Last night’s episode of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars – aptly named “Misery Loves Company” — dropped one rather huge bombshell: Spencer (Troian Bellisario) finally discovered that her (now ex?) boyfriend Toby (Keegan Allen) is working for Mona (Janel Parrish) and the “A” team — a deception that she was just clued into, but that viewers have known since its big reveal last August. Whoa!
In light of that, we asked players from the show — the puppet masters, executive producers Marlene King and Oliver Goldstick, as well as Bellisario herself — to answer all of our burning questions about the plot line. How did Bellisario prepare to learn the bombshell? Is this the end of “Spoby” (Spencer and Toby)? And so on. Continue below for all the scoop about last night’s big reveal.
How is Spencer going to deal with the news about Toby?
Bellisario has lots of thoughts on that subject. “For me, once I found out that Spencer was going to find out, it was almost like a huge relief for me because that was something that I could actually go through. It’s very interesting the way she finds out — she sets a trap for him. When you go back and you watch the episode — which is supposed to be their anniversary — she knows early on in the episode. Or, she suspects early on. That’s what’s so interesting about the episode — we’re continuing to play Spencer to the audience as not know, as not knowing, you realize that she’s actually known for almost the entire episode. So it was this really cool thing that I got to play, of constantly knowing the truth but not wanting the truth. That moment when he turns around and he’s in the black hoodie — it is utter devastation. It’s this burden that Spencer takes on of being too smart for her surroundings and figuring out things. I think in that moment there’s a real wishing that she never knew because it’s too awful, which is why she goes back to his apartment and bangs on the door.”
What is going to happen next? Is there more to revealed about why Toby is helping the “A” team?
“There’s a lot to be revealed,” promises Bellisario. “The Toby character is so cool because Toby is — if you go back to the very beginning of when we introduced Toby — he is a dangerous outcast. He is violent. He’s been in juvenile correctional unit. He’s not really trustworthy.” The news basically breaks Spencer. “I’m not joking, there were weeks where I was just shooting crying,” says Bellisario. “That’s all I was shooting. There is so much pain. There was a moment when she hits rock bottom — which I won’t really go into because it’s really, really fun in the back of this season — Spencer is so tightly wound, so to watch her completely break and spin out of control is something that I think the viewers have never seen before. It has always been threatened, but we got to play it out to its fullest this season.
Is this the end of “Spoby”?
“I don’t know,” says Goldstick coyly. ” They’re certainly challenged. They’re not back together yet, but they’re certainly challenged. They’re deeply challenged by this.” King explains further: “It certainly appears to be,” she says. “It appears to be. Spencer is left thinking Toby is bad. I read a fan poll after the last finale — about whether Toby was really bad — and 80 percent of the fans thought he wasn’t bad! So I think after this episode, that percentage is going to shift. He leaves her high and dry.” Bellisario, too, has thoughts about the future of “Spoby.” “What I think is interesting about ‘Spoby’ fans is that they just won’t accept it,” Bellisario says. “Even from the beginning when Toby turned around as ‘A,’ the fans were just like, ‘Nope! Don’t believe it! This is for good! This is good! He’s doing it to protect Spencer!’ There were just so many people that could not go down the road that ‘Spoby’ is evil.” Goldstick has something to add on that front: “He might have his own reasons for wha the’s doing that aren’t even Mona’s reasons.” Spencer even wants to believe that there something more to Toby’s story. “But Spencer is like that at first — she tries to keep it together, she tries to keep it composed and believe that there is more to the story, but eventually she kind of runs out of hope and it really, really hits her hard.” Can one of the PLLs honestly date an “A” minion? “No, no — that cannot happen,” says Goldstick.
How will Aria (Lucy Hale), Hanna (Ashley Benson), and Emily (Shay Mitchell) deal with the discovery about Toby?
Says Bellisario: “The cool thing about how it ripples out to the rest of the episodes is that, when Spencer loses it, the rest of the PLLs kind of become chickens with their heads cut off. They suddenly don’t have the person who’s directing them. They just have this person who was lost everything — it’s a whole new dynamic.”
What can we expect in terms of how Spencer will dole this information out?
Says Goldstick: “I think it’s so painful, it’s so humiliating. There’s so many aspects of this that are so devastating to this teenager that she doesn’t tell people right away. Also she fears for their safety. She fears that knowledge can be a dangerous thing — even a little bit of knowledge. So it’s a very tricky thing — it’s like having a hand grenade in your locker. It’s like you don’t know if you slam your locker too hard, you don’t know what it’s going to do to the rest of the school. That’s how I treat it. They’ll know eventually — they have to, it’ll come out. There will be no way that she can keep the secret that much longer. Not only that, but she’s exposed them. Spencer is a smart character, so she’s smart enough to realize that she put her friends in peril for a long time. I convinced everyone he was worthy of love. Emily already cared for him deeply, but she brought it even further by saying, ‘This is the love of my life. This is my soul mate.’ Now she’s brought the enemy inside.” And King has something to add to that: “By the end of this batch of episode” — that’d be in mid-March — “all the Liars will know that Toby is on the ‘A’ team.”
Can we expect the “A” team to keep expanding?
King has a one word answer for that question: “Yes.”
Is it possible there’s another leader of the “A” team besides Mona?
Says King: “It’s totally possible. It’s possible that she’s not the puppet master.” And she adds one more tease before signing off of the subject: “I will say, too, we teased very early on in the first part of season three that red may be the new black, and you’re going to find out what that means in season 3B — black being the black hoodie.”
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky