Pretty Little Liars Episode 121 Recap: There’s a Monster at the End, She’s Probably Femme

To be honest I haven’t cared much about A.’s identity. I got the feeling this’d be more Who Killed Jenny than Who Killed Laura Palmer around when the old woman in the shoe was talking crazy to the bracelet-buyer a few episodes back. I’m not anticipating a SUDDENLY IT ALL MAKES SENSE moment because there’s no way anything could make sense at this point. So I’ve resisted my natural urge, inspired by my background in criminology (The Wire, Law & Order, CSI, Without a Trace, Criminal Minds), to actually try and connect any dots besides braille.

THEN last night, for the very first time since the show’s debut, I spotted a “clue” for real! You guys I’m like Olivia Benson meets Nancy Drew meets Lois Lane. I’m so so SOOOO proud of myself for this that I spent the afternoon bathing in sequins, listening to a recording of Jenna’s flute and painting my toenails that cute turquoise Aria sported all episode. Anyhow, enough about me and my clue, as let’s be real here: it’s your clue too.

This week on Pretty Little Liars, Facebook denied ABC Family the right to speak its name and therefore Aria’s entire unwarranted and completely irrational tirade against a photo of Ezra with a human lady is spiced up by a post-production dub that gets Aria referring to Ezra’s “facebook page” as his “website page,” which is oh-so-Max Sweeney of her and makes me want to Google search her pants/mini-skirt. Aria goes completely off her rocker in a very benign way, committing tiny random acts of whaththehellness like taking a Website Page photo with Ezra while wearing a paper bag over her head (with a face drawn onto the paper bag, I can’t even) and renting Runaway Bride on purpose.

Mrs. Oliviabenson, the Mother of Spencer, forbids Spencer to see Toby because if they’re seen together everyone will naturally conclude that Spencer and Toby beat Allison to death with a lamp and then hi HO hi HO, everyone’s in jail. Furthermore Spencer’s attendance is expected at The Founder’s Fair, which sounds like some kind of O.C.-esque social event (they were ALWAYS having events in The OC, amirite?) which will clearly involve a Hall of Mirrors and a Circus of Fear and ALL OF THE CARNIVAL TROPES IN THE WORLD!

Ian continues seething vaguely psychotic threats like telling Spencer how quicksand works (apparently the more you struggle, the deeper you fall, which is sort of like fisting) and bada bing bada boom we’re at the Fair, where Spencer and Toby have planned to secretly meet behind the funhouse (I’m positive that in real life nobody meets anybody at the funhouse, EVER, it exists only in fairy tales and TV shows) when Spencer gets a text ALLEGEDLY from Toby saying his phone died and he’s using someone else’s and Spencer should meet him inside the funhouse. Spencer is so blinded by her lust for neanderthal man that she foolishly enters the funhouse to find Toby.

There’s no windows, lights are crazy, everything’s a maze, you’re shuffled through dark shocking hallways — what a PERFECT place to meet someone. You know what would be a better place to meet up? Oh yeah… ANYWHERE ELSE EVER.

Once inside and suitably spooked, Spencer finds a message from A. on the wall and Spencer enters one of those tubes you go in when entering a photography darkroom for reasons I cannot entirely discern at which point SOMEONE locks her in there with a crowbar and way way WAY later, Ian rescues her by removing the crowbar AT WHICH POINT he immediately grabs her phone from the ground and does something to it (presses buttons). Then Spencer gets a text from Toby asking where is she, he’s outside, so clearly his phone is not broken and it was someone else texting Spencer to trap her in the funhouse and OH I DUNNO maybe it’s IAN because he grabbed the phone right after rescuing Spencer to erase the message I think HE SENT to Spencer!

TA-DA! Just call me Nancy.

Anyhoo back in Hannaland, Hanna’s listening to Elliot Smith on a loop which means she’s probably going to kill herself. Caleb, who’s hair looks slightly shorter this episode, is still on the shitlist though Hanna reluctantly hits him up for more clues — namely that Jenna was looking for “a key” but that’s all he knows and now he’d like to know Hanna again, biblically, and she’s like WHATEVER and then he cozies up to Mom who changes her mind and decides to like him but when Caleb goes to the Fair to give Hanna his love letter he makes the mistake of giving it to Mona, who consequently rips it up and dumps slushy all over it, to symbolize the slushy redness of Allison’s dead carcass blood.

