Yesterday, TV Guide's Sadie Gennis wrote about why she's been disappointed with Pretty Little Liars Season 3. It's a good article, but it left us scratching our heads, because we've had the exact opposite reaction. We thought the back half of Season 2 dragged, but Season 3 — particularly the winter season — made us fall in love with the show all over again.
So, in the spirit of healthy internet debate — and because we'll take any excuse to rave about our favorite teen murder mystery — here are six reasons Season 3 has reinvigorated our Pretty Little Liars love.
Mona unleashed. We've already written a post raving about why Mona (Janel Parrish) being "A" turned out to be an excellent choice, so we won't waste too many pixels on that here. Suffice to say, we've enjoyed watching Janel Parrish embrace all the layers of Mona's cray cray, from babbling Radley patient to passive aggressive menace.
Toby = "A" team. We'll never forget how stunned we were when Toby (Keegan Allen) turned around in that black hoodie. One day, we'll thrill our friends in the nursing home with tales of how this little show on ABC Family left us screaming and shaking with one of the best TV twists since Lost.
Spencer's downward spiral. This is one of our favorite Pretty Little Liars plot lines, ever. Troian Bellisario (Spencer) has serious acting chops, and she's sold every step of Spencer's descent into complete despair. Maybe we're twisted, but we've enjoyed seeing such a strong character stretched to her breaking point — and we can't wait to see what happens when she inevitably bounces back.
The other Liars step it up. Emily (Shay Mitchell) has stepped up as the team's lead investigator in Spencer's absence, while Hanna has come into her own as a decision maker (even if her decisions are occasionally ill advised). Aria (Lucy Hale) is still sometimes too focused on Ezra (Ian Harding) drama for our liking, but at least she's been subjected to her fair share of suffering at "A"'s hand this year. It was high time for the Liars to take control of their lives and the fight against "A".
Significant others and parents get involved. The show hasn't done as much with Team Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Paige (Lindsey Shaw) as we would have liked, but we're just glad the Liars' significant others are getting integrated into the main mystery. The same can be said for many of the adult characters. Byron Montgomery (Chad Lowe) might be evil? Ashley Marin (Laura Leighton) hit Detective Wilden (Bryce Johnson) with a car? Excellent! At least now they're caught up in the drama we care about.
Embrace the insanity. While we agree with the criticism that this season has been over-packed with extraneous plots, we'd argue that the main throughlines have remained strong. "That Night," the girl in the red coat, and Toby's betrayal are enough to keep us hooked, and we actually like the extra level of intensity some of the secondary plots provided. Nate and Meredith going full-on psycho? Jenna (Tammin Sursok) remaining mysterious after regaining her sight? Wilden being creepy all over the place? These threads may or may not come together in the end, but they've kept us entertained in a way some of Season 2's plots did not.
What do you think: Are you loving Season 3 as much as we are, you do you think it's a letdown?
Catch the next episode of Pretty Little Liars on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.