Nothing screams "holiday season" quite like a Pretty Little Liars Christmas special.
On Tuesday's episode, which picks up a month after the shocking summer finale, Hanna (Ashley Benson), Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Emily (Shay Mitchell) and Aria (Lucy Hale) are still distraught over the murder of Mona (Janel Parrish), Spencer's murder charge and the realization that Alison (Sasha Pieterse) is very likely A. But when they get a clue that could help them clear their friend's name, the girls kick into PLL mode and resume the case to take A down — at an Ice Ball of course!
"Spencer is out on bail and she's the scrooge of the episode; she's in no way willing to have a merry Christmas," executive producer Marlene King tells TVGuide.com. "But near the top of the episode they're presented with a surprise gift that gives them an opportunity to have hope. Emily is the girl who loves Christmas and she latches on to that sense of hope very early on and that's what gives us the drive for the episode. The girls think there's a possibility that will clear Spencer and give her a chance to have a merry Christmas." Adds Hale: "We go [to the Ice Ball] with the intention of being led to A and they know something is going to go down. But they still manage to find the perfect dresses and get their hair done!"
Pretty Little Liars finale postmortem: A's latest victim speaks out!
Of course, no holiday in Rosewood would be complete without A leaving destruction in her wake. Who will get caught in the crosshairs? And will the girls get at least a little bit of holiday cheer? Check out our five teases from the episode.
1. A twisted Christmas: Even though the show's annual special isn't on Halloween this time around, it'll be just as scary. "It definitely has plenty of scares and darkness, but it also has a nice balance of the romance and festive Christmas feeling," King says. "I've wanted to do a Christmas episode since Season 1, so as much as this one is a gift for fans it's a gift for me. [Aside from] the episode being so beautiful, it's very emotional and at the same time it's one of our most suspenseful episodes."
2. An estranged Alison: Alison might've been cleared by the police, but the girls are still very much suspect of their former BFF. "They are still a little wary of Alison and what she's keeping from them," Hale says. "There is a lot of resentment and anger towards her and they're keeping their distance, but she's like their sister — their really evil sister." But that doesn't mean Ali isn't in the festive spirit. "Alison has moved on and is celebrating her freedom by throwing the most fabulous party Rosewood has ever seen," King says.
3. A secret about Ezra: As if Ezra hasn't kept enough secrets, Aria will learn another surprise about her beau's past. Fortunately, it's more fun than frightening. "We find out something about Ezra we never knew before, and it's actually one of my favorite parts of the episode," King says. Although Hale promises some "good Ezria moments," it may not last. "It's probably the last time you'll see them in a really good spot for awhile, so hopefully all the fans will cherish [the] episode," she says.
Pretty Little Liars cast and creative team look back at 100 wild and crazy episodes
4. Happy couples: Will the other pairs get happy times too? Expect some romantic slow dancing, Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) in boxers and some great group scenes. "You get to see all the couples in one place together and we never get that. We have a big feast," Blackburn says. "[Hanna and Caleb] are so good together and there is some sweet stuff." As for Paige (Lindsey Shaw) and Emily, Mitchell says there are definitely some good moments fans will enjoy. "Emily and Paige will always have a special relationship. Whether they end up together, who knows, but they're having fun." (King shares her thoughts on "Emison" here.)
5. A hopeful ending: King says this episode ends on a surprisingly positive note. "It's a cliff-hanger, but it's hopeful more than any other [ending]," she says. "It's very reflective of the Christmas season." As for when the show returns for Season 5B in January, she adds, "It's a jolt and a jump start, and by the end of the winter premiere you'll know exactly the direction the show is heading. It's a great barometer to see how quickly we'll be moving things ahead."
The Pretty Little Liars holiday special airs on Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC Family.
Watch a behind-the-scenes video about the episode: