Let's all start with a clean slate.

To Plea or Not to Plea
Season 5, Episode 22
Air Date March 3, 2015
Written by Jonell Lennon
Directed by Arthur Anderson
Episode Guide
Bloody Hell
The Melody Lingers On

To Plea or Not to Plea is the twenty-second episode of Season 5 of Pretty Little Liars. It aired on March 3, 2015.


Alison is meeting with her lawyer, Rebecca. Rebecca informs her that Veronica has reviewed Alison’s case and agrees that Alison taking the stand is a bad idea since no jury will believe her and there is no one to corroborate her story either. Alison tells her that Cyrus will confirm her story that he called Alison on Thanksgiving Day to meet with him. But Rebecca tells her that since Alison claims that Cyrus was the one who “kidnapped” her, if Cyrus is brought to testify, her kidnapping story will fall apart. Alison tells her that there is someone else who can testify that she was set up. Rebecca asks her if this person knows for a fact where Alison was at the time of the murder but Alison tells her that he doesn’t. Before she can continue, Rebecca cuts her off, saying that however compelling this person’s testimony is, if they can’t corroborate Alison’s story, it’s no use. Alison tells her that she can’t just sit back and hope that she is acquitted. Rebecca tells her that there is another option: the D.A. is offering her a plea bargain. If Alison pleads guilty and names an accomplice, Alison gets sentenced 15 years and can get out in 10 years with good behavior. Rebecca tells her to think it over, but Alison snaps that there is no way she is taking the plea deal because she didn’t kill Mona. Rebecca warns her that if the case goes to trial, her chances of getting acquitted are low since the prosecution has substantial evidence against her. If found guilty, she could go to prison for life without chance for parole. Rebecca also informs her that the police are already building a case against her accomplice who they think is Hanna.

In London, Melissa returns home and finds Spencer on her laptop. Melissa is upset when Spencer informs her that she is going home early. She reminds Spencer that she has a college interview at St. Andrew’s tomorrow and can’t miss it since Veronica went out of her way to arrange it but Spencer doesn’t want to attend the interview. Spencer tells her that there’s too much going on at home with her friends and Toby. She explains that Toby became a cop to protect her and now it’s ruining their relationship. Melissa tells Spencer that sometimes, relationships run their course and a little distance is required to realize that. Melissa thinks that the best part about living in London is getting a fresh start away from Rosewood and urges Spencer to stay in London and not miss out on the opportunity for a fresh start of her own.

Back in Rosewood, at school, Emily informs Aria that according to Hanna, Alison doesn’t know Varjak, but Aria doesn’t believe Alison. Emily thinks that Alison has no reason to lie since her life is on the line but Aria tells her that so is Mike’s. Emily decides that they should talk to Cyrus but Aria had called the hospital that morning and was told that Cyrus experienced a “setback” and is in the ICU. Emily thinks that Mike should tell the cops about what he knows, but Aria disagrees, saying she doesn’t want Mike to end up in jail with Alison. Emily suggests that they should ask Ezra for help. Before Aria can answer, the bell rings and students start filling in the classroom.

Colin invites Spencer to go out with him to see a play since his friend dropped out, but Spencer wants to stay in and prepare for her interview. Colin tells her that Melissa told him about Spencer’s love for Shakespeare. Hearing that they play is Hamlet, which happens to be her favourite, Spencer giddily accepts.

Veronica pays Ashley a visit. Veronica tells her about the plea offered to Alison. Veronica also warns Ashley that the police are building a case against Hanna and are planning to arrest her as an accomplice to Mona’s murder. The police found bone fragments in the barrel. Although the fragments are too small to conduct DNA tests, Tanner is sure that they are Mona’s. Also, Tanner saw Hanna at the storage unit the day the barrel was found. Ashley argues that it is impossible since Hanna doesn’t even talk to Alison but Veronica reveals that Hanna has been visiting her in jail. Hanna overhears their conversation.

