At Thursday's Pretty Little Liars Television Critics Association Tour panel, executive producer Marlene King spoke about the heightened reality of Rosewood -- and while she was referring to the girl's clothes, it also applies to the way all the characters deal with the life and death situations they're constantly caught in.
That's why I was so surprised to see Paige forcing Emily to confront what happened -- both in the lighthouse and on the Halloween train to hell -- in a new sneak peek from Tuesday's episode, titled Mona Mania.
But that's just the start of an exciting new arc for Paige, as EP Oliver Goldstick told me
, and star Shay Mitchell reinforced when we chatted at TCA. Not only did she gush about Paily, but Mitchell teased the return of Dr. Sullivan and explained why she loves Emily so much.
ETonline: Emily killed a man in the mid-season finale, but it wasn't really addressed in the Halloween episode or the season premiere. Will we see more of that in the coming weeks?
Shay Mitchell: Definitely. It's one of the things Emily goes through big time this year. I'm sure there's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff you won't see, with her talking to her parents, but eventually there is a bit of a breaking point. A moment where she says, "Wow, I took someone's life" and ends up seeking therapy.
ETonline: When she gets back on Dr. Sullivan's couch, what kind of stuff is she dealing with?
Mitchell: Emily always wants to give people the benefit of the doubt, but she ended up trusting someone who said they were the cousin of her dead girlfriend. I mean, that's a pretty sick person for her to have trusted. Because of that, she not only risked her life, but Paige's as well. So she's working on patching up their relationship and moving forward. But Paige wants to know what the hell is going on, so Emily explains as much as she can to Paige about what they've all been dealing with. Emily is going to try and not keep as many secrets this year.
ETonline: So where are we now with Paige and Emily's relationship?
Mitchell: I feel like it's finally gotten to a point where they have the support of Emily's friends. Before the Halloween episode, everybody was thinking Paige could be on The "A" Team, and she had reason to be. I love Paige's arc this season. She came on and no one liked her. Emily fans especially would always Tweet me, "She tried to drown you! We hate her!" For a while they did not want to see Emily with Paige, especially after Maya. I had Maya fans wanting to kill Paige, but Marlene really turned her around in the fan's eyes, and now I have so many Paily supporters out there. I love that relationship, and I'm so glad other people do too.
ETonline: Why do you think Emily was so quick to give Paige a second (and third) chance after some of the crazy things she had done, like try to drown her?
Mitchell: Emily has always given everyone the benefit of the doubt and always wants to know why people do certain things before passing judgment. If Emily finds out about Toby, that's what she's going to want to know. She had such a special bond with him, Toby understood her like no one else could at the time. She basically came out to him before anyone else, so it will be interesting. More so than anger, it will be about why. Just explain the "why" to Emily and you're golden. She doesn't hold grudges or resentment. She just wants to understand your side so she can back you up, and that's one of the qualities I love about her so much -- she's not quick to dismiss.
ETonline: What are you excited for the fans to see this season?
Mitchell: I'm really excited to see if and when Toby gets revealed -- and how Spencer handles that. I mean, could you imagine? One season you're in bed with someone and the next season they're 'A' -- I can't wait to see how she deals with that. Spencer's family isn't the kind you can fall back on. I mean, this is the closest person to her, and she'll lose all her trust in him.
ETonline: During a video shown before today's panel, Ashley Benson said she's praying Hanna is actually 'A' -- do you feel the same with Emily?
Mitchell: Oh yes! You know, I've played a sweet girl for a long time. Whenever I get to be a bit of a badass, I love it. Whether it's stabbing someone or whatever, it's fun for me and I think everybody likes to play the villain once in a while. We're always coming up with excuses for the characters, and Emily's would be that no one would expect her to be 'A' -- Emily is so innocent ... but maybe she's not. Maybe her and Alison made a pact that they'd do this together.
ETonline: I feel like your fans would riot if that happened.
Mitchell: [laughs] I think so too! If Emily goes bad, then there's no hope in life. You might as well give up and move far, far away because nobody is good if that’s the case.
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.