Though it may have been forgotten among all the #BigAReveal madness, last June, showrunner I. Marlene King revealed in a Reditt AMA that Pretty Little Liars will have a time jump. She confirmed that it will skip college and added, "it may be on the TV show, or the movies we are starting to talk about." But no matter when it happens, the jump will open up the story to a ton of new possibilities, and I think that if King and the other writers really want to take advantage of it, there's only one thing to do: a total reset.
Since we now know that Big A will be revealed in the Season 5 finale, that means by the time the girls go to college, PLL's biggest mystery will be solved for viewers, so it's going to need to shake things up. That's where the time jump comes in. Sure, skipping college is a great way to avoid the many problems it brings to a TV series that started with its main characters in high school —namely separating its core group for four years — but for PLL, a time jump can do much more. What if we jump not to just any time after college, but to the Labor Day after they graduate? Exactly seven years after Alison went missing and provided the catalyst for the entire series.
In a scene that parallels the pilot, all five girls could be having a sleepover, catching up as their final summer comes to an end and they prepare to move on to their various adult lives. In an exposition-filled conversation, we get an idea of what each of them have been up to over the four years we didn't get to see, and where their friendships stand. They all go to sleep, and in the middle of the night, wake up to find someone missing. But not Alison — not again. This time, it's one of the main four Liars we've grown to love over the past five seasons.
Of course, what accompanies a disappearance in Rosewood? A text from A. The remaining Liars will get their first A text in years, and must come together to find out what happened to their friend, putting their lives on hold as they fall back into another mystery. And don't worry, even if it's your favorite Liar who goes missing this time, you'll still see her on PLL. Think about it, for the others to find out what happened to her, they'll have to start tracing her steps, figuring out what exactly she's been up to over the past four years.
In fact, jumping to this moment would let PLL fill us in on everything we missed. As A starts spilling secrets and blackmailing the Liars over events from the missing years, we can see flashbacks of their time in college. Maybe when the show picks up to their sleepover, we discover that one of the core 'ships has sunk (not Haleb, obviously). Thanks to some A-induced flashbacks, we can learn what lead to the break-up. Or maybe it's obvious that one of the Liars is hiding something big the night someone goes missing, and piece by piece we learn what exactly that is, similar to the way all of the gaps of the night Alison went missing were filled. Because admit it, even if you don't want to see the Liars studying for finals and getting wasted at frat parties, you'll want to know about anything important that happened while they were in college.
I honestly don't see how else PLL could skip college and add more mystery. If the current A returns without something major setting them off, it'll seem forced. If a whole new A is introduced, they'll need a motive and some kind of trigger. If there's no A, well, then what? As much as I'd love an entire season about Hanna and Caleb planning their wedding while Spencer founds an organization to prevent cyberbullying, that's just not PLL. We need ominous text messages, possible death, stalkers, black hoodies, and everything else that makes the show addicting.
Skipping college opens up a world of possibilities for PLL, and I just hope they don't waste the opportunity. Instead of ignoring those four years entirely and finding a way to force A back in and keep things exactly the same, the show can take a major risk with great potential. We were hooked on the mystery of Alison's "murder" before we ever got to really know her. If one of the other Liars were to disappear? That's just the kind of rejuvenation PLL needs to ensure fans are glued to their TV screens during every episode until its very last.
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