Pretty Little Liars Episode 712 Recap: This Was Before Our Boundaries Treaty

Previously on Pretty Little Liars, Boss A (no, for real, you guys) sent the Liars a sentient board game that spits out helpful bits of information and various threats from time to time. A letter from Mary Drake. A video of the Liars burying Rollins after shattering his brains with a car. Veronica confessed that Spencer was, in fact, born in Radley to the twin sister of her dad’s mistress. Hanna got back to the correct business of letting Mona boss her around. Paige and Alison started a slap fight in the teacher’s lounge about who was the shittiest to Emily in their youth. Aria started planning her wedding to Ezra for a time to be determined after his resurrected girlfriend’s bones are rebroken and rehealed. And Alison is pregnant with a mystery baby.

Spencer is taking the Mary Drake news pretty well, on a scale of one to that time her hair turned to lightning and she landed in Radley where she shuffled around in the dark until she decoded the pirate map Mona left behind and found the basement where Ali’s ghost was just a-dancin’. Peter still hasn’t worked out his “passport issues,” but he has called to check in. Spencer doesn’t want to use the phone to talk about the fact that: her birth mother is not her real mother; her whole sister is actually her half-sister; her formerly dead best friend is actually her half-cousin; and her legit dead stalker/kidnapper is also her half-cousin. Melissa has not come home to Rosewood to discuss these issues either. Probably because she thought the messiest thing a person could do is make out with their half-brother, but Spencer’s just gotta win at everything.

I have written some fan fiction I hope we can bond over.

You probably wrote it about Kara and Mon-El.

I am a terrible mother, Spencer. I’m not a MONSTER.

Spencer does want to find Mary Drake, though. Ask her a couple of madhouse baby questions. So she bebops on down to her home away from home, the Rosewood Police Department, to talk to Detective Fury about shelving his other APBs and putting one out on Mary. Spencer’s really losing her edge, not only because she asks the police for a favor but also because Fury literally says “you sounded fragile on the phone” right out loud to her and she lets him live. Season three Spencer would’ve had him buried in that hole with Rollins in Annabeth Gish’s Tory Burch boots faster than you could throw a rock and hit a murder clown in this town.

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Their investigation into Mary’s whereabouts stalls when Jenna Marshall arrives weaving quite a story. She wasn’t Noel Kahn’s partner, see; she was his blackmailed accomplice. And yeah, she had a gun, but it wasn’t a shootin’ Spencer gun. It was a shootin’ Noel gun, just in case. But he ended up cleaving his own head from his body so she didn’t need it after all. He promised if Jenna helped him, some of Charlotte’s money would go toward getting Jenna another eyeball transplant. Jenna’s like, “You remember, Spencer, why I needed a new pair of eyeballs, don’t you? A second new pair, I mean. You remember why the first ones stopped working?” Spencer does, indeed, remember that Thing. Fury wants to know more but neither of them have the time to explain it.

Smells like overachievement, sandalwood, and rage. Spencer Hastings?

I do, Fury! Here’s what happened:

Jenna was forcing her stepbrother, Toby, to sleep with her and also she went as Lady Gaga to Noel Kahn’s Halloween party even though Alison explicitly told her she was going as Lady Gaga to that party, and so the Liars sneaked out one night and threw a stink bomb at her in her sex shed. Well, it wasn’t a stink bomb; it was fireworks. Jenna went blind. Toby got a tattoo to commemorate his freedom, and also he went to jail for the fire that destroyed the sex shed. Alison had a really busy day the day Jenna got her blindness diagnosis. She’d been down in Hilton Head teaching her parrot to sing Ezra Fitz’s phone number, and she had plans to do a sleepover with her friends that night and then meet up with Ian at the kissing rock after she drugged her friends to sleep, but first she had to rent a storage locker and hide some sensitive information inside it and then sew the key to the storage locker inside a doll’s head and drop it off at Emily’s house. After that she went to visit Jenna in the hospital and said to stay away from her friends because she had video evidence of her being a monster to Toby and she’d share it with the cops if Jenna didn’t skedaddle.

