Why 'Pretty Little Liars' Almost Killed off a Liar in Midseason Premiere

Creator I. Marlene King teases the "birth of the new big bad" and hints at what the Liars did to Sara Harvey in the dollhouse.
 Freeform

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Pretty Little Liars' midseason premiere, "Of Late I Think of Rosewood."]

Pretty Little Liars proved no one is safe in Rosewood with a major case of deja vu in season six’s shocking midseason premiere.

After Alison (Sasha Pieterse) brought the Liars back to help get her sister Charlotte (Vanessa Ray) out of Radley, the plan backfired when the artist formerly known as “A” was found murdered.

Now that the Liars are stuck in Rosewood again, creator I. Marlene King teases that the show has a clean slate “starting from a very new place of mystery.” But as the birth of the new big bad sneaks around the corner, Ali will also start distrusting the girls, because “everybody’s fair game” as a suspect in Charlotte’s death.

King talked with The Hollywood Reporter about the potential for Charlotte’s return in flashbacks, why they almost killed off a Liar instead, how severe the situation is with Sara Harvey (Dre Davis) now that she’s back in town, and what to expect with some central relationships.

How long did you and the writers know that Charlotte would have to die in this flash-forward arc?

It wasn’t something that we knew that much in advance, to be honest with you. I love the character of Charlotte and it was hard to make that decision because I wanted to get to know her more. I knew fans would love her too once they understood her story. Believe it or not, I’ll tell you a huge spoiler: For a minute and a half — and we even talked to Sasha about it — we talked about Ali being that person in the casket the final time and going back to the flashbacks. I was like, “Oh my God, no. That can’t be the person in the casket!” There’s no way it could be Alison. Fans would hate us and I would hate us, too.

It was a very risky, fun, edgy idea, but the next person we thought of to re-launch the show was Charlotte. That was a terrible call to have to make because [Vanessa Ray] did such a great job in the previous episode. We shot them back to back, and she was like, “Oh my God, I’m dead now?” As I always say, you’re never dead in Rosewood. Alison, we thought was dead for a long time, and now here she is on the poster. No one ever truly dies in Rosewood and we always find ways to bring your character back in the show. We will see Charlotte again, but it won’t be walking amongst the living — most likely.

Will we find out how severe what happened to Sara was? It seems as bad as Jenna, like she can’t walk on her own. Will the mystery be immediate?

I call it the “Sara thing,” in the way this episode parallels the pilot with many callbacks. The girls don’t call it the “Sara thing,” but I do. Obviously she can see, but she is impaired in a way that they feel responsible for, and that will come out sooner than later in the next couple of episodes.

Is that something that happened in the last five years, or in the dollhouse?

If you go back and really listen to the second-to-last scene, the goodbye scene in the summer finale, Emily says, “I hear they’re letting Sara out of the hospital” and you can tell she feels guilty. Someone says, “It wasn’t our fault.” It was something that happened before those girls left the house.

Will we see the big bad storyline start to trickle in with the Sara situation now, or will it be more focused on season seven?

The big bad will definitely make its presence known sooner rather than later. It’s not immediate, since I think it’s nice to take a breath from the life that the girls had under constant pressure from “A.” But the new big bad won’t take that long to get activated. Actually in the next two episodes, you will see this new big bad be born. It’s the birth of the new big bad. Charlotte’s death leads to the birth of the new big bad.

Is it someone we know, or someone new?

It’s a clean slate and we’re starting from a very new place of mystery, which I think is important in the sense that this did feel like a pilot. This story will feel familiar in some ways, but very fresh and new in others.

Does Ali accuse any of the Liars of killing her sister?

Not right away. I think she starts out extremely trusting of the girls, but things are never as they seem in Rosewood and everyone is the suspect. She will have reason to believe that maybe one of the girls was involved. It’s not like she’s old Ali and it's Ali against the girls, but everybody’s fair game at the top of the show to being a suspect.

This premiere really mirrored the original pilot, especially at the funeral. Is Lorenzo stepping in as the next slightly twisted cop, like Holbrook? Can we trust him?

He got the promotion that Toby was passed over for. Lorenzo got that spot. We haven’t seen the last of our other cops, as well, so he’s not the only cop in town, I’ll say that.

Is Toby going to have to investigate the girls as well because he’s working with Lorenzo? What’s that dynamic like?

Toby in 6B is more relationship story than cop story. He becomes a little bit of a sleuther as we move forward into the episodes with Spencer.

Do we know the person he’s building that house for?

We do not know her yet. You haven’t met the character yet, but you will very soon. Toby wants to prove to himself that he can build a house, but his inner goal is laying down his roots to build a family.

In the wake of Charlotte’s death, will we see Jason or their father return?

We’re going to find out about Mr. D. and Jason and where they are in the next couple of episodes.

Will Ezra and Aria be working more together as his book comes together? He and Liam will end up working together at the publishing house.

They’re very much all tangled together, those three people. Ezra’s book is at the heart of that storyline and Aria works for the publishing company that is waiting for that manuscript. All of those circumstances launch the Aria, Ezra, Liam story.

How severe is Emily’s medication and that storyline? Does it have to do with one of her big secrets?

It’s a big part of her storyline. What she’s hiding is definitely her biggest storyline of the season. It’s one big secret tied into two secrets. Two of her secrets are folding into the giant, bigger secret.

Pretty Little Liars airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Freeform.

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