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“Pretty Little Liars: Summer School” returns with twists, turns and bloody revenge

The official poster for the second season of “Pretty Little Liars: Summer School.” After a two-year hiatus since its debut season, the new season premiered on Max on Thursday, May 9. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Contains spoilers for “Pretty Little Liars: Summer School” (2024).

Put down your knives and grab your popcorn — the final girls in Millwood, Pennsylvania have returned for the second season of the slasher drama mystery “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.” The first two episodes premiered on Max on Thursday, May 9, after nearly a two-year hiatus since its debut season. The second season returned under a new title, “Pretty Little Liars: Summer School.”

The fourth television series in the “Pretty Little Liars” franchise, “Pretty Little Liars: Summer School” is set in the same universe as the original series (2010-2017), which is based on the novel series of the same name written by Sara Shepard. 

“Pretty Little Liars: Summer School” follows the lives of five teenage girls: Imogen Adams, Tabby Haworthe, Faran Bryant, Mouse Honrada and Noa Olivar, played by Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Zaria, Malia Pyles and Maia Reficco, respectively. Similar to previous installments, they begin receiving cryptic messages from a mysterious, anonymous figure named “A.” However, unlike past versions, this “A” character holds their mothers responsible for the death of a classmate, Angela Waters, on New Year’s Eve in 1999 and embarks on a familiar revenge cycle.

Following several deaths, such as Imogen’s mother, Principal Clanton and Chip, the fourth series became known for its ability to infuse the excitement of slasher horror from the “Scream” (1996) franchise with typical teenage drama. But the second season brings the five girls to new heights, introducing them to fresh challenges alongside a new “A.”

The second season picks up right where the previous one left off but with a new twist: summer school. The girls are forced to tackle not only summer school, jobs and flings, but also deal with “A” who haunts them in their dreams, nightmares and realities.

In the first season, the true identity of “A” was unmasked as Principal Clanton, who was actually Archie Waters, Angela’s father, seeking vengeance for her death. In the new season, the original “A” receives the death penalty at the end of the second episode, which promises more drama as viewers know that this isn’t the end of “A.” Meanwhile, the girls face Bloody Rose Waters — the new “A” — who notably has a bandaged face and wields a bloody knife. 

Amidst the ongoing “A” mystery, the five liars navigate the usual family and personal relationship challenges. Tabby delves into a budding romance with co-worker Christian, Faran takes on the role of lifeguard captain, Mouse becomes excessively invested in the internet’s SpookySpaghetti, a website where people relish in “A” and Noa reconnects with an old flame from her time in juvie.

In just two episodes, Madison shines in her role as Imogen, who is trapped in a chaotic and traumatizing state. Even after having a baby girl, she now appears to struggle with the return of “A” the most, as she finds herself hallucinating over not only the unmasked figure but also her deceased mother.

While the Bloody Rose plot dominates much of the screen time, this season also focuses on Kelly Beasley, played by Mallory Bechtel, and her mother seeking solace at Our Mother of Holy Grace Church, which is an odd but welcoming environment for the family who recently lost two of their own. Between Kelly’s usual jealousy and her boyfriend’s arrogance, it becomes clear to audiences that something much darker lurks in the shadows of the inviting church. 

A standout Easter egg and cameo in this season is the return of Annabeth Gish’s Dr. Anne Sullivan, a therapist who previously helped the original liars in Rosewood after they became fixated on implicating Ian Thomas in Alison Dilaurentis’ supposed murder. The mysterious disappearance of Alison before the start of the pilot triggers a series of events that unravel hidden secrets and mysteries in Rosewood.

Unlike other characters in the “Pretty Little Liars” franchise, Dr. Sullivan aimed to win the trust of the original liars to help them cope with what they believed to be Alison’s death at the time, only to be stalked, frightened and manipulated by “A.” This behavior differs from most characters, as the original liars were frequently followed and coerced by several characters, namely “A.”

With only two episodes released so far, the series has already unveiled several deaths — from Sheriff Beasley to the two classmates in Bloody Rose’s shack in the woods to Kelly’s new nemesis at Our Mother of Holy Grace Church. The high body count in a short time frame is bone-chilling, promising a season filled with revenge and blood. 

The highly-anticipated second season under a new title, “Pretty Little Liars: Summer School,” builds dramatic tension and ramps up the mystery with its dark and campy atmosphere that leaves fans wanting more. With the remaining six episodes set to air in the coming weeks, the series seamlessly combines elements of horror, suspense and drama, creating an enthralling experience in this “Pretty Little Liars” thriller.

The series will continue to release weekly episodes every Thursday at 3 a.m. EST on Max.

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About the Contributor
Clare Gehlich
Clare Gehlich, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor
Clare is the Assistant Arts and Culture Editor for The Statesman and a senior journalism major with a minor in political science. Since transferring to Stony Brook University in 2022, she has written for both Herald Community Newspapers and WSHU Public Radio.
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