Pretty Little Liars Episode 521 Recap: Vengeance Is Mine

When Aria returns home from Spencer’s, Andrew is waiting for her. They were supposed to do some studying, but she forgot due to her brain being absolutely full of theories and terror. She apologizes but he finally comes clean and says he doesn’t care about helping her study; he’s honestly just trying to get an invite to her pants party. He asks her out on a date to go see All the Presidents Men with him, says, “It’s a thriller about getting messages from a shadowy figure who knows everybody’s secrets.” Remember that time when he said, “War is a game that has to be played with a smile!” Are you A or what, Andrew?

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Onnne second. I’m just finishing up this Naomily fan fiction.

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Let me guess. Naomi and … Emily.

Well, Spencer is in London. This is a thing you know because the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament and The Clash singing “London Calling” and Wren and Melissa’s flatmate talking more British slang than the entire canon of Harry Potter fan fiction written by Americans. YANKS. Remember when this guy played Kurt’s boyfriend on Glee? He always wore that hat. His name is Colin and he heard Spencer likes to be mansplained to these days, so he tells her to stop trying to contact her friends and family back home and start studying up on Oxford. (For example, Oxford is two hours outside of London. That’s a tip from me.)

Emily is on her way rehearse her sexy dancing when Talia shimmies up, Subaru loaded down with all her possessions, to tell her that she came clean with Eric and they’re separating.

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Caleb said I could crash in his old heating vent in the library.

Emily: How’d he take it?
Talia: He was pretty pissed. He said I’d lied to him. And also that every television show and all porn and half of Katy Perry’s discography had lied to him, in terms what bisexuality is.
Emily: You can come live with me. It’s the lesbian I can do. I mean, the least I can do. Since I caused your breakup and everything.
Talia: Well, my homosexuality caused my breakup. But I won’t say no to a roof.

And so that’s settled!

Aria has found Cyrus who is also maybe Hank Mahoney. He is in the hospital because he crashed his moped. She wants Hanna to come visit him with her. Hanna doesn’t want to hear it. All she wants to do is support Emily’s plan to dance Hanna into college, go to college, get a degree in — I’m gonna say — Neuroscience and Behavior Studies, marry Caleb, and move to literally any other place on earth. Aria makes those baby bear eyes and Hanna sighs and goes with her to the hospital.

What they find is a guy claiming to be Cyrus all wrapped up in bandages in the burn ward. Does that stop them from interrogating him? No, it does not. They toss out a bunch of questions about who he is and who did this to him and does he happen to know by any chance what happened to the vials of their blood he bought off of a teenage boy in a diner in the woods? He mumbles and grumbles and groans like how mummies do. And then he reaches for a pen and writes “Varjack” on a napkin.

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This is so gross. I liked the Candy Striper outfits better.

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*unintelligible monster noises*

Hanna and Aria think it says “carjack” at first, so they’re trying to work out what that means when you’re talking about a guy that drives an electric scooter around. But then they decide it means “Varjack” like Paul Varjak from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was my first guess when Cyrus wrote that down, but I thought it meant Ezra and they think it means Ali. But then! I remembered Ali had a fake passport that was for “Holly Varjak” and so then I was like, “Oh, Cece Drake burned this man alive!” So anyway, I’m not any better at this than Aria is, and even she susses out that Cyrus never texted or emailed with Varjack, only saw him/her in person, or else he would have spelled the name correctly.

Aria is radiant this season.

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Everywhere and nowhere, bitches.

As soon as they leave the burn unit, a mummy on the other side of the room stands up from its bed and ambles over to Cyrus and murders him. Ha! I love this show so much!

Spencer’s Oxford interview happens with some guy who calls the United States “the colonies,” like he is 250 years old and mad as hell about the Boston Tea Party. Not mad at the act of rebellion. Mad that people had the audacity to waste that much tea. He tells some “jokes” about philosophy, and Spencer’s like, “I Kant stand philosophy jokes. Get it? Kant? Like Immanuel Kant? Kant stand philosophy jokes.” Professor Tweed and Elbow Patches laughs and laughs. He likes Spencer a lot.

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You would get on swimmingly with my granddaughter, Rory Gilmore.

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I knew it!

And then her purse starts bleeding. No for real. He’s points out that her bag is doing something weird, and she looks over and her bag is leaking actual physical blood all over the place. The chair. The floor. Blood, blood, blood. She can’t think of an excuse, so she just grabs her purse and runs out the door like a maniac.

