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Despite its sequel status, 'Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin' is nothing but original

"Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin" breaks stereotypes of less-than-successful reboots and sequels, an iconic teen drama in its own right.  – Photo by HBO Max / Twitter

Nearly 5 years after the final episode of the cult mystery series "Pretty Little Liars," A is back and more twisted than ever in the new spinoff, “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.”

What once was an anonymous enemy sending threats one text at a time is now a ruthless killer trying to avenge the death of a young girl. In the fictional Millwood, Pennsylvania, a group of five 16-year-olds is targeted by a nameless, faceless enemy searching for the answer to a 20-year-old mystery — what happened to Angela Waters?

Angela is the central mystery of the show: a girl who, when betrayed by her friends and everyone around her, decided to take her own life. But why are these specific five girls being targeted for a decades-old crime?

When it’s discovered that their mothers know a lot more about the events leading up to the death of Angela, the girls try to unravel the mystery of what happened and why they are being targeted now, years later.

The first episode introduces the audience to the issue at large right away, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Cut to 20 years later, and we meet Imogen Adams (Bailee Madison), a pregnant teen reeling from the shocking death of her mother and the repercussions of a broken friendship.

Soon enough, she and her friends are immersed in the drama and secrets, not truly knowing what they are getting into. When people start going missing and then turning up dead, the girls wonder who the real enemy is.

Madison does an amazing job portraying a young girl lost in grief, determined to find out the truth of what happened to her mother and herself. Still confused about certain events in her life, Imogen finds it hard to move on from the Angela Waters case, one that is so similar to her own.

As the episodes continue, the series dives into each one of the girls’ mothers and their connection to the Angela Waters case. The beginning of the series shows Davie as the sweet mother to Imogen, but it’s revealed that she was anything but that in high school. Davie was the Queen Bee of her school, loved by everyone but horrible to those close to her.

She convinced her circle of friends to treat Angela like nothing, which ultimately contributed to her untimely death. As the mystery deepens and the stakes are raised, the liars get more wrapped up in the lies and betrayals of everyone around them.

Imogen is joined by her friends Tabitha (Chandler Kinney), Faran (Zaria), Mouse (Malia Pyles) and Noa (Maia Reficco) to finally give A the answer they want. Meanwhile, current Queen Bee and former best friend to Imogen Karen Beasley (Mallory Bechtel) tries to get revenge on the girls for a betrayal, leaving them wondering if she is the one sending the nasty texts.

After Karen turns up dead at the same event Angela did 20 years before, Imogen is convinced there is much more to the story than she thought. Aside from the intrigue posed by the central storyline, each of the girls has their own issues to handle.

Tabitha is attempting to find out what happened to her after a party in the woods went awry. Faran, a born ballerina, tries to come to terms with a questionable decision made by her mother that could destroy her blossoming career.

Mouse is trying to overcome a past hardship and deals with it in a questionable manner. Meanwhile, Noa begins the series on probation for a crime that she didn’t commit but is unwilling to let the real culprit take the blame. Despite their personal traumas, the girls are continuously looking for a solution to their real issue — who is A?

Without an answer to please the masked killer, the liars are in for one hell of a ride and a bloody start to the school year. While you might have some reservations about starting a spinoff to a very successful series, “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” knocked it out of the park. Considering this spinoff is a bit more brutal than the original, you might want to keep the lights on while you’re watching.

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