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

Aria’s day is almost as weird as Spencer’s. Byron and Ella are getting remarried right goddamn now (despite invisible Mike’s invisible protests) and they want Aria to do the ceremony because “she’s the writer in the family.” Hanna has also been recruited to help; she’s designing and sewing Ella’s dress and also choosing the tablecloths for the reception.


I just always thought you’d end up marrying my mom, Ms. Montgomery.



By helping Byron and Ella on their very special day, both Aria and Hanna come to conclusions about their own relationships. Hanna, who has been sidestepping either Liam or Jordan every time he asks her to set a date for their wedding, calls him up and tells him it’s going to be May 17. She’d kind of been holding out hope that she and Caleb were going to get back together, because if you leave your first love and they come back to you, it’s destiny. But Ella blows that theory out of the water because before Byron, she was into someone named Ricky, who no doubt had one dangly earring and drove a Trans-Am and thought he was the only person on earth who really got Kurt Cobain. Ella says high school romances never really last, and then you marry a guy who fucks one of his students who then ends up locking your daughter and their friends in the basement, and then you get engaged to a predator. At some point, if you’re a straight woman in Rosewood, you’ve just gotta settle.

Aria has a similar epiphany. She confesses to Ezra that she wrote his book and passed it off as his work, because of how he skipped town in a furious huff when they accused him of murder. He thinks about getting angry, but then remembers his entire history of being the wooooorrrst, and decides Aria gets a pass. Of course then he tells either Liam or Jordan that he and Aria were totally boning when she was his student, and either Liam or Jordan gets really upset about it. He doesn’t like it when Aria isn’t forthcoming with him, and when she lies by omission, which: You are in for a ride, brother.


What if … anybody can be gay?


Are you saying *I* could be gay?

So Aria’s marrying her mom and dad, and she unearths the opposite truth from Hanna. Her future is either getting into a perpetual cycle of bullshit with a grown man who fucks his students, or she can try to make it work with literally anyone else. A piece of notebook paper. A loaf of white bread. An Amy’s frozen vegetarian burrito. All better options than Byron; therefore all options are better than Ezra. And so Aria chooses Liam. (Or Jordan?)


I hope you find the fullness of compassion and love in each other, like I have with Spencer.


If Aria can be gay, and Spencer can be gay…

Alison is feeling wedding-y too. Not at first. It’s not how she begins her day. She starts it off with a text from Devil Emoji (by the way, the emojis this new A uses are ENORMOUS) asking if Dr. Rollins knows why Charlotte left Ali’s house in the first place the night she was murdered. Alison decides to just spill the truth to Rollins: Charlotte left because Ali told her about her affair with him, and while she was out, she got killed. Rollins, who just last week told Alison not to tell anyone about them, proposes to Ali on the spot. He’s already got the rings. (Does it seem to anyone else like the writers haven’t even read each other’s scripts this season? PLL has always been … less than seamless in tying individual writers’ ideas about these characters’ personalities and motivations together, but it is like whiplash this season with what someone says and does in one episode and then what they say and do in the very next episode.) Alison and Rollins go to Aria’s house because she’s a priest now, and they ask her to marry them together in matrimony.

Now. You will notice, I’m sure, that there’s one person missing from this episode. One person who has no tether to a romantic partner or to this theme of weddings or, just generally, to the plot of the show. It is Emily. First she meets a guy in the Hollis bookstore who, like her, is taking Psych 101 (is Emily starting college over at the very beginning??), but it turns out he is that reporter named Damian who was doing the scathing expose on the Hastings family. Emily realizes this with the help of her friends, but goes to meet Damian anyway. At a “diner” in the literal middle of the woods in the middle of the night. He is not there. No one is there. It’s just Emily and someone in a Jeep and for five entire scenes, Emily just runs around alone in the dark while this Jeep chases her. 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. Charlotte’s murder weapon! On top of the diner! But of course she drops it to the ground, along with her phone, and the Jeep runs over them.


Hanna, what’s up. I’m rehashing our most overused plot line.



After being ostracized from love, Emily returns to Rosewood to proclaim that there are at least two Devil Emojis now. One of them, at least, is threatening to birth an army of Emily-shaped babies with her eggs and grow them into evil super-soldiers. Which makes more sense than getting killed by a suitcase handle, if we’re being honest.

The Risen Mitten enjoys a slice of wedding cake and struggles to program his new universal remote. Psychotic cyberterrorists, they’re just like us!

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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 1244 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 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.

  4. …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.

  5. 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. :)

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.”

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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