Pretty Little Liars S05 E16 – Sorry, I’m in an air duct.

Previously: Spencer and Caleb baked a knife.

Over a Barrel

Samantha: Welcome back to Rosewood everyone! The previouslies remind us that Holbrook is helping Ali, some rando named Johnny is staying in Spencer’s guest house, Hanna’s mom hooked up with Jason, Spencer and Toby are not on the same evidence page, and Annoying Aria wrote a fake admissions letter to trick her sleazy boyfriend’s ex into getting her into college. Honestly, the previouslies were packed with lots of stuff, which is weird because I don’t remember lots of stuff happening on this show, so we’ll figure it out as we go, okay?

Marines: I feel like I’ve been saying that for five and a half seasons…. 

Jessica: Definite deja vu in the “I don’t remember this” department. In this show, everything is always different and yet, always the same, too.

Samantha: The Liars are hanging out somewhere public, discussing the bloody knife that Toby found. Hanna is relieved that they melted it in the kiln and Emily wonders if Holbrook planted it. Hanna then relates that she visited Holbrook’s dad and his family emergency was just that he’s a lying liar who lies. Aria is super worried that Mona’s Magnificent Murder is going to get pinned on them. Emily is sending Paige some of her stuff and Spencer offers to do it for her like a Good Friend but Em declines. They also mention Spring Break so, idk, maybe it’s March now. (M: Hahahahaha, time.) Emily starts her shift and Aria orders another coffee because A and her college subterfuge have her not sleeping.

She needs to find another college to apply to before Ezra finds out but I thought that she already applied everywhere? Hence the subterfuge?

Mari: When she said “find another college,” she means it literally maybe? Discover a college! Problem solved. 

Samantha: Emily prints out Aria’s receipt and instead of one of those “call this number and take a survey!” messages at the bottom, it’s Aria’s letter to Jackie. And then, in red, “This kind of lie will stay on your permanent record. -A” I do not think that receipt machines are equipped for color printing because why would they be? (M: Only ever to send cryptic messages. Only.)


Hannah comes home and her mom calls to her from the kitchen. Ominous music tries to mislead us but it’s just Pastor Ted in the kitchen, back early from Peru. I legit forgot that Mama Marin was in a relationship when she slept with New!Jason. (M: Same!) Hanna is all “you didn’t hear me come home last night?” to her mom, who gets all weird cause of her sin. Ashley sends Ted out to set the PATIO table and seriously didn’t we just do the Christmas episode verrrrry recently? How is it already patio weather on the east coast? The ladies get all confrontational about the Jason indiscretion and Ashley tries to deny it. Hanna just wants to talk about it but Mama Marin shuts her down with orange juice.

Jessica: I was so surprised when Hanna actually wanted to USE HER WORDS, but then of course she gets shut down. Maybe Hanna has actually learned something about how secrets are the worst, but no, sadly, the orange juice of distraction prevails. 

Samantha: At Ezra’s Weird Coffee Place, Emily is being unpleasant to Talia who tries to give her some tips on coffee making. Ezra comes in and wants to know if everything is okay and Em brushes him off. Aria tries to talk to Ezra but he brushes her off to take a call from the contractor. With all these brushes (off) we should start a painting class! Ha ha. Ha. (M: Oh, honey.)(J: Or a shrubbery class? No?) Aria follows him into the back and starts saying something that is obviously serious and he does the thing where he interrupts her. Your child girlfriend is obviously wearing her Serious Pants, Ezra, shut up and pay attention. He ignores me and tells her that the dude he introduced her to last episode really liked her and could intercede on her behalf at Vassar. Then his phone rings so Aria never gets to communicate her big girl words.

Jessica: It’s like the orange juice all over again!

Samantha: Hasting House. Spencer and Toby sit on the couch looking at her letters from colleges. Toby is pumped but Spence is sulky. She’s upset because she had to apply to schools like the University of Hawaii because they’re far away. Toby is incredulous that she would do this but, uh, buddy? It’s not an outlandish dilemma here. They start fighting about Ali’s reign of influence when hark! A knock at the door! *enter Johnny* He gives Spencer a deposit and she gives him keys. Toby goes to work and Johnny is all “your boyfriend’s a cop???” Shut up Johnny you barely even go here. Spencer weirdly says, “Uh, yeah. He wasn’t always.” Well. Okay. Sure.

Mari: That’s a weird thing to say when commenting about a job or profession. No shit he wasn’t a cop from the womb, Spencer. 

