What’s Next For ‘PLL: The Perfectionists’? Creator Marlene King Has Some Hints
It feels like just yesterday we were reuniting with Rosewood alums Ali (Sasha Pieterse) and Mona (Janel Parrish) on the Oregon campus of Beacon Heights University and already, Season 1 of Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists is wrapped, Nolan is still dead and fans now know that “The Professor” has been monitoring every action of Ava (Sofia Carson), Caitlin (Sydney Park) and Dylan (Eli Brown), as well as Ali and Mona. So what sort of madness awaits our new PLLs in “The Professor”‘s Phase 2? Show creator and exec-producer Marlene King shared some details about what Season 2 might hold, including who we might see from Ali and Mona’s old ‘hood.
Congratulations, Season 1 is done and shocking as always. Did you map out the cliffhanger before you even started mapping out the rest of the story? Did you know where you wanted season one to end?
Marlene King: Thank you! I would say this time, for the first time in a long time, no. We knew who The Professor was, but we didn’t know that we were going to be even calling them “The Professor” until about halfway through the season. We kept racking our brains, like “What will this person be named? How do we top A?”
Well, it’s fitting because of the school.
Yeah, I know. I don’t know why we wouldn’t come up with it right away. [Laughs]
Was it always the same person that you wanted to be?
Oh yes. The Professor has a clear motivation. There’s a goal to what The Professor is trying to accomplish and why they’ve picked our characters to be a part of this human lab-rat experiment I’ll call it.
When do you think we’ll start to see what their motives are next season?
Right away, right away. Clearly they already want to know what their greatest fears are, right? I feel like that’s a good indication of where this is going.
And this also gives you the allowance to really play with psychological terror, which is fitting now that Ali has switched into the psychology department.
Absolutely! It’s going to be a full circle moment for us.
What can you tell us about Dylan’s bully who showed up out of nowhere?
[Laughs] He’s very handsome. He’s got beautiful eyes. He’s definitely going to be a part of our story moving forward. He’s here to prove to Dylan that he is a changed person and is very remorseful for his previous actions.
And what about Ali and Mona going forward? They’ve found themselves in a situation that is very familiar to them.
That’s correct. Mona has a line that says something like “You can’t win a game unless you know what the rules are” and I feel like she’s back in her master gamesmen mode. Allison in addition to having to play this game, she really does want to fix herself. I think it’s so true to her core that she is so afraid she’s too broken to be fixed. Moving forward, Allison is going to have to find that balance of figuring out how to stop making the same mistakes she’s been making. Mona has to make sure she doesn’t go back down that rabbit hole which is so hard for her when she is in this gamesmen mode. I think that we haven’t seen the last of Mason (Noah Gray-Cabey), either. That was a true love connection there, so I would say Mona is really motivated to figure out who The Professor is so she can maybe bring Mason back into her life.
Should we be worried that Mona’s other side may be playing with people too?
Everyone’s a suspect, right? [Laughs] That’s what makes this show a Pretty Little Liars story. Everyone is a suspect. There’s murder, there’s friendship, there’s romance and everyone’s a suspect.
You did a really nice job in the pacing of getting these kids to point where they’re actually friends.
It’s my favorite part of the show.
With the original Liars, they were all friends from the get go. These guys had to earn their relationships.
That’s true and for me it starts clicking after Caitlin gets hit by the car…I literally that during the episode when Ava and Dylan are in the hospital together. It’s like friend porn, I call it that: Friend porn. It’s so great because they did have to earn it. We’re really going to be rooting for them even more in their friendships.
Okay, so we have The Professor pulling the strings, but in this PLL world, it’s not always just one villain. Will there be someone less hidden who bothers them next season, as well?
I think because our Professor is primarily off-screen—like how we only saw A in those closers on the show basically—it’s important to have an on-screen villain as well. So I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Dana Booker. And we’re definitely bringing some new characters to the show next season, as well…friends, possible villains, and maybe some romance.
Where is Claire headed? Because I love her so much.
She’s amazing. I love Kelly Rutherford. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with. She realized that she definitely put her trust in the wrong person with Dana Booker (Klea Scott) and that the Perfectionists did not kill her son, so I think she’s starting with a clean slate this next season but she’s also keeping her eye very much so on her daughter.
Are we going to find out more about what drives Dana, because she’s like a dog with a bone when it comes to these kids.
She is a dog with a bone! I think that, primarily, she is just driven by her want to succeed at all costs. Which makes her an interesting foe for Allison, who definitely has a bone to pick with any authority figure who’s abusing their power.
I noticed that Caitlin’s mother said she was going to intern with Senator Hastings?
Yes. I tried to get [Troian Bellisario] on the show so badly and the timing just didn’t work out. So maybe we’ll get to see her next year.
You kept us so well reminded of the Rosewood gang all season with mentions and whatnot.
It’s impossible to not do it. I love those characters as much as anyone and to get to sort of visit where they would be in their lives right now is just a joy for me. We’re going to keep doing that and hopefully next season we’ll get to see a couple of the Liars. This season, we really wanted to establish the show so it stood on its own two feet and I think next season we’re more open to some of our characters coming to visit our new world.