Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Episode 12 Recap: Mona Dies!

#RIPMona. Team Vanderwaal for life!

Warning: Please note that this article is a full recap for Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Episode 12 and therefore contains major spoilers. Please do not scroll down until you have watched the gut-wrenching #FatalFinale — titled “Taking This One To The Grave” — which aired on Tuesday, August 26th on ABC Family!

Spencer Hastings and Janel Parrish in "Taking This One To The Grave" - Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Episode 12 recap


The episode opens to a chaotic scene. A crime has just been committed by the George R. R. Martin of the PLL writing staff a murderer and the girls are trying to assess the situation, their faces stricken with grief and disgust. Unfortunately, they don’t have time to process all the shit that just hit the fan because not even a dead body can put a stop to A’s addiction to texting. The bitch sends them an alert basically blaming them for the town’s latest murder. Ugh. So now what? Well, hop into our PLL time machine (that was probably built by Caleb’s magical fireflies) and witness the spine-tingling events that occurred just a mere thirty six hours earlier!

Liar Liar: First up is Alison’s (Sasha Pieterse) lie detector test at the local precinct. With Lucas’ improv skills, the Liars and Mona are able to hack into the police department’s system and steal files from the session. In these video recordings, Ali, “the unofficial” leader of the pack, answers a series of bland questions, including the color of her shirt and her legal name, while Detective Holbrook (Sean Faris) observes her with intrigue. But then things grow interesting! Ali gets asked a lot of q’s about Spencer and her whereabouts the night of the barn sleepover. The interrogator wants to know all about Spencer’s abuse of amphetamines and whether she was desperate to keep her secrets safe. Alison admits that Spencer had a tendency to get angry and emotional while on drugs, but she promised her she wouldn’t say anything. She then sits up a little straighter and her face grows stone cold: “I didn’t have anything to do with Bethany Young’s murder.” The girls shut the laptop and start analyzing everything they just heard, and Mona points out that, although nothing major was revealed, the cops sure seem obsessed with Spencer. Not only that, but after they do some digging on the police database they discover an affidavit that was sent to the district attorney the day after Bethany’s body was dug up: “Spencer Hastings murdered Bethany Young to gain favor with the group’s leader.” WHAT? That spirals everyone into a frenzy! Lucky, before the Liars spontaneously combust from emotional turmoil overload, Mona cools them down with an easy-peasy solution — sneak back into Radley to figure out Ali’s connection to Miss Opposite of Old!

In Mona We Trust: Back at the pristine Vanderwaal home, Mona (Janel Parrish) is jamming to some old-fashioned Parisian lullabies and leisurely reading. Her quiet evening is interrupted by a knock at the door; her mom (Sydney Penny) informs her that she has visitors and the look of delight upon Mona’s face breaks our hearts. (Even her mom looks thrilled — Mona probably doesn’t get too many visitors.) All she’s ever wanted was to belong, and even if she went through some drastic means to get attention, she’s just a young girl with simple dreams and big brains (not cow ones though), trying to make it in this cruel hyper-reality. Anyway, Mona heads downstairs and finds the Liars waiting for her. They need her help! “Because you’re Mona,” Aria explains, pretty much naming her the Chuck Bass of Rosewood. Mona then goes all Chuck Norris on them and is like ‘Let’s get this Delta Force on the Road, ladies!’ She apologizes for taking her Ali frustration out on them (getting branded as the school’s biggest loser by a manipulative bitch takes a toll on a person and then heads upstairs to alert her army that Alison is plotting something big.

Mutiny: Unfortunately for Mona, none of her minions have her back. When she heads to the Brew to meet up with them, only Lucas (Brendan Robinson) shows up. He hesitates to tell her what’s going on because the truth hurts, baby! But he cracks under the pressure and reveals everyone has turned on her so that they can follow “Saint Alison.” Oh, and another thing? They’re calling her Crazy Mona which is as uninspired as it is rude. (Just because someone does a stint at Radley and runs her SUV over her BFF’s legs doesn’t make her psychos!) Mona gathers the girls up to inform them of this tiny change of plans (namely that Ali has gone “full-on socio”) and that the only reason Ali ever befriend them in the first place was to “play” with them like dolls. Spencer is the smart one, Emily is loyal, Hanna is the one who is most admiring, and Aria is compassionate. Unbeknownst to Ali though, her friends are just like little balls of onions — full of layers and wonderfully complex. But they’re freaking out because they can’t exactly backpedal on the whole “kidnapping” story without appearing guilty.

