Ali’s alive! Ravenswood is creepy! Ezra is evil?! Last night’s Halloween episode of Pretty Little Liars changed everything with the reveal that not only is Ali Red Coat, but that she’s been alive and breathing this entire time. But with every answer comes even more questions, so we talked with PLL executive producer Oliver Goldstick about what went down during last night’s pulse-pounding hour and what’s to come when the show returns for season 4B.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you all known that Ali was alive the whole time in the writers’ room?
OLIVER GOLDSTICK: I can’t tell you these things, but you know, we sensed it. My heart kind of sank when I read Gone Girl last hiatus, because I figured out halfway through where this book was going. I was like, “Oh God, this movie’s going to come out and steal all our thunder before our series reveal.” I had all these trepidations like, “The audience is going to be so far ahead of us; it’s going to kill us; it’s going to be a big anticlimactic moment.” But you know what? We’re on a ride, and who’s to say how long she’ll be alive, because you know this show.
She is still on the run…
She’s still on the run and there’s somebody out there who wants to hurt her badly.
So has she been on the run this whole time, whether that’s in Ravenswood or elsewhere trying to stay safe?
Yes. Not on the run [meaning] that she hasn’t been back in Rosewood, because she may have been back in Rosewood for some key moments in the series. In the 95 episodes we’ve done, we’ve always tried to play the ambiguity of, “Was that her in Hanna’s hospital room? Was that her laying next to Spencer’s couch when Spencer was on the drugs? Was that her in Aria’s bedroom when Aria was on the cough medicine?” She tends to visit the girls when they’re in altered states, which has always helped us. But we all have visions in our altered states.
Speaking of the hospital room, Ali said something to the effect of the Liars remember more about the night she disappeared than they think they do, correct?
And she mentioned something about “telling the truth to the wrong person at the wrong time is how I ended up where I am.” So will we learn that truth? Do we already know that truth?
I don’t know if the audience does know that truth yet. I think that there’s more to be revealed. I think that night itself, which we explore in 4B…the finale opens up that night, cracks it like an egg, and you’ll see a lot of things, so I don’t know if the audience really does. You will know soon enough. But the Liars would, only because this person may have been in their constellation already, the person that she’s referring to and whatnot.
Could Ezra not be the person she’s running from?
Oh, I wouldn’t say that yet. There’s definitely something that you need to keep in mind. All the interviews after the reveal of Ezra, we were very clear in saying we did plant a lot of clues in retrospect. You can look back and go, “Why was he lying about this? Why was he afraid to let Aria look in that drawer?” So I think his connection to Alison DiLaurentis should be very much in play as we enter season 4B.
When I talked to Marlene after the big reveal, we were talking about what we call Ezra, but the girls are still looking for Board Shorts…
Yeah. Ezra is Board Shorts? That’s another connection. You’ll have to wait and see how that unravels. Don’t go there right away.
So will 4B tell us definitely if Ezra is Board Shorts or not?
You will find out the answer. Yes. That I can definitively say.
Ali clearly was Red Coat in some way shape or form, but that brings up the question of CeCe. Will we be seeing CeCe again in 4B?
You will indeed. Her connection to all of this and what happened that night — Garrett and Wilden and Jenna — CeCe has a connection to it all, so you will be seeing her. She might be a master puppeteer in some ways. She’s very good at puppetry.
She’s very good at surviving falls too.
[Laughs] It’s true She’s made of rubber. She’s not papier-mâché. She’s a rubber puppeteer.
Another thing Marlene said to me was the idea that Mona was Original “A,” but there is an über-“A” out there, and Ezra is not necessarily that person but he is a contender to be that person.
Yes, that’s good. That’s very true.
Will we meet other contenders for über-“A” in 4B?
Yes, you certainly will. Oh God yes. What would this show be without that? You definitely will, and you’re going to be shocked. It’s a good one. It’s a juicy one. I don’t think you’re going to see it coming, so it’s a really good one.
A while back, Marlene tweeted that the Woman in Black is endgame. She’s from Wilden’s funeral, correct?
So is that a fair statement? Is that where this is all headed?
It is indeed. that is a very fair statement. That phantom guest at that funeral.
Will she start popping up other places?
Last night, Ezra got a cut on his hand, and the girls have been through this before. I felt like Spencer already felt a little suspicious when he showed up in his car…
So are they going to start suspecting?
Yes, the suspicion will escalate. 4B is very much about Aria, of course, being the last to know, because she’s sleeping with the enemy, but the suspicions will escalate in 4B until they come to a volcanic climax. It will be quite an explosion. It happens incrementally. It’s not in one episode. It happens over the course of episodes, who this person is and the depth of his deception. How much he’s been lying will reveal itself.
Does Aria definitively find out that Ezra is not who he seems in 4B?
Oh yes. That’s definitive, yes.
During a live Facebook chat, Lucy [Hale] talked about a scene with lots of screaming and crying. Maybe not to the extent that Spencer broke down last season, but will we see emotional breakdowns for one or multiple Liars?
It ends up being multiple. Don’t forget that Hanna, her situation with Caleb is pretty heartbreaking as well. There’s several heartbreaking situations going on for our girls. Even Emily and Paige run into some real trouble. All of our girls hit the skids at one point in the 4B season.
Breakdowns aside, I loved how Spencer attacked “A” last night!
She’s Spencer! She’s a Hasting!
At this point, I feel like the girls are fed up and ready for answers. Will they still be in that attack mode come 4B?
Yes. However I think Spencer — Emily is pretty intrepid as well — but Spencer, and we explore this in 4B, Spencer’s kind of snapped. We started exploring it last year with the whole Radley respite. She came out stronger. We wanted to make sure if we were going to go to this place, as crazy and over-the-top as it may have felt, we wanted her to come out stronger and more courageous and to face the demon versus running from it. Our M.O. has always been, we don’t want these girls to be victims. The idea is they are proactive. Even if they are on the losing side very often to keep our story going, they’re not sitting ducks, we don’t want targets. The idea is these girls are trying to face it. They’re trying to face the bully, figure out who the demon is. They go about it in different ways. They have different strengths, and they have different sets of skills, obviously, its four very different characters, but we do make a conscious effort here that if they were in a room where they’re confronted with the enemy, their nemesis, they don’t shrink.
Aria kicked CeCe’s butt earlier this season …
Yeah. It doesn’t contribute to great storytelling if they’re passive and just waiting to be scared. Some of their choices in the beginning though were just misguided because they didn’t realize what they were dealing with and how dastardly this person was. Since then these girls have unraveled, they’ve been in mental institutions, but the idea is they always come through it stronger. That’s always been the endgame for us.
People are still talking about the twin theory. Do you feel you all have put that to rest?
It’s pretty much put to rest. There’s still some wonderful mythology in the later books we want to incorporate, but as far as the core mythology, we kind of told people a long time away we were going to deviate from that.
Give us one final tease for 4B.
I think the woman in black is a really great thing to keep in mind as you’re watching 4B.
Pretty Little Liars will return Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m. on ABC Family.