Pretty Little Liars Episode 617 Recap: Run, Emily, Run

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, all the Liars had one or two love interests each, except for Emily, who had zero love interests, like maybe instead of jumping five years ahead, Pretty Little Liars jumped back to 2004 where only straight characters can kiss each other and the lesbian’s gotta run around town on her own doing storylines by herself that involve tragedy and sadness and general horror at the fact of being alive. Also, Devil Emoji stole her eggs from her ovaries.

Emily, Alison, and Hanna walk right into Sara Harvey’s room at Radley, bold as brass, bright as day, just let themselves in the front door. Her crap is strewn everywhere, which Emily thinks is indicative of what’s going on inside her brain. They have returned to this place to crawl back down into the basement through the hole in the closet wall, but there is no longer a hole in the closet wall. It sealed itself up to them because they became aware of the power of female sexuality. Just kidding, this isn’t Narnia and they’re not Susan Pevensie! Sara patched it up, probably with her elbows. The Liars are forced to hide inside the closet when the maid lets herself in to clean up Sara’s mess, but they escape without being seen. Just kidding again, the maid is actually Devil Emoji. She peels off her face and tosses it in with the dirty towels.


It used to rain queer women in this town! YOU used to be a queer woman in this town!


I also used to be a glorious Machiavellian mastermind with a pilot’s license. I am unrecognizable.

Where is Spencer, you ask? Having quite a day, let me tell you. She confronts Veronica about her cancer with all the tenderness of a rabid water buffalo. Veronica was going to tell Spencer and Melissa about the cancer after the election, she swears, but Spencer, who has been interning on the Hill for 12 entire months, knows everything about how politics work, okay, and Veronica is going to be in big trouble with the voters when this whole cancer thing comes to light. Especially if it’s someone besides Veronica who tells them about it.

Having convinced Veronica to go public before the Phillips campaign can do it, Spencer then turns her attention to Melissa, who has returned from a trip to Philadelphia with a brand new suitcase. Spencer spends an inordinate and aggressive amount of time questioning her about her old suitcase. Not even just Spencer, though. Spencer asks her a million things about her old suitcase when she sees her the first time. Then, Spencer and Caleb accost her about it together. Melissa is like, “Why are you being even more intense and weird than usual?” And Spencer legit goes, “I told Caleb about your broken suitcase because he likes to fix things.” And then they keep asking her questions. When did it break, exactly? At what hour in the day? Where was it when Melissa wasn’t holding it in her hands? The trunk of a car? Was it alone in a hotel room? Did she blink maybe when she was standing out on a sidewalk with it and someone sneaked up and ripped off the handle?

STOP THIS MADNESS. No human has ever, in the history of space and time, been beaten to death with the aluminum rod of a suitcase handle! You couldn’t bust a pinata with the aluminum rod of a suitcase handle! You couldn’t even break up a pan of peanut brittle!


Spencer, what do you want from me?


I want to ride on your coat tails all the way to the White House where I will make matriarchy the law of the land!

Oh, but Spencer cannot let it go, especially after Hanna tells her this story about what happened one time in the tiny village of London where she and Melissa both lived at the same time. Hanna was in this restroom, right? At a party? Well, while she was reapplying her lipstick and leaving a message for someone about fashion things, Melissa came stumbling out saying English slang and yelling about Charlotte. Apparently Charlotte called Wren to tell him about the time that Melissa buried Bethany Young in their back yard when she saw her dead body just laying back there, all lifeless and not breathing, because she assumed Spencer had killed her during one of those Ritalin-fueled murder sprees she was always having sophomore year. So Wren left Melissa (because up until that point he had been operating under the delusion that Melissa wasn’t the shadiest motherfucker in the entire Hastings family, for some inexplicable reason). Melissa got so angry in that loo in London that she speed-dialed Radley and started screaming at the receptionist about, “This is Alison! Wake up my sister!” And then at Hanna about, “Somebody’s gotta make her pay!”

I can’t believe the Phillips campaign can get their hands on Veronica’s medical records but not on the Snapchat Melissa used to confess to Spencer about the Bethany Young thing.


You can’t destroy evidence by putting it in the garbage disposal or burying it in the yard!


You have to hurl it into a bonfire, like this!

Veronica does make the announcement about her cancer. But then somebody makes an announcement that Yvonne had an abortion in high school, which is a problem because they’re a pro-life campaign, and the Phillips IT people track the announcement to Spencer’s IP address. (How do they even know Spencer’s IP address?) Spencer didn’t do it; she was burning Caleb’s toast all afternoon. Which I guess means Caleb didn’t do it either. But he confesses to it anyway so Spencer doesn’t get in trouble, and Veronica kicks him out of the campaign barn, to wander the streets as a hobo once more.

