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.

Rosewood Grille

Jason: You don’t have to quit just because we did the horizontal hokey pokey.
Ashley: That’s not what this is all about.
Jason: What is it then?
Ashley: I am going to marry a preacher, probably, and it might mess up his reputation if word gets out that I’m working with the guy I boned while he was away building homes for hurricane victims or whatever he does with his life.
Jason: Fine. Come by and get your things later, I guess. I’ll be out doing A stuff all day, so you’ll have the office to yourself.

Over at Manslaughter Mini Storage, Hanna — who is looking so fly in a hoodie and messy ponytail, which is, as you know, my kryptonite — and Caleb disarm the security cameras and put on gloves and surgery shoes and hairnets and things because you can’t get arrested twenty times for murder without learning a little something about forensic evidence. What they have not learned, however, is there is no such thing as “getting a step ahead” of A. The storage unit is completely empty except for the barrel. Hanna is one hundred percent out of her mind and insists they take this barrel out of here and put it some place safe. On the way outside to get the dolly* to move the barrel, they bump into Toby and Tanner.


The reason Mona and I owned a U-Haul together is actually none of your business.

(*They say the word “dolly” like a hundred times in this episode. They’ve got to rent a dolly and where’s the dolly and bring in the dolly and let’s use the dolly to move this barrel, and I know it’s dumb but I really wanted them to open up the back of a van and find out that A had replaced their hand-truck with an actual doll. Homophone trolling is one of my favorite kinds of trolling.)

Tanner would like to know why Hanna and Caleb are hanging around this storage rental place where the cameras have been hacked and also where an anonymous phone call told them a crime was going down. She says Caleb seems like he’s way too young to have accumulated enough stuff to need a storage locker, proving that she knows nothing about the magical life of Mona Vanderwaal and should therefore not be investigating her murder. Hanna frees them from Tanner’s interrogation with the old “gotta pee BYE” trick.


Oh god, here comes Spencer. Do you think she knows I added some Ezria fic to my Tumblr.



Aria and Emily are out doing some shopping, talking about bribing Hanna to speak to them with a hot fudge brownie, when Spencer comes whizzing up onto the sidewalk in her car, tires squealing, and jumps out of the window and slides across the hood like the Dukes of Hazzard, taking not a single breath as she explains that Mona’s laptop is on the move and Hanna wasn’t at school today. The second thing is ridiculous, Spencer. None of y’all are at school any days. But the first thing is valid, so everyone hops into Spencer’s SUV, and off they go.

At DiLaurentis Realty (“Helping you find the home of your nightmares!”), Jason finds Ashley cleaning out her desk. He tells her he thinks it’s weird that she’s engaged without a ring. She tells him she thinks it’s weird that he fell down an elevator shaft and lived.


You can’t go around robbing the gold from old dead ladies’ vaults if you’re married to a preacher, okay?

Ashley: Get off my nut, man. People expect things from a pastor’s wife.
Jason: Yeah, those church socials must be brutal.
Ashley: I know you’re being sarcastic, but brutal is the exact correct word for Rosewood Presbyterian. I’m pretty sure both of your sisters have killed a man in that church. I’m pretty sure your dead mother haunts the place.
Jason: Did you sleep with me to screw up your relationship on purpose? No judgment. I watched my sister get killed twelve times one Labor Day. I know a thing or two about mistakes.
Ashley: No, I slept with you because I was too drunk to go to the store to buy more AA batteries.

Ezra reads Aria’s Talmadge essay some more while this song plays that could easily be the theme of this whole show. It’s about hateful ghosts who follow you around howling until your bones are shaking and it doesn’t even matter how brave or smart you are because nobody’s even wearing their own face anyway. Solid montage choice. It also plays while the Liars follow the signal coming from Mona’s laptop, talking about “Why would Caleb help Hanna?” the whole time like a car full of dummies. The question is, Why wouldn’t y’all help Hanna, you jerks? HANNA KNOWS WHAT HANNA NEEDS. Also, Spencer and Toby are completely breaking up right now because he won’t support her lawlessness!

