'PLL' EP Answers All Your Burning Finale Questions
By Jarett Wieselman
Answers were thrown fast and furiously at fans in last night's Pretty Little Liars season three finale as we learned that -- SPOILER ALERT!!! -- Toby and his pretty eyes are not only alive but operating as a double agent inside The A Team, Spencer kidnapped Malcolm, Jenna is slowly going blind again and working with (or possibly sleeping with) Shana under Red Coat's orders, which is what Mona was also doing despite the fact she's never seen her boss' face.
But with those answers came even more questions as the finale led us to believe Ali might actually be alive -- and wearing that Red Coat! Plus, in the closing minutes, Mona was booted off The A-Team and implicated in the cliffhanger mystery revolving around a shocker in the trunk of Detective Wilden's newly unsunk copcar.
To make sense of it all, ETonline caught up with Pretty Little Liars executive producer Oliver Goldstick to break down all the reveals, find out what fans might have missed and see where it's all headed in season four!
ETonline: What was at the top of your to do list in terms of questions that needed to be answered in the finale?
Oliver Goldstick: Well, because of the show's audience participation, we do know what a lot of the theories are, and we felt like it was time for the girls to catch up to the audience, who has suspected Alison is still alive for a long time. That was one of the big things we wanted to leave the audience with so we could start season four with the big question: "Is She or Isn't She Alive?" That was number one on the agenda. We also felt it was imperative to clarify Toby's involvement with "A." We couldn't leave the audience wondering what he was doing, or if he was alive. And if there was indeed a team of people working against these girls, we had to show who was on that lunatic express. Letting Emily be privy to those three Macbeth witches in the Cavanaugh house was important. In my head there was a cauldron in the corner of the room that they were stirring [laughs]. Those three are seriously up to something.
ETonline: Yes, let's talk about Shana. She went from the periphery to the center of the mystery in a big way last night. What can you say about her relationship with Jenna: sexual or are they simply using one another to further their plan?
Goldstick: I think it's much of the latter. They have a common agenda when it comes to these girls. The whole idea of her and Jenna was meant to be one of our great surprises because you didn't even think twice about her. We wanted to blow the audience's mind -- she's got some lies too. Her relationship with Jenna is a tender one, but we're not saying they're girlfriends. Jenna often left in previous seasons for long stretches of time and [the writers] always said this child travels a lot for someone who can't see [laughs]. So the idea was that Jenna might not have always been alone, and Toby might have realized that ... remember what he said to Garrett in, I believe, season two about Jenna not being as alone as he thinks.
ETonline: Clearly you're amazing planners. Did you know all along that Toby would be "Pretty Eyes?"
Goldstick: Yes. We did.
ETonline: Last night, Toby said he joined The "A" Team to protect Spencer. Now, I know your characters have hidden agendas at all times, but can you confirm if he was being honest in that moment?
Goldstick: Yes. I feel very confident in that. But that doesn't mean he's done with "A" because in season four Toby gets sucked back in to that world in a very juicy way. It's also very emotional because "A" knows something very emotional in Toby's past. Don't forget that Toby has been haunted as well by the "A" of it all. I was not being disingenuous over the years when I said he has an ax to grind with Alison; she sent him to juvie for a year! It took some time for his animosity to melt. Emily was the first to penetrate that, and show Toby that these girls weren't all mini [versions of] Alison. They were more guilty by association. Then he got to know Spencer, and clearly that was hot. There were sparks.
ETonline: The idea of having a pilot in the mix first came up last season, can you talk a little bit about what it means that Red Hood can fly a plane?
Goldstick: Do you remember that 15-year-old fugitive kid in Washington State, who was stealing planes and flying all over the world until the police finally caught him with all these alternate identities? Well, he was kind of an inspiration in the writer's room -- we brought that article in and talked about him. Of course the network was like, "WHAT?" But they really let us go there because this is not your average girl -- she's out there!
ETonline: Was there anything else this season the network balked at?
Goldstick: The network was a little concerned over how dark Spencer was getting, and rightly so. They wanted to know if she was going to be Girl, Interrupted for a whole season, but we had to deal with the reality of the devastation someone like Spencer would feel if she lost the one thing she allowed herself to rely on.
ETonline: Last night's kicker looked like the plot of land where Alison was buried alive. Do those episode-ending moments sometimes take place in the past?
Goldstick: Yes, and that was one of them. You'll get some insight into that moment in episode two. We like to use those moments to plant a pebble that starts a landslide. I mean, how long can you be buried alive before you actually die? Who knows who was actually in the ground -- maybe Alison was the one pulling the person out of the pit before getting thrown in there herself. That's one big question we're leaving up in the air.
ETonline: We were also left to wonder what was in Wilden's trunk. Will that reveal come in the season premiere?
Goldstick: Yes. We come back minutes later. We're not doing a time-jump this year. There's a game changing event because of what's in that trunk. What is inside that trunk will really send our girls down a different path this year.
ETonline: What other stories are at the top of your to do list in season four?
Goldstick: The top thing is whether Alison is alive or not. You have to deal with the fact that three girls saw Alison. Not all of them saw her, mind you, which will cause some dissension in the group. There's five of them now. Mona is an adjunct-PLL because she's being tormented, tortured and targeted by "A" next season. Mona, our vicious little dumpling, is someone the girls have to accept they need to keep close because of how much insight she has ... even though she's not trustworthy. I mean, she's still Mona.
ETonline: All the girls have been Instagraming photos from set today, featuring younger versions of their characters. Suffice it to say the past will play a role in season four like never before?
Goldstick: Yes to your question because Mrs. DiLaurentis is coming back! She comes back, alone, and lives in that house. She has a peculiar agenda that the girls cannot figure out. It takes quite a while for the girls to unravel what the hell she's doing back in Rosewood and what she really wants.
ETonline: Why bring her back?
Goldstick: Mrs. D gives us a whole new window onto Alison, the summer before she disappeared, the night she disappeared and her relationship with the girls. Remember that flashback of Alison coming in all bloody at 3 a.m. -- clearly something big was going on there. All those things contribute to a certain darkness that we will play with next season.
Pretty Little Liars returns to ABC Family on June 11.