Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC Family

In its five years on the air, Pretty Little Liars has transformed from a fairly simple mystery—Who is “A”?—to a ridiculously complex web of lies, enigmas, and all-around confusion. People we thought were dead suddenly weren’t. People we thought were good suddenly weren’t. People we thought were bad suddenly weren’t. You get the picture.

But PLL showrunner Marlene King has taken to calling season 6 the “Summer of Answers.” Not only will “A,” otherwise known as Charles, be unmasked, but the pieces of the “A” puzzle will finally fall into place before the Liars undergo a four-year time jump. (At least, we hope.)

Before tonight’s premiere, we talked to Sasha Pieterse about what’s next for Ali, being related to Charles, and more:

There is no time jump … yet. We know there will be a time jump at the end of the summer season, but for now, the season 6 premiere picks up right where the season 5 finale left off. “So right where we left off is where the show begins, with a very uncomfortable Ali,” Pieterse said. “She is absolutely terrified of where her friends are. She is released from jail, which she is happy about, but she is absolutely terrified that ‘A’ is coming for her and has her friends.”

This is the darkest season in the show’s history. With last season ending with the Liars locked in an elaborate dollhouse of horrors, it’s no surprise that Pieterse thinks season 6 is “absolutely darker” than anything the show’s done thus far. “Honestly, this is our darkest season,” she said. “It’s the darkest stuff that we’ve ever dealt with. They were kidnapped and tortured by someone they don’t know, who knows everything about them.

“This started off as a show for teenagers, and it’s so not that anymore. This is dark and a murder mystery—not even murder. Murders, plural!”

Charles DiLaurentis is related to Ali. “There’s some crazy revelations that happen and I can confirm that Charles DiLaurentis is definitely related to us,” Pieterse said. “In the beginning, Alison has no idea who Charles is, so when the girls finally are home and released, it’s up to her really to ask all these crazy questions—and try and find out why no one has told her who this person is, and how he fits on their family tree.”

Ali has finally run out of secrets (but her family hasn’t). When the show began, Ali was a high school mean girl whose “death” spawned a cyber bully of epic porportions. But now she’s just a girl who’s been so beaten down that she couldn’t return to her mean girl ways if she tried. “She is very honest and genuine now,” Pieterse said. “She’s got nothing to hide. Everyone knows everything about her. She’s finally decided there’s no point in trying to manipulate people. She’s really vulerable.

“But I think she’s decided to face her demons and work through things and fix her priorities,” Pieterse continued. “She knows that everything’s not about her anymore. She can’t be selfish. But she finds out so many crazy things about her family and why she subconsciously is the way that she is. She’s going to find out what secrets her family has been hiding for a very long time.”

This really is the summer of answers. “[Marlene] is ready to tell everyone everything,” Pieterse said. “I think the jump is really going to tackle a lot of those questions that you have as well. I think another question is: How are these girls going to move on with their lives? And you’re starting to see that. These girls are growing up.”

We will find out why Charles is the way he is. We don’t know much about Charles, but from what we do know, “he’s highly intelligent, and he’s getting his money from somewhere,” Pieterse said. But as time goes on, we’ll start finding out more about Charles’ background. “We’re starting to learn where that money is coming from,” she said, adding, “He is super obsessed with these girls, and we learn why he is that way, and what made him that way, and it’s really eerie and really dark. It makes your skin crawl.”

What does the future hold for the Liars? “We do a time jump in our show, and you see these girls in totally different worlds,” Pieterse said. “They’ve grown up and they’re dealing with other things; they’re dealing with the realities of life. So I think that’s fun for the fans to see, too, that people always end up differently than they expect.

“A lot of teenage shows kind of fail when they try to make the girls go to college. This show’s not like that. We’re very different. I think it’s a really important thing for the fans to see. I assure you that none of the flavor of Pretty Little Liars Is going to be lost in the time jump. It’s only growing, and it’s only going to expand. I think. I hope.”

Pretty Little Liars returns 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.

  • TV Show
  • 7
  • TV-14
  • Freeform
stream service