At the end of Pretty Little Liars first season, both the girls and viewers came thisclose to discovering the identity of their tormenter, known only as "A." Based on the successful book series of the same name, the ABC Family series follows recently reconnected friends Hanna (Ashley Benson), Aria (Lucy Hale), Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Emily (Shay Mitchell) as they try to figure out who murdered their best friend Alison (Sasha Pieterse) — all while being taunted by A, the mysterious texter who knows all their secrets.
The upcoming episodes — which executive producer Marlene King call "darker and edgier" than the season's first batch— pick up right after the summer's hit-and-run accident. King spoke with TVGuide.com about the paths each of the girls will take in the next 12 episodes. Plus, she reveals when we'll figure out who A is. (Hint: Very soon.)
Emily began the season with a boyfriend and ended it with a girlfriend. Viewers watched her begin to understand her past feelings for Alison, and new feelings for Maya. King says their relationship has "a beautiful storyline over the first four episodes that culminates in a very lovely romantic evening," but also warns that a new love interest will come into her life. And yes, it's another girl. "It's very important for us to stay true to the fact that Emily is coming to terms with her sexuality. She's not going to flip flop back and forth. Her path is really about coming to terms with who she is, and being proud of who she is, then also hopefully helping her parents understand and accept who she is as well. "
The person King hinted would be a wrench in the Aria-Ezra relationship isn't the only one the couple needs to worry about. "The person who saw them that night [in the finale], who wrote, 'I see you on that car,' did really see them," King says. "There's a real viable threat to their relationship from the moment we come back." Plus Hale tells us about an impending love triangle between Noel, Aria and Ezra. "For awhile there, you don't know which guy she's leaning towards. So for all the 'Ezria' fans that can make them a little nervous," Hale says. But not to worry. "There's a resolution to it all. I think people will be pretty happy with it," she says
Viewers will see a very important Spencer flashback from the night Alison disappeared. "It's very riveting, very powerful and very telling," King says. The love-hate relationship between Spencer and her sister Melissa (Torrey DeVitto) will also be further explored. While the two were at odds during Season 1, they'll call a truce very quickly this time around. Too bad King says it also won't last.
Hanna was run down by a mysterious driver, and when the season resumes, she'll wake up in the hospital — with a memory of what she saw that night. "Within the first 15 minutes she'll tell that to the other Pretty Little Liars and the mystery kicks off full steam ahead from there," King says. While Hanna recovers she gets a few unexpected guests. Ashley Benson tells us that "each visitor lets out some sort of secret."
King says that the mystery of A will resolve itself before the year's fourth episode -- then the story will shift into figuring out who killed Alison. "The girls really do believe they have a very viable theory and that person becomes very much a threatening person in their lives," she says. "We're a little bit darker with the mystery in this next cycle. We weren't afraid to be a little bit edgier, and you will see a glimpse of Alison moments before her death that is shocking."
Rosewood will welcome some new faces, including Caleb (Tyler Blackburn), who's described by King as a "sketchy guy with a heart of gold." "He seems dark and mysterious ... but we often explore the theme on the show of what appears to be isn't," she says. Simone (Alona Tal) is Aria's babysitter from when she was 12-years-old and brings conflict into her relationship. Paige (Lindsey Shaw) is going to be a teammate of Emily's that's a "very bitter dark rival" for her.
Are you excited for the premiere?
Watch interviews with Troian Bellisario and Ashley Benson below:
Pretty Little Liars premieres Monday, Jan. 3 at 8/7c on ABC Family.