Pretty Little Liars Episode 616 Recap: Snakes On a Plane

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Devil Emoji stole Emily’s eggs from her ovaries. Aria and Spencer broke into Sara Harvey’s room at Radley and discovered that she’d punched a giant hole in the brick wall. (Aria shimmied down into the closet hole, obviously.) Hanna asked her mom to steal the hard copy of the Radley security footage from the night Charlotte died to cover Hanna’s tracks for deleting the digital security footage from the night Charlotte died, and then Hanna ripped into Ashley for doing what she asked her to do. Caleb hacked into Yvonne’s phone to dig his way into the Phillips campaign server, in what has become the most elaborately schemed about and hotly contested city council race in American history. And, instead of saying “no” when the Liars asked him “Did you kill Charlotte?” Ezra galumphed out into the night and has not been seen or heard from since.

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Maybe we’ll find everyone’s actual personalities down here.

Spencer climbs down into that hole with Aria and what’s down there is a long, thin, unlit corridor that leads to a dust-free file cabinet that leads to another hole created by a girl who continues to claim that she can’t use her hands. And that hole leads to outside. Sadly, Aria and Spencer split up after their escape and don’t even do one small lesbian ghost waltz, which was always the best thing in the Radley basement besides Miss Aria You’re a Killer, Not Ezra’s Wife.

On Aria’s plate today is writing more chapters of Ezra’s book. Remember that little hobbit Holden from fight club, the one with Exploding Heart Syndrome? Aria’s new boyfriend looks like him, but only half as hobbit-y. He’s in town, by the way. Came in from Boston to talk to Ezra Fitz (he’s not here), and to see if he’s written any more pages (he has not), and to clarify some of the tonal shifts in his most recent writing (uh oh). Yeah, see, HoldenLite knows the rush that is Aria’s writing and also the masturbatory opus that is Ezra’s writing. (She shoulda got Dan Humphrey to ghostwrite this thing.)

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You put in the part about when you took me to that junkyard to forage for doll parts.

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I forgot that I did that with you too.

Aria confesses that HoldenLite is correct, that she has been writing Ezra’s book because of how he ran howling into street a couple of weeks ago, and then disappeared. H.L. is fine with all of it: Ezra dipping out indefinitely, Aria writing his book for him, both of them lying to their boss.

Of course, just when you’re starting to think this is it, that your dreams have come true, that Aria’s going to write this book this whole season and H.L. is going to edit it and Ezra is never, ever going to come back, Ezra comes back.

Ezra: I’m sorry I went hulking out of town like that. I just didn’t want you to know your parents were getting back together.
Aria: So you chose the alternative of letting us think you were a murderer?
Ezra: Yes. Look, Aria, every time I’ve ever lied to you or manipulated you, it’s been for your own good. Anyway, I’ve decided not to be mad at you for thinking I did a murder I told you I’m glad happened and didn’t deny doing and for which I have no alibi. I’ve decided to be flattered instead.
Aria: Sure, okay.
Ezra: Hey, well, and I wrote three chapters of my book for you!
Aria: You wrote ten percent of something you were paid to have 100 percent completed months ago?
Ezra: Yep! That’s why I’m standing here looking like a hero!

Spencer spends the day hovering around her mom and trying to decide if she wants to talk to her about this secret file Caleb found on the Phillips campaign server. It’s Veronica’s medical records from a few months ago. They indicate that Veronica is recovering from some kind of cancer scare or something, and Spencer is worried that the Phillips campaign is going to leak the records and that it will cost Veronica the election.

I’m no political expert or anything, but wouldn’t you think a more damning thing to talk to the press about would be that period of time when a dead body was found in Veronica’s back yard at least once a week? And that one of those bodies was her husband’s mistress’ body? And how her daughter has been arrested for murder more than once? And is, in fact, a suspect in the most recent murder in this town, of a girl who kidnapped Spencer from the back of a police van and held her hostage in an underground life-sized dollhouse? If Spencer really wants Veronica to get elected, she should worry more about stopping her own personal criminal activities (she broke and entered this very morning!) than her mom’s medical records.

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Fuck me, is this a a hollow piece of metal with a rectangle piece at the end?

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Case closed, bb.

Every time Spencer sees her mom or her mom’s campaign manager, he’s all, “We need Melissa’s flight number from that time she flew! If she didn’t memorize it, she’ll need to look on her boarding pass or her luggage tag! We need that flight number!”

Spencer takes on this arduous task of finding a physical piece of paper with a flight number on it, instead of just looking it up online, and what she discovers is chilling. The handle on Melissa’s rolly suitcase is missing! And the handle on a metal suitcase is exactly what Tanner described to Ali when she was talking about the weapon used to kill Charlotte. Verbatim: “a hollow piece of metal with a rectangle piece at the end.”

Honestly, what? And secondly, what?

