Pretty Little Liars Episode 514 Recap: The Long Goodbye

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, despite being tortured to the edges of their sanity by a red-coated person for the last infinity years, the Liars eagerly anticipated the arrival of Santa Claus. Unfortunately, what he wrought was a message of despair stapled to a barn in Christmas lights and an epiphany from Paige’s parents that the only way she’s going to make it to adulthood is to get the fuck outta there. Mona returned to Rosewood as a ghost, dressed like somebody decked Elsa’s halls, and guided Ali through the past, present and future shitshows she calls life. (Abridged. Past: Brainwashed by her mom to forget her half(?)-sister. Present: Ostracized by her friends. Future: Dead, no legs.) There also was an ice ball that Alison threw for a charity called like Needy Sexy People or something, and Cece Drake (the apotheosis of at least two of those things) showed up to give Ali some custom-made perfume called Essence of Soul Switchery that she crafted at a boutique in Paris.

It has been three months, Rosewood Time, since the last episode of Pretty Little Liars, which, according to my calculations, means I am now 157 years old. The Liars are leaving Mona Vanderwaal’s funeral, wearing leis for some reason, and talking about how even though there’s no body in Mona’s casket, at least her mom will probably find some comfort burying half of Mona’s knickknacks in the graveyard. (Over/under on how many episodes until they’re digging that shit up with plastic cups?) Alison DiLaurentis, Knickknack Burying OG and Master Troll, arrives on the scene wearing a floral print dress that matches Mona’s funeral leis exactly.

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She tries to apologize to Mona’s mom, one more time, and assure her she didn’t have anything to do with Mona getting bludgeoned to death, all over her house — but Mona’s mom does not accept Ali’s apology to the max, and to reiterate her nonacceptance, she punches Alison right in the head. It’s intense, even for a Vanderwaal.

When the Liars’ do reaction faces in a group, it is always Emily’s face that is the best, and she does not disappoint this time — no, indeed — but it is Spencer who wins this round because her face is an oh, shit GIF come to life.

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Hanna Marin, whose flawlessness on this earth is more pure and true than even Beyonce’s and I’m sorry if that truth upsets you, hangs around Mona’s house after the memorial brunch to help clean up and console Mrs. Vanderwaal.

Mrs. Vanderwaal: It feels like Mona was lost at sea due to their being no body to bury.
Hanna: I don’t want to say it’s better this way because at least no one is digging her up to make necklaces out of her teeth, so instead I will say that I’ve cleaned up your house and will fold up all the chairs before I go.
Mrs. Vanderwaal: Do you want to take home some of Mona’s dolls?
Hanna: NO. Um. I mean, no. But thank you. That’s very sweet. I know how much she loved her dolls.
Mrs. Vanderwaal: Yeah. She sure did have a lot of blonde-headed ones, huh? Okay, how about you take this adorable stuffed dog?
Hanna: Seems innocent enough. Sure.
Stuffed dog: [Will undoubtedly come to life in Emily’s backseat at some point this season and force her to drive off a cliff.]

Spencer’s dad finds her moping around the house and apologizes for not coming to Mona’s funeral. He explains that he is a busy man and really only has time to attend funerals for dead teenage girls whose bodies were discovered in his own personal backyard. He’s also got some bad news. Bethany Young’s parents are petitioning to have Spencer’s bail revoked because her indictment has now been unsealed. What do those law words mean, strung together like that? Well, you know #OfficerToby is on that case. Or should I say #PoliceChiefToby? It has been three months and this is Rosewood, after all.

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What Toby discovers, with the help of Detective Tanner, is that at some point, Jessica DiLaurentis told the police that of the 100 people she saw tromping through her yard talking to the one dozen blonde girls in Alison masks and yellow tanktops on that fateful Labor Day weekend, Spencer Hastings was one of them. And like, yeah, Byron Montgomery had a rock, and Jenna Marshall had a hockey stick, and Garrett Reynolds had a fire poker, and Melissa Hastings had a boat paddle and Jason DiLaurentis had one of those pole vaulting sticks and Toby Cavanaugh had a pool cue and even the magic-eyed lady hiding in the bushes had a golf club — but it was Spencer Hastings who had a shovel. Wilden took the statement but didn’t do anything about it because of something something Radley something. “All roads lead to Radley,” is what Tanner says, and I’m pretty sure she means that both figuratively and literally. I’m pretty sure the literal one road in this town does, in fact, lead to Radley.