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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 1718 articles for us.


  1. I spent the whole writeup laughing about the Jordan/Liam thing, only to realize that I actually don’t know which one is which.

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I don’t care that Emily’s the only liar without a love interest right now. That obviously won’t last, and I still fully expect her to end up with Ali. (or Paige if she comes back) Honestly, I’m a lot more interested in Emily’s storyline than Hanna’s or Aria’s.

    Congrats to the show for not screwing up Caleb. (Yet.) I don’t remember a male character that was ever as much of a male feminist. His character is all “I understand the patriarchy, it’s bad..let me try and assist you in breaking it’s hold on you without taking away your agency.”

    • I like that Emily is single for now. She’s been in relationships for most of the series.

      Jordan – Rockefeller, basically.
      Liam – Latino guy who reads gothic manga and novels by female authors (the books are on his desk and he’s so not reading Spiral: The Bonds of Reasoning for work), buys mugs from charities, and clearly listens to NPR.

    • For me it’s the fact that the other three have always had a long-term, high-stakes love interest (Ezra, Caleb, Toby). Emily’s had a couple of meaningful relationships and a few other flirtations that never go anywhere and nobody on the show (or the writers) takes seriously. When she is dating someone, they share the chastest of kisses (compared to actual sex scenes for the straight characters).

      They treat Emily’s character differently because of her sexual orientation. And what kind of message does that send to the people watching this show?

      • I guess I haven’t been upset about it because I always viewed Emily’s relationship status as the ultimate ship with endgame as Allison.

        I mean, if I’m wrong..then it gets annoying. But Emily’s relationship, for me..was always the centerpiece of the show. It’s Ali. It’s always been Ali.

        • I just don’t trust the writers anymore! They’ve erased that entire part of Alison’s sexuality and the characters all seem to have forgotten that that relationship happened. My expectations could not be lower at this point. :(

          • I don’t think they ever meant to make viewers think Ali was anything but straight and messing with emily. So they cant erease a sexuality they never put there in the first place. I feel like emison shippers are watching a different show than i am.

    • I agree. Emily has had more love interests than any other character on the show, so it doesn’t bother me that she’s single for a while, even if the other girls aren’t. Although I didn’t like that she went on a dangerous goose chase by herself, and I am a little bummed that Aria screwed up when Emily and Sabrina seemed to start liking each other.

  2. “Instead of a love interest for Emily, let’s have more scenes about Aria’s parents getting remarried!” – my impression of the PLL writers

    This episode was absolute garbage! I only watch this show for your recaps now. Too many bland white guys. Too much Byron. This new A is laughable, the stakes are insanely low and none of the storylines make sense! And what they’ve done to Ali and Emily (separately as characters and in terms of their relationship) is unforgivable.

  3. I’m making my autostraddle comment debut to praise that Chronicles of Narnia shade. So good. Hi.

  4. I don’t know which of Skins or PLL I think deteriorated the most. But, I think PLL is the most anti-women and anti-gay show that I’ve seen. It’s difficult to get over how they keep rewarding Ezra and Byron while punishing the girls, and how they have “de-queered” the show – especially considering their audience and profile.

  5. …I’m pretty sure Emily has had, without a doubt, THE MOST love interests in the history of this show. So her not having a love interest for like…maybe 5 episodes is hardly a ‘slam’ against lesbians.

      • I agree sigh that. She had some not so great loves and flings. However, so did some of the other girls. I mean – Ezra spied on all the girls so I think that Aria has had the “worst” situation when it comes to love. And realistically, some kids in high school do not feel comfortable enough or have discovered themselves enough to realize who they truly are – or they feel threatened if they are open about it so it makes sense that (at least in the PLL high school seasons) that her dating pool wouldn’t typically be that large. Yet she still had more love interests than any of the other girls , and in some opinions, some of the best partners. When will it be enough? When ONLY the lesbian gets to be happy and no one else does? Come on.

        • Maya was murdered. That kind of trumps Fitz decieving Aria. But generally I agree with what you said, all the girls have had some not so great flings.

          • Aria was a victim from the guy she loved. Emily’s love story with Maya was tragic, but it wasn’t disgusting.

          • I didn’t say it was disgusting, just that I’d rather go through a love of mine betraying me, than a love of mine being murdered.

  6. The one person to me who is still peeking out from behind the “new PLL” bullshit, is Hanna. I feel like Hanna is mere steps away from saying “Wait a goddamn minute!! THIS ISN’T RIGHT – Ali, WTF?! that guy isn’t even good looking, never mind interesting – where is your copy of “The Prince” by Machiavelli?! Sit down right now and re-read it. And lose that loser. SPENCER! No, you are NOT allowed to fuck my ex-boyfriend and first love. Stop it right now. ARIA! Ezra abused you for years – do not do one more thing for him, ever. Emily! Stop going into the woods at night by yourself, girl! Everyone knows you should only ever take the Vanderjesus, who is the only human who has the brains to save you. And Jordan or whatever your name is – bugger off. I need to sort my shit out without your whining.”

