TV Review: Pretty Little Liars 6×01 “Game On, Charles”


Just like any episode, the Pretty Little Liars sixth season premiere featured shocking revelations and, somewhat surprisingly, strong character-driven storylines that will likely keep us on the edge of our seat all season. 

The episode opens with the same scene that ended the fifth season. Aria, Emily, Hanna, Spencer and Mona attempt to escape the dollhouse where Charles has been keeping them captive. Only this time, there is a little added bonus. It turns out A is keeping a sixth girl hostage and dressing her just like Alison.

The girls are left outside of the dollhouse for several days without food or water until A opens up the doors. Deciding it’s safer in the house than outside, they venture into the dark corridors only for A to attack them with gas, while sparing Mona with a gas mask.

After that, it is just endless questions we are dying to know the answer to.

1. What happened to the girls during those three weeks in the dollhouse?

If you wake up naked under a sheet in a morgue, you can already tell things are not going to end up well. Dressed as a nurse, Mona comes in and gives the girls some orange juice. Then they are instructed to return to their rooms where all we hear is intense screaming coming from behind their doors. This is the last time they see each other for three weeks.

Seeing flashbacks of the exact horror Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer went through is likely going to be one of the most intriguing aspects of the season. How will it change them? And, really, how can A be any worse than he/she/it already is?

2. Do we really think Andrew is A? I mean, really?

This show is all about red herrings and it’s pretty likely this is the case, again. Andrew, who was subtly spying on the girls last season, hasn’t been seen since they were taken hostage. It’s a little suspicious that the video monitors showing the girls in the dollhouse were in the Campbell farm, but would A be that obvious? I don’t think so.

3. Has Alison truly changed?

This episode showed Ali practically risking her life to save her friends. Ali begins by cooperating with the police to lure A, but she knows that the unseen stalker will never come for her while she’s under Tanner’s watchful eye. So, with the help of Ezra and Caleb, she hatches a plan to put the police in the opposite direction. This allows the three of them to set off and rescue their friends.

To save them, Ali follows A’s instructions. This includes getting in a car, following the GPS instructions of the same disembodied voice haunting the dollhouse, and putting on the same clothes from the night she disappeared. With Ali completing an unselfish act, it will be interesting to see her change even more throughout the season.

Then again, we all know that no one is what they seem in Rosewood. Could this just be part of a larger scheme for Ali, or is she genuinely trying to make amends? Hopefully it’s the latter, simply because this show is already giving me extreme trust issues.

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4. How will Mona be affected by the events in the dollhouse?

As punishment, A traps Mona in a large hole, where she was left crying and screaming for help. This may be the first time we get to see a truly fragile Mona begging for her life. For once, she doesn’t have her high intelligence or superior tech skills to get her out of trouble, and this is sure to be a game-changer for the character later this season.

5. Who is Charles and what does he want?

Last season’s finale revealed an unknown character named Charles as the elusive A, and this episode shed a little light. After seeing the initials “CD” on a toy car, Spencer deduces that Charles is a member of the DiLaurentis family. This does not come as a surprise to anyone, considering just about any PLL conspiracy theorist with a Tumblr account has figured this out.

In order to escape, the girls try to burn Charles’s belongings, including his home movies and toys. In this scene, there are two hooded A figures. One is watching surveillance footage of the girls burning items but seems to be ignoring them in favor of other surveillance footage of Ali. Meanwhile, the other hooded figure is watching the girls from behind a glass window, only to set off a fire alarm shortly after.

My theory is that Charles was behind the glass window while another member of the A team was in the monitor room. This means that even if Charles is A, there is still even more to the story. As if we needed there to be more to the story.

Also, earlier in the episode, Spencer mentions she felt something familiar about Charles when she was near him. She compares it to meeting someone you knew as a kid, like a cousin or pen pal. Does Spencer have a special connection with Charles that she isn’t aware of?

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6. The girls escaped from the dollhouse! And so did Sara Harvey. What does A want with her?

The girls escape together and rescue Mona. But the police also rescue the mysterious sixth prisoner. Turns out she is none other than Sara Harvey. Yeah. I had to look the character up on the wiki page too. Sara was first mentioned back in the fourth season when Hanna was doing research on girls who went missing around the same time as Ali. It was theorized she may have been the body who was buried in Ali’s place. However, since we learned the body was actually Bethany Young’s, Sara was completely forgotten. She’s been a prisoner in the dollhouse since Ali went missing.

Sara has been described as having a similar personality to Ali, but what does A want with her? Let’s hope we find out before the planned five-year time jump in the second half of this season.

Current A suspect: Jason. This might be a little far-fetched (is anything considered “far-fetched” on this show?), but I think Charles is Jason’s twin brother and that the Jason we know is actually Charles in disguise. This would actually have a similar plot point to Sara Shepard’s book series that I won’t spoil here.

Rating: 8/10

What did you think of the Pretty Little Liars sixth season premiere, and what do you think A/Charles has planned?

Jeremy is an aspiring entertainment reporter from New Jersey. He has collected countless issues of Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide since he was a child and loves reading the behind-the-scenes scoop of his favorite TV shows. His proudest moment was when he had laryngitis while interviewing B.o.B and was told by the “Airplanes” singer himself that he had “a great interview voice.” Jeremy spends his spare time obsessing about fictional characters, watching Disney movies (he’s not ashamed to admit he was 23 years old when he saw “Frozen” in theaters with absolutely no kids by his side) and plowing through endless hours of soap operas on his DVR. He is still trying to replace the void he has in his heart from when “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was canceled in 2003.