Hanna rushes to school and fills Emily in on what she overheard. Hanna is scared that Alison is going to take the plea and throw her under the bus. Emily thinks that Alison wouldn’t do such a thing since she knows Hanna is innocent. Hanna is skeptical since she thinks that Alison looks out for herself and now Hanna is an easy target. Emily says that she is going to the jail to talk to Alison, but Aria informs them that Alison is not taking any visitors. According to Jason, her lawyer got her so rattled about the trial, Alison is thinking about taking the plea.

Emily and Aria are discussing whether they should call Spencer and tell her what is going on. Emily wants to tell her but Aria tells her to hold off until they know more since she doesn’t want Spencer bombing her interview. Emily thinks they should talk to Ezra but Aria deflects, saying that she has to get to a history test. Aria opens her locker and a note from Andrew falls out. Emily reads it and is shocked to see that he is asking her out to dinner. Aria confesses that she kissed Andrew. Emily questions her about Ezra but Aria has no idea what is going on with her and Ezra. Emily says she will go talk to Ezra.

Hanna rushes to Caleb’s and fills him in on Alison’s plea deal. She is worried that since Caleb was with her at the storage unit, after Hanna is arrested, Tanner will come after Caleb. Caleb reassures her that if there was enough evidence against Hanna, she would already be in jail. He tells her that he is going to ask Toby what the police have on her but Hanna doesn’t think Toby will tell them anything. There’s a knock at the door. Ashley arrives and orders Hanna to come home with her.

Emily fills Ezra in on Varjak. He tells her that in all of his research, he never heard the name Varjak. He remembers the passport Hanna found in Alison’s house under the name Varjak. Emily informs him that all that and the letter the lawyer gave them was a set up by either ‘A’ or Mona. Alison doesn’t know anything about it. Ezra tells Emily that she should talk to Mona’s lawyer, James Neilan as Ezra believes he was in on it.

In London, Melissa lends Spencer a dress to wear for her night out. Spencer and Melissa discuss their relationship. Melissa thinks that she shouldn’t have held on to the secret so long. Melissa tells her that at first she was doing it to protect Spencer, but then to protect herself. Spencer doesn’t think she would’ve done the same thing as Melissa but Melissa thinks that you don’t know what you’re capable of until you’re in the situation. Something wrong may seem right when you’re protecting someone you love. Spencer hopes they can start over and have no lies between them, and Melissa agrees.

Ezra meets with Mona’s lawyer, James Neilan under the guise of consulting him about franchising. Ezra brings up Mona and asks him if Mona really hired him to deliver a package in the event of her death, or if someone else hired him to do it and say it was from Mona. James tries to kick Ezra out of his office, but Ezra simply states that he can either tell him or the police. Emily and Aria are waiting outside Neilan’s office for Ezra. Ezra comes out and there is obvious awkwardness between him and Aria. He informs them that Neilan wouldn’t give him any information. Neilan runs out of his office, jumps in his car and drives off. Emily, Aria, and Ezra decide to follow him. Meanwhile in jail, Alison returns to her cell and sees that someone has ransacked it. On the wall it’s written: “Take The Plea”.

At Hanna’s house, Ashley is furious with Hanna and demands to know what she was doing at the storage unit. Hanna confesses that she went there to empty out the storage unit because someone put her name on the lease for the storage space and is trying to set her up. Ashley asks her if Alison is framing her. Hanna tells her that Alison is innocent; someone is framing both of them. Hanna and Ashley sit down and Hanna fills Ashley in on what happened at the storage unit. Ashley can’t believe that Hanna kept all of this from her, but Hanna tells her she didn’t want Ashley to get involved. Ashley tells her that it’s her job to protect Hanna. Ashley asks her if she knows who is setting them up. Hanna replies that initially she thought it was Alison but now, she has no idea.

