Pretty Little Liars has its winter premiere tonight on ABC Family! Fans have so many questions that they’re hoping will be answered in tonight’s episode and in this season, and Marlene King recently spoke out on all those questions. What’s going to happen with Emily and Paige? Mona and Jason? What about when Spencer finds out about Toby? We’ve got all the answers for you below!
How have you been so successful leveraging social media to support PLL? How much of that do you attribute to your online presence, which is very strong; and how much to the structure or the content or in other words, just the nature of the show that you created?
Marlene King: I think it’s probably equal to both. I think the fact that the Pretty Little Liars started tweeting and social media’ing about the show when we were even at pilot phase sort of started this real grass roots, I would say, almost family, this social media family where from pilot stage our fans felt like they were a part of this Pretty Little Liars family.
What you can say about Emily and Paige this season because it seems like it’s Emily’s first sort of stable relationship? What kind of drama will she be seeing with Paige and will they ever catch a break?
Marlene King: I think they have some great sort of very grounded drama just sort of what it’s like to be a couple and learning to trust and really sort of because their relationship in some part based on original missteps. They just have sort of real drama and issues to overcome that are just natural to sort of any kind of new relationship like that.
Speaking of relationships I’d love to hear a little bit about what we’re going to see between Mona and Jason this season.
Marlene King: Mona and Jason I think that we will – well, the fun of this premier, which is entitled “She’s Better Now” and we will see Mona outside of Radley. She will need some guardianship back in sort of the Rosewood world, and we might find that Jason takes her under his wing a little bit.
As a follow up with the Paige and Emily storyline, so many people were huge fans of Emily and Maya together, and I think a little bit of the fan base is still trying to get over Maya’s death. How much feedback or how much intake do you take from fans that were huge Maya fans?
Marlene King: Well, we really respect all the fans, and I understand how tragic that loss was to a big group of our fan base, but what I found is that a lot of those people have really embraced now the Emily/Paige storyline. Paige has earned their trust and I’m really proud of that part of our show.
Since we were just talking about Maya there have been a number of deaths on Pretty Little Liars at this point. Who for you and the writers was the hardest person to kill off?
Marlene King: Maya was; it was just tragic for us, and so I think that was definitely a very difficult decision to make and really hard to film those scenes too. When the character of Emily realizes that Maya is dead that was just—it was such a powerful evening on set for Shay Mitchell and for Leslie Glatter who was directing that episode (who did the pilot) and for myself. We were all just in tears that day so that was tough.
And I know you probably won’t answer this definitively but is there a risk of more death coming up this season?
Marlene King: Well, maybe.
Lucas has always been a bit more of a complex character to me so I was wondering if his puzzle may come together at all in Season 3B.
Marlene King: We find out some interesting things about Lucas in 3B, and we finally get to see his bedroom so that’s kind of fun.
Caleb wasn’t in the book series yet to me he fits flawlessly in the show. Was it hard to achieve that?
Marlene King: You know every once in a while an actor will just bring something to a role that we really embrace, and we find that character then becomes so organic to what we’re doing. It’s sort of was like the character of Toby too. We didn’t originally set out for him to be so involved in the show but we just loved the work, and we loved watching him so much that he became so much more integral. The same thing has happened with Tyler; what Tyler brings to the role of Caleb. We just had a lot of fun watching this character grow with us, and it’s really easy to write to that.
Are there any plans in the works maybe to do a book with just decoding the answers or possibly integrating that in to the show as well?
Marlene King: There is a book out there which I just stumbled upon. It’s a book store that talks about Seasons 1 and 2 but it doesn’t really decode the answers. It just kind of breaks down every episode, but I would love to do that. I think when the series comes to an end is when we would eventually do that because we still have stones that we’ve yet to uncover and mystery beads that we planted have not paid off yet. Our show is so mystery intensive that we could easily go back to something that we saw in Season 1 and make it relevant again in Seasons 4 and 5. No, no secret keys to the mysteries until we’re all done I think.
How will the fact that now Ezra has a child be present in his relationship with Aria this season?
Marlene King: I love the Ezra story in Season 3B coming up. It’s really heartfelt and emotional, and we get to see a side of Ezra that we haven’t seen before, and also I think a side of Aria. I think we really get to watch them go through some real life drama and real life emotion, and they really sort of dig deep in regards to how soulful their connections is.
Are you going to see Spencer change a bit once she finds out about Toby?
Marlene King: Yes. In fact, I directed my first episode this coming season and it’s the third episode, and there’s a lot of just deep, deep emotion that begins with that episode, and then it just carries all throughout the rest of the season. It’s just so powerful and so gut wrenching and Troian Bellisario did such an amazing job for us this year. We’re really excited to share her storyline with the fans.
Speaking of keeping secrets, how much is Aria’s father going to be part of what’s coming up?
Marlene King: Oh there’s some real—you know in the Halloween episode, which is the last upset our fans got to see, the character of Garrett reveals on the night that Allison died that he saw Allison arguing with Aria’s dad Byron, and we definitely don’t drop the ball on that. We come back and explore whether or not he was telling the truth and what it means for Aria and what it means for the Pretty Little Liars.
Speaking of Garrett – obviously he’s dead so we won’t be seeing him alive again but we will be possibly seeing Garrett again in flashbacks this season?
Marlene King: We don’t see him again in 3B but that does not mean we won’t see him at some point in time in the show.
How popular was the Spencer/Toby relationship? Did you have any second thoughts before revealing that Toby was actually a part of the ‘A’ team?
Marlene King: I wouldn’t say second thoughts but I did have concern about how the fans would react to it, and actually I think the reaction was much more positive than I thought it was going to be. I was afraid there was going to be some backlash of people being devastated, and some people are. But I think the majority of our fans were so thrilled to be completely surprised by that reveal that they allowed us to turn that character dark and get away with it.
Are we going to find out a little bit more about Toby’s motivations in this upcoming season?
Marlene King: Yes we will. We left you with a big reveal there when we found out that Toby was the guy in the black hoodie talking to Mona. We will definitely pick up that story where we left it in the last finale, and I think our fans are really going to have fun with it.
Could you give us a hint of any of the guest stars that will be coming up in the next season?
Marlene King: We have the wonderful Betty Buckley coming back playing Hannah’s grandmother. We are also really thrilled to have—I believe she’s five time gold medalist—Missy Franklin; the swimmer from the London Olympics will be making an appearance
If you could have any guest stars to make an appearance who would some of your top guest stars be?
Marlene King: I think we would love to have some just like fun mystery people on the show. We’ve always thought it would be really fun to have Steven King arrive in Rosewood, and I think that it would definitely be sort of more dark and mysterious people like that.
What made you want to make an ‘A’ team rather than just one person because I’ve always wondered about that?
Marlene King: Well, it just felt like as ‘A’ became more devious and was accomplishing these huge sort of feats that there’s no way just one person could be achieving everything we needed to achieve in terms of how menacing ‘A’ was to the Pretty Little Liars.
Did Toby ever really have a part of him that cared for Spencer or even his friendship with Emily for that matter?
Marlene King: Well, I really want to let the fans discover the answer to that question themselves, which you will learn the truth of that in Season 3B.