Pretty Little Liars Episode 711 Recap: A Baby Born in a Madhouse

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, the most competent Slytherin mastermind you ever met in your life got outplayed by a psychopath who carried a bonesaw around in his messenger bag and didn’t even have a pilot’s license, to the point where she couldn’t even enjoy it when her friends ran under him with a car and he died of a thousand windshield cuts right in front of their eyes. Emily dated everyone with even a glint of madness in their eyes and then she dated no one and then she sold her eggs to pay for a bender she went on in college and A stole them. Unrelated, Ali’s pregnant. Noel Kahn kidnapped Hanna and then chopped off his own head. Someone shot Spencer. A deer tried to kill Toby and Yvonne. And apparently this one summer Peter Hastings impregnated literally every woman in town.

Spencer’s fine. Aside from a few unanswerable questions peppered at her by the EMT on the way to the hospital — Who’s your mother? How many girls, total, were buried in your backyard? How is Hanna still not gay for Mona? — the most trauma she suffers is being strapped in an arm sling for a week. Toby also is fine. If memory serves me correctly, he crashed a motorcycle and that truck Spencer bought him by pawning Melissa’s engagement ring, so this is old hat for his hard head. Yvonne, obviously, is going to die. (Women of color, stop coming to this town!) It takes a full week for Veronica to return from wherever she’s been gallivanting. Peter of course got held up at the airport by “passport trouble” and double of course Melissa wasn’t flying in for this shit. Last time she used her luggage, the Liars spent an entire season accusing her of bludgeoning Charlotte to death with her suitcase.

I’m going to give you a test.

If I don’t make an A+ on it, let me die.

A couple of years ago, Spencer would have stewed on it and investigated it for herself, but she’s a grown-up now and she’s seen enough dismembered bodies at this point to know when it’s time to get down to business, so she just straight up asks Veronica if Mary Drake is her biological mom. And yes. What happened was Jessica DiLaurentis kept showing up at the backdoor to borrow the lawnmower, a cup of sugar, Peter’s dick, etc. So Veronica didn’t think anything about it the day she showed up and said she had a sister. Who also slept with Peter. And was pregnant with his child. In Radley. Veronica did what anyone would do. She hired a limousine and sat in the backseat in the parking lot of a mental institution until Spencer got born and then a guy dressed like the 1940s brought baby Spencer outside and handed her over to Veronica.

Veronica says Spencer was only in the world for five minutes before Veronica held her, and that she’s been holding her ever since. Except for all the times she’s been Out of Town, which is basically every day since Spencer turned 15 and the found the first corpse in the garden.


Nice jacket, Aria.

This is only Spencer’s second biggest problem. Her biggest problem is all the Liars’ biggest problems. Noel was not A.D. because he’s in two pieces now and A.D. is still out there sending them gifts. For the final ten episodes, it’s an electronic board game powered by an iPhone and sometimes it pings on and asks you Truth or Dare. And even after all the clowns and dolls and barns and decapitations and trials and talking birds and cheese doodle raccoons and rats and worms and feather earrings, a Liar’s first impulse is always to select the opposite of Truth. When Spencer cranks up the game (after agreeing with the other Liars that none of them will play the game), she chooses Dare. It’s easy: She goes to visit Toby and quotes Gatsby at him and for her effort the machine spits out a letter supposedly penned by Mary Drake. It starts “Dearest” like some kind of Carol Aird and literally says the words “I’m sorry you’ll be a baby born in a madhouse.” Her penmanship is very good, in addition to which I would like to observe that “the madhouse” has its own letterhead and preprinted envelopes.

I was thinking about that dame across the yard, see, and her even crazier twin sister.

And then I saw you.

And I thought to myself, “With your genetic predisposition for psychosis and my propensity to withhold affection, you’re gonna be something else, little noir baby.”

Oh, the game A.D. sent is called ENDGAME. Just FYI.