Okay, so, at Manslaughter Mini Storage, Toby and Tanner find that barrel. Tanner peeks inside and makes a face that says whatever is inside there is disgusting. She tells Toby to ring-a-ding-ding the Hazmat Team, a thing she probably should have done before opening that barrell in the first place, right? And then when Toby leaves, she opens the barrel back up and looks inside and makes this kind of hilarious face that’s like, “Ah, well. Dang.” Like. What in the world is in that barrel that would make her do a face like when you find the salad dressing spilled in the refrigerator or your shampoo leaked out into your suitcase? Maybe Tanner’s seen some shit we’ll never know. Maybe she’s desensitized. Maybe she’s worked in Ravenswood or on that imaginary show where Jenna and Noel and Melissa spend most of their time. On the floor beside the barrel, Tanner finds drops of fresh blood, so that’s going to be a bad thing for everyone, I think.


The GPS is saying to drive into that abandoned barn. What could go wrong?

Mona’s laptop has led the Liars to an abandoned ice cream factory called Boo’s Boos, which is what I call all of you guys, and it’s as amazing as any barn ever has been on this show. Not as amazing as that doll hospital in Brookhaven or that basement in Radley where the broken dolls live and everyone turns gay. Still good, though. Aria advises the Liars to split up because she knows less of nothing than Jon Snow, and that’s exactly what they do. Spencer chases down these voices, and it’s just Mona’s laptop playing a video of Caleb and Hanna planning to break into that storage unit. Emily finds a dead rat like from Paige’s locker, a bag of frozen almond slivers like from Talia’s empanada recipe, and a yowling cat like from a Portlandia sketch. Aria finds an abandoned freezer that locks from the outside, so she asks Spencer to join her inside it.

Obviously, they get locked in there and A turns on some liquid nitrogen and Aria starts yelling maybe my favorite thing that has ever come out of her mouth: “SPENCER, WHAT’S HAPPENING?! SPENCER, WHAT DO WE DO?!”



My kingdom for a mannequin leg!

Sadly, they do not have some tongue-wrasslin’ good times like what Ron and Hermione finally did down in the Chamber of Secrets when they thought they were going to die. But happily, Emily Fields is well-versed in the fine art of Smashing Shit to Pieces by her (ex-)girlfriend Paige McCullers, so she picks up this giant pipe wrench and starts wailing on the ice box control panel until it explodes and knocks her unconscious and frees Spencer and Aria. #SaveSparia is the hashtag that appears on the screen and it is the first time I have ever felt affection for ABC Family’s official hashtag maker. (I’ve been holding a grudge for #PoorEzra for a while.)

Rosewood Town Square. Ashley gives Jason a list of headhunters so he can find someone whose skillset includes, like, “crafting first-brand personalities for haunted properties” to replace her. (Also, “headhunter” re: Jason is the best joke this show has made since “CTRL+A.”) Jason tries to French Ashley right out in public, but she politely declines. Then she goes home and drinks a whole bottle of Pinot while trying on that engagement ring and taking it off and trying it on and wondering where Ella is these days.


Your hair is so big.


Yeah, I keep my secrets in there.

Emily Fields is the only person on earth who would spend the afternoon saving the lives of two of her friends while trying to track down a third friend to stop her from moving a dead body and still show up to close the coffee shop where she works. (You can take the Canadian out of Canada, but you can’t take the Canada out of a Canadian, I guess.) When Emily walks into the kitchen, Talia tells her to come on in and pull up a chair; it’s just her and her apples in here. Emily looks rough, so Talia’s feelings kicks up a notch and she decides to help boost Emily’s confidence. First, she picks the leaves (??) out of her hair (!!), and then:

Emily: I’ll just go wait in the Lolita section until you’re done.
Talia: Wait, no. C’mere. You had one bad cooking experience. Everyone does. Just stir these apples for a second and I think you’ll be surprised at what happens.
Emily: [Stirs the apples]
The apples: [Burst into flames]
Emily: Nope! That’s exactly what I thought would happen!
Talia: Shit, sorry. I thought these were Red Delicious apples, I didn’t realize I’d used Thunder Blast ones.
Emily: No, for real, I’ll just wait outside.
Talia: I hate to see you leave but I love to watch you go.
Emily: What?
Talia: Nothing.

Up at Capote Cabin, Ezra gives Aria a journal with her initials emblazoned into it and then explains that her essay was actually true and a lot of cool things are going to happen to her in college and he should know because he was in college just ten years ago, becoming obsessed with Alison DiLaurentis, and he doesn’t want to deprive Aria of a life-changing experience like that. She’s like, “We’re not breaking up!” And he’s like, “I think everyone is breaking up this season, to be honest.”


