Movie Reviews

Every Pretty Little Liars Easter Egg & Reference In PLL: Summer School

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Pretty Little Liars: Summer School.


Summary

  • Pretty Little Liars: Summer School includes Easter Eggs to the original show, from characters to locations, maintaining a connection between the two.
  • The HBOMax show mentions and shows familiar characters like Ezra, Aria, and Dr. Sullivan from Pretty Little Liars.
  • Summer School pays homage to and deviates from the original Pretty Little Liars series through plot twists and easter eggs like the toffee reference and mannequin scene.


Because it’s part of the bigger franchise, Pretty Little Liars: Summer School includes multiple references and Easter Eggs to the original Pretty Little Liars show. Starting with the eponymous book series by Sara Shephard, Pretty Little Liars has developed into a vast TV franchise including four TV shows and a webseries. The most recent addition to the bunch – Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, the second season of Original Sin – is the most different from the others in the group.

Rather than taking a drama/mystery tone, the HBOMax show is more similar to a horror/thriller. Pretty Little Liars: Summer School’s cast refrains from bringing back any of the main characters from the original Pretty Little Liars. The villains also behave in very different ways, with Bloody Rose being more violent than her predecessors. Despite this, Summer School goes out of its way to maintain connections to the original show through references, Easter eggs, and character parallels.


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19 Welby State Psychiatric Hospital

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 1, “Chapter Eleven: SpookySpaghetti.com”

A sign says Welby State Psychiatric Hospital in Pretty Little Liars

After A is caught for the second time, he goes through trial and sentencing. Dr. Sullivan mentions that he will either go to Welby State Psychiatric Hospital outside of Rosewood or receive the death penalty. This location is a reference to Pretty Little Liars season 6. Both Charlotte DiLaurentis and Alison DiLaurentis spend time at Welby after Radley Sanitorium is shut down.


While Archer Dunhill died prior to the events of Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, it seems likely that Archie Waters would have been able to escape the hospital or do damage while in the hospital. After all, the hospital was willing to hire Dunhill and allow him to do whatever he wanted with Alison. This points to a corrupt leadership at the hospital. Moreover, Archie seems just as smart as Mona, who was able to get in and out of mental facilities without a struggle.

18 Dr. Anne Sullivan

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episodes 1, 2, 3, And 4

Dr. Sullivan with a stern expression in Pretty Little Liars Summer School


The only character who makes a direct appearance in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School is Dr. Anne Sullivan. The therapist was first introduced in Pretty Little Liars season 2, episode 1, “It’s Alive,” when the Liars’ parents force them to go to therapy in the aftermath of the Ian situation. Dr. Sullivan is extremely kind, patient, and caring. She serves as a counterbalance to the chaos going on in both of the Pretty Little Liars shows, providing a more logical perspective.

The girls seem to really find comfort in therapy during
Pretty Little Liars: Summer School
, showing a more positive depiction of mental health than what appeared in the original show.

In the aftermath of Archie Waters, Dr. Sullivan is brought in to provide group therapy for the new Liars, helping them process their trauma as well as prepare for the trial and sentencing. In a positive change of pace, the girls seem to really find comfort in therapy during Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, showing a more positive depiction of mental health than what appeared in the original show. Additionally, the cameo hints that other Pretty Little Liars characters, especially minor ones, could show up in future episodes.


17 Imogen’s Ezra Quote

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 1, “Chapter Eleven: SpookySpaghetti.com”

The ending of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin provides a bothersome twist that Ezra and Aria would adopt Imogen’s baby. This would have undone the impact of the Tabby storyline. Luckily, Pretty Little Liars: Summer School’s beautifully savage Ezra line walks back this reveal. Dr. Sullivan brings up that Imogen backed out with the original adoptive couple last minute. Imogen explains the change by saying she “got a weird vibe from that Ezra dude. The Ezra line is a good way to resolve the storyline before it becomes even more problematic than it already is.


