[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Pretty Little Liars Episodes 4 and 5.]
A continues to torment the new Liars, this time striking at a Halloween party.
In the latest two episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, A forces Noa (Maia Reficco) into a position where she must tell the hospital of her mom’s drug problem, then kills Tyler (Brian Altemus) at a party at Imogen’s (Bailee Madison) house after Tabby (Chandler Kinney) punches him for having a problem taking “no” for an answer from Mouse (Malia Pyles). Meanwhile, Faran (Zaria) wonders if Kelly (Mallory Bechtel) might actually be Karen and they don’t know which twin was killed.
We’ve gotten bits about what happened to both Imogen — her pregnancy, her mother was supportive, there’s a story about a lifeguard, but it’s unclear if that’s true — and Tabby — she’s investigating the guys at school and that bonfire. The end of 105 seems to set up the girls talking about what happened in 106. What can you say about what happened and how you’ll reveal that?
Lindsay Calhoon Bring: One of the things for us with telling the stories of the show and making it a horror show was we also wanted to tell really grounded stories about the horrors of what can happen to young women and how upsettingly statistically friendships can be formed around trauma, and these two girls have both experienced a trauma. They have connected over this, they will connect over this, and they will support each other. Tabby’s very clearly working something out with what she’s doing, and checking out boys in the locker room was one of the ways we also wanted to subvert a horror trope, which is flipping the male gaze to the female gaze. But Tabby has a real reason. She’s on an investigation. Tabby and Imogen will open up to each other, as you said. We are leading up to that, and they will help each other through this through the season.
Are we getting that in 106?
Calhoon Bring: Yes, 106 is a very pivotal episode for Tabby and Imogen specifically. They will open up to each other. And after that episode, they’re off to the races and on a journey together.
Speaking of trauma, what can you say about Mouse is up to and how it’s informed by her childhood trauma?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: I love that storyline. Our actors who play Mouse and Steve are so, so, so good. Again, we’ve seen the trope of the underaged teenager chatting with an older person, arranging to meet an older person. We’ve seen this in many teen shows, many teen shows that are out there right now. I don’t think that story’s going where a lot of people think it’s going. We start subverting it, and it speaks directly to Mouse’s very particular trauma, which was an incident in her past that froze her in time and has made her moms really protective of her. Mouse is wrestling with parents who want to keep her little girl forever and don’t want her to grow up. They call her Mouse. They named her Minnie. She dresses a certain way. They want to protect her.
So that unfolding storyline is definitely a subversion of classic problematic tropes, but it’s very unique and specific to what Mouse is going through. We designed the season so that each Liar has one big episode that focuses on them, their mom’s backstory, the trauma, the relationship, and Mouse’s is in Episode 7. That’s a really fun episode. All of the PLLs go to a big carnival. There’s such a great tradition of carnivals in horror movies and things like that. That story continues to the end as well.
Imogen is focused on what happened to Angela, because she’s trying to find answers about her mom. And Faran’s focused on whether Kelly is Kelly or Karen. What can you say about those two investigations? They both could use help.
Calhoon Bring: It’s true. Imogen’s been through so much when we meet her. She’s lost her mother. She’s living in a new house. She’s lost her friendships. She used to be very good friends with Karen and Kelly. She’s throwing herself into her work, and her work is being an investigator. She is a mystery solver. We love stories where Imogen’s on the hunt. She’s brave. This is the thing that’s sort of keeping her going. And also, as far as Angela, this is something that connects her to her mother and with her mother having passed, this is an emotional story for her. Her drive is learning something about her mother she didn’t know. She knew one person, and she’s getting pieces of information that her mother was very different.
For Faran, she is such a talent. She’s so driven. She’s so ambitious and she’s often up against what the world has presented to her, what you can’t do, and someone like Karen is presented to the world as this is someone who can. And so Faran is so tired of feeling like she’s in competition with someone, with the Karens of the world, and she just wants to expose her for what she is. She’s just so attached to winning, I think, because Faran’s such a driven person. So Faran’s really throwing herself into her work too, which is dance and which is complicated relationships with the people in her life, Karen and her mother being two of them. They’re both mystery solvers.
Aguirre-Sacasa: Imogen’s investigation — Lindsay, you said it right, which is, 6 is a very pivotal episode. Also in the back half of the season, all of our PLLs get involved in the investigation of what happened to Angela, when they start piecing together that it wasn’t just Imogen’s mom who had a piece of that backstory. In terms of Kelly and Faran, I love the very unlikely friendship that develops between those two girls. I think it’s in Episode 8, everyone’s relationship with Kelly shifts. These stories that are driven by one character open up to include all of our little Liars in the second half.
Calhoon Bring: We tell a lot of stories about generational trauma and breaking cycles, and Faran and Karen and Kelly are part of that story of breaking cycles at the end of our season.
At this point in the season, what can you say about A’s identity? Just in these two episodes, A has Noa turn in her mom, then kills Tyler in the bathroom. It seems like there’s nothing A won’t do.
Aguirre-Sacasa: A is diabolical. A is, right now, beyond understanding. A lives by a very strict code. We often describe A as the judge, jury, and executioner. I’ll say that there is little A won’t do, but hopefully by the end of the season — we do reveal A’s identity by the end of the season — everyone will understand why A did what A had to do. Although I don’t think anyone will understand why the janitor had to be killed so brutally in the first episode. [Calhoon Bring laughs] It’s funny. I don’t know if it even made it ‘til the end, but at one point we had this explanation for why the janitor [was killed that way] and we were like, no one’s ever thinking about the janitor. But hopefully A’s motivations will become clear by the end of the season.
Another villain in the Liars’ lives is Sheriff Beasley (Eric Johnson), and he’s going after them pretty hard. His daughter’s dead, he wants someone to pay. But can he be redeemed?
Calhoon Bring: That’s an amazing question. Obviously A is our horror slasher Michael Myers, but in that grounded world of the horrors of our world, we wanted to tell a story, too, about young girls who have been failed by systems that should protect them. And Sheriff Beasley, I think, is the person we point to in that. What you’ve seen so far, he’s not a great guy. He’s a pretty dark character and sometimes dark characters can change, but sometimes they’re irredeemable.
Aguirre-Sacasa: That said, it’s funny because the actor who plays Sheriff Beasley, Eric, could not be lovelier. Sometimes you do these roles with the older actors that play the parents or the villains. And sometimes you’re with an actor, and the actor’s like, “I don’t wanna be tormenting these teenagers. I don’t wanna look bad. Why am I like calling this young girl a bitch?” and all this other stuff. The great thing about Eric is he was like, “I’m here for whatever you need me to do in Millwood.” And he’s such a delicious villain that way. So Sheriff Beasley may not be redeemable, but Eric Johnson, who plays Sheriff Beasley, is going straight to heaven.
Calhoon Bring: He’s a king.
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, Thursdays, HBO Max