Let’s process this ‘Pretty Little Liars’ finale together

Warning: Spoilers for the season 6A Pretty Little Liars finale ahead!

Last night, Pretty Little Liar’s “Summer of Answers” culminated in one, epic episode of answers. As promised, the audience finally got to see A’s face and hear A’s story – it was beyond my wildest theory fever dreams. After waiting so long for the pieces to fall into place, I’m having a hard time believing I really know the answers to pretty much all of the questions I’ve ever had. It’s kind of like acing a math test after not studying hard enough: wonderful and mind-boggling at the same time.

For the sake of sanity, let’s process the information overload together. Here are some of the biggest mysteries that were solved in “Game Over, Charles.”

1. Who is Charles?
Charles DiLaurentis is actually Charlotte DiLaurentis. Better known as Cece Drake! That’s right: one of Ali’s best friends has also been her tormentor. It turns out the story that Kenneth told Alison and Jason about Charles being an evil, baby-drowning little boy, was false. Charles meant well when he put wee Ali in that bathtub, but his father was looking for an excuse to kick him out of the house – Mr. D discovered that Charles preferred to dress like a girl, and didn’t like it. So, Charles was sent to Radley, living a virtually solitary life, aside from regular visits from his mother.

Remember the grave that Hanna, Spencer, and Jason found at Aunt Carol’s house? It was symbolic, representing the day that Charles became Charlotte. Mrs. DiLaurentis helped Charlotte transition into a woman, but sent her back to Radley and back to loneliness.

Charlotte made the best of her dreary life by studying hard enough to get into UPenn. Radley gave her permission to leave the grounds to attend classes. One day, classes got canceled, and, instead of returning to the sanitarium, Charlotte crashed high school photo day at Rosewood High, conveniently running into her brother, Jason. She assumed the role of Cece Drake and started skipping class on a regular basis to hang out with Jason and Ali.

2. But, um, didn’t Jason and Cece date?
Yes, they did, but Cece insisted to Ali that the relationship remained PG. Kind of weird, but it’s important to remember this is still A – doll-collecting, dollhouse building, microchip-implanting A.

3. So how did A steal the game from Mona?
When Mona first arrived at Radley, her medicine dosage was so strong she thought Cece was Ali. Mona spilled all of her A secrets: all the dirt she had on the Liars, her surveillance methods, and, eventually, her methods of sneaking out of Radley. Cece misunderstood some of Mona’s drugged-up garble to mean that the girls were glad Ali was allegedly dead and that they’d always hated her. She didn’t want them to get away with insulting her sister. This lit a revenge-colored light bulb in Cece’s brain — she started sending Mona riddles and notes encouraging her to go back to playing the game, offering her service as an accomplice. Once Cece knew enough, she yanked that game from right under Mona, officially usurping her title as A.

4. What happened to Toby’s mom?
Bethany! It was all Bethany Young! What a cray cray young child. One second, she was being a swell pal to young Charles as he modeled dresses for her, and the next, she pushed Marion Cavanaugh right off the roof of Radley. Charles’ story is definitely a tragedy: Psycho Bethany accused Charles of Marion’s murder, and no one questioned her. Poor Charlie. All he was guilty of was being fabulous.

5. What happened “That Night?”
Finally, we have an explanation why everyone and their dad was wearing the frilly yellow top that night. Cece explained that every time Mrs. D bought clothes for Ali, she bought identical clothes for her. “That Night,” Bethany stole some of Cece’s clothes, apparently vowing to hunt down Mrs. DiLaurentis for having an affair with her dad. Since Ali was wearing the same yellow shirt that Bethany stole, Cece conked her on the head with a rock – oops.

I have to admit, I had a huge case of the feels watching Cece sob about how her mom would never forgive her, echoing Ali’s lines from the season four finale when she described being buried alive. “She wouldn’t look at me,” Cece cried. “She wouldn’t even look at me.” I always assumed that whoever hit Ali over the head wanted her dead, but in reality, both sisters were in pain that night.

6. If Cece hit Ali, who hit Bethany?
Mona thought that she was the one who hit Ali over the head. Upon hearing that Cece accidentally attacked Ali, Mona realizes that she actually killed Bethany Young. Yikes.

7. Who is Red Coat?
Little Miss Sara “Shower Addict” Harvey is Red Coat and Black Veil. Looks like we will have to wait until the time jump to find out her motives – my bets are on blackmail, brainwash, or good old-fashioned bribery. Don’t worry, Emily took care of that traitor with her Fields Fists of Fury.

That’s not even the entirety of the information that PLL unleashed on us last night. It might take until the second half of the season starts in January for me to wrap my head around this story. I think the only solution is to rewatch the entire show from the beginning. As Ali so wisely said, “Every time I remember something, I have to look at it differently now.”

P.S. Should I have known it was Cece from these clues Marlene dangled in front of our faces over the past three seasons? It was so obvious, but I was still shocked. Oh, Pretty Little Liars, why can’t I quit you?

(Images via ABCFamily, here, here, here, and here.)