Pretty Little Liars Episode 518 Recap: Them!

Spencer is still hanging out with Johnny, trying to figure out his machine. She says she doesn’t want to figure it out; she just want to know, and he goes, “You’ll have to forgive me for sounding patronizing; it’s just that once you’ve ridden on the breath of the eagles to a yurt atop Mount Shuksan, you understand the world. And so I’m going to say, ‘Analyze that sentence, Spencer.'”


What’s next? Aria’s going to start writing fic about her and this girl?

Then he breaks out one of Ali’s MISSING CHILD posters because of course he does because it is a truth universally acknowledged that a condescending man in possession of dog-eared copy of anything Truman Capote ever wrote must be in want of being the one person who can crack the code Alison DiLaurentis.

Wait, though. This is great. Spencer quotes Vishnu about Ali, says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” But you know who’s most famous for quoting that? Robert Oppenheimer, the director of The Manhattan Project, which, in Them!, is what caused the giant killer ants.

Back in Mona’s room, Hanna flashes back to that same sleepover with the Poe reading. She remembers waking up Mona to ask her to suss out her theory of time-stoppage a little more and also ponder the theological and social ramifications of Alison returning to Rosewood. What if she came back? What if she came back in disguise? What if we didn’t even recognize her? Mona’s calm is damaged for a minute. She says they’d be strangers to Ali! They’d be the unrecognizable ones! And then she relaxes, pets Hanna’s head, tells her it’s just a scary story like a Poe poem, and to go on back to sleep.

Hanna knows right away there’s something special about the Poe book, and she’s right. There’s a small tape hidden in the binding. What’s on the tape is a recording of a therapy session Bethany Young had at Radley. “She’s a bitch! She’s an evil bitch! I’m not being destructive; I’m practicing self-defense! She’s not the only one who can make plans!” Caleb and Hanna assume she’s talking about Alison, but that can’t be right because Ali and Bethany were exchanging friendly letters right up until Endless Labor Day, and anyway, it was Mrs. D, not Ali, that Bethany was drawing getting gobbled up by a Godzilla in the back yard.


Okay, but we’d just be making out for practice, right?




LOL, JK. Of course it would be for practice.

Aria follows Mike out to that lake where both Lucas and Jenna drowned. He is leaving a sack of sour gummy bears for someone, and he is furious when he spots Aria. He yells for a long time about how she doesn’t know shit about shit and never come here again and it’s none of her beeswax to whom he’s gifting these tasty snacks and I hope you don’t die in a bear trap on your way home through the woods. I also hope you don’t give a man your face, Aria, because according to my memory, his cottage is right near here. Also, frankly, mutant ants. I think maybe Joseph Dougherty is gonna get ya with some ants.

Finally, Johnny reveals his machine to Spencer. He shows her how it works. One person stands in a bubble and whispers, and another person puts her elbows on this desk in these elbow-holders and cups her hands around her ears and hears a secret.

Spencer is like, “You’re joking!” And Johnny says he never jokes. Once you have trekked the fjords of Baffin Island and tasted the nectar of the Newfoundland sun, you will come face-to-face with the reality of your own mortality and your ephemeral presence in the universe and you will never laugh again. You will paint Lake Baikal from your perch on the Olchon Islands, dotting red farmhouses along your canvas’ horizon with the blood of a virgin doe (her hide, your cloak! her flanks, your supper!). You will hire a camel to convey you through the Gobi Desert and drink his tears when he lays eyes upon Crescent Lake. You will speak no words in the Meteora Monastery, yet accomplish a lifetime of communication. No, Spencer. Once you have shaken off the chains of college and lived, you will never joke.


Just trying to find ways to make my face even more adorable.

FINE, though. That machine is pretty cool. I mean, it’ll be the death of someone, but it’s pretty cool.

Back at home, Veronica tells Spencer to stay away from Johnny because he is filling her head with the lies of a traveling circus man. Also, new evidence alert! Ali’s blood was found at the crime scene of Mona’s murder!

Okay. Okay, y’all. Get yourself a glass of water and have a good stretch because this next part is going to make you run around the room in circles with your hands above your head, squealing with undiluted delight.


Oh, brother. Am I going to have to push another cop car into a lake?

Hanna is on her way home from Mona’s when a police car pulls her over. Even though it’s a backroad at night and we already spent a full season dealing with the fallout of her and her mother pulling over for police cars on backroads at night, she does it. But when she looks in her rearview mirror, there’s no one in the police car. So she steps out of the car and whips out this — no joke — expandable baton. Right, and she walks back to the police car and all of a sudden Holbrook is grabbing at her and getting aggressive and saying stuff like, “How does a girl like Alison become a girl like Alison?” The useful things he says are that Tanner knows literally everything, and that he was actually dealing with internal affairs these last few weeks so Ali has another henchman. The bullshit things he says are that he had a good career going and Ali ruined it by letting him screw around with her.

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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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