A twin reveal. A masked villain. Two hot hookups. The possible death of a major character. While that may sound like a lot, that's what Pretty Little Liars fans call a Tuesday.
"That's what we do, right?!" showrunner Marlene King said with a laugh when E! News ran down the list of OMG moments from the season six finale, which included (spoiler alert!) the reveal that Alison's (Sasha Pieterse) mom had a twin, Mary Drake (Andrea Parker), who has teamed up with Alison's doctor husband to seek revenge for her daughter Charlotte's murder. That's right, Charlotte is actually Alison's cousin. Oh, and the new Uber-A, who goes by "A.D.," has kidnapped and maybe killed Hanna (Ashley Benson). Plus, two fan-favorite couples reconnected, including Ezria, while Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) cheated on Spencer (Troian Bellisario) with old love Hanna (pre-kidnapping, obviously).
Phew, got all that? Fortunately for fans eagerly awaiting the Freeform hit's return this summer, Marlene King offered up some scoop on PLL's new big bad, relationships and Ashley Benson's future on the show. Plus, is season seven going to be the final season...or will it continue without ANY of its four leading ladies?
E! News: Obviously, the twin reveal is a major part of the books, and fans have been waiting to see if and how it would be used on the show. When did you decide this is how you were going to use that twist?
Marlene King: Well, from the very beginning we knew that there would be a twin, but we hadn't decided on who that twin was going to be and as the story started to unfold and we started to talk about the mythology of Charlotte and how she came to be in our world, that's where the idea of Mary Drake came along. It's been a few seasons.
When did you let Andrea Parker, who is returning as a series regular, know she was the twin?
I told her a lot of it actually for the season five finale, where we told the story of Charlotte and what happened that night. But she didn't know she was going to be a twin. She knows more than actually anyone on the show, except for one other Pretty Little Liar, who always gets information out of me.
Who is that?
So that means I need to take Troian out for drinks, right?
Oh, she'll never tell you!
I'm kidding! Sort of. And when did you fill in Huw Collins, who plays Elliot, that Alison's nice-guy husband wasn't so nice after all? Did he know what he signed on he would end up being a villain?
No, he did not! He really thought he was a good guy and we work best when we let characters think they're a good person until the very last minute, and so it was really right before the finale that I had to explain to him a little bit of what was going on and his head was spinning. I think it was a little bit upset because he was like, 'Oh, I really wanted to love Alison!' And then I explained to him a little bit more last night about where we are moving forward because he's a big part of our story moving forward, as Mary Drake is as well.
How soon will we get their backstory?
You'll find out a lot this summer. You'll find out almost everything you need to know this summer to really bring a lot of resolution to that story.
And the question of who killed Charlotte is still in play.
Yes, and that will be answered in season seven. It's still a driving force moving forward. A.D., our new Uber-A, still wants to know who killed Charlotte, and that's a big part of our story moving forward.
Aside from the twin reveal, fans were freaking out over Hanna being kidnapped and not looking so good at the very end of the finale. What do you want to say to fans completely freaking out over Ashley Benson's future on the show and Hanna's well-being?
Well, even when people are dead they still stay on our show. So that's what I will say. Look at Andrea Parker! And Alison DiLaurentis! It's always been our goal, no one is safe from "A" and no one is safe from being "A."
And how did Ashley feel when she found out that was how the season was ending?
She loved it! They all want to be dragged through the mud, they all love that stuff. They're not big on happy endings, those Liars!
Is the premiere picking up right where we left off or is there a time-jump of some kind?
It's a near-moments later premiere.
What would you say is the biggest mystery of season seven? Or theme, overall.
It's really the most heightened stakes we've ever had. This is Uber-A and Uber-A is Uber-A for a reason. It's going to be the ultimate gamesmanship season. It's going to be the ultimate romantic season. And very sexy. We're all so excited about it.
I have to tell you how much I've enjoyed the time-jump and what's done for the Liars and the relationships. How was that for you guys as writers? Did you enjoy it as well or was it a bit of an adjustment?
We really have. And we're really looking forward to season seven because we did the time-jump literally, like, a Monday the girls were 18 and on Tuesday they were 22. I felt like it took us a couple of episodes to get our groove on and for them to see where they would be and or us to write those characters. I really feel like in season seven we have had a chance to breathe and really, really bring those characters to life in an even more dramatic and realistic way.
I became a very big fan of Spencer and Caleb this season, so I was a little disappointed with this finale.
They're not over!
Were you surprised by the reaction to that pairing and were you anticipating it?
We knew it was going to explosive and that it was an explosive idea to break up all of our couples coming back, but it gave us definitely a new landscape and somewhere to go, and I think we've made fans angry and we made some fans happy last night and I'm just thrilled that people are still passionate about their favorite characters and favorite couples and I hope by the end of the road most people will be happy with where we take people.
What's the deal with that love triangle at the beginning of season seven?
It's definitely complicated. And it just got more complicated. I've always taken pride in the fact that on Pretty Little Liars, people don't sleep with each other's boyfriends. it's not what we do, but five years later, when a couple was broken up for several years, I loved the way that our characters handled it--that Spencer went to Hanna for permission and Hanna gave her permission. It was all so adult. But now that we realize feelings are more complicated as originally thought, if Hanna does survive, how adult will they be able to remain moving forward? It's a challenge.
And fans were very excited to see Aria and Ezra finally hook up again in the finale, so what's ahead for them?
Aria still has a boyfriend named Liam and he is not going away! If Ezria decides that was more than a moment then they are going to have to deal with that. We have very complex, interesting relationships moving forward where the girls are going to need to rise to the occasion and be adults about it for the first time. They're not in high school anymore, they're adults and they want to handle things in the right way. But sometimes these girls still have poor judgment. It's going to be exciting to watch it unfold.
During a Facebook chat, you said it's still not clear if season seven will definitely be the final season, so do you have two game plans in mind right now, one for the end of the season and one for the end of the series?
It will definitely be the end of this PLL as we know it. Fans can expect there will be absolute resolution at the end of season seven.
Could you see doing Pretty Little Liars: The Next Generation, the show going on without the four Liars and four new girls? Is that even in your mind at all right now?
I'm open to everything, but right now, really I'm focused on giving the fans the best season seven they deserve, which is an awesome 20 episodes.
Pretty Little Liars will return for it seventh season on Freeform this summer.