“Pretty Little Liars” recap (4.23): Nice day for a Red Wedding

 
 

Emily runs home to get some supplies (leave the sweatshirt, pack the gun!) and finds a very sad Paige in her yard when she rushes back out the door.

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Emily: Come here to find more ways to try to get Ali killed, bitch?
Paige: No, I came here to apologize. I did turn her in to try to protect you, I was telling the truth about that. But I also did it because, as you suspected, the way she fucked me up makes me hate her.
Emily: Well, goodbye forever, I guess.
Paige: Wait, what?
Emily: I have to go; Ali needs me.
Paige: Right. Ali needs you.
Emily: That’s what I said. Fuck off now, see ya.

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If this is the last we see of Paige McCullers—and I hope it’s not for a million reasons; I hope she leaves Rosewood triumphant, even if it’s not with Emily Fields on her arm—I want to tell you something very important. When I was a junior in high school, I wrote my best friend a letter that I now understand was a love letter. We’d been inseparable for so long, spending every minute playing basketball and softball and video games, playing with each other’s hair. But she got this boyfriend and acted like people do when they fall in love. I thought I couldn’t sleep or eat because my feelings were hurt, but really my heart was breaking for the very first time.

I didn’t know I was gay. I just knew I wanted her to be with me and not with him. So I wrote her a letter and told her so. The letter fell out of her pocket in the bathroom on the science hall on a Tuesday morning, and the biggest bully in our school picked it up. By the time the bell rang at the end of the day, every person I knew had that letter in their hands. The bully was the principal’s daughter. She had access to the copy machine in the front office.

I didn’t get bullied in high school, not really, but it was only because I was an all-state athlete. People picked on me plenty. My family was poor. I couldn’t afford trendy clothes or even glasses to correct my very lazy left eye. I had untreated ADHD so my grades were always the pits. I was awkward and gangly and shy and no one’s idea of a homecoming queen. All that and I wrote a letter to another girl in a rural Georgia high school begging her to choose me. My life was hell for a long, long time.

When I realized I was gay, I thought I’d never be able to come out. When I came out to my sister, I didn’t think I’d be able to come out to my best friend. When I came out to my best friend, I didn’t think I’d be able to come out to my parents. My co-workers. My peripheral friends. My super fundamentalist Christian grandparents. I thought if I ever said it out loud, if I said “I’m gay,” the whole world would crumble underneath my feet.

My sister held my hand, and between gasping sobs I came out to my grandparents. My very Baptist grandparents. I said, “I’m gay” and my grandpa said, “I know, honey, and there’s nothing you could ever say or do to make us not love you.”

The first time I kissed another girl, I thought my heart was going to burst right out of my chest. The first time I slept with another girl, I thought my brain was going to explode right out of my head.

I used to hide under my covers and watch clips of The L Word on YouTube, and now I’ve interviewed Jennifer Beals and Mia Kirshner and Laurel Holloman and Erin Daniels and Marlee Matlin and Leisha Hailey. I used to stay up all night reading everything Scribegrrrl had written on AfterEllen, hoping against hope that I might one day have the courage and the skill to write for AfterEllen too. I even had a secret dream of one day telling Scribegrrrl what her words had meant to me, that she was my hero. These days, I’m the senior editor for AfterEllen and last weekend Scribegrrrl and her grrrlfriend both kicked my ass at pool over beers and barbecue. She’s my dear friend. I quote her TLW recaps to her sometimes and she always blushes. I remember them even better than she does because they changed the shape of my world.

The only TV character I have ever seen in all my life who has tripped and fallen and bullied and been bullied and bled and wept and won and won and broken and healed as much as me is Paige McCullers. And if this is it for her, if we never see her again, I just want you to know that I won. In my life, I won. I know it’s not the same as seeing it on TV, but lock this in your pocket and take it in the grave: I was a 16-year-old Paige McCullers. I wrote a letter. I smashed some trash cans. I cut myself open on my own sword and bled all over everyone I ever loved. I failed and failed and failed and failed. And then I won.

Listen to Dumbledore on this one and believe him: It matters not what someone was born, but what they grow to be.

Paige, girl. Call me. Emily, you’re in a time out.

The Liars show up at a warehouse in Philly and so does someone else. They’re like, “What are you doing here?” Please Jesus, let it be Jenna Marshall and Cece Drake and Mona Vanderwaal and three locked and loaded mannequin legs.

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The Risen Mitten tracks down Cece Drake, calls the Rosewood PD, eats a Butterscotch.

Next week: F is for Flashbacks.

Thank you a zillion millions to my screencapping partner Maggie (@margaretrosey). Show her some love on Twitter; this season is breaking her beautiful heart. Also, here are her full-size screencaps!

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