Pretty Little Liars Episode 716 Recap: Some Devil

Spencer’s back in the interrogation room at the Rosewood Police Department. She’s spent more time sitting here than she has at her own family’s dining room table, and it shows. The RPD Detective she isn’t dating is hammering her with questions about how she murdered Archer but she doesn’t crack. Every time she says “I don’t recall” her power grows and his strength is diminished. By the end, she’s spitting it out before he can get the questions out of his mouth. He says she should slow down. She cocks her eyebrow at him and is like, “That’s the opposite of what Detective Marco Fury was saying when I whipped off his belt in the elevator the night we’re reminiscing about right now.” Fury comes in and tells her to lawyer up. She accidentally used Archer Dunhill’s credit card to buy drinks the night he died and as soon as he finds the receipt she’s going to prison for eternity.

Where were you on —

Look if Donald Trump can stay out of prison there’s no fucking way I’m going there.

When Spencer tells the Liars about Dunhill’s credit card, Hanna flips her lid and starts hollering about how dare Spencer get drunk on that night and what was she thinking and she put them all at risk mishandling evidence, etc. Which is hearty talk coming from the girl who slept with Spencer’s boyfriend that very night and also one time got drunk at a frat party and tried to bury a gun in the yard. Okay and I remember an entire season Hanna was so fucked up about how she became Ali after Ali died that she drank every beer in Rosewood while wearing splatter-painted jeans and being rude as hell to Emily.

Really, though, Hanna’s lashing out because she feels guilty because of the aforementioned Caleb situation. Her plan to assuage her shame and foil Detective Marco Fury is to break into the Radley’s receipt room and destroy the Dunhill receipt. Caleb can help because obviously Caleb set up the Radley’s security system so obviously he knows how to take it offline for ten minutes at a time. They sneak into the receipt room while everyone else is in a staff meeting but there are about a hundred thousand boxes in there and they can’t find what they’re looking for and their time is running out so Caleb just floods the place. These two are so very made for each other. Remember when Hanna tried to destroy A by throwing her phone into the garbage disposal?

While Hanna and Caleb are engaging in their shenanigans, Spencer goes to Detective Marco Fury’s apartment where he does not invite her to take off her jacket but does invite himself to explain the justice system to her, which is just about the most hilarious thing I have ever heard in my life. The number of times the Liars have been tossed into an interrogation or a holding cell or community service or jail or an asylum because the police in this town came after them instead of the people who were torturing them has got to be close to a billion. Spencer actually tries to explain this, that in her experience the only justice for victims happens when the victims themselves stop their predators by whatever means necessary. The Khaleesi Method, if you will. She begs him to let this one slide. But he can’t. So she just goes ahead and helps herself to the evidence he’s got laying around on his coffee table.

Raising a baby in this town seems like a chill fun responsible thing to do, Emily. Good call.

Said evidence is a flash drive of Lucas telling the police that maybe the Liars did, in fact, kill Charlotte, even though Lucas explicitly told Hanna that he had their backs re: an alibi on that night. Hanna still stands up for him, though, even though everyone takes a turn explaining why Lucas probably still has it out for them.

Conspicuously absent from their list is the reason he hated Alison so much from day one: “Hermie.” I had actually thought the writers might try to tie that into his relationship with Charlotte, her being his best friend from childhood and a trans woman and all that, and I’m relieved they didn’t. They have shown no inclination to get any of this stuff right, as evidenced by the fact that the Liars’ confrontation with Lucas ends with him misnaming and misgendering Charlotte over and over. Plus: I guess she was catfishing him? Truly nothing like making a trans woman your psychotic villain, murdering her, and then giving her a posthumus duplicitous internet personality storyline. It just goes from worst to worst-er. Charlotte was emailing with Lucas pretending to be Charles during earlier seasons and together they made some comic books — excuse me, graphic novels — about how Ali was the worst. Which doesn’t even make sense: Ali was the one thing Charlotte loved above everyone and everything else! Why would she be making murder books with Lucas about her?

I give up. Which means after all these years I finally have something in common with Aria.

I can’t believe they saved my best story…

… until the episodes when no one was left watching.

Remember when you had to go deep in the forest and sit still in a barber’s chair in a ramshackle cabin to give your face away? Lord, but times have changed. Aria is now taking orders from Aria over FaceTime and she didn’t even have to spend a single the night in the woods. Today Aria commands herself to break into Ali’s house and wreck the new nursery. Hang some Little Liar dolls above the crib, smash and stomp on things, splash blood all over the place. That sort of thing. I am still unclear about why Aria is doing this. I think it’s to keep Ezra out of jail because A.D. knows he’s a statutory rapist, but, like, doesn’t literally everyone in the galaxy already know that? His predatory and illegal relationship with Aria hasn’t been a secret since season two.

At least Aria’s literal bloodbath keeps her away from Ezra, who has started his book tour. His publisher wants him to act like he and Nicole are happily reunited and Happy Ever After and all that, which is fine with Aria; she has somehow realized the best she can hope for at this point is Ezra making bank on this book so at least their dumb future together won’t be hampered by poverty. At a reading at the Brew, Ezra tells this group of adoring ladies that he’s not with Nicole anymore and is, instead, engaged to his former student, Aria Montgomery. They don’t react. They just sit there with glazed eyes staring at him. It’s actually kind of haunting. I’d have chop off my own ear to see them come to life, and — as one glassy-eyed mass — devour him. A group of women tearing Ezra Fitz to shreds, fighting over and gnawing on his limbs would be just the endorphin boost I need to get through these last three episodes.

