Source: Pretty Little Liars (2006) You wouldn't think a weekly TV series could possibly keep up the fast-paced twists and turns of this serialized whodunnit,…
Credit: Andrew Eccles/ABC Family

Last year, the Pretty Little Liars summer finale shocked fans when the camera panned around to reveal that Ezra was the man in the black hoodie and potentially the leader of the “A” team. As we now know, that was all a cover-up—Ezra was merely an author trying to solve a mystery and write a best-selling book—but in the moment, the idea that the beloved Mr. Fitz could be evil was heartbreaking. So heading into tonight’s summer finale, which is being labeled the “fatal finale,” fans are on edge for whatever twist showrunner Marlene King has in store. And she promises it’s a good one.

“[The finale is] a different kind of shocking,” King said. “Literally two days ago, we had our final playback for it, so we could hear all the sound and everything, and there were a few people who work on the show who do music and sound and they hadn’t read the script, and I will say that there were a lot of gasps and some tears were shed. People had to take a moment after they watched it to gain their composure.”

As most PLL fans know, the show tends to save the big moment for the final 60 seconds, and King said this finale is no different, though missing any moment of the hour would be detrimental. “There is a real jump start to the episode. I don’t want to give away exactly what it is, but Ali makes a decision, Ali takes an action that appears to be a threatening, bold move toward the girls, the other PLLs and that is the shotgun that starts the show,” King said. But is it a literal shotgun? Well considering that King revealed that the episode begins with a crime scene before flashing back 36 hours, it is a possibility. Then again, King said we won’t get a definitive answer on whether Ali’s the enemy until later in season five, so perhaps she’s not the one pulling the trigger (if that’s even the weapon of choice).

Regardless, this death will mark the second casualty in only the first half of season five. So what’s with the sudden increase in murders? “For me, it feels like this season, we flipped things. Usually, our A season which is our summer season, lays the groundwork for our B season, which is the really ramped up one,” King said. “And I feel like this go-around, they’re kind of both ramped up, but it feels like we started with the really ramped up one and then when we come back in the winter [and] we explore and explain a lot of the things that we will show you in Tuesday’s finale.”

But even more so than just trying to ramp up the finale, King revealed that this particular death was first brought up as a possibility a year ago, midway through season four, and “as events unfolded last season, it became clear that this story point needed to be told,” King said. So who’s going to bite the dust? One teaser promised it would be a Liar, though King claimed that “pretty much everyone in Rosewood is a liar,” so there’s no guarantee there. However, she would say that fans will be equally surprised by who does the killing.

Overall, King teased tonight’s finale as a “different way of telling a telling a story for us” before asking one thing from her fans: “I hope fans enjoy the ride and exhale when it’s over, take a moment, take a few breaths before you jump on social media and start freaking out.”

Plus, once they’re done freaking out, they can look forward to Rosewood recovering in the upcoming Christmas episode. With Tuesday’s finale taking place on Thanksgiving day, the Christmas episode will jump a month ahead to two days before Christmas. “Whenever a beloved character or a character that fans appreciate dies, it shakes our world, and the fallout of this death is really what the show is about for the next 13 episodes, including Christmas,” she said.

The Pretty Little Liars summer finale airs tonight at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.

Episode Recaps

Pretty Little Liars

Four little liars and a being named “A” (who may or may not be the fifth little liar) try to live their lives in Rosewood. It’s complicated.

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