Pretty Little Liars: Summer School has given audiences a finale they won't soon forget (Recap)

The series has given audiences a finale they won't soon forget, with plenty of reveals and a few teasers for a potential season 3.
Pretty Little Liars: Summer School on Max
Pretty Little Liars: Summer School on Max /

After seven episodes of buildup, the Pretty Little Liars: Summer School finale is here! So far this season, the Liars have been up against three key threats: the cult-like church Our Mother of Holy Grace, the masked killer Bloody Rose, and the most terrifying threat of all - retaking their final exams.

At the end of the last episode (recap here), Faran hurried to the Millwood Pool, only to find Kelly facedown in the water and Bloody Rose outside, triumphantly slashing her knife against the fence. How does everything wrap up? Read on for every major plot point in "Chapter Eighteen: Final Exam." Plus find our review of it here!

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Taking the Beasleys off the suspect list

The finale picks up right where the previous episode left off, and Faran has a choice to make. Does she pursue Bloody Rose or try to save Kelly's life? She chooses Kelly, pulling her out of the pool and resuscitating her. Thankfully, Rose didn't bother stabbing Kelly before trying to drown her.

The rest of the Liars head to the pool, where Kelly apologizes for her role in Redemption House. It's a jarring shift from her insistence that she was morally right just a few episodes ago, but it puts her back on decent terms with the others.

They debate whether Mrs. Beasley could still be a suspect, but when they go back to Kelly's house, her mother is still in the prayer closet, furious. That seems to prove that both Beasley women are innocent, despite their actions earlier in the season.

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Speculating on who is behind the Bloody Rose persona

Despite two people being off the list, there are still several others who might be responsible for the attacks. The Liars (minus Kelly) head to the pizza place, where they recap the other main events of the last episode. Imogen mentions Dr. Sullivan's disappearance, and Mouse tells them that her grandmother had been with Rose Waters.

However, when they go to Crazy Joe's train car (where Mouse left Rose Waters), she's nowhere to be found. Instead, there are a ton of rose petals. The prevailing theories are that either Rose Waters and Dr. Sullivan are working together as Bloody Rose or that they were both abducted because they were mothers.

With that idea in mind, they hurry to check in on the only other mother in town: Mrs. Haworthe. She's fine, but there were roses delivered to her with a note the Liars perceive as a threat. She's only safe as long as the girls do as they are told.

The next morning, they get the news that there was a riot at the prison where Archie Waters was being kept. He is believed to be dead (although nobody has seen his face, so that can be easily disproved).

Archie's supposed death doesn't stop the current threat, so they continue exploring. Kelly shows up and says that she talked to her mother. Mrs. Beasley believes that Mrs. Langsberry might be behind the attacks, since there is a deep-rooted darkness within her.

Following up on that lead, Imogen and Tabby visit Mrs. Langsberry to drop off some of Chip's things. She says that she is relieved that Archie is dead and that it will help her to find peace moving forward. While the girls still doubt her innocence, she does have a bouquet of red roses, which seem to be more of a threat than a sign of guilt.

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Doubting the boyfriends

With Mrs. Langsberry tentatively off the suspect list, the Liars are unsure of where to turn. Noa and Jen talk about it, at which point Jen asks if they are only considering women. Noa confirms that women have been their main culprits, and Jen suggests that they look into Johnny and Christian, since both appeared out of nowhere around the same time as Bloody Rose.

All five Liars head to school, where Mouse shares that the people on SpookySpaghetti see the prison riot as their sign to begin The Reckoning. Before they can explore that more, the principal arrives to tell them that they all failed their practice exams. He refuses to hear any explanations and tells them they need to study up if they want to move on to junior year.

Tabby suggests that they host a massive study session with all of their significant others, since their school lives are pretty much the only things they have control over. While they agree with it in principle, it sparks a major argument when Noa suggests that Johnny and Christian might be involved with Bloody Rose. Imogen and Tabby get upset and accuse Jen of being part of it. They all begin sniping, and while Ash and Shawn are considered safe, they also suggest Henry might be involved.

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The fight feels a bit out of place, given how close-knit the group has been thus far in the series, but it fits the overall sense of paranoia. Begrudgingly, they agree to investigate their love interests a little more. Tabby calls Christian's previous boss to check in about him, but they say they've never heard of a "Christian Peele."

