Pretty Little Liars Episode 517 Recap: We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Caleb and Spencer completely disregarded Sheriff Toby’s instructions and went rooting around in some random criminal’s storage unit. They found mountains of evidence, a barrel with probably a dead body inside, and one full hazmat suit. They also found out that Sheriff Toby does not like to be crossed! And that Caleb still fits just fine inside some air ducts! And that the storage unit was rented in Hanna Marin’s name! Emily and Talia continued their awkward lesbian mating dance, cloaking their lady-lovin’ pheromones in food metaphors and chit-chat about Ezra Fitzgerald’s butt. Hanna found herself in the know about a terrible love triangle between her mother, a man of the Lord, and her formerly dead former best friend’s formerly drug-addled brother. And Aria was waylaid by a receipt for coffee.


Thank you all for coming to the first official reading of the Sparia Fan Fiction Coven.

BSC HQ. Hanna is mad! Mad, mad, mad! Someone has rented a storage unit in her name and there are bloody clothes and shovels and possibly Mona’s body stuffed into that storage unit, and the Liars want her to just leave it alone! They keep saying “Holbrook this” and “Alison that” and if Hanna tries to move all that evidence, she’s going to get everyone arrested for Mona’s murder. Hanna wisely points out that if she leaves that shit alone, it is going to be her, by herself, who is arrested for Mona’s murder, so she’s got to do something.

Aria: This is your fault in the first place for visiting Ali in prison and making her angry and now she’s retaliating by framing you.
Spencer: Wait, who the what with you visiting Ali in prison?
Caleb: Spencer, hey. Hey. Remember when we destroyed that knife that time when I almost barbecued my noggin? That was smart, right? How smart are we, Spencer? So smart!
Hanna: Everyone in this room sucks, except for Emily. I’m leaving!

The next morning, at the New Brew, Emily and Aria drink a lot of coffee and talk about how they didn’t sleep very much due to thinking about Mona’s body in that barrel. Y’all know I’m messing with you. That’s why Emily couldn’t sleep. Aria couldn’t sleep because she was dreaming about A plastering her Talmadge essay all over Ezra’s cabin so that when he rode the ski lift home from a long day of selling books, he would find the story she wrote about how this very cabin is the place she discovered her high school English teacher/lover had been stalking her and her teenage friends for a minimum of two years because he was obsessed with writing a True Crime novel about their dead teenage friend. And when he found that essay about how his stalking and manipulating messed up Aria’s whole high school life, his feelings would be hurt.


Oh great, here comes wardrobe patrol.

If Emily ever wrapped Aria up in her warm, magical embrace, that girl would come so undone it would take years to put her back together.

Once Aria is gone, Talia wheels out a pastry she made for Ezra because she heard his main thing besides creepin’ is cake. Emily is like, “Your obsession with cooking food for Ezra and staring at his rock-knockers leaves me with the impression that you think he is available when he is decidedly not!” Talia says it really is just a simple dessert that she whipped up in no time because she is an excellent chef and also she’s sorry to have encroached on Emily’s turf. Talia’s face says mostly she is sorry that she misread Emily’s disinterest in Ezra and will therefore not be slumping her lady-lumps. Oh, Talia. Relax. You came at just the right time. The best Emily for casual hookups is the slightly unhinged, heartbroken Emily who can open her own goddamn car door and will choke you with an empanada if you won’t just fucking put it on your mouth and eat it. And that’s the Emily you see before you, amped up, additionally, because the conduit of adrenalized hyperreal energy in Rosewood is no longer with us, and so the air is even more frenzy with folly than usual.

(Also, Talia, how old are you? Please be age-appropriate! You’re making me nervous!)


Lookin’ good in that hole-free shirt, girl!

Hanna and Ashley are also having a tense conversation this morning. Hanna wants Ashley to tell Ted about sleeping with Jason but Ashley says that is not a thing she is going to do because she consulted with her wine about it last night and her wine advised her against it. She says the only people who know about the sex-shenanigans are Hanna and Jason, and if anyone else finds out, she’s still got some noodle dollars stashed away and she’ll just bribe them to STFU. She legit says, “If you want to help, forget it!” Which is terrible advice to give your child in any universe, but especially in this one where an omnipresent cyberterrorist is keeping a video record of literally everything everyone ever does.

Down at the precinct, Sheriff Toby is working his way through Alison’s case file. She is 01 years old, according to these records, but what strikes Toby as odd is that Holbrook was there when Ali passed her lie detector test, when Holbrook himself is a known liar who kisses blonde-headed teenage girls on the mouth and does not take care of his sick father even though he’s on a leave of absence to take care of his sick father.


Yes, I think this outfit could be gayer. I could have worn it with one of my hats.

