‘Pretty Little Liars’: Five Things to Know About the New Season

Ashley Benson and Janel Parrish of 'Pretty Little Liars' (Photo: ABC Family)

The third season of “Pretty Little Liars” debuts June 5. Now that Mona (Janel Parrish) has been exposed as A and locked up in a mental hospital, the PLLs should be able to enjoy their lives. Sure, there’s the matter of Maya’s death, and Alison’s still unsolved murder. But still, Rosewood, should be a pleasant place to live again.

Says Troiann Bellasario (Spencer), “The girls are ready to be normal. They’re ready to experience the life they thought was stolen from them by A.” Instead, the cast reveals, that Season 3 will be the darkest, scariest yet. 

Keegan Allen (Toby) previews that the premiere picks up a couple months after the Season 2 finale. “A whole summer goes by, and, as you can imagine, it was very stressful for the girls. They all have issues they’re going through. Everybody will be very shocked at what happens right off the bat.” As the preview below reveals, each Liar has spent the summer very differently.

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Now that they’ve reunited to face even greater peril, here are five ways that Season 3 will turn “PLL” on its ear.

A’s Identity and Maya’s Death Changes Everything for the PLLs

Emily finds it hard to open up to her friends about Maya’s death. According to Shay Mitchell, “Losing Maya, Emily’s real first love, is extremely difficult. So for Emily, I kind of feel like she’s in her own little world, and her friends obviously are there for her, but they don’t understand what she’s going through. So [in the preview] she has a little bit of a tipsy night one night.”

The girls will again put on their sleuthing caps as they attempt to solve Maya’s murder. “As far as they know, it has to do with A, just like Alison’s murder did,” says Mitchell. “First they got this whole thing of Mona being A. So now I think it’s just kind of putting the puzzle pieces together as to, ‘Were you a part of this too? Who was really part of this?’ I think in Emily’s mind, the way the character’s been played, she does think A is the one that killed her.”

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Hanna is also alienated, as she grapples with her guilt about her role in Mona’s transformation into A. Says Ashley Benson, “Hanna’s coming to terms with what she did to make Mona turn against her and it’s tough. She’s just trying to figure out the answers, what to do to help this friend in an insane asylum and she just doesn’t know what to do. She had her other friends, but Mona was something different… She’s pretty damaged. She doesn’t really let the other girls see it… Hanna hates her but she still has that connection, that bond with her, and it’s just unfortunate and sad that her friend turned out to be the resident bitch… She just can’t really relate with anybody else on that subject.”

Hanna’s issues drive her to visit Mona. Parrish describes the scene. “Hanna wants some answers and probably some closure now. They were best friends for years and she feels very betrayed. Also, these [crazy] things are happening in Rosewood and Hanna wants to know if I’m involved. It will be bumpy. The interaction will be a little turbulent as you can see from the trailer. Hanna comes in screaming and throwing a chair over… There will be a couple more visitors. I can’t say who.”

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The New A (or A’s) Are More Diabolical

The girls are still being targeted by a person — or persons — using the name A. A version 2.0 is playing for higher stakes. Says Ian Harding (Ezra), “It doesn’t seem like ‘I’ll tell your Dad you were having a relationship’ anymore. That was peanuts compared to where they’re going. It’s not just like you’ll get kicked out of school. It’s like, you’ll lose your life.’

Bellasario hints that the new A has targets beyond the Liars. “We are definitely going deeper and darker into how twisted Rosewood is as a community, not just as individuals, and they’re not really shying away from kind of edgy things. We’ve always tried to push the envelope with this show, but it seems that in our third season they feel capable of going so much deeper.”

The Season 2 finale implied that Mona was working with an accomplice. Parrish says, “I think that’s also a very big question that’s going to be raised in Season 3 and I think it will go back and forth when people watch it. It will be like, ‘Is she or isn’t she a danger? Who is Mona working for?’ Who is calling the shots?'”

The finale also featured a mysterious person who showed up to the dance dressed as the Black Swan. Says Bellsario, “She was definitely leading the girls into mischief because I went out with Mona who turned out to be A and this Black Swan was leading the girls on a wild goose chase. Was it a red herring, is it a decoy, is it the other A? Is there another A? It’s funny, you will not have to wait too long to find out the answer and I think it will be quite shocking. It is something that hits a little bit too close to home for Spencer.”

Old Favorites Get New Twists

Many recurring characters will reveal different sides of their personalities during Season 3. Jenna (Tammin Sursok) got her sight back at the end of Season 2. She is even scarier with 20/20 vision. Says Allen, “Jenna can see and it is really creepy. She wears sunglasses for the entire first two seasons and now she can see. Toby finds out about it. Everybody finds out about it and it’s just about how creepy that continues and how all of her revenge, it comes back full force.”

“[Lucas] (Brendan Robinson) is becoming very sketchy and very different. You’ll see him in Season 3 and you won’t even recognize him, says Benson. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking to all the girls, especially to Hanna, because she knows cute little Lucas and he’s crazy-different and he’s changed. He could be somebody who is helping out with A. We’re all just trying to figure it out and everybody is a suspect in our eyes, so anybody who crosses paths with us is now seen as a bad guy, which sucks.”

Holden will also be back, but this time he may be stirring up trouble for different characters. Says Ian Harding, “His storyline is going to complicate things, but I don’t know if it’s for Ezra and Aria. Inevitably the web is just that, a web, so everything is connected. But I think he’s going to be something else.” Bellasario adds, “I’m really excited to see him return and he has a very odd story he’s bringing with him this year.”

Another romantic foil, Ren (Julian Morris) will be sticking around Rosewood. “He’s like some sort of opium cloud that descends because Spencer’s just like, ‘Hi’,” says Bellasario. “She has that effect on him, too. So I think as long as they stay away from each other they’re going to be okay, but he works in Rosewood and I think you’re going to find out he’s going to kick up new trouble this season and not necessarily with Spencer.”

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New Characters Add Spice

The PLL writing team has dreamed up several new characters who are not in the books. Mitchell reveals, “Nate (Sterling Sulieman) comes in and he’s a great character because he is Maya’s cousin. I think for Emily, in some way, it’s a reminder of Maya and it brings a closeness to her. They were family and I think for Emily it does help because he understands what she feels, too. That’s not to say her friends don’t, but it’s a different kind of connection when it’s a family member.”

There also will be new villains. “My very good friend Vanessa Ray just got cast as somebody who has long blonde locks and definitely scares the bejesus out of the girls,” says Bellsario.

Romantic Relationships Mature

Now all of Rosewwod’s secret romances have gone public, but that does not mean they will be living happily ever after. “Things have gotten a little easier for the time being,” says Harding. “Aria and I start having an adult relationship with adult problems as opposed to, are we going to be outed by this person who has been following you for years? So things are on interesting ground right now. I can tease that because, now that the relationship is now out, I am interacting with a lot more actors.

Toby and Spencer find that they are capable of creating their own drama. “I think the coolest part about Toby and Spencer’s relationship is that now that it’s out in the open, and now that they don’t have the world trying to tear them apart, or A, they can actually, finally be with each other.” However, “Spencer’s still hyper-controlling and Toby’s still got a heart of gold and can be hurt really easily. So now it’s about can they survive each other?”

The new season of “Pretty Little Liars” premieres Tuesday, June 5, at 8/7c on ABC Family.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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