Sadly, they do not cannibalize him. He goes home to Aria and she’s like, “Sure, fine.”

And these are my moms naked ballerina twins lamps.

Cool, seems normal.

All right. Let’s do this Emison thing. Which, if I’m being honest, seems like exactly what someone said out loud in the writer’s room when it was time to plot out the last half of this season. I know y’all want me to weave gold from straw one more time and paint you the most beautiful word poem about these two finally getting together. And maybe a side poem that gives Paige the send off she deserves. But may I be candid with you? If these writers had collectively and consistently given a fraction of the care to Emily’s relationships that I gave to honoring those relationships by breathing my whole heart into coloring in their lines, you would not need a word poem or a recap from me. What happened on screen would speak for itself and we would all be a blubbering mess on our bedroom floors. Alison and Emily’s final moments in this episode should have been the climax of the entire show. As it is Alison cannot even answer the simple question that should have been the writers’ through line from day one: Why did she keep pulling at Emily and pushing at Emily and hurting her and holding her close and begging her to go away?

The closest you ever get to this answer is in this show’s most glorious episode, “Shadow Play,” during which Joseph Dougherty penned a diary entry from Ali about Emily called The Mermaid. “Shadow Play” is the essence of Pretty Little Liars distilled. One of the greatest hours of TV ever made and certainly the best thing PLL ever did. The craftsmanship and care that went into every movement, every line of dialogue. It was a character study and a love letter that honored every one of these women, and especially Paige and Emily and Alison.

Now, though: Here is Emily creating a nursery for the baby Ali’s carrying. Here is Emily building a crib and enduring questions from Spencer about what in the world she’s thinking tying herself to Ali like this. Here is Emily snapping at Ali to take her vitamins like they’re proof Ali has worked through every way Emily makes her tremble and decided to really, truly stay. Here is Emily holding Ali close as A wages war on the next generation. Didn’t Paige leave yesterday in Rosewood time? Emily begging her to stay and suggesting some kind of parenting throuple and holding her cracked heart open in her hands, and it’s 24 hours later and Ali says she’s made up her mind and she wants to make this whole family thing work with Emily, and they’re kissing and the music says its endgame. (If you ever go back and rewatch this show, notice how the music goes berserk every time you’re getting sold on an emotional moment where the writers didn’t do the work; when Emily and Sarah Harvey kiss it’s basically the Hallelujah Chorus at ear-splitting decibels.)

We shoooouuullldddaaa haaaad it aaaaallllll

This moment should be everything. And I mean everything. This moment where the resurrected Dead Blonde Girls throws off the chains of the patriarchal power structure that has kept her oppressed and abused and on the run for her entire goddamn life by claiming her queerness and laying hold of the one woman who saw every angle of her vulnerability and brilliance and madness and never stopped loving her.

Instead you’ve got a sloppy love triangle in which no one’s motivations make any sense and it ends with Emily asking the ultimate why of Alison Dilaurentis — the crux of this entire show — and Alison answering, “I don’t know.” The things you spent five entire seasons pondering? The hinge of my entire personality and the explanation for at least half my behavior? Shrug! She says all her relationships failed because she was really in love with Emily, but THAT’S INSANE. Ali’s relationships were with Ian Thomas, who stalked and videoed her and her underage friends and staturory raped her; Ezra Fitz, who needs no introduction; Cyrus Petrillo, who slashed her up in a basement when she was homeless; two adult male cops who were investigating her kidnapping and attempted murder; her dead husband who drugged and tortured and impregnated her with her friend’s eggs and some unknown sperm without her knowledge or consent; and heavenly Emily Fields. Ali’s relationships didn’t fail with those predators and monsters because she was in love with Emily; those weren’t even relationships.

Can I just.

Truly, I must.

“You’ve always protected me, Em.”

“Then why did you always push me away?”

“Because I didn’t want to need protection. I saw things I shouldn’t have, knew things I shouldn’t know. I made myself hard to survive, and I tried to make you and the others hard for the same reason.”

“I thought — after you left, I spent years thinking you hated me. For how I felt about you.”

“I hated myself, for letting you get so close, for wanting you, for hoping you might see me — really see me — and want me too. I’ve never been good enough for you.”

“You’ve never seen yourself the way I do.”

“I know. It’s terrified me. It still terrifies me.”


“Because I’ve never stopped wanting you.”

“You mean—”

“I want you, Emily. In every way. And the family me and you and this baby could make together.”

This pregnancy storyline would still be gross as all get out but at least something would make sense. At least someone would have tried to tie the fractured pieces of Alison DiLaurentis’ character together. This whole show should have been building to this moment. The payoff should have flattened us. But it’s puppets now; you can see the strings hanging down over a stage of slapdash sticks. A billion hours of Ezra Fitz’s bullshit and this hurried insult for the couple whose story could have shaken the queer storytelling canon down to its foundations.

I’m too good for y’all. You know that, right?


