Pretty Little Liars Episode 518 Recap: Them!

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Toby’s drive-thru police certification started causing big time problems between him and Spencer, the way it would if, say, you were a Smurf and your boyfriend took an internship with Gargamel. Hanna and Caleb broke into the storage unit that was rented in her name to find only the barrel full of bodies left inside, and Toby and Detective Tanner snooping around outside. Aria gave Ezra a copy of the Talmadge essay she wrote about how he is an emotional terrorist, and for the first time in his life, he was like, “Dang, man, I’m an emotional terrorist.” Talia told Emily the way she flirts with girls is to boss them around and talk about boys’ butts. And Ashley had a long think about Pastor Ted vs. Jason DiLaurentis.

[Cons: Looks eerily like sister who is teenage daughter’s friend, shady motherfucker, keeps changing head, house built on graveyard, sober (no wine??) Pros: Durable (can survive falls from 30+ stories?), won’t have to wake up early on weekend to go to church, looks like Sweet Valley High boyfriend (will make me feel/look younger?)]


Oh good lord, I told her not to try to make up secret handshakes.


And then other people will be jealous because they don’t know the handshake.

The Liars are hanging out in the town square of a Saturday morning, chatting about the usual things. Toby giving up his sweet gig as Rosewood’s only contractor to go to work for Spencer’s archnemesis: noble or moronic? Discuss. Veronica Hastings joining Alison’s defense team as a special consultant to steer them away from the trail of Spencer’s misdeeds: shrewd or futile? Discuss. Ezra going out of town without telling Aria: honorable or duplicitous. Discuss. Holbrook returning to Rosewood PD alive and not in that barrel like I thought: mo’ problems or the ultimate chance for Hanna to shine? (Spoiler alert, it’s the second thing.)

Spencer and Hanna make up from last week’s hollering match speedy-quick because their personalities are perfectly suited for such a thing. Spencer is good at apologizing, and swiftly, because she’s always accusing you of some horrible thing only to realize later that it was her own insecurities and/or logical fallacies and/or Adderall talking. And Hanna is good at accepting apologies because she’s no stranger to vomiting on wedding dresses, and her empathy and compassion are as deep as the ocean.


Is she trying to exude the posture of “more than friends”?


Back straight, head down, chest out. Surely, she won’t miss these signals.

The Liars head on into Fitzgerald Book Shoppe & Candy Palace to disperse and have some individual dramas. Emily wanders into the kitchen to talk to Talia about how she hopes she’s feeling better on account of she called in sick yesterday, and Talia doesn’t even make a joke about how she hopes Emily didn’t poison the whole town with empanadas in her absence. She just sits there in her sadness and is sad and she frowns. Spencer takes a second to talk to fucking Johnny Patronization, who is doing another installation for Ezra. And Hanna gets a call from the police asking her to shimmy herself across the street, where Caleb is already hanging out, to answer some questions about the storage unit.

There’s a real elegance to this episode’s direction and scene shifts. It almost feels like watching a play, the way the stories flow and transition between each of the Liars; even them just observing each other adds a visual depth and another layer of emotion to their stories.

Emily is behind the register, reading personal essays as they print out on the receipt machine, when this strawberry-haired girl with big ol’ lesbian glasses wanders up and asks to be pointed in the direction of Hanna Marin, because she is Mona’s childhood friend, Leslie, and Mrs. Vanderwaal said Hanna would probably be hanging out here or at down at the police precinct. Well, this is a suspicious surprise, and the Liars tell her so! In fact, they invite her to stand trial right in this shoppe, where they always hold court.


I was Mona’s best friend in life.


You won’t need those glasses after I blind you.

They question her about how long she’s been friends with Mona, what exactly she thinks it means to be friends with Mona, about her whereabouts during Mona’s Luau-themed memorial service. Leslie says Mona probably never talked about her to the Liars because Mona only ever talked about Hanna, and she couldn’t come to the funeral Luau because of school, and she really appreciates the Liars trying to protect Mona from “that awful girl.” Leslie says she was supposed to see Mona at Thanksgiving but, well, you know, the bludgeoning kept her from ever showing up to eat turkey and dressing.

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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. I’ll give the writers all of my money if they stop the whole “brown people must die” thing and let Talia live and kill off Johnny.

    Also, I can’t even talk about how happy I am about Talia. My heart exploded this week. It completely burst into a shower of happy glitter and tears. I live stream the show at work, and I cried when I got home on Tuesday.

    • Fuckin’ Johnny.

      How do I hate thee, Johnny?
      Let me count the ways.
      Your stupid face
      Your stupid fedora head
      Your stupid NOT SCIENCE
      Your stupid words
      Your stupid brain that didn’t go to college

      If you put your mouth on Spencer Hastings’ perfect face, The Army of Lesbian Darkness will fall upon you and send you directly to the bottom of a lake next to the cop car Aria and Hanna put there that one time in a barrel maybe locked in with Lucas and his shitty chinstrap face hair.

      Talia, I love you, stay forever and please be age appropriate.

  2. If the thing about Holbroock and Internal affairs is true it means Tanner was suspicious of him well before what Toby told her. Which gives a new insight on things.

    I think Veronica knew 100% Spencer went through her stuff. I”m wondering if she maybe even planned that.

  3. no joke, i replayed that scene with hanna hitting holbrooke almost just as many times as i did when emily kissed talia. it wasn’t just that she hit him but her words!!! they knocked me back too. hanna, a rebel indeed

  4. Hmm. Well, ‘Caleb’s’ response to “how do lesbians even get together?” felt like Truth whispering in my ear. She might have also mentioned that I need to get over myself. ;)

    HANNA MARIN. That is all.