The night got away from Ali after that. Aria’s dad came by to yell at Alison for knowing he was having an affair. Her brother tried to chop off her head with a hockey stick. Her arch rival, Mona, also tried to chop off her head, with a shovel, but ended up killing an escaped asylum patient who looked like Ali instead. Okay and then an entirely different escaped asylum patient did whack Ali in the head, thinking it was her escaped asylum roommate, and Ali’s mom saw the whole thing from the kitchen window and buried Alison in the backyard. This sorceress from the college in the next town over stopped by and pulled Alison out of her grave (she wasn’t dead, just holding her breath), and then Melissa wandered over and buried the dead asylum patient, thinking it was Alison who had been killed by Spencer.

Alison went to a hotel with Mona and they brushed each other’s hair and then Ali put on a wig and disappeared for a couple of years, letting everyone think she was dead, during which time Jenna taught herself to play the flute and tie cherry stems with her tongue and got her first eyeball transplant (which failed), and she and the Liars have been at each other’s throats ever since.

Anyway, Jenna leaves the police station and spends most of the rest of her day messing with Hanna. The Senator’s Daughter has chosen one of Hanna’s designs, but it’s not one of the designs Hanna offered up. It’s a dress from Hanna’s closet that Mona rummaged around and found before their “boundaries treaty” and Hanna goes a little grapes when Mona shows it to her. The reason why is that Hanna’s old boss gave her most of the ideas for the dress, so Hanna isn’t really sure if it’s her design or her boss’ design. Caleb says it’s Hanna’s design because Hanna’s boss broke them up and also says the dumbest thing that has ever come out of his precious hobo mouth: “If you believed in your talent half as much as I do, you would see this moment for what it is.”

If you believe in yourself, it’s not intellectual property theft, Hanna.

How am I still in love with you over Mona?!

Mona is not around for this conversation because she’s gotta zip here and there for jewelry and a handbag so bedazzled you want to lick it. (What is her job right now? Whatever it is, it is beneath her!) All Hanna has to do is go to this shoemaker to pick up a pair of heels for the Senator’s Daughter to wear to the ball. Well, wouldn’t you know it: Jenna’s outside the building with a couple of her friends getting ready for band practice. Caleb says he’ll handle it so he rushes up and grabs her white cane and menaces her. She smiles at him like a wolf because the list of men who have behaved this way toward her include: Garrett Reynolds (died on a train, stuffed in a box), Cousin Nate (stabbed in the guts, bled out in a lighthouse), Darren Wilden (shot, stashed in the trunk of a car), and Noel Kahn (beheaded). While Caleb is accosting Jenna and she’s planning his death, Hanna sneaks by.

It’s dark as night inside the shoemaker’s shop and of course the building comes to life like a haunted castle and starts attacking Hanna. Sneakers flying at her head; boots marching toward her, using laces as lassos; sandals flapping around in her face like so many evil butterflies. A pair of kitten heels locks her in the cage(?) where the cobbler keeps his blacksmith grinding wheel(??) and she starts having flashbacks to last season when she was trapped in that strobe light barn getting hosed down in her underwear. Luckily Caleb rushes in and frees her from the cage before an army of Clogs can clomp her to death.

Later as Mona and Hanna are debriefing this witchery, Jenna arrives at the Radley Wine Bar wearing Hanna’s design! It is a fine comeuppance for Hanna who said only just this morning that Jenna cannot tell if her shirt is on inside out. Parenthetically, I’m not exactly what you’d call “stylish” but this dress that Hanna and Mona and Jenna and the Senator’s Daughter are freaking out about is literally what the employees of the Marbella wear on Jane the Virgin every week, so I’m not sure it’s that big of a fashion coup. I’m also not sure why a random girl wearing the dress in a random bar in a random town puts a wrench in the Senator’s Daughter’s plans. Is she worried about an investigative fashion reporter coming to town and doing a deep dive on who wore it first/better, because if so, someone should tell her that investigative reporting doesn’t work inside the Rosewood city limits.

