The world of Pretty Little Liars is a world in which no one can be trusted, so it’s unsurprising that the world of PLL: The Perfectionists is pretty much the same. Nolan Hotchkiss is dead, his sister, Taylor, faked her own suicide, and everyone at Beacon Heights University is a suspect. It’s up to Ali and Mona, like usual, to find out how everything is connected, but they may be dealing with a force they can’t assess just yet — Nolan and Taylor’s mom, Claire Hotchkiss, played by Kelly Rutherford.
Rutherford has made a career playing cold-as-ice, very wealthy moms in teen shows (you may recognize her as Lily Van Der Woodsen from Gossip Girl), and with Claire, it’s hard to tell what she’s thinking. Is Claire Hotchkiss evil on The Perfectionists? Is she actually trying to find out who killed her son? Or is she just trying to keep up appearances? Theories abound, but innocent people don't usually break into peoples' apartments for a nightcap.
Nolan and Taylor and Claire are all part of this perfect family. So, of course, we all know there are some dark secrets behind the doors of that big house. Claire is married to Peter, Nolan’s dad whom we’ve never seen, and they founded Hotchkiss Industries and Beacon Heights University. Nolan and Taylor were perfect because Claire made them so. Mommy made them be the best — at everything.
When Taylor died (or really when she faked her own death), Claire went into overdrive and founded Beacon Guard, an NSA-level security system that has taken over the whole town. It’s all to keep the kids safe, she says, but as we all know, it’s just for spying. Sweet, sweet spying.
That’s why Claire is so suspect on The Perfectionists. Sure, she could be a doting, grieving mother, because she thinks she’s lost both of her children, but instead, she seems more worried about talking to Dana, her head of security, and keeping as close a watch on Nolan’s old friends as possible. In the April 3 episode of The Perfectionists, Claire had every chance to tell Dana to stuff it when Dana was trying to extort Caitlin with pictures of Caitlin’s mother’s affair, but instead, Claire took the good-cop approach and was all, “Darling, I know you wouldn’t want this to get out!” A regular grieving mother would also want to protect her son’s friends and girlfriend, but Claire wants to double down and push on their insecurities until someone breaks.
Because Claire is so obsessed with Beacon Guard and because Beacon Guard went offline during the time of Nolan’s murder, it wouldn’t be surprising if Claire had something to do with Nolan’s impalement. Wouldn’t the founder of a tech company and a securities company know exactly how to shut down the system and exactly how to make it look like an accident? Claire knows where the bodies are buried, and she also knows where the cameras are, too. It could be the reason that Taylor ran away — she knows that her mother is dangerous, and she needed to get out before it was too late.