Bad Girl, Good Cop: Spencer kicks off the episode with some sexual seduction and foreplay courtesy of her police-academy-graduate boo. ‘Oh don’t arrest me, Officer, for I’ve been a very naughty girl,’ she coos while fluttering her lashes at Toby (Keegan Allen), who’s looking ultra fine in his uniform and seems excited about being in the dominant position for once. And in case the truck and her affection weren’t enough, she  presents him with a shiny pocket watch because #SPOBYFANFICTIONISREAL. Ironically though, Spencer ends the evening with an arrest as well — but this time with real handcuffs (of the non-furry variety) and real Miranda rights read to her. Apparently Detective Holbrook doesn’t understand that coffee hour at the Brew is sacred and interrupts her mid-sip to tell her that she has the right to remain silent. He carts her off to prison for the murder of Bethany Young. And even though her besties rush to her defense, the damage is done and she’ll need Olivia Benson aka Veronica Hastings aka Mama Lawyer to use her legal prowess to free her before she starts rocking doo-rags and sending cock-roaches on cigarette runs! (Honestly though, the only crime this chick is guilty of is destroying all remnants of decaf coffee in the local area.)

The Paily Sun Also Rises: Christmas has come early, sweethearts! Emily wants nothing more than to patch things up with Paige (Lindsey Shaw), but she’s worried that her ex has already moved on to another relationship. Fortunately for Em, Paige forgives her for doubting her intentions and loyalty, and gives meaning to the adage “actions speak louder than words” by planting a sweet kiss upon her fair lady’s lips right in the school hallway. Hooray! And that’s not all — Paige even assist Em into turning her home into a winter wonderland and joins in all the sleuthing activities, too! Upon spotting Alison hanging with a bunch of random people at an isolated barn, Paige realizes her tormentor is building an army comprised solely of Death Eaters and fills Emily in on the latest development in the case of How Bat-shit Crazy is Alison DiLaurentis. (#WhatWouldBatmanDo? More like #WhatWouldMcCullersDo yo!)

Divergent: Will Emily (Shay Mitchell) ever stopped getting dragged down into the whirlpool of Alison’s drama? YES! Emily proves she doesn’t roll with the punches; she is an independent woman and can make up her own mind, even with Ali trying to inject her with her special poison of manipulation. And what exactly is Em in such a huff about? Oh, you know — how Alison may or may not be A. You see, Em needs to distract Ali so she invites her over pretending she wants to kiss and makeup. Alison almost buys the act, except for the fact that she’s weirdly familiar with Mrs. Fields’ grocery shopping schedule and has a tendency to go through people’s phones. When Em leaves the room, Alison leafs through Em’s texts and uncovers the whole plot. Em doesn’t even blink a single eyelash as she tells Ali, ‘Bitch, I know you put steroids in my pain cream!’ Ali stares at her with equal amounts of hate and pride. “That was quite the performance, Em. Bravo,” she hisses, before leaving to join her two new twin minions, Cindy and Mindy.


Nurse Betties: Because having two old-fashioned nurse costumes that fit as perfectly as a black leather glove upon a stalker’s hand and a Marauder’s Map that highlights all the unsecured entry points at Radley is totally normal, Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Mona are able to sneak their way into the building. (High security alert! There are two flawless vixens strolling the halls.) Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Hanna (Ashley Benson) keep watch in their car and talk about important stuff like how Hanna pulled a Buffy and aced her “SCT” so now she can apply to the same “braniac” universities as her friends. (How cute is Caleb when he’s proud of his smarty-pants girlfriend?) However, their sweet convo is cut short when Detective Holbrook pulls up to the premises. Hanna and Caleb immediately hide behind their car visors (LOL! That’s almost as ridiculous as Hanna wearing studs and sparkles to a stakeout!) and alert their friends to hurry up. Thankfully Aria (Lucy Hale) is there to create a diversion (she spills red paint all over the immaculate floors), and then starts blabbering on about how she wanted to be a dancer but her legs are much too short for ballet. (Between this, the missing artwork, and giving Rhonda soda pop, we’re pretty sure the nurses have a secret burn book solely dedicated to Aria “Klutz” Montgomery.) As she kneels down to clean up her mess, Holbrook appears and basically asks her, ‘Are you a cold-hearted snake? Have you been telling lies? How many fiddlers have your accidentally killed lately’? Aria snaps at him that this isn’t protocol (she’s watched enough Law & Order: SVU to know) and storms out of that joint. Meanwhile, Spencer and Mona gather intel and chat about college. (Mona got into three schools already. Congrats, girl!)


