Who Will Be Tormenting the Pretty Little Liars? 'The Nastiest Big Bad'

Damian Holbrook
ABC Family/Ron Tom

They grow up so fast! Thanks to a midseason time jump, Season 6 of Pretty Little Liars resumes with the girls older, wiser and just as haunted as ever since the unveiling of CeCe Drake (Vanessa Ray) as their transgender tormentor, Charles DiLaurentis, aka “A.” It’s five years down the road and they’ve each had different experiences, some more successful than others,” executive producer Joseph Dougherty reveals. “They’ve moved on.”

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Aria (Lucy Hale) is in Boston working for the publishers behind the first novel by her ex Ezra (Ian Harding), who is dealing with a traumatic loss; in New York City, Hanna (Ashley Benson) has a dream fashion job that may have cost her a future with Caleb (Tyler Blackburn); Spencer (Troian Bellisario) is doing nonprofit advocacy in D.C. and inspiring her mom to run for office; and Emily (Shay Mitchell) is, well, not well. “She took the roughest hit of anybody,” Dougherty says of Emily’s army dad’s death.

Ali (Sasha Pieterse), meanwhile, is the only one who stayed in Rosewood and, as the trial of her institutionalized sister—now going by Charlotte—nears, she asks the old friends to return to town. “She needs them to participate in what would be the ultimate act of healing and forgiveness for Charlotte,” says Dougherty, adding that this less-than-happy homecoming will become a nightmare once “events are set into motion that keep the girls in Rosewood” and at the mercy of the nastiest big bad they have ever encountered. “This is a level of evil,” Dougherty warns, “that has not been seen before.”

Pretty Little Liars, Midseason premiere, Tuesday, Jan. 12 8/7c, Freeform