What 'Psycho' Has To Do With 'Pretty Little Liars'

By Kaitlin Reilly

Pretty Little Liars has solved a mystery five seasons in the making about A's real identity. We may not have seen A's unmasked face (yet) but we do know the elusive stalker's real name: Charles DiLaurentis' true identity is A, and it looks like he's Jason's twin brother. While some fans were shocked by the revelation that A could be Ali and Jason's own brother (and, if he's really Jason's twin, Spencer's brother as well!) it actually makes a ton of sense, and a certain iconic horror movie might be able to explain the situation. I think that Charles is Pretty Little Liars' very own Norman Bates (of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, of course), and comparing the two characters could help unravel this twin's entire persona.

We know that Pretty Little Liars has borrowed heavily from Hitchcock's work, both with subtle references — like the name of the Rear Window Brew — or with an obvious homage, like the Psycho imagery from the Lost Woods Resort in Season 2. Right now I think the show is setting up Charles to be the biggest Hitchcock reference of them all, so here's how his storyline mirror Hitchcock's most iconic work — and how it could answer some major questions about why Charles is the way he is.

He Dressed Up Like Alison

In Psycho, Norman dresses up like his deceased mother in order to commit murder, and it looks like Charles isn't all that different. We know that Ali and Cece have both acted as Red Coat in the past, but there's evidence that suggests that it's actually Charles in one of the Ali masks. After the fire in the woods — the one in which Mona is going to arrange a meeting between Big A and the girls — we see someone in a coat near the fire. Ali saved the girls, and Cece was helping Ali, but someone else in the coat tried to kill the girls. What if Charles dressed up like Ali because he truly believed he was Ali, and it was only when he got someone else to play that role — Mona — that he was able to return to his "real" form?

He Impersonated Alison

In one episode of the series, Toby notes that A has always sounded like a girl. But it's not just a girl that A has sounded like — it's Ali, specifically. Norman impersonated his mother not just visually, but through her voice as well. Norman wasn't putting on a "Mother" costume, he was becoming Mother. That's what A does every time he shoots a text to the girls — he becomes the manipulative mean girl. It's not surprising that A uses the first initial of Alison's name — he thinks he is Ali.

Charles Blamed Ali For Murder

Clearly Charles has a fractured psyche, but it could be even more extreme than we initially assumed. If Charles has a split personality, then he thought it was Ali who "killed" Mona even though it was him who attacked her. Charles could be delusional and believe that Ali was capable of the heinous crime, so he acted it out as though she actually did it. That might be why Charles registers Mona as Ali — he wants to believe that Ali killed Mona, and that Mona no longer exists. It also might be why he protects and loves the Ali that he has in his dollhouse — much like Norman Bates, he believes both the best and the worst of his family. Just as Norman knows that "Mother" does bad things, Charles knows that "Ali" does them, too — he just loves her too much to care. If that's the case, perhaps Charles isn't the one threatening Ali in prison — it could be a helper A using Charles for his or her own agenda.

Charles Has Mommy Issues

Just like Norma Bates, who was murdered at the hands of her own "doting" son, Jessica DiLaurentis wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy. Though we don't know for certain that Charles killed his own mother, Jessica's note that said she "can't protect" someone anymore is the biggest clue. Could Charles have pulled a Norman and offed his own mom when she couldn't save him from the police?

Harold Crane Could Be Charles

According to series creator I. Marlene King's interview with People Magazine, we may have seen Charles before — in fact, she said it's very possible . We already know Charles is not any of the women (though I suppose we can't rule out the possibility of a transgender storyline) and that it's not Toby, Andrew, Caleb, Ezra, or Jason himself. We don't know where Wren is, but if we're under the assumption that Jason and Charles are twins (as opposed to just brothers) that would make Melissa Wren's half-sister, and I like to think that Pretty Little Liars wouldn't feature a brother/sister romance. (At least, I hope not?) That means that whoever Charles is, he's probably a minor character we've seen only a handful of times — and if we're looking at a Norman Bates theory, my money is on Lost Woods Resort owner Harold Crane. Crane is around the right age (or at least as right as the show gets ages, when most of the high schoolers are about 30) and was the show's homage to Norman Bates.

If Charles is really the homage I believe him to be, then we may have just unmasked A... if only we didn't have to wait for the big reveal.

Images: ABC Family (screenshot); Giphy (4)