Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin season 1 recap: What to remember ahead of season 2

Season one of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin was a wild ride, full of secrets and surprises. Here's what you need to remember before watching season two.
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Photo:Barbara Nitke/HBO Max.
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Photo:Barbara Nitke/HBO Max. /

Since the success of the 2010 smash hit Pretty Little Liars, the creators have been desperate to find another group of students that is as captivating to audiences as the original crew was. The supernatural spin-off Ravenswood had too poor of ratings to be renewed, and the sequel series Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists was canceled after only one season, despite a perfect critical score on Rotten Tomatoes.

But the third attempted spin-off has broken the trend by earning a second season, which is set to begin on May 9, 2024. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin had no major character crossovers from the original, but it drew audiences in with its commitment to the slasher genre and depicting serious topics on screen.

For those who plan to tune in to the second season, it's vital to catch up on all of the drama in Millwood. There is a lot to cover from the first ten episodes, so be prepared to follow a lot of complicated plotlines. Here's everything you need to know about season one of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin before the start of season two!

Warning: This show (and this recap) includes discussion of sexual assault, self-harm, and suicide.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max /

Recap of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin season one

The 2022 series follows a group of teenage girls who attend Millwood High School. While each has their own interests and struggles, they are drawn together by a mysterious figure who calls themselves "A." Rather than just being tormented with information and secrets, A begins to build up quite a body count, implicating the girls in the killing spree.

The girls in question are Imogen Adams (Bailee Madison), Tabby Haworthe (Chandler Kinney), Faran Bryant (Zaria), Mouse Honrada (Malia Pyles), and Noa Olivar (Maia Reficco). Their mothers were best friends in high school, and while the girls have little in common in the present, the sins of the past come back to haunt them all.

Season one began with a scene from 1999, the first taste viewers get of the titular 'original sin.' A teenage girl staggers into a party, begging her friends for help. They all ignore her, which prompts the girl to throw herself from the rafters of the warehouse. Throughout the season, the audience is given crumbs of what led her to such a desperate action.

Moving back to the present, we're first introduced to Imogen, whose personal tragedies launch the whole saga. She is a pregnant teenager, and her best friends abandoned her after Imogen was seen kissing Karen Beasley (Mallory Bechtel)'s boyfriend. Despite not initiating the kiss, she is completely rejected by Karen and her twin sister Kelly, taking her from one of the most popular girls in school to a social outcast.

While Imogen might be able to manage this with the support of her mother, Davie Adams receives a mysterious note referencing the New Year's Eve party from 1999. Imogen and Karen end up stumbling upon Davie, who appears to have committed suicide in the bathtub.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin premieres July 28, 2022 on HBO Max, Bailee Madison /

Imogen begins digging into what happened in 1999

During Imogen's first week back at school, she and the other main characters have confrontations with Karen, who is eager to ruin their lives. Imogen declares that she plans to run against Karen for Spirit Queen, but she and the other four wind up in detention after being framed for crimes against Karen.

There, they decide to show a video of Karen drunk at a party during a double feature at Tabby's job. In revenge, Karen and Kelly decide to pull a Carrie by giving Imogen the title of Spirit Queen and planning to dump red paint on her during the school dance. However, a terrifying masked man appears and pushes one of the twins from the rafters to her death.

They receive their first official "A" message, threatening to kill them if they tell what they saw. It's revealed that the twin who died was Karen, and her father, Sheriff Beasley, is eager to blame the girls for their part in it. This is particularly dangerous for Noa, who is still on probation after taking the blame for her mother's drug abuse.

Desperate to figure out who the killer is and what "A" refers to, Imogen begins digging into what happened in 1999. The girl who died, she learns, was named Angela Waters, and she was both adopted and tormented by the girls' mothers.

Who is the father of Imogen's baby?

