Brace yourselves, “Pretty Little Liars” fans. The Season 5 summer premiere airs on ABC Family next Tuesday, and show creator and executive producer Marlene King is promising a fun ride.
International Business Times spoke to King about Season 5's mysteries, Alison’s big return and what the future holds for the "Pretty Little Liars."
IBTimes: This year we’ll be skipping a Halloween special for a Christmas episode. What was the reason behind the change?
Marlene King: I’ve wanted to do a Christmas episode since Season 1. I’ve been lobbying for that from the beginning, and I think that our fans have been very loudly asking for it, too. We just thought it would be fun to do something a little different. We never really had a winter in Rosewood, we’ve always jumped that season. So I think that it’s going to be a lot of fun to see our girls dressed for winter … and maybe somebody in a pair of Santa boxers. We’ll see how it plays out.
IBTimes: How about “A” in a Santa Costume?
IBTimes: “Pretty Little Liars” loves to bring the scares. During “Unbridled,” in Season 4, viewers saw skeleton fingers in Spencer’s corset. Will Season 5 continue to explore who is buried in Alison’s grave?
King: Yes, definitely. This summer season, Season 5, is really just nonstop. It’s like a freight train that is just heading down a course, and it doesn’t stop. At times it feels out of control, but we know exactly where we’re going.
We are heading in the direction of finding out who the person is buried in Alison’s grave, and who killed that person. [The body is] dressed just like Alison -- which wasn’t a coincidence, I’m sure. Those are two big mysteries, one of which we will definitely get an answer to this summer. [In regard to] the other one, fans will be thinking their own theories as to who killed that person.
IBTimes: Fans have a lot of theories surrounding Alison’s brother, Jason DiLaurentis.
King: Last we saw Alison, she explained to the Pretty Little Liars what happened the night she went missing. What the audience knows -- and the Pretty Little Liars and Alison don’t know -- is that we saw her mother buried that night.
Early on we’ll see Ali come back to town, and it wont take long for them to realize that her mother is missing. Part of the story will be: Do they find her mother or not? But the question surrounding the missing mom brings all of the family back together -- including Jason. He has a nice little story arc towards the top of the season.
IBTimes: That’s one suspicious sibling. What about Melissa Hastings?
King: We get to see a lot of her in season 5. We’re always thrilled to have [Torrey DeVitto] back. She’s so much fun as an actress, and she’s a lot of fun to write, too. I personally love writing to that character; she’s so mysterious and a scream in such a good way.
We will definitely be asking the question: What did she whisper to Mr. Hastings in the police station in [Season 4] episode 24? And we’ll find out the answer to that this summer.
IBTimes: I love the dynamic between Spencer and Melissa, their sibling rivalry.
King: There’s a nice twist coming up to that story this summer. I’m really excited to share that with the fans.
IBTimes: Will Season 5 still be exploring Spencer’s addiction problem?
King: There is a Pretty Little Liar [who's] going through a bit of a crisis this summer and self-medicates for a while. It’s not Spencer.
IBTimes: Can you say anything about the connection between CeCe’s clothing in the police station and the clothing that Ashley Marin found at the DiLaurentis house?
King: One would be led to believe that she was given those clothes. It’s definitely a thread of a mystery that we want our audience to be following.
IBTimes: What about CeCe supposedly wearing similar clothing to Alison on the night Alison “died”?
King: We’re going to talk a little bit about that this season. That was a Jason memory, and he was very drunk that night. The question is: Was that real? Or was that Jason projecting? Because as he’s let us know, he was pretty out of it that night.
IBTimes: Season 4 was all about answers. What would you say Season 5 is all about?
King: Well, it’s definitely a lot about Alison. It’s a lot about her return to Rosewood and the dynamic that is shifting as she returns. She’s a tornado in a lot of ways -- even when she doesn’t want to be. It’s just who she is.
The question is: Has she changed? Or hasn’t she changed? Can the Liars -- or should they -- even trust her? It’s a lot of Ali questions and having her back amongst the living and not in flashbacks. She’s a real character and real person. She’s not just one memory of how the girls perceived her or how the Pretty Little Liars perceived her. It’s really exciting for us. We’ve had a lot of fun writing for Sasha [Pieterse] this year.
IBTimes: I’m sure Sasha is on set a lot more now. How have things changed off-camera?
