Photo: Freeform

If you don’t want to spoil the central mystery of Pretty Little Liars, please walk away from this blog post and return after you’ve watched all two hours of the series finale.

Perhaps I’m the most gullible human being in the entire world, but I did not see the surprise twist in last night’s final episode of PLL coming—a great relief, as I thought I had inadvertently spoiled the series for myself. Everything about the series finale was ridiculous—another time jump, Aria’s wedding dress with sleeves like hot air balloons, Ali and Emily raising the recently-deceased Wren’s twin baby girls—but the ultimate, final twist was one that I didn’t see coming, even though many smarter, savvier viewers did.

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The evil genius that’s been torturing the girls since is Spencer’s evil twin (!!!), Alex Drake, daughter of Mary Drake and sister of Charlotte, who we recently learned was killed by Mona. Mary Drake had two babies, one of which went to the Hastings and was raised as Spencer and the other, Alex, was raised at first by a wealthy British family who eventually left her with an orphanage because she was clearly the bad seed. Alex met Wren who eventually told her about Spencer. At some point, Alex also met Charlotte, her half-sister. Charlotte died, Alex was upset and because all sets of twins must contain one good egg and one that is very, every bad, she decided that she wanted to figure out who did it. That was the first part of her game. The second was finding a family: Alex also impersonated Spencer every now and then, trying on her life and deciding that it was to her liking, and decided to try and take it over for herself.

Secret, evil twins have long been a staple of daytime soaps and the motif has popped up every now and then on the show. “We started playing with the twin theory early on,” showrunner I. Marlene King told the New York Times. “We didn’t know who the twins were going to be, until about Season 3. It runs in the family. They say it skips a generation, but they just got lucky.”

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An evil twin ending seems over-the-top for a show that is ostensibly about teen girls bullying each other, but considering everything else that’s happened on PLL, any other ending would’ve been underwhelming and, frankly, out of character. “For some people, the reveal of Spencer’s twin will be a total slap upside the head, and it’ll be great,” Troian Bellisario, the actor that played Spencer/Alex, told Elle. “For other people, it’ll be fun to feel ahead of the game. It doesn’t take the fun out of the mystery. It makes you feel like you’re a part of it.”

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Throughout the episode, the Liars do their best to stop whatever poison that exists in Rosewood that causes teen girls to become villainous snakes. A clutch of high school girls, led by the shiny-haired Addison, are starting to fall into the roles the Liars themselves recently vacated. At the episode’s end, the cycle begins anew; in a scene mirroring that of the pilot, when Allison is discovered missing, King leaves the door open for what could be a spinoff. “The mythology of the town will continue,” King told the Times. “Even though now our Pretty Little Liars have escaped, the Rosewood mythology continues. The town stays alive.”