Spencer looks lovely in her mugshot, by the way.

Ezra has purchased the Brew to turn it into a toy store, and in keeping with the theme of naming this piece of property after famous movies, he has decided to call it “Predator.” He also is only employing underage children to do construction for him. Now that Toby Cavanaugh (Teen Contractor, Esq.) has taken over the police department, Ezra has turned to Mike Montgomery for all his remodeling needs. Aria asks Ezra if he would mind blurring the boundaries between “boss” and “former English teacher who started boning your sister when she was 15” and talk to Mike about why he didn’t go to Mona’s funeral. Would he mind getting too involved in the life of a child over whom he has authority? Would he mind? No, obviously, of course not, he says he’ll speak to Mikey right away.

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In Emily’s bedroom, she and Paige are canoodling and bemoaning the fact that even though it took three seasons to make it from Halloween to Christmas, it took only one episode to make it from Christmas to Easter, and now Paige has to go to San Francisco tomorrow.

Emily: I mean, I can’t speak from experience, but it seems like a person with parents would be able to communicate with them, right? Like, is there some kind of magical device we could use to speak to your mom and dad and ask them to let you stay until prom?
Paige: I don’t think so. They’re really not budging on this whole “don’t want you to get murdered” thing.
Emily: I know. And I get it, I do. Frankly I’m surprised you survived this long. My vagina is clearly cursed. But goddamn, Paige, I am going to miss you.
Paige: I wonder how come I never went blind looking at your face. You’re brighter than the sun, you know that? But you would never blind anyone on purpose.
Emily: …yeah. Hey, do you want a muffin?

Caleb and Hanna eat five gallons of ice cream and talk about Mona, which is how they spent all their time when she was alive, and so why should they change their schedule now that she’s dead. Caleb can’t believe he can’t hack into Mona’s military grade laptop. He doesn’t think even Lisbeth Salander could do it. But Hanna has a different idea for getting to the bottom of what happened to Mona, one that involves less technology and more magical witches. Or, well, one magical witch: Ms. The Grunwald from Ravenswood, PA. Caleb drops his spoon to the floor and says he really must insist that he be the only ghost Hanna has sex with, he’s got to draw line somewhere. Hanna ignores him because it’s Mad Hatter nonsensical when he starts talking about Ravenswood, and asks again for the coordinates of The Grunwald’s fortress so she can send a parrot to her straight away.

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Town Square. The pharmacist has stopped yelling for the night, so Aria sits on a bench in the quiet and reads a rejection letter from Oberlin College, and isn’t that just the most Aria thing you have heard? Four years at Oberlin and Aria would come out on the other side as a character in Girls. Ali appears as if from nowhere and tries to commiserate with Aria about not getting into college, and when that doesn’t work, she tries to explain for the one hundredth time that fucking no one is getting into college if they don’t stop freezing her out and accept that she’s trying to keep them alive. “What you people continue to fail to understand is that: yes, my powers are Slytherin powers; but Slytherin powers are the only thing that will save you now.” On the advice of Mona, Aria has been keeping her rape whistle handy, so she starts wailing on that thing until everyone in the entire town is glaring at Alison.

Alison’s face is amazing. She’s not mad or afraid; she’s just like, “Girl.” So good. Sasha Pieterse is so good.

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The Liars convene to come up with a plan to get Alison arrested. Trying to help Aria get into college was just one step too far. Somehow Spencer and Emily make the leap from “proving Ali killed Mona” to “Spencer can stay out of jail” and “Paige can stay in Rosewood.” Like if Ali killed Mona then Spencer didn’t kill Bethany and surely Paige’s parents will understand that the streets are safer with one less constantly stalked teenage girl on the loose? I don’t know. It’s one of their dumbest plans ever. Do you remember when Spencer got caught in a bear trap? Dumber than that.

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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 854 articles for us.

46 Comments

  1. Hogan, if I ever meet you, I’m going to give you a hug and a beer and not say anything, because you are the best at the words. This was phenomenal.