Samantha: Weird One Coffee House. Aria gets a text from Maybe Holbrook to meet him and Emily tells her she cannot go alone. Aria, proving she’s the worst of the worst, thinks that nothing bad could happen in the middle of town in the middle of the day. And you know what, she’s probably right because she’s Aria and the most #blessed of the bunch. She can handle this alone! *imaginary foot stomp*

Hasting House. I don’t even know what this scene is. Spencer is giving Johnny a hammer and then he starts going through her trash without explanation. She offers to make him a sandwich instead of saying “hey, wtf?” (J: Yeah I mean, not only is he going through the trash, but he’s spreading it all over the counter! Not cool.) And he says sure but demands no ham. I hate this guy/kid (no idea what his supposed age is) and hope she gives him all the ham. #hamrevenge.

Mari: If Spencer starts to find any of this charming, I’m going to be very not happy.

Samantha: He finally finally tells her that he’s taking her food scraps to make his own paint. They bond over Italy and Johnny gives her that “I’m a bad actor but I’m supposed to be getting a crush on you” look. (M: NO.) Spencer’s phone goes off and she gets fidgety and asks him to leave. We pan onto her phone where there is some sort of message from Mona.

Hannah and Spencer are at Caleb’s because they all got the same text. Caleb is trying to figure it out with those wide range hacking skills. I dunno, I guess Mona had a thing on her laptop that sends out alert coordinates if someone gets through the encryption. The magic whatever GPS is showing the laptop at a storage unit. Do we have a tag for #SketchyStorageUnits? I feel like it’s a total bad TV trope. (M: YEP. Rent a storage unit, someone ends up murdered.) Caleb notes that Mona set up the alert to only go to the 4 Liars and seemed to make it easy for them to log in. Aria is going to text them once she’s with Holbrook so it should be clear to head over there. Because A definitely doesn’t have any other accomplices. Hanna’s phone rings and it’s Ted who wants to meet up. Aria texts Spencer and Caleb and they head off to the Sketchy Storage Unit.

Aria is waiting on Holbrook (why would she text Spencer if Holbrook wasn’t even actually there yet?) when New Jason shows up, with 1 shirt button weirdly undone. (J: His weird shirt was definitely distracting. And not in a good way.) They chit chat about Ali being in prison before Jason asks her if she wants to get lunch because Ashley stood him up. Aria leaves with him because I guess she’s 100% sure Holbrook isn’t coming.

Emily and Talia continue to sorta butt heads and Talia agrees to talk to Emily before she just changes stuff. She then brings up the idea of work uniforms and condescendingly disses Emily’s Tshirt for having a hole in the corner.

Caleb and Spencer follow the GPS to a locked storage room door. Do these girls even own pepper spray or something? Hell, I own pepper spray and I am not being stalked. Invest, ladies, and keep it on you all the time. As they inspect the super duper lock, a woman comes out of the room next door. And lo and behold it’s someone Spencer knows, Mrs. Horowitz, a teacher at Rosewood, I guess. Caleb bails for the bathroom to shave his hands and grabs a smashed coke can out of the garbage on the way. What is with people taking things out of the trash this episode? Spencer small talk lies with the teacher, who blithely offers up “You’re talking about 1017, aren’t you?” Spencer plays along and finds out that the renter was a blonde girl and that there was a bad smell coming from the unit. Then Mrs. Horowitz exits the scene, awkwardly because her part is done. Caleb comes back and has made a shim out of the soda can to pick Mrs. Horowitz’s storage unit lock.

Aria and Jason talk about how Daddy DiLaurentis will always lie for Ali and that Ali is capable of “a lot”. Jason says that the LOLPD think that she had help after killing Mona and Aria floats the idea of it being someone on the inside, like maybe Holbrook. Jason literally says, “God, what is it with cops in this town?” I mean, yeah, but I think you’re really wondering what’s up with the adults in this town. Aria’s phone buzzes and it’s a text from presumably Holbrook asking her to meet up somewhere else in an hour. Longest day ever again, you guys. Jason thinks that Ali probs cut Holbrook loose by now, if he stopped being useful.

Hanna talks to Caleb, who is in an air duct to climb from the neighbor storage room to the one with the gps.

“Because I’m in an air duct” will be my new I-Have-To-Get-Off-The-Phone Move.

Mari: It’s great that you used it so soon after a mention of shaving your hands. Snark Ladies are here for excuses for every occasion.

Jessica: Also, that air duct has better cell reception that my apartment.

