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Ghosts don't have fingers, so how is Mona sending us texts?

Over a Barrel
Season 5, Episode 16
Air Date January 20, 2015
Written by Bryan M.Holdman
Directed by Michael Grossman
Episode Guide
Fresh Meat
The Bin of Sin

Over a Barrel is the sixteenth episode of Season 5 of Pretty Little Liars. It aired on January 20, 2015.



The episode opens with the liars at The Brew. Spencer fills them in on the bloody knife that she and Caleb found in the woods and destroyed. The girls are convinced that Holbrook planted the knife. Hanna reveals that she bailed on her college visit and went to see Holbrook’s dad but Holbrook hadn't been there in weeks, meaning he could still be around and have planted that knife. The girls think that if Alison’s 'A' and Holbrook's on her side, he could easily pin the murder on them. Spencer notices that Emily has an envelope addressed to Paige and offers to mail it for her if Emily is having a hard time letting go. But Emily tells her that she is not holding on and that she is just mailing the things she found belonging to Paige. She tells them that she isn't going to visit Paige during spring break as Paige wanted some space. As Hanna and Spencer leave, Aria goes to get a refill of her coffee. She tells Emily that she didn't sleep last night as she was tensed about the letter. Emily assures her that she was at The Brew the whole night and Holbrook didn't show, meaning he


didn’t plant that bookmark threat. Aria tells her that she has to get into another college before Ezra finds out how she got into Talmadge. Emily rings Aria up at the cash register. The receipt begins printing out but doesn't stop and the computer also doesn't respond. When the receipt finally stops printing, they realize that it has printed out the entire letter that Aria wrote to Jackie. At the bottom of the letter, is a note from 'A': "This kind of lie will stay on your permanent record.”


Hanna heads home and is surprised to see Ted in the kitchen with her mom. Ted just got back from Peru. Hanna asks Ashley whether she heard her come home last night and Ted tells that he tried to call the night before but Ashley didn’t answer his call either, to which, Ashley lies that she was asleep. Ashley asks Ted to set up the breakfast on the patio and once he leaves, Ashley asks Hanna about why she bailed on the college visit. Hanna makes up an excuse that she had a migraine. Hanna asks her mother whether she is trying to avoid her as Ashley was not at home when Hanna woke up but Ashley tells her that she just went out to get syrup. Hanna tries to confront Ashley about her hooking up with Jason but Ashley refuses to talk about it.


At The Brew, Emily's new coworker Talia tries to offer Emily some advice on how to make coffee but Emily tells her that she can manage it by herself. Ezra notices the tension between the two and offers to talk to Talia, but Emily declines. Aria tries to talk to Ezra, but he gets a phone call from his contractor. Ezra gets back after finishing the phone call and tells Aria that his friend from Vassar really liked her. He offers to Aria that he’ll ask him to speak on her behalf to the admissions board at Vassar and Aria accepts, as she is desperate to get into any college.


At Spencer’s house, Toby is trying to get Spencer to open her college acceptance letters but Spencer is less than enthusiastic about the acceptances. Toby thinks Spencer is upset because he walked out on her last night after their argument, but Spencer tells him that she is upset because she doesn’t want to go these colleges. She wants to go to an Ivy League college and only applied to these colleges to get away from Alison. Spencer is angry as she thinks that Alison is behind bars and yet she decides where Spencer goes to college. Toby tries to assure her that Alison is in jail and cannot harm her but Spencer reminds him that she was able to plant that knife in Mona’s backyard from jail. Toby is not sure that Alison was the one who planted the knife but Spencer is convinced that Alison had someone on the outside help her plant it. The Hastings’ new tenant Jonny arrives to pay his rent and Toby leaves for work. Johnny notices Toby’s Rosewood police bag and is surprised that he is a cop.


At The Brew, Aria gets a text message: “Stop looking for me. I am tired of hiding. Grille at noon – H.” She thinks the text is from Holbrook and tells Emily that she is going to meet him at the Rosewood Grille. Emily warns her that it is a bad idea. But, Aria is determined to meet Holbrook as she thinks he is the one threatening her about the letter and assures Emily that she’ll be fine. Aria thinks that if he is tired of doing Alison’s dirty work, she might not have to tell Ezra about the letter as he won’t reveal it to Ezra either.


Meanwhile, at Spencer’s house, Spencer asks Jonny if he is transferring to Hollis, now that he is in Rosewood but Jonny tell her that he hasn’t decided anything about college yet. Spencer wants to know about his trip to Italy as


she has always wanted to go there. He offers to tell her about all about his trip in exchange for an egg for the paint he is making. She is getting him an egg, when she is shocked to receive a text. It is an alert containing GPS coordinates from Mona!


