If there’s one thing HBO Max’s Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin makes abundantly clear, it’s that the original PLL mystery did not need to span several seasons when it could’ve (and some would argue, should’ve) been wrapped up in a neat, tiny bow in just one.
And that’s exactly what Original Sin managed to do—minus a few loose ends. Granted, in this case, I would’ve welcomed a mystery that stretched into a second season so that we could’ve gotten a little more insight into these characters as there was a world of potential and backstory to play with. However, I also understand that the writers and creators were being cautious since they had no idea whether or not the network (which has merged with Discovery+ and already kickstarted a handful of layoffs) would even allow a second season.
Despite everything, the writers still delivered a satisfying ending that seemed way more plausible than PLL’s (and they had so much time to plan that one!). Was it still far-fetched? Yes. But was it more believable? Also yes.
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin Season 1 Episode 10 was a whirlwind of emotions from start to finish as it tapped into ‘A’s purpose for targeting the new set of liars and their mothers.
The episode kicked off with Angela leaving her home on December 31, 1999, to go be with her “friends.” “They want me,” she told her mother, Rose Waters, who was doing everything in her power to keep her daughter at home not knowing that this would be the last time she would ever see her alive. While it’s unclear what happened to Rose in the present day, considering that she kept Angela’s brother, described as a boy with a face only “a mother could love,” in a cage and far-removed from the public, it’s fair to assume that he lashed out, and Imogen stumbled upon Rose’s rotting corpse when she broke into the what she thought was the abandoned home.
And yes, I said brother. After snooping around the Waters residence, the girls found some clues that indicated that Angela may have had a vengeful sibling. They weren’t wrong, as their worst fears were confirmed when ‘A’ summoned the liars to the closed-down school (lead poisoning was the excuse) for a ‘trial’ while also revealing that he kidnapped their mothers.
When they arrived, it was a scene straight from every horror movie that Tabby has ever screened at the Orpheum.
The liars were greeted with invitations to essentially play a game and decide whether or not they wanted to get revenge on the people that hurt them — Tabby found Chip tied up in a room, Mouse saw Steve, Noa found her mother’s drug supplier, while Faran encountered Madame Giry. All people that made their lives a living hell. As for Imogen, her mother’s corpse was there as she was tasked to pull something out of her mouth in order to learn the truth about her past.
Original Sin has pushed the boundaries of the slasher/horror genre since day one, but even this scene was next level.
Obviously, none of the liars took the bait since they aren’t murderers, but Imogen did read the card, which featured the words “erase her.” We’d later come to find out that the words signified Davie’s plan to punish Angela by making her invisible to the rest of the student body.
When the liars finally made their way to the auditorium, they realized ‘A’ was being “merciful” by allowing them to lash out at the people who wronged them right before he dished out his own revenge on them.
As ‘A’ watched over their bounded mothers, Principal Clanton to reveal that he was leading the charge this whole time.
‘A’ was, as suspected, Angela’s troubled brother, Archie (not Archie Andrews, I hope!), but the real shock was that Clanton was Angela’s father and the mastermind behind everything. Now, that’s a juicy twist I never saw coming that’s also not entirely far-fetched. It explains how ‘A’ had so much access to not only the school but all the private conversations inside the halls as the whole place was bugged. He needed to have a co-conspirator for any of this to actually come to fruition. ‘A’ was just the muscle that was following orders this whole time, and there’s something truly terrifying about unmasking the real killer as just a man in a suit.
Clanton then confirmed that Davie did, in fact, kill herself, an act he calls the “easy way out,” so a very-pregnant Imogen would have to pay the price for her mother’s sins. It’s a sick and twisted way of looking at the world, and particularly stressful to watch as Imogen is almost 40 weeks pregnant. Have you ever tried running halfway across a cemetery with contractions? Lord, I do not wish that upon my worst enemy.
But since you can’t expect two psycho killers to show anyone any mercy, including the pregnant girl, Imogen did her best to outrun and outsmart Archie all while trying to get through the pain. The final girl showdown between Imogen and Archie was brutal, but she stood her ground, proving that she’s not one to be messed with. She put the capital B in Badass.
If it wasn’t for Imogen’s memories of her mother, she likely wouldn’t have found the strength to fend off ‘A,’ but whenever she remembered what was taken from her, she tapped into her emotions in order to bring him down once and for all. It’s an interesting depiction of how one person can impact people’s lives in different ways. For Imogen, Davie was the best mom in the world, but for Angela and her family, Davie was their worst nightmare and the person who took everything away from them.
The problem with Davie’s character was that the way she was portrayed was largely inconsistent, which might be because we never actually knew her. Her character, aside from the first few moments of the series, was presented through skewed lenses. We got the high school version of her through memories of friends and people who hated her, and we got the adult version of her through Imogen’s memories. At times, it felt like two entirely different characters. It’s hard to villanize Davie the way the series wanted us to — or more specifically, the way A and Clanton did — when she seemed like a loving and supportive mom in the brief time we saw her alive.
