[Spoiler Alert: Stop reading now if you wish to remain in the dark about Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Episode 12. Major spoilers ahead]
Say it ain’t so!
The girl we loved to hate, Mona Vanderwaal, is dead.
However, in many ways, Mona ended up working with our Liars instead of against them in her finals hours - and her last act was a confirmation that Allison is definitely A.
Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen (it certainly seems so, right?) but from the look of her ransacked house when the Liars showed up, Mona shed a lot of blood. And, as we saw in the concluding shot of the episode (below), she’s no longer amongst the living.
The good news, as actress Janel Parrish told me this morning, is this: we haven’t seen the last of Mona. She’s still very much a part of the show. And while we didn’t talk the rumors about her joining the new season of Dancing With the Stars, it’s definitely good timing for her to take the dancing, don't you think?
TV Fanatic: I’m so sad to see Mona gone, but like you said in your online video post-episode last night, you’re not really gone, right?
Janel Parrish: She’s in the flashback world so I will still be a regular, I’ll be on the show but in a different way. It will be that beautiful Rosewood flashback light.
TVF: Backing up a little bit, when did Marlene sit you down and tell you?
JP: Marlene called me and when she called me I knew I was in trouble but she said ‘No, you’re not in trouble. You’re dead but you’re still on the show, which is great.’ And then I was like ‘Okay, I’m happy.’ She called me the day before we had our table read so I found out just before I got the script. I appreciated the call because I think if I had seen it just in the script, I would have thought. ‘Oh my God…’
TVF: What was the reaction from your cast mates at that table read when everyone found out?
JP: Oh, at first everyone was sad and they were like, ‘Oh, no!’ Then Marlene did a little speech and said ‘Don’t worry. She’s not going anywhere but she’s dead.’
TVF: And we do know that on PLL characters aren’t always truly dead because they can bring you back in other ways.
JP: Yeah, so basically I’m taking over Alison’s flashbacks from the past three seasons.
TVF: Do you think when the show is back we’ll get to actually see what happened? We lost some time from the time Mona gasps to the time the Liars find out.
JP: Yes, that scene will be revisited and it’s violent. Mona definitely does not go out without a fight and I’m proud of her for that. I wouldn’t want her to go down without fighting. Bloody handprints everywhere. She was fighting for her life.
TVF: I love the moment when you have that great gasp. That was a really great gasp! How much work went into that moment because it came off really genuine.
JP: Thank you! I want to do horror films sometime. I went with the moment. The director was in the room and I was looking in the mirror and he said ‘You hear the door, you turn around and A’ so I tried to feel that genuine terror I would feel if someone just walked into the room and realized I was probably about to die.
TVF: There’s a moment earlier in the episode where Mona is helping the girls but Emily says that essentially it doesn’t mean they’re going to be besties. Do you think the girls are being too harsh on Mona?
JP: I don’t know. I think it’s a very reluctant partnership on both ends. Mona means it that she doesn’t want to be friends and she doesn’t like the way they’ve treated her and at times she’s been against them but at this point they have a common enemy and they need to unite otherwise they’re all going down. I don’t think they’re being too harsh if they say ‘We don’t like each other but we have to work together.’
TVF: I loved that there were some nods to the academic rivalry of Spencer and Mona in the episode, too.
JP: I think it keeps it really fun and real, actually. These girls are fighting against this force that is A and trying to figure out what’s happening and who killed who but it’s important to remember they’re still in high school and they’re dealing with real things like college and school rivalry so I think it’s always fun whenever you have a little glimpse of that.
TVF: This wasn’t in last night’s episode but do you think Mona really had feelings for Mike or was it just a way to be closer to Aria?
JP: No, I think they had a really sweet, genuine relationship and I think you’re going to see how that affects Mike in future episodes. It’s so heartbreaking.
TVF: She’s is his first love, right?
JP: Yeah, and I think he might be her first love, too.
TVF: Tell me your reaction to what the fans were saying online when the episode was airing last night.
JP: I was so happy that people were sad that I was dead. I thought ‘Oh, I feel so loved!’ In the episodes on the way to the finale I was getting a lot of angry tweets from people. They were not liking Mona and not liking the way things were going and then this last episode she redeemed herself. She helps the girls, figures out the mystery and then dies. So I was getting a lot of people saying ‘No! Just when I realized I liked Mona she dies!’
TVF: do you think it helped that we also saw some nice moments with Mona and her mother last night?
JP: Yeah, I think honestly the insight into Mona’s life at home with her Mom and how sweet their relationship, It adds to that Mona is a real person and she has feelings and a family and then she dies. It adds to the heartbreak of it!
TVF: Was there any scene in last night’s episode that was harder than others to play?
JP: It was so hard to keep my eyes open! It was three in the morning and I was tired and my eyes were heavy but I just had to keep them open. It was hard!
TVF: I wondered if maybe they did a freeze frame because it looked so real and you did a great job not moving
JP: Thank you! I did that myself and I’m really proud of myself. But it was hard!
TVF: Do you think in future episodes when we see Mona that we might appreciate her differently than we have in the past?
JP: I really hope so and I think that will be the case and think that Mona flashbacks will help us understand her a lot better.
TVF: Will we see Mona in the Halloween episode?
JP: Well, the Halloween episode is a fan love letter from us where we show the last five years in clips and interviews with us. I will be in the Christmas episode, which is like the new Halloween episode special, but it’s still an episode with lots of questions and answers so I’ll be in that.
The Pretty Little Liars Halloween clip episode airs October 21. The Christmas episode is set to air in December on ABC Family.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.