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Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin – HBO MAX SPINOFF REVIEW



Not bad but not great; I’d rate it a 5.5 out of 10. This may have been higher if the last two episodes weren’t rushed. For a spinoff, I’d say Original Sin does well in setting itself apartfrom the original Pretty Little Liars. What you might be wondering is ‘do you need to watch all SEVEN seasons of the original Pretty Little Liars before watching Original Sin? And the answer is no, you don’t. It’s a completely new story, new characters, new settings, a new ‘A’ (villain) and it even slips into the horror genre.

In a Nutshell: Plot Summary

In 1999, a tragic event happened in Millwood. This event resurfaces in the present day when ‘A’ starts tormenting the new liars (the group of female protagonists) to make them pay for the sins their mothers committed in 1999. The show includes effective flashbacks whichslowly reveal what led to the tragic event.

Introducing the five new liars: Imogen Adams, Tabby Hayworth, Faran Bryant, Mouse Honrada, and Noa Olivar. All very different from one another but they all share the same hatred towards Karen Beasley, the queen of bullying, which is ultimately what brings them together.

The first episode is a blood bath – literally! Imogen finds one of her loved ones in a bloody bathtub. It is believed to have been a suicide – or was it ‘A’? The episode exposes two bloody deaths and that’s only the start of the killings! We learn that in 1999 at the Y2K rave in Millwood’s high school, a teenage girl committed suicide and the liars’ mothers are seen to be distraught. Later, Imogen’s mother receives the original 90s flier about the Y2K rave which is signed by ‘A’. And from here, the torment begins…

Later, the liars decide to band together to take Karen down for being a ‘Karen’. They find an embarrassing video of her and screen it at a cinema (Tabby’s workplace) for everyone at school to watch. Needless to say, she doesn’t take it well and decides to move her ‘Karen’ behaviour to another level. She begins to hatch a revenge plan with her twin sister Kelly, but unaware that someone is waiting for her.

SPOILER ALERT: the audience (and Imogen) witness ‘A’ pushing Karen to her death. Or was it her twin, Kelly? This is where the hunt for ‘A’ begins.


What’s the new ‘A’ like?

Creepy. A violent masked villain is pursuing their enemies and making them pay. The spinoff ditches the black hoodie disguise from the original show and upgrades ‘A’ to a scary mask, gloves, a jumpsuit, and freakishly long hair! The show pays homage to the 1978 Halloweenslasher villain Michael Myers. Just like Myers, ‘A’ isn’t afraid of using a knife or two! If you’re not a fan of gore, then you should definitely look away.

However, there is a slight issue with predictability. In the original Pretty Little Liars the identity of ‘A’ could literally have been anyone. The problem with Original Sin is that it’s so much easier to work out who ‘A’ is. For example, I was 100% certain they were a man and guess what… spoiler alert: I was 100% right.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

1. The mothers of the liars have a bigger role compared to the original Pretty Little Liars. The audience get to witness the story of what happened in 1999. This backstory was strong and was explained clearly throughout.

2. The show took the opportunity to enlighten the audience with taboo storylines like Faran’s sclerosis.

3. The standout actress must be Mallory Bechtel whose characterization was brilliant. She played two completely different twins, Karen and Kelly. Karen is always the centre of attention and Kelly is somewhat forgotten about. She easily slips into both roles, and you wouldn’t even notice that she is playing both twins.

4. There is natural chemistry between the five liars and their friendship outside the show reflects well on the screen.

5. In the final episode ‘A’ give the liars dark ultimatums and it’s up to the liars whether they do them or not – exciting!

Cons:

1. The ending was extremely rushed. All the questions were answered at once as they quickly tied up the loose ends. I don’t know what they are planning to do in season two; just like Imogen said, it feels like ‘it’s really over, over’.

2. They mentioned the Riverdale TV show being in the same universe as this Pretty Little Liars spinoff. I think that speaks for itself: if there is a crossover episode, I’m pretty sure most of the viewers will stop watching.

3. Towards the end of the series, someone is revealed to be working with ‘A’ – you would have thought they would have been memorable! Already, I have totally forgotten about that character; not great for a big reveal.

4. Referencing a similar point as seen in number 5 on the ‘pros’ list above, it would have been far more interesting if some or all the liars completed ‘A’s ultimatums in the final episode. I felt that if this happened, we would have questioned the characters morals. It would have changed our perceptions on whether the characters are good or bad people.

Beth’s Final Thoughts

Overall, there were aspects of Original Sin I really enjoyed, and if there is season two, I may give it a chance. I mainly want to know which twin is alive (Karen or Kelly)! Some questionable things happened that were unrealistic, and it was a shame about the pacing of the last two episodes. Nevertheless, it has a strong backstory, a scarier ‘A’, and great chemistry between the liars. For a spinoff show it’s really not that bad – which is a very rare achievement!


Original Sin is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.




Written by Beth Nethercott

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