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There’s a reason why we can’t just go around telling the truth. Because it comes back to bite you. Hard.

Over My Dead Body
Season 2, Episode 12
Air Date August 30, 2011
Written by I. Marlene King
Directed by Ron Lagomarsino
Episode Guide
I Must Confess
The First Secret

Over My Dead Body is the twelfth episode in Season 2. It aired on August 30, 2011. This episode marks the mid-season finale. This episode was dedicated to the memory of David O'Brien.



Spencer, Hanna, and Aria are seated in an isolated investigation room. The girls are numb and silent. Their nice dresses are covered in dirt stains, and their whole bodies are smudged with dirt. Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by Officer Garrett and Detective Wilden on the other side of the mirror; Garrett is eager to convict the girls of their supposed guilt. Wilden then walks into the room, shocking the girls with his presence. He accuses the girls of having committed homicide.

Dr. Sullivan's not home.

Twelve hours earlier, Spencer is seen ringing the doorbell on Dr. Sullivan's home beside the other Liars. Dr. Sullivan isn’t there and hasn’t picked up the latest copies of The Rosewood Observer from off her stoop. Her voicemail says she’s been called out of town on a family emergency.


Spencer reminds them that the last time somebody thought she knew who "A" was, she got hit by a car. They also agree going to the police will not help, as Garrett, Jenna, Ian, and Jason all seem to be linked to the Rosewood Police Department. Emily gets a call from Maya, breaking up the tension, and smirks.

Maya visits Emily.

In the shared room with Hanna, Maya talks about interesting people she met at True North. Hanna is curious what the place is like, but Emily is eager for Hanna to leave so that she can spend private time with Maya. Hanna realizes that she's being something of a third wheel, but pauses when she notice's Maya’s designer boots - black Tory Burch boots... Maya says it’s sweet that all the Liars are going with Hanna to the wedding. When Hanna leaves, Emily is surprised to hear Maya say that their relationship needs to rewind so that they can get to know one another again. Maya explains that she doesn’t know "this [new] Emily," but is still interested; she just wants to be sure that Emily feels the same way.

Spencer and Toby

In Spencer's room, Toby gets a phone call letting him know that brake fluid had been low in his truck, because its brake line was severed. However, he sees nothing sinister in this, chalking it up to his own negligence. But Spencer knows better. Just then, Spencer is distracted by the sight of Jason taking down the newspaper on Alison’s room's window, right across from her own. He notices her watching him, and she purposefully tugs the curtain closed. Toby then changes the conversation to her father's mysterious appearance at Jason's house the night before. Spencer lies that her father would not reveal anything to her and snaps at Toby when he presses the point. She quickly apologizes, though.


Again, Hanna tries Dr. Sullivan's cell phone, but her voice mailbox is full. The doorbell then rings. Caleb is back! Hanna is happy to see him, as this time is particularly stressful for her.


Jackie brings coffee to Ezra in his office, as he sits reclining on his couch reading some material. She tries to engage him by reminiscing about the way he used to lie like that when things were steady between them. Aria, who is also bringing coffee, stops short when she sees that Jackie has beaten her to it. She hides by the doorway, straining to hear which words Jackie has for her beau. Ezra firmly denies Jackie's advances and lets her know that he’s seeing someone, to Aria's relief. Jackie plays dumb to this and keeps pitching anyway, wanting to know what his answer would be if they were both single. But he shoots her down, reminding her that he is not single. At the same time, Aria is nearly busted by her phone buzzing. She quickly moves into the hallway to check it out and sees a picture of Dr. Sullivan holding the day's copy of The Rosewood Observer and a note from "A" that says "She’s still alive."


Later, Spencer calls the Liars to come over to look at a huge box that was mysteriously delivered to her house, bearing the inscription, "Open or she dies." Tepidly, the girls remove the lid to find a list of ransom demands. The instructions are made of letters cut out from magazines. Beneath the letter are three creepy, talking dolls with pull-strings. The doll with black hair, resembling Aria's features, says "Make Jackie go away." And, underneath the effigy is Jackie's doctoral paper that she’s having published and an identical French article previously written by another author, indicating that Jackie plagiarized her thesis. Hanna’s blonde look-alike says "Stop the wedding." Finally, Spencer’s mini-me instructs "Keep Toby safe." Thus Spencer's suspicions are confirmed that Toby’s brakes going had not been an accident. Meanwhile, Emily is disconcerted that there is no doll for her. The others speculate that it’s because she’s been a target for weeks, but Emily is slow to believe that the seemingly omniscient "A" would make such an oversight.