    Side note: Hanna Marin IS flawless. Your level of love for Paige is basically my level of love for Hanna.

    <3

  2. The moment that made Paige for me was when she was talking about her closeted life and said, “I was all alone!” Because that’s true of so many of us in my age group – we were all alone. There weren’t many gay characters in the 90’s. For many of us, including me, gay, not to mention bisexual, was something that “officially” did not exist. And I hope that this terrible feeling of loneliness and being lost ends with my generation. I really do.

  3. – So Aria asked Ezra, who was blackmailing Mona, to console Mike, who is heartbroken over the death of Mona?
    – “You didn’t know the real Mona. None of you did. Hanna was her best friend for years. The two of them even had a quasi love relationship, but only I, who dated her for two weeks, knew the real Mona. *sob**sob**sob*”

      • Mike: None of you knew Mona, not really!
        Hanna: You knew Mona? Which Mona did you know? Did you know the Mona who was the queen bee and my best friend? Did you know the Mona who was A, and tortured me and my other friends because she loved me? Did you know the Mona in Radley who never spoke? Did you know the Mona on her first medication? The one who couldn’t say a sentence without her mind racing from one side of the room to the other, and then chase it’s tail and any shiny objects, like a squirrel on meth? Did you know that Mona? Did you know the Mona that was a super genius that watched over me, and made sure that I didn’t go to jail when I confessed to murdering Wilden? Did you know any of those Monas, Mike? Did you? You were a second place finisher, Mike. That’s all you’ll ever be concerning Mona.

  4. Heather, thank you for these beautiful, insightful words. Honestly I feel like you’re the only one who understands why I love this show sometimes.

    “..known in my bones.” Exactly! Paige is my favorite PLL character because I am her.

    You’re right. I know you’re right that Paige left because she has learned to love and take care of herself. I’m still sad that she had to go! 🙁

  5. i often wonder if shay mitchell hadn’t been someone who clearly loved the physical side of acting, you know, killing nate, beating A up, if emily the character might not have gone through as much trauma as she has and probably still will. I try to make sense of the fact that out of how many love interests,death is the only way they get to leave. I’m not happy that paige has to leave, but i am very happy that she gets this dignified? exit.I don’t know if Emily will end up with Alison at the end of all this, or if paige will be there at Emily’s graduation and they’ll ride of together or if emily will have another love interest, i guess we’ll just have to watch and see.

    i hope that the pll writers know just how much your writing adds to the joy i feel when watching the show because i don’t consider myself having experienced the show fully without reading your awesome as hell recaps

  6. I made a profile just so I could comment on this. Heather, you are amazing. I really think you are one of my favorite writers, and I really look forward to your recaps.

    Anyway, what really made me love Paige was the episode where they showed us her flashbacks with Alison. Being called “pig skin,” being gaybashed and threatened with outing…I liked Paige before that episode, but I loved her after it. Seeing her rise above that to become what she now is so amazing. I am happy that Paige is leaving Rosewood on her own terms and that didn’t end up being dug up by some omniscient bird in Veronica Hasting’s garden.

    However,that episode also solidified my hatred for Ali. I know people seem to think now that she’s really been protecting the liars the whole time, but that theory is so hard for me to swallow. Sure it’s too simple for Ali to be the villain, but isn’t it also too simple for her to be the misunderstood hero?

  7. Great recap, Heather. I was sobbing for much of the latter part of that episode and I do not cry at TV. I’m so glad you pointed out that Paige left by her choice, to do what was right for her, and has a bright future that hasn’t been destroyed by A. Also she’s still alive, which for lesbians in Rosewood who aren’t Emily Fields, is a big deal. That’s about as big of a win as you can get for a breakup on this show.

    I’ve got some questions, though. Mikey had his big moment when he was like, people are trying to memorialize Mona by trying to make her nice, which is bullshit. Where is Hanna in all of this? Aria is asking Mikey to tell her about Mona, why aren’t people asking Hanna the same thing?

    Additionally, if Ali doesn’t add a “on the inside” wing to her growing army, I will eat my own foot. She’s going to be Red and Vee all at once up in there.

  8. Amazing, beautiful, fantastic, I could go on and on Heather. Everything you wrote about Paige is so true. I’ve said for years now, Paige’s journey is unprecedented on US TV and makes her in my opinion, one of the most important and greatest things PLL ever did.

