In the beginning, when all A could threaten the liars with was themselves, it was almost ridiculously easy to yell at them to just Tell the Truth. But the thing about A, it’s omnipresence, is that it’s basically a physical manifestation of the liar’s guilt. Guilt about their sexuality, about their actions, about how they chose to live their lives, even if these indiscretions weren’t necessarily terrible or irredeemable. (The objectively worst, I could say, was Hanna’s shoplifting, which is not life ruining material by any means). These women were disproportionately shamed for existing, for acting on their desires, for using their agency or thinking they were doing so. A only had as much power over them as they let it have, and the more they fed the guilt the more it consumed them, had power over them, until A was all they were.
7×19 almost should’ve been the ending, in a way. The lack of agency the liars had in the end was laughable, as they neither found out their tormenter nor destroyed it. The only thing 7×19 got wrong was that A let them go.
However, 7×20 had a better idea, infiltration of everyday life, so insidious no one would notice, except it fell prey to the basic tenets of the two things crucial to a Pretty Little Liars reveal: an unmasking, a naming of names and a story directing what should only be called a senseless malice, and a contrived taking down of that individual.
Neither is truly possible, and for all of the clamoring about A, Gossip Girl or any other show or movie with an unknown tormenter, the truth of the matter is that the real fear is that this tormentor will never raise their head, never be shot dead.
And maybe that is what separates life from fiction, but in its immensely symbolic, surrealistic world, a fantasmic microcosm of the real world, the only significant thing Pretty Little Liars revealed to its audience was that even the devil’s creator can be blind to what it truly produced.