Do you know how long it would take to beat someone to death with a suitcase handle? No one would plan to kill anyone with their bag. It’d be faster to paper-cut them to death. And it’s not like it’s convenient for impromptu murders either. Oh, just wait’ll I break this bag into pieces and detach the pully part from the wheely part! You just wait. No, really. I’m going to need you to wait; disassembling this thing is going to take me a minute.

The best thing to happen to Spencer all day is that she runs into Mona and is immediately sucked into her mental vortex.

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Caleb told me about you saying you’re the best kisser.

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So you came to see for yourself?

Spencer: You told Yvonne to leave her phone because you knew I would steal it, right?
Mona:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Spencer: And you wanted her to know she can’t trust me?
Mona: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Spencer: But what you really wanted was for me to use the phone to hack into the Phillips campaign server?
Mona: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Spencer: So I would get caught. Wait, no. So I would find that file about my mom being sick. Because you want to punish me? No. Because you love me? No, that’s not it. Because you want me to get my mom to tell it to the world before the Phillips campaign does?
Mona: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Spencer: So she’ll lose? No, so she’ll win! ...right?
Mona: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Vanderjesus’ ways higher than our ways.

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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. Mona is head over heels for Hanna. But for all the things that Mona has done for Hanna, all the little pieces of help, or confessing to murder to save her, Mona has never tried to use that as leverage to get into Hanna’s pants. Mona has never tried to Nice Girl™ Hanna. She’s been Hanna’s hero just to be Hanna’s hero.

  2. I sort of got the feeling that Hanna was already half way to being a cybil when haleb broke up. Being the hanna that became queen bee. But of course this A will bring out her true unicorn colors that are sometimes masked by bitchiness. But for the time being Caleb is too busy having sex with spencer to notice that maybe they aren’t long term viable.

    This new A feels like season 1. The stakes are so low. Emily you have many many more eggs.

    I really like holden lite (he’s the liam). He butters up Aria saying the writing is really good before admitting he realized before that its her writing. He’s tired of Ezra Fitz’s shit. He wears fake glasses (didnt need them this week!)

  3. Someone please tell me I’m wrong and that Veronica’s health records didn’t say something about “breast tissue” because I SWEAR TO GOD that I cannot handle another breast cancer storyline right now. For fuck’s sake television writers, be more original, would you PLEASE!?

    Since season 6B started, I’ve been pretty adamant about believing that Kenneth killed Charlotte due to his revolting transphobia that we witnessed in Charlotte’s flashbacks to her childhood, but Heather, you make a very good point about this Dr. Rollins. But I still think that Ali might be Devil Emoji (though I also thought Ali was A for like 4 seasons, so what the hell do I know).

    • I’m all in on the Ali is A theory but that she has Dr. Rollins helping her. She really thinks one of the four killed Charollette but that its actually Dr. Rollins whose the killer. This A is not menacing enough and uses too many emojis to be someone legit bad.

      • Veronica has had cancer since season one?! I would ask how it’s possible I don’t remember this, but so much insane shit has happened in this show that I’ve forgotten so it’s perfectly understandable that I’d forgot that, since it hasn’t been mentioned again in 5 years. The difference is, five yeas ago, my mother hadn’t just been diagnosed with breast cancer, so this storyline hits me a lot differently now than it did then.

        • It’s from the episode when they were in the school for the SATs and it was storming. Wilden outed Emily. Lucas destroyed the Ali shrine.

  4. I absolutely agree that barely anyone is acting true to their supposed characters. Wtf is up with wimpy Ali for instance??

    Also, Emily, the correct response when Hanna apologized for grabbing your boob was “Please don’t apologize, that’s the most action I’ve had all season”.

    • Oh my god, I so agree. Ali REALLY needs to get her Ali on. Ali was the only match for Mona (not the bullying part – that was awful). Spencer can try, but she’s no Alison.

    • To be fair, we were told (warned if you will) that because of all the stuff that has happened during the past five years the characters would be different. It’s most obvious with Ali, and I remember Sasha saying that she’s now a truly nice and pretty docile person. For many people, and I partly agree, that has mostly translated to “dull” so far. But on the other hand, I do not want manipulative and overly aggressive Ali back, she has good reasons for wanting to leave that part of her behind her.

      • I really don’t see a difference with anyway, except for Hanna. Hanna seems mean, greedy, inconsiderate, and dismissive. I can see how she burned out Caleb to the point of them up. Although she’s always been pretty mean to him, while Spencer has always been nice to him. There’s flickers of old Hanna, but mostly she’s in a perpetually bad mood like Emily has always been and still is. Ali was already sweet when she got out of jail, so I don’t see a difference there.

  5. Also everything you said about the characters making no sense after the time jump is true. I cannot believe the way the writers have retconned Emison’s relationship. (Well, I mean, I can, but I’m mad about it.)

  6. I agree with most of what you wrote, but we have completely different takes on what happened between calendar and Hanna. He hated his job and hated the people in the fashion industry. And he and Hanna grew apart. I am all for bashing shitty PLL boyfriends, but I didn’t think Caleb did anything at all unforgivable.

