The ABC Family drama Pretty Little Liars is gearing up for its midseason finale on August 30. They’ll be back in October for a Halloween episode, and then finish off their season starting in January. We got to go on the set at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank to talk to find out juicy secrets of the upcoming episodes.
The Midseason Finale
Ashley Benson: The big plot of the episode is my dad is getting married. He has his wedding and with this wedding comes a lot of other things. The four girls are faced with the challenge by A and it is individually, so we have certain tasks that we have to complete, which aren't the best things to do. So we need to figure out how to do it without destroying our friendships, our family lives, that whole thing.
Lucy Hale: I can tell you that the girls finally tell someone about A, because at this point it’s just the four of them that know about everything, and they’re at their breaking point. They’re tired, they’re exhausted, they want this chapter of their lives to end, so they as a group decide that this is the best thing to do and they tell someone. It seems like for a while that everything’s going to end, life is going to on and everything’s going to be fine, and it doesn’t of course. This is Pretty Little Liars, and there’s a huge twist and things completely backfire and A finds out and does something pretty horrible to the person that they tell. So things get crazy. Things get dirty too. Literally. Mud. Yeah.
Ian Harding: It is going to be eventful. I feel like I've been saying this a lot today, but like every storyline in Rosewood, one secret will be revealed, one mystery will be solved, but then another two will pop up in its place. So I think things come to a head but not like you would think. I know I am being incredibly vague here, but it's definitely not going to be dull and will make January seem just so far away to be mind numbing. I found myself kind of, not really gasping when I was reading it, but kind of going, “Huh?” or “Ohhhh, that's not what I meant!” Or something like that. Of course there are a few shockers as well, that are not necessarily my storyline, but there are a few very tense moments, very tense and awkward moments.
Ashley Benson: A huge cliffhanger, and when we come back in January, you will see where it takes you.
Some questions for the cast:
Q: Do you have a favorite scene in the mid-season finale?
Troian Bellisario: Every one! Yes I do, but I can't tell you. There are so many great scenes. I will say there is a great scene between Toby and I and there's a great scene between Wren and I. So if you guys want to imagine that, but that wasn't the most fun scene to film, and I cannot tell you anything about that scene.
Q: Any other favorite scenes from the mid-season finale?
Lucy Hale: Yeah. It’s the one I can’t talk about but it’s the one involving the mud, and the dresses and running around. That’s it. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you see it. It’s fun.
Q: Ashley, are you involved in the mud scene?
Ashley Benson: [laughs] Maybe. Maybe not.
Q: Did you have as much fun with that as Lucy did?
Ashley Benson: That is one of the best nights. It was probably 3 in the morning and digging in the mud was awesome.
Q: Troian, what’s coming up for Spencer and Toby?
Troian Bellisario: Oh, man. The midseason finale is going to be huge for Spencer and Toby because Spencer and Toby’s relationship over this season has only been growing and deepening and becoming more and more beautiful and vulnerable and tender. A zones in on that as her Achilles heel and goes right for it in a brutal, brutal way.
Q: What are we going to find out about N.A.T.?
Troian Bellisario: You’re going to find out that the club is still very much in session and active.
Q: Will Aria and Ezra be exposed?
Lucy Hale: Where we are now, the task that Aria has to complete, A punishes each of the girls and presents them with a task that they have to complete and her task deals with Ezra. In the finale you think there’s someone in their lives that is threatening to expose them once again, and so there’s the idea lurking that they could be outed for real this time, in front of her parents, and you’ll sort of see how that goes.
Q: Will Jackie expose Ezra and Aria or blackmail them?
Ian Harding: Jackie will be a big part in both the mid-series finale, but also right now we are shooting episode 215, so I have seen Paloma [Guzman], who plays Jackie, on set quite a bit. So, when we come back in January, she is here. She is aware of Aria and I because as you saw a few episodes ago when we were kissing at Hollis College, I think she is probably a little put off by that. So we are going to see the ramifications of that.
Q: So they are not out in the open yet?
Ian Harding: As much as we can be. I think a few people know, but maybe not the most important people that need to know.
Q: What will Jason do with his knowledge of Aria and Ezra?
Lucy Hale: Jason has a lot to do. He is very suspicious and he has a lot of inside information that I don’t think he’s sharing with anyone. As of now, she’s sort of steered clear of that, but I could absolutely see that coming back, because I think that Aria really did care about him and I guess feelings don’t go away.
Q: Who would you pick? Ezra or Jason?
Lucy Hale: Oh gosh, as Lucy? Oh no, this is going to get me in trouble. Like looks wise? I don’t know. Aria lives a hard life. If I’m going to give the politically correct answer, Ezra. I feel like Aria really does believe that Ezra is her soul mate so Ezra. I guess. Or both.
Q: Ian, do you believe that and do you think Ezra believes that?
Ian Harding: Do I personally believe in soul mates? My verdict is still out on the whole soulmate thing. But I guess I have time to see.
Q: If there were, would Ezra be Aria’s soulmate?
Ian Harding: Yeah, totally. They made out in the bathroom of a bar and yet they keep going. This obviously isn't a sexual thing, because I don't think we've explored that. They haven't explored that realm yet. So what is keeping them together? It's something more than just simply he is a perve was trying to bag as many high schoolers as he can, because he's not.
The Halloween Episode
Shay Mitchell: So much fun. Just to see the girls at their youngest point and how they all were.
