Pretty Little Liars Episode 516 Recap: Barrel of Monkeys

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Toby went to Build-a-Badge to get himself outfitted as a police man, something no one thought would cause problems in his relationship with Spencer, despite the fact that Spencer is under investigation for at least one felony every minute of her life. Caleb and Spencer decided Officer Toby was harshing their vibe, in terms of being hooligans, so they cut him out of the Scooby gang and baked a bloody knife without him and so there. Emily tried to poison the town with empanadas. And Hanna visited Alison in jail because with Paige gone and Mona dead and Alison behind bars, it’s a dude-heavy world out there and Hanna needs her lady-fix.


No, what’s Regretsy? I’ve never heard of it.

At Predator Candy Store & Book Shoppe, the Liars debrief last week’s shenanigans, namely that Caleb nearly roasted his brains in a kiln, Hanna found deer guts inside a teddy bear instead of Holbrook, and Aria got into college by telling the truth about Ezra even though she still thinks she was telling a lie about Ezra. Emily is wearing one of Paige’s old t-shirts and wringing her hands about this envelope she’s going to mail to her with like swim goggles and spare bike parts and her broken bleeding heart. The Liars offer to take it to the post office for her, but Emily says she needs to do it herself so she can let Paige go, since Paige asked for space and so now Emily isn’t even going to California for spring break.

The Liars make the strangled, awful, terrifying sounds of a nest full of motherless baby sea otters being attacked by a fire-breathing demon monster from hell’s darkest abyss.

Wait, no. That was me. I was the one making those noises.

Never mind.


This old thing? Gosh, I don’t know where it came from. I don’t have any idea who ripped a hole in the neck of it while trying to take it off her girlfriend during a frantic, fifteen-minute quickie while someone’s mom was at the grocery story buying popover ingredients.

Hanna’s like, “Can I borrow that baseball shirt?” And Emily slaps her in the face. Everyone besides Emily is dressed so crazy today! Hanna is wearing a sleeveless denim vest onto which she has crocheted little black scarf-sleeves for her shoulders. Aria is wearing those season one pheasant feather earrings that we never could figure out if they were attached to her ear lobes or like woven into her hair. I remember Googling about it back in 2010 and one of Google’s auto-suggestions was “aria feather hair extensions.” Spencer is wearing this blocky poncho sweater with an 8-bit video game background stitched onto it. Actually, my girlfriend would really love that sweater. I’m going to lay off the sweater.

Aria orders a coffee and instead of a receipt with dollars and cents printed on it, what she gets is a receipt with some of A’s very best nonsense printed on it. It’s her entire Talmadge essay, in cash register type. Superior A troll move. It doesn’t even make sense. I love it so much. There’s an extra note at the bottom about how lying stays on your permanent record, which is a pretty dumb threat: everyone knows if you want to wipe out your permanent record, you just print it out and throw it in the creek, or shred it in the garbage disposal, or bury it in the yard at a frat party.


I got a little carried away in Michael’s, okay? Jewelry doesn’t make itself, Emily.

Hanna comes home to find her mother making smoochy faces on Pastor Ted’s cheek. Hanna is scared to walk into the kitchen, though, because she knows Jason was getting smoochy faces on his pecker last night and that’s just not a thing she needs to see. Her relief is three-fold when she summons the courage to follow the giggles: It is a man of the Lord in her kitchen, there are no peckers in sight, but there are waffles. She tries to whisper-grill her mom about Jason getting dressed while walking down the stairs just ten hours ago, and Ashley goes, “I pretended not to know Caleb was living in the walls for half a season; you can pretend you didn’t see what you saw last night.” Hanna thinks that is a thing she can do. (Spoiler alert: She cannot.)

At Predator, bossy Talia has some bossy feelings about how to make coffee which she bossily bosses at Emily. Tallia is, as the saying goes, all up in Emily’s nut; and her interest in Emily’s nut is, very obviously: crackin’ it. What Talia does not know is that if Emily was the kind of girl who was turned on by a beautiful woman getting tyrannical on her about pedantic tasks, she would be pregnant with Spencer Hastings’ baby by now. She would be pregnant with two of Spencer Hastings’ babies by now. She would be living in Maine on a maple syrup farm selling hand-knitted vegan cardigans on Etsy while her and Spencer’s twelve children watched old episodes of Mathnet and Spencer wrote her memoir, Running With Shovels, in the kitchen on a vintage typewriter.


Oh good lord, Aria is posting Sparia fanfic on her Tumblr now?

But Talia does not know that, and so she continues the “gorgeous overlord” method of flirting. Emily smiles a smile at her that would make you cross the street if you saw someone walking toward you was doing it. You would think they were unhinged. You would think they were a murderer. You wouldn’t be wrong.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. – HH, it was Alison who took pictures of Aria. Jason just developed them.
    – Talia wants girls in polos and ponytails because she’s seen pictures of season one Emily.
    – What kind of storage unit are they at that they have those huge air ducts?
    – I noticed that when Spencer was standing next to the haz-mat suit, that it seems to be sized for her.
    – So Aria brought Hanna some flowers? Is she trying to make Spencer jealous?
    – Was Alison even in this episode?
    – Next episode, Hanna taps that keg and has her some Mona distilled alcohol.

  2. Hilarious as usual, especially the screenshot captions!

    Kept refreshing the page waiting for you recap to come up, thank goodness it’s finally here.

    Thanks for the laugh, can’t wait for next week!

    Honorable mention to the Tweet that appeared on the TV which Marlene up on her Instagram!
    “I bet Alison would have eaten Emily’s Empanadas” Too freakin funny!