Case in point: This magazine guy shows up looking to do a feel good piece on local author Ezra Fitz being reunited with his once dead fiancé and Aria snaps, “She’s not his fiancé; I’m his fiancé!” And that’s that.

There’s nothing going on here! I have never murdered any lesbians or fake doctors!

Are you sure?

Just kidding. That’s a joke I like to do called “follow up questions.” Have a good day!

Aria spends the day in the kitchen with Holden, chopping tomatoes and fretting about whether or not Ezra was engaged to Nicole and didn’t tell her. She spends more time worrying if Ezra omitted this fact than she did about those several years Ezra omitted the facts of his secret double life writing a secret true crime novel about her dead best friend behind her back. She gets so worked up about Ezra and Nicole being engaged she buys some saltwater taffy and flies to New York to sneak into Nicole’s hospital and ask her. And Holden also flies to New York to stop her. And then they eat pizza. (Remember Ezra’s brother who attacked those guys with that pizza that time?)

Holden says Ezra just needs some time. Holden says this is much harder on Ezra than it is on Aria. Holden says some people have real problems, Emily.

Remember when you deserved the way I look at you?

Remember when I told you not to look away?

To wit, Ali and Paige and Emily are at it again with their Rosewood High School shenanigans. There’s this entirely new character named Addison who is a jerk and she wants to do bong hits with her boyfriend instead of homework and swim team practice, so she invents a story about how Emily is a molester of high school students. Addison says Emily stands too close and touches too much and gets weird with the students in the shower and blah blah lesbian predator blah blah. There’s more discussion, suspense, and investigation about whether or not Emily’s going to get into trouble for being inappropriate with students in one episode than there was about Ezra Fitz’s bullshit in seven seasons. And Ezra Fitz WAS AN ACTUAL PREDATOR.

Emily and Paige talk about their long sordid history and secrets out loud in the locker room, and then Emily and Ali do the same out loud in a classroom, and Addison is like, “Well, since these bitches never learned to whisper or close a door…” And she snaps a photo of Emily tucking Ali’s hair behind her ear and shows it to Paige to try to rile her up. But Addison is an amatuer. She brags about lying about Emily being gross with her in an email, and then one of her teammates forwards the email to the principal. Hide your secrets in a lair filled with masks and drones and trophies covered in rat’s blood or don’t have secrets at all, Addison.

I’ve got a photo here that proves Emily loves you.

Oh whatever, Addison.

No for real let me see it.

Alison is worried that her baby is going to grow up to be like Addison because Addison reminds her of herself, but for one thing, Addison clearly does not have adrenalized hyperreality. And for another thing, it’s Emily’s baby, Alison. Come on.

A.D.’s game gives Emily and Ali another literal puzzle piece, and Spencer deduces that A.D. is building them a map to take them to a place to show them some things. Is it just me or does this A.D. actually seem kind of helpful? I hope Spencer is right and this is a map right the fuck out of Rosewood and as the Liars follow it past the city limit sign in the finale, a gloved hand paints the population to zero and the entire town just goes up in flames. Mona pulls up in a car like she did the night she rescued Ali after she died. The Liars pile in the back. “Game over,” Mona chirps. “I win.” In the passenger seat, Maya St. Germain hits play on Lemonade and they ride off into the night.

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior writer who lives in New York City with her partner, 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 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1059 articles for us.

30 Comments

  1. Mona never got to finish her game, she was mad about Cece stealing it from her. When Aria said that she wouldn’t feel safe with Cece being released from psych ward, Mona stepped in and made a case about how Cece deserved a second chance and to be released from psych ward.

    Mona wants to finish what she started. Sure, there’s holes in that theory, but there’s a lot of holes in the theory of, for instance, Wren, Lucas, Melissa (and so on) being AD as well.