The Risen Mitten is doing some art at the end of Charlotte and Lucas’ graphic novel. It’s a tree and there’s a gravestone underneath it. I guess the final chapter takes place in Spencer’s backyard.

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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. The more I think about it, the more I think that they used Cece’s (or possibly Jason’s) sperm with Emily’s eggs to impregnate Ali. Ali’s not infertile to my knowledge so there has to be a reason why AD used Emily’s eggs instead of Ali’s own, and I very much doubt that AD did it to push Emison together, and the only reason I’ve been able to come up with is that they couldn’t use Ali’s eggs because the sperm belongs to somebody related to Ali, and therefore using Ali’s eggs would’ve been incest. But I hope I’m wrong.

    • Yeah, I’m sure it’s someone Ali’s related to, and so I’m really hoping it’s Jason, like he was hard up for cash once and donated his sperm. I don’t expect this to be the case though. This show loves to disappoint.

  2. I suppose we could celebrate the fact that we have come far enough to be disgusted when two women make out on TV.

  3. I AM SO HERE FOR EMISON because I like it when the lesbian couple gets endgame, and when the lesbian-falls-for-her-best-friend storyline ends well.

    But, I’m also here for everything you said in this recap.

    When the scene began, I thought Allison was gonna say the reason none of those relationships worked out was because she’s a lesbian, but.

    Anyhow I hope they make out more

    • i’m not going to discount your opinion about Emison but generally speaking I don’t want 2 girls to end up together if they aren’t right for each other. That’s like if Ilene Chaiken said she’d resurrect Dana but the caveat is she’d be married to Tonya, I say keep Dana dead then.

  4. Bo, Lauren and Tamsin, a queer triangle that made some kind of sense. at least nobody would be angry if Bo picked either partner. All I keep thinking is how deeply attached I was to this show and now we have a ” happy ending” in that emily is not only alive but gets the “queen bee.”

    and i’m like, eh

    does this happen to straight storylines? It doesn’t happen enough for me to know in gay ones, but when the straights fav couples end up together do fans feel put off/unbothered?

    from scribegrrrl on afterellen recapping bad girls to heather hogan recapping pll, still really grateful regardless of the end

  5. I get it, you’re jaded by the whole thing.

    I stopped caring seasons ago and mostly just watch with a bag go chips and salsa, after getting thoroughly baked.

    So whatever dude. I thought the whole thing was cute af and the Dave Matthews throw-back song hit the spot. Just a few episodes left, me and my weed are here for #Emison.

    • You are so cool, dude. With your weed and your not giving a fuck. So cool. So much cooler than Heather Hogan who has spent the last ten years fighting for positive representation for queer and trans women on TV. She cares about TV because TV affects real life. But hey get baked and condesend to her, cool guy. You’re making a real difference in the world.

      • Tbh, you’re the one being condescending. But again, whatever dude. I get that HH is on a mission and I respect that. Good on her and you and anyone else fighting the good fight. But some people just wanna kick back and be entertained. This last episode was definitely that. I wasn’t expecting much. But the emison stuff gave me the feels of the warm/fuzzy variety and there is not a god damn thing wrong with that.

      • Lmao rude much? Get over yourself. If PLL is your only go to for the most accurate queer representation you need to get out more

  6. You know what, Paige was right to leave Emily, Emily is a naive idiot.
    I know everyone supposedly finds it charming that Emily tries to see the good in terrible people, but that’s because she never learns from her mistakes. How is she still so trusting?
    Trying to raise Ali’s demon child with her when Ali herself wanted to get an abortion, and in Rosewood of all places, is a TERRIBLE idea. Ali cannot be a responsible parent at this stage in her life, possibly never.
    None of this had to happen, Emily could have supported Ali through her abortion and been happy with Paige, maybe even having babies with Paige one day.
    Paige is going to go off and be an actual adult somewhere else in America.

    And bullshit does Ali love Emily. She loves being loved by Emily, but “the way someone looks at you” isn’t love. She’s a very damaged narcissist who keeps Emily around for when she needs her. We’ve all had one of those, but by your mid-twenties you should be able to recognise the dynamic and gtfo.

    • I’m still in love with Paige but she will find a smarter girl away from Emily…Hopefully

    • YES! YES! YES! This is spot on. Alison is in love with Alison and the attention that Emily gives her.

    • Exactly So stupid of Emily. How dare she be in love with and actually give it a chance.

      I never understood why anyone who liked Paige wanted her to be with Emily, knowing Emily would give anything to be with Ali. That never made sense.

      Paige and Emily had their High School time and their offscreen summer relationship. Seems like they had a fun and a healthy relationship. But it still didn’t work out. Real life happens and everyone isn’t meant to be with you till the end.

      Let Emily be with the woman she loves finally. And let Paige find the woman that’s head over heels in love with her.

  7. I don’t like Emison for so many reasons: Alison constantly manipulates Emily (regardless of how she has realized she might feel about her, she at least knew Emily’s feelings towards her all that time, and constantly used it against Emily in her own favor), this entire plot line is forced and was also at the expense of deeply violating both Alison and Emily, and these two characters have SO LITTLE CHEMISTRY together (maybe only slightly more chemistry than Callie and Penny, only because I don’t think it’s possible to have less).