Imogen meets up with Johnny at work and immediately calls him out on texting someone. She demands access to his phone, only to find that he was texting her. Even so, she digs into his browser history to be sure until he asks her to trust him. She says that she does, but that it's hard to trust anybody right now.

Meanwhile, Mouse continues looking at SpookySpaghetti, where she finds a 'teaser' of the Reckoning: video footage of the season's earlier kills. This is the first time they have been shown to anyone other than the audience.

Back at the ice cream shop, Imogen tries to make amends with Johnny for her paranoia. She goes into the freezer to get a new carton of ice cream, which is normally his responsibility. There, she finds three bodies. She immediately goes into panic mode, grabbing a pipe wrench and yelling at Johnny. He tries to calm her down, but she beats him in the head when he gets too close and drags him into the freezer.

Tabby is likewise paranoid that her boyfriend might be involved with the Bloody Rose conspiracy, so she goes to his house to look through his studio. Although most of the things she finds are innocent, there's a mask of Davie Adams that proves his involvement in tormenting Imogen. She goes to leave, but Bloody Rose appears and she falls down the stairs, unconscious.

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The classic horror movie third-act climax

The Liars (except Tabby) meet up at the pawn shop to give updates on what they've found in their investigations. While everyone seems relatively accepting of Imogen's decision to lock Johnny in a freezer with brain injuries, they get concerned when they realize Tabby isn't there. Seemingly confirming their suspiscion toward Christian, Mr. G calls to tell them that the SpookySpaghetti servers are located at the Orpheum.

They all go to confront Christian, but he says that he hasn't heard from Tabby either. He's been at work the whole time, because the air conditioner is dead again. They rush up to look at the Internet servers and find a note: "Hot in here? Or is it just me? Check out my movie. In screening room three." In the theater, they find a live video of Tabby's current situation.

Tabby woke up locked in a confessional at the church. On one wall, the words "Confess your sins" has been spray painted in red. Tabby opens the divider between the booths to find Rose Waters on the other side, with the skin of her face cut off.

She breaks out of the confessional to find the church completely redesigned for the climax. Monster masks have been propped up throughout the pews, and the images of the girls in their Final Girl Tests (from the poster) have been hung on tapestries around the church. Pastor Malachai's body is off to one side, and there is a throne where the altar should be.

As Tabby gets a sense of her situation, the church doors open and men in monster masks come in. They block the entrance, while other masked figures emerge from the back, including someone in an Archie mask and someone in a Bloody Rose costume.

The fake Archie grabs Tabby, and they drag her to the front. Bloody Rose demands that Tabby confess, and it's revealed that she has been (drumroll, please) Mrs. Langsberry all along. She demands that Tabby confess to having lied about Chip assaulting her. Next, the Archie mask is removed to reveal Wes, who whips out a camera.

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The other Liars are horrified by what they are seeing and rush to help Tabby. However, a series of other people in masks arrive outside the Orpheum, to either kill or delay the Liars. Christian suggests they use a secret back exit to escape and try to get to Tabby.

Back at the church, Wes and Mrs. Langsberry continue to taunt Tabby. They demand that she admit to lying about what Chip did, but she faces the camera and reasserts that Chip was a rapist who assaulted her and Imogen and deserved what happened to him. Mrs. Langsberry goes to kill her, but Wes blocks her and says that she needs to be tortured more first.

Wes explains that he had brought a bunch of Chip's stuff to his mother, which is when they bonded. He had once discussed the idea of filming a real murder and releasing it as a horror movie with Wes, so it seemed only fitting that his mother help to fulfill the idea. Many of the cult members were originally members of the church, who Mrs. Langsberry helped funnel to his cause.

Although this has all been incredibly Scream 2 up to this point, the motivations are definitely weaker. Mrs. Langsberry wants Tabby discredited and her son's name cleared, but Wes just wants a chance to be seen as a good director because apparently it's hard for straight white men to make it in the film industry, thanks to Black people and women getting more opportunities.

The other Liars make it out of the Orpheum, but there are still a lot of cult members on their trail. Noa decides the only reasonable thing to do is steal a car, so they find one that's unlocked and Jen talks her through how to hot wire it just in time to get away.