The Pie Master: Mmm! Smell that? It’s the scrumptious scent of baked goods, courtesy of Ezra Fitz (Ian Harding). The blue-eyed hunk drops by Casa de Montgomery because her family has decided to overlook the fact that he’s her teacher — and stalked her for nearly two years — and invites him to Thanksgiving dinner. He wants to make sure he’s worth a “second look” so he comes bearing Colgate smiles and pumpkin pies. He’s even down with plucking Granny Rose’s chin hairs and putting up with her tootin’! Aww — at least he’s making an effort to butter them up and win back Aria’s trust via heaps and heaps of sugary delights!

Unfaithful: As it turns out, Mrs. Jessica DiLaurentis loved to get down and dirty! Apparently, not only did she have an affair with Spencer’s dad but also with Bethany Young’s dad. She took one look at his handsome old face and was all, ‘He can get it!’ Spencer and Mona stumble upon a recording in which Bethany complains how Ali’s mom is a two-faced street urchin who can’t be trusted. She then ponders aloud whether Alison was at all like her mom — which leads to the girls wondering if Bethany and Ali were acquaintances.

Crash Into Me: After getting irate with Spencer for not showing up to his “po po school graduation” celebration, Toby calls her to find out where she is. Spencer doesn’t want to be like ‘Oh just breaking and entering — you know, the usual’ so she fibs and pisses off Toby. But they agree to still meet up so he jumps into his car and away he goes. Unfortunately, the joy ride comes to a screeching halt when the show borrows a plot twist from Glee Season 3. Toby get distracted by his phone and bada bing bada boom…another vehicle collides into his. Luckily, as we learn when the show flashes forward to Thanksgiving, he’s okay with the exception of a broken leg. Spencer, overcome with guilt, tells the girls she told her wheelchair-bound “bed buddy” everything. (Hopefully Toby has enough cash saved up to pay for his car repairs and that cast!)

Buh Bye, Mona: Many fans suspected that Mona was going to get the boot, but no one wanted to believe it. After all, she’s one and only Vanderjesus of Rosewood. She’s vulnerable yet diabolical, totally geekish yet oh-so-sassy and we adore her as much as Ezra adores pie, vests, and cans of chick peas. Anyway, after figuring out that Ali lured Bethany to town under false pretenses, she calls up Aria to spill the deets. “Alison set her up,” she declares. “She was jealous, and she wanted Bethany dead. Aria, Alison is A. And now I can prove it.” Upon hearing those words, Aria hangs up and grabs Ezra to head over to the Vanderwaal house. Unfortunately for Mona, the Devil wears fancy blonde wigs and has the ability to creep around her house unnoticed. And because this is Rosewood, this wannabe Dark Lord sneaks up on the greatest teen mastermind to ever exist and brutally cuts her up like Edward Scissorhands would an ice sculpture.

Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Episode 12 recap

Just so we're clear.

Away in a Manger: Later on, during a press conference (which is held BEFORE anyone even bothers to tell her own mother that she’s gone for good), Holbrook confirms that although Mona’s body is missing, the amount of blood smeared across the walls indicates her wounds were fatal. She was MURDERED! Everyone is freaking out, save for Alison who slithers in between cars and smirks as though she’s a citizen from the Capitol watching The Hunger Games for the very first time.And in case that isn’t morbid enough, the disturbed individual responsible for this wicked deed hooded figure heads home to work on a little DIY project: inserting a photo of the four Liars into a snow globe. He/she then heads out to steal the Baby Jesus from Emily’s manger and place it upon Mona’s cold, dead body — all while placing a Nerdy Mona doll into the wee basket because that’s how you pay proper homage to Vanderjesus, son!


What are your thoughts on Mona’s gruesome death? Are you as flabbergasted as we are? Irate? Upset? Spill! Who do you think killed her? And based on the startling information revealed in the Pretty Little Liars #FatalFinale, who is A in your opinion? Let’s take this discussion to the comments, and hugs to you all. May the force of Mona Vanderwaal always be with you.

The Pretty Little Liars grieve in episode 5x12 upon learning that Mona died. - "Taking This One To The Grave" recap



  1. Anna Said:

    I’m totally shocked! And after this I don’t think that Mona makes all of this up so we think she’s dead. The last scene is almost perverse! That look on her face.. and what A is doing to her!! I really think Ali is A.. or maybe they take some parts of the book and show us her secret twin-sister ;)…Speechless!

  2. Phyllis Said:

    Hi, I know I’m not your target audience but,
    Here I am. I saw the show with my daughter
    And we loved it. We were really sad to see
    Mona go and it was awful to see her in that
    I think Alison is A, because she knew who
    Was dead and she had no emotion at all
    In fact she was very smug.
    So the girls should look out, be careful around
    Ali. I hope she gets what she’s dishing out
    And soon

  3. Theo Said:

    @Phyllis Wanna know a secret? ;) There’s no such thing as target audience when it comes to PLL. We’re all one clue-collecting family! That said, I do have a feeling Alison is A, too. Such a sociopath! Many thanks to you and your daughter for tuning in — hope you enjoyed this summer finale despite that sad ending.

  4. zahra Said:

    whAt just hAppend!! That truly was a fAtal finale! Mona VanDerWal will be missed, her character had so many shades and twists…but next season will be sure to bring us more drama coming up, guaranteed. “A” has to be the one and only Alison DiLaurentis – Whoever it is, I could’ve sworn A may have help from one of the liars, but I’m not sure anymore! Each season makes the web of lies more tangled! BTW…those dolls are still creepy! ! Keep it coming PLL :)

  5. Gigi Said:

    Maybe Mona isn’t actually dead? i know we saw her body, but with pll not everything is always as it seems…

  6. Katie Said:


  7. Em Said:

    @Gigi Mona said in her interview before the finale premiered that whoever dies in the #fatalfinale will stay dead.

  8. Jada Said:

    It was very sad to see Mona go the way she did because she was barley starting to help out the girls in solving the case or trying to at least. Although Mona did try to hurt the girls at one point I always felt bad for her because of what Alison did to her and how she made her feel. At this point I have no idea who A is, but who ever it is is making our brain hurt from so much thinking. And PLEASE don’t kill Ezra in the seasons to come, my heart can’t handle that!<3 :D

  9. michelle Said:

    mona is really dead. janel herself confirmed it. i’m just so upset, she was a big part of what made pll. she was the original A and that’s how the show started. it’s the death that really got to me. i cried. at least we’ll see flashbacks with her :(
    and i was hoping for a halloween special, but we get a christmas one?

    and there’s two / half seasons left and the closer we get to the end the more questions i have. i love to hate this show but i love to love it more.

  10. Georgia Said:

    We all know that ali is A i cried so hard from this episode and i dont think i can wait till october :( :(

  11. Fanzene Said:

    We all knew this day would come. Can’t believe it happened so fast. Goodbye mona! You were my favourite :(
    That scene where mona looks in the mirror and says, “game over Ali, I win,!” That scene gutted me! What a form return for pll. And on the bright side, we might see mona in flashbacks, which is still cool. I really hope they rap up the rosewood mystery surrounding Ali this season. Season 6 should be a time jump and a complete new mystery, that is developed from the old one. Love this show!!

  12. Katia Said:

    I expected this. Remember the doll of dead Mona that A sent to the liars? It was just a Matter of Time.

