Prior to the final season of Pretty Little Liars two years ago, I went back and re-watched Season 1 for a series of articles. What really stuck out to me then was how hum-drum the first half of season one was compared to what the series became. I feel the same way about The Perfectionists. What is hopefully just the first half of Season 1 (the show hasn't been picked up for any more episodes yet) has been kind of slow, but the (mid)season finale, "Enter the Professor," just made a turn that portends great things in the show's future... if it gets to keep telling its story.
We all knew Jeremy (Graeme Thomas King) didn't kill Nolan (Chris Mason), right? We've all watched TV before, so that one was a no-brainer. But what it turned out to be was so much more interesting than I could have guessed. Apparently the person who killed Nolan and who had been terrorizing the Trio all season was some mysterious "professor." He or she picked out Caitlin (Sydney Park), Ava (Sofia Carson), Dylan (Eli Brown), Mona (Janel Parrish), and Alison (Sasha Pieterse) for some "experiment," the purpose of which is still unknown.
It also sounded like there were two other people who were part of the experiment, based on the two empty chairs left when the main five characters all arrived for their secret Crimson Society meeting (which was all a ruse to get them to an abandoned building). Presumably, these two missing people were Taylor (Hayley Erin) and Ray Hogadorn (Duffy Epstein), since they kept popping up on the Beacon Guard list along with the main five.
What remains to be seen is if Taylor is even alive at this point; when the core five went to look at her RV, it blew up right before their eyes. Supposedly Taylor was at a mental health facility, but we don't know for sure where she is. And Ray hasn't been seen on-screen since Mona met him back in Episode 5, so he could be... well, he could be a lot of things. He could be dead. He could be Mr. Hotchkiss in hiding. He could be the professor. Who really knows with this show?
It also remains to be seen what this professor person actually wants. The only thing he or she made the core five do in this episode was reveal their biggest fears. Caitlin is afraid to fail, Ava is afraid to become like her father, Dylan is afraid to go back home, Alison is afraid she's too broken to be fixed, and Mona... well, Mona kind of copped out. Mona said she's afraid of dying before she knows who the professor is. Hopefully that does not foreshadow a future in which a dying Mona learns the professor's identity right before she goes to the big A lair in the sky.
All we know for sure is that this "professor" sounds like he or she is an actual professor at Beacon Heights, based on when Zach (Garrett Wareing) offered the professor coffee at the end of the episode and actually called him or her "professor."
So to recap the unknowns we had going into this episode: Who killed Nolan, who hit Caitlin with his/her car, who the pig-man in the sewer is, who the missing Hotchkiss family member in Beacon Guard's system is, who killed Mr. Hotchkiss, and who threatened to kill Taylor when she found out he or she was spying on people using Beacon Guard.
We now know (or can be reasonably sure) that Nolan's death, Caitlin's hit-and-run, and the person who threatened Taylor are the professor. I'm guessing the pig-man in the sewer was Jeremy, working under the professor's orders. But the identity of Mr. Hotchkiss's killer and the missing Hotchkiss family member still seem up in the air. They could be the professor, but it would maybe be more interesting if some other nefarious person was out there in addition to the professor, so I'm going to reserve judgment on those two unknowns for now.
Alison & Mona
Our two resident Rosewood transfers made two big professional decisions in the finale. First, Alison decided to change her graduate focus to psychology in order to study what might make this professor person tick. It was kind of a weak excuse to throw another wrinkle in the mix, but the wrinkle is pretty great, so I'll allow it. The wrinkle is that Dr. Fielder (Dana Millican), the head of the psych department, ended the episode by calling someone and saying, "I just hired Alison DiLaurentis as my new TA. She doesn't know it yet, but she's in."
It's implied that Fielder called the professor and now Alison may be unwittingly working for him or her. I'm very curious to see how this plays out if the show gets renewed.
With Mona, she was packing her bags after Claire Hotchkiss (Kelly Rutherford) fired her for sleeping with Mason (Noah Gray-Cabey)... right up until Mason told Mona that Claire also slept with him after Nolan died (ewwwww, Claire!) and Mona blackmailed herself back into a job. She still told Mason they can't be together, but look for that to an on-again, off-again problem if the show comes back.
Overall, I thought "Enter the Professor" was a solid wrap-up to what is hopefully just the beginning of The Perfectionists.
Additional thoughts on the episode:
- Ava, Caitlin, and Dylan all had a few personal developments that bear mentioning:
Ava's father tried to use her to get his hands on the rest of the money he stole, and she double-crossed him and returned it to the rightful owners, including Zach's family. Yay Ava!
Caitlin refused to go to Washington, D.C. with her mom, so she was cut off. Her life at BHU will look quite different when/if the show comes back.
Luke (Phillip Rhys), a guy who bullied Dylan in high school for being gay, now has a coffee truck on campus. He apologized to Dylan for what he did, saying it was out of jealousy and resentment because he, Luke, is also gay but was afraid to come out like Dylan did. Look for that to be a possible love triangle if the show comes back.
- Finally, is Jeremy dead? The professor told the five that Jeremy had been removed from the equation. What exactly does that mean? Wouldn't Jeremy be able to identify the professor because he (Jeremy) did surveillance work for him/her? That makes him a loose end that needs to be tied up, so I don't love Jeremy's chances right now.
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists has not yet been renewed.