Meanwhile in London, Spencer is having a great night at a bar with Colin. They discuss the play. Spencer admits that although the play was horrible, it got her thinking about starting over. Colin tells her although he doesn’t know about Hamlet, he believes that Spencer can start over. Spencer and Colin are enjoying themselves and playing darts. Spencer questions Colin whether he already had those tickets or if he bought them that morning. Colin tells her that he already had them. He adds that if he had known that Spencer loves Shakespeare, he would’ve bought them for her.

Ezra, Emily, and Aria follow Neilan to a house surrounded by a huge fence in the middle of nowhere. In the car, Aria gets a message from Andrew. Ezra is curious about who Andrew is. Neilan drives through the gate. Emily rushes inside the gate before it closes, but Ezra and Aria are locked outside. Emily says that she is going to go look around despite Aria and Ezra warning her not to. Emily assures them that she’ll be fine and leaves to investigate while Aria and Ezra look for another way into the property. Unbeknownst to them, they are being watched by a security camera. In jail, Alison is in the laundry room. All the inmates leave the room one by one and lock the doors from the outside. Alison hears a noise and sees a shadow walking towards her. Unable to escape, she screams for help.

Neilan is talking on the phone and enters a cabin. Ezra and Aria are looking around the property. Aria tells him that Andrew is helping her study to keep her spot at SCAD. Ezra congratulates her about her acceptance. Ezra thinks Aria is avoiding him, but she tells him that she isn’t, it’s just been a crazy week. Aria then suggests that they split up and runs off. Meanwhile, Alison has made it out of the laundry room. She calls Rebecca and asks her that if she accepts the plea deal, will the judge promise to move her somewhere safer.

In London, Spencer and Colin get home from the bar, soaking wet. He offers to make her a drink but she wants to go to bed. Spencer tells him that she had a great time and Colin admits that he did too. He is upset that she is leaving so soon and leans in for a kiss and Spencer kisses him back.

Veronica pays Alison a visit in jail. She can’t believe that Alison is taking the plea deal, although she was adamant on telling the truth. Alison tells her that things change and Veronica notices the wounds on Alison’s arm. Alison explains that if she goes to court, she could spend the rest of her life in prison. Veronica warns her that if she names Hanna as her accomplice and Hanna is innocent, she will have to live with that for the rest of her life.

Outside the cabin, Emily is snooping around. She finds a pizza box in the garbage with the name Varjak on the receipt. Emily watches through a window as Neilan empties the contents of a locker into a bag. As Neilan peeks out the window, Emily backs away from the window, making a sound. Neilan comes closer to the window, with a gun in hand, to inspect the noise and Emily ducks under the window to hide.

Caleb rushes to Hanna’s house. He informs that he talked to Toby. Although Toby didn’t reveal what evidence the police have against her, he told Caleb that a judge just issued a warrant for her arrest. Hanna presumes that Alison took the plea deal and named her as an accomplice. Hanna decides that she has to leave town. Caleb tells her that it’s not an option since the police will find her. He urges her to tell Tanner all about ‘A’. Hanna thinks that telling Tanner everything is not her decision since Emily, Spencer and Aria are also involved but Caleb tells her that there’s no time to discuss it with them. Hanna tells him that if she tells Tanner about ‘A’, all of their secrets will come unraveled. Caleb assures her that her friends will understand, but Hanna doesn’t want to screw them over like she thinks Alison did to her. Caleb convinces her to go to Tanner since she
doesn’t have any other choice. Caleb drives Hanna to the police station and reassures her that Tanner will believe everything she has to say because she has the messages from ‘A’ on her phone as proof. Hanna marches inside and tells the officer at the front desk that she and Alison are being framed for Mona’s murder and she needs to speak to Tanner. While they are standing there waiting for Tanner, someone hacks into Hanna’s phone and deletes all the messages from ‘A’.

Emily hides in the bushes and watches as Neilan is about to get in his car and leave. Aria gets worried about Emily and calls her. Neilan hears Emily’s phone vibrate and checks the trees around. Not spotting Emily, he drives away in his car. Emily runs out the gate behind him. Aria gets a text informing her of Hanna’s arrest and they rush to the police station.