Oh also, at the end, against Olivia Benson and the Natural Born Killers’s best advice, Spencer bounds across the carnival field to hug Toby and kiss him in front of the whole wide world!

Now for the gay parts!


Emily’s sexting with A. when Paige leaps from behind the cardboard brick pillar and grabs Emily’s fast-hands, squealing that she got the tickets to that show they talked about at the thwarted picnic date. It was sold out, but Paige’s Dad gay-bullied someone into coughing up tickets.

Paige won’t let Emily pay her for it ’cause it’s a ‘date.’ A date between Emily, Paige, and some dude who’s name, I think, was “Troy Atler.” That way it’ll seem less suspicious, Paige says. Because you know what they say about a girl who goes to see a rock band with another girl… nothing. Absolutely nothing.

When Emily recoils, Paige grasps for straws and picks “I’m totally really thinking about maybe possible taking steps towards coming out.” For example, Paige hasn’t pretended to date any boys. She also used her Website Page Machine and the Google Thing to Find Gay People on The Internet and somehow instead of landing on AfterEllen, which I swear has been search-engine-optimized by a genie, she ends up at the site of a Campus Pride Group an hour away at some other school where Paige’s Dad doesn’t yell at lesbians.

Emily senses the all-bark-and-no-bite sitch and offers to tag along if Paige wants to talk to someone from the group, because the idea of asking a singular human from a rando gay pride group online to have coffee and talk about feelings is maybe the strangest/most awkward idea ever. Alas, Paige is now TRAPPED and must follow through although you can kinda sense the crazy simmering towards her skin.

Later on in Hanna’s chateau, the girls take turns projecting the complications of their various secret lifestyles onto Hanna’s situation with Caleb and then to Aria’s situation with Ezra and the Mouthfacebook woman.

“He’s an animal,” says Emily, re: Caleb, in a way only a girl who almost threw up in some guy’s mouth and hates the way men smell in the morning could say.

Aria: Easy guys … he looked through your stuff, he didn’t invade Poland.
Spencer: Why are you sticking up for him? He broke her trust.
Emily: He went behind her back.
Spencer: He stuck his hands in her panty drawer!

If only Spencer would stick her hands in Emily’s “panty drawer” you know what I’m sayin’. Also how long does it take Maya to rehab from smoking weed? I feel like it shouldn’t take more than three days.

Emily shows up at The Coffee Shop for her three-way but Paige is nowhere to be seen and neither is Rosie O’Donnell. Then Emily spots a 35-year-old blonde at a table, who I think is supposed to be 17 or thereabouts and a lesbian.

Emily: I didn’t realize you’d be so [thinks: HOT]… punctual!

Flash forward when, high on life and lattes, it becomes painfully obvious that Paige is a no-show and doesn’t even text or leave a post-it note on campus. At The Macaroni Grill, we call that an NCNS or “No Call No Show,” which’ll get you fired unless you’re blonde and the Manager has a crush on you.

Anyhow, you know that feeling you get when you’re dating or have recently broken up with a somewhat psychotic person and every time your phone buzzes with a text your stomach clenches up in fear? Emily must get that a lot, what with A. and Paige McMoodswings. She should switch to AT&T ’cause that shit never works, she’d avoid a lot of stress.

Samara: Emily, not to be rude, but is there a friend?
Emily: What?
Samara: Look, if you made it this far, you’re doing great–
Emily: Oh no no no, it’s not me. This is about Paige, someone I’m… starting to date. That’s why this sucks, it feels like a step back for me.
Samara: I get it. I was with a closeted girl when I first moved here and noting but drama. I started to realize that if it was meant to be, it shouldn’t be this hard…

[pause for Emily to weigh her options — the girlfriend who has totally disappeared, or the girlfriend who occasionally appears?]

