Pretty Little Liars Episode 518 Recap: Them!

Holbrook grabs at Hanna’s face like he really is going to rape her, and she wallops the hell out of him with her expandable baton! And then — listen to this, okay! — she literally says the words, “You don’t get to play the victim here. You’re the grown-up police officer; she’s just a girl!”

My wishlist for this season of Pretty Little Liars was: 1) If Paige is leaving, let her have a triumphant send-off worthy of her growth as a character and as a symbol of hope for the It Gets Better generation. 2) And don’t let that be the end of Emily’s lesbian life. 3) And if she’s getting a new love interest, let her be a woman of color. 4) More Mona. 5) More Ali. 6) A smackdown of rape culture instead of blaming the teenage girls these grown men continue to seduce.


Today, I crush you, Holbrook.



Gods, I cannot tell you how good it felt to me to see Hanna do what she did and say what she said, especially because of the way Aria came at her last season about how it was her fault Zack tried to have sex with her. There is always a theme in Dead Girl Shows about, “What did this sexually active blonde-haired girl who pretended to be a virgin do to deserve to be murdered by a man twice her age?” She must have done something, right? Seasons after seasons of how she was asking for it. So to have Hanna (who still looks like Ali in a wide shot) physically and verbally smack down that rape culture thing? Yes, ma’am!

Back at the book shoppe, Talia tries to figure out how the whisper machine works. Emily says she’ll show her. She sits her down and tells her to cup her ears, and the craziest thing: With her hair pushed back, she looks younger than Emily! (I think she is in real life, actually.) Emily goes over and stands in the bubble and says: “The other night when you said it was my buns and not Ezra’s buns you were into, it felt like you were asking me to decide right then if we should get married. But I don’t know you. And you don’t know me. You could be a fake cousin. I could be a girl whose vagina is cursed with death. I do know that being gifted like you are, just singularly amazing at a thing, can be lonely. So lonely you’ll listen to instructions from a talking doll, or only have your dad to call when a school building comes alive to murder you. I get it. And it’s awful. Anyway, that’s how this machine works!”


Two can keep a secret.


Only if you’re dead.

Emily walks back to Talia and says maybe she “reads too much into situations.” And Talia’s face is like, “The situation of me saying with my mouth that I’m interested in you? That’s the one you think you read too much into? Or the apron thing earlier which was basically like emotional second base?” And then Talia endears herself to Emily even more by saying she learned to cook with the confidence of experience, even when she didn’t have any. It’s a food metaphor Emily finally understands, so she grabs Talia and smooches her beautiful face. She pulls away shyly, but Talia grabs her back and they smooch some more.

Paige McCullers meant a thing to me as deep as my soul. Maybe she’ll be back! Maybe not! She left on her own terms, and she left alive! Seeing a lesbian couple of color on TV? That means an awful lot to so many people, and it’s something we never get to see. I feel happy in my heart and calm in my spirit and I’m just gonna go hug it out with Hanna now. (Watch out for shovels while I’m gone, Talia!)


This is so much better than winning Top Chef!

The Liars debrief what happened today. Who’s the other henchman? Who’s he working for? Who’s the person making other plans on Bethany’s Radley tape? Who set a trap for whom?

Mike goes back to jail to visit Ali, even though Aria told him not to do it. Because Mike is his own man. (Just kidding, Mike is still operating on Mona’s orders, I’ll bet you one hundred dollars.)


I just don’t want to hurt Ezra’s feelings by deleting that fic.


You’re either a Sparia shipper or you’re not, Aria! Make up your damn mind!

The Risen Mitten loses its mind when it sneaks into Mona’s room and finds that the Bethany tape is missing.

Next week, there will be blood! Not rat’s blood, no! Liar blood, for real this time!

#BooRadleyVanCullen tweets are on the next page.

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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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