The teacher’s relationship with Aria has always been morally wrong, but it has been called out increasingly fervently with shifts in societal attitudes. Imogen, pointing out the weird vibes of Ezra, confirms that the writers of Pretty Little Liars: Summer School are listening to the large portion of fans who find Ezria’s relationship and wedding deeply disturbing seven years after Pretty Little Liars’ ending. The change also solidifies the show’s stance that relationships formed with that kind of power imbalance, whether it be student-teacher or boss-employee, are wrong.

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16 The Liars’ Kickboxing Class

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 1, “Chapter Eleven: SpookySpaghetti.com”

The girls training combat moves in Pretty Little Liars Summer School season 2
Image via Max


When the new Liars start interacting with Bloody Rose, as is bound to happen, they will have a self-defense foundation to work with, making it more difficult for the villain.

One of the first scenes in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School shows the new Liars learning kickboxing. The kickboxing class is a subtle reference to the fact that Aria took private self-defense lessons from Jake during Pretty Little Liars season 4. Though short-lived, this is one of the few times that any of the original Liars learned to defend themselves, even though self-defense classes would have been a logical choice. Instead, the liars either simply knew how to get out of physical situations or became damsels in distress for someone to save.


This Easter egg proves that the new show is deviating from its source material. When the new Liars start interacting with Bloody Rose, as is bound to happen, they will have a self-defense foundation to work with, making it more difficult for the villain. By combining these factors, Pretty Little Liars: Summer School will probably include more intense action sequences.

15 Tabby Writing On The Gravestone

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 1, “Chapter Eleven: SpookySpaghetti.com”

Chandler Kinney as Tabby in Pretty Little Liars Summer School episode 1

After being demonized for speaking out against Chip, Dr. Sullivan suggests that Tabby use her words in order to get out her pent-up anger and frustration. Eventually, she feels better after vandalizing Chip’s gravestone. Tabby’s actions are a reference to Spencer vandalizing Marion Cavanaugh’s gravestone at the end of Pretty Little Liars season 3. In the case of Spencer, she learns that Toby is part of the A-Team, so she scratches his name into his mother’s gravestone.


Tabby, on the other hand, takes spray paint to Chip’s grave, marking it with the word “rapist.” Obviously, despite the parallels in actions, the situations are vastly different. Toby is a genuinely good person who tries to protect Spencer by joining the A-Team. Meanwhile, Chip is the scum of the Earth. Still, the Easter egg is a fun nod to people who have watched since the very beginning of the TV franchise.

14 Red spray paint

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 1, “Chapter Eleven: SpookySpaghetti.com”

The word "rapist" is written across a gravestone in Pretty Little Liars Summer School

When vandalizing Chip’s gravestone in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Tabby uses red spray paint, a fun call back to the original series. Red spray paint appears in Pretty Little Liars numerous times. A mysterious figure, presumably A, paints over the last digit of the population of Rosewood on the entry sign after the homecoming dance in Pretty Little Liars season 1.


In season 4, A spray paints on the Rosewood sign that says, “You are now leaving The City of Rosewood; Come back again,” adding the word “Don’t” in front of the latter phrase. In Pretty Little Liars season 5, Spencer helps Jonny with what she believes is an approved mural. Her addition is the Bunny with red spray paint. Then, in season 6, Hanna remembers seeing the word “Carissimi” spray-painted on the wall in the basement of Radley Sanitorium. Ultimately, this Easter egg has no deeper meaning, but it provides a connection between the two series.

13 The Dolls In Kelly Beasley’s House And The Antique Shop

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 2, “Chapter Twelve: Summer Lovin”


One of the most immediately recognizable visual Easter eggs in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School is the presence of dolls in Kelly Beasley’s bedroom and at Mouse’s parents’ antique shop. Throughout the original Pretty Little Liars, dolls became extremely important. A called the Liars her dolls, even giving them dolls with messages. Within A’s lair, there are dolls made to resemble each of the Liars. A takes the Liars into her dollhouse and forces them to follow her rules like they are dolls with which she is playing.

These are just a few of the many examples of instances where dolls appear in Pretty Little Liars because there are too many instances to count. While these toys in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School do not have significance to the plot yet, it’s possible the dolls will become important down the line like in the original show.