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Continuing the villain monologue, Wes explains that he doesn't intend to get away with murder (just like Mickey in Scream 2). He just wants people to see him as a genius, and the cult is proof that plenty of people will. However, he then goes on to tell Tabby that she should be happy because he is making her, a Black girl, the ultimate final girl.

Since all he cares about is his movie, Tabby refuses to give him a performance. She says that she won't cry or scream, because that would be what he wants. However, he shows that cult members are outside her house, ready to kill her mom if she doesn't play along. She decides to escape by jumping out a stained glass window.

Wes sends the masked cult members after her, but Tabby definitely made the most of her self defense classes. She beats one of the cultists with a tree branch, hits another with a crow bar, and punches the third after a brief struggle. With the minions dealt with, she runs until she finds the abandoned cabin in the woods.

At this point, Tabby does what horror experts do best in meta horror media. She opens the door to the cabin, pretends to go in, and hides until Wes comes.

The Liars make it to the church, but nobody is there anymore. Bloody Rose comes out to attack them, but Faran kicks her in the face and knocks her out. It is worth noting that Bloody Rose was never actually unmasked, so it's still theoretically possible that there is more than one. With the 'big bad' easily defeated, they go off to find Tabby.

After Wes entered the cabin to find Tabby, she armed herself for a fight. In her words, "Just because you're a horror cliche doesn't mean I am." They briefly discuss how his team built the cabin for the 'scene,' at which point she mentions that he gave her a weapon in the form of a pitchfork. He insists that she won't actually kill him, but she rushes him without hesitation, stabbing him through the chest.

By the time the other Liars get there, Tabby is sitting outside in shock. They ask if Wes is dead, and she tells them he's still inside. He looks dead, but they double down on the Scream references by having him wake up and yell, just for Imogen to punch him in the face.

With both villains taken down, everything starts to wrap up. They find Dr. Sullivan locked in the closet, as a hostage that never had to be used. Sirens sound in the distance, and the ordeal is finally over.

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Another time jump: 2 weeks later

Returning to the style of season one's finale and this season's premiere, there is a time jump and plenty of exposition dumps to handle loose ends. Two weeks after the attack, the five core Liars are at school, taking their mandatory tests. Then, they go to therapy with Dr. Sullivan to provide a full wrap-up on everything left unsaid.

They were given a brief delay to study before their exams, which doesn't seem like enough for teenagers who have now survived two serial killers in less than a year. Christian was able to stay safe at the Orpheum, and him and Tabby are still together. Johnny is alive, having been released by Kelly, but he is no longer dating Imogen.

The info dumping continues, with the reveal that both Wes and Mrs. Langsberry were arrested. How Wes is still alive, we don't know. Somehow, every single cult member was also tracked down, although what happened to them is not really discussed. SpookySpaghetti was officially taken down, so they don't have an easy gathering spot anymore.

Dr. Sullivan asks the Liars if they are still interested in continuing therapy, and they say no. She accepts that, but suggests they try some self-care. Apparently, all six Liars (counting Kelly) got matching tattoos of the letters FGE: final girl energy.

Just after showing off their tattoos, they all get a text. Apparently, the test results are in. They go to school, where it is revealed that all five of them passed.

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Imogen and Tabby hang out together, trying to find their new normal going forward. Imogen asks Tabby if she still plans on directing a Millwood Massacre movie, and Tabby says that she's ready to move forward to something new. Although another director is still expected to make a horror movie about them, Tabby suggests a movie with a team of slashers, which are shown as five girls in Archie-style masks of the Liars.

As further set-up for a possible season three, we return to Dr. Sullivan's office, where it's revealed that she finished her book about the Liars' lives. Her publisher says that they will need to sign off on it, but she's not concerned because they're supposedly all narcissists.

Right as we're starting to hate Dr. Sullivan again, the lights cut off. A killer stands in the doorway, in the shape of Archie Waters. She cries that he's supposed to be dead, but then says that the bogeyman can never really die. She begs him to tell her if he was the one who killed her son, but her only answer is a blade through the head.

With that final kill completed, there are a few more teases of the Liar-inspired killer group, walking down the hallways of Millwood High. Is that going to be Tabby's newest movie, the season three threat, or both? Only time will tell.

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