EXCLUSIVE: 'Pretty Little Liars' boss Marlene King answers your burning questions about the big 'A' reveal, teases next season
BY: GIBSON JOHNS
WARNING: Spoilers ahead on last night's summer finale of "Pretty Little Liars," which finally revealed the true identity of "A".
Last night, it finally happened: After five years of teasing and speculating and almost-revealing, "Pretty Little Liars" finally told us who the infamous, elusive, torturous "A" was. Yes, they actually told us. Mona may have been the original "A", Toby may have pretended to work with "A", and there may have been an "A Team" at some point, but last night we found out who the true manipulative mastermind was: CeCe Drake. Or, should we say, Charlotte DiLaurentis.
As it turns out, CeCe, Alison's suspicious "friend" from the summers, who she supposedly partied with and got into trouble with, is actually Alison's abandoned other older brother, Charles, post-transition. We know, it's kind of confusing, and, we know, there are still some unanswered questions. But, for the most part, it turned out to be a pretty juicy hour of television filled with tears (CeCe was totally emotional), laughs (Mona obviously had her fair share of one-liners), and even punches (Emily punching Sarah in the face was a clear highlight).
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But, as we said, there are still a lot of things we're dying to know: Who killed Mrs. DiLaurentis? How long have the writers (and the cast!) known that CeCe Drake would turn out to be "A"? What the heck happened to Jenna?
We talked to Marlene King, the show's genius showrunner, for an AOL exclusive interview to find out the answers to all your burning questions about the finale and what we can expect from next season's jump five years into the future:
How long have you known that this would be the big "A"?
You know, because it's such a complex mystery story that we're telling, we don't want to make any mistakes. We really decided on this person shortly after we decided to reveal that Mona was the original "A." We decided that there was going to be a new character that stole the game from her, so that's when we started to build the story of Charlotte. That was three and a half years ago.
When did Vanessa Ray ("A"/CeCe/Charlotte) find out?
Vanessa only found out the week before we shot the episode, which is similar to what we did to Janel Parrish (Mona), too. It's such a burden to carry that I always like to keep that a secret for as long as possible from the cast.
But I think it was about six months ago that I did break down late, late at night and tell a couple other people the story and their reactions were just great.
Was Vanessa excited to be "A"?
She was so excited. I called her and I said, "You're about to get a script and you're going to have a lot of questions. Call me as soon as you finish." And about 30 minutes in, she called me and she was like "I'm freaking out, I'm freaking out!"
How has the reaction been today from the fans?
I think it's been good! People are definitely settling down. You know, it's a very similar series of emotional twists and turns for fans that we saw when we revealed that Mona was the original "A." First, there's shock, then there's the need to understand more, and then people go back and watch the episode again. That's when they realize how much sense it makes.
Yeah, so this is definitely "the morning after."
Totally! It's almost as if whoever you and your team had chosen to reveal as "A" would've been a letdown for some people regardless of who it was. It's almost as if it was less a chosen of "who" and more a question of "how" -- as in, how did "A" pull it all off?
Yeah, exactly! It's definitely a "how" and "why," especially with this "A." The "how" and the "why" are certainly more important than the "who." It's such a complex story -- it's such a layered story -- and I'm truly really proud of it. You know, the entire cast and crew, everyone that worked on the show, is really proud of this episode.
What's the deal with Rhys, the Carrisimi Group, and Hanna's mysterious scholarship money? Why did CeCe give that to her?
Rhys never really knew that he was a pawn in "A"'s game. And when we come back from this time jump, we're going to realize that Mrs. DiLaurentis was giving checks to the Carrisimi Group and that was her way of Charlotte. Charlotte was the real "Wolf of Wall Street." She invested all of that money and she really built a financial empire, which enabled her to do stuff like build an underground dollhouse.
Photos from last night's explosive summer finale:
So, she gave that money to Hanna because, as she said, she "loved those dolls"?
Yeah, you know, anything to stay connected. She would've used that money later on when Hanna got into college. You know what I mean? She would've found ways to keep her puppets.
Speaking of Mrs. D, what happened to finding out who killed her? We didn't find that out last night, so what's your explanation for that -- is it something we'll find out in the coming season?
I've always said that there was going to be one, big mystery question that wouldn't be revealed last night and that was it -- Who killed Mrs. D? And that is part of our issue moving forward, and it's something we will eventually find the answer to.
It's still out there -- but we do know who the killer is.
What about the moms locked in the basement? We never checked back in with them.
They're still drinking off the DiLaurentis secrets. No, they're trapped there for the rest of the night. But I think you're just left to assume that after Charlotte is arrested on that rooftop, they go and get them out.
How fun was that side-story for you guys, to have the moms finally step into the girls shoes and experience "A"?
Yeah, Oliver Goldstick -- another one of our EPs -- came up with that idea. He loves writing for the parents, and that was definitely his baby. I thought it was such a great episode. It was very, very satisfying.
What about Jenna -- where is she? We haven't heard from her in a while.
We haven't heard from her in a while, and we haven't shot any new episodes with her yet. But she definitely has a storyline coming five years later in our world.
So are we left to assume she's been involved with Charlotte/CeCe?
It's still up in the air ... I don't want to give away why she returns. So I'm going to just keep that a mystery for now.
Shifting gears to Mona: Was her decision to stay in that room in the end an indication that she'll still be playing both sides?
I mean, to me Mona has really redeemed herself. She'll obviously always be a suspicious character because she loves playing the game just like CeCe. But I think she stayed behind because she really, really, really needed to hear the end of the story. She wasn't willing to let go of it.
And she'll definitely be a part of our story when we come back.
So, in general, what can we expect from the #FiveYearsForward? Is Sarah still going to play a huge role? Or is there going to be another major character introduced?
There's going to be a brand new mystery introduced. Sarah's a part of our world when we come back because she definitely has some explaining to do.
Anything else you can tease for us going forward? We have to wait until January!
It's a more grown-up show we're going to be coming back to. The girls are five years older and they bring back the problems and conflict, but also happy notes from those five years. They have been living an "A"-free life for five years, but they're going to be coming back with some major secrets.
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Related - Lucy Hale stopped by AOL before the finale and dished on some behind-the-scenes secrets: