While we cannot wait to meet the students of Beacon Heights University in Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, we have a couple of burning questions left over from the flagship series, the most urgent of which is: Where the hell are Emily (Shay Mitchell) and the babies?
At the end of Pretty Little Liars, Alison (Sasha Pieterse) and Emily finally decided to give their series-long flirtation a chance at being a real relationship, complete with the twin babies Alison carried to term after being artificially inseminated by A (the show was insane, guys). In the spin-off, Alison takes a job at Beacon Heights University as a teacher's assistant so that she can get her master's degree, but there's absolutely no sign of Emily, or the babies, in the trailers that have been released so far. So naturally, TV Guide went to the source to find out what's up.
"Alison and Emily will always love each other. They have these two beautiful babies together. It's complicated. Life is complicated, and I think piecing themselves and each other and their world back together since A happened is difficult," Pieterse cryptically teased to TV Guide during a recent visit to the Perfectionists set. "To be honest, [showrunner I. Marlene King] hasn't told me anything, so I'm actually not lying when I tell you I don't know all the details, but it's very clear that Alison loves Emily and the babies. I think both Emily and Alison need time to process their life and I think that's what it is. "
Well, that doesn't really answer anything except that Alison and Emily definitely seem to be in the "off" position of their on-again, off-again romance. Are Emily and the babies OK at least? Did another A send them into witness protection? Did Emily find another wayward lesbian and run off with her? If only there was someone who could help with this... oh, wait.
"Emily and the babies are safe in Rosewood," queen bee Marlene King confirmed to TV Guide. Praise be! She also promised that answers are forthcoming. "Alison comes to Beacon Heights because an opportunity arises that she can't pass up. It's very hard for her to leave Emily and the babies, but we will understand as the first 10 episodes play out what's happened in that relationship, why it's happening and why Alison is so far away from Emily."
Listen, this isn't the fairy-tale answer — but it is the realistic one. As Pieterse told us, Alison and Emily had a lot of trauma they needed to process and sometimes that means distance. Please remember from a few paragraphs ago how they got pregnant in the first place. We didn't even mention that Alison was unconscious for the insemination and didn't find out she was pregnant for weeks!
"People have relationship challenges all of the time and this is proof. Their life is really complicated. You Google them and it's just a disaster," Pieterse explained. "A lot of things has happened, but I think this [separation] is good."
King also said that The Perfectionists will explain the separation in a way that stays true to the characters and who they grew into by the end of PLL.
"I'm a huge fan of Emily and Alison too, but literally situations present themselves where you as a writer have got to adapt," she added. "I think we have done our best to be really truthful to who Emily and Alison [are], why they got together, and why they're not together now."
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists premieres Wednesday, March 20 at 8/7c on Freeform.