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JAN
8
2 YEARS

'Pretty Little Liars' Returns: Is Mona 2.0 Up to No Good?

The ABC Family soap kicked off the second half of season three by progressing the Byron-Alison involvement and delving deeper into Toby's unsettling "A" connection.

Pretty Little Liars Season 3B Premiere Still - H 2013
Eric McCandless/ABC Family
"Pretty Little Liars"

[Warning: Major spoilers from Tuesday's midseason premiere.]

How do you top a reveal made so big it gave Pretty Little Liars viewers heart palpitations (see: Toby's "A" connection)? By introducing a handful of new questions in the winter premiere that thrusts the ABC Family drama into an even more complex web of lies, deception and betrayals.

The biggest development of Tuesday's "She's Better Now," which saw Hanna's (Ashley Benson) former best friend Mona (Janel Parrish) re-introduce herself into the gossiping hallways of Rosewood High, dealt with Aria (Lucy Hale) and the very real fact that her father, Byron (Chad Lowe), is very much at the center of the Alison (Sasha Pieterse) murder mystery. (In the Halloween episode, it was Garrett who informed Spencer that Byron was one of the last people to see Alison alive.)

"This is a really devastating thing for Aria, who has come to a detente with her father," executive producer Oliver Goldstick told The Hollywood Reporter prior to the return of PLL. This comes after, for much of the episode, Aria defends her father to her friends ("You actually believe that my own dad would drug me and stuff me in a box?" Aria says at one point) -- until, that is, she discovers a specific diary entry by Alison about her father's shady ways. Here's where (helpful) flashbacks kick in, showing how one of Alison and Byron's confrontations in his office over his affair with Meredith (Amanda Schull) went down.

This ties into a fire during the Rosewood High 10K run that conveniently injured Meredith -- who also happens to be one of the PLLs' new teachers. Byron's inability to believe that Aria and her friends had nothing to do with the "stunt" forced Aria to allude to the fact that she may be in on one of his deepest secrets than he's aware of. But is Byron now aware of "A," after eavesdropping on Aria's phone convo following their brush-up?

But, is "Mona 2.0" really turning over a new leaf? She was suspiciously within the vicinity while Meredith was seen setting up the swag bag table during the high school's 10K run. What is the likelihood that she was the culprit behind it all?

Other observations to make note of:

  • Toby (Keegan Allen) was mysterious to begin with but following the Halloween episode, his nice-guy act goes completely out the door. Every moment shared with Spencer (see: hot tub scene) is tinged with the creepy and unsettling. His constant questioning of why Spencer cared so much about Jason's "friendship" with Mona may have been shrugged off prior to his "A" team reveal, but now, is it a possible clue? Toby also conveniently appeared while the PLLs are in the school basement looking at Alison's diary. Hmm.
  • What is up with Lucas' (Brendan Robinson) limp? Was he the hooded figure on the skateboard at the start of the episode that was run off the road by Toby or was he the one Aria hit on the Halloween train? Lucas may have offered a hint when he said it was from an "accident skateboarding." Same goes for Jason (Drew Van Acker), who is the final N.A.T. Club member to remain in town: Was he involved in the mysterious Rosewood High fire or was he the one Aria injured on Halloween? And why is he getting close with Mona?
  • The "Ezria" relationship is bound to hit a snag, as Ezra (Ian Harding) still has no idea that he may have fathered a young child. "It'll be a major obstacle for 'Ezria,'" Goldstick told THR. With "A" riding in on the
  • How is Rosewood dealing with the "A" threat and yet another death (RIP Garrett)? Well, for Emily's family, by installing a high-tech security system that arms all the windows/doors, etc. Oh, and it can also be controlled by a trusty phone app. The lengths this town will go ...

Now that Pretty Little Liars is back in "a juicy way" as Goldstick put it, what are your thoughts on Tuesday's winter return?

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

E-mail: Philiana.Ng@thr.com
Twitter: @insidethetube