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12 Faran As Swimming Captain

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 2, “Chapter Twelve: Summer Lovin”

While Faran starts out as a ballerina in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, she switches over to weight training and swimming in Summer School. After trying out for a job as a lifeguard, Faran is the fastest swimmer and becomes captain of the lifeguards. This is a reference to the beloved Liar Emily Fields from Pretty Little Liars. Emily started swimming at a young age and is one of the best swimmers on the Rosewood Sharks team.


She goes on to fill the anchor position in the swimming relay and vies for the position of team captain on the swim team, going up against Paige McCullers. The choice to make Faran a swimmer points towards similarities between her and Emily. Both characters are competitive and driven, except that Faran acts tougher than her Pretty Little Liars counterpart. It will be interesting to see if she ends up just as emotional and sensitive on the inside as Emily.

11 Bloody Rose’s Video Call

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 2, “Chapter Twelve: Summer Lovin”

Bloody Rose video call in Pretty Little Liars Summer School episode 2

The choice to parallel these scenes hints at the fact that Mouse could be the show’s equivalent of Aria.


The last Easter egg in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School is the video call that Mouse receives from Bloody Rose. This call is extremely similar to the call Aria receives in Pretty Little Liars season 7 from A.D. Both video calls include a distorted voice and the face looks like a bad filter. The messages are also extremely threatening to Mouse and Aria.

The choice to parallel these scenes hints at the fact that Mouse could be the show’s equivalent of Aria. After all, both characters can get obsessive over their interests and theories. They’re also both extremely unique from the rest of their respective groups. On top of this parallel, A.D. from the original show and Bloody Rose from Pretty Little Liars: Summer School could have similar methods of taunting and manipulating the Liars, with the big difference being Bloody Rose has a more hands-on approach to the violence.


10 Mouse’s Heart Necklace

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 3, “Chapter Thirteen: Sweet Sixteen”

Mouse looks at her computer in Pretty Little Liars Summer School

At the start of Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, episode 3, “Sweet Sixteen,” Mouse is wearing a bulky necklace made up of silver hearts. This piece of jewelry is a small nod to the statement earrings and necklaces that Aria Montgomery wears in the original Pretty Little Liars series. Across all seven seasons of the show, Aria’s jewelry choices became a meme among the fandom. Her own mother, Ella, even roasts her in Pretty Little Liars season 3, episode 7, “Crazy,” when she says, “Wait, why am I asking you? You wear forks as earrings.


Mouse’s fashion choices and jewelry in Original Sin and Summer School have been a slightly toned-down version of what Aria would wear based on current fashion trends. This visual parallel helps establish Mouse as Summer School’s Aria equivalent. Both characters are unique in the way they express themselves, even if it raises eyebrows from others.

9 The “Amazing Ice Cream Place In Rosewood”

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 3, “Chapter Thirteen: Sweet Sixteen”

Johnny flirts with a girl in Pretty Little Liars Summer School

When flirting with a girl in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School episode 3, Johnny tells her that he can take her to an “amazing ice cream place in Rosewood.” While the town of Rosewood is a clear reference to the original series, only the most fervent Pretty Little Liars fans will remember the ice cream place because it is a deep-cut. In Pretty Little Liars season 5, the Liars go to Boo Boo’s Ice Cream Factory where A locks Aria and Spencer in a freezer.


This is the only time any of the characters ever visit this location in the entirety of Pretty Little Liars, and it isn’t even the actual ice cream shop, just the factory. The location is also only directly referenced once more when the ending moments of the episode “The Melody Lingered On” show a screwdriver from Boo Boo’s Ice Cream.

8 Toffee Ice Cream Flavor

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 3, “Chapter Thirteen: Sweet Sixteen”

Johnny looks at Imogen in the creamery in Pretty Little Liars Summer School

When Imogen is working at the creamery in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, a chalkboard is shown on the wall, listing the flavors available. A fun Easter egg for the eagle-eyed viewer is the fact that the flavor toffee is included. Toffee was an important clue and red herring that popped up multiple times in Pretty Little Liars.


