"Pretty Little Liars" wrapped up Season 7a in typical slam-bang fashion, with a huge reveal, a bloody death and an excellent cliffhanger heading into the final 10 episodes.

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But the first half of Season 7 wasn't without its faults, so read on to find out what "PLL" plot twists make the grade.

Ending it now - A+

Seven seasons is a good run for any show, especially one like "Pretty Little Liars," where the on-going mysteries and twists can easily start to run out of steam. It sounds like the writers have a great final half-season planned and kudos for them not trying to stretch the show out past its expiration date.

Mary Drake - A

Andrea Parker was always perfectly fine as Jessica DiLaurentis, but she is positively amazing as Mary Drake. Creator Marlene King tells Zap2it they didn't cast Parker specifically to be Spencer's mom, but they think she's done a "spectacular job" with it.

"Once Andrea knew that she was going to play Mary Drake, she really did a lot of homework and started studying Spencer. She chose her hair color and she chose some of the mannerisms -- she morphed into Spencer."

Noel Kahn's death - A-

It was sad to lose Noel (Brant Daugherty) because he's been a great foil for the Liars all these years, but whatta way to go -- decapitated by your own axe. Daugherty tells us he felt like it was a fitting conclusion to Noel's story and we could not agree more.

Spaleb - B+

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One of the best surprises of Season 7a was the romance between Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Caleb (Tyler Blackburn). It felt organic and real, and their subsequent break-up gave both actors some incredibly meaty moments that they both absolutely nailed. The only problem is that they aren't together anymore -- and they should be. More on that in a minute.

Hanna's kidnapping - B

This was a really well done plot, especially the way Spencer appeared to her while she was captive -- that felt like such a special moment between those two characters, especially in light of what started going on with Caleb. The only problem we had was that there wasn't enough Dark Hanna. She got super awesome at the end of the summer, but it only made us want more of that.

Emison & Paily - B-

This has always been the show's most interesting love triangle and to see it come to a head in the summer finale was a great payoff. In some ways, Alison (Sasha Pieterse) hasn't changed at all, but can Emily (Shay Mitchell) ever really get past her love for Ali? Much like with Dark Hanna, the big issue here is that it's a shame Paige (Lindsey Shaw) didn't come back sooner in Season 7a. This could have been even juicier to watch had it not felt so rushed.

Ezria - C

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Look, the proposal was fine -- hope they get married and have five kids. But Aria's (Lucy Hale) life often seems so separate from the rest of the show and the whole Nicole plotline is no exception. Raise your hand if you even care one whit about Nicole and Colombia? Yeah, us too.

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The only bright spot here is the reveal that Aria hooked up with a scruffy, long-haired Jason (Drew Van Acker) during the five-year time jump, which is ah-mazing.

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The pandering - F

The EPs referred to Season 7 as the most romantic season ever and ... we guess that's true? But all the same old high school couples being apart for five seconds only to get back together felt like terrible fan pandering and isn't realistic.

We know how funny it sounds to criticize "Pretty Little Liars" for its realism, but the show has depicted teen girls and their experiences in a very real way. And while everyone probably has one piece of anecdotal evidence about high school couples getting married and having kids, the majority of those couples fizzle out after HS is over and they don't end up back together -- and that's OK! That's how it's supposed to work!

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But to have three 23-year-olds magically get back together with their high school boyfriends smacks of pandering. No, Spencer didn't back together with Toby ... yet. But you know that's where it's headed. If Yvonne survives that car crash, we'll eat our hats.


The show did something really interesting when Season 7 began -- one HS couple finds each other again (Ezria), one Liar starts dating her friend's ex (because that IS something that a lot of friend groups, male or female, have to deal with at some point) and the third Liar is engaged to a new guy. We'll give the show one couple and Ezria seems like the most likely. So that all tracks, and it was emotionally satisfying.

But we can see which way the wind is blowing and by the series finale, expect Ezria, Spoby and Haleb to all be right back where they were in Season 2, which is extremely disappointing.