'Pretty Little Liars' Hits 100 Episodes: Stars, Producers Reveal Craziest Twists
Ahead of Tuesday's landmark hour, stars Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario, Shay Mitchell, Sasha Pieterse and the executive producers share the twists that made them go "OMG!"
Over the course of Pretty Little Liars' 99 episodes so far, a flurry of shocking twists have led viewers to dissect every look, gesture and word. Can anyone forget Mona as first "A" or Toby as an "A" team member or, gasp, Ezra's dark turn?
Executive producer I. Marlene King, who adapted the series from Sara Shepard's popular young-adult novels, calls reaching 100 episodes "special." "It's phenomenal," she tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We're celebrating our PLL family." Adds Lucy Hale: "It feels gratifying to reach a hundred episodes. We've all worked really hard and it's hard to believe we've been doing it for this long because it feels like just yesterday [we started]."
ABC Family's No. 1 series celebrates the 100-episode milestone July 8 with "Miss Me x 100," which returns familiar faces (Hi, Jenna!) and old favorites (Welcome back, Caleb!) for the momentous hour. It'll be a doozy of an episode. It's Alison DiLaurentis' first day back at Rosewood High and none of the Liars, or Alison, are ready for the drama that will unfold. After all, Alison — previously believed to be dead — has a lot of explaining to do. Mona and her army will be leading the charge.
"Mona's drinking Drano — that's how happy Mona is to have Alison back," executive producer Oliver Goldstick says. Hints star Sasha Pieterse: "Now that Alison's back at school, there are some strange things that she has to face. All of these things and people that have been haunting her from her past are going to come back. It's surreal for the girls. To have people reacting badly to Alison, it puts the girls back in that season-one box, and they have to fight that."
But before PLL airs its landmark hour, the stars and executive producers from ABC Family's hit drama reveal their picks to THR for the most outlandish and unexpected twists that made them go "OMG!"
Executive producer I. Marlene King
"I'm always blown away by how we can make characters bad and then flip them around and make them good again. I'm very proud of the fact that we convinced our audience that our beautiful, amazing Toby was on the 'A' team [in season two]. I think it's probably [my favorite twist] because we pulled it off. I said to myself, 'We're never going to convince this audience that Toby is bad,' and then I was like, 'We're never going to be able to redeem this character,' but we did. It's fun to say, 'How are we going to do that?' We did it with Ezra too."
Executive producer Oliver Goldstick
"There are certain things we haven't paid off yet. I had Spencer steal her sister [Melissa]'s engagement ring to buy Toby a truck so he could get out of Rosewood, so he wouldn't have to work in Rosewood and 'A' wouldn't hurt him, and I thought, 'Dang, no one's shown up with that engagement ring yet!' It's time. It will be paid off later this season."
Executive producer Joseph Dougherty
"Occasionally Warner Bros. has to make changes on the backlot [where PLL shoots]. They call us up and say, 'We have to do construction,' and our response is usually, 'Can we drive a car through it first?' — which is how a car went through Emily's house [in season one]. They had to dismantle the house and we said, 'What's fun about that?' Let's just send a car through it. We were looking for opportunities.
"The other crazy thing that I'm surprised got on the show — I know because I wrote it and people looked at me cock-eyed at the time — was Hanna slapping Jenna in the girls bathroom [in season one]. It was like, 'Really, she slaps the blind girl?!' Yes, she does."
Lucy Hale (Aria)
"The twist with Ezra as 'A.' I never thought that he would be the bad guy. It makes sense now because he was a little too perfect, too good of a boyfriend. But I didn't know that show would go there because I didn't know that they would want to make [fans] mad because everyone was so upset about it. But when the show went there, it made the character more interesting."
Troian Bellisario (Spencer)
"Toby being 'A' was a huge shift. That was a big twist. And even though I knew that they would probably reveal that he was working for the good guys, it was still pretty shocking."
Shay Mitchell (Emily)
"For me it was the Nate and Emily kiss [in season one], and also Toby turning around and being 'A.' "
Sasha Pieterse (Alison)
"They keep getting more and more massive. My first shock was when it was revealed Toby was 'A.' It wasn't surprising that they would do something like that, but that he [Keegan Allen] knew from episode one. I was in his first scene in his first episode and he already knew — he didn't say a word to anyone until it was revealed. It was like, 'Seriously? I thought we were close! I thought we were friends!' And I loved the way they explained Alison's disappearance. I was buried six feet deep! I doubt I'll be buried ever again."
Ian Harding (Ezra)
"When I suddenly was the villain — which was wonderful and I loved it. But then we come to find out that I wasn't necessarily the villain, but just a creeper. That was probably my favorite twist, but there are two things that happen this season that I can't talk about, but they were awesome. It's pretty heavy-hitting up until the fifth episode."
Tyler Blackburn (Caleb)
"Every episode! But the death of Alison's mom, that was pretty wild to me. I had heard about it before it was being filmed, and that was intense. That's major. When someone's parent goes down, you know it's serious."
Keegan Allen (Toby)
"Being part of the 'A' team or playing the evil villain for a second. That was really exciting and a great layer to put on to the character and what he's capable of."
Janel Parrish (Mona)
"I really liked Madhouse Mona. It was interesting because I never quite knew — while filming the seasons — if she was actually crazy or actually being manipulative. I'm still not quite sure, but it was fun to play a little mixture and keep people guessing. Is she? Is she not?"
Chad Lowe (Byron)
"It was the Halloween episode where there was a flashback on Ali's last night and the reveal that Byron was the last person who was with Ali. I remember at the table reading, there was a gasp and everybody looked at me and I said, 'I didn't do anything! Let me read this!' That was fun for me to play. I thought it was a great moment for the show because the parents were really integral to the plot. The show doesn't have your traditional A and B storylines, so when the parents are integrated into the A plot, if you will, that's when they're used to the maximum. That was satisfying for me. It was one short scene, but it had a huge impact."
Vanessa Ray (CeCe)
"The whole thing that happened with Aria's boyfriend, Ezra [when he turned dark]. When that was revealed at the table read, that was impressive — it was a big one. And then I didn't know if CeCe was going to die or not. At one point I thought, 'Surely, CeCe dies,' and the producers were like, 'Nope!' "
Tammin Sursok (Jenna)
"For me, my character getting her vision back [in season two] was really, really cool because as an actress, I had a lot to play with. And then she lost it over the season, which was interesting too, to see her vulnerability and how she played into it."
Laura Leighton (Ashley)
"The craziest twist was when my character, Ashley, ran over Detective Wilden with her car."
Pretty Little Liars airs its 100th episode Tuesday at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.