After the Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists premiere last week, who had episode two in the office pool for when Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) would shed her Pollyanna skin and revert to her devious ways? (And thank goodness for that because PollyAlison is not why Pretty Little Liars fans are watching the spin-off, right?)
In Episode 2, titled "Sex, Lies and Alibis," the focus was strictly on Nolan Hotchkiss' (Chris Mason) death, which was ruled a homicide by authorities (and not a suicide, as many at Beacon Heights had assumed). Unfortunately, that left viewers hanging in terms of the "Taylor Hotchkiss (Hayley Erin) is still alive" cliffhanger from the premiere, but it did give us another suspect to consider. Let's examine those suspects, shall we?
The core trio — Ava (Sofia Carson), Caitlin (Sydney Park), and Dylan (Eli Brown) — seem far too obvious at this point to actually have had anything to do with Nolan's death. However, as his school posse, they were the No. 1 suspects for Dana Booker (Klea Scott), a former FBI agent who investigated Ava's dad and is now working as BHU's head of security. She reminded me strongly of Roma Maffia's Lt. Tanner on PLL, so expect her to be a fly in the ointment for the rest of this season (and probably beyond).
One thing the trio wanted to make sure Booker (or anyone else) didn't find was whatever blackmail material Nolan had on them. Ava pointed Dylan in the direction of the greenhouse on the Hotchkiss property because it was where Nolan stashed his weed. But when Dylan got there he only found a note, which read: "I found what you're looking for. Who knew you were so naughty."
We don't yet know who put the note there or who exactly the note was referring to, but suffice to say it still doesn't feel like any one of the trio is the killer — and Alison didn't think so either.
No stranger to nosy law enforcement, Alison bristled so much at Booker's snooping that she decided to provide alibis for the trio, telling Booker that they were at her house when Nolan was murdered. Conveniently, there shouldn't be any Beacon Guard surveillance to contradict Alison because Mona (Janel Parrish) discovered that BH had an outage around the time of Nolan's death. Now Alison and the trio can do their own investigating (though at some point, expect there to be something that proves Alison was lying about the trio's alibi).
So, if it's not any of the trio who killed Nolan, who's left as a suspect?
It's hard to think that Claire Hotchkiss (Kelly Rutherford) would kill her own son, but historically, parents were kind of the worst on Pretty Little Liars, so don't put it past her. Plus, she was acting super shady around Alison. Did you notice how Claire said Taylor "went missing," then corrected herself to say Taylor committed suicide? Maybe Claire was in on Taylor faking her death and now killed Nolan to keep him quiet? Farfetched, but not out of the realm of possibility.
The two people who really pinged my radar, however, are this new fellow, Mason (Noah Grey-Cabey), and Taylor herself.
First, Mason. This childhood friend of Nolan's popped up for the funeral and then just happened to offer Caitlin an alibi? And she also happens to be his ex-girlfriend? No, that's not fishy at all. Perhaps Mason had been harboring resentment toward Nolan all this time because he thought Nolan moved in on his ex. So he killed Nolan and then offered to be Caitlin's alibi because it's actually Mason who needs an alibi. That scenario actually really works for me, though this is Pretty Little Liars, so it's probably not even close.
What seems the most likely at this point is that Taylor actually killed her brother and here's why. Not only does a person faking her death and then running around committing crimes totally fit into the PLL-verse, but it also connects nicely to And Then There Were None, the novel Alison was teaching in her class. The perpetrator in Agatha Christie's classic whodunnit turns out to be someone who faked his own death, so that would be a terrific way to go.
That or Nolan isn't actually dead. Though faking your own death when the method is jumping off a building and being impaled on a wrought-iron fence would admittedly be very tricky to pull off. Still, food for thought.
Alison & Mona
These two are so delightful together — raise your hand if you would watch an episode where all that happens is Alison and Mona sit around and rehash the events of PLL? Us too.
But instead, this week Mona went full-on Beautiful Mind because she blames herself for Nolan's death. Not because she did it, though that exchange between her and Alison was hilarious, but because she was worried her admissions algorithm brought Nolan to campus and therefore created his killer because it flagged him as the kind of person who could push someone to the brink. Mona was convinced she could figure out who the killer is if she works her algorithm hard enough.
Luckily, Alison snapped Mona out of her manic state long enough for Mona to talk some sense into Ali about letting her inner Mean Girl out, which caused Alison to realize the trio needed her help (just like the Liars did all those years ago in Rosewood). Mona also placed a call to Hanna (yay, they're still friends!), which gave viewers a lovely update on two of the Liars: Hanna and Caleb have a baby and Spencer and Toby eloped. Awww.
Additional thoughts on the episode:
- The show has so far done some excellent jump scares; let's hope that continues.
- TV Guide's Megan Vick posited to creator I. Marlene King after the premiere that the surveillance headquarters we saw on the premiere was all in Mona's head. Now that is an interesting theory, one I hadn't considered until I read her article.
Alison: "Have you been holed up in here since Nolan's death?"
Mona: "I'm the reason he's dead."
Alison: "Uh, did you.. were you on the roof that night? Did you push him?"
Mona: "Jesus, Alison! What kind of person do you think I am?!"
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.