'Pretty Little Liars' Gay-Cap: Lesbian Poker Night Goes Awry

'Pretty Little Liars' Gay-Cap: Lesbian Poker Night Goes Awry
Tracy E. Gilchrist

While Pretty Little Liars is the preferred guilty pleasure of teens and adults alike who just froth over soapy drama with a mysterious edge and a remarkably well-written lesbian storyline, Rosewood’s resident lesbian Emily Fields has recently endured a string of mishaps ala her blackmailer "A" that have seriously stunted her love life. Just last week Em developed and ulcer, but to top that off traces of  possible swim career-killing Human Growth Hormone –courtesy of “A” spiking her Ben-Gay—showed up in her lab results.

If you recall, Emily’s  hooked up with Samara, a bit of a player but who also happens to be adorable and proudly out. And while the cutest lesbo couple in the greater Philadelphia burbs has been dating for a while now, there’ve been no exciting on-screen first kisses as Em had with Maya or no awkward karaoke dates singing P!nk and later making out in the parking lot of a dive bar as she had with Paige. And just when this week’s episode – just two away from the end of the summer season - started to show some real promise for Em and Samara, “A” blocked her again!

Ep. 2.9 – “Picture This”

The episode kicks off with Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Em (Shay Mitchell) dressed as the cutest candy stripers ever while keeping watch as Spencer (Troian Bellisario) acts as the show’s ostensible Nancy Drew digging for the missing page from their  bitchy dead friend Alison’s file in the morgue. While the girls as candy stripers is such a fun idea that the creators resurrected it from last week when Spence and Aria (Lucy Hale) donned uniforms to go undercover, it really has nothing to do with Em’s lesbian storyline, so we’ll just move on…

Seemingly out of the blue Samara (Claire Holt) shows up at Hanna’s digs - where Em’s staying while her folks are in Texas rekindling the romance since Em’s military dad is stationed there for several more months - and Samara’s bearing cupcakes and paraphrasing Shakespeare.

“Sweets for my sweet,” Samara says. Of course, when Gertrude says the line In Hamlet she’s actually bearing funeral bouquets, and considering what comes later in the episode I’m going out on a limb and saying that I. Marlene King and the PLL writing crew knew just what metaphor they were after with that line.

“Please tell me you can eat these,” Samara says. And that clever little Em responds, “As long as that’s not jalapeno frosting.” But I think Em is on to something. Jalapeno frosting sounds pretty tantalizing. And for the first time – on-screen anyway - Em and Samara go in for a kiss that’s interrupted when Hanna’s hot mom Ashley (Laura Leighton) walks in on them accidentally interrupting. As a side note – is Hanna’s mom really named Ashley? That sounds more like she and Hanna should be twin tween sisters on a CW Network show.

No, you read it right. It’s Chichen and not chicken … sorry to get you all excited. But, this might just be better than the bird.

Once upon a time, this archeological site was the hub of the Mayan civilization, but today, it's a popular place for tourists holding selfie sticks.

It's one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, so put down your margarita and take a taxi to this kick-ass spot. 

Ashley introduces herself to Samara and they shake. Em invites Samara to stay but like the good lez activist she is Samara says she’s got to run to a Campus Pride meeting. Forgoing time with her honey for a meeting is commendable and activisty indeed.

This is one of the most gay-friendly destinations in Riviera Maya. Located just 45-minutes south of Cancun International Airport, it houses some of the best gay resorts, spas, beaches and shopping in Mexico.

Before leaving Samara informs Emily that they can’t hang out at Samara’s friend’s house, so their plans for Em to meet the friends are essentially dashed. But never fear, Hanna’s cool mom’s ears perk up. She tells Em and Samara that the girls can hang at her house since she and Hanna won’t be home.

“You girls can have the place to yourself,” Ashley says, and it’s a done deal. But Emily, being the well-mannered young lady that she is, follows Ashley into the kitchen explaining that she and the girls could find somewhere else to get their lez on – my words, not hers.

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“Emily, this is your home too. I want you to feel comfortable having your friends over,” Ashley says. “More importantly, I want you to feel comfortable being yourself. Understand?” And the sound of “aws” emanating from couches nationwide could be heard across the land.

Situated on the east edge of Mexico, this spot calls swimmers, beachgoers, and well … hot, semi-naked people. It's located near several attractions, and hotels so you don’t need to worry about an hour-long commute. The beach itself is always buzzing and you’ll always have something (or someone) to do.

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But there’s a caveat. “The same rules for Hanna apply for you. No girlfriends allowed in the bedroom. Just girl friends,” Ashley says a tad confused. “Wait, how will I know the difference?” she asks Em.

Isla Mujeres manages to provide a relaxing spot in the middle of the Cancún party scene. It lives up to its “sleepy” reputation, but there's still a lot to do. You could check out the turtle farm and the ruins, or you could just chill and drink more. Whatevs. 

“I’ll let you know,” Emily promises. Mmmhmmm is all I have to say to that.

You know how you’ve always wanted to go swimming with the dolphins? Now you can! Probably with a hangover, but hey, they're dolphins, and we never say no to dolphins.

Working out of Dreams Cancun Hotel, visitors are allowed to swim with dolphins. There is a list of type of interactions you get to choose from, and the best part is, there is no wrong answer.

That night Em, Samara and a few of Sam’s lady friends are gathered around the kitchen table playing poker, and it turns out Em is a poker shark – no pun intended. Em the poker paragon doles out advice to Samara’s poker challenged friend Zoey. Em gets up to grab something from the counter and Samara follows.