    Side thought–unless I missed something, I think this was the first or only (?) episode we’ve had in 7 seasons where the only relationship (or kiss) focused on in the entire episode was between two women? Doesn’t nearly make up for the number of dead LBTQ characters or the amount of screen time where Emily was single/going through a break-up, etc., but it at least stood out to me.

  8. I never shipped Emison, mostly because I can’t understand how can Emily still love Alison after she abused her and played with her heart so many times, but I found this scene kinda beautiful. Or maybe this show got so stupid that I don’t care who is Emily going to end up with anymore and I just enjoyed the lesbian ‘I love you’

  9. Glad to read from the comments I wasn’t the only one who hated this. I have had a problem with the show ever since they decided Ali is one of the girls to root for and added her to the opening credits. She was the villain and a total bully for the first few years of the show. A teen mean girl who got what sh deserved for the way she treated people and regarded her friends as acolytes. The show begins with them rediscovering their independence and humanity after being Ali’s doormats for too long and th girls admissions of how they didn’t do enough to stop Ali.

    Then Alison returns and suddenly we are supposed to sympathise with her? I’ve never bought it and never bought Emily and Ali as a realistic couple. For a start, I don’t believe Ali’s feelings for Emily are real. She likes Emily will do her bidding and can be easily manipulated thanks to her kind and generous heart. Em is hanging onto her first crush when Ali has shown her selfishness time and again.

    Someone somewhere likes Emison. I don’t. Emily deserves better!

  10. The writers just gave up. The only way they could think of to have Ali make a declaration to Emily that we could actually believe was to erase her entire personality. It would have been too much work to actually keep Alison grey and make her prove her intentions through action. Everything is so lazy. Like, She’s good now! You can tell because we have made her a victim!

    Ive never really had shipper feelings about this show, but I understood Emison in theory. The way they got there though is so dumb. I would trade all of their potential makeouts for even a glimpse of the Ali That Was. (And not just because the kiss in this episode was so weird and bad.)

  11. The only real fucks I have left for PLL are the ones I say out loud anytime a storyline runs off the rails. This episode broke a record

  12. thanks for writing this, heather. i love the way you rewrote the emison scene and i love the way you don’t mince words about all the FUCKED UP SHIT this show has done and i appreciate the way you care and the way you write <3 haven't watched PLL in a while, but always look for and love your recaps.

  13. The reason for the e-mails is that Charlotte (already mentally ill and very impressionable) spent years reading e-mails from her bestie Lucas about how terrible Ali and her friends (but more importantly her friends) were. How that group made his life hell. That makes more sense than the other reasons we have for why Charlotte hated the Liars. She and Lucas built up a fantasy world and a game together.

  14. Heather, thank you for brilliantly articulating the two areas of deep frustration I had with this episode. First, hearing the way Lucas and the group talked about Charlotte and misgendered her drive me up the flipping wall. Second…”I DON’T KNOW?!?!?!?”

    I think my voice rose three octaves as I shouted out loud, “YOU DON’T KNOW!?!?!? What don’t you know!?!? Come the fuck on! You know!! You’ve ALWAYS known!! Say the goddamn words and make this train wreck of a plot line have some grounding in ANY real adult emotions!!!!” I’ve always been uncomfortable with the power dynamic between Emily and Alison, and obviously the eggs storyline is The Actual Worst, but I was optimistic that the writers would give their #endgame some foundation in Alison being truly open about her own vulnerabilities and fears and how she doesn’t want to be that person any more. That was THE moment for Alison to come clean and be honest about what was driving her actions all those years. What was really going on in her head and heart. If Paige McCullers can find the strength to say the words out loud, and more to the point — the writers can put the words in Lindsey Shaw’s mouth — they absolutely could have done the same for Alison and Sasha Pieterse.

  15. Aria is the worst A/AD minion. Why did AD think she would be good at it, she was always the useless one of the group. She sent AD to voicemail 2 times after being threatened not to, she’s terrible at the jobs she’s given, she shady AF around her friends and she is not emotionally prepared to do anything that comes with the job.

    I still stand by my theory that Mona is AD. She even said what I have been saying ALL along which is that she’s still not part of the group no matter what she does.

    I really want to keep this to minor rant about Emison but the words are just going to flow.
    I don’t know who here is an Emison shipper but I feel like by default you hate Paily and your excuse is because she pushed Emily’s head under water that 1 time. Me being a Paily shipper I hate Emison because of all the dirty that Alison has done in the past (and sort of present) especially the manipulation and selfishness she put Emily through and I just can’t get past that to think that Alison is the ideal mate for Emily especially over Paige. Then it hit me Emison shippers are like Trump supporters during the election and beyond who hated Hillary (Paige). They will overlook all of his misdeeds, lies, everything no matter how bad it is and even justify some of the stuff he does but nothing could be worse than Hillary and the emails (the dunking).
    And I know Trump supporters, the majority of my family is made up of them, they’ve been fairly quiet on social media lately but every time they think Trump has done something good (like honoring War veterans on Memorial Day) they shout that shit from the roof top. As when Alison does a “good deed” it’s now oh look she’s going to raise the baby with Emily, how kind of her.
    Which is a huge question mark in itself because Emily was giving her eggs away not knowing what would come of those babies and Alison didn’t want to be pregnant so to me it would’ve been a no brainer to terminate but I guess the writers had no other feasible way to have Emily dump Paige and get with Alison to make all those tweeners happy that think Emily and Alison is healthy relationship and make them endgame.