King: Yeah, she’s here almost everyday. The Pretty Little Liars are happy about that because they work a little bit less. Because there are five of them now, that’s changing the equation by 20 percent -- I’m just joking. The girls love working with Sasha, and she really brings a lot to the party. Every scene feels fresh and new that she’s in now. We realize that she doesn’t know Caleb, and that she has to meet him. There is so much fun to be had with this character.
IBTimes: Noel popped up in the Season 4 finale. When can we expect to see him again in Season 5?
King: I don’t remember the exact episode, but he’s definitely involved in the storyline this summer. He still has an involvement with Alison and there’s a little bit mystery to that. It plays out over the summer in a rewarding and interesting way.
IBTimes: I read that you call him “Whack-A-Noel.” I love that.
King: I know he probably doesn’t like it. He’s a little bit more than “Whack-A-Noel” this summer because he has a big part of a juicy plot.
IBTimes: And Lucas will be returning as well.
King: Yes, he has come back and he’s changed. He’s a little different, Lucas, and you’ll see that right away and understand why he’s changed.
IBTimes: It’s fun to watch these characters pop up again. What’s it like to develop a different side of them?
King: It’s really fun to write scenes for our recurring characters. Especially when those we haven’t seen in a while come back and something’s different about them. I think it just helps to add to the flavor of the show and the perplexity of the show. [Those characters] are so beloved by our fans. We have such a huge cast, and I’d love to have everybody in every episode, but that’s impossible.
For Lucas, it really made sense for this character to come back into our lives for many organic reasons. It’s exciting for them and it’s exciting for us.
IBTimes: We’ll also have a new character named Sydney joining Season 5. What can you tell us about her?
King: Sydney is played by Chloe Bridges and her storyline, interesting enough, is something we came up with a couple seasons ago. We’ve been waiting for her to be available. We specifically wrote some of this just for this actress, and you’ll understand why as you get to know her character. That’s a little bit of a clue that pays off later.
She’s a swimmer and she befriends Emily and Paige, becoming very instrumental in helping Emily and Paige reconnect as friends -- at least in the beginning of our story. Last we left them, things were very estranged.
IBTimes: Speaking of Paige and Emily, who do you think has the more passionate fan base out of all the couples?
King: The original couple was “Ezria,” so they have a mighty powerful shipper army. But all of our couples have such [big fans]. I mean we haven’t even had a scene with Emily and her girlfriend in a romantic way except for some “was it real or was it a dream” moments. You know [Paige and Emily] have a massive fan base, people who want that couple to get together. So our fans are loud and vocal and passionate regarding their couples. And it keeps us on our toes.
IBTimes: Season 5 will see Caleb return to Ravenswood. What can you say about wrapping up “Ravenswood”?
King: It doesn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure. Caleb comes back and he’s different. He’s changed and Hanna doesn’t really understand why. But by the end of the summer he will shed some light on the things he saw there and what he left behind there; and give us some insight into what’s happening in Ravenswood while we move on in Rosewood.
IBTimes: Do you think there is a storyline after the girls discover “A’s” identity? Or do you think that’s the end of “Pretty Little Liars”?
King: I think that there might be. I’ve been thinking that there’s a possibility of a fun story to tell after the girls learn the identity of A. I don’t think it would be a long story, but I think there would still be some story to serve us regarding how they would move on, and what “A” would be doing after “A’s“ identity is revealed.
IBTimes: The girls have talked about college. Do you see the show moving to a college campus?
King: I never say never, but right now I don’t. I see it moving to a graduation, and I see it moving to a summer after graduation. But I don’t see -- on television at least -- the girls going off to college.
IBTimes: This season will feature the 100th episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” How long have you guys been brewing up some mischief?
King: We’ve been brewing it up for 100 episodes! It’s a lot of fun; it’s a really big episode. I’m actually just editing it in the editing room right now with our editor, Lois Blumenthal.
It’s an abundance of riches. I wrote too long of a script and we shot too much footage -- there was so much story to tell. But we’re having a lot of fun picking out the best parts to show to fans.
The Season 5 premiere of “Pretty Little Liars” will air on ABC Family on Tuesday, June 10 at 8 p.m. EDT. What are your predictions for the summer season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section or send a tweet to @AmandaTVScoop.