Because every detail matters in the
Pretty Little Liars
franchise, the toffee Easter egg could have been included to point a finger of doubt at Johnny.

A is shown to have a sweet tooth, and one of the instances of this involves them taking a toffee candy from Mrs. Potter. At another time, Melissa takes Aria’s toffee froyo, fueling the theory that Aria was A in Pretty Little Liars. This also hinted early on that Melissa would work with A while pointing at her as an A suspect. Additionally, during her voiceover in “UnmAsked,” Mona mentions loving her Toffee Tango lipstick. Because every detail matters in the Pretty Little Liars franchise, the toffee Easter egg could have been included to point a finger of doubt at Johnny.


7 The Masks In Christian’s Basement

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 3, “Chapter Thirteen: Sweet Sixteen”

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School episode 3 shows the basement where Christian makes his special effects and masks for horror movies. This hobby and workspace is an indirect reference to one of the creepier and more odd guest characters on Pretty Little Liars – Hector Lime. Hector is the mask maker responsible for making the Melissa mask and Alison masks. Like Christian, he specializes in making masks for horror movies. In exchange for information about the masks Hector made, he uses Emily’s face to make a mask of Medusa.


While he only appears in two episodes, Hector’s role is influential in later storylines with A, like them tormenting Emily. After somehow obtaining the Emily mask, A records a clip of someone in an Emily mask and red coat holding a piece of paper on which the word “guilty” is used, slipping it to the police. Ultimately, even if Christian does not give off creepy vibes – unlike Hector – his masks could serve a similar purpose in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School. Moreover, the fact that the character has masks of Archie Waters and Bloody Rose makes him look suspicious.

6 The Rosewood Sharks T-Shirts

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 3, “Chapter Thirteen: Sweet Sixteen”

Teen boys wear Rosewood sharks shirts in Pretty Little Liars Summer School

At Noa and Jen’s workplace in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, a group of obnoxious teenage boys refuse to leave a tip and then sexually harass Jen when it’s pointed out. The boys are all wearing t-shirts that say Rosewood Sharks. This is a reference to Rosewood High School, where the original Liars went. The school mascot is the sharks, which is most notable when Emily, Paige, and Shauna are on the swimming team at Rosewood High School.


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Emily later takes over the job as the head coach of the Sharks swimming team in the jump forward during Pretty Little Liars season 6. It’s unknown what sports team the teen boys in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School are on, but they are reminiscent of Noel Kahn and his football buddies in Pretty Little Liars, who presented themselves in this same insufferable way.

5 Mouse’s Surprise Party

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 3, “Chapter Thirteen: Sweet Sixteen”

Tabby, Imogen, Noa, and Farren are at Mouse's surprise party in Pretty Little Liars Summer School


The central plot point for Pretty Little Liars: Summer School episode 3, “Sweet Sixteen” is the fact that it’s Mouse’s sixteenth birthday. When she asks about having a party, the group makes up an excuse not to celebrate but secretly plans a surprise party. The surprise party plotline is a reference to the surprise party that Mona throws for Hanna after she gets out of the hospital in Pretty Little Liars. Like in the original show, the party is filled with Mouse’s closest friends in the spinoff. The party also goes horribly awry in both shows, albeit in different ways.

In Pretty Little Liars, Hanna’s money gets stolen from the lasagna box. In Summer School, Mouse is taken to the wrong location, where she’s put to the test by Bloody Rose, nearly dying of smoke inhalation in the process. This parallel storyline and the subsequent fire at Rose E. Ricotta’s was smart to include because it finally added the Pretty Little Liars suspense and drama to Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, making it feel more like a spinoff and less like an independent TV show with the same name.


4 Dr. Sullivan Gets Pushed Down The Stairs

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 4, “Chapter Fourteen: When A Stranger Calls Back”

Dr. Sullivan ends up in the hospital early in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School episode 4 due to someone pushing her down the stairs. The pushing down the stairs trope was used repeatedly in Pretty Little Liars. Examples include Noel pushing a girl down the stairs at a party, a kidnapper pushing Mona down the stairs, and Rollins pushing Ali down the stairs. However, this baseline parallel has another, deeper Easter egg as well.


When telling Imogen what happened, Dr. Sullivan says that she believes it was a former patient and that this kind of thing has happened before. She’s presumably not specifically speaking about being pushed down the stairs specifically, but being targeted by a patient. This references the fact that Mona was her patient and threatened her son. Additionally, it’s likely that Mona took other actions against Dr. Sullivan off-screen in order to keep her silent. In either case, this served as a foreshadowing for the later revelation related to Dr. Sullivan.

3 The Mannequin In The Junkyard

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 4, “Chapter Fourteen: When A Stranger Calls Back”

A mannequin holds a timer in Pretty Little Liars Summer School

Bloody Rose Waters is testing the new Liars, and Pretty Little Liars: Summer School builds up a red herring with Imogen. In reality, the villain is testing Farren’s strength. The teen is lured to a junkyard for a trial, where she finds a note and a mannequin holding a timer. In addition to looking extremely creepy, Bloody Rose using a mannequin is an Easter egg referencing the Dollhouse in Pretty Little Liars. The original Liars are taken to the Dollhouse in the season 5 finale where they get tortured by Big A, aka Charlotte (Cece) DiLaurentis.


As they try to escape, they find A’s lair, which includes an extremely creepy family made of mannequins. It’s later revealed that they are meant to represent the Dilaurentises. Moreover, there’s also another doll that looks like it is meant to be a little boy, but it’s wearing traditionally feminine clothing. This is one of the first big hints that Cece is a transgender woman who was a part of the DiLaurentis family. While Cece being trans was arguably one of the worst-handled Pretty Little Liars storylines, the mannequin is a fun Easter egg for Pretty Little Liars: Summer School.

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2 Rose Waters Was At Radley

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 4, “Chapter Fourteen: When A Stranger Calls Back”

Rose Waters looks to the side in Pretty Little Liars Summer School

While it was mentioned in Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, Rose Waters’ stay at Radley Sanitarium is brought back up in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School episode 4. The new Liars find Rose Waters’ medical records in her tent under the bridge, confirming the likelihood that the woman they interacted with was the real Rose Waters. Radley Sanitorium is the mental health facility in Rosewood which became a central location for many character arcs in Pretty Little Liars. Former patients include:

  • Mona Vanderwaal
  • Spencer Hastings
  • Cece Drake
  • Marion Cavanaugh
  • Bethany Young
  • Mary Drake
  • Lesli Stone


Eventually, Radley is shutdown because of the illegal practices going on, and Hanna’s mom buys the facility, turning it into a hotel and spa. The original Liars stayed at this hotel after testifying at Charlotte’s parole hearing. Ultimately, given the mental health themes explored in Original Sin and Summer School, it wouldn’t be surprising if Radley came up more times as the new Liars try to find out whether Rose Waters is really the person torturing them.

1 Dr. Sullivan Was Rose Waters’ Therapist

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School, Episode 4, “Chapter Fourteen: When A Stranger Calls Back”

A medical record says Dr. Anne Sullivan's name in Pretty Little Liars Summer School

The biggest bombshell at the end of Pretty Little Liars episode 4 was the revelation that Dr. Sullivan was previously Rose Waters’ therapist after she got out of Radley. In addition to being a massive conflict of interest, this part of the plot is an Easter egg to Pretty Little Liars season 2. The parents of the original Liars forced them to go to therapy due to what they perceived as obsessive thoughts about pinning Ali’s death on Ian – though the parents are unaware they have reason to think this.


As they open up, they reveal information about A stalking them. Dr. Sullivan then figures out in Pretty Little Liars season 2, episode 11, “I Must Confess” that Mona is A. She only has the information to put this together because she was Mona’s therapist. It’s plausible that they are using this Easter egg to introduce a red herring for fans of the original series, leading them to believe that the real Rose Waters is the person torturing them.


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