Pretty Little Liars Episode 521 Recap: Vengeance Is Mine

Talia tries but she falls down, literally falls down and hits the ground, and the symbolism is too much for her. She starts sobbing, and so Emily pulls her up and wraps her up in a prom-style slow dance because Emily is honest-to-Mona the change we want to see in the world. What a goddamn angel. No one deserves her. (Only Hanna deserves her.)

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Oh, she’ll never be as hot as Naya Rivera, they said.

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Naya Rivera will always be the sexiest teenage lesbian.

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Naya, Naya, Naya.

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Holla for a dolla, Glee.

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Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

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Spencer rushes back to Wren and Melissa’s flat and tries to call Aria to freak out about her bag bleeding, and how it means there was blood in her carry on all along, and what if TSA had caught her transporting blood across the ocean, and she’s lucky she’s not in British prison right this very second. Colin comes in and sees her flipping out and I don’t know where these motherfuckers are coming from this year, but this wanker goes, “When the school children I teach are having a bit of a nit, I make them take a nap and eat a snack and they feel so much better.”

Hilariously, though, he says, “You’re having a panic attack!” And Spencer legit shouts back, “No, this is what it looks like when I pack!” (She’s looking for more blood in the nooks and crannies of her suitcase.)

I’ll tell you what, next time I see Toby, I am going to kiss him full on the mouth. I don’t even care. I have loved him since he cried in the alleyway about those kids not sharing their ice creams with him, and even though I’ve been tetchy with him this season because of how he expected Spencer to quit being a criminal cold turkey just because he became a cop, juxtaposed with every man Spencer has run up against these last few months, ol’ Abs Cavenaugh looks like a damn Fitzwilliam Darcy.

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Naomily, dude! Naomi and Emily! She’s campaigning across the goddamn ocean!

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Spencer, relax. There’s more than one Emily.

Claire Handleman finds Talia and Emily at school, sharing a peanut butter sandwich.

Claire: You can’t be in the pageant. I’m sorry, we just realized what kind of people you hang out with.
Claire: You keep company with degenerates.
Emily: Okay, you listen to me, lady, no one has gotten homophobic on me since Paige’s dad in season one and I’m not about to sit here and listen to this shit when marriage equality just became a reality in the 38th state of this great nation.
Claire: What are you even talking about?
Emily: Uh. What are you talking about?
Claire: Alison DiLaurentis.
Emily: In the “I boned her” sense, or…?”
Claire: In the “She murdered a girl” sense.
Emily: Ohhhh.

They kind of chase her out to her car and Talia comes up with some kind of blackmailing scheme on the spot, like if the Glass Slipper Foundation doesn’t cut Emily a check, she’s going to post on Tumblr about how they cut her out of the pageant and you bet your ass Tumblr is going to think it’s because she’s gay. Claire’s face is like, “Well, I never.”

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Guys, this is too many women of color in one place in this Hunger Games of a town. The odds are not in our favor.

Aria returns home and nearly gets herself killed climbing all over Mike’s workout equipment like a spider monkey. Because of how A loosened all the bolts last week with the same trick he did to Toby with the scaffolding back in the day when Toby was just a millionaire handyman. Andrew comes rushing in to make sure no bones are broken; comforts her by letting her know if she’d been trying to use the bench press she would be crushed dead under a pile of free weights right now; and kisses her on the mouth. Is that creepy or romantic, I can’t tell. It turns out every potential boyfriend besides Toby and Caleb on this show makes me want to set myself on fire.

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And I willllll alwaaaaays looooove you.

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I will alllllllwaaaays love you.

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Get off me, man. Jesus. I was practicing a song for Spencer.

Veronica has decided to take on Ali’s case. She’s going to coach her on how to look like she’s telling the truth. While she’s rifling through Ali’s files, she stumbles upon a thing that startles her so badly she calls Spencer up and leaves a voicemail and tells her to never come home.

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Did you come by to trade souls, or…?

And finally, after a chat with her mom about how sometimes you gotta forgive people and forgive yourself, Hanna goes to visit Ali in jail. Honestly, does it not look like they are sitting in front of a mirror? I love whatever is going to happen because of that (as long as it is not either of them being mistakenly murdered like a couple of Bethany Youngs.)

Ali: I really did think I was helping you guys with my tough love, you know. I was just trying to fix y’all so you could beat the system you didn’t even understand existed. It’s why I gave you an eating disorder, forced Aria to face the truth about her dad, made Emily own up to her lesbianism, and did a whole bunch of stuff to Spencer that we have not even begun to unpack. I was the voice you needed, even though you didn’t want to hear me. And now I don’t have a voice at all.
Hanna: Cool, let’s start over.
Ali: Thank you, Hanna.
Hanna: Who is Varjak?

The Risen Mitten stuffs 20-dollar bills into Bibles.

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“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.”

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Thank you one million times to Nicole (@PLLBigA) for her screencaps and her friendship and her bestness.

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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 1284 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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