Samara: Something tells me she’s not coming.
Emily: I’m sorry.
Samara: It’s okay, I had to be in the neighborhood anyway. I’m setting up a booth at the festival. Me and some friends from art class are selling hand-made jewelery.

Emily makes plans to come look at jewelery the next morning because why not, really. Why anything.


Before we get into this Samara situation I HAVE A CRITIQUE… I’m not one of those people who complained that The L Word was too femmy and gorgeous and didn’t really represent “actual lesbians.” That truly actually IS how most of the lesbians look in West Hollywood, although WeHo tends to be more diverse than The L Word was (which is to say, not that much). In fact, I think that palatable similarity to every other ridiculous TV show actually enabled a lot of otherwise-closeted lezzers to tune into a thing precisely because that thing looked like all the other things and therefore felt safe and not just safe for you but also for any familial passersby. It wasn’t edgy or “out there,” it was the girl from Flashdance, you know? Also it’s television, everyone is gonna have a certain look and be ridiculously attractive, that’s just how teevee is.

But. But but but but but. I am registering a complaint about the gender presentations of Pretty Little Liars‘ lesbians not because I think they’re cheapening our media visibility (they probably are, but that’s not my beef today) but because this whole thang would be WAY more interesting if at least one chick had an alternative lifestyle haircut, you know?  Or anything different about her! It’s starting to feel kind of farcical. And I’m not just saying that because I like girls who look like boys and THIS IS TURNING INTO THE VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. Clearly Paige’ll transition easily into a cargo shorts lifestyle, but for now, she looks JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, except with BangHelmet.

That being said, g-damn Emily snags some good-looking ladies.



Anyhow, back to Samara. Samara’s alllll up on Emily’s baby ears. I hope they hook up so Samara can take off that jacket and give it back to my Mom.

Paige shows up literally out of the blue (that’s right, she burst through a field of blue smack dab into this story) and immediately starts acting bitchy. Samara references Paige having trouble with her father and wanting to talk about it, and Paige is like OMG when you say his name he can hear it like Superman and he’ll know that I’m a lezzer and I killed a sheep in the sheep barn to make my jacket.

Samara: Look, Paige — I hope it didn’t seem like I was calling you out. I get it, we’ve all been there.
Paige: I know you’re trying to be nice and everything, but honestly you don’t even know me.
Emily: Paige —
Paige: Sorry Emily I’m not looking to join a parade and ride down Main Street on a rainbow chopper.
Samara: Actually, I drive a Jeep.

For a second you think this might just be it. If this was rocks/paper/scissors than jealousy would be an atom bomb that destroyed all three of those silly objects, and perhaps would drive someone to come out lest they maddeningly lose their love. However even the awareness of other fishes in the sea doesn’t overpower Paige’s Love of the Secret Life.

Paige: That’s besides the point.
Emily: You know what? I’m gonna take this to go, I’ve got a paper that’s due. And tell your friends it was really nice to meet them.
Paige: Emily, wait —
Emily: What? So you can be rude to me too? You know what Paige, this is becoming way too much drama. I don’t wanna be your secret.

So far Paige’s interactions with Emily have included: threatening to out Emily as a lesbian, trying to drown Emily, aggressively challenging Emily at swimming, swooping into Emily’s car unexpectedly to kiss her, taking Emily to Sherwood Forest for a picnic to avoid being seen, accusing Emily of having an easy time coming out, pretending she never kissed Emily, ignoring Emily, crashing a bike on her way home from surprising Emily at midnight in the rain with crazytalk, inspiring her father to come to the cafeteria and yell at Mr. Fitz about Emily, and, worst of all, making Emily do karaoke. Emily liked that last one though, so.

So far I’d say their relationship has been 75% drama and 25% fun.

