While we've seen some photos of happy times in Rosewood during the Christmas-themed Pretty Little Liars Season 5 Episode 13, don't expect the darker side of the ABC Family hit to take a break.
In fact, the recently deceased Mona is back...as a ghost who visits Alison in an homage to A Christmas Carol. And Hanna will get a gift from her dearly departed friend that sparks flashbacks and stories for her.
And what is A up to in the midst of all this? I figured the best person to ask is the creator of the show, Marlene King, who provided some intel into what we'll see in the holiday episode and in the new episodes that kick off in January...
TV Fanatic: Since you haven’t done a Christmas episode before, was there an opportunity to do some things you hadn’t before for this episode?
Marlene King: There are so many fantastic things that we haven’t done. I think one of my most favorite things about this episode is that it just looks different from any other episode we’ve ever seen of Pretty Little Liars.
TVF: Just looking at the episode photos, it’s so nice to see scenes where most of the cast is together!
MK: I love it. I love those scenes and the actors love it when they all get to be together. This episode is so festive and that, too, is so different for us. We rarely get to see them all onscreen at the same time and it’s really fun to see how their dynamics shift and change and how they all interact.
TVF: How much is Mona’s death affecting everybody in the episode?
MK: It’s definitely on the forefront of everyone’s mind, especially Hanna’s. She was the closest to Mona and she has a flashback early on in the episode that helps launch her story. Mona is very much a part of the story as she visits Alison in our Christmas Carol running theme in the show.
TVF: Is Janel playing Mona as a ghost or is she playing someone else?
MK: I think you can describe yourself if this is a dream or if she’s really a ghost. It’s for the fans to decide.
TVF: I love with the Halloween episodes in the past and this Christmas episode that they’re not one-offs and you touch on the various stories. For example, I saw a photo of Emily and Paige. What’s going on with them in the episode?
MK: I think we find them at an important place in their relationship as well as all our couples. Christmas is such an interesting time of the year. It either brings people together or separates them and we certainly explore that theme in this episode.
TVF: Hanna also gets a visit from a lawyer with someone from Mona. What can you say about that?
MK: Mona leaves a gift upon her demise that was intended to be sent to Hanna from Mona and that really jump starts the story of the episode.
TVF: Where is A in all this? Is he/she pulling some puppet strings in this episode?
MK: It’s interesting. A tells the Pretty Little Liars at the beginning that A wants to observe Christmas and take a holiday but the Liars are the ones who are jump starting the story so A doesn’t get to take the holiday.
TVF: Any other show, I would think a holiday episode would be lighter and fun but this is Pretty Little Liars…
MK: I think the easiest way to describe the episode is that it’s A Christmas Carol meets Rear Window. We play a very large homage to Hitchcock in this episode by honoring Rear Window. It’s a very suspenseful runner in this episode.
TVF: I’m still conflicted how I should feel about Alison. Should I trust her or not trust her? Do we get any resolution into how we should feel about her?
MK: I don’t know if you get resolution but you certainly get insight. There’s a scene that Mona shows to Alison when she’s representing the Ghost of Christmas Past and it is a moment in Ali’s life that she has forgotten. Mona shows it to her and we really understand why Ali is who she is.
TVF: What’s Ali’s relationship with the other Liars in this episode? Are they together?
MK: She is estranged from the girls but they do attend the Ice Ball so you’ll have to watch the episode to see what happens.
TVF: We’ve got new episodes coming in January. How would you describe them?
MK: It’s a really exciting time for us in Rosewood when we come back in 5B. A lot happens quickly, there are a lot of insights shared, there are a lot of clues given and there are some really fascinating twists that are taking us to the revelation of who A is.
Pretty Little Liars' Christmas episode airs Tuesday at 8/7c on ABC Family. The second half of Pretty Little Liars Season 5 begins airing on January 6 on ABC Family.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.