These are revelations he shares with Detective Tanner, but Detective Tanner has no time for his nonsense. First, she shoos Spencer — who shows up to try to reconcile with Toby because she keeps committing crimes behind his back when he has explicitly told her to stop being a criminal — away to school. Then, she tells Toby he has only been a cop for six minutes and unless he wants to leave this thankless, low-paying job that is destroying the most important relationship in his life and go back to the lucrative, low-stress career of being a millionaire teenage woodworker, he better put the brakes on his “little research project.”

Aria cannot take it anymore. She gives Ezra a copy of her Talmadge essay and explains the whole thing about Jackie Molina so he doesn’t get blindsided by his own cash register. I give Aria a lot of shit, but she has figured out one thing the other Liars still cannot wrap their mindgrapes around: The only power A has over the Liars is their own dumb secrets. I mean, well, that and the ability to read minds, be everywhere and nowhere, and bewitch buildings to come to life and attack their occupants. But mostly the lies. Ezra hugs Aria and kisses her head and says it’s a really good piece of writing and there’s no need to feel weird about what he did to her because he doesn’t feel weird about what he did to her, and so no one else should have a problem with it either.


Okay. Deep breath. I write Sparia fan fiction.


You seem to know an awful lot about scissoring for someone who has never scissored.

When Caleb arrives at Hanna’s house, he finds her stuffing a gym bag with the kind of supplies you use to hide murder weapons and dispose of dead bodies. He has already “corrupted the files” of the storage unit place, so no one’s going to be able to trace it to Hanna, but she goes, “Well, for all I know Ali stuck a piece of my bubblegum to Mona’s shoe and so my DNA is all over her, which means your ‘corrupted files’ are useless.” He scowls at her because he knows “bubblegum” isn’t the reason Hanna’ DNA was all over Mona. But he agrees to help her anyway.

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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.


      • Or they could just attack A when A goes for one of them. Worst comes to worst, they’d just get glass in their hair.

      • It also makes the show darker. I think they are all aware they could die and have an unspoken understanding that the remaining continue to try and figure it out.

  1. – Pretty convenient that Spencer’s phone no longer gets reception so that they can no longer track the laptop. At least that’s what Spencer told them.
    – When Risen Mitten was looking at the door at the end, there were finger prints on it. That means that someone knows about Mittens stash, but didn’t say anything. That makes a suspect of Spencer, Aria, and Emily. The person had to be tall enough to look in the window, so that pretty much eliminates Aria. Those heavy duty lockers would most likely not be on the second floor where Emily was looking, so that drops her suspect…ability?

    • Exactly what I was thinking, one of them definitely saw inside that room. But they couldn’t be A, I mean how dumb would that be too leave fingerprints there? But they must have seen something inside that made them keep it quiet.
      I agree that Aria would have been too short, but I don’t know if we can eliminate Emily. She said she was going to go to the second floor, but then we see her going Down some stairs. So what level did they start on?

      • Unfortunately someone pointed out to me that it’s all three of them. They mess with that door when they first got there. I watched the episode twice, and I still missed it.

  2. The Hannily dance is going to kill me down dead. It’s been nice knowing you all. See you in the afterlife.

    • Lol, same.
      And it’s probably pretty sad that I’m wishing away 3 weeks of my life just so I can watch that scene.

  3. I lost at at Spencer’s reaction to the Ezria fanfic, and the dialogue about the apples.

    Amazing, hilarious recap!

    P.S. I’m secretly totally into Emily and Talia. But yeah how even old is she? Going by TV laws she’s probably a 30 year old playing a 17 year old or some such thing.

    • Talia seems fun! And non-murderous! (Is anyone allowed to be a character on this show without multiple layers of traumatic secrets though?) I cannot tell what age she’s supposed to be but praying she’s like, 22 and Em is 18 or something. (ps hi charlotte!)

      I was SO pleased with Tanner calling out Toby for how ridiculously miniscule his policey experience is. Also Toby you do not deserve Spencer. No one does, maybe Lucy Liu, but that’s it, and certainly not you. Do not hang up on her and walk away! But also hang up and walk away because you don’t deserve her. (Okay, point made.)

      • Actually I”m really bothered by Tanner being so dismissive of eye witnesses seeing Holbrook make out with a Teenager he was supposed to be investigating. It reeks of both Rape Culture and the same Problem with Police culture that lets them not even go to trial for killing people.

    • Surprisingly, the girl playing Talia(Miranda Rae Mayo)is actually younger than Shay Mitchell by I think like 4 or 5 years.

  4. I’m really getting disappointing in your “Age Appropriate” comments. Yes Ezria has become problematic on many arguable levels. But you where okay with it before the -A misdirect. IN my view Age gap related prudishness is just as wrong of Sexual Orientations related prudishness or non monogamy prudishness or any other prudishness.

    Emily is 18 now unless the age you start High-school is different in Rosewood’s alternate dimensions. Because she had her Senior year birthday already.

    And to add some perspective, there are cases in human history where Minors have raped adults.

