As Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists moves from Act I of the season into the middle act, things are starting to get exciting, especially for our resident Nancy Drews, Mona (Janel Parrish) and Alison (Sasha Pieterse). Seriously, I spend half of each episode wishing we could just watch those two be snarky and solve crimes. But we'll get to their intriguing discoveries in a minute. First, the trio...
The big issue this week for the trio was that Mason (Noah Grey-Cabey) became quite the thorn in their collective side. He basically demanded that they keep their arrangement with Nolan (Chris Mason) going with him, which meant being his fake friends and writing his term papers for him. He knows all their secrets and will not hesitate to use them, so Alison advised the trio to be honest with each other before Mason outed them. She told them that "secrets keep you close," which... that's sort of true, but that also led to a lot of problems for Alison and the Liars in Rosewood.
Still, for the trio, it's not bad advice at this current juncture. The only way to thwart a blackmailer is to take away his leverage, which was just what Caitlin (Sydney Park) and Dylan (Eli Brown) did. Caitlin confessed to Ava (Sofia Carson) that she's the one who told Beacon Heights who Ava really is when Ava started dating Nolan, which basically ruined Ava's chance at a fresh start. Ava is rightly furious with Caitlin, but we have a feeling she'll find a way to forgive and forget.
The person who may have a tougher time with that is Dylan's boyfriend Andrew (Evan Bittencourt). Dylan told him about his one-night stand with Nolan and that might just be the end of their relationship. Cheating is a hard thing to get past, especially because Nolan was just doing it to mess with Dylan and Dylan should have known that.
Dylan and Andrew aren't the only relationship casualty from Mason's meddling, though. Caitlin is terrified of Mason dragging her boyfriend Jeremy (Graeme Thomas King) into all this, so she asked Alison for some advice. Alison told her that sometimes you have to lie to the people you care about to protect them, which is a perfect summation of Alison's entire arc on Pretty Little Liars. Caitlin took her advice and basically ended it with Jeremy, crying alone afterward because while it was the smart decision, it still left her feeling sad and alone.
Ava, meanwhile, was left as the only hold-out in regards to her secret, which is that she pays for her tuition with a bag full of presumably embezzled money. She turns it into a cashier's check every semester to pay for school, something that aroused Dana Booker's (Klea Scott) suspicions, though Booker can't prove anything just yet.
As far as suspects go, the episode doesn't make huge in-roads in that regard. Mason was being a total jerk to the trio, but it doesn't feel like he's the one who killed Nolan. In fact, the show hasn't given us a ton of options in that regard, so it'll be interesting to see where the rest of the season goes.
Alison & Mona
The far more interesting thread this week was what's going on with A&M. Alison actually managed to track down Taylor Hotchkiss (Hayley Erin) after finding Taylor's hand-drawn map inside her collection of L. Frank Baum's Oz books. Taylor had been holed up in an RV in the woods, but when she found Alison snooping around, she locked Alison in and ran for it.
Meanwhile, Mona had two very interesting online interactions. The first was that her algorithm meant to identify good Beacon Heights University candidates has now changed due to the unknown person meddling with it (the same person who locked Mona out of her account last week). Now the algorithm was identifying just a couple of people and Mona didn't know what the new parameters were, only that the first two names it spits out were Caitlin and Alison.
The third name it identified is "Ray Hogadorn," who turned out to be a maintenance worker who lives in an abandoned annex building on campus. He has quite his own Beautiful Mind set-up and undoubtedly knows a lot about the Hotchkiss family and what is really going on at Beacon Heights, but unfortunately, Mona didn't get to talk to him this episode. Hopefully, that is coming next week.
Mona's second big revelation was that her online chess partner, Bad Bishop, wanted to meet her in person. They made plans where Mona would put a chess piece on her table at a restaurant to indicate to her unknown partner who she was, but unfortunately, we didn't get to see that meeting either because the episode ended when Mona was at Hogadorn's lair. Honestly, it was probably better for Mona that she didn't end up meeting her chess partner. That has "trap" written all over it.
More thoughts on this episode:
- It's not really germane to the plot, but we did find out that Emily (Shay Mitchell) is asking Alison for a divorce and Alison signed the papers this week. Fans are undoubtedly devastated, but it just makes sense. If this spin-off takes off and runs for several seasons, it will be much more interesting if Alison can have a love life and that just won't work if her wife and kids are back in Pennsylvania. Also, I am firmly on Team Paige, so in my head, Emily will eventually get back together with her. It's not that I don't like Alison — I love Alison — but I don't love her with Emily.
- Who do you think Mona's chess partner is? Is it someone we know already, like Taylor maybe? Or is it a callback to the original series? How amazing would it be if, say, Andrea Parker made a cameo appearance as Mary Drake, who turned out to be messing with Mona? I don't think that's it, but it would be super cool.
- Loved the text message from Ava to Caitlin that read: "I see you - A." Tee hee.
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists airs Wednesday at 8/7c on Freeform.