Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Pretty Little Liars: How Detective Tanner's Return Turns Up the Heat

Do the girls have an ally or a foe?

Megan Vick

The only cop who ever knew what they were doing on Pretty Little Liars has returned to Rosewood -- and that's not good news for our girls.

Detective Tanner (Roma Maffia) is back on the scene and taking over the Dunhill case from Detective Furey (Nicholas Gonzalez) because he was getting a little too close to the No. 1 suspect. It's safe to say that Spencer (Troian Bellisario) can't charm Tanner into turning a blind eye to evidence with elevator fun times or ping-pong flirting, which means Spencer and her friends are in some real trouble.

Pretty Little Liars: Can the cast remember how everyone died on the show? (No)

Tanner may not have the evidence she needs to prove the girls are the ones who killed Dunhill (Huw Collins), but she knows what they are capable of and she's not resting until she figures out what's going on. Even though Tanner is a steel trap on the show, Roma Maffia opened up to TVGuide.com about how Tanner's return intensifies the drama and what her real mission in Rosewood is.

​Roma Maffia, Pretty Little Liars

Last week, Tanner tells the girls that she's always felt that they were guilty in some way. What exactly does that mean?
Roma Maffia: I have to say, Detective Tanner, god bless her, she doesn't have a lot to go on. As soon as she seems them, she knows they're guilty. I don't think she has any more information on it this time than she had any other time.

Do you think she's trying to nail them for Dunhill's murder, or is there a part of Tanner that wants to help them because she knows what they've been through?
Maffia: I think it's a little of both. There's empathy and there's compassion, yet Tanner goes by the rule of law. Too many things have happened that aren't by the book. Too much has gone on and no one ever speaks to her.

Right! When she questions the girls, she gives them a chance to come clean. Do you think if they had opened up to her she would have gone easy on them?
Maffia: Yes! I think you're absolutely right. If someone had spoken up and included her, she might have been able to help them. I think she would have helped them. They think they can do it on their own and they were fearful. Sometimes [Tanner] wasn't trying to help them not be fearful because she thinks that if they're fearful, they'll confess. It didn't seem to work that way with them.

Does Tanner think any of the girls are more guilty than the others?
Maffia: I think she thinks they're all in it together. So if one cracks, the whole thing will open up.

From the cop perspective, what do the girls need to do to be able to get out of this situation? They seem to just get deeper and deeper into it.
Maffia: I think it would have been good if they had talked to their parents and included their parents in some of this. It's that thing where they thought they could solve that without any adult help or any professional help. After a while, they started to see that wasn't working well. It's so confusing because I think of young girls, younger than [the Liars], and they get into situations where you feel like you're caught. The thing is to know you're not caught and you can always tell someone the truth rather than have to pile lie on top of lie.

How do you think that Tanner being on the case makes it more intense for the girls? It feels like the stakes have been raised.
Maffia: I think it's because they have an opinion of Tanner that isn't very good. Detective Tanner has no clue what's going on, but she doesn't reveal that. She holds her cards close to the vest and the girls perceive her as knowing more than what Tanner does. There's a threat and a danger to them on that level.

What can you tease about Tanner's mission going into the penultimate episode?
Maffia: I can say that Tanner coming back, she's more like Wonder Woman. She becomes Wonder Cop Detective. There's a wonderful sequence where she just comes out like a vision and I think that's because it's like, "Now we're going to get it done."

Can you describe the last two episodes of Pretty Little Liars in five words?
Maffia: Suspenseful, dangerous, shocking and cliffhanger.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on Freeform.