    • When has Heather ever been ok with the age gap? I can recall her writing numerous times, from Season 1 about the age-appropriateness of the Ezra relationship.

      But yes I agree, Emily has already had her birthday, so I’d definitely say that she’s 18, so no age-inappropriateness there.

      And i don’t mean to be rude, but Aria was his student, he knew that she was underage, and there is no way in hell that she was at fault in this relationship. He sought her out. So I’m not sure why adding that about minors raping adults has anything to do with it. Yes I know that there have been cases where this has happened, but there has never been any hint of this occurring on the show. (Ok, wait, maybe the Jenna-Toby thing, where i’m pretty sure Jenna was younger than Toby when she forced him)

      • This Jared person has been trolling HH’s recaps for weeks, pissing and moaning about the mistreatment of Ezra. So, while all of your points are logical and correct, I’m afraid they won’t make much of a difference.

        • I’ve been following Heather’s recaps since about the middle of 4B, of all the many comments I’ve made a small percentage has been about Ezra in any way. They increased lately because of my mind fluctuates but I’m done with that now. I will probably never comment on that again at all.

          My favorite PLL Ship is Sparia.

    • “There are cases in human history where Minors have raped adults”

      Why not chuck in a “women rape men too!” and a “NOT ALL EZRA’S” while you’re at it

  5. You know I’m Paily all the way, so I’m hurting and torn right now. But I think I’m okay with Talia and Emily being a thing for the rest of the season. I mean it’s just nice that Emily gets to be a lesbian in more than name and keep having romances like everyone else. I really appreciate Joseph Dougherty and Marlene King for that. And also for Talia being a woc. I think they listen to fans about as well as any show runners out there.

    Anyway, I’m still confident that Paige will be back. They’re just taking a break right now. But Lindsey is too great and the writers love Paige too much for this to be the end of her. So yeah, let Emily have a fling with Talia while she rebounds.

  6. “Rosewood High: Best Years of your Life” THERE ARE TOO MANY JOKES I COULD MAKE!

    “Rosewood High: Best 40+ Years of Your Life”

    Rosewood High: Your Lives Aren’t Going to Get Any Better”

    • “Rosewood High: It’s Even More Downhill From Here”

      “Rosewood High: The Is As Good As It’s Gonna Get”

      And really, saying high school is the best time of your life is an awful thing to say at any school, let alone Rosewood!

  7. So Keegan Allen recently said in an interview that we all know who A is, and I think I have to jump on the Aria train. Mostly cuz it would make the show so interesting, (not to mention making the Ezria thing so much less infuriating), but also because it kind of makes sense. But I also wouldn’t hate it if it was Sparia.

    • I have said for a long time that I hope Aria is A. It’s the only way that she will ever be interesting as a character. It’s laughable how vapid they make her (ENOUGH with the Ezra obsession dear God!) compared with the other liars. I feel like the writers have to be doing that for a reason, right?

      • Exactly! And the whole brushing over Ezra, like it only makes sense if Aria’s using him for something

    • It’s a good theory, but if Aria is A, then why would she have felt so betrayed when she found out about Ezra? My bet is on Tanner.

  8. I need to move to Rosewood where there is apparently an infinite supply of hot girls who like girls.

  9. Am I the only person who was bothered by the whole Talia trying to assess Emily’s sexuality by asking her about Ezra thing? As a bisexual woman, I just read this as massive erasure – oh, you couldn’t possibly like both! I know, for Emily, she is monosexual, and I’ve no problem with that, but I’m angry that a show which has Jenna and Alison (neither of whom are self-identified bisexual, but both have had romantic / sexual involvement with men and women) as central characters…well, this is a step back? I’m just angry at the way I’m always left out of or hushed up on TV. Also, where the fuck are Jenna, Wren and Noel? Do I pay more attention to the loose ends in the plot than the writers?

  10. I look forward to your recaps almost as much as I look forward to the new episode of the week :D

    P.S. Anyone else starting to eye Tanner as a possible A?

  11. Just caught up on the PLL eps since Christmas and then came here for the recaps of course. LOL’d so many times reading these recaps!

    [[Aria starts yelling maybe my favorite thing that has ever come out of her mouth: “SPENCER, WHAT’S HAPPENING?! SPENCER, WHAT DO WE DO?!”



    [[If I were teenager in Rosewood and I thought that was true, I would lie down in the street and give up.]]

    Hahahaha! :)

  12. My poor Paily-loving heart… I would like Talia (queer! woc!) under different circumstances but I am still annoyed that they shipped Paige off to replace her with another love interest.

  13. so apparently this is my level of humour:
    Jason: You don’t have to quit just because we did the horizontal hokey pokey.
    Ashley: That’s not what this is all about.

    But also:
    Aria advises the Liars to split up because she knows less of nothing than Jon Snow

    The Sparia fanfic thread is perfect.

    I’m out.

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