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This goes on the must-experience list.

“They love you. I knew they would,” Sam says, kissing Em on the cheek. More “aws.”

A new gay lounge near Karamba Bar, an ambient place for you to unwind and enjoy a classy-as-hell drink with your boo.

But just then the camera gives us a POV shot from outside the window. At first I think it must be the Parents Television Council or the Florida Family Association keeping tabs on just how lez that poisonous to young minds show PLL gets but then I realize it’s just that pain in the ass “A” fucking with Em’s love life again.

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Emily finally looks relaxed and happy, but just then she gets a text from “A.”

“If Zoey leaves without your digits your lab results go viral,” “A” writes, threatening to expose the fact that Em had Human Growth Hormone in her bloodstream – even if it was courtesy of her pesky blackmailer.

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Em steals away for a few minutes to call Aria for advice. “You’re playing poker -- bluff,” Aria says about Em handing her digits to Zoey.

Attempting to stall, Em tries to get the gals to go in for one more game of poker.

“Sorry Em, we gotta go. My curfew’s 12:30,” Samara says.  Em and Sam engage in one more lingering kiss before Sam takes off leaving Em with Zoey still in the house. Just then, the dreaded beep signifying a text comes through on Em’s phone.

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“Tick-tock Em,” “A” taunts.

While Emily is adorable, a terrific swimmer, a damned good friend, a poker ace and good in school, she sure lost out in the street smarts department. Where’s Spencer when you need her?

Em pulls a piece of paper out of her pocket and hands it to Zoey. “You forgot something,” Em says awkwardly.

Mandala is known as one of the best nightclubs in the region. It boasts popular music music, beverages, and a sexy crowd. This discotheque hosts "Monday: Mardi Gras", which sounds legit. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“What’s this?” a confused Zoey inquires.

“My number,” Emily says, and those are three syllables that land with the thud of “oh shit, this is not going to end well.” Really Em? You couldn’t just hand her a receipt, or give all of Samara’s friends your number, or qualify it with saying, “My number if you need poker coaching?” Yeah, that last one would likely get Em in trouble – scratch that.

Of course, Samara’s other friend Quinn overhears and gives Emily the old folded arms with the side eye shank treatment.  On a side note, with names like Samara, Quinn and Zoey, these girls should really think about auditioning for The Real L Word Rosewood. It is an unwritten prerequisite of The Real L Word that none of the cast can have a pedestrian name like Susan or Michelle.

It's pretty close to Isla Mujeres. At MUSA Underwater Museum, you can dive inside the Caribbean waters and stare in awe at the works of British artist Jason de Caires, surrounded by coral and marine life. It's surreal. 

The next day Em’s pacing around the room gnashing her teeth over the incident while Aria attempts to provide support. But  Em’s such a lady killer not even “A” can put a stop to Em’s game for too long. Even if Samara dumps Emily there’ll be another lady lined up. Trust.

“It must have looked like I was giving Zoey my number,” Emily says.

“Em, you were giving Zoey your number,” Aria reminds her, suggesting Em call Samara and nip this mess in the bud.

“She’s called twice already. I’m afraid to pick up,” Em says. It’s a good thing Em’s hot because she’s not displaying much take-the-bull-by-the-horns ambition at this point. Aria explains that Em’s refusal to handle the situation is only exacerbating matters.

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Ignoring the problem was clearly not the way to go as the next time we see Em, Samara is following her through Hanna’s house raising her voice and saying, “Do you think that I wouldn’t find out?”

But Emily, the original obfuscator tries to diffuse the situation by offering Samara a beverage. If Em’s not holding hard alcohol it’s probably not the kind of bevvie Samara could use at this point.

“Was it because at the fashion show I told you I wasn’t ready to be exclusive? Did you just do it to spite me?” Samara asks. Although, why Samara wouldn't want to be exclusive with Emily is beyond the PLL audience's comprehension.

“Of course not,” Em says.

“Look, if you want to date other people just say, but don’t hit on my friends,” Samara says. And that’s really a good rule of thumb for life because mixing it up friends just gets complicated.

Still, Emily’s not doing much in her defense. She should steer clear of law school as building a cogent case is not her strong suit.

“I don’t want to date anyone else. I’m sorry if it came off that way,” Em says. Cue groaning from couches nationwide as Em just steps deeper into the mire.

“Came off that way? You practically asked Zoey out,” Samara shouts.

“I gave her my number so we could hang out as friends. That’s it,” Em says, still not doing much to mollify Samara.

“Can we just forget this happened and go to the movies?” Em asks. While Em should avoid a job in the legal profession she would make a hell of a politician for her ability to dissemble and change the subject. Emily goes on to say that she got caught up in the moment trying to connect with Samara’s friends but it still sounds like a load of BS, so essentially she’s screwed.

“Until you give me a real answer I can’t do this anymore,” Samara says turning on her heel and that’s the last we hear about Em’s love life for the episode. She has got some “splaining” to do to Samara if she wants to keep her.

Later, Em plays Bess to Spencer’s Nancy Drew as the duo breaks into Jason DiLaurentis’ shed, which houses a dark room and his obsession with snapping candids of Aria.

Thankfully Spencer and Em escape the shed and Jason unscathed so that hopefully we’ll see how this whole Samara storyline pans out in the last two episodes of the summer season!

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