In the wake of Nolan’s extremely unconventional murder, Ava, Dylan, and Caitlin all struggle to come together, as true friends, and pretend to grieve their lost (fake) friend. Everyone truly does need an airtight alibi on The Perfectionists.
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists 1×02, “Sex, Lies and Alibis,” is truly about just that. Everyone at Beacon Heights University is a suspect in Nolan’s death, which is officially ruled a homicide. Our season 1, episode 2 review breaks down the highlights!
As the students, teachers, and faculty of Beacon Heights University mourn another Hotchkiss, a murder investigation begins, quite similarly to the Pretty Little Liars pilot episode.
As The Perfectionists season 1 continues, I hope the pace keeps up with how incredible the change was between episode 1 and 2. With only 10 episodes, so far, The Perfectionists has an advantage over Pretty Little Liars. That advantage being less filler episodes and more time to really dig into the mystery,
Alison and Mona teaming up
All I have ever dreamed about is Mona Vanderwaal and pre-PLL season 6 Alison DiLaurentis partnering up to become, dare I say it, friends, and to use their combined skills and strengths to take on the looming threat.
Unfortunately, we never saw this team on the original series, but the writers are wasting no time throwing Alison and Mona together and creating a deeper bond between the two ladies.
Whether or not that text message was from Nolan is still up in the air, at least for me, but I’m excited to see how Alison gets wrapped up in both Nolan’s murder and Taylor’s life (and inevitable homecoming). Alison, Mona, and Taylor all faked their deaths, which is something not many people can bond over, so these three ladies better become the power trio of the show, assuming it is picked up for multiple seasons.
Mona’s plan to have Alison use Ava, Dylan, and Caitlin as her alibi is very… Mona, but it also, more importantly, calls into question what Alison is trying to do in Beacon Heights.
In the pilot episode, she went on and on about how she wanted to depart from her mean girl days and use her position to help the students at BHU… putting all of your fates on the line, knowing that it’ll just make all of you look even shadier, doesn’t seem to be in their best interests.
While an excellent scene, and the fallout should be deliciously dramatic, Alison needs to stop pretending she’s something she is not, and I’m hoping that this episode was the beginning of that journey.
As for Mona, I’m beyond ecstatic that she’s finally getting her time in the spotlight and she’s still the same Mona, mystery and all. Who is Mona playing chess “anonymously” with? I’m thinking Taylor Hotchkiss. Both are brilliant, both are relatively unexplored, and Mona did refer to Taylor in present day terms in the pilot episode… Mona knew Alison was still alive, and I’m certain she’s intelligent enough to see through Taylor’s lies.
Ava, Dylan, and Caitlin’s shock over seeing Nolan dead could be real, but it could also be a complete act to fool everyone. The best part of this new mystery is we have an abundance of suspects already and (hopefully) the writers won’t pull the same BS as they did in the original series and make a character first introduced in season 3 (or worse, season 6, with Sara Harvey) responsible for what happened.
Ava’s grief is, I’m sure, very real, but it’s difficult to watch or to feel anything for her. We barely knew anything about her and Nolan, and what we did know of Nolan and their relationship wasn’t very heartwarming.
Personally, what made Pretty Little Liars so strong in the beginning was that, while the girls were all upset about “Alison’s” body being found, it wasn’t their primary story. Ava’s entire arc in this episode being devoted to crying over Nolan and self-medicating was just too much too soon, honestly.
Ava’s attack at Caitlin and Dylan was also extremely unwarranted, which made it even harder to root for her. Ava also participated in their conversation about killing Nolan, and Caitlin’s idea may have been what ultimately took his life, but they also heard footsteps in the woods that night around them.
Clearly they weren’t alone, so it’s a bit ridiculous for Ava to shift all of her blame onto them, but, hey, that’s grief, right?
It seems unlikely that we will see a friendship blossom between these three rather quickly. Unlike our favorite liars, these three were just pretending to be friends. It’s clear, at least for Dylan and Caitlin, that they care about one another and have grown fond of each other during their fake friendship; their concern for Ava’s well-being proved, even after she attacked them, proved that.
The other characters
As to be expected, The Perfectionists season 1 episode 2 focused much more on developing the main five characters, rather than spending much time on the supporting characters.
We get a larger glance at Caitlin’s relationship with Jeremy, who I already think is the killer as I have explained in my complete guide for The Perfectionists season 1. Knowing Jeremy’s feelings for Caitlin makes him even more suspicious to me, especially considering that Nolan was the reason they were forced to hide their relationship. What’s more of a motive than love?
Andrew is also another prime suspect in Nolan’s murder, to me, but he’s not been around much, other than to question Dylan about his nightmares and how he was writing all of Nolan’s papers for him.
Claire Hotchkiss is perhaps the most interesting new character introduced thus far. She’s clearly a very layered, multi-dimensional woman, and I see quite a few similarities between Claire and Jessica DiLaurentis. Now that both of Claire’s children are “dead,” one for real (seemingly), how will Claire’s story progress?
Showing up to Alison’s house, unannounced and uninvited, was very creepy, but it also shows that she is struggling to cope with the matters at hand. Plus, what role did Claire have in Nolan’s death after ordering a watch on him? (Also, it’s entirely possible that while Taylor faked her death, it’s possible Claire knows she is alive… kind of like Jessica did in the later seasons?)
While Taylor was MIA in this episode, her story should be fascinating as the season progresses. How long before Taylor reveals she’s still alive? Given Nolan’s death, and the fact that it probably coincides with the reason she went into hiding in the first place, I can’t see BHU being a very welcoming place for the surviving Hotchkiss sibling.
A murderer at large
The introduction of Mason, Nolan’s childhood friend and Caitlin’s ex-boyfriend, could not have been more suspicious. I mean, who gets into town and immediately offers their ex-girlfriend, and the dead person’s significant other, an alibi?
Mason is definitely in my top 3 suspects because of how immediately he asked Caitlin to be his alibi, and there’s something else I’m wondering, too.
Like Jeremy, who could have killed Nolan over his love for Caitlin and desire to be in a public relationship, Mason could have killed Nolan over his love for Caitlin (as they were clearly seriously involved), not knowing that Nolan and Caitlin’s relationship was a sham.
“It’s just like you imagined.” This line, delivered to the Perfectionists at Nolan’s wake, was so chilling and creepy, and, honestly, scarier than anything that -A ever did to try to scare the liars (without physically harming them).
Another step forward
In my opinion, The Perfectionists 1×02 is even better than the series premiere. It’s clear that in the vast amount of time between shooting the pilot episode and the rest of the season, some decisions were made about how to proceed and produce a mystery that is even more compelling, and hopefully more put together, than Pretty Little Liars‘.
This episode is much more interesting, offers the characters a chance to breathe, and provides a compelling start to what is sure to be another long-lasting murder mystery.
The Perfectionists season 1 episode 3 airs Wednesday, April 3, at 8 p.m. ET. Everyone needs to be watching this show.