Speaking of which: EZRIA!!!!!! Ezra, as you know, is engaged to his former student and stalking victim, Aria. He is also betrothed to a dead girl who was resurrected and has a few broken bones that need to be rebroken and doesn’t know about the engagement he got himself into when she was dead. (None of these engagements are to be confused with the glorious Jackie Molina who was Ezra’s fiancé when Aria first found his Website Page; nor should you confuse them with Alex Mack, the mother of Ezra’s fake baby, Malcolm.) So while Ezra jets up and down the eastern seaboard to deal with his no-longer-kidnapped soon-to-be-ex, Aria takes the advice of the worst fiancé in history, Hanna Marin, and decides to go ahead and start planning her wedding to Ezra so that it will “be ready when he comes back.”

When Aria shows up at Brides R Us, it’s Holden who is working the register. Holden! Remember Holden? He was my favorite hobbit and legal courtship Aria participated in. He says, “Aria Montgomery! You almost gave me a heart attack!” as a way to help you remember that his main storyline was that he belonged to a secret underground society of ninjas that his parents disapproved of because he has Exploding Heart Syndrome. Anyway, JK. Aria didn’t really give him a heart attack.

I love it straight to death when Aria has to explain her whole stupid deal with Ezra to people who haven’t been convinced it’s normal by daily saturation. “And they say high school romance doesn’t last,” Holden quips, and then realizes Aria has no idea what time of the year she wants to get married, just for starters. Or what she wants to wear. Or what food will be there. She clanks a couple of fancy tea cups around, disinterestedly.

Did you watch the second season of Grace and Frankie?

They’re so gaaaaay.

Hem hem, bitches.

The only thing more awkward than this party planning shenanigan is that Paige and Emily and Alison all work at Rosewood High School now, and the only one who has moved past what happened here in their youth is the one who was literally attacked by the building. ACT NORMAL BITCH and all that. Paige is the athletic supervisor, Emily is the Sharks swim team coach, and Alison is still a professor of literature. There is also an administrator named May, who frankly seems dumber than all of them. She was there during their time as students which means, first of all, that she’s aware none of them attended class enough to graduate. You’ve got Emily over here who was addicted to pain pills, getting poisoned by her own sports cream, swam into a wall and nearly killed herself. That’s your coach. You’ve got Paige who had a field hockey penalty named after her, did that ol’ dunkaroo to Emily in the pool, and made a habit of competing in the lightning Olympics with her bike. And Ali. She was dead, she wasn’t dead, every missing girl in Pennsylvania was buried in her empty grave.

May, you know I love all three of these psychos, but aren’t there more qualified candidates? Maybe people have heard the word and stopped moving to this town. (Maybe the real endgame is, as Toby hints, the Liars just blowing up Rosewood and bouncing.)

You look like an Indigo Girl right now.

You look like your own mother buried you alive.

Paige just wants to wear a blazer and be Emily’s boss and keep rolling with her narrative that Alison is a perpetual victim because she wants to be one and Emily is her perpetual enabler because Ali bewitched her with some kind of curse. Fine and fair. From Paige’s perspective that read makes perfect sense. Ali just wants to feel the touch of Emily’s unconditional love while simultaneously never wanting to feel the touch of Emily’s unconditional love, and she thinks Paige is a brat who tried to drown her perfect mermaid. Also legit from Ali’s point of view. Neither of them work this out like adults who should both: a) not be living anywhere near this town, and b) not be pursuing anything romantic with anyone ever until they’ve completed a mandatory ten-year therapy program. Instead they work it out by snipping at each other across the table from poor May, who just wants to talk about the bake sale.

It’s all “You held Emily underwater.” “Well, you faked your own death.” “Well, I also pulled her ass out of a burning barn.” “Well, I spent an entire season trying to get her to move the fuck outta here.” “We had plans to go to Paris!” “We had plans for diners and donuts!” “You made a thousand masks of your own face!” “You had those bangs!”