  13. Alexa Said:

    When mona fucking died

  14. Lorin Said:

    Im totally going to have to say Alison is NOT A. How many times have the PLL writers had us all anxious about who A was and CERTAIN it was someone? A trillion! Dont forget, when we found out Mona was A THAT was a shock. If they make it Alison and it’s been this obvious, no one would keep watching! I think there’s something deeper here. Excited to see what exactly!

  15. Mea Said:

    If Ali is A then who tried to kill her all those times? We did after all, see her almost strangled earlier in the season.

  16. Inde Said:

    I really believe that Alison was innocent and that she wasn’t as mean and vindictive as everyone said, BUT now I have a completely different image of her. I do not like her at all, I think she sent ceecee drake to kill Mona. I was actually starting to like Mona and I was very upset that she was killed but let’s face it anyone that knows anything more than what they should is pron to die. Alison could very well be A, but she will get what she deserves sooner or later. The lairs always find truth.

  17. sara Said:

    what is the song called, that you can hear in the ending of the episode? :D

  18. Stesha Said:

    What a juicy episode! Since the episode started it seemed kind of ominous that Mona was going to die, but I didn’t think they’d actually go through with it! I kinda thought we’d see a twist, like Ali’s body or something. Was finally starting to like Mona & she really has been a huge part of the show so I’m sad to see her go. It seems too obvious Ali being A, but they sure wanted us to think so with the blonde hair & her ice cold reaction to Mona’s death! Totally hooked on this show!

  19. Ana Said:


  20. Susan Said:

    I absolutely hate it that they killed Mona. She was the most interesting of them all.

  21. Stacie Cardwell Said:

    i think allie is A & it blows my mind why would she kill Mona #RIPMONA!

  22. Theo Said:

    @Susan I hope she haunts them all! (I know the show isn’t supernatural but a girl can dream!)

  23. sarah Said:

    What is up with all the twins throughout the show? Does this hold some dark secret. I know in the book Allison has a twin, but I’m just really wondering if that is what is going on here!

  24. Gloria Said:

    Janel Parrish will appear in next seasons but just as a flashback.. so, yes, Mona is dead for real.

  25. keisha marie Said:

    Finding out ali might or is a thhe fact tht she made all the liars go thru hell for 4 years and tht I wont see losermona anymore I started to like her for helping all the liars ughh #ripmona

  26. Chantal Said:

    I already knew it was Mona. It was pretty much a big indicator in the beginning of the show. The house, Mona’s mom appearing FINALLY on the show after 4 seasons and Janel Parrish taking over IG for the day. It was obvious. The clues was staring us in the face. I felt like we were cheated with this episode. I wanted to be surprised, and I wasn’t. They used to be better than this. I hated that Mona is dead though and no longer on PLL. It’s cool to see her in flashbacks but won’t be the same.

  27. Amit Said:

    She was the character I loved to hate. I’m so sad she’s gone.

  28. John Said:

    I don’t think Ali is ‘A.’ Why? Firstly, there was a fight, broken glass, blood downstairs, etc.. Secondly, ‘A’s’ hair was tangled (could see when entered room) and unless Alison decided to have a makeover in between the time Mona died and the Liars came to her house, it wasn’t her. For all we know it could have been a wig. There are still at least 2.5 seasons left. A isn’t going to be revealed yet. I’m thinking Ali may be involved (blackmailed?) or just covering her own butt.

  29. John Said:

    In other news CeCe is back for Christmas. She’s high on my suspect list. If Ali was being blackmailed, or if CeCe was pretending to help her, she could easily manipulate the situation, not to mention she was wearing that yellow top that both Ali and Bethany had, AND she was talking with Melissa ‘that night.’ Also, remember when she was talking to Holbrook? “I know who killed that girl (Beth)/(hurt her)the same person who’s still trying to.” Either she was playing the cops or she knows something.