Troian Bellisario: The earliest stages because in a lot of the flashbacks, you see the later friendship. The flashbacks are generally the summer that Ali died. So what you see is who the girls are solidified in being around Alison. Spencer’s jealousy of Alison or Emily’s love for Alison, but in the Halloween episode you get to see who they were when Alison first picked them to be her group. So you get to see the initial dynamics of them being like, “I don’t know what I want to do with this. I don’t know who I am yet.” Them settling into that is really cool.
Shay Mitchell: I just love Spencer in that flashback.
Troian Bellisario: I was such a dork.
Shay Mitchell: She was such a little dork but it was so cute. And then you have hefty Hanna which we had so much fun every single day and it was so hot outside when we were shooting that episode. She was like [gasping] in this suit and everything. But it’s really neat because you get to see the girls and their relationship with Alison before. So it’s really cool to see.
Ashley Benson: Oh, yeah. I wore a fat suit. Being in a fat suit is awesome, but not when it is mid-summer and I am outside and I have to wear it for a week straight for all hours of the day. Usually I can take it off because it is only a certain scene in an episode, but since it was all flashbacks, I had to wear it for seven days and it was so hot. I was sweating the whole time. It was so gross, but I love playing that character. She is my favorite to play. [Plus a Halloween costume] and you will love it. I kind of pitched to the producers what I wanted to be and what I thought Hanna would want to be and it is spot-on. It is so funny.
Lucy Hale: What’s cool about it is that it’s from Alison’s perspective. It’s mainly about Alison. Of course the four girls are there, but it’s pre-A, it’s pre-her death so life is good, they’re care free and you actually get to see the girls laughing and smiling. So it’s very fun and then we throw in that it’s a Halloween party. So we got to dress up. And it answers a lot of questions about why Alison was the way she was. We go back and answer questions about secrets like my dad and his affair and you go more in depth into that too.
Ashley Benson: You get to see characters like Ian, Melissa and Jenna when she could see, everything. There are so many things that go on. There are a lot of clues as to who A is and what happened to Ali that night. There are a lot of people who come in very quickly for a short amount of time in the episode who have a big impact with the whole murder/Allison situation. It is a very good episode. It is really scary and it can give you a lot of information.
Back in January 2012
Ashley Benson: You see us as such a tight-knit group and recently we have been having our own storylines and we are not always together all the time, which is cool. In the second half, we are a little separated for a bit.
Lucy Hale: By the end of the finale, the girls are questioned by the police and we pick up the second after, so it’s sort of picking up where we left off. There’s a change in dynamic between the four of them. You get to see them where they’re almost, sort of, against each other, which we’ve never really seen. But you go on to learn why they’re acting that way and it’s their turn to play games with A.
Ashley Benson: I think we are all just in a bad situation. We don't really go anywhere. The last episode, we are caught in a really bad situation, so it just takes off from there. We have certain things we have to deal with and us not really getting along doesn't help much and our family lives will change after this last episode.
Lucy Hale: I want to see Aria and Ezra finally man up and tell her parents. I really want to see that. The girls are sort of turning the tables on A, gaining confidence in that they’re going to rule the game, they’re going to win this game, so their confidence grows in that way, so that’s really cool. Because I felt for a while they were just these scared little girls who didn’t know what to do, and they’re growing up because of this experience, really fast.
Ashley Benson: I want to see how [Hanna] handles her family life. There are so many things that have changed for her now with her dad and that whole situation. She wants her mom and dad to get back together. I want to see where that all goes and I want to see how she handles Kate, I want to see how the friendship with the girls progresses, and Caleb, as well, because who knows if he will move to California or not. I hope not.
Shay Mitchell: I want to see Emily have a serious relationship. I watch every episode and when I see the whole scenes of Aria running into the sunlight/sunset with Ezra and jumping, I’m like hey, I want Emily to have that too with a serious girlfriend. So we’re pushing for that but I do feel like this is very necessary for her to have a lot of interactions with different girls so she can really know what she likes. It’s new for her so I think dating is important.
Theories About A
Ashley Benson: I have some people that I have in mind, but I always say I want it to be one of the four girls. I think that would be such an interesting twist. I think it could be Spencer because she is smart enough to make sure everything goes well. But, yeah, I think Spencer would be a good candidate.
Lucy Hale: I don’t know. My opinion is, I don’t even know if we’ve met A, at this point. A lot of people think it is Jenna or Jason or Garrett, but my opinion is we haven’t met who A could be.
Ian Harding: I feel like it could be a group of people. I don't know who is this brilliant to just be in every place at one time. And I feel like if it is just one student, let's look at the kid who is failing out because he is obviously not doing homework! But he is obviously spending his time, Emily had a box full of cereal and then had something inside it and it was hermetically sealed as well. You plan that months in advance! How did that happen? It's either a group of people or somebody is a mastermind or has a crazy split personality. And I hope to god it's me!
Ashley Benson: I think all four of us would find out together, or one of us would get a text message, or we would all have to go to a certain place and dig something up. I don't know. I think all four of us would probably find out at the same time. I think it will wrap up. I think that is what everybody is trying to figure out. I think once that is out, it would be kind of cool to end there. I always thought they should do a spinoff of Alison before everything happened and do that deal. I think once it is done, it would wrap up. We but then we said we would want to do a movie.