Are you still reeling over the amazing episode of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars from Monday night? Can’t wait to get the spare hour to re-watch it? Counting down the hours until the sure-to-be-unforgettable season finale when the identity of “A” is revealed? Well, I’m right there with you!
Tuesday, amidst trying to wrap my head around everything that happened in that episode and coming up with theory after theory for who “A” could be, I had the chance to speak with Lisa Cochran-Neilan, the producer of Pretty Little Liars, and get an even bigger tease of what to expect from next Monday’s season finale, entitled “unmAsked.”
For one, Lisa gave us one tip we’ll take to heart: “Don’t watch [the finale] alone. “
After what went down on this week’s episode – which includes all of the gasping, laughing, shouting and talking to the TV that I did while watching – Lisa promises that you can expect even more from the finale. “It’s going to be really, really good. These two episodes were meant to just hold on to somebody as they’re watching and just not let go. After two seasons of incredibly loyal fans, we really felt like we owed an ending and yet as [executive producer] Marlene King will say when she wrote the finale, ‘it was an ending and a beginning.’”
But there are still quite a few days left until said “ending and beginning,” so what better way to spend our time than positing who could be “A,” right? Well, at least pondering all the different people it could turn out to be… because the list, it seems, is never ending. But Lisa told us, that while the list is ever-growing, the answer is going to be satisfying.
“The writers have worked incredibly hard to follow a map and the fact that the map, like any map, there are interchanges and characters start to change. They become clearer in the sense that they might be, they really might be [“A”]. And if you think about it, we probably had six people going at one point. You could have followed the dots to them. But in the end, when you back it up, it will be crystal clear.”
And let’s not lie to ourselves, we’re all going to re-watch the season and the series as soon as we can once we learn who “A” is and there are “absolutely” clues that we’ll be able to see once we know the secret is out. “I think [learning the identity of “A”] makes you go back and rewind and go to your DVR and it makes you look and go, ‘Oh my God, how could…’ and then you stop and say, ‘It was right there!’ In many ways, it was right there,” Lisa explains.
She even teased that there were some very small and very interesting clues. Even locations and addresses! “There have been times where – Rosewood is outside of Philadelphia – so there have been times where we will try to blend the real areas and the real terminology of [the] area to lend some reality to it, as well as a fictitious, sort of stand-alone world of Rosewood. So we sort of blend some of Philadelphia into it and some of it are in cases that are very interesting. We’ll drop an address, we’ll drop a GPS, and if the viewers follow those clues, they are very interesting places.”
When I told Lisa she was tempting me to google the addresses immediately after our conversation, she laughed and said, “That would be good!” So if you’re looking to do a little more theorizing or last minute clue-spotting, that’s a good place to start!
But what about the minute the finale ends, what about the day after we find out, what will be racing through our minds? Well, there’s a big cliffhanger and Lisa admits, viewers are “going to want to know, ‘where does season 3 go?!’ and I’m telling you, you get some of the previews of it at the end of this [episode]. Season 3, literally, today [March 13] is day two of prep for Season 3. So we are just coming in and we’re just starting. But I think that you watch the finale and you realize that we’ve answered so much and yet we’ve laid down the groundwork for just equally as much, if not more information. So there is far more mystery and darkness to come.”
We couldn’t be happier to hear this – okay, maybe I hoped they’d be further along with the next season’s production so we’d get to see it sooner – because it means that just because we find out who “A” is, doesn’t mean the show will lose its edge or intrigue. Lisa actually told us she was thrilled when she found out who “A” was. “I was thrilled because I believe that the story endures. I think that the story continues. I think it makes you think.”
“We’re not going to go away yet,” Lisa promises, “we still have a lot to do with this show.”
Again, we hope you’re as elated by this news as we are (although we never had a doubt that Pretty little Liars would continue going after the big reveal) and are looking forward to this coming Monday’s season finale like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
We’ll get an answer we’ve been waiting two seasons for, we’ll get storylines from all of our favorite characters – including some of the side characters that we hold near and dear to our hearts, Lisa assures us – and, as Lisa describes it, we’ll be getting a “visually beautiful and very, very entertaining” hour of television.
The countdown is on until “A”-day, so get your last few theories in (and feel free to share them with us!) and prepare for the finale that is sure to leave us stunned and looking forward to season 3.