Spencer realizes that "A" is being their "ultimate frenemy" by pushing them to do things they want anyway—knowing that all hell will break loose when they do. It’s 2 PM. They now have 5 hours remaining. Spencer remembers that there was no hesitation when "A" pushed Ian off the belltower, fully believing "A" to be capable of murder. Aria muses that she’d love to get rid of Jackie, but if she uses the ammunition "A" has given her to do it, Ezra might never forgive her.


Back in real time, Aria says she wants to make her phone call. Meanwhile, Garrett reports to his superior that page 5, which contains the analysis of trace evidence found on the body, is entirely gone. (Page 5 of Alison's coroner's report.) For this, he gets chewed out, appropriately. Aria sits at an office desk to place her call. It is unclear to whom she is talking, but she weeps, "I made a terrible mistake, and I need you." Garrett turns his head in her direction, eavesdropping once more.


Six hours earlier, we see Aria knocking on Jackie's door. Jackie smirks and mocks that Aria must be looking for "Mr. Fitz." But, Aria comes in and hands her the paper followed by the journal article. Jackie is stricken and asks what Aria wants. Quavering, Aria tells her to leave Hollis. Someone else enters, so Aria simply exits, leaving the articles behind and mumbling an apology. On her way out, Aria sees an incoming call from Ezra and ignores it.


Five hours earlier, Emily and Hanna dress for the upcoming wedding. Hanna expresses her fears of losing her dad, who was gone for the past two years. If she screws up the wedding, he’ll surely leave again. Tom knocks on the door, and Emily leaves to give them privacy. Dad and daughter both say sorry about the vomit on Isabel's dress incident. Hanna tries to dissuade her father one last time, asking him whether he truly loves Isabel. Tom is firm that his fling with Ashley was only in order to evade a commitment that deep down he wants to make and that Isabel makes him happy.

The end of Spoby?

Spencer interprets her order to keep Toby safe as to keep him away from her. So at 5:22 PM, Spencer goes to Toby in his truck at a construction site and half-heartedly pushes him away. She admits to lying to him that morning about her father's confession. Toby doesn’t understand why she lied, and Spencer deepens Toby's hurt when she vaguely admits that she is keeping other secrets from him as well. She tries to convince him that she doesn't trust him and sincerely argues that when she reveals her secrets, people get hurt. Before he can argue with her, Spencer dashes out of the truck and runs until she reaches someone's front lawn. She collapses beside a big twisted oak tree and breaks into sobs. Wren notices from a distance and watches, concerned.

"Cute dress."

Aria dresses for the wedding, and Ella comes in to happily report that Mike has seen a therapist, with whom he was open and conversational. Overall, he seems to be doing well. Additionally, Ella apologizes to her daughter for asking her to lie (about Mike’s shoving her). The doorbell rings. It’s Jackie. She cuts to the chase and threatens to expose Ezra's precarious teacher-student relationship. She thinks that she has the upper hand, as she threatens Aria to make her leave Ezra, while refusing to leave Hollis herself.

"I'll take you to her. Go alone."

Later, Emily drives to the church for the wedding, taking directions from her GPS. It seems to be telling her to drive away from the direction of the church. Suddenly, with an eerie awareness, Emily looks to her back seat to find a rag doll with Emily's dark brown features -- "A" hadn't left her out after all. Emily quickly grabs it to find the ransom demand, which unsurprisingly, directs her to follow the rerouted GPS directions.


Back in real time, Garrett’s superior is fending off a press conference of reporters at the police station, saying only that an anonymous tip had led the police to the suspects. Garrett does his best to shoo them as well. Meanwhile, the girls sit solemnly in the interrogation room, and Spencer stares angrily at her reflection in the glass, on the other side of which Detective Wilden is matching her gaze.

Wrencer rekindled?

Four hours earlier, Spencer is talking to Wren, who has driven her home, as she gets ready to go to Tom and Isabel’s wedding. She thanks Wren for comforting her and hands him back his hankie, not really knowing what to do with it. Spencer glances at the clock. It’s 6 PM. Wren suddenly confesses that he’s desperate to kiss her. She says it’s not a good idea, and Wren agrees, but then kisses her anyway.


