Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists Premiere » Thoughts + Theories

11:00 AM

Once a Pretty Little Trashcan, always a Pretty Little Trashcan.
Warning: this post contains some spoilers for PLL, The Perfectionists and the books. 

The premiere of Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists is finally here! I've been waiting for this for so long. It is one of those series that I'm always going to be trash for, and I was excited to see what they might've changed when combining two separate series into one. The original book duology surprised me and while I was nervous, I was certain I'd at least have a stylish and indulgent mystery to watch every week with a glass of wine--and I was SO right.

The Perfectionists combined everything I loved about the previous three series' central universes. It had some great elements from the Pretty Little Liars book and television series, and obviously The Perfectionists book series. If I remember correctly, the PLL and TP books do take place in the very same 'verse (and PLL gets a brief reference in The Perfectionists) so it doesn't surprise me that they combined the two and made it a direct spin-off.

Much like the book series itself, I was pleasantly surprised with how it was adapted. Most of the general premises of the books transfers well to television and I like the changes that they made.

My only complaint, so far, is the lack of Julie Redding and Parker Duvall. Who are, arguably, the most important characters of the book series.

That being said, it would not surprise me if one or both show up in the future of The Perfectionists. Or if they've been developed as composite characters with someone that is in the pilot episode itself.

Changes I liked: 

Much like with Shadowhunters and Pretty Little Liars, Freeform's adaptation of The Perfectionists is quick to change the ages set up in the book series. I'm fond of this because it makes me feel like I am growing and evolving with these characters and they are with me. It's always nice seeing characters you read at a younger age, get aged up for something new.

Plus, making Beacon Heights a university based series instead of a high school setting gives us some awesome scenery. The pilot episode alone proves that. It's luscious, gorgeous and as atmospheric as its one would hope.

Mackenzie Wright » Dylan Walker: GENDER-SWAP! I'm into it. Either way, I'm always going to be a big old softie for music nerds and that is the main quality that these two share. I was skeptical about the changes at first, but I'm definitely here for it now.

Taylor Martell-Lewis » Taylor Hotchkiss: This isn't confirmed, but it seems pretty likely that Taylor Hotchkiss is taking the place of Caitlin's brother in the books who committed suicide. I mean, don't hold me to that, but, hello? A Taylor committing suicide? (Or at least, in the case of Hotchkiss, faking her death?)

Let's talk the old and new liars: 

Mona Vanderwaal and Alison DiLaurentis mesh perfectly with the new cast of characters. One of the best parts about the original Pretty Little Liars was seeing the changes they made for these two and just how they differ from not only the books, but where they were at the start. I think they are still a part of my favourites in term of character development and I am looking forward to seeing how they adjust in Beacon Heights, their new lives, and whether or not their past from Rosewood follows them at some point.

Here's to hoping for cameos. Rectifying that Emison plotline--come on, don't take away their happy ending just because Emily and the twins aren't with Alison in the new location. AND, please, give us answers to THAT Mona confession about Paris and what, or who, escaped her.

As for the new liars, we've got new layers of secrets, lies and possible friendships. Ava Jahali, Caitlin Martell-Lewis, Nolan Hotchkiss and Dylan Walker all fit a different archetype and excel in what they do. They all have their secrets, naturally, and one of them isn't going to make it out of the pilot alive.

Hint, hint: it's Nolan. And he may, or may not, have earned the spiking end he received. 

Gasp! So far, we know tidbits of what is to come for each of these characters and their relationships with one another. As well as how Alison and Mona will fit into their lives. In the pilot alone, we learn that each of them has an, ah, unique relationship with Nolan. And that Nolan has given them every reason to hate him.

The series' biggest mystery isn't established until the final half of the episode and it lay in the hands of the Hotchkiss family and those who are connected to it. From learning what Nolan Hotchkiss has to hold over his friend's heads, to the fact that his mother, Claire Hotchkiss, is keeping a surveillance team on quite literally everyone, to learning that Taylor Hotchkiss faked her own suicide, viewers are left with more questions than answers--the perfect hook.

Keeping the books general premise just enough to be considered an adaptation: 

Although the show is different than the duology in many ways, the show did a great job at keeping the groundwork of the books. I'm not terribly keen on there being no Julie and Parker, as I feel like it's as if they'd adapted Pretty Little Liars without two of the liars. Thankfully, it is only the pilot episode--so who knows what's to come?

The Perfectionists feels like something new entirely and I'm definitely okay with that. It breathes new life into the story. They've kept the biggest plot point and suspense intact: a group of "friends" have a few chats about how certain people they dislike should be killed, knowing that it's wrong to joke like this, only to find that these murders actually start happening.

Exactly. As. They. Discussed.

