All your most pressing Pretty Little Liars questions will be answered in Season 4.
OK, not all of them — but enough that the show’s producers are dubbing Season 4 the “season of answers.” For those who have followed Pretty Little Liars’ winding journey to this point, that’s an attractive proposition.
“We have to give people answers,” creator and executive producer Marlene King told BuzzFeed Monday night at the Paley Center’s preview of Pretty Little Liars Season 4. “In the books, I think what Sara Shepard did the best was give us some answers but then ask new questions.”
So there’s the rub: yes, some of the dangling loose ends will be tied up. But don’t expect to be any less confused or frustrated as Season 4 progresses. As for what will be answered conclusively, King was willing to reveal a couple key details.
“You will find out in Season 4 if Alison is alive and if she isn’t,” King said, referring to the ambiguous Season 3 finale. “And you will find out who ‘Red Coat’ is in Season 4.”
There’s a lot of give and take, which is to be expected with any series that has stretched out its mystery over several seasons. As executive producer Bob Levy noted, it’s about finding that balance.
“There are more answers in Season 4 than there have been in previous seasons,” he reiterated. “By the same token, we’re looking for new involvement, new mysteries.”
Levy referred to “the ghost of Twin Peaks: Once you solve a problem, do people come back?” he wondered. But Pretty Little Liars is adept at layering new mysteries on top of the old ones — and never providing that much closure.
For King, the series’ smaller mysteries are a great way to keep the plot moving while still not giving too much away. It’s a sustainable model that has carried Pretty Little Liars through more seasons than one might have expected from the initial pitch.
“We do have a final endgame,” King revealed. “We’ve known what the ending was since the pilot. The beauty of the show is that although there’s this big overarching mystery of what happened to Alison and who ‘A’ is, we have these mini-mysteries within the season.”
Those mini-mysteries, she explained, could go on for “years and years and years.”
One mystery that’s already been answered: What’s to become of Caleb (Tyler Blackburn)? Hanna’s love interest will be joining Pretty Little Liars’ spin-off series Ravenswood, which will premiere after the first half of Season 4.
Rosewood’s spooky sister city will actually be introduced on Pretty Little Liars midway through the season.
“Spencer and Toby will follow an Alison clue that takes us to Ravenswood, or as Spencer calls it once she experiences it, ‘Creepytown,’” King explained. “Like Rosewood, Ravenswood has a lot happening behind closed doors, but the secrets are darker, and there’s more at stake for our characters.”
Ravenswood will be a distinctly more supernatural show than Pretty Little Liars, which has only briefly delved into ghost stories in its two Halloween episodes.
“Fans grabbed onto that little ghost story and said, ‘We want this,’” Levy recalled. “And the network, one of the more intuitive networks at understanding their audience, said, ‘We’d like to see you guys put together what would be a block of programming.’”
It’s hard enough following one Marlene King series, but Pretty Little Liars’ producers — who will be doing double duty on Ravenswood — promise you won’t have to watch one series to understand the other.
“The intent is for [Ravenswood] to be a standalone show because we feel that we want to be able to do different things on the different shows,” Levy said, “so that would limit the crossover opportunities.”
And to those still struggling with Pretty Little Liars’ increasingly convoluted plot, know that you are not alone. As much as the producers love the show’s storytelling, they know how difficult it can be to stay on top of all the disparate stories and characters.
“It’s hard sometimes to keep track of what they’ve actually done and what they’ve said,” Levy admitted. “We’re a small writing staff. We’re all involved in outlining all of the episodes, so everyone’s invested in everyone’s show. The collective memory’s pretty good, although we do sometimes make mistakes that hopefully look like we deliberately did something on purpose.”
Season 4 of Pretty Little Liars premieres June 11 at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.