Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists (...If One of Them is Dead: Recap + Thoughts)

11:34 PM

The work week is halfway over and you know what that means! 
It's time for a Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists recap. 

 Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists 
1x03: ...If One of Them is Dead 

Is everything business as usual in Beacon Heights? 

Before I settled in with a glass of wine and a taste for secrets, I felt excitement and maybe a little bit of nerves. Alison DiLaurentis is officially back in the game based on her quick thinking and final lines in last week's episode. This fact alone is enough to hook us as viewers. As the episode opens this week it becomes even more obvious that she is back on her, excuse the bad pun, A game. 

But is that a good thing? 

While the new group of liars gather at Alison DiLaurentis' house to get their stories straight about the big lie and cover story, Claire Hotchkiss (who's name was nearly auto-corrected as Claire Hopscotch just now) has a curious discussion of her own with Booker. 

Soon, we're left sitting on the knowledge that Beacon Guard has footage of everyone leading up to Nolan's death, there are many ways that this can go wrong for the trio. It doesn't help that Booker is most definitely to use it to solve this case and that's concerning in and of itself.

Secrets, as we know, always come to light. Booker seems pretty confident in her ability to get to the bottom of things. Ava, Caitlin and Dylan don't just appear suspicious to her for no real reason--their actions speak for themselves. Booker has been doing her homework on the trio and that surely will lead to fireworks in future episodes.

All the central conversations of this episode leave the audience feeling concerned and intrigued.

As the characters question this, we're wondering right there with them: what happened the night Nolan died? And how safe is everyone from the fallout that surely will happen in future episodes? 

Most of all, we have to wonder: when will Alison's lie disintegrate? And what will happen, then?

Further, it isn't Pretty Little Liars without questions of loyalty. 

While the trio find themselves are wondering if they can trust not only Alison, but each other, there are a lot of possibilities that spring to mind. Each of them struggle with various things in the episode, but the biggest echo is the fact that Nolan is dead but their secrets might not die with him.

Meanwhile, Mason is still an oddly timed and sketchy character in his own right. Every time he is on screen I have this urge to just shut the television off for a while. Admittedly, he's too attractive to be shut off even if his character is a sketchy piece of work. 

Will Mason be an issue? Or is he just another Paige McCullers? I.E., not a great person at first but who eventually grows?

As for the stunts he pulls this week, Mason thinks it's a GREAT (!!!!!) and TOTALLY SOLID PLAN to take up Nolan's old seat in class, next to Caitlin. This causes Ava to react in a major way, he decides to play the victim card and asks Alison if he should report Ava's behavior. He is appearing to be the number one suspect, which means he's probably innocent.

But, you know what they say in Rosewood and Beacon Heights: GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT. Yes, I did just shout that at you.

Eventually, the trio sets off to search for clues as to why Nolan went to the cabin the night he died--and with who. Alison, of course, has a similar idea, and runs into the three. Soon, the four of them work together to look around.

Other misc. things to note in this weeks episode: 

  • Ava might really, really have a drinking problem. Which, uh, we need to talk about. Is this going to be explored, or is it just going to be a side note like Hanna's eating disorder in the original PLL? Anyways.
  • Booker seems to have narrowed the trio's weak link down to Dylan and is trying very hardly to buddy up to him in he hopes that he spells something of importance. He isn't taking the bait. I am optimistic that we'll get some Emily parallels with him. Which means we, and Booker, shouldn't underestimate him and his strength.
  • Claire Hotchkiss asks Caitlin to spy on Ava and Dylan. Caitlin decides against it after the trio have some moments.
  • Our trio is truly bonding. Reluctantly, but bonding nonetheless.
  • There is some sort of patch on Dylan's back--no context yet, unless I missed something. 
  • Alison is doing THE MOST and will definitely have some of the mystery solved by next week. Like, why is she a teacher? She should just be working as a spy or something. Same goes for Mona--they'd get shit done.
What I liked about this episode: 

  • Mona's GORGEOUS sweater. End comment. 
  • Parallels between Taylor Hotchkiss and Alison DiLaurentis that are becoming more and more apparent. I like what Alison has noted the possibility that Taylor faked her own death, like she did. Alison is nothing if not very observant. Our girl is no rookie. She knows how to play the game.
  • The last five minutes has a callback to the pilot episode already. I like it when the trio parts ways outside of the university. It's aesthetically pleasing. 
  • Dylan's music. So, so, so soothing. It may be because of my musical background, but I'm a sucker for the arrangements used in certain scenes.
  • Ava, Caitlin and Dylan volunteering together. I know their little trio is going to go through a lot of issues in the future but this episode was their strongest as a group yet. There were questions at the start of the episode and I felt like Ava and Dylan could have been there more for Caitlin. I was disappointed, but that disappointment left because they eventually came through for her and it made me smile. There's a very light hearted scene in the midst of serious scenes where they are just completely playful and it was a really great scene to have balance out everything else.
  • Mona and Alison startling each other is my favourite recurring element of The Perfectionists. I just love these two so much. And as always, Mona is my favourite and the highlight of the episode. Ava and Caitlin are my favourite of the new characters, but we all know that Mona Vanderwaal (and Spencer Hastings, I miss her) is my ride or die.
  • Callbacks to the original Pretty Little Liars again. Some more Lady Gaga music. A message from a mysterious person left in the trunk of their car and attached to something of Nolan's. Spoiler alert: IT'S A DEAD RAT, tucked away in where Nolan used to stash his weed. At Beacon Heights, we love to have fun. Then, of course, there's Mason's gum wrapper that Caitlin finds--parallel to the ah-ha-Mona-is-A plotline in the original series.
  • Ava's video for Vogue. The real one--not the heartbreaking, alcohol induced one. I admire the way she explained herself in the video.
  • Revelation: Mason MIGHT have been the one in the woods the night Nolan died. 
What I didn't like about it: 

  • If we're going the whole Mason-is-the-bad-guy route, we're being a bit too obvious for my taste. I am skeptical about it because Pretty Little Liars really knows how to mislead its audience and I'd suppose that The Perfectionists does, too.  
  • This episode was visibly slower in pacing compared to the previous two. It's a little concerning that it's slowing a bit in only its third episode. 
  • Booker is still a bit too much of a Tanner rip off and I'm not all that keen on it. We need new. It is a whole new show, we shouldn't just be bringing new characters in that are far too similar to old ones. Unless they are building something up on Booker and the investigator is secretly on the trios side. 
  • Alison's lies always caught up to her back in Rosewood and it's a little disappointing that she hasn't learned her lesson yet. I mean, after all that she went through, it's so weird to me that she would fall into this habit even if she thinks she's doing it to protect her students. I love having her back, and having the claws out, but it's also bittersweet. The only person she has to turn to is Mona--who is quick to reflect our frustrations right back at us. I can't help but think that for some reason she's not understanding that there are more risks in her decisions now than when she was a kid. 

  • Well, it looks like Alison and Taylor are going to eventually team up, when/if they meet. Possibly with Mona, possibly without, it's too soon to tell. Unless another theory involving Taylor comes forward, which I'll get to in a minute.
  • Caitlin's going to have a lot to tell with when it comes to Claire Hotchkiss. I have a bad feeling about it, too. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but I feel like I'm sensing something will be brewing there soon. I don't think that Caitlin will go on and spill any beans to Mama Hotchkiss because she seemed to be in a really good place with Ava and Dylan, and based on that, I don't see her betraying them. If anything, I think Claire could very well cause some issues for Caitlin and that's NOT OKAY.
  • I've said it before but I still think we're going to see the mental health issues from the books. Uh, just with different characters. This theory will be floating in my mind until proven otherwise. When I rewatched the pilot the other day, I was thinking about several things: Is Taylor really alive? If not, is it possible that Nolan was so guilty over his sister's suicide that he had himself convinced she's still alive. 
  • Tied into the book theory, tonight's episode gave me a new thought: is new girl Zoe going to be filling those shoes? Not sure how, but she kind of gave me a weird feeling. 
  • Beacon Guard is behind a lot more than we know. We see this week that they were able to lock Mona out of the system. Then there's the issues with Alison's apartment. Nolan's suspicious death. Claire's behavior. Why Taylor committed suicide or faked her own death. Alison said it best, there's something wrong with Beacon Heights--and since the Guard seemingly sees all, it would make sense if there's something deeper in that regard. 
  • Mason is the big bad. He could be stalking Caitlin--and in return, was stalking the others: Ava, Dylan and Nolan--and then things just progressed from there. He clearly wants to be the new Nolan Hotchkiss of campus, but there could be a weirder twist in that. Anywhere from just plain jealousy of Nolan, to seeing how he was blackmailing his old flame Caitlin, to about a dozen other scenarios. Stalking her could explain the murder matching up what the trio joked about. Never trust a pretty newcomer, right? 
I enjoyed this episode less than the first two, but it was still as indulgent as ever. Words cannot describe how happy I am to have this series on my screen--I can't wait for more secrets and reveals.

...If One of Them is Dead is a fun episode, albeit a little dry in terms of suspense when compared to both the original series and its first two episodes. As always, the styling and soundtrack is on point. While I wouldn't say this episode is the best representation of what the series could be, it was still a solid one that will lure you into continuing with it.  

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