Is Red Coat really Alison, the Pretty Little Liars' Queen Bee best friend thought to be dead?
"We're going into Season 4 with [the question of], is she or isn't she [alive]?" executive producer Oliver Goldstick tells TVGuide.com.
On the Season 3 finale, the battle between Mona (Janel Parrish) and foursome Aria (Lucy Hale), Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Hanna (Ashley Benson) and Emily (Shay Mitchell) came to a head with the reveal that not only did Mona never know the identity of her boss in the red coat, but that she, Spencer and Hanna ultimately believed her to be Alison (Sasha Pieterse). Does this mean Alison was never killed? Or does she have a twin? And can viewers believe Toby (Keegan Allen) when he claims he was only on the A Team to protect Spencer? Plus: Where the heck are Paige and Jason? Goldstick answers our (many) burning questions.
Can Alison be back from the dead or are you definitely saying she's either dead or alive?
Oliver Goldstick: We're not doing a supernatural show. We've always tried to ground things so that there is a rational and legitimate reason you did see somebody, whether they were medicated, whether they were asphyxiated — we always had something that would at least allow for a vision. Last night we went the farthest we've ever gone because we wanted to. We feel as a writing staff that the audience has been suspicious of this for some time and we wanted our girls to catch up and have this dialogue. The audience has been saying, "That girl is not dead, that girl cannot be dead!" so it's time that our four girls said, "What the hell is going on? If in fact she's not dead, why would someone who's tormenting us be saving us?" The paradox is mind-blowing. So we're going into Season 4 with, is she or isn't she? Only the air-traffic controller knows for sure.
How could she have her pilot's license?!
Goldstick: Well, we set that up last season where she took lessons and we were inspired by that real life Jesse James kid from Washington State called the Barefoot Bandit. He was 16 years old and had stolen two planes. I brought that news article in, I was fascinated by this kid, and I said, "We've got a character in Alison who, before she was allegedly murdered, was out there." I know it's crazy and the network said, "You can't have a teenager flying a plane!" and I said, "Guess what? Read Page 9 of the LA times today, it happens."
I've questioned this before, could Alison have a twin?
Goldstick: We're not exploring that. But we are exploring Mrs. DiLaurentis returning to Rosewood. She comes back and inhabits the house and her agenda for why she returned is intriguing and peculiar.
Will her son Jason (Drew Van Acker) return with her?
Goldstick: Not right away, no.
So is Mona working with the girls now?
Goldstick: Well, yes, [although] Mona remains a vicious little dumpling. They all have their feelings about her and that's not going to go away. It's a spectrum: Hanna has a soft spot for Mona and I don't think Spencer has any soft spot for Mona. But Mona is targeted in a big way at the beginning of Season 4 so it's a very uncomfortable, bizarre situation where she's suddenly an adjunct to the PLLs and they have to accept her into the circle. Some will say, "Why not accept her when she has so much insight? If she is indeed working for somebody, why wouldn't we want to keep her close?"
How could someone so smart be fooled by Toby and Spencer?
Goldstick: She got duped. The thing about the all-powerful A is that A punishes people who are weak and punishes people who may be slipping. If you're sloppy in any way, A makes you pay for it and Mona may have been sloppy.
Why introduce another character to the mix with Shana (Aerial Miranda)?
Goldstick: With Shana we wanted to do the twist to show her alliance to Jenna (Tammin Sursok) and then she will be a Liar where we can look back and go, wait a minute, were her overtures to Paige all premeditated to get to Emily?
Speaking of Paige (Lindsey Shaw), when will we see her again?
Goldstick: She's very much in the first four episodes, in a big way.
Aria and Ezra (Ian Harding) broke up again. (Tear!) Will they remain so when we return?
Goldstick: She's got to move on. We wanted to give them a new obstacle and not just him being her teacher, but the idea that he's tethered to a family and he has adult issues most 17-year-olds don't know how to deal with or are even equipped to deal with those questions. So that was the change in their relationship and once Malcolm was kidnapped, she realized she couldn't play this game anymore. She had to remove herself. So he'll be back in school, he'll be in the halls, he'll be in front of the chalk board, but she has to move on and so does he.
Can you say if Spencer (and viewers) can for sure believe Toby's A-Team explanation?
Goldstick: Yes, he was genuine. But Toby is going to surprise people because he's going to be sucked back into the vortex of A. A is going to know something about Toby's past that is going to be emotionally wrenching and is going to pull him back where he doesn't want to be and doesn't have a choice.
Finally, what can you tease about what the girls saw in that trunk in the last scene?
Goldstick: It's a game-changer for our girls and Hanna is the one who will suffer for it the most. She pushed that car in there, with Aria's help, but Hanna is the resident lobster next season because A is going to chill, kill and grill her.
Pretty Little Liars returns on June 11 at 8/7c on ABC Family.