As the wedding begins, the girls are worried that Emily has not yet arrived. Hanna, with Caleb at the wedding, mopes that her father and projected step-mother really do look happy together. Kate comes over to taunt Hanna, and Hanna makes a pretext of her phone beeping to hurriedly leave. With Hanna gone, Kate slyly tries to flirt with Caleb, but he loyally compliments her dress, only to insult the way it looks on Kate! Meanwhile, the text message Hanna has received is from "A" warning her that Dr. Sullivan is about to suffocate.

Dr. Sullivan's here?

The girls call Emily, but she ignores the call, as the GPS alerts her to having reached her destination - a secluded red barn.


As the officiating minister preaches, Hanna shockingly interrupts the ceremony to ask for a private word with Isabel. Tom tries to see if it can wait, but Hanna insists. So Isabel complies and leads Hanna to the rectory. Meanwhile, Spencer and Aria realize that Hanna will need backup and so leave the church to get their car, a move not unnoticed by Caleb. Alone with Isabel, Hanna spills that Tom "hooked up" with Ashley when he returned to Rosewood. Isabel asks whether this is true, and Hanna turns around to see that her father has been observing their conversation. When he doesn't deny it, Isabel sets down her bouquet and walks off. Hanna mumbles an apology. But, there is little time to process as "A" directs the girls to the barn on Grover road, where Emily is.


Outside the barn, Emily calls out for "Dr. Sullivan?" and goes inside, where there is a parked car with a motor running. As she peers inside the car, the barn door slams shut, locking her in. Emily is left alone in an enclosed space that is rapidly replacing the oxygen in the air with carbon dioxide and filling the barn with other car exhaust gases besides, including the lethal toxins methane and carbon monoxide.


Back in real time, Toby shows up to the main room of the police station. He calls out for Spencer as she walks past and confesses his love for her. Broken-hearted, Spencer keeps on walking and doesn't respond, as three officers hold Toby back.

Three hours earlier—before the police station—somebody wearing lace-up boots drags a passed out Emily out of the barn.


Then, somebody caresses Emily. When she opens her eyes, she sees Alison, who reassures her that everything is okay. Is Ali alive, or is Emily hallucinating? Alison says, "that bitch thinks this is what you want - to be free of A forever," similar to a remark she made while visiting Hanna in the hospital. Emily asks her if she knows who "A" is, and Ali smiles that she knows, but cannot tell her. She tells Emily that she has to decide whether to come with her before kneeling down to softly kiss her on the lips.


Next thing, the other three Liars hover over her. Emily informs them that "she" is still alive. The girls assume she means Dr. Sullivan, but she lets them know that she believes Alison to be alive.


Back in real time, at the interrogation, Emily comes into the room with the other three and lets them know that she hasn’t said a word to anyone. The girls clue her into the fact that they are being observed, and so they change the subject to a neutral one - namely, Emily's health. Apparently, Emily was separated from the group so that she could be administered medical care; the tending doctor had given her oxygen.

Jason shows up at the police station.

At the same time, Spencer’s parents fuss at the police station, and Mr. Hastings informs someone over his cell phone that the girls are in custody, though they haven’t been booked. Just then, Jason appears, and Peter immediately approaches him to beg him to leave. But Jason is firm in his belief that his sister would have wanted him here, to which Mr. Hastings says he did things to protect Jason. Jason underlines that he didn’t kill Ali, so there was never a need to protect him. Meanwhile, Garrett looks in their direction, eavesdropping from his police at his office desk. Jason tells Peter that he bought the house because Ali was great at keeping secrets and punishing people with the truth.

What are you doing here?

Then Jason asks whether Mrs. Hastings knows, mysteriously implying something that Peter comprehends immediately. Peter says no and insists that Veronica not find out whatever secret they are keeping that night with everything else that is going on. The camera then cuts to Garrett, who looks up from his desk, catches sight of someone standing before him, and apprehensively tells the unseen person that he/she shouldn't be there. "A?" Jenna?


Two Hours Earlier, back at the barn, the girls make sense of the clues "A's" left for them. Suddenly, Emily sees a rusty curved shovel perched on the barn door and affirms that the shovel must have been placed there recently. Spencer picks it up to see a note taped to the inside of the shovel, with latitude and longitude coordinates. Hanna remembers that her text during the ceremony read that Dr. Sullivan was about to run out of air. Did "A" bury Dr. Sullivan alive?, Aria asks.


In their heels, they stumble towards the undisclosed location in the middle of some woods, but there is nothing, then a clearing. The girls then catch sight of a stick protruding from a spot in the ground. Hanna notices it and gets texted, prompting Hanna to say she’s still alive and that they should start digging. First they find her boots, and eventually, a face that belongs to a mannequin. Then, a helicopter roars overheard, and the girls realize that they have been set up.


