The girls have a new suspect and a new ally on Pretty Little Liars.
Troian Bellisario made her directorial debut for "In the Eye Abides the Heart," which saw the girls cement Lucas' connection to Charles/Charlotte (Vanessa Ray) just as Hanna (Ashley Benson) brings Mona (Janel Parrish) in to play the End Game. (It's. About. Freakin'. Time.)
It turns out that Lucas not only went to camp with a very young Charles, but the two wallflowers penned a comic book about getting back at the bullies who tormented them (sound like A.D. motivation, much?). That gives Lucas motive and he has the engineering and tech background to give him the means to make Hanna and her friends his own personal pawns. Next week Lucas returns to answer for his sins and to try and convince the girls that he isn't the one tormenting them, but we'll see if he can pull it off.
Meanwhile, Aria (Lucy Hale) continued further down the A.D. rabbit hole. She stole the comic book Lucas and Charles wrote together and handed it over to the enemy, all in hopes that it would save her relationship with Ezra (Ian Harding) from collateral End Game damage. She gained some brownie points, but inevitably ended up sending A.D. to voicemail and will fear the stalker's wrath even more than if she had just gone ahead and taken her turn on the board in the first place.
As for Spencer (Bellisario), she can feel Detective Furey's (Nicholas Gonzalez) heat and it's not the kind she felt during their steamy Radley elevator hookup. It turns out the Rosewood police department has upped the quality of its recruits because Marco knows how to do his job. He's putting two and two together and coming up with "four of Alison's friends definitely have something to do with Archer's murder." People who are good at math are the worst, right? Marco's detective work cost Spencer her chance at getting some real answers from Mary Drake (Andrea Parker), so you can imagine those two love birds won't be making up anytime soon.
This all culminated with the highly anticipated return of Wren (Julian Morris) — who had a total of two lines in an airport bar and no real insight into the identity of A.D.. Yeah, we think something more is going to have to come from that as well.
TVGuide.com got to speak to Bellisario about stepping behind this episode where everything seemed to happen, Spencer's Wren reunion and what this means going into the future.
Was this an episode you specifically wanted to direct or was this just the best one scheduling wise?
Troian Bellisario: It was more a scheduling thing because I really wanted to take advantage of the Warner Brothers' directors program. It wouldn't have happened over the summer months when I was doing the directors program and we were shooting the first half of Season 7. It just kind of worked out.
The really fortunate thing that happened was it was a Joseph Daugherty episode. I love working with every single one of our writers, but he is the one who wrote the noir episode and the episode where Spencer was in Radley Sanitarium, so we have a very special connection. When it worked out that I was going to be directing one of the episodes that Joe was writing, it was a really special moment.
You have a lot of great directors that surround you in your personal life. Did you ask them for any advice beforehand or did you wait to trade notes after you did it?
Bellisario: Oh no, absolutely! I have my father, my mother, my good friend Lesli Linka Glatter, my husband Patrick [J. Adams], I have my best friend Tommy. I have so many directors in my life that I was basically like, "Tell me everything you know so I can be prepared!" Even though I [knew] I would never feel prepared. I had the support of an entire community because a lot of my friends have that experience — my family too.
Which one gave you the most useful piece of advice?
Bellisario: It was all different. Being in the directors program, the two women who headed the program for that year were Bethany Rooney and Mary Lou Belli...They over prepared us and taught us to think through everything, create massive shot lists, even if you're going to change something up or you have to because of budget or timing. They really prepared me to be prepared, to walk on the stage like I had an option that I wanted to do for everything. In the moment I could throw it away if my DP said, "Actually, this would be a better idea."
At PaleyFest, your cast mates said that having you as a director pushed them to another level emotionally because you know them so well. How did you go about that?
Bellisario: I didn't have to say anything dark from anybody's past. In one of the storylines in this episode, Aria goes to a place that we've never really seen her character go. I know for seven years, Lucy had felt like often times she was playing the love interest. She was the love storyline with her and Ezra. I knew that she really wanted to do something a little bit different. It was just about the girls' permission to do something they've always wanted to do.
Janel Parrish is an incredible actor. She does wonders with Mona so when I saw her going in a direction, I feel like I just went up and spoke to her. "Have you thought about it like this? Have you thought about Mona dealing with this in her life?" I don't really want to speak to it personally, but it was more about giving them permission to explore different parts of themselves in the characters. There wasn't really much I had to do once I gave them that permission. They wanted to play.
Did this make you want to continue directing television or move on to other things like feature films?
Bellisario: All of it! It would be really fascinating to work in television again, in that medium, but with a different story because after seven years of Pretty Little Liars it was easy to break down a script. Narratively I knew all of the storylines. I could talk to Sasha and Shay about the history of Alison and Emily because I had been present for it for seven years. That wasn't much of a stretch. For me to go on to another television show that has been going on for seven years and then have to step into those characters' world would be a completely different challenge. The same goes for short and full-length films. I would be very, very excited to try my hand at that medium.
I feel like someone should be put a good word in for you directing an episode of Suits.
Bellisario: [laughs]. Yeah! Let's see how that would turn out. That would be really fun. That would be a great world to play around in.
What was it like to reunite with Julian Morris for Ren's return in this episode?
Bellisario: It was sort of a full-circle moment when I got to direct Julian's first scene back. Our first scenes ever on the show were as Spencer and Ren together. To be in the director's chair, directing a Spencer and Ren scene after eight years — it was a really wonderful moment. He was so supportive and so excited that we got to work together, not only on screen but also off.
What were you most excited for people to see in this episode?
Bellisario: Hopefully, they're excited to see my own visual style. When you're working within an established television show, especially something in its seventh year, there's a formula to how it all works. The director gets to turn in their cut, which has their choice of shots, their pacing, their choice of music. Then it's taken by the producers and the network and they make the adjustments that they want. Even though it's not 100 percent all my choices, I do think that I tried my best to present a little bit of a different point of view within the the world of Rosewood. I hope that's really fun for the fans. You get to see these characters in a bit of a different lens. It might reveal something that you maybe didn't know about them.
Pretty Little Liars continues Tuesdays at 8/7c.