  2. Damn, I was never able to follow all the plots so I stayed blissfully oblivous to how fucked up and incoherent the story actually is, but here you go, exposing in its full ingloriousness. So thank you Heather, now I know just how much of a guilty pleasure is still watching this show…

  3. So far these final episodes are chugging along but I had a thought the other day that if at the end of this series it ends on a fucking cell phone unison chirp I will be hella pissed.

    I still believe that A.D. is Mona because when they were at the Radley bar and they accosted Jenna, Hanna was like “it’s all apart of that stupid g…” but stopped herself from telling Mona about A.D. and the game and right after Hanna gets attacked. Because either Mona is still being kept out of the loop or Hanna was gonna spill to a non-liar and that has always been A and A.D.’s big no no.

    I did not like Emily flying off the handle at that little shitard tween Addison. But I was very proud of Paige for not flying off the handle because that would have been her M.O. but Paige seems to be the only one who matured and handled the situation like an adult would. I did find at the end when Emily reached out her hand to Paige, Paige pulled it away. I really want Paily to be endgame but Paige is being smart because Emily has to cut ties with Alison first.

  4. I have a question: I have been wondering the extent to which one’s queerness affects how one watches the show.

    The only other person I know who watches PLL is my straight best friend and when she and I talk about it about it it’s like we’ve been watching and obsessing over an entirely different show for years. The difference has really come out in the way we’re viewing the Paige/Emily/Alison dynamic and, especially, our views of Ali in general.

    Does anyone else experience this?

    PS – These recaps make me laugh out loud every time. I know as a neourodivergent queermo I should hate this show (and so, so many times I do), but the absurdity of it and a strong investment in Emily Fields’ prosperous future keep me coming back!!

    • I’m a bisexual woman (strong preference for men) and it’s my favorite show. The other people I know who are obsessed with it are my straight husband, my straight father, two straight male friends, and a bisexual female friend (with a strong preference for men). I don’t know any gay people, so this isn’t a representative sample, but it’s my two cents.

    • Well how DO you view the dynamic compared to your friend. I don’t think it has to do anything gay or straight Alison seems to evoke very strong feelings from people. They either love her or hate her. And in turn people have really strong feelings of being for Emison or for Paily.
      I don’t like Alison at all, I think she a manipulative bitch (as detailed in previous comments) and I think she uses Emily and plays with Emily’s emotion and on Emily’s feelings for her to get what she wants.

      • My friend thinks that Emily and Alison should end up together. I don’t really have preference for who Emily ends up with romantically (my feelings on Paige since her return have been “meh” because I can’t figure out why they brought her back), but the idea that anyone would want “Emison” to be endgame kind of baffles me.

        Not only was Ali the manipulative bully who started all this which makes me automatically suspicious of anything having to do with her and the girls, she used Emily’s queerness against her for years when they were growing up and not in a way that has been explained by an internalized homophobia way. Ali was just a nasty person and she hasn’t shown that she has changed very much or that she has any intention of treating Emily any better.

        I feel like when I was in high school, Emily would’ve been the one I related to the most – also a swimmer also way closeted – so given that I watch this show at 26 I feel like I need to look out for Emily and given this show’s history with the way they treat queer women, I’m very worried for her and would see her ending up with Ali as like another consolation for her after her stories have already been less than ideal compared to the other liars both in terms of romantic stuff and their brief escape from Rosewood years.

    • I’m not sure whether you mean queer viewers are more receptive to the Emison pairing and Alison in general because we want more representation or more critical of it in light of having lived through Paily/Emaya, but I would say my queerness has left me firmly pro-Emily, and therefore pro-anybody who deserves Emily Fields.

      I, a sporty gay, do identify Emily to a certain extent, and I like her character. She’s honest, hardworking, loyal to a fault, and, somehow, we still don’t get to see Emily have the same wins that the other “liars” are routinely enjoying (high level/promising jobs, completed degrees). I want to see Emily do well because, when the writing team is at their best, they give us a million and one reasons to root for her.