    I’m disappointed at the route this show is taking to the end, so they better bring it with the A/AD reveal and I mean I want to know all the reasons why and not just an unveiling in the last seconds of the final episode. And they better not pull any shit that the last episode ends on the fucking phone ringing again because that would piss me off. I want this to be over. final. the end. I really don’t want to put this show on my “Damn that finale sucked” list with the likes of Dawson’s Creek, HIMYM, and others that I don’t care to remember.

    • “Emison shipper but I feel like by default you hate Paily and your excuse is because she pushed Emily’s head under water that 1 time.” Yeahhhh maybe because that’s a fucked up thing to do? And if you believe Paige can change why can’t Ali? And I’m not sure what your Trump analogy is about but whatever it’s just a show…

      • Yes Paige changed. Every time she came back she seemed to be a better version of herself even though the writers tried to make her seem suspicious her love for Emily never wavered.
        I don’t believe Alison ever changed, and it was until she became the victim of her own consequences that she’s been the tiniest bit remorseful.
        But like you said, it is just a show and we have our own opinions.

    • Your opinion of Emison shippers is insane and close minded as hell but go off. I don’t even know why I torture myself reading the comments on these reviews but this was just disheartening. I’ve always identified with Alison’s insecurities and that is why I am drawn to her character’s journey and her storyline with Emily. I respect Paily fans and get why you ship them even if I don’t myself, I truly do. Would be so nice if we could all just enjoy our f/f ships without judgement but here you are, comparing me to people who voted against my own personally important rights which is so f’n offensive. I understand you gotta tell yourself whatever it is to help you sleep at night because some of us see something in Emison that you don’t but please do better. Aside from this crap show, I’m sure you and I have shipped some of the same f/f couples and found solace in them and things we both identified with. I’m not the straight white dude in it for the two hot chicks making out you just made me out to be in your head. This show is f’n awful, the writing is atrocious and we’re all aware, so let’s not hold some terribly crafted character above another just because you somehow excused all the flaws of the one you like but cannot fathom why I’ve done the same. Sit down.

      • My apologies for offending you, I can respect your opinion as to why Alison resonates with you but disagree that she is wrong for Emily.
        And I’m not forgetting Paige’s flaws I just think she evolved as a character that Heather and other recap writers have so eloquently explained better than I ever could.

        • K except Heather has also written about Alison’s motives, ie all the fucked up “relationships” starting when she was like 13-14, and how she’s changed (and how she could’ve changed into a great character and a good person without being made a victim) and still acknowledged the bad things she’s done. Just as Heather’s written about Paige.

          I agree the writers have completely dropped the ball on giving Ali some proper character development, and this pregnancy storyline is the worst (and weirdest?) way they could’ve gotten them together, but we’re still allowed to ship them without being called trump supporters and “tweeners”. I haven’t shipped Emison from the beginning, I was Emaya in the beginning, so I just never shipped Paily. Mostly I have been shipping the potential Emison had, because as Heather said in this very recap, it could’ve been an incredible story.

          And also I just want to add that it’s pretty fucked up that I had to logout and come back to this under a guest name for fear of being personally attacked over a TV show, and a show that pretty much all of us have stopped liking at that. And on Autostraddle of all places.

          • You wrote twice how the writers “could’ve” written Alison differently to make her a better character but they actually did write Paige’s evolution and Heather delved into what that meant. We met Paige as a scared closeted even slightly homophobic teen (wasn’t Emily HER Alison?) then we saw Paige again and she was willing to be with Emily but in secret, more time passed and she came back and she had come out to her parents, etc. etc.

            I am the 1st to admit that at 30 I am not the shows demographic but the kids (tweeners) that watch this show that TPTB “listen” to are and Emison aside they also look at Ezra and Aria as relationship goals where me as an adult see the issues with them as a couple, how they got together, how they are staying together even after the stalking etc. So tweener doesn’t equal an Emison fan but rather the demographic of the show.

    • This is a very very childish post. Comparing people who like a couple you don’t to Trump supporters on THIS BOARD is your gross take on all this? Some people never warmed up to Paige after Maya’s death. She just never clicked for some. Is that possible?

      How about realizing that not everyone sees themselves in Paige? How about the people who’s favorite character is Emily and they want to see Emily end up with the girl she has always loved? That makes them a TRUMP SUPPORTER?

      How about Paige being written poorly and boring on a regular basis when compared to the other couples and maybe that turned fans away from the ship? How about having all that growth Paige had erased during the 5 years forward turning her back into the type of person that would stalk Emily’s new girlfriend???????. Or did we forget that? How about knowing Paige was being written as the long-term FILLER relationship but not endgame, which the writers confirmed many times.

      People that wanted Paige to be in a relationship where she would always know Emily loved someone else more, that’s how you wanted to pay tribute to a character you LOVED?? I wanted to see Paige come back to town with actual growth and maturity, moved on in a new relationship, not spending 90% of her conversations on Ali. That would have been wonderful to see these to women come back together, still having love for each other.

