It has been a banner year for Marlene King. The Pretty Little Liars boss shepherded her show through a whole host of awards nominations — NewNowNext, GLAAD, People’s Choice, Mashable, and Teen Choice — as well as a 25-episode second season pick-up. She also led the charge that secured Pretty Little Liars a place atop the Twitter podium. It was the most tweeted about television show in 2011. Stellar ratings, industry accolades, social media prowess: It’s no surprise that ABC Family has already ordered a full third season.
Pretty Little Liars wrapped season two last Friday, and even though Marlene confessed to me that she’s been working so ceaselessly since season one that her family has almost forgotten what she looks like, she took a few minutes out of her holiday schedule to chat with me about what we can expect this winter when our favorite murder mystery returns.
AfterEllen.com: It’s less that two weeks before you unleash the wrath of “A” on us again. How are you feeling? Nervous? Excited?
Marlene King: We’re excited! We are going to reveal who “A” is in the season two finale, and it is not going to disappoint. In fact, you’re going to get to see inside “A”‘s Lair, as I call it — “A”s War Room — and when I stepped inside it, I got so nervous. It is beyond terrifying. In a good way.
AE: So we’re going to get to see those trinkets and rats and blood samples and therapy files and things the gloved hand has been collecting at the end of every episode?
MK: It is literally like you’re inside “A”‘s mind. My sons got to go to the set, and my youngest son, who’s seven, was like, “I have to leave this room.”
AE: Is the second half of the season even more sinister than the first? How does it compare tonally?
MK: The first part of the season sort of laid the groundwork, the path toward “A” — but the second half of the season moves like a freight train at lightning speed. So you’re watching going, “How can they survive this? How can they sustain this?” And you’re going to wonder it all the way to the finish line.
AE: What’s in store for Emily on this freight train ride. “A” was coming at her from every direction in the first half of the season.
MK: Emily was a target in the first half, and I think her fans are going to love her in the back half. We call her “Badass Emily.” The winter premiere takes place a month after the finale, and a lot has happened in that month. And in that time Emily has really dug deep and found all of her courage and her competitive edge and she is going to lead the charge against “A.” She is going to prove to “A” that she was not the weakest link. It really is payback time.
AE: Any time for love while she’s saving the world?
MK: Emily definitely reconnects with Maya, and they start to have a relationship that is full of the kinds of ups and downs that happen when two people are reconnecting.