Tuesday, June 15, 2010
TV: "Pretty Little Liars": Rounding up the Suspects
The new ABC Family teen drama "Pretty Little Liars" has a murder mystery at its core. Many have described it as "Desperate Housewives" meets "Gossip Girl." If we were to run with that comparison, then the murder victim Allison (Sasha Pieterse from "Heroes") would be a cross between Edie and Blair, the provocative Queen B who plays her friends like puppets and treats life like it's a perpetual game, where every player is a pawn.
The series takes place a year after her disappearance, the girls are no longer bffs, and they've all changed. Soon after school begins, the girls start to receive cryptic and scandalous messages from someone claiming to be A. But by the end, the police find her body.
On the night of her disappearance, Spencer heard a scream. Since she was the last one to hear A and the only one missing from the group when Aria woke up, she would logically be the first suspect. Or would she? The problem with being Queen is that you have an endless list of enemies. Check out the murder suspects and their motives:
Pre-Disappearance: bookworm slash goody-two-shoes
Post-Disappearance: Being a political intern, remodeling the barn in her backyard to move into it, and flirting with her sister Melissa's fiancee Wren (Julian Morris from "24" and "ER").
Secret Message: A sent an email alluding to her past dalliances with Melissa's boyfriends.
Motive: To keep her quiet about betraying her sister.
Murder Meter: 3. It doesn't seem possible that she would kill A just because she threatened to tell Melissa, especially since she threatened to tell everyone about what Allison did to Jenna—more on that later. However, like I said, she was the last person to hear her that night and she was missing when Aria woke up. Also, she was VERY adamant about moving into the barn, and if that's the barn they were sleeping in that night, which is likely, since she imagined seeing Allison through the window when she got the cryptic email from A, then maybe she's trying to hide something in the barn.
Pre-Disappearance: pink-haired punk-rocker wannabe
Post-Disappearance: down-to-earth writer with a thing for hot "college guy" Ezra who turns out to be her English teacher Mr. Fitz
Secret Message: She received a text message referring to not only her student-teacher relationship, but the one she and A saw her dad having.
Motive: She promised her dad she would never tell her mom that she saw him making out with some young blonde in his car, so perhaps to help him keep their family together, she'd shut her up.
Murder Meter: 1. Not only was Aria asleep when it happened, she's the kindest of all of them. There isn't a murderous bone in her body. Plus, when she realized her new guy was her teacher and he coldly rejected her, she maturely accepted it and said her farewells. Someone that mature, would never act so irrationally.
Pre-Disappearance: conservative and quiet
Post-Disappearance: sporty and slowly edging towards rebellion as she tries marijuana for the first time and flirts with her neighbor Mya
Secret Message: She received a folded up note in her gym locker that alluded to her new lesbian relationship and her secret past ones.
Motive: Her mother is pretty adamant about conforming to society's idea of a normal teenage girl. She even looked down on Aria for having pink hair, so I'm pretty sure she won't approve of her daughter's secret sexual orientation.
Murder Meter: 4. I'm only giving her a higher number because I have a feeling A was her first crush that may have been reciprocated, and she could've been driven to retaliate in a moment of passion. But since she thought Mya meant they found A alive at the end of the episode and seemed genuinely shocked to see a bodybag roll past her, it's not very likely she killed her.
Pre-Disappearance: insecure and possibly anorexic
Post-Disappearance: She's the new Queen B—fashionable, popular, and she even made-over former geek Mona into her sidekick. Also, her father left her mother, so she shoplifts, hoping to get his attention.
Secret Message: It was more of an insult. She told her that she'll probably get fat in prison, which was a throwback to the incessant amount of "friendly reminders" she used to give her about her weight.
Motive: How many people wouldn't just love to assault someone who called them fat every. single. day? Plus, with A out of the way, she was able to take over the throne.
Murder Meter: 5. Her jealousy is still fresh and she has no problem stealing or telling lies. It's just a short skip and a hop to harder crimes.
I think ultimately, none of the girls killed A and that it's more likely that whoever is sending the messages either did it or saw who did it. These suspects are split between people who either had a huge secret they think A shared with the girls or people who would want to avenge A's death out of love.
Background: former nerd and present bff to Hanna
Motive: In a flashback, we're shown that A and Aria dodged Mona when she tried to catch up to them. Being a geeky, social pariah can lead a person down a vindictive path.
Murder Meter: 9. She was on the outskirts of the clique until A died. Perhaps knocking her off, opened up a spot. Plus, whoever sent those messages would have to have Hanna and Aria's cell phone number, access to the girl's locker room, and Spencer's email address. Who more likely than Hanna's bff, who probably got plenty of dirty secrets out of her in the last year as her confidant. And if Hanna didn't spill, Mona has a history of following them around. She could've witnessed all of the secrets mentioned in the messages. And, of course, there's also the sketchy fact that even though both Mona and Hanna shoplifted, the cameras only caught Hanna.
