By now, everyone who’s paid attention to Pretty Little Liars knows the big ugly truth: The evil twin did it. (And if you’re holding out and don’t want to know whose evil twin, stop reading here.)
But were there other possible solutions or alternate endings considered to cap the seasons-long mystery solved in last night’s Season 7 (and series) finale? Was the heretofore unknown Alex Drake (Troian Bellisario, pulling double duty as the sibling look-alike of Spencer Hastings) always pegged as the Liars’ tormenter?
Deadline spoke about that — and other things PLL — to I. Marlene King, the exec producer and showrunner who wrote last night’s “Till Death Do Us Part” teleplay with Maya Goldsmith and story with Kyle Bown. And yes, other solutions were considered, and, no, don’t expect a PLL reunion anytime soon.
For a recap of last night’s finale, go here.
DEADLINE: In three or four words, your mood today?
KING: Tired, happy and relieved.
DEADLINE: What kind of feedback are you getting on the episode?
KING: The only people I’ve gotten to hear from so far are my family and other people I’ve actually talked to this morning. I’ve stayed off of social media because I just wanted to take a break from it for a beat. But so far it seems pretty good.
DEADLINE: Last night on the aftershow, you said you knew where the series was heading for the last couple of years. Were you talking specifically about the identity of A.D.?
KING: Yes, that it would be Spencer’s twin and that Mary Drake would be their mother.
DEADLINE: Did you consider any other character for the A.D.?
KING: We definitely played around with a couple other ideas. We played around with Melissa, we played around with Wren. We considered Mona stealing the game back again and being the ultimate A.D. But I think we all just loved the idea of this Spencer twin. A lot of people wanted one of the pretty little liars to be A.D., and to me that didn’t make any sense because the show is really about the unconditional friendship of these girls. So having a PLL twin was the next best thing.
DEADLINE: There had been speculation on the Internet about a twin. Did you ever feel that if people guessed the answer, you’d need to change it?
KING: No, it was really the opposite. Some people started guessing it when they saw A.D. in the shed, when Hanna had the dream, and that really was A.D. We wanted that, though I was happy when the conversation would shift to somebody else. But we wanted it to be a real theory — I didn’t want it to be completely impossible for fans to be able to figure out.
DEADLINE: Last night’s flashbacks scenes – where we see scenes from earlier episodes that we’ve already seen but now understand them in a different way. Those were all actual scenes from the series, correct? No fudging?
KING: Correct. We knew when we filmed those scenes — and Troian knew — that she was Alex Drake. The other [actors] in the scenes did not know. Like Keegan Allen [who plays Spencer’s longtime love interest Toby Cavanaugh] did not know that it was Alex Drake he was kissing. And Ashley [Benson, who plays PLL Hanna Marin] didn’t know that it was Alex Drake in the dream. We kept that information from them because we didn’t want their performances to be affected by it.
DEADLINE: So when did they find out?
KING: They knew by the time we got to the table read.
DEADLINE: Let’s talk about the Mona-in-Paris scene. Explain, please.
KING: The original ending was going to be the PLLs saying goodbye, but we really felt like we needed a twist upon the twist — but not a twist that somehow affected the PLLs because we wanted fans to have closure. So that’s when we started a dialogue about, how could we play with something here? And it just felt like so much fun to have Mona stealing the game and being A.D. for one final time.
DEADLINE: And does she really have Mary and Alex locked up somewhere in Paris?
KING: Yes! Yes! Yes!
DEADLINE: The new girls at the end, the new high school girls, any chance we’ll ever see them again?
KING: You know, it’s always possible. That’s not something that we’re talking about right now, but down the line a possible reboot of the show would be fun. But for right now that was just us wanting to say that even though this chapter in Rosewood ends, the creepy mythology of this town goes on.
DEADLINE: So let’s talk about a reunion. The talk on the aftershow was pretty vague. Any thought in your head at this point of getting the cast back together?
KING: No. I feel like we’re just saying goodbye. I mean, we’ve talked about doing a panel somewhere, that kind of a reunion, but everybody’s gotta go off and stretch their creative muscles and really fly with their own wings a little bit. If the stars align at the right time and everybody’s available, then we could talk about something else, but that would be years from now.
DEADLINE: Let’s talk about The Perfectionists and what’s next for you.
KING: Well, we’re waiting for our Season 2 pickup of Famous In Love and I’m hoping to get a green light to shoot the pilot for The Perfectionists this summer, so we’re waiting on those two things. My company, Long Lake Media, is set up at Warner Bros and we have lots of great stuff in development, so hopefully we’ll have a lot more to talk about soon.
DEADLINE: How would The Perfectionists differ from Pretty Little Liars? [The Perfectionists, based on a book series by PLL author Sara Shepard, is being developed by King for Freeform.] Thematically, mood-wise, will it be similar?
KING: Yeah, it’s a story about friendships and secrets, so its definitely similar in that way.
DEADLINE: Finally, if you could re-do anything about Pretty Little Liars, any storyline, any character, what would it be?
KING: I wouldn’t have broken up all of the couples between the five-year time jump, between [seasons] 5A and 5B. I would have kept at least one couple together. I won’t tell you which one, but I wish I would have done that.