    And that makes me DUMBSTRUCK at the amount of hate she gets! Marlene can’t tweet one little thing about Paige without the nastiest comments being hurled at her. “Ew! Fuck off Paige!” “GO AWAY PAIGE!” “I HATE PIGSKIN” etc. A facebook post that shows a Paily pic will without fail have a top comment expressing how much they hate Paige with hundreds of likes. I am serious. Find ONE that doesn’t. I have never seen this level of hatred for a character that has worked so hard to do the right thing.

    I mean, there are good characters who work hard to be good that are disliked indifferently, say Riley in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Paige is HATED. I don’t fucking get it.

    Also, would someone from the show come out and unequivocally state that Paige never tried to drown Emily (since she didn’t) and if you keep repeating that you’re being an idiot? Thanks.

    • The amount of hate Paige gets is insane. I really wish the writers would comment on it. It’s disturbing. It’s beyond just a “ship” war.

      I do believe one of the writers did comment on the “drowning” stating that Paige wasn’t trying to drown her but I can’t find it. I think the tweet is floating around tumblr somewhere.

    • I think a good Paige fans need to admit she did plenty to earn the hate. For one thing people forgetting that she bullied Ali first.

      That she was not actually to kill Emily is mere semantics. If it’s appropriate to call Ezra a Pedophile for a relationship with a girl who’d have been considered a full adult not the long ago in the grand scheme of human history, then it’s appropriate to say Paige drowned Emil.

      • She earned hate when she was actively bullying Emily, but after four seasons have passed and we’ve learned about the demons she was dealing with, as well as watched her work so hard, so damn hard to overcome them, it is now ridiculous to continue to spew such vitriol at her. She has worked on herself. Apologized. Worked to be open and helpful. Didn’t give Emily shit when she kissed someone else. What more can she do to rehabilitate exactly?

        And bullied Ali first? We don’t know that. What we do know is that Ali was a hateful controlling bully going back years. You seriously believe Paige tried to bully Ali with no provocation? Ali saw her as vulnerable and possibly saw her crush on Emily and used it to try and destroy her. Nearly drove her to suicide! Get out of here with Paige bullied Ali nonsense.

        And no, semantics is not what it is. Ezra is a legal adult who KNOWINGLY and while her TEACHER engaged in sexual relationship with a teenager. Paige never, in any definition of the word, ever tried to drown Emily. She wasn’t trying to murder her. She didn’t hold her head under water and struggle and strain to force the air from Emily’s lungs. She DUNKED her to SCARE her. Paige is NOT an attempted murderer and saying she tried to “drown” Emily, that is what you are accusing her of. Can you see how silly that is? If not, I can’t help you.

        • What we’re told form both Cece and when Ali told Spencer is the flashback is that Ali was being bullied by Pigskin, she had bruises form it. If you think those are lies, fine, but for not that’s purely your head canon.

          I am a Paige fan, I was one of her biggest defenders before she outed Ali to the police after emotionally blackmailing Emily. I still like her, but she has demonstrated the same contorting/overprotective tendencies we keep getting mad at the male love interests for.

          Ezra does not fit the definition Pedophile and to say he does is to trivialize how serious real Pedophilia is.

          • > For one thing people forgetting that she bullied Ali first…
            > What we’re told form both Cece and when Ali told Spencer is the flashback is that Ali was being bullied by Pigskin, she had bruises form it…

            All Cece says that “Alison and that wench had it out for each other”. Alison says that Paige once kicked her after she fell down in soccer and that’s how she got the bruises. She also says “It won’t happen again”, implying this was the first time.

            However Paige’s story implies that Alison was bullying Paige well before this, something Alison’s diary later confirms. So Paige didn’t bully Alison first, or even at all. Alison bullied Paige over a long period of time, leading Paige to self-harm and consider suicide. One time later Paige lashed out at Alison and kicked her, though we do not know the full story. A victim striking back at their bully is not the same as the bully.

          • Um no. Paige did not bully Ali. Ali was a vicious bully from the start. The show makes that clear. (Ever heard of “Loser Mona,” “Hermie” (Lucas), or “Hefty Hannah”? She was abusive to everyone.) The distinction the show makes is that when Ali went after Paige- Paige hit back.
            The show does point out that Paige had rage inside her before she came out— all due to the bullying and oppression she faced from being closeted.

    • I can’t remember who it was but someone (one of the writers?) from the show did say that Paige was only trying to scare Emily and not drown her. I know exactly what you mean it seems Ali has managed to brainwash viewers of the show as well. It truly amazes me just how blind and hateful these emison shippers are. I’m sure there are some comments out there saying “I hate emison” but I personally have never seen one. I really admire Paige for being strong enough to leave Emily and Rosewood behind and finally loving herself enough to persue her dreams and happiness. #proudpailyfan

  9. Other people have already said it Heather, but thank you for writing that. The way you write with so much imagery and passion always makes your articles such a great pleasure to read, I really look forward to reading anything you write! Really, an extraordinary recap.

  10. When I was just coming out I found your writing about Skins and started watching it…I would watch the episodes and then go find your recaps. Then the 4th season came out and I could watch the episodes and read your recaps “live”. I felt like I had found some sort of manual, a how to manual for being brave in love.

    When Skins was over I also was sad, and wondered what you would find to inspire you and subsequently teach me.

    Your words on Paige and Emily have taught me more about self-worth and self-love than all of my therapy sessions combined. Every time the writers would take these two down a dark path I would be comforted by knowing that in a few days your words would help me understand.

    You are awesome, and amazing, and just as important as these stories.

  11. This recap was beautiful and perfect and hopefully I’ll get to see the actual episode by the end of the year. God bless Netflix for putting PLL on for us UK folk. I’ve started from the beginning again and Paige in the rain makes me weep for the awkward self loathing 14 year old I once was.
    Also is there any way you can write a PLL indoctrination guide? The missus doesn’t get it and the “How can you watch this?” and similar comments make me sad…and guilty feeling. I managed to get her into Dexter, Doctor Who and BSG…PLL escapes me…

  12. I’m a little bit irked because I’ve been so attached to PLL for so long, and feel like as much as I love it, they should’ve brought it to a close this season, making everything else filler to an extent (unless they start rapidly filling in any gaps in my theory).

    The irk is just that it has made me a bit detached from the characters I’ve loved over the years, and Mona – despite that I assumed she’d never live out the entire series, was combination great actress/most exciting character just kinda put a bummer on the expanded wrap up for me.

    I first started seriously brewing my theory of who uber-A or at least the “character that is the main do-er of bad things continuously” during Hanna’s post hit by the car in the hospital scene with Ali (the flashbacky/dreamlike sequence). Over the seasons I flip flopped a lot, but the meetup with Ali in NYC and her “spilling the details of the night” for whatever they are worth made me latch on to my theory pretty tightly. And over the next few episodes of Ali being “back” I just decided finally that I was going to flip flop no more and secure my decision for good, whether I’m right or wrong.

    I’m actually at the point now where i’m pretty passive about most of the series’ continuation, but am pleased to see any tidbits of info that fill in anyone else involved I’m more in the dark about.

    I do see a slight extra exciting vindication if Jackie plays the role I wasn’t sure she’d play or not in things being “revealed,” and also her being an arc to showcase that even though there “is” an “uber A” there’s been so many other plots and scheme’s that the original drama split into many other dramatic things as a counter, of which, due to the girls’ “non-knowledge of A’s identity” made “uber A” seem like a bigger badder wolf than originally. 🙂

    This may seem complaint-y, it’s really just more ranty. I’m glad the show is still around, just feeling detached and impatient 🙂 Always happy to read any re-caps here (and others comments), oh how they entertain!

  13. Also! Kudos for pointing out the Fanny Brawne/John Keats thing. I’d only been loosely familiar with the story, but just finished reading all about them and wow, that seems like the biggest hint the writers have dropped this season about who “uber A” is. Totally agree it’s a great Mona joke. 🙂

    • I’ve had this page open and been sitting here meandering back and forth a few other tabs, trying to formulate what to say in response. I’ve said that your writing and a lot about what I have always loved about what has become autostraddle has always had this like, flirting that turns into foreplay aspect to it. Laneia’s writing and a few other’s does the same thing to me. I’ll read it, process as I go, re-read, re-process — sit with a paragraph for a while, chew, chew, move on. Eventually I’ll finish and if inspired, spew out a comment or two. Then the divide happens. And it’s only with very few ppl that this happens. I’ll just kinda continue stewing. Possibly having a raised eyebrow, adhd induced bouncing right leg, pursed or bitten lip. Sit in silence even though I have ear buds in.

      Sometimes that’s all it is, and I don’t make any more comments. Other times it’s a wall of text, the length of which rivals my alternate uber-A theory dissertation about why PLL is really possibly about menopause.

      Right now I’m still in limbo though. However, being there (here) and I suppose the reason for my reply is happiness because it made me realize Heather’s writing is in that same collective.

      In case I say no further a word about Paily, I will say I’m a little bummed I didn’t have as intense of a meaningful reaction while watching, and I know it’s due to my general suspicion that nothing is sacred/finished/safe until the final episode and it’s done. However Heather’s words certainly made my heart/brain/feels mechanism pull a Venus flytrap maneuver on the situation.

      I can’t even go there with the skins thing though. I spilled boiling water on my hand a few days ago. Had to leave it submerged in half water/vinegar for the rest of the night to prevent it from getting worse and doing a stiletto footed tap dance all over my pain threshold. My heart feels like my searing flesh did when pulling it out to check if it still hurt whenever I think about both how they ended Skins series 2 in general, and how/why/wat even the post skins elements episodes even were.

  14. I have this intense, unremitting fantasy that you, me and Paige McCullers sit around over pints deconstructing the latest issue of Lumberjanes.
    In the meantime…thank you.

  15. Heather, I just want to say – Thank you for writing Pretty Little Liars recaps and letting this story into your heart even when it was hard to trust. (I was late to the queerness so I am not sure what show broke your heart but screw them.) Your recaps are an essential part of me and now knowing how hard it was for you, I just want to make sure you understand what a good you have done for me and probably many others.

    When I was 19, I fell for a girl for the first time. It was drunken, hazy, embarrassing, unrequited infatuation. (I count my blessings now that she is a secure and cool person who has never let that affect our friendship and never asked me about it.) I was so damn confused. When I drunkenly told her boyfriend “If I was a lesbian, I would be so in love with your girlfriend,” he laughed and I wanted to disappear because he knew what I hadn’t admitted to myself yet. I did more and more stupid things and drank too much and blacked out constantly and chased after guys when she wasn’t there.

    PLL premiered two months later, and I knew from the first promo that I would love the show. (A campy mystery with fabulous teens? Set in small-town Pennsylvania? What more could I want?) When it premiered, I loved every last cheesy part of it. Maya and Emily gave me butterflies. I was obsessed with Daily Intel’s Gossip Girl recaps, and scoured the internet looking for something similar for PLL. It is so incredibly lucky for me that you were the ONLY PERSON ON THE INTERNET recapping the show at the time (Now we’ve got recaps, tumblrs, podcasts… you were ahead of your time :p). You, and Maya, and Emily showed me this whole other world, where lesbians looked like all different things and were all different things and where lady-loving ladies weren’t even all lesbians!

    Some really really shitty things happened that summer and in the next few years and my life was an absolute disaster I still haven’t completely recovered from. The boyfriend of the girl I fell for passed away a couple years ago which always adds another feeling of sadness and shame when I think about that time. But I never have felt any of that shame about PLL or about reading your recaps. You’ve helped me put into words so many feelings and introduced me to so many things. So thank you thank you thank you for opening your heart up again and letting this show in.

    • Sorry this is so much. I dialed it back from the novel it was but my feelings about that summer are so so much and you were so important to that so it all poured out haha.

      Also: not quite sure why I never warmed to Paige. I think I never got over Maya since she was so important to me so I still resent Paige a bit for that. But I am so glad of redemption arc and I am so glad Emily got to have the same stable partner the other girls had for the past few seasons. I think Paige with the boys in the Santa boxers really shows how equally the show treated her and Emily’s relationship to the others’.