    And that would fix our show. :)

  7. Two things: First I realize that suspension of disbelief is ow fiction works, but it is hard to believe these girls were traumatized all through high school and the had five years to process that and are not even a tiny bit smarter in regards to safety and evidence.
    Second, even though Marlene is still writing it just feels as if a new crew is writing this season. It’s just totally unrecognizeable.

  8. This season has reached Glee-levels of garbage, it’s that unrecognizable and epically inconsistent. I didn’t even realize why Emily was running around so much because I had totally zoned out during her storyline. Didn’t change the episode one iota, nor did I care enough to figure out what the fuck was going on.

    But at least this recap has brought me the joys of shipping Ellashley and craving peanut brittle.

  9. The only thing that makes any of this season watchable is just assuming that Caleb is a lesbian. Then I’m completely on board with any amount of Spencer action.

  10. Can we please get a kickstarter going to pay Torrey DeVito to do a webseries in which she plays a drunk Melissa reading Ezra’s writing with punchy, visceral scorn? Man, the way she practically snarled “hello… Hanna” really has me wanting more sassy, drunk Melissa saying “Get a load of this clown’s goddamn metaphors.”

  11. So that episode shot my “Ali is Devil Emoji” theory all to hell. Too bad, it really made the most sense. But Dr. Rollins seems even shadier now than he did before. And Melissa is obviously not the killer. Ezra was Red Herring #1, Byron was RH #2, Melissa is RH #3. Who shall it be next week?

    After six seasons, and 8 years, you’d think these girls would have learned not to go off hunting for evidence alone in the woods at night. Nope. This season really makes me wonder – is it that the show has actually deteriorated in quality, or is it just that the same shit gets boring after six years?

      • I considered that – but a) she opened it when she was alone, and b) what would be Ali’s rationale for sending herself an A message that forced her to do something she didn’t want to do (i.e. tell Dr. Rollins about her fight with Charlotte the night she died)?

        • LET ME HAVE HOPE (Dr. Rollins is 100% the killer though. Obviously Charlotte was upset with him not ali and confronted him.)

  12. The Emison caption is so accurate. Hate what they’ve done with Aly’s character this season, so untrue to herself. And yes, Ella and Ashley should’ve ended up with each other. Byron is s victim blaming misogynist.

  13. So mad about Aly marrying that guy. Dude is condescending as hell. And all the Hannah is gay captions are love. So many feels about this episode. Caleb remains the only redeeming male character in the entire history of the show.

  14. I like this recap a lot (as I love all these recaps) but the one thing that bothers me was the use of the word “psychotic” to describe devil emoji at the end? this might seem oversensitive but like, I know people who are psychotic and are at an extreme risk of violence due to the association between their mental illness and like, general evilness. also, devil emoji shows no /actual/ signs of being psychotic from what we know, except that abstract idea that psychotic = evil.

    anyways, I’m sure none of that was your intention, I just felt like I should point it out!

  15. Honestly I don’t want Emily to have a love interest anymore. The writing for them was never good or frequent. Any love interest they give Emily feels hollow so it’s probably best to keep them away.

  16. I don’t think the writing this season has been disjointed so much as stalled. This felt like a 4/12 episode and yet it was a 8/10. What is there to even wrap up in the next 2 episodes? The liars have done little to no snooping and there are only 3 non romantic plots in the air.

  17. I was yelling during this whole episode. This show has gone so off the rails the only reason I even watch it anymore is for these recaps.

    Things that had me dying this episode:
    1) Aria not knowing that you can be registered as a minister online
    2) Aria worrying about telling Ezria that she wrote chapters of his book after he fucked off and almost cost her her job
    3) Emily trusting anyone who randomly starts talking to her
    4) Caleb
    5) When Allison and Dr. Love were holding each other so awkwardly like they were trying to show off a ring, but she wasn’t even wearing a ring!

    Honestly what is even happening on this show anymore.

    • If the awkwardness in that last scene wasn’t intentional, then the people who make the show have officially lost ALL self-awareness. Or maybe no one even watches the scenes before they air. They cut the episodes without looking at the screen.
      They’re busy looking at something more interesting, like earlier seasons of the show.

  18. “She climbs up onto the roof of the diner at one point and finds a hollow rod that was once connected to a rectangle piece.” That’s it. That’s all I came here to say.

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