'Pretty Little Liars' EP on "Aggressive" New Storyline: "Don't Watch It Alone" (Q&A)

Joseph Dougherty talks with THR about how jail will change Ali and whether this is really the end of the road for Emily and Paige.
ABC Family
A scene from Tuesday's 'Pretty Little Liars' episode, "Fresh Meat"

Last week's Pretty Little Liars winter premiere ended with the girls getting Alison (Sasha Pieterse) tossed in the slammer, which may not be quite as beneficial for them as they had hoped.

PLL executive producer Joseph Dougherty, who co-wrote last week's "Through a Glass, Darkly" episode, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the show has some "pretty hairy stuff coming up," including "the most aggressive storytelling we've done in the history of the series."

Dougherty also discussed how Ali will treat the girls after her stay at the gray-bar hotel, whether Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Paige (Lindsey Shaw) are over for good and why Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) had so much trouble finding any information on Mona's (Janel Parrish) laptop.

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It was quite a twist for Alison to end up in jail. It seems like Ali won't take kindly to that sort of thing, so how will that play out for the girls?

[Ali going to jail is] a story that runs through the entire winter season and sets all of their illusions and expectations about whether or not they have done the right thing. Ali's used to being in control, so when you strip away all of the things that work for her, I think you're going to get down to the core of who she really is, which may not be pleasant — or may be, surprisingly. She may come out of the slammer a better person — we'll just have to see.

One of the winter premiere's sadder moments was Emily and Paige's split. Does this mean Paige probably isn't "A," as some fans have speculated, and how soon will it be before she appears on the show again?

I've got a deep, warm spot in my heart for Emily and Paige, so I'm going to do what I can do to keep that relationship on the books. But I think what we're going to do is just give that relationship a rest for a while. 

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How does Mona's stolen laptop affect the Liars moving forward?

I'll tell you that right now, they're fixated on what's on the computer, but the mystery might be the computer itself. 

The promo for Tuesday's episode shows Toby (Keegan Allen) finding a knife in Mona's yard. How is his stint as a cop going to impact the storylines?

I think what [that storyline] really brings into relief is that, I think Toby joined the police with a certain expectation that he'd be able to help the girls in a certain way, and I think it's not working out that way. There's a conflict between Toby the cop and Toby the boyfriend, which I don't think they were expecting would have an effect on them. 

What else can we expect from the rest of the season?

This is some of the most aggressive storytelling we've done in the history of the series. To quote my title for the holiday, "It's a Dark Ride." If you can watch it live, don't watch it alone — we've got some pretty hairy stuff coming up.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.

Email: Ryan.Gajewski@pgmedia.org
Twitter: @_RyanGajewski

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