  5. Heather, the only justifiable reason for Johnny is your parody of Johnny. Worth it.

    I wish I liked Talia, but so far it’s all too bland and forced for me.

    Now if Hannah could only remember that on-point sentence she said to Holbrook and spit it directly at Ezra Fitz(gerald) the next time she sees him, we can all be happy.

  6. It’s not that I don’t like Talia, it’s just that I don’t see any point in liking her. She’s going to end up dead, evil, or out of town forever within the next seven episodes. (And also, CLEARLY SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH PAIGE SINCE WHEN DOES PAIGE MCCULLERS EVEN UNDERSTAND THE WORD SPACE???)

  7. But if you look at Emily’s friendship with Hanna, you will understand how she could get her “more than friends” signals mixed up.

  8. I had to break this down because I had to many thoughts as I was watching and reading.

    1: Bernard’s watch is what Mona is talking about…do you not have that show in America?
    2: Can Talia please have an episode without a cooking metaphor. I miss Paige enough without her being replaced by a 2 dimensional character. I know she hasn’t had much chance to be fleshed out but damn she has moved into Emily’s life fast and without anyone knowing anything about her other than she cooks! Is my wanting background because I feel like they should all have bigger trust issues than they do? Seriously, just me?
    3: Johnny is everything I hate about the perception of artists. He makes me want to throw up into his whispering booth. D-bag. The parody in this recap is perfect.
    4: Hanna Marin is my hero.

    Thanks for another awesome recap HH :)

    • I totally thought the same about Bernard’s watch! I think that was a UK made show so it wouldn’t surprise me if they never aired it in the US. Ah kids tv used to be so good in the UK :)

  9. Hanna was such a fucking badass in this episode, UGH IT WAS SO GOOD.

    And holy shit, Emily has game. After she used that (incredibly inventive) secret-machine, I was overcome with the gay-pours.

  10. Great recap, I always get a lot of new meanings from your recaps, I love that.
    But my favorite, as usual
    “Come on, Fields; focus on staying alive and out of jail!” But there’s another part of me that honestly just wants to feel the weight of a pretty girl on top of me.”
    Yeah, but like, who isnt?

    Actually Im glad about emily and talia. I dont have any strong feelings towards talia, but I really like how mature emily seems to be in this new “relationship”. And actually I would quite like to see emily becoming kind of a player, tho I hiiiiiiiiighly doubt they would go there. But it would be interesting. Out of all the girls technically emily is the one with the most shifting love interests, and we assume she has gotten it on with more thann one person – tho we can never be sure if she actually had sex with Alison or Paige, cause Aria can be seem riding her perverted teacher, but god forbid they will show any hint of 2 teenage girls having actual sex #rantover. So shes actually more experienced and Id like to see her more confident, and who knows, maybe a relationship//affair between 2 girls that its more out of desire than “are they end game?”

    • HAHAHAHA! I just read a comment on tumblr on how how Troian would be great to cast as a teenage/young adult Root despite the not that many years age difference between the actresses.

      (Also have many feels about Root since POI 4×13 and seeing this mention of her just made me temporary seize up with emotion.)

  11. Episodes without Ezra are always my favourite but Hanna righteously defending herself against a pervo may be my favourite scene in the history of this show. It’s definitely up there with ‘adrenalized hyperreality’, CeCe and the snake, and drunk Emily.

  12. This is my second time reading one of your caps, and now I’m wondering how I could live without them. I love how morally invested you are in the show, because even if Pretty Little Liars only started as a guilty pleasure for me and the story-lines are sometimes ridicuosly ilogical, I think it has a sub-message that is so much more important. The development of the main characters on this show indeed has been great, like them or not, they have been so consistent that they almost feel real.
    The first recap I ever readed on this site was the one of Paige leaving. And altho not a part of the LGBT community myself, it gave a new perspective on how much Paige and Emily’s couple meant for so many people. I wish everyone would read it, because its truly eyes-opening.
    I haven’t been an Emily’s or a Paige’s shipper myself, for my very own reasons. I just don’t like needy people, and Alison’s abusive relationship towards Emily just seemed inaceptable to me -hard to believe Emily could be so loyal to someone torturing and using her like that-. Even more unbelievable was the fact that Paige could resist and yet remain admiring someone who would diss her as Emily did. And yet, the final part of last season and this one has been so game-changing for their characters. Emily became to me someone I could look up to, so brave and out-spoken, and the farewell between her and Paige was simply amazing altho a bit out-of the blue.
    As for this new Talia’s side story, I think its something to look forward. Even if the character won’t have much development to be morally invested in it, I think the fact they’re allowing Emily to self explore herself this much and with this self, confidence is just great. She’s a teenager after all, so end-game relationships at this point of their lives would feel so forced.
    As for Hanna’s, I still can get over how amazing she was in this episode. I always loved Hanna’s character, but they have truly turn her into the core of the show this season.
    Other than that, just amazing recap! I’ll make sure to keep reading, so thank you for sharing your work with all of us.

  13. did I miss the recap for this week?? I can’t find it and I almost look forward to the recaps more than the episodes hahaha

  14. Heather, these recaps are so delightful. This show (rollercoaster of somehow excellent ridiculousness that it is), would not be anywhere near as enjoyable without your jokes and insights after each episode. You brighten my day, make me laugh, and also make me go ‘huh, I never thought of that,’ all the time. Basically: thank you.

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