Check out what else Lisa had to share with us about the finale, including how the cast found out who “A” was and what it was like filming the episode and much more, below!
On the Cast’s Reaction upon Learning the Identity of “A”:
It was a phenomenal cast read-through; it really was, because, in fact, we never gave that script out. The last script was written and prepped, basically in private. We never even gave our series regulars or guest stars, nobody was given a script at all, even a first version of it, except for those necessary at the studio and the network.
And what we did is we allowed actors, because we have cast read-throughs every episode right before we start it, with the directors and the writers and the cast for the episode. We offered the cast to come in a few minutes early, pick up a copy of the script, sit down and then read it before the read-through. Or, they could just wait and read it as we go along.
You would be surprised at the number of cast that showed up early. They showed up early, they sat down and the staff had got – it was a lot of fun to listen outside the room and as different cast members, we’re talking about series regulars as well as guest cast, that you heard people going “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Did you get to the part – oh no, oh no, you get there first!”
So, it was a lot of fun. I mean, for us sitting there at the table, you just kind of smile through the whole cast read-through because literally they were looking at each other, [seeing] if somebody was reading ahead of somebody. It was a lot of fun. It was also a lot of fun because after two seasons, we felt like we were honoring the story and this cast that’s delivered.
On Whether the Individual Who Turns Out to be “A” Knew They were “A” Going into the Read-Through:
Nope. They did not know.
As a matter of fact, at one point, the viewers and readers will have to realize it, they’ll have to see the episode, but at one point Marlene King slipped a note to an actor who was in the room to explain that they’re involved in this because we’d never referenced the person, we only described the person for a while. And she needed to let them know, “that’s you.” So it was something that when you’re reading it, I knew, but you realize if someone’s reading it for the first time and has no idea, you had to tell some people who they were in the script.
On Filming the Season Finale Episode:
Lesli Glatter directed this one and she also directed the pilot. Lesli is an amazing director, she brings a tremendous amount of energy, she also did the finale on season 1. Lesli is terrific with the cast. She’s got a tremendous rapport and touch with them. She really sat there and talked to each one of them, because there was times when some of them didn’t have a lot of information in advance and she really walked them through.
But it was fun. I won’t be able to say a lot about it, but there were moments there where at the end of a scene or a take, we would applaud, because it was such an integral part. It was hard, but it was a lot of fun.
On How the Show Plays with the Books:
You know, I have to tell you, people ask us constantly about whether we followed the books on this, whether we took leads. I have to tell you, I think we give so much credit to the fans of this show that if we truly followed the book verbatim, your fans are done, because they know what’s going on and they know where it’s going and they know who is who.
So it’s fun for us to bring in characters. It’s fun for us to change some of our characters in a way that the mystery is endured and [made] complicated or questioned. We realized early on that our viewers are really smart and when you then write for the smart people, the bloggers, the people who pick up the nuances, you then realize it’s really fun! It’s really fun because it doesn’t have to be black and white.
On Being on Twitter (@lisacochranpll) during the Show and Interacting with Fans:
Literally I sit with my iPad on my lap, watching the episode and – now I have not recently been doing the 5 PM, which is the east coast feed. Marlene is completely committed. She watches and she goes on live at 5. I watch 8 PM PST and therefore I get to read all the east coast comments, but then I start watching the west coast chime in.
And it’s great because the east coast is giving all the heads up to the west coast viewers, and the west coast viewers are shutting them down, going “don’t tell me! Don’t tell me!” So it’s a lot of fun to watch the show. It’s an interactive show. The viewers are amazing.
The Twitter followers that I am watching, there are people from South America, there’s Colombia, there’s Mexico, there is Asia. These people, I mean, this is a show that got to international viewership far before the show launched internationally on broadcast, so it’s a tribute to the computer world, to technology. It’s people being able to watch these episodes in advance and then it’s a network of people that all talk about it and it’s amazing to see how broad this is.
… We have learned that we have 55-year-old male directors that are absolutely in love with every element of this show. There are crew members on the lot at Warner Brothers, who, if they see you drive by in the pink golf cart, they stop you and go, “I am a huge, huge fan,” and you kind of look at them and go, “wow! It’s not 14-year-old girls.”
All images in this post are stills from the Season 2 Finale,
courtesy of ABC Family