  16. Heather everything you have written in this recap is exactly true, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

    I personally feel stuck between two distinct times, and it’s hard to pin point when it happened but I believe it has. I still identify with the, “person who identifies a difference within themselves s internalizes that difference into negativity and struggles with the external factors in their personal lives,” narrative. Meanwhile the world at large has slowly but surely shifted. I knew several out LGBT peers during the time when I was quietly on the inside forming my identity, and I did not relate to them. I saw no hardships with their own acceptance of themselves. I didn’t see any of them get kicked out of their homes, bullied, shamed, etc. They seemed to have a pretty easy time of it and I have to admit I resented them for that. This has led me to believe that it is no longer the struggle it once was to be different. (FYI: “Nerd is the new Cool,” too.) That generally is not a bad thing to want to happen, and we have shows like PLL/Glee to thank for that shift. Paige has represented for me the embodiment of my personal struggles. She was able to navigate through all that she has and she’s come out of it bruised but not broken. (I don’t need to restate all of the things, reread any of the things HH has written about McCullers. It’s all there, it’s all brilliant.) And now Paige is creating the future she wants for herself. With or without Emily, we shall see.

    If only the universe had been able to align at just the right time when we society both needed to see Paige’s story and during the time when the correct network/writers had the guts to feature that story as its front and center plot. What a time that would have been. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like the new popular opinion I’ve seen recently is that “coming out stories” in movies/tv/books etc are no longer needed. Is it because of the fact that a majority of the next generation of queer people will be the first to experience a welcoming reaction right out of the gate? There will be nothing to fear anymore and acceptance will rule? It will for lack of a better phrase have “Gotten Better,” and that’s just it? I know I needed to see this story, I am glad it was told, and I will be forever grateful.

    If any of the above made any sense than I applaud you, thank you for indulging in my thoughts : )

    For Paily the finishing line is not graduation, it is the life they will lead when this time in their lives is over. Paige is out their creating the path that Emily will one day get to choose if she will follow down.

    Thanks for this recap and character tribute HH.

  17. I don’t watch PLL, but I’ve followed Paige and Emily’s storyline through Tumblr GIFs, Wikipedia, and Autostraddle recaps (basically I skim through everything and just get to Paily); and I have always been very afraid that their story would not be done justice. I am beyond happy to hear that it has gone down in a way that is neither a cliche nor a “whatever-man”.

    Thank you for dedicating almost half of the recap to talking about the end of Paily and the importance of complete, honest and strong stories in which people from our comminuty are participants. Often enough I am unable to properly word out my frustrations at injustice when it comes to queer people in television or film, but within Autostraddle I always find te answer.

    Thank you.

  18. Well, when someone’s death is backed up by video footage and million gallons of blood, and everyone is convinced about the death, especially the police, the victim has 99,99% chance to be alive on this show.

    Heather, Paige didn’t break my heart like you do.

  19. “neither can live while the other survives or whatever shipping malarky.”
    I just want to comment on this amazing harry potter reference in this beautiful recap and beautiful tribute to an A+ Character.
    Although this makes me think of shipping Harry and Voldemort. Which I thought would be something like “Hardemort” but according to Google is SS. sssssssss.

    Which is clever. But still. WELL DONE HEATHER!

  20. I wrote my comments on the episode over at AE but no one conveys my thoughts on Paige McCullers like Heather Hogan. Thank you again for putting into words how we all feel.

    And fuck the Skins assholes for all they did. Naomi and Emily spent the summer in Goa and went to university together and lived happily ever after and no one can convince me otherwise and I don’t recognize a movie was ever made.

  21. Heather…had to track you down to Autostraddle to read your PLL recap…glad I found you! I don’t follow social media all that much except FB due to my news feed having actual chosen news items, so I don’t always stay on top of tweets and tumbles… Anyway, I pretty much only like to read yours and Dorothy’s recaps. Other recaps just don’t speak to me at my advanced age (okay not THAT old, but definitely not the target market here). I actually feel more educated in pop culture when you point out the literary and film references (most of which I am familiar). It’s like taking comparative studies classes all over again! I do believe you would be a great professor of pop culture and then some…thanks again for your brilliant writing.

  22. I don’t know what it’s like being in grad school studying writing, or theatre or any type of humanities, but I do know what it’s like being in grad school for science. You read and read and read and every so often an article comes along that just makes you think in a whole new way. You see things differently, you analyze things differently, the pieces come together differently. This is what Heather Hogan’s writing does for me every week.

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