SPOILER ALERT: The “Pretty Little Liars” special “5 Years Forward” contains major spoilers heading into the second half of Season 6, which premieres on Jan. 12.
“Pretty Little Liars” takes a five year time jump when the hit ABC Family show returns in 2016 to the soon-to-be Freeform network, but that’s hardly the biggest change — Tuesday night’s “5 Years Forward” special revealed key storylines, relationship twists and even a death that will heavily impact the series when it returns for its more adult Season 6B.
In the midseason finale this summer, “A” was finally revealed to be CeCe Drake (Vanessa Ray). Now that “A’s” identity is no longer under wraps, more secrets were revealed in one night on the “5 Years Forward” special than have been spilled in six seasons of the show.
The girls start to receive messages again when “Pretty Little Liars” comes back and they know it’s not Charlotte (formerly CeCe) who’s targeting them. Show creator Marlene King teases a “life or death” situation, and the entire cast ensures the upcoming episodes enter more dangerous territory than it ever has before. But before terror ensues, here’s what happened to the liars over the past five years.
1. Hanna is engaged — and not to Caleb
Over the past five years, Hanna (Ashley Benson) moved to New York — per Caleb’s (Tyler Blackburn) prom tease in the Season 6A midseason finale — to work in fashion. She interned for Zac Posen and then met her career mentor, an Anna Wintour type, who’s now her boss. She also spent time in Europe where she met her soon-to-be-husband.
“She comes back and she’s engaged,” Benson said. “While she was in Europe, she met her fiancé. That was like the saddest part that I ever read — that I was away from Caleb.”
2. Spencer and Toby are done for good, as she’s determined to make it big on Capitol Hill
Toby (Keegan Allen) ended up inheriting a ton of money after the Cavanaugh house blew up, but even the three-acre property that he bought outside of Rosewood and the dream home he built weren’t enough to win over Spencer (Troian Bellisario), who spent our missing years at Georgetown before moving to work on Capitol Hill — though Bellisario quipped that grown-up Spencer is probably a “glorified coffee gopher.”
“He was still very, very much involved in a small town,” Bellisario said of why her character’s relationship with high school boyfriend Toby didn’t work out. “You get to take a romance that’s been working for six years and kind of watch the moment it all crumbles.”
Toby does have another lady in his life, however. Allen teased that we’ll meet a women named Yvonne Phillips, who ends up being “a very important part of his life.”
3. Emily’s father passed away
Emily (Shay Mitchell) moved to California and went to school at Pepperdine, but dropped out of university when her dad passed away in the army. “It was too much for her,” Mitchell said of dealing with her dad’s death, adding that Emily stayed on the west coast and ended up taking a bartending job.
“Pretty Little Liars” creator Marlene King also teased a big Emily tidbit: “I think Emily comes back with the biggest secret,” King said, then looking at the other cast members, adding, “I think that you three create secrets in our first episode…but Emily comes back with a big secret, which we won’t spoil.”
As for those secrets in the first episode, the showrunner kept mum.
4. Aria is in a new relationship, but is working with her ex-boyfriend (and former teacher) Ezra
“She’s in a new relationship. She’s fallen in love again,” Lucy Hale says of her character Aria, teasing her new boyfriend Liam.
Other than finding new love after Ezra, Aria also found her career passion in writing. “She majored in photography and changes her major to writing,” Hale said. “When we catch up with her, she works in publishing. Her and Ezra start working together.”
5. Ezra is “broken” and an alcoholic when the show returns
“Ezra has had an eventful five years,” Ian Harding said. However, during those years, he did meet another woman, but Harding explained that everything was taken away from him “very quickly and very violently.”
“He’s completely rudderless and has no sense of who he is,” Harding said of Ezra’s direction when “Pretty Little Liars” returns. “He falls down a really deep well into a sea of alcohol.”
King also said that Ezra is the character who comes back with the “most emotional baggage” and is the “most damaged.”
What do you think, now that you’ve been caught up with the Liars’ past five years? Leave a comment with your thoughts on the five-year “Pretty Little Liars” time jump.