Friend or Foe? There's arguments for her being both. With A's manipulative past, she could've been Mona's friend on the DL. And if she was, Mona could be doing this to get back at the girls for whatever they did. However, I prefer the "revenge against the popular girls" scenario—infiltrate and destroy!
8/11 Update: Hmm, the texts really did seem to appear every time Mona went off-screen or was being neglected, whether it was when they were deciding if they were going to her party or ignoring its festivities. Plus, the major mayhem went down at her party.
Background: So far all we know is that A did something to her that might've led to her becoming blind.
Motive: Whatever led to her blindness.
Murder Meter: 10. The fact that they introduced her in the last five minutes and the preview suggested that she could in fact see, pushed her to the top of my list.
Friend or Foe? Foe
7/13 Update: In this episode, we saw a different, somewhat softer side of Jenna. She seemed concerned by Toby's sudden friendship with Emily. It was like jealousy mixed with overprotection. This could either mean he doesn't know she's taunting them or that she doesn't want anything to do with them at all.
7/20 Update: While it's true that she seemed very heartbroken by Toby's disappearance/death/car accident, and I think her eagerness to keep his psych file under wraps was justified, I wouldn't count her out just yet. She could've staged the whole thing after he disobeyed her, and last week's town population sign edit could have been a foreshadowing.
8/11 Update: Toby says she's in love with him, which means she could've killed Alison out of jealousy.
Background: Jenna's big brother
Motive: Allison had something on him, he often peeped on them, and he knows Allison blinded his little sister.
Murder Meter: 3. He seems to have a temper, since he wailed on Emily's perverted boyfriend when he tried to rape her in the locker room. But he's more of a savior than a murderer. However, it could be that he was trying to save someone from Allison.
Friend or Foe? His loyalty lies with his possessive sister, but he's friendly.
7/13 Update: He seems rather harmless. I realize the episode was left on a cliffhanger of him chasing Emily, but it's obviously a misunderstanding. In fact, the most violent person in that scene was Emily. lol Why can't he have a "9-01 Free at Last" tattoo? True, Allison was blackmailing him with the knowledge that he was sleeping with his stepsister Jenna, but that doesn't mean he killed her. Plus, I don't think he'd be dumb enough to wear a confession. And he couldn't have changed the town's population minus 1 if he was busy chasing her.
7/20 Update: While it's true that Toby could've faked his own death or purposefully sent Emily on a guilt trip with his disappearing act, I'm still not convinced he could be the killer or the blackmailer.
8/11 Update: Yay! Toby was arrested so he can't be A. Unfortunately, now we know his step sister forced him to be with her. Man, she's crazy! Hopefully, the police will believe him.
Background: She's the new resident of A's house.
Murder Meter: 6. While I don't think she murdered A, she could be taunting the girls with information she found in the house, since all of A's stuff was still in it for some reason.
Friend or Foe? Friend. The only way I'd see her as a friend of A's is if—and this may be a longshot but—she were an undercover cop. Think about it:
1) She moved into the house and over the course of 2-3 days, we didn't see her parents once.
2) There's no way the 30-year-old actress looks 16.
3) And what better way to convince a lesbian teenager that you're cool and young than to offer her weed and flirt with her?
It would be a great way to flush out the criminal—put them at ease and make them believe she's dead.
6/28 Update: After asking Emily a lot of questions about A, she gave the impression that she hated Queen B's, like she would hold a grudge against A if she ever met her. Plus, the girls said that A had been dating somebody else's boyfriend. What if the boyfriend was Mona's? Just something to think about.
7/13 Update: She seemed genuinely hurt and jealous when she saw Emily enter the dance with Toby.
8/11 Update: Mya seems a little sketch in this episode. The way she eyeballed Emily's mom when she pretty much shooed her out of the house. But, of course, we know that was because she knows they're lovers. None of her behavior was murder/blackmailed-related though.
Background: She's Spencer's sister. The "golden child" of the family. Now, a college a student with a fiancee, she can do no wrong.
Motive: If A told her about her boyfriend sleeping/making out with her sister, she could've killed her in a fit of rage.
Murder Meter: 6. Maybe it's the fact that this actress has already played a psychopath before on "One Tree Hill," but she gives me a crazy vibe. I have a feeling that, like a Stepford wife, she'll go above and beyond to get her perfect life, even if it means trampling over everyone else's.
Friend or Foe? Foe
6/29 Update: Her recent jilting gives me the impression that she's all talk and no action. Granted, killing her sister is way harsher than killing a neighbor, but she seems more devious than murderous.