At the police station, as Hanna is being booked, Ezra and Caleb tell Aria and Emily to show Tanner the ‘A’ messages on their phones so that they can save Hanna. But all the ‘A’ messages on their phone have been deleted. Emily shows them the receipt and points out the cell phone number on it. Ezra thinks they can use the number to find ‘A’ and clear Hanna’s name. Ashley rushes to the police station. Veronica tells her that Hanna’s
lawyers are trying to get her out on bail, but the chances are bleak. Ashley doesn’t understand how Hanna was arrested only on Alison’s word. Veronica informs her that Alison didn’t take the plea deal. The reason Hanna was arrested is because they found the clothes that Mona was wearing when she was murdered and there are traces of Hanna’s blood on them.

Spencer gets news of Hanna’s arrest. She’s packing her bags to leave. Melissa tries to convince Spencer to stay. Spencer wants to reschedule her interview and asks for the number of Veronica’s friend’s who got her the interview. Melissa confesses that she and Veronica faked the college interview to keep her in London, although Wren is trying his best to get her into St. Andrew’s. Melissa explains that when Veronica found out that Alison was offered a plea bargain, she was sure that Alison would name Spencer as her accomplice and so wanted to keep Spencer in London. Spencer freaks out at Melissa that they weren’t going to lie to each other anymore. Melissa tells her that she was trying to protect her, but Spencer snaps that the last time Melissa tried to protect her, someone got killed. Spencer’s cab arrives and she leaves.

At The Brew, Emily calls the number on the receipt for the pizza place. Aria meets up with Ezra. Aria admits to him that she has been avoiding him for the past few days. Aria tells him that she did miss out on a lot of high school experiences because of their relationship and although she doesn’t regret being with him, she wants to be single when she goes away to college. Ezra tells her she’s making the right choice and thinks that they should break up now instead counting down the days till she goes. Aria and Ezra agree that they’ll figure out a way to stay in each other’s lives.

Hanna is booked and led to her cell. As she passes Alison’s cell, she glares at her. Alison meets with her lawyer, who tells her that the judge is ready to move her to a minimum security prison and that she has to meet with the D.A. that afternoon to name her accomplice. Alison announces that she is not taking the plea deal as she has changed her mind.


  • Alison is offered a plea deal: if she pleads guilty, and names an accomplice, she'll be sentenced 15 years, but can be out after 10 years with good behavior. She is also told that if she doesn't take the deal she could be put in prison for life without parole. She later refuses the deal.
  • Aria, Emily, and Ezra find what they believe to be Varjak's house.
  • Spencer and Colin kiss.
  • Veronica reveals that tests confirmed there were bone fragments in the barrel from the storage unit, but they were too small to get any DNA.
  • Aria and Ezra end their relationship.
  • Hanna is arrested as an accomplice to Mona's murder as her blood was found on the clothes Mona was wearing the day she died.

Title and Background

  • Netflix in the Netherlands revealed the episode title to be "To Plea or Not to Plea". Source
  • The title is a play on words with the famous first sentence from a monologue from William Shakespeare's tragedy, Hamlet, "to be or not to be."
  • The title refers to Alison's situation, if she were to prove her innocence or by sacrificing one of the Liars.

Main Cast

Supporting Cast


  • Filming began October 15, 2014 and wrapped October 23, 2014.
  • The episode was watched live by 1.49 million viewers.

Featured Music

  • "Background" by Barcelona - (Spencer & Colin play darts, then she questions whether he bought the tickets to the play for her then they almost kiss.)
  • "Heartbeat" by Michelle Anderson - (Emily asks Ezra if he's ever came across the name 'Varjak' in his research.)
  • "Just Like Dreaming" by Javier Dunn - (Spencer buys Colin & herself a beer, then they discuss their thoughts about the interpretation of Hamlet they just saw.)
  • "Terrible Thing" by AG - (Alison sees Hanna being taken to her cell; Allison talks to her lawyer, Rebecca, about her plea deal.)


BTS & Promotional




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