Samantha: They hang up and she walks over to Ted. He’s super fidgety and nervous and they sit on a bench. Hannah thinks that he wants to talk about the cheating so she’s all ominous and stuff but he really wants to ask her permission to propose to Ashley. He wants to do it tonight with Hanna there and way to be last minute dude, damn. People make plans. I mean not me but I’m assuming that other people do. Hanna is surprised.

He happily bounces off without asking why she was so weird when they sat down. Hanna leaves her mom a message to call her ASAP.

Aria calls Emily because the new address is a flower shop, and Emily asks her to keep checking in. She heads into the Coffee Shop kitchen and Talia is doing some cooking stuff. She asks Emily if the t-shirt was a gift from her ex because Emily got defensive about it. IDK maybe it was rude and not your place as not her boss? (M: Seriously, what a leap.) Talia apologizes and commiserates over letting go of an ex with a weird analogy about beef stew. (J: She’s a chef. (Right? Am I remembering the right person?) So obviously the majority of her comments need to be food related. Even, nay, especially, the philosophical ones.) Emily isn’t sure that she’s ready to let go yet and Talia thinks she won’t let herself. Em walks out.

Caleb and Spencer climb into the storage unit via air duct. There are shelves of containers and stuff wrapped in plastic and also Mona’s laptop, laying out in the open with a shimmery light around it, basically. I suspect a trap. Spencer, for once, is with me and tells Caleb not to touch it. Everything is neat and bagged, like evidence, so they suspect Holbrook. Spencer eyes some bagged bloody clothes warily. Caleb wonders why he’s keeping them and Spence says that the more important question is if this was where he kept the knife. Idk if that’s really more important, but okay. Caleb dramatics that he’s building a case against them and then turns and sees a yellow suit in the blurry background. His eyes go wide and he tells Spencer to get down because there’s someone else in there. I mean okay, getting down is probably smart, but if that is a person and not just a suit then they already saw you (J: And heard you, probably). Spencer creeps over to check it out while the camera weirdly stays on Caleb and his Dramatic Face Acting. Spence pulls back the plastic and sees that it’s an empty suit. They also see a barrel and decide that Mona must be in there. Caleb bangs on it and proclaims it full. Spencer notices that the plastic bottles have big Poison labels on them and concludes, via biology, that all the stuff mixed together can be a preservative or a corrosive. “So she’s either being pickled or dissolved?” Caleb wonders. They go to open it and the lights cut out. Obviously.

Aria is waiting outside again when a clerk comes out of a flower shop and hands her some roses and an address that she’s supposed to deliver them to.

Em sews the hole in the tshirt and puts it in an envelope to Paige. Guess she was ready to move on.

Mari: All she needed was a rude person to make her see it, I guess.

Samantha: Ashley comes home from grocery shopping and for some reason I feel like Ashley coming home with grocery bags is a weirdly reoccurring thing on this show. Hanna is waiting for her and though Ashley doesn’t want to talk she demands to know why she’d sleep with Jason. Ashley says she’s not comfortable with it either and it was nothing. Hanna reminds her mom that Ted is a really good guy. Ashley says that it’s up to her to decide if she tells Ted the truth, and I think Hanna should have warned her of the incoming proposal.

Caleb and Spencer are in his apartment and banter a bit about whether or not they left any evidence behind. They’re actually kind of fun together.

Mari: It makes me feel a little icky that I like their dynamic because ABC Family has spoilery previews and I know things. 

Samantha: Oh noooooo. I was thinking how nice and platonic and fun it was. I am a fool.

Caleb wipes the security footage and suggests tipping Toby off to the storage space so the LOLPD can check the barrel. Spencer doesn’t want to risk Toby’s job until they have proof. You know, that thing that the cops are supposed to collect? Spencer asks Caleb to get into the lease records and look at them. Caleb apologizes, sorta, for not going after the knife alone.

Marin Manor. Aria shows up with the roses because this was the address the clerk gave her and they’re for Mama Marin. It’s dark now so IDK how long it took her to get here. Ashley snarks that they’re still eating dinner so Hanna sends Aria upstairs and lies to Ashley about why she’s there because she doesn’t want her to receive the Probably Jason Roses.

Aria, being the worst, opens the card on the roses not meant for her. The card is a wink wink note from Jason thanking Ashley for dessert so Aria is confused. Hanna claims that this must be Ali starting trouble. She then confesses to visiting Ali in jail, and Aria is pissed. Hanna begs her not to tell the others about the flowers.

