By Samantha Snead
Fans are by and large disappointed with the season 6A finale of ABC Family’s hit drama Pretty Little Liars, which included the revelation of the identity of –A, the series’ main antagonist whose identity has been a mystery for years. Since its debut in 2010, millions of fans have tuned in to watch the Liars struggle to cope with –A’s constant meddling in their lives, the stakes only growing higher as the story progressed. Initially, the series centered on the mysterious disappearance of Alison DiLaurentis, the fifth Liar who was scarcely present in the first four seasons until it was finally revealed that she had been alive the entire time. Before her disappearance, Alison had begun to receive text messages from an anonymous number who used the simple signature, “-A”.
After years of plot twists, cliffhangers, character deaths and returns, it was finally revealed that “Big –A” is none other than Alison’s best friend CeCe Drake, formerly known as Charles DiLaurentis. To many, this was an unexpected turn in the series. Many fans consider it to be a rushed and poorly-thought-out resolution to the mystery they’d sought answers to for years.
Marlene King, the show’s producer, was notorious for letting little clues slip along the way through interviews and cryptic tweets, and this is perhaps what has disappointed fans the most. Many felt that she had either intentionally given false clues over the past couple of years, or that she changed the season’s ending at the last second to try to get publicity for including a transgender character.
As an avid fan of the show, I have spent countless hours watching the series and researching theories about –A’s identity. Like many other fans, before the season 6A finale, I was wholeheartedly convinced that Big –A was actually one of the Liars: Aria Montgomery. The “Aria is Big –A” theory has always been one of the more popular ones, but it’s safe to say that very few people expected that CeCe Drake was to blame for the Liars’ (and fans’) years of pain and suffering.
The greatest source of discontent with this storyline is the remaining questions that have yet to be addressed; though this season was entitled “The Summer of Answers.” The Big –A reveal has only prompted more questions, which may be left unaddressed, since the show’s timeline is jumping ahead five years when the series returns this winter.
Perhaps the biggest and most widely-discussed of these is related to the death of Marion Cavanaugh. In the season 6A finale, it is revealed that CeCe’s childhood friend Bethany pushed Marion off of a rooftop in CeCe’s early teen years. However, in the season four premiere, Marion’s son, Toby’s, flashback distinctly shows Marion alive and well when Toby was a teenager himself, years after she was supposedly killed by Bethany.
Other plotholes center largely on CeCe’s gender identity. In the season five finale, the Liars are shown standing in the same room as a man with dark brown hair, who is revealed to be Charles DiLaurentis, the Big –A who has been torturing the Liars for years. However, this doesn’t fit with the timeline revealed in the season 6A finale, as CeCe is said to have completed her transition years before ever kidnapping the Liars. In order for this timeline to be accurate, CeCe would have had to have fully completed her transition, lived as a female for years, and then decided to present herself as a man when encountering the Liars. Though Big –A is notorious for going to great lengths to deceive the Liars, this makes very little sense. CeCe has clearly fought a long and hard battle to be able to live in accordance with her true gender identity, and not many post-transition trans individuals are particularly eager to present themselves as people they are not after finally completing their transitions. The trans community has been particularly vocal about this inconsistency, as many feel it inaccurately represents what it really means to be trans. In any case, it certainly doesn’t fit with what information has previously been revealed on the show about Big –A’s identity, just like several other major plot-holes fans have noticed.
Marlene King and her team of writers have certainly left us with tons of unanswered questions to ponder over the next several months until the premiere of season 6B. Many fans are doubtful that the show will be able to recover from such glaring plot holes as these. The only way we’ll find out if this story can truly be resolved using this storyline will be to tune in to the show this winter and check in on the Liars after the five-year time jump.