Pretty Little Liars Summer Finale Recap: “A” Is Finally Unmasked

by Clarissa / August 11, 2015
Pretty Little Liars

After six long years of mysteries and questions, Pretty Little Liars answered the show’s biggest mystery: who, exactly, is “A”? This hoodie-wearing individual has tormented the girls for years, but it wasn’t until season 6 that he finally had a name: Charles DiLaurentis. Despite knowing that Charles was Jason and Alison’s long-lost brother, we still didn’t really know who he was.

But that all changed in the summer finale of Pretty Little Liars when “A”/Charles was finally unmasked. We opened at the end of the episode, with Charles on top of a roof, threatening to jump. Behind him, Alison and the other PLLs were desperately trying to convince him otherwise, even going so far as to say that they know understood why he had done the things we did. As Charles appeared to give up anyways, we cut to….

The prom, where the girls were still trying to find Alison. Mona dropped by in the nick of time — as she often does — with the news that Charles had his own cell network and its servers were placed in the Carissimi Group building.

Cut to Alison, who was now trapped in a new dollhouse and spotted her father, seemingly dead, on the floor in front of her cell. At the Carissimi Group, the girls — along with Sara and Mona — managed to break in. And that’s when they found a high-tech room that they dubbed “A’s” brain. But Sara opted not to come in (rather suspiciously, frankly) and the door closed, locking the girls in.

That’s when the girls found a live feed of Alison, now with Jason and Mr. DiLaurentis appearing to be dead on the floor, who was asking Charles why he had killed their family members. And then the hooded figure turned around and revealed himself as….CeCe! She told Ali not to be dramatic, because they “weren’t dead yet”. That’s right, folks, Charles is transgender.

Back in the high-tech room, Mona told the other girls that she believed Tanner was working for CeCe (which we later learned wasn’t true). And that’s when CeCe started talking — she told Ali she had loved her since the day she was born. In a flashback, we saw that a young Charles had just been trying to make a crying baby Ali feel better by putting her in the bath. And that was the last straw, because Kenneth convinced Jessica to send Charles to Radley. It turns out that Charles always thought he was a little girl and when Kenneth found out, he wanted to get rid of his son. It was also revealed that Mona wasn’t really dead last season because Cece had injected her with a serum that made her appear dead — the same serum she gave Jason and Kenneth in the present day.

Then we saw a 12 year old Charles in a dress on the roof of Radley with a young Bethany. As the two plotted an escape, Toby’s mother came on to the roof. Charles hid, but Bethany pushed Mrs. Cavanaugh off the roof to her death. And that’s when Bethany told Charles she was going to pin the murder on him. So Jessica paid off Wilden to rule Mrs. Cavanaugh’s death a suicide and Charles was doped up for years, until he and Jessica “buried” Charles at the aunt’s cabin and Jessica returned Charles to Radley as “Charlotte”.

We also learned that Ali was being held in Radley in the present day, with Red Coat planting explosives throughout the building. As the girls concluded while seeing this go down via camera, CeCe planned to end the night by blowing up Radley. In a flashback, Jessica arrived to tell teenage Charlotte that she was allowed to attend classes at UPenn. One day, when classes were cancelled, CeCe headed to the local school and met Jason during picture day. And that’s when CeCe revealed she “dated” her brother, but clearly didn’t sleep with him. Apparently Jessica didn’t know Charlotte was CeCe until the day they left for Cape May and then she was worried about Kenneth finding out about CeCe. But she needn’t had worried because when he arrived home, it was clear Kenneth didn’t recognize CeCe and so she decided to go on the family trip.

Later, we learned that Bethany had stolen CeCe’s clothes and snuck out of Radley to hurt Jessica upon learning of Jessica’s affair with her father. But CeCe was horrified to see that she had struck Alison that night instead, while Jessica looked on from inside the house. Later, in the backyard, Jessica buried Alison while CeCe sobbed and apologized for what she had done.

That’s when Mona revealed that she had killed Bethany, thinking that she was Ali (Melissa had buried Bethany, but Mona was the one who hit her over the head with a shovel). Mona was heartbroken, believing she had killed an innocent person, but Spencer insisted Bethany wasn’t innocent. Back in the flashback, Jessica washed her hands of CeCe and sent her back to Radley with Wilden and a cover story. Back in the Carissimi Group, we learned that CeCe hired Rhys as a decoy and had built up the group herself.

At Radley, CeCe revealed that she had met a drugged-up Mona, who thought she was Ali, in the sanitarium. And that’s when Mona spilled everything about the girls to CeCe, who now put them on her radar. CeCe made a deal with Mona — if she helped her get out of Radley, they would play the game together. That’s when CeCe headed to Rosewood and “befriended” the girls.

CeCe also told Ali she kept seeing a blonde in a red coat who was watching the girls. And that’s when CeCe revealed that Sara Harvey was the other Red Coat when CeCe wanted her to be. The night of the cabin fire, CeCe was watching the girls trying to figure out if Ali was actually alive and she knew that she was. That’s when she was prepared to leave the country and end the “game”, but the game was too addictive. CeCe insisted to Ali that she only got mad (and violent) when the girls “didn’t listen”. “I love all of my dolls. That’s why you’re still alive,” CeCe said to Ali and to the girls via camera. She also revealed that Sara was Black Widow and she and CeCe were responsible for Wilden’s death.

Back in the high-tech room, the other girls tried to defend Sara to Emily, who was horrified. But Spencer realized that Tanner wasn’t coming because Sara had never called her. So Mona and Spencer figured out a way out of the room, but Mona opted to stay behind so she could know how the story ends.

Back at Radley, CeCe revealed that Jessica was dead when she arrived at the DiLaurentis house (who killed her? That’s one mystery that wasn’t solved, but we know CeCe buried her). As the girls rushed to Radley, they encountered Sara (who was still setting up the bomb) and set off a loud alarm. In Ali’s room, she was begging CeCe not to detonate the bomb. CeCe flicked the switch, but the girls had disabled it.

And then we were back where we began, with CeCe about to jump off the roof. Instead, she jumped down to safety and declared “game over”.

Cut to Labor Day Weekend, when the girls were packing up the cars to go their separate ways. Emily revealed that Sara had been released from the hospital, but the other girls just wanted to focus on their goodbyes. The four original PLLs bid Ali goodbye and drove off, each headed their separate ways.

Cut to five years later, when the girls all rushed in to Alison’s classroom (she’s now Mrs. Rollins) to say “he” was coming for Ali. They had all returned home for her, but now it was too late. Watch a preview for the 2016 return of Pretty Little Liars.

So there you have it, Pretty Little Liars fans — Charles was Charlotte was CeCe and she was tormented for most of her life and got a little too good at playing the “game”. But now someone new has their eyes on Alison DiLaurentis.

Pretty Little Liars will return in early 2016.

Clarissa is Managing Editor at ScreenFad and former Managing Editor of TVOvermind. A lover of genre shows (like Supernatural and Arrow) and quality dramas (like The Good Wife and Homeland), Clarissa provides on set and event coverage as well as news, spoilers and reviews for all things TV and movies. Follow her at @clarissa373 or email her at clarissa @