      • I didn’t think so many people would misunderstand my “Trump Supporter” analogy so let me apologize for this. I tend to go off on tangents and get very wordy which some times confuses me. After reading it over I can see where some people would get offended so please allow me to clear it up. I was basically saying prior to the election undecided voters who went on to support Trump over Hillary (which I am hoping they are regretting now) is a lot like the great Alison vs. Paige debate. For example…
        If I would tell that person the laundry list of misdeeds that Trump has done they would come back at me with “but what about Hillary and the emails”
        Similarly if I were talk about all the bad things Alison has done and the way she has mistreated Emily and Emison shipper would come back at me with “but what about the drowning incident”
        It’s the “i know you are, but what am i” defense, that 1 thing that people come back at you with every single time.

        So again my apologies to anyone I offended especially those who said they saw themselves in Alison, if she helped you come to terms with who you are and live your truth then I commend you and wish you all the happiness you deserve.

  16. I will always love Paige McCullers and I would watch her in a (better written) spin-off any day. Maybe she could move to LA and be the lead in a new (better written) L Word reboot? Obviously Ilene should stay far far away.

  17. Yeah I was so pissed when they had Ali answer “I don’t know” because she literally just answered this question last week! Emily has always seen a person Ali doesn’t think she can live up to, and it fucking terrifies her! Heather, I’m headcanoning your script because it is correct. Sigh. At least that kiss looked good?

  18. When I was 14 and found this show, it wasn’t a mess yet. I’d never seen a queer relationship on TV before, hell I hadn’t seen one anywhere, not in my city and definitely not in my favorite characters. Emily and Maya left me splitting apart in all the best ways, as only a first favorite show and first favorite ship can. I supported, and adored, Emily with whoever she was with because it was an absolute dream to watch Shay Mitchell take my queer dreams and color them in on network television.

    A year prior to finding PLL, I’d found a friend named Sierra who carved my thoughts into canyons and left me torn apart in ways that were completely new to me. She was my best friend and my worst heartbreak; Emison, from the get-go for me, was the ship that tugged on my heart the most. Now, seven years later, I have an incredible girlfriend and no longer do those canyons ache; still, I get chills seeing Emily and Alison together, even after all this time. They’re the same chills I got in high school.

    This show is a mess. This ship is, definitely, a mess. I didn’t think I’d care about this season in the slightest, and I was totally ready to let go, so it’s been quite a surprise for me that what’s pulled me back into it is how young and excited emison makes me feel. It makes me feel like I’m still 14, waiting next to a phone, wondering if my best friend is gonna call and tell me she’s decided to give this a try. That dream never came true for me, but seeing it come true for Emily has been a rush that I never expected.

  19. Dearest Heather Hogan, I do long for the days of your “spinning straw into gold,” because you did it so beautifully. Even if the show didn’t deserve it, you managed to deepen all of our viewing experiences with your deeply poignant commentary on all that you saw, which was always so much more than what was written. Thank you for all of the hours and years that you spent giving us those gifts of interpretation. My kids and I always felt as if we were watching PLL with you, as we would often say, “OMIGOD, I wonder what Heather thought of THAT?” We loved #BooRadleyVanCullen, and all of the inside jokes from your recaps and articles. It made me feel as if I was a part of something. As if we all were somehow partly responsible for telling this story, if only in the way that we told it to ourselves. I appreciated every time you took the show to task, insisting on analyzing their failings, especially as related to rape culture, despite the risk you were taking with the amazing relationships you forged with the writers/directors/actors with your amazing writing. When this show was good, it was very very good, and when it was bad…I will never forget sharing “But if I say it out loud…” and “Don’t look away,” those moments which truly were gold. I am praying that somehow, in some surprising way, Marlene and Co. can partially redeem themselves with something they do in these next episodes. But, if they don’t, at least I will know that we will have you, our dearest Heather Hogan, to commiserate with! Love and appreciation, Suzette and her kiddos…Lucas and Madeline

  20. I am delighted for everyone who was with Emerson throughout this show, I really am. For me, however, Alison (version 1) just kissed baby Emily as a manipulation and unfortunately I haven’t seen her romantic feelings for Emily evolve along with the rest of her, I feel like this whole relationship is forced, to please fans. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just really badly done. Last week when Paige and Emily were saying goodbye there was so much emotion and when they kissed the week before there was chemistry galore, I feel like the writers never gave Emerson fans the same.

    As for the misgendering of Charlotte! How on earth can they get something so simple so wrong?

    • And some people watched that corny bike scene and couldn’t wait for it to get off their screen. Paily as a relationship was ALWAYS badly done and NEVER compared to the other HET pairings. Hell, it started off being 2nd place to Maya.

      And didnt we watch Alison manipulate EVERYONE? Not just Emily right. Did Paige stalk all the girls gf’s and bf’s? No her behavior/choices was directed solely at Emily.

      Didn’t we watch a person that tried to find herself while living with an abusive mother in a fu$ked up a household. Paige can be forgiving but not Ali? Well too bad, Emily had more in her heart for Ali than most. I wish I had a girl in my life like that when I was 20.

      Personally, if they don’t make Paige part of AD Im not sure what to make of all of the A-minion like insecure things they had her during 5yrs forward.

