With all the murder and mayhem going on in Rosewood, it’s a wonder the “Pretty Little Liars” ladies have room in their lives for romance (though, when the boys look like Ian Harding and Keegan Allen, we suppose we’d find a way to make time, too). Entering into the second half of Season 3, Aria (Lucy Hale) and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) are both facing some trials and tribulations in their love lives, albeit for very different reasons.
Zap2it sat down with executive producers Marlene King and Oliver Goldstick on Wednesday at the Television Critics Association Press Tour to get all the Ezria and Spoby scoop we could wring out of them — and, per usual, we’ve got good news and bad news.
First of all, we can confirm that it won’t be long before Ezra finds out about his six-year-old son, and while he won’t be particularly angry at Aria for keeping it from him, the introduction of the little boy will become a major obstacle in their relationship.
“I can’t say Aria’s going to [reveal it], but it’s going to happen, and it’s going to be a tectonic shift in their relationship,” Goldstick says. “We try to handle it in this grounded way. Ezra is profoundly affected by this. It’s enormous, and it’s life changing, and he’s going to have to reevaluate everything, including his relationship with Aria.”
As Ezra tries to be a father, it becomes painfully apparent that he and Aria are at very different points in their lives. “Look, he’s in love with this girl. We’ve done our best to make it believable that a 23-year-old would be interested in her; she’s more sophisticated than your average high school girl. We try to make it credible that they’d have something to talk about,” Goldstick says. “But she’s going to feel out of place here. Ezra’s going through something that’s really out of her league. How to comfort him, how to discuss this, what role should she play, where does she fit into this equation. She’s suddenly an outsider in this equation. She doesn’t really have a place in this nuclear family.”
The return of Wesley (Gregg Sulkin), Ezra’s younger brother, throws another wrench into the works. “He’s like a little mini Ezra, but he’s Aria’s age,” King says. “It’s a chance for her to look in the mirror and say, ‘Is this really what I signed up for? Is this what I want? Would life be simpler with a boy my own age?’ The answer lies in the journey of the season.”
“On paper, this is who Aria should be with,” adds Goldstick. “Because they’re going through the same milestones. The two of them are on a parallel path.”
And then there’s Spencer and Toby. For the first time, the audience knows something that the liars don’t — and when Spencer and Emily find out the devastating depth of Toby’s betrayal, expect some major waves.
“In the way that we saw Emily be pushed to her breaking point [last season], we see Spencer pushed to her breaking point,” says King. “The sheer understanding that Toby — her soulmate, her safe place to land — is on the A Team devastates her. There’s nothing left for her to care about after that.”
Bellisario says, “Once you’ve lost everything, you feel like you can do anything.”
“And she does,” continues King. “At a certain point, she accepts that that is her reality, and she starts to do things we would never see old Spencer do. Troian amazes all of us. She amazes me even at the table reads.”
As fans, we still really want to love Toby — after all he’s been through with Spencer and Emily, it’s hard to imagine a world where he’s just pure evil. Is there a possibility that he’s infiltrated the A Team with good intentions? Potentially. “There’s a flashback that explains his motivation, and I would say that’s really the journey we’re on for the remainder of Season 3,” King teases.
The flashback will reveal a visit Allison made to Toby while he was in juvenile detention. “The question is, what was he doing with Spencer, and with Emily?” says Goldstick. “Was this all part of a Machiavellian plan to get in and then expose them and destroy them? Was he trying to get them as vulnerable as possible to turn them inside out? You’re going to get to see a great flashback, where Allison goes to visit him in juvie. It’ll reveal the A of it all. You’ll go ‘Oh, my, this was the beginning of it all.’ That’s the fourth or fifth episode.”
“By the end of Season 3, you’ll have a clear idea of whether or not you can still love Toby,” teases King.
In the meantime, Spencer is going to go to very dark places. In fact, Goldstick tells us that the writers had some arguments with the network suits about just how far they could take Spencer. While there may have been some doubts about whether the audience could handle her level of pain, there was never a question as to whether Bellisario could handle it.
“Spencer is at the end of her tether, a depth of despair, and we’ll question whether she can come out,” Goldstick says. “The actress was like ‘Do it. Go deeper, make it harder.’ That’s who Troian is, truly. Keep an eye on that girl. I’ve been doing this a long time. … She’s funny, she’s fearless, she’s incredibly sensitive, she’s authentic, and living in the moment. Her performance is really remarkable. She sustained something and built on it and made you feel for her every step of the way.”
We promised you guys some good news, too, so here it is: After all the torment of Season 3B, we can tell you that more than one established couple will survive the season intact. “Yes. There are couples that survive — couples, plural,” says King. “There’s an S on the end of that.”
Get your guesses in!