From here, the story splinters, following each of the Liars' individual struggles. Tabby teams up with her best friend Chip to produce a gender-swapped version of Psycho. Faran begins to suspect that Kelly actually is Karen, which she pursues despite multiple warnings to stop digging. Mouse begins a dangerous game, meeting up with a man named Steve Bowers whose daughter was abducted to give him a sense of closure. Finally, Noa is chased by the hooded figure, who forces her to report her mother for stealing drugs from the hospital.

Throughout all of this, there are two key mysteries that the characters have to investigate. First and foremost, they need to find out who A is and how they are connected to Angela Waters. However, they also have to solve a much more insidious question: Who is the father of Imogen's baby?

Imogen was raped on the same night she lost Karen and Kelly as friends, but she has no memory of who did it. Horrifically, the same thing happened to Tabby, who has been experiencing symptoms of PTSD ever since it happened. They hatch a plan to test the DNA of the boys in the school against Imogen's unborn child, using a school blood drive to collect samples.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max . /

Was A's identity ever revealed?

As the investigations continue, Faran and Mouse learn more about their own pasts. Faran underwent surgery to correct scoliosis as a child, but she discovers that it was done against doctors' recommendations, as her mother was more interested in her being successful at ballet than the potential risks involved. Because of this, Faran suffers from chronic pain.

Mouse's backstory is a little more complicated. It turns out that she has been trying to help parents who have had abducted children because she was nearly taken as a child. However, her mothers refuse to talk about the incident, which results in her endangering herself trying to make sense of what happened.

After sending her mother an anonymous, threatening text , Mouse learns that the man who had tried to abduct her as a child was actually her biological father. Her mother had been a surrogate, but she had stolen the child after giving birth. When she tries to reach out to her father, however, he rejects her, sending her further into the arms of an increasingly-obsessive Steve.

Heading into the final two episodes of the season, it seems like all the answers are out there. A man named Crazy Joe, who had first offered Imogen and Tabby information about Angela Waters and then chased Imogen around the Waters home with a knife, is dead and claimed to be A. The moms finally told the girls the truth—most of it, anyway.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin on HBO Max /

But that would be too easy. Sheriff Beasley goes off the rails, threatening his family and Faran after she goes after him. Imogen's mother's body is dug up and stolen. And there was a match from the DNA testing to Imogen's baby.

The five girls are lured to the school to confront their bullies and to see their mothers be punished for their past crimes. Each is given the chance to do something horrific to someone who hurt them: Tabby is given the chance to mark her rapist. Noa is invited to force her mom's drug dealer to overdose. Mouse is supposed to torture Steve for toying with her. Faran is given a tattoo gun, and told to scar her ballet teacher. Finally, Imogen is told to remove her mother's diary pages from inside her corpse's mouth to learn the truth.

When they meet back up, they claim that they all refused to do it, except Imogen. Then, they are guided to the school auditorium, where all of the season's main secrets come to life.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max . /

Major SPOILERS ahead: Every season 1 mystery solved

The final episode answers almost every question that the first nine episodes posed. Here's every major mystery, how it was resolved, and where it was left at the end of season one.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max. /

Who is A?

A is actually two people, not just one. The brains behind the operation turns out to be Millwood High's principal, Marshall Clanton. He was secretly Angela's father and watched the torment that the mothers put his daughter through. The brawn (AKA the man in the mask) is Archie Waters, Angela's deformed twin.

While Principal Clanton was fully committed to revenge, no matter how many innocents were hurt, Archie seems to have a moral code, primarily only attacking those who have done horrible things, particularly those that are similar to what happened to his sister.

In the end, Tabby knocks Principal Clanton out with her film teacher's name plate. He was arrested, and remains in jail at the end of the first season. Archie was stabbed by Imogen while trying to kill her, leaving him unconscious in the hospital. However, he woke up on Christmas Day and escaped, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin premieres July 28 on HBO Max, Photograph by Barbara Nitke/HBO Max /

What happened to Angela Waters?

A lot of things happened to poor Angela over the course of her time with the Moms, but two major events are the 'sins' that led to her death and A's revenge plot. First, Angela was raped by Tom Beasley. She told her 'friends,' but they refused to help her.