  21. Thank you for putting it so well into words why that Emily/Alison scene was so unforgivable on a storytelling level.

    If it were S5 or S6 I could at least give the show the benefit of the doubt that there would be pay-off in the end, like I have with so many of the show’s other questionable decisions. Now I have to accept that this is what we’re getting – characters with poorly written motivations, abusive relationships being written off to blame the victim’s internalised homophobia (un-fucking-believable), the godawful forced pregnancy plotline – that’s what was deemed an acceptable resolution to Emily and Alison’s journey. Regardless of what comes in the final few episodes, there’s no walking back from that.

    My mind won’t let me fully comprehend it. It’s too immensely disappointing.

    Also a small, meaningless correction: Hanna, startlingly, was 100% sober when she decided to bury that gun in the frat party yard.

  22. Nice job articulating why the Emison scenes left so many of us cold. It just feels like rushed fanservice at this point, which is super disappointing.


    • This is the go to “fan service response” THE WHOLE SHOW IS FAN SERVICE. No-one would normally still be with their HS sweetheart. It’s a teen show.

      And No tongue? Lol did you not understand that maybe Emily is IN SHOCK I must have missed all the EROTIC PAILY SCENES, I don’t seem to recall ANY. Sorry, the couple you don’t like didn’t perform sexually enough for you.

  23. I’m so infuriated with how the writers have chosen to handle this season. Marlene King has let us down. Our years of dedication have crumbled into nothing but disappointment on all levels. For a show that started so strong, with such potential to tell amazing stories across the board, it has proven not up to the challenge. I’ve watched this show since I was 17 and just wrestling with my own identity, so it will always have a place in my heart. But this season is shrinking that space.

    I think others (including Heather) have covered the Emison disappointment more than adequately, so just a couple points not directly related to that relationship and the mess of a storyline it has been given:

    Lasting trauma: At the very least I would have hoped the show would, over the years, explore the girls’ collective and individual trauma in some genuine way. Sure, they touched on it very briefly last season but with cheesy flashing lights and horror music flashbacks. These girls have suffered years of abuse and torture that go beyond the physical torture they experienced in the dollhouse. It would have been great for the show to explore how the girls are affected in a nuanced, carefully done way. Instead it felt like a checkbox ticked off in the writers room (PTSD flashback? Check! All done with that!). The only thing I am slightly hopeful about is the preview where *SPOILER* Aria is revealed to have called Ezra a predator. Maybe, maybe we will see Aria examine the ways in which Ezra has fucked her right up, but then again they’re getting a happy ending. Never mind. Such a lost opportunity.

    A/AD: Maybe I should reserve judgment until the reveal, but it does not feel like we are building to any satisfying conclusion. Despite all the interviews saying we’ll be happy with the end, I don’t believe it. I don’t believe the writers can craft a story and motivation that we will care about in the remaining episodes. At this point I just hope it’s Mona because I want to see Janel Parrish have more screentime.

    Friendships: The cast/writers/Marlene always claim this is a story about friendship. So why don’t we actually ever get to see the friendships develop? It’s all either relationships or A-mischief. Their friendships are rooted in shared misery and trying to stay out of jail/A’s grasp. I don’t doubt that all of these girls were better off in the 5-year gap when they weren’t together. Again, this could have been written so differently to let us truly believe in the power of their friendship. Instead, we get in-fighting.

    I know this isn’t all directly related to your review, Heather, so I’m sorry for the tangents but my GOD it’s exhausting caring about this show.

  24. Super late to this, but I just wanted to echo a little bit of what HH and others have said here. I’ve always appreciated Emison in theory, just never in execution.

    Part of it is that I just don’t feel the actresses have the best chemistry together, which I don’t put on them so much. They’ve literally been given like three romantic scenes the entire show. Mainly it’s just so underdeveloped as a narrative.

    I mean, yes Emily was in love with Alison before she disappeared, and then she came back and they had a brief fling before Emily realized Ali was (at least partially) using/manipulating her/she thought Ali was A. And then, after the dollhouse, nothing. Like just literally nothing. Ali started going to church, and dating a boring cop, and completely lost any semblance of a personality, and Emily dated a couple randos and Sara Harvey. Skip ahead a few years, and Ali marries a sketchy dude, Emily is supportive of her (but also kind of dating the coffee chick, and then Paige…) Then *boom* in the final few episodes they get thrown together via forced pregnancy. It just doesn’t scream epic love story to me.

    I mean I get being excited that Emily gets the girl she’s loved since high school, and I’m happy for anyone who enjoyed it. I just think if the writers put half the effort into Emison’s scenes/storylines that they did for any of the straight couples it could’ve been so much better. It felt forced, and kinda empty, and I wish Emily, Alison (and Paige) had all gotten something better.

  25. Heather, your recaps have been the best part of this show for me for at least three years. You were the long suffering Emily Fields to I. Marlene King’s twisted, shady af Ali. While I’m really grateful for your years of optimism and levity in the face of them mishandling their LGBT and POC characters, I’m twice as relieved that you’ll be free of this steaming mess they’re cranking out in less than a month.

