It's safe to say that after seven years of sexy, twisted, jaw-dropping reveals on Pretty Little Liars, the series finale will leave fans with no loose ends once and for all. At PaleyFest in LA over the weekend, creator I. Marlene King sits next to executive producer Joseph Dougherty in the cast panel — both claim they will deliver answers in this happily ever after. "It [answers] every single question we could remember," Dougherty tells the crowd. While King admits she feels the pressure to deliver an "Uber A.D." in the finale (which she says "feels like a movie"), it's not looking like a dragged-out, last-second reveal. On the red carpet, I speak with these two and some of the cast, who shed a little light on all those internet theories and explain why fans may learn who A.D. is sooner rather than later.
Without saying if she's referring to A.D.'s reveal specifically, actor Andrea Parker (who plays Mary Drake/Jessica DiLaurentis) says an "absolutely, pick-your-teeth-up-off-the-floor, mouth-gaped, didn’t-see-that-coming" scene happens in the first episode of 7B. "It’s right up top. It happens pretty fresh in the first episode... and it is an exciting ride," she says. Giving the fans answers straight out of the gate is completely intentional, according to the executive producers.
"We had a lot to do in 10 episodes," Dougherty tells me. "Our story’s been so complex, and people have been lying so consistently, we have to go back and start unpacking things early." There's truly no time to waste, and these guys have no intention of prolonging answers for the sake of it.
King also wants fans to feel like they're part of an epic event, even from the get go in the premiere of 7B. "When we started, people weren’t binge-watching TV, or at least our show, they were watching live," King says. "We wanted to recreate that sense of community of people watching live again and tweet about it — we all experience it together as a family." And the intense momentum will continue throughout all 10 episodes. "Every episode had to be worthy of: I have to watch this tonight, I can’t wait until tomorrow," King says.
Janel Parrish, who plays Mona, says she was most shocked by the constant delivery of crazy reveals. "Who’s behind it all and why? You get so much backstory and it goes so deep," Parrish hints. She explains that A.D. is definitely not someone she saw coming.
"A.D.’s connection to the girls and why is just incredible," Parrish says. "It’s a beautiful story, Marlene wrote it so wonderfully. I think it surprised all of us." Parrish admits that while most cast members had their own theories, "none of them were close to what it actually is."
I know King and her clan won't reveal which fan theories are the closest, so I try and get them to eliminate some instead. Parrish dismisses a lot of the theories that suggest A.D. is a parent on the show. "I’m like, ‘What? Why would a parent torture their own kid?’" she says.
Parker rules out the theory that her character is A.D. (unless, of course, she's trying to throw fans off her scent). "People think that it’s me. It’s not me," she says. "Maybe I’m not supposed to say that," she continues with a laugh. King gives her input, saying, "People think the characters would’ve hurt themselves to be A.D., which I think is odd." That said, King and Dougherty both agree that some fan theories have been spot-on, and give me clues about the trail they've been leaving all this time.
"We’ve tried to leave a lot of Easter eggs and we want fans to figure it out," King says. "If people figure it out and they’re a little bit ahead of us, good for them." She says fans have been correct with their theories this time more than ever. However, Dougherty says that fans get so close, but just fall short of the finish line. "There are so many theories, buried in there are lots of nuggets of things being connected but they’re not. They’ve connected the wrong parts of pieces," he says.
Even though there are fans who've solved the puzzle, the executive producer says that hasn't changed the course of the story. Besides, A.D.'s history goes way back and in terms of who it is, anyone is fair game.
"My favorite joke is basically, ‘Why aren't more people suspicious of Officer Barry Maple?'" he says. Dougherty suggests that "anybody who’s ever walked on" has a chance of being A.D. "It is fair game. I’d like to think that’s part of the fun of it," he says.
Hopefully these hints will allow fans to go back, dig deeper, and rewire theories before the premiere on April 18. And if there are fans who just want to be surprised? They definitely don't have to worry about that.