This was because Tom was dating Imogen's mother, Davie, at the time. Rather than punishing her boyfriend for his crimes, Davie decided to "erase [Angela]." She and the other girls convinced the entire school to act like Angela didn't exist, even when Angela was begging for someone to acknowledge her.

Davie pretended to apologize to Angela, inviting her to the New Year's Eve party as a fresh start. However, when Angela showed up at the party, clearly distraught, Davie ordered the others to continue ignoring her. This was what led Angela to commit suicide.

While Clanton agreed that Beasley needed to be punished, his primary focus was on killing the mothers (and their daughters) because their rejection of Angela was what made her hopeless enough to jump. However, he planned to frame the Sheriff for the murders to make him pay too.

The Liars, with an assist from Kelly, stopped Clanton before he could kill any of them or their mothers. Tom Beasley had been stabbed by his wife when he threatened to kill his daughter, which landed him in the hospital. When Archie escaped from his own hospital room, he stabbed Beasley to death before his escape.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin premieres July 28 on HBO Max, Photograph by Barbara Nitke/HBO Max /

Who sexually assaulted Imogen and Tabby?

In a heartbreaking, yet believable, twist, Imogen and Tabby's rapist was not one of the football players, as they had suspected, but someone they both knew. Chip had raped them both—Tabby because she had rejected him and Imogen because he was angry at Tabby and she was there.

While Imogen was originally just collattoral damage in his rejection rampage, Chip had gotten close to her months later as she and Tabby became friends They started dating, and he showed a keen interest in supporting her during the more trying moments of her pregnancy.

After getting him to confess, Imogen and Tabby sicced A on Chip, telling him, "He hurt us. The same way Tom Beasley hurt Angela Waters." This led to him being Tabby's temptation during the confrontation at the school. He was arrested for his actions but was then released on bail for Christmas.

Though it seemed that Imogen and Tabby would have to face a brutal trial after everything else they had suffered, Archie came for Chip after escaping the hospital. The final shot of the season heavily implied that he killed Chip, but true PLL fans know that an off-screen kill can always be undone.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. Photograph by Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max . /

Was Davie murdered?

One of Imogen's major subplots was trying to figure out whether her mother had actually committed suicide or if she had been murdered. After all, Karen's death had been ruled a suicide when they all knew it wasn't. This was especially important to Imogen because she refused to accept that her mother would abandon her when she needed her most.

Imogen got authorization for her mother's body to be exhumed for an autopsy, but A stole it before the tests could be conducted. According to Principal Clanton, they did not kill Davie. They had simply sent her the flyer to trigger her guilt. That, coupled with a history of depression, prompted her to take her own life.

However, that mystery was only solved in words, not with proof. Since Imogen accepted Clanton at his word and wanted to move forward, her mother was reburied, seemingly without conducting the autopsy. It is still entirely possible that Clanton was lying or that Davie was killed by someone else (perhaps the season two villain).

Season one is absolutely packed with plot points, with so many twists and turns that it's hard to capture them all. Hopefully, however, this recap is thorough enough to prepare you for the newest installment when it comes out on May 9.

While the biggest mysteries were solved, there are still plenty of questions for the show to answer in the next season. Chief among them is: What happened to Angela's mother, Rose Waters? Based on the trailers we've seen so far, it seems like that will be a primary focus in season two.

Other questions have more to do with the secrets that the Liars might still be keeping. While there was some compelling evidence that Kelly was who she said she was, this franchise loves to play around with twin swaps. Furthermore, any of the girls could have done something to their 'bullies' in the finale and then lied about it.

Finally, Imogen gave up her baby in an open adoption to OG Liar Aria (and her husband, Ezra). Could the many secrets and lies from Rosewood come to haunt the next generation of Liars? There are a lot of places that season two could go, and fans will have to tune in on May 9 (and every Thursday after that) to see what happens to the quintet next.

The first two episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin season two will debut on Max on May 9, 2024.

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