Back in real time, Spencer’s dad talks to the other parents (excluding Emily's) and says that they will need a criminal attorney. Then, Ezra walks into the police station. Byron wonders at his presence, and Ella goes to confront Ezra and give him the chance to leave, as this is absolutely an inappropriate time to deal with this issue. He says, "I'm in love with her." She then says, "If Spencer’s parents find out about this, they will ruin you." Ezra looks stunned. But we have to wait until after the hiatus to know whether he corrects Ella.


Meanwhile, Veronica gets her chance to speak with the girls directly, letting them know that although Detective Wilden had been suspended for his actions, he has now been reinstated as chief officer in this investigation, because he has evidence.


Next, Garrett leads Jenna to the room on the other side of the glass of the investigation room. He locks the door, and Jenna laments that she cannot see their faces. Jenna is eager to get with Garrett, but Garrett reminds her that he was patient enough to wait to get into the storage room; he can certainly wait a few more nights. Their conversation also reveals that they wrote the note to Jason, making him suspect that he had killed his own sister, and that Jason has figured out that he is not the culprit.

The murder weapon

Back inside the investigation room, Detective Wilden confronts the girls, saying he’s given them so many chances to be honest with them, and evidence doesn’t lie. He asserts that he has caught the girls with the murder weapon, which the police have known about all along. He puts the now-bagged shovel from the barn on the table.

Page 5

Garrett gives Jenna a note and instructs her to take it home and burn it. Jenna asks whether it is page 5, and Garrett doesn't contradict her assumption. Before kissing Garrett goodbye, Jenna remarks, "She deserved to die like that." Garrett doesn't seem as enthused by this comment as Jenna does.

A payoff? Or compromising photos?

In an unnamed diner, Dr. Sullivan is seated in a red booth with a grim expression on her face. She tells her captor that she's done everything you've asked. The black gloved figure doesn't reply, rather only hands her a manila envelope with the words "Photos Do Not Bend" written on it. Dr. Sullivan throws her a disgusted look and goes. Next, a waitress approaches the table where "A" is sitting, fills her coffee cup and inquires how her pretty-eyed patron is doing.


  • Alison declines to reveal to Emily "A's" identity, saying "Two can only keep a secret if one of them is dead," which is almost the exact line from the theme song that airs at the beginning of every episode: "Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead." Based on this comment, is Alison somehow intimating that she is still alive?
  • The actor who plays the minister for the wedding in this episode (Michael Blakley) is different from the actor who plays the minister during the funeral ceremony in "Pilot" (Michael Bean) and the actor who plays the minister during the funeral ceremony in "The Devil You Know" (Bill Blair).
  • Emily's near death experience with the car in the barn makes her the third liar to almost be killed (by "A"), however, it was with carbon monoxide - a first for "A."
  • The Liars in this episode look similar to the way they appear in the season 2 poster. In both, the girls are wearing fancy dresses, and they are entirely smudged with dirt.
  • Producer I. Marlene King has confirmed that the shovel in this episode is the real murder weapon. The shovel also appears on the Season 2 promotional poster.
  • When asked about her inspiration for portraying the girls as dolls in this episode, Marlene King responded: "On the cover of Sara Shepard's books, she portrays the characters as dolls, and it just came to me. Alison treated these girls as her dolls; she is manipulating them as her dolls." (By she does she mean Alison, "A," or both?)
  • The person who pulls Emily out of the barn is wearing black leather lace-up boots. Alison is wearing those same boots as Emily rests her head on Alison's lap and denim jean jacket (whether virtually or in reality).
  • When 'A' helps Emily up from the barn, he/she isn't wearing any gloves, and she was wearing the same lace-up boots the person was wearing, meaning it very well could have been Alison.


  • Maya

    Tory Burch boots

    is wearing an identical black pair of the designer Tory Burch boots "A" had ordered online in "Never Letting Go." (Significantly, they are also the same boots that Anne Sullivan was wearing in "It's Alive.") The boots buried with the mannequin in this episode could be of the same design.
  • Spencer also has a pair of Tory Burch boots. We learn this in "Someone to Watch Over Me" when Hanna asks Spencer if the cops took the "Tory Burches" while searching her room.
  • The camera angle of the girls when they open "A's" delivery box (from within the box) is the same as the perspective taken in "Please, Do Talk About Me When I'm Gone," when the girls opened the box containing the park memorial for Alison. It is the same angle as that in the promotional photo of the girls grave digging a ditch.
  • Spencer makes a remark about Hanna's car "accident" in "Keep Your Friends Close."
  • Dr. Sullivan wanted to help the girls in "I Must Confess," but didn't in this episode after "A" presumably paid her off or blackmailed her.
  • Garrett is revealed to have page 5 from Ali's autopsy report, which Spencer was trying to locate at the end of "Save the Date."
  • In the Season 3 finale, "A DAngerous GAme" who got to see the diner again and Waitress Marlene saw "pretty eyes" again and it is revealed that "pretty eyes" was Toby.