Back at the high school, Kelly and Greg’s arrival threw off Clanton, which allowed the liars and the moms to ambush him and free themselves. When they arrived at Imogen’s house, they saw both her and ‘A’ passed out on the ground in what could only be described as a bloody mess.
Imogen and her baby came out victorious… but so did ‘A.’ And that was just one of the big battles of the season finale.
After Tabby informed Kelly that someone was coming after them in hopes of avenging Angela’s death, Kelly confronted her father, who forced her and her mom under house arrest, before making it very clear that none of them were going to ever set foot outside of the house again.
Kelly was bold in calling her father out for all his demons, including Angela’s rape, but it was her mother who finally made a choice to break out of the hellish lifestyle. As she listened to Tom spew more of his gaslighting venom, you could tell by her face that she was fed up and on the verge of snapping. And when she finally did, she stabbed Tom and put an end to her and Kelly’s suffering once and for all.
Tabby and Imogen also sought out justice for the sexual assault. While none of us had Clanton and Archie as ‘A’ on our bingo cards, we were all definitely right about Chip being the rapist.
Tabby and Imogen are brave, but sometimes, their actions are kind of questionable… like when they confronted Chip about this horrific thing that happened to them without any backup. They needed to question him in order to prove their theory, but it could’ve ended very badly for them.
Initially, Chip denied it, but the more they pressed, the guiltier he felt until he finally cracked and admitted to the crime explaining that, in both instances, it happened as a result of feeling rejected. It’s no excuse, and the fact that he didn’t feel bad about his actions until he was forced to face the truth simply means that he did deserve everything that happened after. He was a bad guy pretending to be one of the good ones.
Chip’s promise that he’d never do it again meant nothing because, for months, he was able to just lie to their faces and even go to the appointments with Imogen. Chip is a full-on psychopath… and one that ‘A’ took care of when breaking out of the hospital.
‘A’ also ensured that Tom Beasley died from his injuries because well, he was also responsible for hurting Angela. And I love that the liars called out Clanton and Archie’s double standard as he targeted all the moms but not the actual person who assaulted her. Even if the plan was for Tom to take the fall for the death of the liars and their moms, why not torture and torment Tom for weeks leading up to it as well?
One of the best things about the series was that while it tapped into a popular and established franchise, it reinvented itself with a fresh storyline, while also focusing on how parents’ mistakes and actions can affect their children. It underscores the very idea that everyone is human.
There are some good and bad takeaways from how the series ended.
Despite knowing what she did in high school, Imogen still chose to cling to only the good memories of her mother. It makes sense, but also sends a mixed message that could be interpreted as making it ok for bullies to get away with their actions. Angela’s memory was also never truly avenged as now she’ll just be the dead girl who had a crazy family.
And while the series tried to suggest that change is possible, ‘A’ went above and beyond to prove that he didn’t believe in the idea of redemption or second chances.
There was no justifying what Team ‘A’ was doing to these women simply because of what they did to Angela Waters in the past. People learn and change. Wisdom comes with years, and all you can hope is that the next generation is a bit more wiser, loving, and understanding, which, in this case, was true. And the biggest bully here was ‘A,’ the person trying to bring down the bullies.
While the moms deserved to be held accountable for the poor choices they made in high school—which is basically explained by mob mentality—violence is never the answer to violence. And their daughters had no stake in the game, they were just innocent byproducts of high school cattiness that went too far.
It just feels like there were opportunities missed to really hone in on some important subject matters and character development, which, yes, is important, even in a slasher series. It’s what held the original PLL together for so long!
Instead, the show leaned into one last jump scare.
I truly don’t know why anyone would believe that Archie would ever stay locked up for good. A couple of handcuffs could never hold down a determined murderer. Haven’t they ever seen a horror movie before?
But the open-ended nature of the final does make room for season 2. Without a second season guarantee, the writers wrapped up everything as logically as they could, and ‘A’s’ rise to the land of the living means that the scene is set for him to cause even more terror. What that will look like, I have no idea. We know his identity, so the mystery won’t be focused on “who is ‘A’” and everyone in town practically knows what happened, but we don’t actually know what he looks like under the mask, which would be fun to explore. Season 2 could also address some lingering storylines, including how Crazy Joe was connected to it all. Did he just know too much and get killed for it?
In the end, most everyone came out relatively unscathed… physically, at least. The emotional abuse will take some time, but at least they all have each other to lean on, which is a lot more than they had at the kickstart of the season. The Christmas ending had me all in my feels as everyone was there with their significant others/those closest to them wrapped up in the coziness and safety blanket of the holidays!
And as one final Rosewood cherry on top, Imogen revealed that she was pursuing an open adoption with a couple from the neighboring town, Aria and Ezra! Could you imagine all the fun crossover possibilities if a season 2 did happen? And what are the odds that Ezria’s new baby already fought a battle with ‘A’ and won?!
All in all, it was an enjoyable reboot of a beloved franchise that kept things fresh while weaving in moments and storylines that stayed true to the original. If a season 2 doesn’t come to fruition, at least the franchise and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa both redeemed themselves.
What did you think of the season finale? Are you happy the mystery was finally solved? Do you think ‘A’ will return to chaos more havoc?