pregnant Alison use her vulnerability against Emily like a weapon is kind of gross. Particularly since Emily is in romantic limbo with two other girls in town already. This felt like a small moment of fan service more than anything, an opportunity to get the EMISON teens off Marlene's lawn. Paily (unless Paige is A.D.) is the future, and Emison is a convenient dalliance for Alison whenever she feels the need to control something when her uterus is betraying her.

Unless Alison is carrying Emily's baby. Did Archer (Huw Collins) find a way to take Emily's eggs that've been floating around and implant them into Alison? That'd be in the top 5 worst things this show has done.


Noel (Brant Daugherty) and Jenna (Tammin Sursok): Remember when they were dating? Now it kind of seems difficult to reunite given Noel's death by battle axe. Why did the blind kids have a battle axe again?

Mona (Janel Parrish) and Mike (Cody Allen Christian): There's not a chance that Mike could handle the Eidetic Brain. Mona is only suited for the cleverest of world leaders and military dictators.

Byron (Chad Lowe) and Ella (Holly Marie Combs): Remember when that took up time on the show?

Pastor Ted (Edward Kerr) and Ashley (Laura Leighton): I really hope Pastor Ted isn't in on any of this. He has been noticeably absent. Maybe it was to make latex masks and tiny Liar figurines.

Peter Hastings (Nolan North) and the Drake Women (Andrea Parker): Who knew that Peter's inability to tell his mistress from her sister would become like a commandment morality play? You don't create an opportunity for history's greatest monster if you don't dabble in the Drake arts on the down low.