      • Yeah Caleb is like a completely different character this season. He looks like Caleb (in horrible short sleeved button ups) but when he opens his mouth he’s sounding more and more like Ezra. :(

    • I think he seems to have been a bit shitty about it (the way he talked in the flashback), but yeah – they didn’t grow apart because he wasn’t supportive. They grew apart because they grew apart. Because they didn’t want to live in the same type of worlds. That’s difficult to get around.

  7. I didn’t remember PLL was on until two hours after it was over. And I didn’t care. I’m going to pretend this season didn’t happen and wait for your recaps to give me the all clear to return.

  8. I think this episode crystallized all the garbage elements of the show. So disappointed with this season. There are no low stakes but the writers are twisting the most banal events to be sinister, and just what the fuck.

    But Praise be to Mona. Can we raze the rest of the cast and just focus on Mona? She’s the only compelling human on the show now.

  9. Maybe this whole half of a season is a dream kinda like that one season of Dallas? That’s pretty much the only explanation here. We’re in Mona’s adrenalized hyperreality dream and that’s why no one makes sense.

  10. The writers actually slipped in one more reason to hate Ezra that would really only resonate with people from Albany: that state university campus is profoundly hideous, and anyone who finds SUNY Albany inspiring is probably jonesing for some Soviet brutalist architecture. It is so typical that he would break out of his writing slump surrounded by third-tier IM Pei design…if you squint really hard. What a putz.

    Why is the putz the only character who hasn’t had a personality transplant this season?

  11. Sometimes I look at Clarke Griffin, the heir of Slytherin, and think about the Ali that we could have had.

  12. At least 5 times in an episode I have to question who the new man is. Bringing Aria’s new bf out of the context of his office completely threw me.

  13. Every week Netflix pops it’s new episode flag on PLL and every week I think shall I watch/suffer through it… or shall I just read Heather Hogan’s recap instead… And here I am. I miss Tippi, and everyone’s old personalities.
    Can we hope that 6B is happening inside Sarah Harvey’s head in the seconds she was unconscious after Emily knocked her out? Or can we at least pretend?

    • I’m curious how people who only read the recaps keep up with them, considering a lot of it is humorous/angry lies weaved into actual description of what happens in the episodes. I can only separate the two because I’ve watched the episode.

      • I would think fans of the show are the ones who read the show’s recaps but Heather’s recaps seem to be for people who don’t like the show? I’m confused about that too.

      • “considering a lot of it is humorous/angry lies weaved into actual description of what happens in the episodes”

        True. I don’t know if I would use the word “lies” to describe it, but there’s definitely a lot of interpretations going on. And if you watched the episodes, you may interpret the same scenes in a different way. I love Heather’s recaps, but she and I often interprets the same scenes and the same words very differently.

        • Well, they are obvious lies, which I’m assuming is the point. :P It’s creative, and very fun to read – but it would make no sense if I didn’t know the truth behind it.

          • Up to 6B I’ve watched all of it, numerous times – God bless Netflix – and when we didn’t have the show in the uk, between tv stopping airing it and Netflix starting, I read the HH recaps to stay with it. I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying the jokes from the interpretations over the years. It’s not that I hate the show at all, more that I’m disappointed in it and nostalgic for the good old days. Plus I’d rather save up the eps and binge when there’s a decent amount.

  14. The only possible justification for the way that the writers have retconned Emison is for Paige McCullers to come back NEXT EPISODE. Not the episode after that. Ugh this just really has to happen haha. It’s been so incredibly lackluster and inconsistent with the character-driven brilliance which is what made this show in the first place.

  15. My current theory is that Rollins killed Cece for financial reasons. Ali is to inherit half of Cece’s money and that’s why he wanted Cece dead. I suppose Ali could be the one being EmojA but I hope not.

  16. Oh, and I forgot. Did I miss anything, or where did Ali say that Rollins is the only one who’ve loved her even though seeing the real her? I had to go back and watch the scene with Ali and Spencer again, and what Ali says is “In one way Charlotte and I are alike. We put a lot of energy into being people no one could love. Like we were trying to prove something. And then someone looks at you, and sees you, and it’s alright.”

    Maybe we interpret the same words differently, but I don’t interpret it as Ali saying that Rollins is the first or only person to ever see her that way. She’s just saying that he sees her for who she is, and that it feels good. I bet it felt just as good for her when Emily did the same thing, but back then, after she came back from New York and actually seemed to want to be with Emily, she messed it up by still not being entirely truthful about stuff, and then Mona and A framed her for murder, even further driving a wedge between her and Emily.

    • No she said basically verbatim what Heather wrote. I know because I remember that same record scratch in my head when that happened.

      • Then we are interpreting the same words in different ways, because I do -not- interpret it as Ali claiming that Rollins is the first or only person to see the real her and still like her, I only interpret it as her saying that it when feels good when someone does that.

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