Marlene King on Pretty Little Liars midseason finale: Big reveal has 'some connection' to the past
Spoiler alert: If you didn’t catch the summer finale of Pretty Little Liars and don’t want to know the identity of “A” — and a few other things — stop reading.
After years of twists, dead ends, and countless questions, Tuesday’s midseason finale of Pretty Little Liars finally unmasked “A”: CeCe Drake (Vanessa Ray). However, it wasn’t that simple: She’s also known as Charlotte DiLaurentis, who transitioned into a woman after being assigned male at birth with the name Charles. We also learned that Sara Harvey (Dre Davis) was both Red Coat and Black Widow. For those of you wondering whether we’ll ever learn the connection between Charlotte and Sara and how Sara got involved — showrunner Marlene King says we’ll have to wait. (For the full recap, head here).
With so many questions still out there, EW chatted with King post-finale to get the scoop on the big reveal, what’s coming this winter, and whether the Liars’ moms are okay (she assured us that while the DiLaurentis family might be fresh out of wine, the ladies are doing just fine).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There’s been some positive and negative response to the twist. How do you feel now after the big reveal?
MARLENE KING: I feel really good. I’m happy that the identity of “A” has been revealed — I don’t have to keep that secret anymore. Always when there’s a big cliffhanger like this, you have to expect that not everybody’s going to be happy. We had a similar revelation of Mona [Janel Parrish] being the original “A.” But as we continued the story, it became clear to our fans that she was absolutely supposed to be original “A.” I think as we move forward, it’ll become clear to fans that Charlotte was absolutely supposed to be the “A” who stole the game from Mona.
When was it decided that Charlotte would be “A”? How long did Vanessa Ray know she was “A”?
We’ve known as creators for three and a half years. But Vanessa only found out the week before we shot the episode, which we did with Janel Parrish. When we told her she was “A”, she was like, “I am?!” [Laughs].
What’s amazing is that she [Ray] just brought so many layers to it [the role]. She did all of her homework and really, really did an amazing job with this.
How did Charlotte and Sara Harvey know each other? How did Sara get involved?
Well, some of that is mystery moving forward as we make the time jump so I can’t really tell you that much about it. There are questions that are asked and some are answered in our first episode when we come back.
There were a few other incidents that Mr. D said that led to Charles being taken to Radley. Is that something that will pop up later? Is that of importance moving forward?
It is of importance in the sense that there’s some crazy that runs in this family. It was not completely by accident that she hurt her doll baby before — she couldn’t distinguish between the doll and real life. I think it’s important to know that’s where her crazy started — long before she transitioned.
What do you think about all of the suspicion surrounding Wren [Julian Morris]?
I don’t know, because he’s someone we really haven’t cast suspicion on yet. Though we don’t physically have Julian on the show, [Wren] is still very much alive. So I think that pointed the finger toward him a little bit.
He did some bidding for “A” in the past. But he wasn’t involved, really?
No, he was not knowledgeable of doing anything bad.
What happened to Charlotte after she declared “game over”? Is that something we learn post-time jump?
Yes, you do. We actually shot a scene that Annabeth Gish [who plays the role of Dr. Sullivan] was in with Charlotte, Jason [Drew Van Acker] and Ali. We had to drop it because we ran out of time. But in that scene, it is Jason and Alison visiting Charlotte in a nothing-like-Radley sanitarium. It’s a wonderful place for people who need mental health assistance.
Will we ever get to find out the “rest of the story” that Mona stuck around for?
That’s a good question. Nobody’s asked me that yet. I think the most important stuff is what we’ve learned but I like the idea of finding that out, so, yeah, let’s say maybe.
Are the Liars’ moms okay?
I wish we could’ve showed the moms coming out and being safe but I think it’s okay to assume that somebody found them before they drank all of the DiLaurentis wine. [Laughs]
Who is the “he” that’s after Ali five years later?
Well, that is our mystery moving forward. There’s a new Big Bad. So, in that vein, the Liars have come to warn Ali that this Big Bad is on his way.
Can you give any more details on the futures of the Liars and Ali?
The Liars have all gone away. Nobody lives in Rosewood anymore aside from Ali who stuck around to take care of Charlotte — to give her the family she never had. There’s an event that happens five years later that brings them back, in part due to something that Alison needs so they have to [temporarily] leave their jobs, their mates, their homes, and come back and deal with this. Once they’re there, it becomes difficult for them to leave.
When we move forward with this new Big Bad, will that tie into what the Liars have already been through? Is there a connection there?
It is definitely brand new, but there’s some connection to the past. Not a mystery revolving around the past, but a connection to the past.
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.