Wednesday night's season finale of the Pretty Little Liars spinoff was one for the ages with the return of Ava's (Sofia Carson) dad, the reveal of a new, A-like Big Bad called "The Professor," and, of course, the ever-present growing suspicion of nearly every person living in Beacon Heights as Nolan's potential murderer.
ET caught up with the showrunner of the series, I. Marlene King, to discuss everything that went down in the finale, the likelihood of a second season and the possible return of some of the OG Liars. Though King was tight-lipped about many of the mysteries that have yet to be unraveled, she promised "psychological warfare" and more "twists, turns, friendships and scary stuff" to come if the show gets its sophomore season.
ET: We’re made to assume that Jeremy (Graeme Thomas King) is alive and is not Nolan’s (Chris Mason) killer, but we never actually see that Jeremy is alive… Is there anything to that?
I. Marlene King: It’s part of the mystery moving forward. So it’s a good question, but one I’m going to have to take a pass on.
If Jeremy didn’t kill Nolan, what was he confessing to Caitlin (Sydney Park) in the previous episode?
Definitely cannot share that. He definitely was forced to do some things by The Professor to keep Caitlin safe.
Are there any cute British men that we can trust? Wren (Julian Morris) from Pretty Little Liars is still on my mind.
We were literally talking about bringing in a new character in season two that would be a positive character and I’m like, "We can’t make that person British. People will assume it’s not a good character." [laughs] We love a good handsome Brit in our world!
When the group gathered in the room to speak to The Professor, I assumed that that was just a nickname, but we saw Zach (Garrett Wareing) call a person "Professor" at the end of the episode. Are we safe to assume it’s a BHU professor? Is it someone we’ve met?
Might be a man, might be a woman, might be a substitute. Even though [Zach] says "Professor," we’re open to the fact that maybe that was The Professor, maybe that wasn’t The Professor. You’ll definitely come to learn more about that person. I’d love to answer the someone we’ve met question, but I’m gonna wait and let the audience figure that out.
Was Nolan’s death the impetus for The Professor’s scheme or a result of it?
Hm. It’s definitely involved. It’s related to The Professor and The Professor’s ultimate goals.
Can you give any hint about who was in that trailer that got blown up?
I cannot. [laughs]
We saw Alison (Sasha Pieterse) switch majors at the end of the episode and then her new boss was on the phone saying "She’s in." Is that related to everything else in Beacon Heights or something separate?
That will definitely unfold as we move on in season two. I mean, the takeaway is that Alison just set herself up for something that she doesn’t know is about to happen. She’s about to become a part of something she’s unaware of.
We also meet someone from Dylan’s (Eli Brown) past in this episode. Any new character introduced in a season finale seems like they’re suspicious, so can you tease anything about where that character will go and why he’s coming in now?
I love the character of Luke (Nick Cassidy). He’s similar to Dylan. You know, he grew up in a small town and he didn’t get to be who he wanted to be, so he became a very angry guy. And I think if we’re lucky enough to live in bigger cities, usually we live in a bit of a bubble where we’re allowed to express ourselves and our sexuality and not feel judged, but there are currently, in this country, kids growing up in small towns who aren’t allowed to be who they really are. And I hope this character serves as a positive role model for them ultimately.
This episode also saw the return of Ava’s dad. What were his motivations for coming back at this point? It seemed like he was pretty much set for life with the money he had.
It was just greed. It’s greed. You know, half of what he stole he wasn’t in possession of and he wanted it. He can’t help himself.
We find out that Dana Booker (Klea Scott) wants to be reinstated with the FBI, but why is she so singularly focused on this group?
I love her character. Her character is extremely self-serving and obviously willing to bend the rules and the law to get answers, but also just for her own personal gain. And I think that’s what makes her so dangerous, honestly.
I don’t really trust Claire (Kelly Rutherford) or Taylor (Hayley Erin). Claire has secrets of her own -- obviously, we find out she hooked up with Mason (Noah Gray-Cabey) -- and Taylor has always seemed a little bit shady. How much should we trust the Hotchkiss family?
Well, I think that everybody is suspicious in our world because we live in the PLL universe… In the way that Claire’s keeping an eye on Mona (Janel Parrish), we have to keep an eye on Claire. And Taylor for that matter.
The show speaks a lot to technology and how it runs our lives. It would be easy to say there's a complete distrust of technology thanks to Beacon Guard, but it’s also how they communicate and strategize, so there’s some good to it. Can you talk about what you’re trying to say regarding that?
Absolutely. I think we currently live in a world where we rely on technology to keep us safe, but it also makes us incredibly vulnerable. Big Brother is watching and your credit cards are out there and your identity is out there, so you’ve got to trust the system. But it also makes you incredibly vulnerable. We love and we’ll continue to explore those themes.
You’ve mentioned season two. Has the show officially been renewed or are we still waiting to hear?
It hasn’t, but I’m projecting as if it is. It’s on my vision board.
If it goes to season two, as we hope, what can we expect? What are some plot lines that fans can look forward to next season?
The psychological warfare that’s about to happen with The Professor and our leading cast members. I hope Alison starts working on herself and maybe opens herself up to a new relationship. We’re going to have some new characters. Keep doing more of what we’ve been doing. Twists, turns, friendships and scary stuff.
Is there any chance that any of the original Liars will make an appearance in future episodes?
I think so. I’ve talked to quite a few of them, including some of the guys, who are really open to coming on the show and excited about it, so hopefully. We really wanted season one to cement the show so it could stand on its own two feet before we brought people in to sort of crossover universes. But we’re definitely open to doing some of that in season two.
What has the fan response to this series meant to you?
It’s awesome. I feel like the majority of the fans have been super supportive and they’re really excited for the universe to be expanded. And maybe in the future, it’ll be expanded even more. And their support is why. So I’m super grateful to the fans. The PLL family is, I think, the strongest TV family there is and their support means everything. They’re also the smartest too, by the way, which is why we get to do complicated things.