The Pretty Little Liars Season 3 mid-season finale was full of twists and turns. Emily found out who murdered poor Maya St. Germain, Ezra’s baby mama showed up at his apartment, Caleb got shot, Garrett was freed, and the ultimate betrayer in Rosewood was finally revealed in an utterly chilling scene! However, as great television episodes tend to do, “The Lady Killer” inspired loads of juicy questions about the A-team, the relationships on the show, and the blonde, curly-haired mystery person lurking about town in a red trench coat. Unfortunately, these Q’s won’t get answered until PLL returns with its annual riveting Halloween special and then for weekly episodes beginning in January 2013. But fret not, brave viewers, because we still have webisodes of Pretty Dirty Secrets to sink our teeth into…and a MUST-READ exclusive interview with executive producer and PLL mastermind, Marlene King, right below. Dig in if you can handle the truth:
Alloy Entertainment: First and foremost…OMG. Toby is A! Has he always been on the A team or did he recently join?
Marlene King: Toby was not always on the A team. And you’ll find out as the show continues when he did join the A team.
Alloy Entertainment: The A Team seems virtually unstoppable. Is Mona the brains of the operation or is someone else running the A show?
Marlene King: You will have to keep watching the show to find out. That’s a spoiler that I can’t give out. That’s something we explore when we go back to season 3B.
Alloy Entertainment: You knew all along who the betrayer was but how was it watching the final cut? How did the cast and crew react?
Marlene King: It was very shocking. Actually, a lot of the writers, producers and actors came out to the back lot the day we shot the reveal of Toby in the black hoodie, and we all watched it live. It was really exciting. You knew it was going to be special and different, but when we saw Keegan turn for the first time and reveal that angry face to us — his black hoodie face — it was shocking! We all got goosebumps, and then we all watched it together last night during the east coast stream in my office. [laughs] There were definitely a lot of screams and hoots and hollers our end as well.
Alloy Entertainment: Who had the funniest reaction to the huge twist at the end?
Marlene King: I showed it a couple of days ago to Ashley and Shay, and I actually started video taping because they could not stop screaming like for the last 15 minutes. They screamed constantly — people kept coming into my office asking if everybody was alright because that’s how expressive they were. And then they were crying in the end so I was like, ‘Okay, this is special.’ [laughs]
Alloy Entertainment: We can totally relate! One minute we’re laughing the next crying and then suddenly we’re screaming in shock.
Marlene King: [laughs] A lot of mixed emotions.
Alloy Entertainment: The Toby and Spencer sex scene was very reminiscent of Buffy and Angel’s first time. Girl loves guy. Girl sleeps with guy. Guy turns out to be evil. Was Spoby’s romantic moment added into the mid-season finale for dramatic effect…or was it simply a logical step in the exploration of their relationship?
Marlene King: It wasn’t really for dramatic effect but it definitely enhanced the drama when we found out that Toby was A and you certainly feel really bad for Spencer that she slept with somebody who we know is the ultimate betrayer. But it also felt like it was something her character would want to do because he’s been gone for so long, and she’s sort of alluded to Hanna the fact that she thought she may never have Toby back again. So once she saw him after that long absence it felt like it was the perfect place for her to go ahead and dive into those waters.
Alloy Entertainment: Mona cruised out of Radley Sanitarium with no problem at all. Does she have more any Rosewood excursions planned later on in the season?
Marlene King: Yes, definitely. I think that what we hoped to come across with the finale is that Mona has been a little out of commission — but now she’s back in commission, and from this point on we are going to [see that] she that she has access to the pretty little liars and you’re going to see a lot more of old A behavior in the show.
Alloy Entertainment: You recently directed your first episode of Pretty Little Liars entitled “Misery Loves Company”! What was the experience like?
Marlene King: It’s the very first time I have ever directed anything, so I was thrilled to have it be an episode of PLL. I think the most rewarding part was getting to spend those 7 days with the cast and crew and be the person responsible for taking notes on the page to the screen. It was very satisfying in that way — it was sort of a real full-circle moment for me. I haven’t gotten to be on set that much since the pilot so it was really great to spend that time with the cast. It’s the 3rd one when we come back [with new episodes], but I got to work with all my favorite people so it was a special experience for sure.
Alloy Entertainment: How was directing different from writing or producing the episodes?
Marlene King: It’s very different- the hours aren’t very great, I’ll tell you that. [laughs] But it was really exciting in the sense that when you’re putting it on the page you try to envision it on screen. And then when you’re interpreting for the screen you have to put on your thinking cap and it’s all about telling the story in the most compelling way possible. Overall, it was great fun to wear the director hat.
Alloy Entertainment: The upcoming Halloween special, “This Is A Dark Ride,” looks so creepy and intense. What inspired this year’s spooky episode?
Marlene King: The writer of this year’s episode is Joe Doughtery and he’s one of our executive producers as well. A year ago, when we were making the last Halloween, I spotted an advertisement in a magazine for the Napa Valley Halloween train and ripped it out because I knew Joe was going to want it this year. I said, “Joe, what do you think of this?” and he had about 9 months to percolate and come up with his version for what would be a great Halloween train. And he loves classic movies so it was a wonderful fit to come up with this sort of glamorous theme and in spite of its glam our its also an extremely scary episode. It’s really a perfect stand alone Halloween event for us.
Alloy Entertainment: Was there an actual train used or was it special effects?
Marlene King: There was an actual train. We have 3 cars of an actual train on our Stage 8 of the Warner Bros. back lot that were lifted and moved around so it was a very ambitious episode — but absolutely beautiful and visually compelling too.
Alloy Entertainment: We’re stoked for the web series, Pretty Dirty Secrets. Will these webisodes tie back into the main storyline of PLL episode 3.13?
Marlene King: For sure. I know fans go through big withdrawal having to wait months for another episode so we’re hoping that it’s sort of little treats and nuggets of candy to keep them happy until we get to Halloween.
Alloy Entertainment: Where do you get all the ideas for the costumes? They are so eerie — we don’t know where you come up with such mesmerizing yet terrifying ones!
Marlene King: All the costumes are so much fun and there are so many treacherous people on the Halloween train this year. Last year, for Halloween, we knew that the zombie was the one person we’re supposed to look out for, but this year there are multiple people we’re supposed to look out for in multiple cool and scary costumes.
Alloy Entertainment: So back to last night’s episode! Do we have reason to be worried about Aria and Ezra — will Maggie’s sudden appearance stir up trouble between them at all?
Marlene King: I wouldn’t say stir up trouble as much as I would say it does complicate their relationship and presents sort of realistic and truthful issues that they have to deal with. Overall, I think it was a nice twist that she didn’t show up and be a horrible person to everyone. Even Aria was surprised by the fact that she’s not like his ex Jackie — she wasn’t this malicious person.
Alloy Entertainment: We HAVE to know — will little Malcolm be in any upcoming scenes? He’s adorable!
Marlene King: I hope so — we’re not finished completely. We’re not finished with Season 3B so we’re not really sure if we will or not but I hope so.
Alloy Entertainment: We’ve got a Pailey question as well. A lot of viewers would like to know why did Emily run and hug Hanna instead of Paige during the ambulance scene? After all, Paige was almost murdered that night and could have used a bit of comfort.
Marlene King: Well I think if you go back and you watch, the police are talking to Paige and the police are talking to Emily and you can see Hanna [crying], and Emily knows that Caleb has been shot. You can see how much pain Hanna is in and Paige makes the ultimate sacrifice by interrupting the police who are talking to Emily so she can get away and be with her friend. And we just felt that it was the ultimate sacrifice for that character to put herself out there because she does recognize the unconditional friendship that those girls have, and that’s what we love about Paige.
Alloy Entertainment: Would you categorize that scene from PLL Episode 3.12 as ‘Paige’s Redemption’?
Marlene King: I think it was Paige’s redemption. After being locked up in the closet, she definitely deserved to have her moment.
Alloy Entertainment: Last time we spotted Jenna, she was skipping town. Will she return at all in Season 3?
Marlene King: She isn’t in any episode that we filmed yet but she’s definitely still a part of our world.
Alloy Entertainment: If there’s one thing we truly appreciate about Pretty Little Liars, is that you always include great literature on the show. And Troian Bellisario recently tweeted a sneak peek photo of The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Is there a specific reason why this play was chosen [similarly to “The Bad Seed“]? Or it just something they’re reading for class?
Marlene King: It definitely is something they’re reading for English class, but it’s also thematic to the episode that she tweeted about which I think is 3.17. So yeah we try to do that as often as possible we love our literature references and our old movie references. I’ll tell you also in 3.16 Emily is reading Lord of the Flies and that really plays into that episode as well.
Alloy Entertainment: We were lucky to have Brendan Robinson chatting live with fans on our twitter account @littleliars. However, we missed Lucas during the episode! Will fans eventually find out why he’s been acting so agitated and creepy lately?
Marlene King: Yes the Lucas fans will definitely get some resolution to what’s been going on with him.
Alloy Entertainment: The fan reactions to “The Lady Killer” were brilliant and super entertaining! What did you think about all the videos, black hoodie pictures, and twitter trends?
Marlene King: I love the videos that people recording of themselves watching and how a lot of fans sent pictures of their black hoodie party reactions before and after the reveal of Toby. I mean, it’s fun for all of us — all the writers and producers just love getting that feedback and live tweeting and sharing the experience with the fans. It’s really why we do what we do and its rewarding for us just to be a part of it in that way.
Alloy Entertainment: PLL is currently on hiatus. How are you filling up the void? Any books or shows you’re excited about?
Marlene King: I am currently reading Fifty Shades of Grey but I hope to finish his weekend. As for TV shows, I’ve been watching Revenge and am looking forward to The Walking Dead coming back on. Basically, creepy shows. I like creepy shows. Oh – and I can’t wait for the last season of Gossip Girl.
Alloy Entertainment: We love Gossip Girl! Confession time — which couple will you be rooting for on Season 6?
Marlene King: Chuck and Blair all the way. I started watching Gossip Girl because of Chuck and Blair.