  30. kylie Said:

    This season so far has been intense!
    just when you think you understand what is going on it completely changes. ive accused everyone so far this season outside of the
    liars of being A and then something completely wild happens.
    I dont think Alison is A. but who knows right?
    I love this show it keeps me on my toes every week.
    ive started to read the entire series and I enjoy that the plot is different from what they are putting on tv. #teamspoby ♡

  31. kylie Said:

    and I dont think Alison has the guts to actually kill someone.
    plan it and hire someone yes. her hair and makeup looked perfect stalking behind trucks to have brutally killed mona just moments before. A isnt Alison

  32. Sarah Said:

    I loved Mona. Is it bad that I’m nearly 30 and even I fancied Toby n that uniform :) I’d like to see one of the girls have a style crisis, they’re far too stylish ha ha

  33. Lucy Said:

    Best finale by far!! Loved the hints they dropped…but what was with Hanna suddenly being uber smart all of a sudden? It was such a short clip and Hanna is one of my favs, but I wonder if this will be important later on…As for the hair differences with whoever went into Mona’s house – total Ali hair going up the stairs and whoever surprised Mona had the bluntest hair cut – like they chopped off a pony tail or used a knife on it! Didn’t look like a wig! Cece maybe?

  34. Gladys Llanes Said:

    “they can’t kill Mona?! she’s MONA!”

    Still deeply devastated with her loss. She’s one of the best people who make PLL interesting. Original -A will never be gone. She’ll always stay with our memories. Maybe there will be other characters to go in. as Mona said once, “One girl checks out, another girl checks in”

    team Vanderwaal!

  35. Nina Said:

    I’m pretty sure that Ali sent someone to kill Mona. All throughout this episode people were hinting that Ali is A, and a complete sociopath. And sociopaths usually don’t kill anyone, because it takes too much effort. It would make a whole lot of sense, if you ask me. I was quite upset that they killed off Mona, she seemed as if she were about to redeem herself. #RIPMona

  36. Lisa Said:

    I think that Ali is A but she didn’t kill Mona, because of the wig that the murderer was wearing. Mona said she can prove that Ali is A so that must be true enough to kill her. It might be Aria who killed her because they were talking on the phone and she said she’ll be there. And there must had been someone else too, because one girl couldn’t carry Mona to the trunk. But not sure anymore about anything.

  37. Erin Doarbes Said:

    I knew all along Mona was gonna die.. But I didn’t want to believe it

  38. Aastha Said:

    I was shocked to know Mona is dead .In the starting i thought it was Spencer cuz she was missing from that scene .The more I saw ,the more I started to believe that it was Spencer .I really had started liking Mona now.I think ALI is a part of A’s gang 3:-), but not the leader .its PLL ,I dont think so they are ending this show this season so in the end its going to be someone else :)

  39. Robin Said:

    It was ali who was in the house of mona. look ad her body shape , thats definitely sascha p(ali). It wassen’t just a wig twist thing. (look especially ad her shoulders, legs and length in the episode..)
    (sorry for bad language)

  40. Anee Said:

    THIIISSSS SUCKSSS….. ugh I hate Alison such a cruel heart …. Mona was so scared i felt so bad for her .. such a sad episode #RIPMONA

  41. benedicte Said:

    hi i have never liked Alison, from the beginning i thought she was meen. i feel sorry for Mona. Yes she did some bad thing, but she was just scared.

  42. Philip Said:

    Alison didn`t kill Mona !! Look at the hair of the killer . The killer has a way blonder hair. I suspect Cece but we can not be sure of it. And why did they arrest Spencer. She had drug problem but no motive to kill Betany. Real police will never arrest you if you are loyal to a friend with a motive :D :D

  43. Tania Said:

    it would have been nice not to spoil it right in the title. totally useless to say it may contain spoilers in the second line.. and i didnt choose to come on this page, i was searching the internet to know where to watch it.
    thanks for ruining it!

  44. Theo Said:

    @Tania There’s a completely separate title on the internet search box. And it’s called a recap. When you click through to an episode recap you get spoilers. And the only reason this is in the title was because the network trended #RIPMona for a nearly a week. Coming back almost a week later and getting upset about something that was spoiled on FB, twitter, and other pages seems a bit of an overreaction. There was plenty more that happened in the episode that didn’t trend and we did not write that in the title. Mona dying has been pretty much out of the bag — the other occurrences have not.

  45. J Said:

    We forget that Mona relentlessly tortured the four main characters and their families for months on end. She was and interesting character in the show, but she had it coming.

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