      That said, I really don’t like Alison, don’t think she deserves Emily, and I don’t want Emison to be endgame(even though all signs are pointing that way, esp the likelihood that Alison is currently incubating Emily’s stolen embryo). Alison is a canonically terrible person, which didn’t bother me as much in the early seasons when it seemed like general immature teen stuff, but has gotten worse over time.

      Alison has been written as the most manically duplicitous, emotionally manipulative, self-involved little extortionist in the world, and for most of the series she’s really not that sorry about it. Emily suffered a whole bunch, directly and indirectly because of Alison, and I was never really satisfied with how they addressed it.

      The writers spent years twisting and winding Alison’s story into something ugly and destructive and then figured they could wash it all away by doing exactly what they did with Ezra (lay out all the wrongdoing, get shot/buried alive/bludgeoned/stalked/kidnapped/generally harmed, give easily accepted apology whilst everyone is just glad you’re not dead, be absolved of all that compounded mess). Worse, they time jumped quickly enough to just throw her in to a normal life, forced her old friends back into her orbit, and then killed off her sister to make anyone dissenting against this convenient 180 into the bad guy/gal.

      And we know she’s not that different. She’s still the same jerk who would rehash old grudges at work, putting her own job and someone else’s at risk for the satisfaction of reliving her bully glory days and also lowkey staking territorial claim over Emily.

      I don’t like her because the writing team has given me zero reasons to, and any empathy I feel towards her situation feels like its been engineered by a team too lazy to find a way to make a white girl say sorry and mean it.

      My little, exhausted gay heart is going to continue rooting for Emily Fields to make it out of this thing alive, happy, and loved properly by a lady who understands her goodness and never exploits it. I just don’t think Alison fits that description.

      I’m going to hold out hope that Ashley Marin, wealthy hotelier and wine mom, gets tired of fuckboys and disappointment and throws her hat in the ring. She and Emily instantly realize how good they could be together. They ride off into a sunset far from Rosewood, dressed in leather jackets designed by Hanna. They’re happy.

      Sorry for the paragraphs, but none of my friends watch PLL regularly anymore and I have a lot of feelings.

  5. I spent nearly the whole episode convinced that “Addison” was called “Alison”. I spent an awful lot of time also thinking about the fact that Spencer is related to like half of Rosewood.

    Paige was working the plaid in this episode though!

  6. My cat ate the cable connecting my modem and my router and while I wait for the ISP to replace their apparently proprietary cable I was most upset I would miss this recap (which I am now reading at a friends house).

    Heather, this is Art. Never change.

  7. I keep telling myself I need to quit this show because the continued existence of Ezra Fitz in Aria’s life instead of prison (like the books) stresses me tf out. Realistically, I’ve already stayed through the wholly unnecessary deaths of four queer/trans women, enough creepy doll shots to give me nightmares, and Toby in a du-rag which haunts me most of all, so I’m clearly in this until the bitter end.

    These recaps (and a distinct appreciation for Troian Bellisario’s face/voice) are fortifying me. Thanks, Heather!

  8. I really enjoyed when Emily said, “I park in the faculty lot now, Hanna.” Mainly because it reminded me of this brilliant Arrested Development moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeGsZJGYDL4

    Also: Addison is terrible just from a plot perspective and please let that be the last of her.

    Also, also: No, Holden. You are adorable, but Ezra is possibly the worst human on this show, in a show of literal murderers, and Sara Harvey, and Byron Montgomery.

  9. OK now that I’ve watched this ep can we TALK ABOUT THE BEST JOKE THE WRITERS EVER MADE FOR HANNAH

    Mona: Nothing is ever done. If they hadn’t taken the Mona Lisa away from Da Vinci he would’ve given her a perm.

    Hannah: When did you have a perm?

    #HannahknowswhatHannahmeans

  10. When I read “remember when I told you not to look away” my whole head went back and I let out this sort of animal cry.

    Thank you for every word you right!

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