“Pretty Little Liars,” the ABC Family hit drama about four teens in the fictional Rosewood, Pa., coping with the departure of their alpha female frenemy and the mysterious bullies who won’t let them move on, wraps its fourth season tonight. As is its custom, it will no doubt leave fans with more questions than answers.
“Liars” executive producer and creator I. Marlene King recently teased a potential movie at PaleyFest in Hollywood, but she didn’t divulge much about tonight’s episode. In a one-on-one phone interview, Variety tried to get more details out of her about that, as well information about the future of the show when the characters graduate high school and how they will welcome back recently departed stars. Some spoilers below for those who aren’t caught up.
So, right away: Can you tell us anything about how the finale shaping up?
I’m thrilled with it. The finale is my all-time favorite episode. And I think it’s the girls’ favorite episode too. It’s an end to a certain story and a beginning to a new story. Some of our biggest mysteries are solved and some are just beginning.
Season five seems like it’s an all new show. We’re 95 episodes in. We’re able to make this shift that makes us stay really fresh.
Are there any clues to season five that we should look for tonight?
The finale and the season five premiere [in June] feel like one big episode. That really shakes things up for us. The fifth season is this whole new show because Alison is back … [we get to look at] how that story evolved. She’s not the same person since she was when she left. The girls are not the same people they were either.
You also directed this episode. Why did you decide to do that?
It feels like a full circle moment. In the pilot of “Pretty Little Liars,” the girls fell asleep in the barn and that’s when Alison disappears. We shot that in Vancouver. We recreated pieces of that on the backlot at Warner Bros. and we were able to add in more details to show what happened that night.
One of the problem that often befalls teen dramas is that these kids grow up. Have the writers devised a plan to handle graduation and the college years?
As we say around here, time moves very slowly in Rosewood. It has been fall for two years.
[College] is nothing we’re talking about in the immediate future. Rosewood is such a character of our show. You’ll see when you see the finale and for the first couple episodes of season five.
We thought, ‘Gosh, there’s so much more story to tell.’ Now that we know that Ali’s alive and now that we know who buried her, there are all these new mystery threads.
But Sasha Pieterse’s Alison isn’t the only character returning to Rosewood. You also will be bringing back Caleb Rivers (Tyler Blackburn), who left to star in the recently cancelled spinoff “Ravenswood.” How will Caleb fit back into the show? Will he reunite with former girlfriend Hanna (Ashley Benson)?
Caleb and Alison have never met. They’re the only two people on the show who have never met. We’re just now breaking the hundredth episode, which is episode five of season five and which we call the “Haleb” [Hanna and Caleb] reunion episode.
So you’re saying Caleb and Hanna will get back together?
They’re definitely going to have a reunion. They’re very changed people now. We’re going to see how that’s going to change their relationship. Caleb has all this experience in Ravenswood. A lot of it was life and death experience. Hanna has changed as well. Hanna was the one who wanted to be Alison the most. Now that she’s back.