What's in a name? On Pretty Little Liars, episode titles often hold clues — and that's why I'm so intrigued by the July 5 episode titled "The Talented Mr. Rollins." It's a clear reference to the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley (which was adapted from a book of the same name) and this episode promises to be an important one. According to its official synopsis, the Liars are so desperate to #SaveAli that they "make a deadly mistake that changes everything." This surely references the scene of Aria, Emily, and Spencer digging a grave and burying a person whose identity remains a mystery. So, I combed through the plot of The Talented Mr. Ripley for Pretty Little Liars clues and a number of possibilities emerged.
In case you haven't seen the movie or are rusty about the details, here is its official synopsis from Miramax:
Tom Ripley is a calculating young man who believes it's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody. Opportunity knocks in the form of a wealthy U.S. shipbuilder who hires Tom to travel to Italy to bring back his playboy son, Dickie. Ripley worms his way into the idyllic lives of Dickie and his girlfriend, plunging into a daring scheme of duplicity, lies and murder.
The aforementioned shipbuilder mistakenly believes that Ripley attended Princeton and knows Dickie — neither of these things is true, but he seizes the opportunity to enter the world of the wealthy. Upon his arrival in Italy, Ripley cons his way into the lives of Dickie and his girlfriend, Margie. But, the jig can only last for so long — Ripley develops romantic feelings for Dickie, who becomes frustrated by his new friend's codependence. When Dickie rejects Ripley's suggestion that they live together and informs him of his plans to propose to Margie, Ripley kills him and assumes his identity.
The most obviously parallel is that, like Matt Damon's Ripley, Rollins is pretending to be someone he's not — and he has been for quite some time. It's unclear exactly when he became Charlotte's doctor, but he's been faking an American accent the entire time so his backstory is definitely way more complicated than simply falling in love with his patient. But, depending on how closely Rollins and Ripley mirror each other, it now seems increasingly likely that Rollins killed someone and assumed his identity. So, it's entirely possible that he's not a doctor at all — he's simply impersonating one.
Throughout the film, Ripley's cover is nearly blown multiple times — and, each time, he commits murder to protect his secret. He even kills a new boyfriend when an old friend resurfaces with the threat of revealing his true identity. I. Marlene King has promised that Season 7 will be the "deadliest" yet and it seems highly likely that one or more of these murders will be committed by Rollins. It's also a definite possibility that he killed Charlotte — we all know she's one of the smartest characters on the show, so she would have eventually figured out that Rollins isn't who he claims to be. If Talented Mr. Ripley is any indication, that would have provided Rollins with a motive to kill Charlotte.
We should also consider Ripley's reasons for stealing his friend's identity and killing to protect his secret. Ripley was immediately enamored with the idea of acquiring both wealth and social status — and Rollins could have similar motives. After seeing just how many lies Rollins has told, I don't buy the story that he was in love with Charlotte and it seems more likely that he's been after the family fortune all along. He hedged his bets by romancing both Ali and Charlotte and knew that he could kill either cousin if she figured out who he really was.
The Talented Mr. Ripley ends on a seriously ominous note — Ripley has just killed his boyfriend and the implication is that he'll continue to live as Dickie, regardless of how many people he needs to murder in order to keep up the facade. Fingers crossed that Rollins meets a different fate and is brought to justice STAT.
Images: Eric McCandless/Freeform; prettylittleliars/Tumblr (2)