Emily dances at school. It’s real sexy and everything, but I sort of prefer Hanna’s velociraptor hustle. Don’t judge me. Talia prefers Emily’s sensual samba. She gets so sprung on it, in fact, that Emily pulls her onto the dance floor for some lessons. She’s like, “No, trust me. Let the rhythm get ya. It got Hanna last week and it was like a decade of therapy in 45 seconds.”

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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, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1285 articles for us.


  1. Hanna figured out that Cyrus must have met varjak in person.
    I’m so dissappointed in 5b. It’s been a real snooze fest. Just Spencer, emily and Aroa all hanging out with people unconnected to the plot. And I’m really annoyed with how much of Emilys romances always revolve around the other persons drama.

  2. Okay, there is a thriving lesbian community in Rosewood. Besides all of Emily’s girlfriends, there’s also the Rosebud. So answer me this, how come nobody is hitting on Emily’s friends? There are enough lesbians around enough for Emily to trip over them every 12 steps she takes. We’ve all seen Emily’s friends. There should be a least a few women willing to see if they’re interested. As soon as Hanna walked into the Rosebud she was getting waved at, danced with, and sent drinks. Lesbians should be beating each other to death trying to ask Spencer out. She’s into Sparia, and there’s that weird chemistry she has with Melissa. You can’t tell me that she wouldn’t ping your gaydar. I don’t understand.

  3. This was worth the wait, your funnier then he had been recently.

    “1) Emily is still a minor and therefore not old enough to be dating Talia” It is impossible Emily is under 18, we’ve been over this, she had her Senior year B-Day.

    Sometimes a non governmental organization will demand a Permission slip just being under 21. I’ve experienced that myself.

    What bugs about this Talia and her Husband storlyine is it sends a really problematic message about people in open marriages. Like the House episode they’re effectually saying any couple that thinks they’re happy in one is engaged in some major Communication.

    I think what Veronica read in that file may have to do with Wren. I hope she gets in the -A became what happened here, I’m remembering way back in 1.9 when she was awesome.

    • I don’t think “open marriage” was ever mentioned on this show, not even by Talia. Talia told Emily she was basically still married to her roommate because getting divorced is complicated (which is still weird, but whatever), but she wasn’t presenting it as an open relationship, just like, friends with a piece of paper. I’d compare it to green card marriage. I don’t think her husband was calling their relationship open either, he was being really creepy and dismissive of Talia’s sexuality.

      But honestly, it doesn’t even matter because Talia had no business getting involved with Emily. Even if Emily is 18, SHE IS STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL. Talia is old enough to nostalgically refer to her husband as her high school boyfriend. She has a career, not an after school job. She doesn’t live with her parents. She is in a completely different stage of life than Emily and it is SUPER CREEPY for an adult to want to be with someone whose next big life event is the prom.

  4. Wonderful recap as always! Sorry to hear about your health and computer, Heather. But very happy that the wizards of hogwarts were able to put you and your technology back together again!

    I’ve been wondering, are the #booradleyvancullen tweets a thing that is no more? When you first started at here, you brought them over with you, right? Or did I imagine that?

    If they’re gone for good, I’ll miss them. But it’s ok. I’d rather have your recaps, in whatever from they come. Was just a bit curious is all…

  5. – A targets Mike after Aria tells the other Liars, including Spencer, that he can clear Alison.
    – Spencer could easily have put the blood in her own purse. In fact, that makes more sense than she didn’t notice it in there for 24hrs.
    – Emily dances with Talia, and gives us PLL Boobs o’clock.
    – Okay, we all know that Spencer was applying for Hogswarts, right?
    – That was Andrew in the bandages.
    – If Spencer let out all of her nervous energy, she’d be breathing fire on that guy.
    – Okay, I’m calling BS on Hanna having watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.

  6. Heather you’ve written yet another gem. Honestly, your recaps make the show 1000000x more entertaining.
    I agree with your ranking of PLLs this season: Hanna, Aria, Emily, then Spencer.
    Even though it depresses the hell out of me.
    My love affair with Troian and Spencer is having trouble accepting that they wrote Spencer down to season one nonsense with great criminal skills.
    I do appreciate that Hanna is a total badass. Remember her in season one when she was essentially a barbie doll and now she has an amazon prime order history that would make Walter White proud.
    Emily is a disappointment. She’s acting like Aria, granted she’s about 1000x times hotter and therefore I can deal (Shay Mitchell is a goddess).
    Aria is surprising the hell out of me with her new tree whisperer status and such. After four seasons of making fun of her uselessness all the time I’m a little sad that I can’t do that anymore.
    Oh PLL writers how you play with my heart.