7/13 Update: She wasn't supposed to be at the dance as an alumni representative, but she was conveniently requested. I, however, think this has more to do with her revenge for Spencer's fiancee-poaching than anything else. Then again, whoever had access to the fortune teller's cards had to have been involved in the dance, which, besides the girls, leaves Ezra and Melissa, and Ezra's too busy trying to figure out who A is.
8/11 Update: Her comment about Alison deserving what she got coupled with the fact that Ian (Ryan Merriman) was sleeping/dating both of them could be motive...but it did seem like she was trying to bury the hatchet with Spencer.
Background: World-traveler (lol) and college graduate, who is starting a new job at the girls' high school as their English teacher.
Murder Meter: 4. Here's the thing. Ezra seriously came out of left field. First off, I'm not quite sure why either of them were in what appeared to be a bar in the middle of the afternoon, but it was suspicious that they were the only ones there. So he could've planned it that way. Ok fine, longshot. But it's also odd that he didn't realize she wasn't over 18. Ok true it's only a 2-3 year difference, but there are obvious age-factors. And after rejecting her offer to continue their relationship, he decides to pursue it anyway and kisses her on the steps of the church at the funeral. That seems kind of unprofessional. Ok and if you wanna disregard that cause he's probably 22 and never been professional before, fine. But why was he at the funeral in the first place? Allison's mom questioned why Jenna was there, as though there was an exclusive only-if-you-knew-her guest list. So why is the new guy there? His as-yet-unrevealed relation to A makes me very wary.
Friend or Foe? Undecided. If A somehow faked her death, then he could be helping her. Of course, A was very short on friends. Lover is more like it.
7/6 Update: I'm thinking about crossing him off my suspect list. Not because he acted outraged by the texts from A, but because he seemed sincerely worried about getting ditched by Aria post-high school…unless that was a problem he also had with A—a problem he remedied. lol
P.S. Wouldn't it be creepy if that short story about the girl looking up at the summer sky, metaphorically letting the balloon go, was about A?
7/20 Update: After Aria told him about A, he mysteriously disappeared from school and is now looking for a new job. The fact that he leaves at the same time Toby disappears is interesting, but not incriminating.
8/11 Update: He's officially off the hook. He was inside the car with Aria when A wrote her peeping-Tom message in the steam of his window. Then again, he was driving a car through the woods when Hannah gets run over.
Background: After A and Aria saw him making out with a blonde in his car, he says he decided to refocus on his family, so he took them to live in Europe for a year.
Motive: He often makes sure that his daughter is still willing to keep their secret. So maybe he made sure A kept it a different way.
Murder Meter: 7. Leaving town after her disappearance was pretty shady. And since we haven't heard if they ID-ed the body properly yet—since there was a closed casket, I'm assuming she had no face. Worst of all would be if that wasn't his only lover, and if he was involved with A too.
Friend or Foe? Foe
8/11 Update: He's so busy trying to balance his checkbook he doesn't have time to play with teenagers.
Background: Loving, doting mother and wife.
Motive: A fit of rage after learning of her husband's affair?
Murder Meter: 2. If A was in the habit of revealing other people's secrets, she could've told her about her husband's affair. And the way she practically interrogated her husband when he implied that he had been running from something, made it seem like she was trying to get him to confess.
Friend or Foe? Foe
7/6 Update: She seems genuinely surprised by the revelation and by how long the secret has been kept, so unless she has a secret of her own, I doubt she was involved.
Background: Aria's little brother
Murder Meter: 2. We saw him very shortly in the pilot. He seemed decent. But when I was googling for his name, I skimmed a few words that would suggest that he's involved in a love triangle in the novels. If he was in the habit of getting involved with Aria's friends and A was as much of a wild child as the flashbacks suggest, then it could've been jealousy. But I won't be able to tell for sure until I see a few more scenes with him.
Friend or Foe? Undecided
Background: Aria's dad's lover
Motive: If she knows that he was dumping her because Allison and Aria knew of their affair, she could've been trying to quiet Allison.
Murder Meter: 5. While it may be true that Aria isn't old enough to be involved in her parent's marital affairs and any adult would've blown her off, Meredith doesn't seem to be very much aware of reality. She's trying to insert herself into his life, taking a job across the hall from him, meeting his wife, and happening to stop by at all the places he frequents. While, on the one hand, that would be considered fate, it isn't when someone has dumped you, left the country for a year because of you, and repeatedly rejects you.
Friend or Foe? Definitely a foe. I'm just waiting for the moment she snaps at Aria in a jealous rage. But I'm also worried she might set her sights on Ezra just as revenge.