  3. The couples are all going to break up this season so that Sparia and Hannily can be official by the end of the series. Mark my words.

    • And Monison. Because Alison would respect the hell out of Vanderjesus for rising from the dead, and then they’d scissor.

    • Even though I ship Haleb to the point that I almost cried when the spinoff was announced, THIS WOULD MAKE ME HAPPIER THAN ANYTHING.

  4. is it too much to hope for to see emily in that off the shoulder thingy she wore when she was talking with paige?

  5. Ugggghhhh Johnny is the WORST, what a goddamn blow-hard. And yeah, Ashley, you should probably marry the only man in town who seems to be capable of not hitting on your daughter or any of her friends. So fucking creepy that Jason can go from having sex with Hanna’s mom to hitting on Hanna’s friend the next lunch. Gawd, he’s creepy. All the men on this show are creepy.

    “The Barrel of Erised! Hanna will see Mona, Emily will see Paige, Spencer will see Emily, & Aria will see fork earrings. ” – this was the best. Fork earrings, oh man.

  6. HH, love this recap. It was your trademark mix of hilarious and insightful.
    Two things:
    1. Is anyone certain of the Liar’s ages right now? We just moved three months in like one second after spending several years in a couple months. Is Emily 18? I don’t know whether to ship kissy faces with terrible Talia or blow Aria’s rape whistle. As someone who is entirely anti-Ezria it’s really making me hit the brakes on the obvious eyefucking Talia is throwing her way. Can anyone confirm? Because Talia is like a professional caterer right? She’s gotta be grown.

    2. Can I talk about how well Pretty Little Liars captures the single parent dynamic with Ashley and Hanna? It’s something that isn’t talked about often but we really saw it at the end of this episode when Hanna held Ashley after she rejected the only non-pepohile in town. Single Parent/Child relationships so often walk a fine line with the parent treating their child as Child/Best friend/Spouse. The children shift between those roles as best they can, like we saw in this episode. They often also take on the role of parent as Hanna did in the kitchen questioning Ashley about her tryst with Jason.
    The second thing isn’t related to your recap I just think it’s incredible writing as someone who is the eldest child of a single mother.

    • Re #1 – at the very least it is about 18 months after Ezria began. In terms of teenage maturity at 16/17/18, that is a big difference.

      (And #2 is such an excellent point!)

      • #2 continued:
        Like I can’t help but adore Momma Marin every time she waltzes across my screen. They just nail it on the show with every verbal exchange Ashley and Hanna share. That they are in this together, they built this life together with/for each other. It reminds me of growing up, and the way my mother and I spoke to each other. Often more like equals than parent and child. It’s an excellent portrayal.

    • I thought there was that time like 2 seasons ago but 5 years in normal people time…but actually before Hallowe’en in senior year…but then about 780 days happened between Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving so just…I don’t know…there was that thing (oh my God why are there so many loose ends in this show – who tried to drown Jenna, where is Wren, who is red coat, why did NO-ONE ask Mona who red coat was, because she must know, because she spoke to her that time when she entered Radley aaaah why do I care, the writers don’t even know, but I’m angry that I seem to remember more of this than the people who write this show) AAAANNNYWAY, there was that thing where Emily was now 18 and would be tried as an adult, not a minor, for something or other…there was a video, I think, but not one of Ian’s ones? I’m rebinge-watching atm, so may be able to clarify in a couple of days :p

      • Emily’s birthday was in November. It was that time Paige distracted her with an appointment to see a pro-trainer while she and Aria and Spencer set up her surprise party and then Emily came in all cranky and went off at Paige just as everyone was yelling “Surprise!” then she had that talk with her by the water about College, where they finally accepted what they had both been dreading (that they were not gonna be together next year) and we all cried and Emily started emotionally distancing herself from Paige because she couldn’t bear to lose her too, having already lost Maya and Alison.

    • Also I agree so hard about Ashley and Hanna – that’s what I’ve always thought. So much of the plot-based writing on this show is so fucked, but the emotional scenario stuff is so true. Like the queer girl who loves her best furiend Emison dynamic, or the being manipulated by that older guy who you think is the love of your life thing. Also I am basically in a Hanna + lesbian Caleb (except he is no longer lesbian enough and I hate him since stupid Poebirdswood) relationship at the moment. My male partner in crime (who actually introduced me to OITNB) said the other day he might get an undercut…

  7. Maine maple syrup farms, knitted cardigans, intellectual television shows, and vintage typewriters… sounds like the Pinterest board of my heart. Note to self: find a girl who shares this vision. Oops – PLL discussion, right, carry on.

  8. I swear I am not a nitpicker who delights in pointing out errors to writers! But I have to tell you that “Toby and Caleb go back to his place to freak out about what’s in the barrel, about their fingerprints being all over the barrel, about how neither of them can talk to their boyfriend about the barrel because he is a police officer now.” should be “Spencer and Caleb” because it changes the meaning :/

  9. I know I am super late to the party, but I just need to say how happy I am that Heather’s recaps (my favorite things on the internet) are now on Autostraddle (my favorite place on the internet).

  10. Emily’s face when Talia asks her to check out Ezra’s ass is priceless…upchuck in 5,4,3,2…

  11. Johnny’s like that friend in college who studied abroad in Italy for five minutes and came back unable to talk without Eurosplaining the hell out of every conversation. It makes zero sense that Spencer would fall for that shiz. That said, he has to be an A plant, right? Maybe playing up the crunchy vagabond thing while he secretly keeps tabs on Spencer and the Liars??

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