What else I liked: 

Aside from the sets and wardrobe envy and drool fest I took part of during the episode, and the return of both Alison and Mona, there were a lot of elements I liked about The Perfectionists. I was glad to see some callbacks to the original series (anyone else think of Hanna when Alison stepped in front of Mona's car and hit it to get her attention?) and a few little nods to the books as well.

I thought that the way they tied the two series together was intriguing enough. A lot of mysteries in the pilot blossomed pretty quickly, which made the episode all the more fast paced. I found myself asking a lot of questions. It felt, undeniably, like Pretty Little Liars, but also like its own series.

The soundtrack was perfection. It fit the mood so well.

And the way each of the main mysteries came to be known, the reveals throughout the episode, were really engrossing. I wasn't able to look away. One episode in, and I'm already hooked. I'm already invested in the friendship that will grow between Ava, Caitlin and Dylan. I need to know who killed Nolan. I need to know why the Hotchkiss family is so damn sketchy. I want to know why Alison was brought here and why Mona is seemingly a part of the surveillance aspects of the series.

Finally, that shot of stormy skies really set the mood and reminded me of the original series. Plus, it just felt very fitting. The Perfectionists is a storm brewing--and it just may destroy everyone in its way.

What I didn't like, besides the lack of Julie and Parker and the "end" of Emison: 

Some (see: a lot) of the dialogue was a bit choppy and cheesy. There were a couple of cringey lines, but nothing to get too worked up about. Then again, this is part of Pretty Little Liars charm: it does and doesn't take itself seriously.

That's literally it.

Theories about what we do, and don't, know: 

  • I do think that Taylor is going to be a composite character. Name and "suicide" lifted from Taylor Martell-Lewis, appearance of Parker, and maybe the everything else Julie. Which means she might be trouble. I get the feeling that they are going to keep the arch of the main villain from the books, only it will be sprinkled in with a different character or two. It's possible Taylor might be a big part of this--or her mother. After-all, Nolan has made a lot of enemies at BHU, but we all know family is more complicated and I wouldn't put it past BHU's callback to the DiLaurentis family: the Hotchkiss family. 
  • Feeding on the theory of the books main villain: it could be one of the Perfectionists. Ava, Caitlin and Dylan all have every reason to want to be rid of Nolan. And they are the ones who were joking about how he might die--merely hours before he dies in the exact manner. 
  • Alison and Taylor might become allies sooner, rather than later. I just don't think Taylor is going to stay hidden for much longer now that Nolan is gone and whoever killed Nolan knows that she is still alive/faked her own death. We know that there are a lot of similarities between the two, from appearance to faking their own deaths for mysterious reasons, and I think this may be mapping out something. I don't know that this is a good thing. 
  • Claire Hotchkiss, aka Lily Bass 2.0, is ??????? there's something not right there. I get some seriously unstable vibes from her. I've thought up about 20,000 theories centering around both her and Taylor. But, I think Claire has the most potential as at least one of the big bads. Her interest and comparisons of Alison to her dead daughter give me an odd feeling. It's highly possible that she is one of the main villains--especially with all that surveillance. 
  • It's possible Mona made a deal with someone on the surveillance team to help find Alex and Mary Drake. Maybe Taylor, Nolan, or Claire, are tied into them somehow. I highly doubt that they'll extend the family tree of the DiLaurentis/Hastings/Drake family into the Hotchkiss family, but it's entirely possible that these characters were somehow involved at some point. I don't think it's a coincidence that Mona got drawn in and in turn, brings Alison to BHU, after Alex and Mary escaped her. Timing is everything and there are no coincidences in this series. 
  • Alex and Mary Drake are going to show up at some point. Whether that's straightaway or not, I've got the feeling that they will be included in the future. That being said, I also think we can expect at least one cameo from the original liars. Maybe not right away, but I think we will at some point. 
  • I think that Mr. Granger is going to be a big part as the season goes on, even though we haven't met him yet. I don't look at spoilers or casting, so I could be wrong. BUT! Book readers will know he is a total creepy POS and definitely an evil version of Mr./Ezra Fitz. It's entirely possible that he will be involved at some point with the central story arcs and maybe a part of the bigger picture on why Taylor faked her own death. He could be that creepy authority figure in more than one way and even be involved with the surveillance. Due to his inappropriate student relationships in the books, it wouldn't be a far stretch to make him use certain surveillance footage against characters. 
  • Alison and Mona are going to upgrade to a friendship as the series goes. That may just be a bit of wishful thinking on my part, but I do think that would be a good way for them to go. From enemies to allies to... friends? Maybe?  
 Don't mind me--I'm forever Pretty Little Liars, The Perfectionists and Sara Shepard trash.

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