Spencer and Hanna rush to Caleb’s to figure out the text message. He informs them that the coordinates are from where the laptop was accessed and came from a security company that sent it out when someone got through the encryption in the laptop. He tells them that Mona setup the alerts such that the four of them would get the text. He tells them that the coordinates are for a storage facility out of town. He logs into the security company’s website and informs Spencer and Hanna that the laptop is still there. Caleb tells them that it seems as if she deliberately made it easy for Caleb to log into the security company’s website so that they could track down the laptop without whoever took it knowing. They think Holbrook is hiding there with the laptop and since Holbrook will be at the Grille meeting Aria, they can snoop around the storage unit without him knowing. Hanna gets a call from Ted asking her to meet him and leaves.


Meanwhile, Aria is outside the Grille, waiting for Holbrook when she runs into Jason DiLaurentis. He invites her to have lunch with him since he was supposed to meet Ashley but she cancelled and he would like to talk to someone about everything that has happened with Alison.

At The Brew, Emily and Talia are again at odds as Talia wants to make some changes around, which annoys Emily. Talia suggests that they should get new uniforms, something “neater”, pointing to the hole in Emily’s T-shirt, which annoys Emily even more.


Spencer and Caleb head to the storage facility and find the unit they are looking for, 1017, but the lock is unbreakable. They run into a teacher, Mrs. Horowitz there. Caleb excuses himself, saying that he has to go to the bathroom. Spencer makes up a story that Caleb is shifting into a new apartment and they are here to pick up some things for him. Spencer asks


Mrs. Horowitz about the unit who tells Spencer that the 1017 storage unit stinks sometimes. When Spencer asks her about the renter, she tells her that she saw a blond girl rush by a few weeks ago but couldn’t see her face. After the teacher leaves, Caleb returns with a shim he made out of the soda can the teacher dumped. They plan to break into the teacher’s unit and crawl through the air ducts into the 1017 unit.


Meanwhile, Jason fills Aria in on Alison’s case. When Aria asks him if their father believes Alison is innocent, he tells her that their father will do anything to protect her, even lie on the witness stand, even if he knew what Alison was capable of. He says that Alison can talk people into anything. Jason reveals that the police have a theory: they think that Alison had help in getting rid of Mona’s body. Aria explains that since Alison passed the lie detector test, she must have had help from the inside, who they think is Holbrook. Aria gets another text, seemingly from Holbrook, telling her to meet at Maple and Prescott, in front of a flower shop.


Hanna gets off the phone with Caleb, who is crawling through the air ducts along with Spencer, and goes to meet Ted. Ted reveals to her that he wants her permission to marry to Ashley and plans to propose to that night at dinner. He wants him, Ashley and Hanna to be a family. Hanna tells him that she's in. After Ted leaves, she drops her mom a voicemail to call her back.


Aria calls Emily and informs her about the location change. Aria thinks Holbrook must have seen her talk to Jason and wants to meet her alone. Emily believes that if Holbrook is going against Alison, he wouldn’t want the news getting back to Alison and gets off the phone. Talia asks Emily if the shirt she’s wearing is a gift from her ex since she is so defensive about it. Emily tries to dismiss it but Talia tells her it can be hard to move on from someone you love.


Spencer and Caleb break into the storage unit by and find Mona’s laptop lying right out in the open. Then there are bags of bloody clothes laid out in plastic evidence bags. They realize that Holbrook must have stashed everything so that he can build a case against one of them. Caleb thinks there is someone there with them, but it’s only a empty hazmat suit. They then find a huge barrel and think that Mona’s body is in it. Spencer notices the chemicals stored there: antacid tablets and denatured alcohol. Spencer informs Caleb that they can be used to preserve a specimen as well as dissolve it. They are about to open the barrel when the lights go out.


Aria is waiting outside the flower shop for Holbrook, when the florist hands her a bouquet. She tells Aria that a guy called and told her to give the flowers to Aria who’d hand deliver them to 34, Turning Leaf Lane. Meanwhile, in Emily’s room, she stitches up the hole in her T-shirt and puts in the envelope she is going to mail to Paige.


Hanna rushes home and demands to know why her mother slept with Jason but Ashley tells her it’s none of her business. Hanna tells her mother that Jason is Alison’s brother after all to which Ashley replies that she is not comfortable with what happened either. Hanna is upset that her mother is cheating on Ted. She thinks that Ted is a great guy and doesn’t want her mom to ruin their relationship.


