'Pretty Little Liars': Marlene King on that twist, life after 'A'
Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched the season 5 premiere of Pretty Little Liars, stop reading now!
Last night’s season 5 premiere of Pretty Little Liars revealed another member of the “A” team before, moments later, killing off that person. More specifically, Aria killed Shana in self-defense. For those of you who watched it live, odds are you’re still wrapping your head around everything that happened — not to mention CeCe’s farewell — but we’ve got a little something that might help.
We chatted with PLL showrunner Marlene King about the decision to kill Shana, what exactly Ezra whispered, and what comes next with Mona’s Army. Check it out below:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the huge moment from last night: Shana is dead. How long has this been in the works? Was killing Shana always the plan?
MARLENE KING: We introduced the character of Shana in the webisodes, which I think was between seasons 2 and 3 that the webisodes premiered, so when we introduced her character, we gave her a lot of backstory knowing that, down the line, we were going to use that backstory for a really, really fun, shocking twist. So we finally paid it off last night, and it worked out so well.
Are we meant to believe that she was the one who shot Ezra?
Yes, we are meant to believe that. What Ezra whispered to Aria last night was “It was Shana. It was Shana on the roof.”
She mentioned the lodge when she was talking to the Liars, and as you said, she was introduced in the webisodes, but she seemed to start this “A” business when she fell for Jenna, so how far back does her “A” stint go?
I can’t answer that without spoiling things down the line, but I will say that Alison sort of brought her own demise here, because Alison was the one who sent her to Rosewood. Alison sent her to Rosewood, and we meet her at the Halloween store, and if you go back, she’s on the phone in one of those webisodes talking to someone, and she’s talking to Alison. If you go back and you watch that webisode and you listen to her one side of the call, you can realize that she’s talking to Alison DiLaurentis.
Is it safe to say at this point that Shana is not Uber “A”?
Nothing’s ever safe to say. The term the girls are using now is “Is there a Big ‘A’?” We sort of coined the phrase Big “A.” Is there a Big “A” out there? Is the shoe going to fall? Is there somebody other than Shana who’s going to make our lives miserable? They’ve been dealing with “A” for so long, they’re totally paranoid now. “A” is dead, and when they get back, I think Aria even says it: “My eye still twitches every time my phone rings.” How are we going to deal with this? What does life after “A” look like? And the girls will get relief from “A.” They’ll have to explore, what does life after “A” look like?
How is killing Shana going to affect Aria?
I would say, out of all of the Liars, she is just inherently probably the most compassionate one, and I think that that was really why we made the choice for her character to have to go through this. And the fallout of the emotion, even though it was self-defense, is going to be very difficult for Aria to take. Her guilt will consume her.
How is this going to affect Jenna?
It’s a great storyline that’s going to play out. I know Tammin [Sursok]’s been tweeting — she’s back on the show this year, and we’re so excited to have her, and you will find out that she had true feelings for Shana. She comes back broken and devastated.
I also want to talk about that amazing scene in the playground. Those couldn’t all have been “A” team members, right?
No, we called that the black hoodie flash mob. If you go back and really look at the episode and see what was going on, “A” sent a text out that said like, “It’s happening” or something like that, and that is a black hoodie flash mob that “A” had planned in case “A” got into trouble.
So was our Big “A” within that group?
I cannot confirm nor deny that.
Fair enough. Let’s move to Mona’s gathering. What are we calling this group?
It’s Mona’s Army. We are claiming it for what it is, which is Mona’s Army.
Are they unrelated to the “A” team?
Everything is always up for debate amongst the fans, and we like that healthy debate, but Mona appears to be very out in the open with her feelings toward Alison and the return. This is a clandestine meeting of Mona’s Army as she rallies the troops, but very early on when Ali comes back, she sort of states her case, which is like, “I’m not ‘A.’ I don’t need to be ‘A’ anymore. I’m not hiding. I’m going to tell you face-to-face what I think of you.”
What is this group’s goal?
It will play out over the summer. You’ll find out what the intention was and what their goal is.
Will we be finding out Melissa’s secret this summer?
Yes. Definitely. We will play that out throughout the summer.
Let’s touch on CeCe. Can I say now that she officially killed Wilden?
Well yes, that’s certainly what Ali believes, right?
Is CeCe gone for good?
Is anyone ever gone for good in Rosewood? I always say Alison was dead in the pilot and she’s here alive in the flesh, so I hope nobody’s ever gone for good. We hate to say final goodbyes to anyone.
Another aspect of this premiere that I enjoyed was the pacing. When we visited set, you called this the season of “go, go, go.” So can we expect this pace all season?
It really is. The pacing of this episode was designed to shake everything up, to keep people off the couch and on their feet to say [that] this is the season that is not predictable, this is the season you did not see coming, you will not see coming. It doesn’t even take a breath. We started talking about it yesterday after the premiere. I’m now writing the season finale, and it’s just been non-stop. We’re on full throttle now.
And finally, word broke Tuesday that you all have been renewed for two more seasons. Is there a point at which you will draw the line and say “no more”? How far have you mapped out this mystery?
Because the ratings were so great, even in season 3, the network and the studio started talking to us about thinking a little bit more long-term than five seasons, so we had plenty of time to prepare for the news that was announced yesterday. We’ve known it for a while even though it wasn’t announced publicly, so we’ve had a lot of prep time, we’ve had a lot of time to wrap our brains around it. I call our writers room … “small but mighty,” and it works best because it’s small, and we don’t do anything without knowing what the endgame is, and we’re really prepared. We know what the end is, and I think we kind of know when the end is, and we will not go past the point of being unable to entertain people.
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.