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PaleyFest 2015: Pretty Little Liars panel secrets

“We’re not avoiding the questions that are still left unanswered,” said creator I. Marlene King

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The Paley Center for Media

The mystery of who’s behind the black hoodie was finally revealed during Pretty Little Liars’ season 6A finale in August, but when the show returns in January, there’s a new tormenter in town. Ali (Sasha Pieterse), the only Liar to stick around Rosewood after graduation, calls her friends back the suburb where it all went down five years later to attend in Charlotte’s (Vanessa Ray) trial.

Although PLL creator I. Marlene King says the five-year time jump will make the series feel like an entirely new show, she promises the coming season will answer some lingering questions: Who killed Mrs. DiLaurentis?; How’d Sara Harvey get involved?; What’s going on with Melissa and Wren? 

“We’re not avoiding the questions that are still left unanswered,” King said at PaleyFest on Sunday. “They’re unanswered for a reason, because they will be woven into the story moving forward.”

The cast and creative team talked about the changes for the next season, such as Spencer’s bangs (“They’re EPIC,” says Troian Bellisario), Radley’s transformation from sanitarium to hotel, and the show’s overall tonal shift. “It’s lighter in some ways because we’re starting a new mystery,” King said during the panel. “We probably saved the best for last in terms of what that final finale will be.”

And of course, she knows exactly how it’ll all wrap up. “We know what the big reveal in that final episode will be and who it will be,” King teased.

Here’s what we know thanks to Sunday night’s PaleyFest panel:

Mrs. D’s killer is revealed…sort of.

“In a way, you do,” Pieterse told EW. “It’s complicated but it all pans out in the end. I think it’s a very fun way of telling this story. And as much as it’s very similar to the way we tell stories, it’s still kind of a play on it.”

We’ll find out if the moms escape the basement.

In 6A’s penultimate episode, the Liars’ mothers took action after a night of sipping red wine and stormed the DiLaurentis house in hopes of confronting Kenneth (Jim Abele). Before the mamas could get to Mr. D, a hooded figure (presumably Charlotte) locked them in the basement where they remained for the rest of time (as far as PLL is concerned). But executive producer Joseph Doughtery confirmed that the moms’ fate will be revealed during the series’ November special.  

The moms’ freedom allows for a plotline between Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery.

Ella must make it out of the basement since Lucy Hale promised a “really great story line” between her onscreen parents towards the end of the season. “You will see Holly and Chad who play Byron and Ella again,” she told EW.

Veronica Hastings is running for a Senate seat.

Spencer’s mom (Lesley Fera) wants to bring her knack for law and conniving to Capitol Hill, and when Spencer returns home from D.C., Veronica asks her politically savvy daughter for help landing the job. Good thing Veronica doesn’t have any skeletons in her closet that’ll be revealed during her campaign — those are in the backyard.

Expect more sibcest

If you’re still not over the fact that Charlotte dated her brother without him knowing their connection, King says the show will dive deeper into Jason and Cece’s relationship. “There is a little more to the Jason-Cece dating story, so that’s a tease,” the creator told the audience. “You might not say ‘gross’ at the end of the story.”

Lucas returns to Rosewood.

“Lucas and Hanna finally have sex!” claimed Ashley Benson, who plays Hanna. Joking aside, Lucas is back, and while we don’t know much about his reappearance, King revealed he has a Ms. Pac-Man machine in his new apartment, so the high school nerd is doing pretty well for himself.

Some Liars could be walking down the aisle in 6B.

Hanna is engaged, and though neither Benson nor King confirmed that she’s betrothed to Caleb, the high school sweethearts are both living in New York. Per the last scene of 6A’s finale, Ali, now a teacher at her alma mater, has a different last name — Rollins — but she’s not married when we first see her in the season’s second half. [IMDb points to this guy as Ali’s hubby-to-be.]

Aria is happily in love, but not with Ezra.

Now working in book publishing, Aria only comes across Ezra in professional settings. “She’s really happy and she’s really in love,” Hale told EW of her new beau. “But Aria’s storyline, there is a lot of Ezria. A lot of my work is working with Ian [Harding, who plays Ezra]. It’s sort of a different kind of relationship, you’ve never seen them have a mature friendship like this and they started working with each other.” 

As for whether the former lovers kept in touch while Aria has been in Boston, Hale remains doubtful: “I want to say they probably didn’t talk at all because there’s a scene in an episode back where she realizes he’s back in town and you can tell there’s still that butterflies in her stomach feeling.”

We don’t know who “he” is.

During the time jump in 6A’s finale, the Liars entered Ali’s classroom frantically claiming that “he” is back, but Pieterse confirmed to EW that this ominous tormenter is a character we haven’t met yet.

Pretty Little Liars returns January 12 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Freeform.