But also? I’d like to address the Rainbow Chopper situation? Rainbows always get the short end of the stick in these conversations. Everybody’s got a crack to make at a rainbow’s expense. Everyone wants to scissor but nobody wants to participate in a parade or anything requiring rainbow memorabilia. Yet in actual life, no gay or lesbian person has been forced to attend and march in a “parade” adorned in rainbow regalia post-coming out, let alone drive a rainbow-motifed airplane through the Founders Fair. So really, saying you don’t want to ride a rainbow chopper is off-topic. And precisely the kind of ridiculous thing Paige would say. I don’t like her anymore.


Emily is sitting in her window seat, thinking about butterflies and daisychains, when she receives a series of text messages, both underwhelming for two very different reasons:

Flashback! Time for a special moment in which I forget that Allison is Allison and not Mini and am disappointed that nothing more suggestive goes down, besides Allison telling Emily that Emily is the only one who understands her. That’s because Allison is pansexual, duh.

Allison: I brought you a present back from my trip. But you have to keep it a secret. I didn’t bring anything for the other girls so if they ask about it, you have to lie. Promise?
Emily: It’s beautiful…
Allison: It’s vintage. My grandma gave it to me, I wanted you to have it. You’re the only one that really understands me, em. the only one that I can completely be honest with. I have to go, I have a prior engagement.
Emily: Well I’ll definitely see you later right?
Allison: Yeah! Don’t have any fun without me… make sure you keep that in a safe place, it’s a lot more valuable than it looks.

DUM DUMMMMMM. Emily then finds the mysterious missing key, which Glen wore around his neck for the whole third (?) season of South of Nowhere, in the snowglobe so now it’s go time.

The ladies meet up, hit up the storage locker and find a lunchbox (Allison’s old lunchbox, says Emily, because she probably wanted to be in that box and would never forget it) with a USB drive in it.

The drive reveals that someone has been filming them for like, for.ever. Like it’s just videos of them. That shit will show up on Tumblr. It’s mega creepy and suggests that maybe these girls are so rambunctiously paranoid because, indeed, their worst paranoias have turned out to be true. It’s like Paranormal Activity, but with a bunch of obnoxiously good-looking shiny-haired girls in it.

were we ever so young



So next week is the finale and because PLL has like 5 hours of plot to fit into 40 minutes of television and 16 of which will be spent watching shadows duck behind various large objects, Emily will definitely get the short end of the storyline stick. Furthermore a sneak peek reveals that Emily’s Mom wants to move to Texas to be with her Dad and Emily doesn’t want to move to Texas and let’s be real, they’re not kicking Shay off the show, nobody is moving to Texas. But this is EXCELLENT as it provides an opportunity for Emily to move in with one of the gals, a la Ryan Atwood, or maybe with her girlfriend, who could be one of three girls which is higher than Tila Tequila’s odds at her finale.

According to IMDb, Maya will be in next week’s episode.

Possibilities relating to Emily’s romantic future:

1. Due to 2-minute time allotment for lesbian storyline, they’ll make every second count by filling it with huge, surprising revelations that practically lick the inside of your heart, they’re that warming.  Declarations of Loving You a Long Time, Getting Commitment Ceremonied, Having Sex, etc. An example of this is Naomi’s speech to Emily in the last episode of Skins’ Season Four where they packed so much emotion into about 45 seconds that you barely remember if they were even IN the rest of the episode.

2. Maya comes back, is dropped off probably wherever Emily is kissing some other chick.

3. Emily leaves, Maya comes back, their cars pass like dark ships passing in the night AND SCENE.

4. Paige comes out to her father then runs to Emily’s to be harbored — season cliffhanger.

5. Paige comes out to her father then runs to Emily’s to be harbored and has a fight with Mrs. Fields — season cliffhanger.

6. Paige comes out to her father then runs to Emily’s to be harbored but Emily is there with Samara or Maya — season cliffhanger.

6. Emily kisses Samara near the beginning of the episode, is spotted by Paige. Paige goes crazy and drowns a puppy or something then runs away to Prague.

7. Emily kisses Paige near the beginning of the episode, is spotted by Maya. Wants to be with Maya but Maya says YOU DO YOU. Cliffhanger.

8. Everyone puts their sweatpants on, gets a ponytail and watches Legally Blonde. And SCENE.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3152 articles for us.


  1. 9. Emily will get artifically inseminated because she feels the urge to get pregnant which is usually by the 3rd date. Paige will be shown floating dead in the school pool AND NO ONE KNOWS WHO DUNNIT! The baby will then be revealed to have been A.

    you guys can thank me later for solving the series.

  2. THE SNOWGLOBE. Allison gave Emily a “vintage” snowglobe…but we know from like last week or something that Jenna collects those! Obviously our only conclusion is that Jenna’s the creeper with a flipcam who spied on the Liars and subsequently watched those videos with her not-blind eyes.

    Also: my money’s on Hypothetical Emily Situation #2.

    • I totes forgot that Jennabot collects those! It’s a plant!
      The usb contains hidden information that only tipped off police computer hackers can see. This information will probably land Spencer in either quicksand or jail.

      Also, there was no mention of the cop questioning Mr.Fitz/Ezra and A taking his key.

      • i try to write about that storyline but then my eyes are closed and i can’t see what i’m typing anymore

    • Hmm. Perhaps Alison stole the snowglobe from Jenna with the key already in it. I mean, Jenna knows there is a key. BUT WAIT Jenna is having secret chats with Ian/doing his bidding, so who knows (she is fascinated with the nature of evil…maybe she’s like one of those women who fall in love with imprisoned serial killers, you know like “you murdered murdered a girl, that is so hawt”).

      I love this show so much. Sidenote: who is Garret?? Why do the PLLs know him, and are all surprised, like “you’re a cop now? No way!” (I just had a thought! Maybe Garret is A, or is working for/being blackmailed by A, and he stole the key to Mr. Fitz’s apartment to sneak back later and steal something he saw in there.) Aahhh I can’t wait for Monday.

      • I think he’s someone’s brother? I don’t know, I only started watching the show around ep. 13 because of Riese’s recaps.

        All I know is that my friend went to high school with someone who’s on this show and that person kind of looks like this guy. If it’s the same person.

      • Garrett randomly lives down the street from Emily and Spencer. And has known them all of their lives. Although he had never been mentioned before the rat blood episode.

  3. Aesthetics aside…I for one was stoked that there seems to be a Paige replacement on the horizon. This has nothing to do with how any of them look…much more dependent on the fact that Paige has A-tendencies and ditched a GSA girl. Not cool. I let the bangs slide but this is too much

  4. I don’t like that Samara girl. Isn’t she supposed to be helping Paige with her coming out issues, not hitting on someone she’s dating?

  5. My sister is convinced that Emily’s mom is A (or at least the killer).
    It would make about as much sense as anything else.

  6. Having once had a girlfriend that acted exactly like (and kinda looks like, creepy) Paige. All I can think when I see this is BITCH RUN!!!!!!!!!!!! SHE STARTS LEAVING CREEPY PHONE MESSAGES AFTER THIS!!

  7. I thought this day would never come.


    Paige, seriously, you should know better.
    Emily will tolerate you trying to drown her but SHE WILL NOT TOLERATE MOTHERFUCKING RUDENESS. FUCK.

  8. “That way it’ll seem less suspicious, Paige says. Because you know what they say about a girl who goes to see a rock band with another girl… nothing. Absolutely nothing.”


    Her paranoia here baffled me. Maybe she’s too “woe is me, methinks i like the lady pearl” to remember that before this she would have gone to a concert with anyone of her bffls w/or a worry. But then again Paige seems like the type who had no friends outside of her swimcap and her feelings. So nevermind.

    • I think she was afraid her father would find out she went with Emily, specifically. Her father clearly knows Emily is gay and isn’t happy about it. Not only did he think she was getting special treatment for it but he also told Pam she could sort out her home troubles herself (clearly anti-gay). This way if her Dad did find out Emily was there because of his ticket friend or he just happens to run into someone who saw them she can say it was a group thing.