You know how much I love destroying evidence! Why would you go without me? I’ve had a shitty day, Hanna!


Don’t take it out on me! Aria’s the one who put that Ezria fan fiction on her Tumblr!

Hanna comes to Spencer’s house and they fight about whose side Toby is on anyway. Hanna breaking into that storage unit to save her own self put Toby’s ten-minute career in jeopardy, and Spencer is furious about that. In addition to which, when the Liars go off-book without Spencer’s permission, someone is for sure going to die. Hanna’s eyes get teary and she shakes her head a little bit, all, “Wow. You really do still think this is season one, don’t you?” She pulls her unopened acceptance letters to Yale and UPenn out of her pocket (who has the time to read through acceptance letters to all the Ivys, honestly) and tosses them on Spencer’s kitchen counter before walking out the door.

Spencer seriously has to go lie down on her fainting couch for a minute.

At the precinct, Sheriff Toby ignores a call from Spencer and gets down to the nitty gritty details of being a cop with Detective Tanner. She tells him he took an oath and now is the time to start spilling the Liars’ secrets like the blood they spill all over town!

At New Brew, Talia presents Emily with homemade mashed potatoes and this little fact: The reason she kept feigning interest in Ezra’s buns was to see if Emily also had an interest in Ezra’s buns and if she did not have an interest in Ezra’s buns, Talia could begin her second phase in determining if Emily is, in fact, more interested in beans, and the flicking thereof. Emily thinks that’s a very convoluted way of finding out if someone in Rosewood is gay because everyone in Rosewood is gay. Their conversation is swiftly interrupted by a team of lesbian ninjas descending from the ceiling, black ops-style, to deliver Talia a “Welcome to Rosewood, You Queer Woman of Color” swag bag. In it: body armor, a couple of flair guns, military grade walkie talkies, freeze-dried food, a slingshot, a straight-edged razor, edible do-rags, beef jerky, beeswax, directions to Out of Town, and an inflatable life jacket.


I’m surprised to hear you say you’re into me.


You’ve seen you, right?

All right, you cuties! Mash your faces together now! (And give me those mashed potatoes!) (And Talia, be 19 or whatever! Emily, be 18!) (I said, give me those mashed potatoes!) (Talia. Put on your body armor, I’m not joking.)

BSC HQ. Hanna rushes to Caleb’s to tell him she’s ready to take the fall for everything that happened with that storage locker, including breaking and entering, murder, and lying to a police officer about having to pee. He says if they go down, they’re going down together, and if they both end up in jail, at least they’ll be content in the knowledge that the neither of them are free. That’s … not romantic, dude. She says, “I’m dangerous!” And he just hugs her, instead of consoling her with that fact that he also is dangerous on account of he is cursed with perpetual death.

Aria goes home and reads the Rosewood High yearbook, the slogan of which is a wonder to behold: THE BEST YEARS OF YOUR LIFE. If I were teenager in Rosewood and I thought that was true, I would lie down in the street and give up. Everyone in the yearbook has extra curriculars under their name except for Aria. Because the only club she joined over the years was the one at Hollis where you torture blind girls with their own pottery.


She deleted all the Sparia fic?



Toby finally calls Spencer and she yells at him for a good long time about just what did he think he was doing going to that storage place without telling Spencer when he knew how worried she was that Hanna was going there to move a dead body. She tells him to come over so she can yell some more, but he’s all, “Oh, I’m drowning in paperwork and have to work late and blah blah blah I’ll call you some time in the future.” And then he gets into the truck Spencer bought him by pawning her own sister’s engagement ring and drives away! TOBY CAVANAUGH! YOU GO BACK TO BEING A CARPENTER THIS INSTANT!

The Risen Mitten skips around Boo’s Boos ice cream factory and squeals with delight when he finds the full handprint of one of the Liars inside the freezing chamber.

Next page: #BooRadleyVanCullen tweets!

My most especially enormous thanks to Nicole (@PLLBigA) for these fantastic screencaps and also for showing me this Hannily thing today that made my heart bang around in my chest in a surprising and delightful way. Follow her on Twitter so your heart can bang around too!

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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 1562 articles for us.


  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?

  2. 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.)

  3. 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)

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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! :)

  8. 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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