Later that night, Emily tells Ali not to try to kiss her again until she’s got her head screwed on straight. Paige orders a bunch of blazers from the Gap and Googles “make my hair even gayer.” And May totters around the cafeteria in the dark mumbling about pizza Friday.

My back hurts. This baby feels like a really good swimmer.

Cool! Maybe I could teach your complete stranger’s baby some tips once they’re born!

It’s good the writers are giving Emily some romantic entanglements this final season, but the best homosexual thing on Pretty Little Liars continues to be Mona Vanderwaal’s love for Hanna Marin. Hanna wakes up next to Caleb and pinches him “to make sure he’s real.” She decides to focus on her career this week and he says he’ll focus on finding out how many people were shooting at Spencer.

Hanna’s idea of focusing on her career is to sit outside at a coffee shop and color her dress designs real hard. Luckily, Mona peeps her and swaggers in there to make the magic happen. Her mourning over her dead ex-boyfriend Noel Kahn can best be described as: gloriously non-existent. She snaps some pictures of Hanna’s designs and promises to pull a couple of the ten million puppet strings she’s holding in her hand at all times — and lo! Hanna gets a meeting with the celebrity daughter of a senator. Mona’s dressed like the manager of Jem and the Holograms this whole time, by the way, which makes it even more amazing when the senator’s daughter drops by Hanna’s “studio” to try on a dress, loves it, and tells Hanna to have her boss call her.

Okay, hear me out, we’re trapped in a snowstorm and we need to sleep pressed together naked … for body heat.

Mona, you know you could kill a bear and make a shelter with your bare hands in any weather condition.

As casually as Mona fussed with Hanna’s hair pre-meeting, she explains the mix-up by saying she simply exudes “a natural aura of authority and knowledge.” Truest thing anyone’s ever said on this show. Mona makes it right by calling the senator’s daughter to say Hanna knows what Hanna means and that’s that.

The Liars regroup in the barn to shame Spencer for turning on the game. Hanna opts to stab it to death with a giant knife that’s just laying around, but the game springs to life and shows a video of them burying Rollins after the aforementioned car smashing. So, you know, same ol’: Play my game or the incriminating video of you goes public.


Oh wait no. Endgame.

Jenna’s sitting in a dark room on a mini-throne drinking some tea and doing some thinking about this and that and the other thing. Why the Liars continue to mock her blindness even though they’re the ones who threw a firecracker at her head and robbed her of her vision, for example. A ghost dressed in scrubs throws a three-ring binder into her lap and she fingers the Braille and smiles like Christmas morning when she gets to the part where it says “endgame.”

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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’m so so excited that you’re doing these recaps Heather – I’m a newer PLL fan having only started watching the series right before the time jump happened. I started watching the series while I was also coming to terms with myself as a queer woman so after every episode I’d dig up your recaps from After Ellen (before it became a shitshow) and I can unequivocally say that your writing helped me come out to myself, my friends, and my family. I mean, if Emily Fields can be gay and have glass in her hair then so can I dammit!

    So even though this show isn’t what it was during its’ great days, and even though you’ve gotten so much abuse from people for simply critiquing a show that at one point seemed to know better than to hold up a pedophile as a romantic and making a transgender woman the villain, I’m so excited and grateful to see your takes on the final episodes each week.

    Also, “And I thought to myself, ‘With your genetic psychosis and my propensity to withhold affection, you’re gonna be something else, little noir baby.'” is just perfection

  2. Nobody can blame Paige for not liking Ali, but what’s with the victim blaming…? It irked me when she used Cece and “Rollins” as examples of Ali always needing rescuing, like their actions was Ali’s fault…

  3. Who do we know that’s good enough with technology to create this interactive board game? I can only think of Caleb, Lucas or Mona. Or maybe Cece, if it turns out that her death was faked. But of course, it can’t be excluded that A.D. just outsourced it to someone completely irrelevant to the storyline.

    • I feel like little details such as “who has the skills/talent to actually do this?” have never really bogged anybody down in the writer’s room

  4. ‘Paige orders a bunch of blazers from the Gap and Googles “make my hair even gayer.”’


  5. Heather, I am overwhelmed with joy that this stupid show and these amazing recaps are back in our lives one last time! Thank you!

  6. Did anyone else keep thinking “there’s no way that iPhone battery would have lasted more than one night” whenever they interacted with the board game?

    • I actually did think about that, but if the app goes into sleep-mode after a few minutes of inactivity, the battery will last for a couple of days. Maybe the app will tell the liars to “charge me!” after a while, or maybe A.D. has created a battery that lasts forever. It’s fiction after all, haha.

      • Ah that makes sense – I’m basing my anxieties on my experiences with my 5 year old iPhone 4 that has a super short battery life, I’m sure technology has moved on since then!

  7. It’s hard to even know what to say about the show at this point, but God I love these recaps.

  8. So happy these are back!! I still care far too much about this show and these recaps make it infinitely better.

  9. Oh Heather I’m so glad you’re recapping these last episodes of madness! I laughed so hard reading this I ruined my make-up (also really glad Ezra already left town again)

  10. I did kind of enjoy that Arias approach to marrying Ezra is basically ‘Ugh, do I have to?’

    What a merry union.

  11. I know it’s probably just because it’s the easiest way to identify the Liars in doll form, but it’s interesting to me that their Jumanji pieces are all wearing their outfits from the pilot.

    Amazing recap, as always; I’ve missed them so much. <3

    • I noticed that too. But I doubt it was just to tell them apart, I don’t know how yet but it has to be a clue.

  12. “How is Hanna still not gay for Mona?”
    I feel that this is personally directed at me, and thank you for that.

  13. Paige dropping the truth bombs to Emily about Alison were 10000% right. Alison is a petulant bitch, Emily is her toy and she doesn’t want anyone else to play with her. She kissed Emily to stop her from going to see Paige.

    I am very hopeful that these last 10 episodes will finish with a bang. The game is an interesting twist and I think there is only 1 person who could pull it off.

    That’s right, I think Mona is A.D. 1st it will be pretty epic if she took the game back once and for all and finished it. 2nd her reasons for being A in the first place was because Hanna and the girls ignored her and what’s happening now, they gather together as a set of 5 and leave Mona out of the loop.

    Speaking of them as a quintet, does anyone else think it’s weird that Alison is a part of the shenanigans now? I mean it was always the 4 girls through the trenches getting attacked by mannequins, and creepy massages, eating all A Alphabits and getting a message stuck in your teeth, getting run over, the doll house shit, etc etc and here Alison comes in at the finish line and we’re just supposed to accept her back into the fold. You know what I mean?

    On a side note, TV Guide had a video for a new Freeform show The Bold Type with the question “Could The Bold Type fill your Pretty Little Liars void when it ends?” I’m gonna give it a hard NO but I’ll let you all be the judge
    Here’s why it’s a no from me and it’s mainly down to the cast:
    1-I think it’s more teen Sex and the City (I didn’t watch the Carrie Diaries) than PLL.
    2-It looks like Katie Stevens is playing Karma 2.0 and I couldn’t stand Karma and no offense by default Katie Stevens
    3-Aisha Dee who played Beth on Chasing Life and on that show Sweet Vicious (that everyone raves about) is here but I can’t tell from the trailer if she’s dropped her glorious Australian accent or not. If she has why the fuck would you do that and also her American accent is terrible and it loses me.
    4-I don’t know what to make of Melora Hardin’s character, her playing Tammy ruined her for any other role for me.
    5-I don’t know who the 3rd girl is but all 3 together don’t have that popping chemistry that the PLL’s have.
    Supposedly this show is based on the life of the Editor in Chief at Cosmo so there’s that.

    • “2nd her reasons for being A in the first place was because Hanna and the girls ignored her and what’s happening now, they gather together as a set of 5 and leave Mona out of the loop.”