  9. “-closeted lezzers to tune into a thing precisely because that thing looked like all the other things and therefore felt safe and not just safe for you but also for any familial passersby. It wasn’t edgy or “out there,” it was the girl from Flashdance, you know?”

    you know my life. im “sexually fluid” i like to think and half my friends know this. my ex bf knew this. girls i date know this. guys i date know this. my PARENTS/SIBLING DO NOT KNOW THIS. so when i happen to be home and watching The L Word, Pretty Little Liars, Glee, etc… I’m just a little bit happy my Dad can walk by and not make a connection. Granted I never watched The L Word in the living room. but surprisingly my mom REALLY got in to The Real L Word. it was onDemand.

  10. Samara can get it! Paige needs to kick rocks… ugh girlfriends can be such cock blocks at times.

  11. Great recap!

    Usually, I live for the gay storyline, but this has so many eye rolling parts that I miss most of it. Emily is an idiot to pass the other girl and she is a double idiot for even speaking to Paige after she attempted to kill her. KILL HER!

    Love Toby and Spencer.

  12. Your discussion on Emily’s future caused me to spit beer (first of the’s St. Patty’s…don’t judge) out of my mouth due to immense laughter. So I thank you.

  13. Here’s what I think concerning A:
    I think Melissa is A and Ian is only being super sketch and doing what he does because he’s trying to protect his crazy ass preggers wife. Also, Melissa has been working with Jenna since forever spying on Alli because she knew Ian was cheating with her or whatever and Jenna did it just because she hates them and Alli was a less than pleasant person. Jenna hid the flash drive in the snow globe and Alli found out and stole it and then put the flash drive in the storage unit and put the key where the flash drive had been. Then she went and blinded Jenna on purpose and later, Melissa being the crazy ass she is, used stupid girl logic to justify killing Alli for sleeping with her BF but not Ian because they never blame the guy. I think that covers everything A wise.

    Oh and I think the Emily plot will be a combo of 4 & 7 but it’d be beyond funny if it turned out to be 6.

  14. I know this is basically heresy but I not only think Lindsey Shaw is way hotter than Samara but I also think she is hotter than Shay Mitchell. The hair is a problem in PLL. But I can’t be the only one to remember the tv version of 10 Things I Hate About You or Aliens in America, right? She is very attractive (and also quite talented).

    Plus, Emily will never be able to have a normal healthy lesbian relationship. This Samara girl is going to want to process. All the time! She is going to notice and want to know why Emily jumps whenever she gets a text, why she mysteriously has to peace out every time Spencer sends an SOS, why she sometimes has stare off with the weird blind girl. She will absolutely ask whey she *always* has her brow furrowed in worry!

    I think the Maya credit on imdb is because of a flashback not because she will be in the episode. That seems like a lot to cram in. But who knows?

    If I were Emily and I were being stalked I would jump at the chance to move to Texas.

  15. I also stopped trying to unravel the mystery a long time ago. Except now I’m convinced that Ian’s not a murderer, just a dick.

    I would be tempted to care about Caleb except – whatever happened to Lucas, Alex, Noel and Allison’s weird talking brother?

    As for Emily, I say get the blond. I feel for Paige because a lot of us needed to be gently coaxed out of the closet. Hell, Maya did that for Emily. But, Em is not ready to be somebody’s first.

  16. “Also how long does it take Maya to rehab from smoking weed? I feel like it shouldn’t take more than three days.”


  17. Hey, I hear your critique on the representation of lesbians on the show, but with a sample size of 4/5 high school aged gay/bi girls, how much diversity do you expect anyway? (At least PLL is racially diverse).
    At my undergrad school, even Paige would’ve been a little bit on the “way more alternative than usual here” side for the gay girls, so I guess I’m just used to a bunch of femme-y girls that fit conventionally attractive molds in real life.

  18. The writers were really lazy with that Spencer in the funhouse scene. Come on. These girls have been getting anonymous texts for the past 21 episodes. You would think they would exercise more caution by now. Or Spencer would text Toby to double check. Who knows? Since they still haven’t found out who A is this could be plausible. You know since they had a lot of ghostwriters for Nancy Drew, Spencer being such a studious student is probably doing this as background research to lend her expertise an updated version of the Nancy Drew books.

Comments are closed.