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.

To wit: Caleb corners Mona in an elevator at Radley and menaces her with his big hulking dude body, threatening to take her apart like a person would do if they wanted to use their suitcase to whack someone to death with the handle, if Mona’s messing with Spence. Mona’s just like, “I’m sorry you can’t stop thinking about how I’m a better kisser than both Spencer and Hanna. I’d be real mad, too, if I knew I was never going to get to smooch my lips again.” And then she just gliiiiiides out of that elevator with the most delightful smugness.

Remember when Glee tried to make a New Rachel and a New Santana and New Quinn, and the only thing it accomplished was proving what singular talents the OG New Directions actors were? That’s how I feel about Sara Harvey juxtaposed to Mona and Jenna. She is dwarfed by their charisma.

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I’m sorry, Emily, you mother was hit by a very specific meteor; there was nothing we could do to save her.

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Emily starts her day at the fertility clinic. There’s a paper sign on the door that says, “Egg emergency, go away.” But Emily knocks anyway. The doctor comes sneaking out and explains that last night all the regular power and the backup power went off and dozens of other ladies’ ovarian eggs were destroyed. I can’t understand why she won’t allow Emily inside to have this conversation, instead of doing it right out here on the sidewalk in the middle of town, but I also never understood that screaming pharmacist or how Wren Kingston had a catch-all health care provider license, so. The medical profession in this town is as enigmatically incompetent as the police department.

Obviously Emily finds a way to convince herself she’s responsible for the destruction of hundreds of human seedlings. Hanna tells her to snap out of it, that she didn’t do anything wrong, that she got the money and now she can finish college, and also that every one of the Liars is going to have some beautiful babies and they’re going to have playdates and wear matching outfits and celebrate their birthdays together and they’ll share a pair of traveling pants. At one point, I thought Hanna said, “Boys don’t need a reason.” As in: “Boys don’t need a reason to not feel guilty. They just live their lives and don’t assume responsibility for things they didn’t do, and a lot of times even for things they did do.” But she actually said, “Bullies don’t need a reason.” Which also is true.

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I just think it’s weird that everyone on this show has a love interest besides you.

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I think it’s weird you put Halloween store grey paint in your hair.

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Spoken like a person who murdered a girl named Shana Costumeshop.

Emily’s day is not over. She ends up on an accidental coffee date with Detective Tanner, who amazingly says to her that no one got murdered in all the time the Liars were away at college, and as soon as their collective asses showed up again, the homicides started anew. She tells Emily the Liars can’t leave town, which: Yes, they know that and that’s why they’re all still hanging around the Hellmouth. And also she tells Emily not to drink coffee so late in the day because it’ll cause a fitful sleep.

Hanna spends most of her day with her boring boyfriend, waking up in some garish hotel room that looks like it was decorated by Austin Powers for Valentine’s Day. I don’t know if this one is Jordan or Liam. A placeholder love interest by any other name. He does some sex with Hanna and then brings in the room service that someone left outside the door. It’s amazing. It’s the best room service I’ve ever seen. It’s Liam’s face made out of fried eggs and a fork is stabbing one of his eyeball yolks. I don’t know who Devil Emoji is, but I’m going to believe this particular thing was all Mona.

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The other thing Hanna does on this day is meet Caleb for a drink and flash back to how they broke up in New York. What happened was … have you ever seen the film The Devil Wears Prada? Or 13 Going on 30? Or Erin Brockavich? Or Baby Boom? Or The Proposal? Or His Girl Friday? Or One Fine Day? Frazzled Working Woman Comedies, I suppose, is what Netflix would call them. Yes? Okay, then you know what happened with Caleb and Hanna. Hanna was putting in the kind of hours literally everyone in New York works, especially when they’re paying their dues their first year out of college, and instead of supporting her at her work parties, literally just hanging out at the bar and enjoying a couple of free cocktails, Caleb started sitting out in the alleys behind the parties and pouting and forcing Hanna to come track him down and coddle him and not bothering to memorize Hanna’s boss’ name and telling her not to turn into her boss. He was feeding a cat, which was cute, and you know I have a soft soft place in my heart for homeless New York City kitties, but also he was being a real butt.

This is a thoroughly unbelievable flashback. Caleb’s not that guy. I’m so sure he wouldn’t know Hanna’s boss’ name. Caleb would know even all of Hanna’s stuffed animals’ names. And anyway, if he were that guy, that last person on the planet he would have chosen to date after Hanna is Spencer Hastings. She’s ten Frazzled Working Woman Comedies stuffed into one tiny espresso-fueled body.

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I could make you a doily shirt too, if you want. Just as friends, though.

And now let us check in with Alison DiLaurentis: She’s in a relationship with Charlotte’s psychiatrist, who obviously killed her because he didn’t want to compete with her for Alison’s affection. Also, I will bet you ten full dollars that he’s the one who’s after Alison in the flash forward when the Liars come screeching into her classroom telling her to get her things and get in her plane and let’s go. Ali tells Spencer she fell in love with him because no one had ever looked at her and really seen the truth of her and still wanted her anyway.


Am I the only person who did not get hit in the head with hollow piece of metal with a rectangle piece at the end during the time jump?! Did I imagine the previous seasons of this show?? Am I trapped in some kind of Study Aid fever dream!? Emily looked at Ali like she scattered the literal stars out into the universe for the singular purpose of delighting her!


“Nobody loved me as much as you did.”


“You risked your life for me, Em.”


“You’re the only one that really understands me, Em. The only one I can really be completely honest with.”


“I bet you’re wondering which one is real. So am I. Thats why I need you. You always saw the best version of me.”

I don’t like this season very much. Nothing anyone is doing or saying makes sense based on the things they did and said for six and a half seasons, except for Ezra displaying the perpetual unearned confidence of a mediocre white man. It’s breaking my heart.

At the end of the day, Devil Emoji cleans off his electrocution devices while listening to the Snow White soundtrack. I wish it were the Robin Hood one. I love that oodelally song. Oodelally oodelally golly what a day.

Thanks for the screencaps, most perfect Nicole (@PLLBigA). 

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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 1240 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.

  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”.

    • 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. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

      • “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.

          • 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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