      That’s understandable though. If Mona did to me what she did to them I would never completely trust her, I’d second guess every single word coming out of her mouth.

  14. I just realized I didn’t write my 3rd point to why Mona is A.D. because who else but Mona has the hyper-reality genius intelligence to create a game like that.

    • Mona is definitely a possibility, however Luke is a contender as well. In the time jump he is specifically a succesful app developer; The Game is connected to a cellphone & has an intricate and technologically dependent design. Plus the episode titles have comic book references, who else had an affinity for superhero figurines and comics? Lucas has a lot of beef with Alison, wouldn’t be surprised if he’s A.D. considering all the crap she’s done to him. Why else would they have brought him back? He has to be involved somehow.

  15. I’m so glad PLL is back and even more glad for the recaps! I watched it last night with my bff and realised I probably should have re-watched the last few episodes before hand….it was all “oh I forgot that” “who the hell is Holden again” “Ali’s pregnant?!” (ok I think I need to get my memory fixed!)

    Ezra needs to get dumped by Aria and then also dumped by Nicole for proposing to Aria.

    I’m feeling a growing love for Veronica Hastings though! But man her husband really needed to stop screwing every woman in Rosewood and/or invest in better birth control

  16. This show is so much better with the existence of these recaps. Thank you, Heather Hogan, for bringing these back and helping make the final 10 episodes bearable!

  17. Heather – your recaps on AfterEllen were literally why I started watching the show. I have reread so many of them because they are SO funny, and I’m so excited that you’re writing them again. They’re seriously the best! Can’t wait for more!

  18. Also, I thought you were going to have something to say about Caleb telling Hanna that being ambitious about her fashion career almost broke them up once. Really? Because I thought it was you leaving her after agreeing to the whole process. But it’s cool now?

  19. I finally sat down to watch PLL this week, and I just have to say: These recaps are what really make the show come alive for me.

    I have real issues with Pretty Little Liars, I know we all do, and I supported your previous decision to stop the recaps. That said, I am glad you have decided to return to them for these final 10 episodes. We started this crazy journey together as a community, and I am glad we are going to be able to end(game) it together as well.

    (PS: Grown Up Paige McCullers = Still A Hottie. I can’t understand why Emily ever let her go.)

  20. Whatever happens on this show, your recaps are still the absolute BEST. I laughed out loud MULTIPLE times. I hope that continuing to recap this hot mess of a show isn’t too stressful for you, because really, your recaps are the only thing making this bearable and helping to make sense of this nonsense. But I’m going to continue to stick it out for the rest of this season, and I hope you do too. We’ve all been through so much together with this show in the last seven years. I can’t even fathom how much my life personally has changed since I first watched the pilot. So it only seems right that we all finish it together too.

    I’m still holding out a (very, very, very) tiny bit of hope that I’ve had since the pilot that Ali is the ultimate Boss/Big Bad/A/A.D./whatever and that her school marm/dutiful housewife schlock for the last few seasons has just been an extremely long con since she came back from the not!grave. Everyone can come back and mock me in 10 episodes for being epically wrong, that’s okay. I actually enjoyed Ali’s sniping at Paige in this episode because it reminded me a little bit of the old Ali, and thus of what this show used to be. Siiigh.

  21. OF COURSE, the screengrab of Mona looking at Hannah has “Famous in Love” advertised in the corner. Just subtle hints of what we already know: Mona’s in love with Hannah and famous people.

  22. OMG, I am barely 3 paragraphs in to this recap and I am already doubled over in laughter. Great stuff.

  23. I read this earlier. The beauty and intelligence and imagination and hilarity in these recaps, hoagie. I swear dude. But I have been thinking about i this one line for about 8 hours “Hem hem, bitches.”
    – Harry Potter reference. Yes.
    – Accurate. Yes.
    – Hilarious. Yes.

    How are you so good at this dude?

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