There are people out there who love Pretty Little Liars, those who couldn’t care less, former fans who only enjoyed the first three seasons (which arguably are the best), critics, as well as numerous interested and disinterested parties. Nevertheless, our society has been saturated with an aggressive PLL marketing campaign, so even if you don’t watch the show, you have an idea about the program’s content. There’s murder, horror, thrills, and mystery as the main characters struggle to stay sane against the sinister “A.” Not a light show, its intensity raises awareness of our own psyche. The choices the Liars make are fascinating, as they wrestle to save lives or take lives, as well as struggling with an overarching question: How far will they go to protect themselves and the ones they love?
In this case, it means sacrificing a Liar for a Liar.
During the premiere episode of its final season, Hanna Marin had been kidnapped for falsely admitting to the murder of Charlotte DiLaurentis, a previous “A.” However, she hadn’t confessed to the police, but to the secretive “A-moji,” who wants the Liars to find and/or out Charlotte’s murderer. The ruthless A-moji gives Hanna’s frantic friends 24 hours to find the real killer, or Hanna dies.
The mindset of the terrified young adults is panicky and stressed. Long story short, the group’s rushed investigation concludes that their missing member, Alison, is the true murderer. Unfortunately, she’s suffering from a total psychological breakdown. This is not the time for snap decisions, but the clock is ticking. Desperate to prevent Hanna’s death, they give up Alison to A-moji.
Circumstantial evidence and shoddy detection aside, the psychological aspects of their actions are riveting. Alison is an awful state: drugged, injured, and frightened. Her mind is almost totally broken (no thanks to her shifty husband) and her so-called friends have accused her to rescue Hanna. Any doubts are thrown away for a quick verdict, a verdict that isn’t necessarily true. The Liars choose one friend over another, though Hanna is capable of escaping on her own (as proven). Alison can’t free herself from her own personal hell. She needs rescuing, not Hanna.
The group cut the weakest link. It seems horrifying from the safe, comfortable perspective of our own homes. Yet when humans are in a dangerous situation, pushed to the absolute limit, the preservation instinct can take over our morals. Cutting Hanna, arguably one of the strongest, boldest ones of the Liars, wouldn’t be good for the pack’s overall survival. By saving Hanna, they were doing what was best for the group. They hid it under concern and convinced themselves that they were doing something noble. Through protecting Hanna, they left Alison out for the wolves.
Of course, it wasn’t a group decision that the Liars made altogether. Instead, Caleb, Hanna’s ex, stole the evidence and informed A-moji. Regardless of his choice, though, there’s still a cumulative effect from the Liars’ actions. Beforehand, most of the group had voted that they believed Alison was the killer (preconceived notions can lead to faulty investigations). Emily visits Alison, who “confesses,” and discovers the red coat from the night of the murder (Ever heard of planted evidence?), while Aria focuses on her romantic situation instead of investigating (neglecting her friends in mortal danger). Spencer and Mona’s contributions include digging into the identity of their “A” suspect, but that was unlikely to rescue Hanna or uncover the true culprit in time.
To be fair, the Liars had limited options, resources and time. They did what they believed was within their power to do. However, if they calmed down and developed a more effective plan, they might have discovered the real truth beyond any dubious shadows. I’m not saying they made a wrong choice, but it was an impulsive decision, an assumption without concrete evidence. Together, the main characters are guilty of Alison’s upcoming trauma. They sacrificed and betrayed one friend to save another…but does that make it right?
Subject matter aside, we receive a rare chance to confront the complexity within ourselves. We question the ethics of our own lies, transgressions, mistakes, and wrongdoings, and how the decisions we make according to those can paint of picture of who we are.
If there’s any lesson in Pretty Little Liars, it’s simple: There are no easy Answers.