  • Executive Producer I. Marlene King tweets of Caleb's insult to Kate: "Caleb delivers one of my fave PLL lines ever… and it’s to Kate."
  • The two coffees Aria brings for Ezra are one size smaller than the ones Jackie brings.
  • The waitress in the diner at the end of the episode is wearing a "Marlene" name tag, a possible nod to the show's executive producer, I. Marlene King.
  • Dr. Sullivan and "A" are in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at the end of this episode. (This can be deduced from examining the postcards in the diner.) This is the same place to which "A" sends Emily in the books in order to discover a link between Alison's disappearance and an Amish girl's murder.
  • I. Marlene King has the mannequin from this episode standing in her office.
  • When Emily is about to wake up from being passed out in Over My Dead Body, Alison says, "Because only two can keep a secret if one of them is dead." A quote similar to one in the theme song!
  • Toby is Pretty Eyes, which means that Dr. Sullivan knew Toby was A.


  • The phrase "over my dead body" is usually used as a vow or threat by one to say that he or she will not allow something to happen at all costs.

Main Cast

Supporting Cast


  • Karl T. Wright as Sergeant
  • Michael Blakley as Minister
  • Louisa Abernathy as Waitress Marlene

Featured Music

  • "Too Pretty to Say Please" by The Wooden Birds (when Hanna asks Maya about her rehab camp)
  • "With Wings" by Amy Stroup (when Hanna complains to Emily about her dad's wedding)
  • "Give It All" by Right the Stars (when Hanna and Caleb talk when he comes to her house)
  • "Where the Lonely Ones Roam" by Digital Daggers (Dr. Sullivan is kidnapped and the girls are waiting for her in her office.)


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Over My Dead Body has a photo gallery.

Memorable Quotes

Toby: If we had a baby, what would it look like?
Spencer: I'm picturing a newborn with a sixpack.

Hanna [to Maya about True North]: So, is it like nonstop 'just say no' and sunset sing-a-longs?

Hanna: Oh, this is a date, and I’m the clueless goober.

Hanna: You don't think her ear's in here, do you?
Emily: It’s a big box for an ear.

Spencer: A is being our ultimate frenemy, forcing us to get what we want, but knowing that when we do...
Hanna: All hell breaks loose.

Aria: There’s a reason why we can’t just go around telling the truth. Because it comes back to bite you. Hard.

Emily: I get that this is a game, but I don't get it.

Spencer [to Wren]: I've never actually known a guy who carried a hankie. I don’t really know what the protocol is — I don’t know if you want me to wash it first.

Spencer: I never let myself cry in front of anybody, but you made it really easy.
Wren: I often have that effect on women.

Spencer [to Wren]: He would need a forklift to maneuver through my tonnage of emotional debris.

Alison: Two can only keep a secret if one of them is dead.

Alison [to Emily]: I never told you this, but you were always my favorite. Nobody loved me as much as you did. That bitch thinks this is what you really want - to be completely free of "A."

Caleb [to Kate]: That’s a very pretty dress ...but you should know it gives you back fat.

Wilden: The evidence doesn't lie.

Ella: I know why you're here. I actually thought you were an outstanding teacher.
Ezra: I'm in love with her.

Garret: We couldn't have come up with a better plan.
Jenna: I'm sorry they don't know we're doing this to them.

Hanna [to Isabel]: When my dad came back to Rosewood, he hooked up with my mom, and ‘hooked up’ means they slept together.

Garrett: I've been waiting months to get into that storage room. Think I could wait a little longer to quit the force.

Garrett: It's over, Jenna. There's nothing else to link us to that night.
Jenna: She deserved to die like that.

Peter: I was honest with you because I thought it would help.
Jason: I didn't give you a choice. Why do you think I bought that house?

Jason: Ali was great at keeping secrets.

Waitress [to A]: How are you doing tonight, pretty eyes? Want a piece of pie?