Mona Vanderwaal’s False Reality

I’m making sure you don’t host a pity party for yourself and invite a cheese cake.

The character growth of Mona Vanderwaal has been exceedingly special and become of key interest to the simultaneous growth of the Pretty Little Liars. As season one premiered, Mona joined Hanna as fellow reformed loser, one of the most popular girls at Rosewood High. She was very one-dimensional, existing in and around her social status and wealth. A classic rich girl stereotype. She wasn’t “smart enough” to figure out that Hanna was being harassed, nor was she capable of understanding what her best friend was going through.

But those who doubted Mona were all thrown when she was revealed as the “Original –A,” the girls’ infamous stalker. This twisted the character, destroying the boring, stereotyped character we saw in season one and opened the door to betrayal and mental illness though it was never made clear if Mona actually suffered from one. Toward the end of season two, before Mona was revealed as their tormenter, she tricked the girls into believing she, too, was being attacked by –A. One of the smartest moves she could have made.

If I could live through Alison DiLaurentis and her nonstop torture, I can handle some radioactive texting.

As season three premiered, we saw a much different side of Mona Vanderwaal: the twisted sociopath that had been secretly stalking these girls for a year, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and flawless hair. With that new perspective came Hanna’s growth from betrayal and heartbreak. This was her best friend who had forced her to relive painful memories, destroyed her life and hit her with a car. Mona’s revenge didn’t stop while she was away at Radley. She started working with Charlotte DiLaurentis, “Big –A,” and recruited members for her –A team, including Toby Cavanaugh.

However, this newfound control over the girls didn’t last long, after Charlotte stole the game from her, making a new victim of –A. Being a victim forced her to team up with the Pretty Little Liars and join their hunt for answers and this new villain’s identity.

Mona’s past with Alison created some light around the circumstances that lead to her torturing the girls and formed her into the strong character she was to search for dangerous answers. Those answers didn’t always lead to great results: the exacting consequences gave us Mona’s death. Or seeming death, as we later saw Mona as a hostage in Charlotte’s underground bunker, along with the PLLs, whom she had kidnapped.

Do you still have nightmares? I do. Three shrinks and a whole lot of prescriptions, but I still have bad dreams.

As we greet her in season six, she has evolved into a political lobbyist, on the side opposing Spencer Hastings and her mother. Spencer and Mona’s rivalry has always been incredibly fascinating: both overcame the events of their youth and time in Radley Sanitarium, went on to college and grew. While Mona will always be incredibly shady, because of her intelligence, it’s nice to see that her friendship with Hanna was able to blossom again, at least partially.

Within two years, Mona went from popular girl, to torturer, to victim, to hostage. She inflicted and underwent emotional abuse. She reinvented herself numerous times, from “Loser Mona” to “She’s Better Now” Mona and five years later, we see her as a semi-functioning human being. Her heart-wrenching speech at Charlotte’s court hearing, pleading for Charlotte’s release after everything that she went through, personally. She managed to understand what Radley did to Charlotte and related to her over several similar aspects of their lives. Instead of attacking this woman for kidnapping her and faking her death, five years later she’s managed to forgive, or focus on trying to forget.

Mona Vanderwaal has been through the most out of these girls and she snapped. In a moment of pure rage, she killed Bethany Young and when threatened with the loss of her only friend, she completely broke. She entered a different reality than that she was living. She genuinely believed Hanna was leaving her for the others. None of this excuses what she did to the girls, but the writers gave her the chance for redemption and successfully used it.

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