Spencer and Caleb are at Caleb’s apartment. Spencer is panicking because she is afraid that they left their DNA in the unit. They didn’t open the barrel because they thought it was a trap. Caleb wipes the security footage of the storage facility to make sure there is no evidence of them being there, but there is no sign of a blonde or Holbrook in the security footage either. They try to think of a way to tie Holbrook to the storage facility without endangering themselves. They decide to break into the storage facility’s files and find out whose name the lease is in.


Aria shows up at Hanna’s house with the flowers and says that she was supposed to deliver them to Ashley. Hanna and Aria rush upstairs and Aria reads the card, apparently from Jason: "Last night took me by surprise. Glad I stayed for dessert. -Jason." Aria is confused about what this means and Hanna tries to avoid telling her about Ashley and Jason. She tells Aria that this is just Alison messing with her. She confesses that she visited Alison in jail and that is why she is harassing her. This angers Aria as they had all promised to not see her. Hanna defends herself by saying that she thought Alison was trying to frame Caleb.


Spencer and Toby are playing Scrabble. Toby is concerned about the distance once Spencer leaves for college and doesn’t want to hold her back. Spencer says that Toby should come with her. She gets up to close the window and her phone goes off. Toby sees a text message from Caleb saying, “Found something. Call me.” Spencer won’t tell Toby what she and Caleb are up to and so he orders her to stop digging into things that can get them all in trouble.


At Hanna’s house, after dinner, Ted gets down on one knee and proposes to Ashley but she panics and rushes out of the room. As Hanna walks Ted to the door, she reassures him that everything is okay and her mom had a stressful week and just needs some time to process. After Ted leaves, Ashley cries to Hanna that Ted is a great guy and deserves to know the truth.

Emily stops by The Brew to pick up her paycheck. Talia compliments her, telling her that she is looking good. Talia then comments to Emily that Ezra has “cute buns” making Emily uncomfortable.


Jonny shows up at Spencer’ house for the egg that she promised him. He tells her that he has been reading about all of the murders in Rosewood. He deduces that Spencer is trying to get away from Alison after seeing her acceptance letters. Spencer tells him that after everything that’s happened, she is unable to think about something as simple as college. Jonny reveals to her that he dropped out of college after a semester and traveled to Europe instead. Spencer is amazed by his travels and asks him to tell her more about it and ignores a text from Caleb telling her to call him.


Caleb heads over to Hanna’s house. He reveals that he was looking into the storage units and it took longer than he thought. He informs her that the storage unit is rented in her name and there is a good chance that Mona’s body is hidden inside of it.

The episode ends with someone in a black hoodie signing in to the Rosewood Police computer system with Holbrook’s name and password.


  • Mona's laptop was set to alert the Liars if it were turned on. After an alert is sent out, Spencer and Caleb track the laptop to a storage unit.
  • Jason tells Aria that the police are theorizing that Alison had help in getting rid of Mona’s body.
  • Ted proposes to Ashley, but she tells him she'll have to think about it.
  • Caleb discovers that 'A' rented the storage unit in Hanna's name, and there's a good chance Mona’s body is hidden in a barrel inside the unit.

Title and Background

  • Bryan Holdman tweeted the episode title on August 20, 2014.
  • Over a barrel refers to being in a situation in which someone has no choice about what to do. It also means to have someone totally at your mercy.

Main Cast

Supporting Cast


  • The table read was on August 11, 2014.
  • Filming began August 13, 2014, and wrapped August 20, 2014.
  • The episode was watched live by 1.72 million viewers.

Featured Music

  • "Land of the Innocent" by Feathers - (At The Brew the girls discuss the knife Spencer & Caleb found and Holbrook’s possible involvemen).
  • "Good Mistake" by Mr. Little Jeans - (Ezra comments on the friction between Emily & Talia; Aria tries to talk to Ezra when he gets a call from his contractor).
  • "Jacket Inside" by Fort Jams - (Aria shows Emily a text message from 'H').
  • "Rock the Ride" by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - (Emily & Talia discuss placing of The Brews cleaning supplies placement when Talia suggests to Emily that the Brew get uniforms for the staff).
  • "It Should've Been You" by Maggie Chapman - (Talia asks Emily if her t-shirt belonged to her ex, then suggests she needs to try wearing something new).
  • "Cured of Youth" by Tennis - (Ezra looks through receipts at The Brew when Emily comes in to get her paycheck; Talia comments on Emily clothes then on Ezra's "cute buns").


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Over a Barrel has a photo gallery.