    Anyway, Maya/Emily/Paige/Spencer/Ashley Marin/Mona/Samara/Ella Montgomery/Pam Fields/Papa Fields/Veronica Hastings/Charlotte/Yvonne/Shana/every harvested egg/and even Shower Harvey all deserved better treatment than they got.

    And Ezra Fitz and all the other predators in town (past and present, living and dead) can choke.

  26. Also, I think one huge part of Emison not appealing to me at all (aside from a lack of chemistry between the actresses and this disgusting forced pregnancy story line) is how underdeveloped Ali’s transformation is, specifically after they gave us season 1 and 2 Paige McCullers.

    We only had to wait a couple episodes for Paige to apologize for acting out and hurting Emily. We got to watch Paige mess up and date Hanna’s weird Ken doll ex and lie to herself and hate herself until all of that seemed far sillier and more daunting that sitting down and talking to Emily. We got “If I say it out loud, if I say ‘I’m gay’, the whole world’s gonna change,” and we felt how scary that was, and then we got to watch her accept it anyway.

    And, for several seasons, we got to watch her grow and adjust to a world that absolutely changed, but never again stopped her from being her (defensive, distrustful, hot-tempered) self, or from loving Emily.

    Why did they go through the trouble of proving they could write and execute authentic character development and redeem someone who briefly seemed irredeemable if they expected us to settle for Season 7 Ali? Paige proved that the PLL team can make a character with a questionable past into someone worth rooting for without rounding out all their sharp edges. I really wish they would’ve done the work with Ali.

  27. K, I know I’m a few days late here, but after reading so many hateful comments, I just wanted to jump in and say my piece. I know what I have to say isn’t going to be a popular opinion, but I’m hoping I can open some people’s minds here.

    So many people on here seem to view Alison as the source of all evil for the show, instead of looking at all the people who made her the way she is, or rather the way she used to be. They refuse to acknowledge the possibility that, like any human being, she has the potential for change and growth. Some of the characters, *ahem* Ezra, have not changed or grown, and while I’m not arguing anyone here likes him, they seem to spend more time picking on Alison, who was a teenager when she did those things, instead of a full grown adult. Maybe that’s just because we can all agree Ezra’s the worst, but it still seems weird to see.

    I don’t really get how Alison is any different from other characters that have been largely supported on here over the years, maybe not by all but certainly by most. And mind you, these are all characters I love more than Alison. I’m talking Santana Lopez, who bullied pretty much everyone and who once shamed Brittany for wanting to sing a gay song with her. I’m talking Regina Mills/Evil Queen, who actually killed an unknown number of people, and tried to kill Emma multiple times, yet a large number of people shipped Swan Queen from day one. I’m even talking Cat Grant, my all time favorite tv character, but who has canonically admitted to outing people in the past, considered doing it in the first Thanksgiving episode, and who terrifies all of her employees so they’ll work harder. But these characters have all shown growth and change and we’ve supported that. So what makes Alison so different? My biggest issue with her character is that, unlike these other women, she had to be made into a meek little shell of herself to even be considered to have changed and grown.

    • And how could I forget Quinn Fabray, who called Rachel a load of awful names and bullied her in every sense of the word. Yet Faberry is almost as popular as Brittana.

  28. I feel like I’m the only one that has viewed Paige as the most odious resident of Rosewood from day one. I mean, I really can’t stand her. I felt some empathy during her coming out, who didn’t? But seriously, beyond that, I find her to be pretty pathetic. She has been more emotionally manipulative of Emily than Alison ever thought of being. I also am 100% sure that the subtext of Paige and Alison’s entire story arc is probably rooted in some sort of romantic history between the two. I would personally be thrilled to find out that Paige is AD. A full throated empathetic gay villain, whose villainy is not rooted in her sexuality, but in lost, soured or unrequited love, you know, like practically every other great villain in the history of the world. If we are to ever get to equality in media representation, we have to be willing to see ourselves equally first, and accept and celebrate it when our community is treated as such.

  29. This show is a hot mess. But I have learned so much from Healther’s insightful, caring and intelligent recaps over all the seasons. Thank You, Heather!

  30. Why recap a show you obviously don’t like? I used to love your recaps but now your ‘insights’ are just saltines. Most of the people on this site aren’t even in the demographic of the show, it’s a teen show. Is it perfect, hell no but it helped a lot of teens (me included) come to grips with being gay. And it’s so funny to me that people are bashing Ali when Paige is FAR from perfect, but because she’s gay her redemption must be real. She was literally obsessed with Emily for years, semi stalking her and keeping tabs on a girl who didn’t even knew she existed. Then she bullied her for being gay, tried to drown her by somehow she is a better choice for Emily. Yea okay, the writers should’ve but more time in Emison and fleshed out their relationship more because this doesn’t do them justice and it seems rushed. But still Em got the girl

  31. I have to be honest, no matter how developed or undeveloped (and it’s most assuredly the latter) Emily and Alison are in terms of storytelling, I was incredibly uncomfortable with it from the jump because (unlike even the ACTUAL statutory rape storyline), we met these actresses as these characters when one of them was an adult woman of 23 and the other was around 13 or 14. It’s always looked creepy and felt really uncomfortable to me. It’s possible I’d have been able to overcome that if four or five years later they had really told a love story, but it’s not what happened and all I feel with them is unease.

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