Pretty Little Liars Episode 518 Recap: Them!

Hanna escorts Leslie to Mona’s room under the guise of being her guide, but actually she just wants to keep an eye on her.

Hanna: If you actually were close to Mona, you do understand that what we had was way more complicated than “just friends.”
Leslie: Oh, I know.
Hanna: No, I don’t mean it in a gay way. I mean it in a “in between all the times she saved my life, she tried to ruin my life and literally hit me with a car at least once” kind of way.
Leslie: Right, I know. But that’s what I liked about her. Most girls, it’s like, they’re in one place, doing one thing, but with Mona, she was everywhere and nowhere doing nothing and everything.
Hanna: There was more than one Mona inside her.
Leslie: More than one Mona?! Do you think she’s the one with a twin?
Hanna: Oh man, now I do!

Usually the way I recap Pretty Little Liars is I watch the episode live and live-tweet it, and then I watch it again the next morning and take frantic notes the whole time. I usually come away with about six pages of hastily scribbled notes, but this episode, I ended up with 17 pages and most of them are just me transcribing actual dialogue from the show. This episode feels so full of secrets, like not even a single word is wasted. That’s especially true in these Mona/Hanna flashback scenes, which is where Hanna’s mind goes when she sees a giant Edgar Allen Poe compendium on Mona’s bookshelf.


And now, another poem about ghosts who stay in love after they die!

Mona is reading Poe’s “Bridal Ballad” to Hanna. It’s a poem about how this bride marries this rich lord because everyone says that’s the thing she’s supposed to do, and the bride keeps talking about how happy she is, but really she’s not happy at all because she’s in love with a soldier who died in battle, and on her wedding day she even hallucinates marrying the dead soldier. At the very end of the poem, when she’s done pretending to the reader that jewels and satin and silk and societal approval make her happy, she starts worrying that the dead soldier’s ghost is going to start haunting her because she married someone else. So, that story plus themes about how wedding rings symbolize patriarchal oppression and about how awful it is so smile on the outside while you’re dying on the inside. Take a minute and noodle on those Vanderevelations/post-corporeal threats!

Mona says she loves Poe because his words are like maple syrup, sticky and sweet, and being creeped out is a good time. And then she transitions into the Three Wishes game, which is basically her Adrenalized Hyperreality origin story. She really just wants one wish, a stopwatch that controls the space-time continuum, and when you press the button, everyone and everything freezes, so you can steal shit from Bloomingdale’s, sure, but also you can break into people’s houses and find out all their business and manipulate their actions and when you decided to unfreeze time, they would be your puppets and they wouldn’t even know it. Like a real-live, life-size dollhouse.

Hanna’s like, “You always make better wishes than me.” And Mona’s like, “Honey, you don’t know the half of it.”


Wanna give these lips a five-second frencher?


Kind of?

Fitzgerald Bookshoppe & Candy Palace. Emily climbs up onto a ladder to fetch a giant can of tomatoes, and while she’s up there, Talia sliiiiides on in behind her and wordlessly wraps an apron around her waist. She ties it. She breathes in the smell of Emily’s hair. She rests her hands on Emily’s hips for juuuuust a second. Later, Emily will tell Caleb that she doesn’t know whether or not Talia is flirting with her, because Emily is just wholly, truly, inexplicably bad at reading the signs. I’m starting to think she didn’t even understand the sign of “Act Normal, Bitch” and that’s the best sign in history.


I guess this is probably something just friends do.

Also inexplicably, Mike starts to get mesmerized by Johnny. Johnny says he’s building a “perpetual motion machine powered by secrets.” If Mona was still alive, she would talk to him about the laws of thermodynamics and how he’s full of it. But she is not, and so. Mike spots Leslie and Hanna carrying Mona’s giant Poe collection and flips out on them about how they’d better give it back right now so he can put it back in Mona’s room and does her mom just think she’s going to start giving away all of Mona’s stuff and no one can make her disappear even if they burn all her terrifying dolls in a fire so stop trying. Hanna doesn’t slap Mike’s face and explain that Mona meant more to her than she could mean to Mike in three hundred lifetimes, but only because she is Hanna. I would slap his face. Hanna says she’ll make sure the book is returned to its proper place.


Yeah, yeah, you were her favorite. Whatever you need to tell yourself, dude.

After Mike smashes through a window and leaves, Leslie is like, “Yeah, I definitely heard that joker yelling at Mona when I was on the phone with her the night she died.”

Leslie, shut up. Only we get to make fun of Mike and accuse him of things. You just got here.

Caleb is outside studying on the grass on a Saturday afternoon, which Emily finds super odd, so she goes over to make sure he’s okay. He says, “No one’s ever going to deserve Hanna, but I’m going to keep trying to deserve her, so today that means becoming a super genius.” Emily is so distracted watching Talie unload melons from a melon truck that she barely hears him. Caleb calls it her “new situation” and wonders how that’s going.


Are melons a euphemism for show me your boobs?

Emily: There’s a part of me that’s like, “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.
Caleb: Yeah, but what’s the point of that first thing if you don’t have that second thing?
Emily: I guess. How do lesbians even get together?
Caleb: I think what happens is you meet a girl and exist in the same space with her for a minute and then stalk everything she has ever written on social media and analyze every word she’s ever said or not said to you and lie awake at night thinking about when you’ll be interacting with her again and try to make up your mind about what to do and stop eating and once you become so sleep deprived and hungry that nothing make sense, you just close your eyes and go for it. Or you don’t, and you have some pizza and start the cycle over.
Emily: Seems legit. Thanks, buddy.

Hanna drops another Mike bomb onto Aria. Not only did he visit Ali in jail, but he also yelled at Mona the night before she died. Based on this random new girl from nowhere’s mental voice analytics.

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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 1719 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 :)

  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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