Spencer and Toby are playing Scrabble. The words are upside down so I flipped my laptop over to see if they were interesting. Not really. A smarter show would have made them easter egg-y. Toby talks about how boring work was and how nice it is just to play Scrabble. He brings up college and the distance and how he can’t adjust to the thought of her being across the ocean. Spencer says that he can come with her and then goes to close the window. Her cell phone chimes and Toby grabs it for her so it’s a text from Caleb saying he found something. Toby is pissed.

He tells her that whatever they found today “that’s it. I want it to stop.” I get he’s worried but I’m not really into him ordering her around. Neither is Spencer, “Whatever you say, officer.

At Awkward Marin Dinner, Ted is serving dessert, nervously. He puts a giant peanut butter cookie down between them, because they shared one the first day they met. He breaks it in half and a ring falls out and honest to god I cannot understand the physics of how an entire ring fit inside that thin cookie.

Although, staring at that gif, maybe it was just supposed to be under the cookie?

Mari: Probably under, which is better. I always worry about chocking hazards with rings in food.

Samantha: He gets down on one knee and does the proposal thing and Ashley flees because she needs to think.

After a Not! Commercial Break, Hanna walks Ted to the door and tries to comfort him. He leaves and Ashley comes back down, saying that he’s a good man who deserves the truth. Hanna tries to comfort her mom.

Aria sits in her room and stares at her Receipt of Deceit.

At the Weird Bookstore, Ezra is getting Emily’s first paycheck. Talia comes out holding soda because she loves caffeine but hates coffee. Wow, I really feel like I’m getting to know this character. Talia says that Emily outside of work looks great, even though she’s really not wearing anything much different from earlier. I’m sure it’s just here to sow the seeds of yet another inappropriate Rosewood relationship. Then Talia weirdly ogles Ezra’s butt to Emily and IDFK.

Jessica: I read that as her testing Emily’s reaction to male-centric romance, but in like a really terrible and clunky way. I do not like Talia.

Samantha: At the Hastings Residence, Freaking Johnny knocks on the kitchen door. He yells the word egg at Spencer for a bit before she remembers that she owes him an egg. I hate this dude’s scenes so much. (J: He is begging for a face-punch.) Johnny insensitively asks if Spence was really friends with the girl who murdered a classmate. Johnny continues poking, asking Spencer if she’s opened her acceptance letters yet. He hipsters that college is for suckers and he’s out living in the real world doing his art, or whatever. He says that she doesn’t have to go to college, which is true and a perfectly valid life choice, I just hate his attitude. Spencer ignores a text from Caleb to keep talking to Johnny.

Caleb comes over to Hanna’s to drop the bomb that the storage unit is rented in Hanna’s name. Dun dun dun.

A sneaks into Holbrook’s desk and logs into his cop database, or whatever. (J: And nosh on his desk treats. Rude.)


Next time on Pretty Little Liars: Now Hanna’s on the hook for Mona’s murder in S05 E17 – The Bin of Sin.


Samantha (all posts)

I'm a 25 year old graduated English major I can often be found singing too loudly (poorly) in the car or spending some time (hours) on Tumblr. I am a lover of Harry Potter, the Spice Girls, and too many other things.

Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.

Jessica (all posts)

I'm a chronic book nerd and love storytelling in all forms. I'm particularly excited by the rise of the television show as an art form with long, cinematically beautiful plots and complex character arcs (I also watch cartoons). My travels in the past handful of years have led me through three continents and most recently landed me among the majestic mountains of Colorado. Some day I will compile all my travel journals/blogs into one place. Some day. Until then, you can find me with craft beer in hand, ready at any moment to deeply and passionately discuss survival tactics for the zombie apocalypse.

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  • Artemis Black

    The water in Rosewood must be just straight pedojuice at this point. The high school girls there are like catnip to teachers, bosses, cops, any responsible adult. Even coffee shop guy got randomly dragged into that weird running gag.

    I felt like this episode made even less sense than usual. I didn’t think that was possible, but it definitely left me feeling that way.

    • I’ve been enjoying your comments on these episodes because 1- they are my favorite recaps to write and revisit but also 2- it reminds me how very little I retain from this series. It’s because everything is ridiculous.

      Also, I’m not sure why it was so difficult for them to just find other high school students for these girls to date. I think Caleb and Toby kind of started there? But now they are a cop and a professional cabin dwelling hacker or something. IDK. Everything is weird.