It may be a new year, but one thing you can always count on in Rosewood and Ravenswood is you’re going to have more than a few frights... and that’s exactly what we get when both Pretty Little Liars and Ravenswood return tonight with new episodes.
Over at PLL, our four Liars were shocked in the Halloween episode when they finally came face to face with the very much alive Ali.
But things will continue to spiral on the back half of Pretty Little Liars Season 4 with relationships and mysteries that could send one of our Liars to the grave. And, yes, Caleb does return this evening before he heads back Ravenswood, where life and death run dangerously close together.
To get some answers on what’s coming in these new episodes on both series, I grabbed some time with Executive Producer Joe Dougherty (also Co-Creator of Ravenswood), who teased as much as he could about what we’ll be seeing...
TV Fanatic: The gang is all there in this first episode – Mona, Toby, Ezra – talk to me about the characters we don’t see. Jason is talked about, Noel Kahn is coming back…what’s coming?
Joe Dougherty: Jason is going to come back and we’re going to see Noel Kahn. They’re going to come in and move things forward because stuff has been going on for both characters while they’ve been off-screen. We’ve always thought that the entire fourth season was going to be the season of answers and we’ve got that started in the first [half] and I think that that really continues here and that’s why I think 4B makes as many promises and delivers as much as it does. We’re really changing the game.
TVF: Because of what we went through with Toby being good, then bad, then good again, is Ezra truly somebody we should not trust or will we find out he’s doing things for a reason and is really still good?
JD: Well, I think what you see on most characters on the show is that there are usually motives behind motives and rationales behind rationales. What you see is true. We’re not going to take anything back but there is a complete story here to be told and you’ve just got fragments of it now. Again, we don’t do these things for fun, dammit. [laughs] There is actually a plan here.
TVF: Was it a big discussion not to bring up too much of what is going on for Caleb in terms of the supernatural side of Ravenswood?
JD: The biggest discussion was exactly how much back and forth can be between these two series since they do operate in two distinctive worlds? We began at a place of complete separation and as we’ve gotten into it, we’ve realized that fans were worried about it much less than we were worried about it. We still want to keep the stories separate because they’re different vibes in two different towns. If we’re going to do something on one show, let’s do something we can’t do on the other show.
TVF: I love that Mona is very present in this episode.
JD: Oh, Mona is my little Norman Bates…
TVF: The scene she has with Ezra is terrific but I couldn’t help but wonder if she knows more about things that she isn’t revealing yet.
JD: I think Mona always know more than she’s saying. She is an astonishingly observational character. She’s putting things together and she definitely knows more than she’s saying. She may not be right but she definitely knows more than she’s saying.
TVF: Is Toby getting more answers in his search and how will that impact his relationship with Spencer?
JD: He’s got some issues he wants to clean up and clarify. I think Spencer and Toby are going to have to start dealing with the fact that they have held back from each other quite a bit of information. As open and intensely connected as they are, they both have probably done things to challenge the relationship in their mutual searches.
TVF: We saw Ali in the mid-season finale. Will she be popping up again soon?
JD: Ali is very much important to the second half of the season. I would resist the phrase ‘popping up’ only because even when she is off-screen she’s so intimately involved with the activities and the actions of the people onscreen and with the four Liars. But the reality that they’re now dealing with, and you can see, this episode literally starts half an hour or 45 minutes after the Halloween episode. Ali is key to the second half of the season.
TVF: Shifting over to Ravenswood, what’s been the biggest challenge since it is a different genre and a different world from PLL?
JD: What we found out early on was that the audience really liked to be scared and really liked to be thrilled and really like to be thrown curves. Ravenswood kind of exists because of the strong reaction the fans had to the two Halloween episodes so it was an opportunity to continue that and to go further than we could go on Pretty Little Liars because we could not go that whole supernatural place.
TVF: And I had to remind myself that we’ve only had five episodes so far and so many things have already happened, which is good for the viewers and for the writers.
JD: A lot has happened. I think the five episodes that we’ll be running in January and February really kind of make a quantum leap in terms of that show and those characters. We’re coming from a place where you can see these five kids bonding. Friendship and people having your back beats at the heart of Pretty Little Liars and it beats at the heart of Ravenswood, as well.
The power of adolescence and the power of horror gelled in a way that we just barely broke the surface with in the first five. The fact that the two shows will be back to back now, I think it’s going to make a very strong night for our fans.
TVF: And I have to ask about the Caleb and Miranda relationship since fans are dying to know, no pun intended…
JD: It is a complicated relationship and we’re finding our way through. Hanna and Caleb are not done, you can see that. There’s just too much unfinished business for them. What I like to say is one of the reasons that Caleb feels in his heart that he has to make a commitment to help Miranda is because of the kind of person he’s turned into from knowing Hanna.
Knowing Hanna changed him and turned him into a stand-up guy who says ‘No, I promised this girl something and maybe I let her down but I have another chance here so I’m going to make it happen for her.” When we think about the romance, our references are things like Truly, Madly Deeply, a British film from the 80s. Oliver Goldstick [Exec Producer/Co-Creator] likes to talk about it as being the ultimate unrequited love so we don’t know what that relationship is going to look like.
TVF: The story with Remy and her dreams, will the others get pulled into that or is that her journey alone?
JD: The other kids are going to get involved with it because there’s a level to Remy’s experiences that you see in 106 and that’s really just the surface of that world and it gets more complicated as you get deeper into it. Britne [Oldford], who plays Remy, you just love to watch her as she goes through these things. I would like to point out we did not name her after Rapid Eye Movement (REM). It just worked out that way.
There’s a lot more going on than just sleepwalking. As Mrs. Grunwald would say, the veil is thinner in Ravenswood and dimensions cross. If you’re sensitive to it at all, it gives you great sensitivity and insight but then you’re seeing things that are not listed in TV Guide.
TVF: The little girl, Max, really creeped me out in this first episode back. How much creepier does she get?
JD: We love Max and she gets creepier. She gets really creepy. I guess Max is the way for a supernatural cross of Ali and Mona.
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and Ravenswood Season 1 at 9 p.m., both on ABC Family.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.