  7. My personal opinion…Naya is still the sexiest teenage lesbian. That takes nothing away from how sexy Emily is in this dance, but all the girls on PLL have really never dressed or looked like teenagers. There is no way I can watch this dance and believe that Emily is not in her 20’s. I know for the sake of PLL we all suspend disbelief and pretend these girls are in high school, but seriously, they haven’t looked like high school in years.

  8. “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution. In due time their foot will slip, For the day of their calamity is near. And the impending things are hastening upon them.” Love ARIA

    (Andrew is just A nobody)

  9. I totally thought Claire looked familiar. Now I know it’s from back in the day when I would stay home from school and the only thing on TV was In The Heat of the Night. Thank you.

    Also, it seems that the PLL Gods received at least half of our petition to have Emily and/or Hanna dance for the rest of the season. Also also, bless you for the screen grabs of Emily dancing. Shay Mitchell is my future ex wife in my head, so thank you.

    I’m starting to believe that I may personally be A. There’s probably evidence somewhere.

    Oh, and Tippily the Bird? Thank you.

  10. Fake London and the fake English gave me more rage than Johnny folks. Colin is just the worst, I know a lot of Primary School teachers and headteachers and I’m telling you he wouldn’t be employed here, no snacks are given in this country, also no naps, we make them study Dickens and Shakespeare from the age of 4. That flat was a joke, nothing looks like that in England! Seriously no one can afford a flat in Central London…even the DiLaurentisese. I have 30 y/o friends in excellent well paying jobs living in tiny shared basement flats with random weirdos because it’s so expensive. Aaaargh! How am I meant to suspend my disbelief of all the A based crazy when the version of England they depict is even crazier. I did snort/spit laugh at Spencer’s “this is how I pack” statement. It was the first time I feel like we’ve seen a proper Spencer this half season. Why did her mother tell her to stay in fake England I can’t bear it!
    I wish Andrew wasn’t so creepy and I wish Emily hadn’t U-Hauled all over Talia. She’s just too kind for her own good.

  11. As someone who lives in London and went to Oxfurred, I too was a little baffled by that. Also oh my goodness I hate epussodes of things Americans go to London. You find the odd old duffur like that purrofessor in Ox, but no-one like Colin is allowed to exist, and if they did, I’d punch them. Why is he smiling ALL THE TIME? Also hahahahah there were union flags in the background – NOT a thing! Couldn’t work out if she was suppussed to be in Ox or London at that point, because that place exists nowhere… I wonder if she took the train or the coach between the two…trying to imagine Spencer taking any kind of public transpawt.

    That said, I feel Spencer would fit in at Oxfurred. She’s ludicrously neurotic, which is basicatly the only requirement. Oh my goodness I need there to be a series where they all go there and A chases them around the Bodleian and up all the spires. Although the fact that so many shows are filmed there and the crews have no sense that anyone is actually trying to get a degree makes me hesitant…

    • I forgot about the flags hahahah. I supposed the set dressers didn’t realise that its mainly fascists over here that put flags up! I wish there had been random pearly Kings and queens and a one man band…maybe a chimney sweep. I second a Lewis/PLL crossover in Oxford, that would be glorious.

      • Hahahaha exactly – I mean, it’s more the English flag that’s like that but increasingly the union flag just looks creepy. I think they were going fur more of a Hugh Grant in the 90s vibe – at least Colin’s hair wasn’t that bad. But they might as well have had all that jazz. I really wish A had followed her there dressed as a demonic chimney sweep. Why is my imagination better than the real world? :p Only if they stop purreventing people using lipurraries, and actually start featuring my college as my college, not All Souls’. Dude, no-one believes that is AS, no-one films there, just tell people you’re in the lefty gay college fur once, and someone murdered someone else because they missed the Q off LGBTQ, or misquoted Judith Butler.

        On a Lewis-related note, my tutor was once told she had to go the long way out of Merton on the only day she could move out…ofur an actor called Bob who was playing a dead body and lying on the ground. I also once confuronted a man who replied to my “how can I get round to the Rad Cam” with “you can watch us filming ofur there”…in exam season. This should be repeated on the show, with Spencer in finals-mode slapping him.

        I mean… *Insert sane remarks here*

  12. Tippily the Bird! I could get into that. Though honestly Paige is much more my type.
    And I totally agree that they’re treating Emily like an Aria this season. I didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me because I actually enjoy seeing her story lines, unlike all the Ezaria bullshit of seasons 1-5A.

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