'PLL' Star Previews The Looming Darkness

ABC Family

January is shaping up to be a huge month for Janel Parrish, not only is she guest-starring on CBS' Hawaii Five-0, but ABC Family's white-hot Pretty Little Liars returns with a string of 12 new episodes!

Last we saw, Parrish's character Mona was relishing in the revelation that Toby was on her "A" Team and the season 3B premiere unleashes her back on Rosewood High as Mona 2.0 re-matriculates with the masses.

But is this new incarnation the result of a successful rehabilitation or simply the latest phase in Mona's masterplan? That's what I asked Janel Parrish when she rang up ETonline to talk all about the season premiere!

ETonline: What was your reaction to finding out Toby was the one working with Mona?

Janel Parrish: "Noooooooooo!" When I found out it was Toby, I was depressed because I really loved Toby! He was my favorite PLL boy. Thankfully 3B is more about finding out how and why Toby joined Mona on the A Team; it connects the dots a lot, so hopefully fans will get some answers come January.

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ETonline: I was surprised this season starts with Mona back at Rosewood High.

Parrish: Yeah, that definitely surprised me as well, but it was exciting they let me go back to school to play a different side of Mona. She comes back and says she's all better now -- she's suddenly this good girl with this chaste image, but it's definitely going to be interesting to see how the girls reacts to Mona being so close to them again. I'm interested to see if the fans think Mona is better now or not.

ETonline: Mona faces a lot of haters when she returns, which she had to anticipate. So, should we assume there's another reason for her return?

Parrish: Mona has a reason for everything she does. She's a mastermind. She's incredibly smart, people constantly underestimate her and she takes advantage of that. I think you should always question her actions because she never does anything without a reason.

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ETonline: Spencer refers to her as "Mona 2.0" -- how do you describe Mona 2.0?

Parrish: Mona 2.0 is seemingly humbled. There's a scene in the premiere where she admits to being bullied and tortured when she was Geeky Mona back in Junior High and almost blames the four main girls for her breakdown. That's the Mona 2.0 Spencer talks about. She's basically a totally different character now, but they still don't trust her because all the girls know what Mona is capable of. The first few episodes are about who believes that Mona's truly changed and who doesn't.

ETonline: Lucas also plays into the episode, and Mona's Rosewood return, in a big way. What can you say about those two?

Parrish: In the first episode, there's a little hint that Lucas is working for Mona -- fans will find out what that is and what it means for Poor Lucas. I mean, he's always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think fans will have to decide if he means well or not, and what his ultimate agenda is as well.

ETonline: I felt like the Halloween episode marked a serious shift in the show's tone. It was easily the darkest episode of PLL ever. Does that darkening in tone continue throughout the season?

Parrish: We're constantly making the show darker and darker each season. Which I love, and I think what our fans love as well. This is the darkest season we've ever had, and it will only continue to get darker well into the finale, which offers up some interesting answers to some long-lasting questions. It's going to be a really unpredictable season for everybody.

Pretty Little Liars premieres January 8 at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.