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‘Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin’ Bosses Explain How They Landed on Their ‘A’

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring tell TheWrap the teens won’t simply be able to easily move on from the traumas of Season 1

Spoiler alert! This post contains spoilers for the finale of HBO Max’s “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.”

“Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” came to an end this week, and we finally got answers about the man behind the mask. As it turns out, “A” was Angela Waters’ brother, who was acting at the direction of their father — the principal of Millwood High School. And, as TheWrap learned, it was a twist that wasn’t ironed out when bosses Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring entered the writers room.

“We had a list of possible suspects, but it was probably around halfway through the writers room where we landed on the idea that Angela would have a brother,” Aguirre-Sacasa told TheWrap.

After being stalked by an anonymous assailant, who was forcing them to pay for their mothers’ transgressions, the Liars, who also have personal traumas, won’t simply be able to move on.

In a new interview with TheWrap, the creators explain how they formulated their ending, and where they hope to take the Liars from here.

TheWrap: I definitely wasn’t expecting that ‘A’ reveal. Did you know who ‘A’ would be before you started writing, or did you figure that out along the way?

Roberto Aguirre-Scasa: I don’t think we knew exactly when we started who he was going to be. I think we had a list of possible suspects, but it was probably around halfway through the writers room where we landed on the idea that Angela would have a brother.

Lindsay Calhoon Bring: It’s funny. Some mysteries have stayed exactly the same, but as Roberto said, we did have many suspects going into the writers room. One of the things we talked about was, ‘Gosh, so much of this happens in school and the girls are often tormented by things they are talking about [in school].’ It would make perfect sense for someone in that environment to be ‘A.’ So that story really coalesced about midseason for us.

So when you made the final decision on who ‘A’ would be, did you have to go back and change anything?

Bring: No, we didn’t. We definitely did add some things and start trying to lay more things down in the second half, but there were some things that felt very kismet, like meant to be. Early on in Episode 2, we loved that line where principal Clanton tells Imogen ‘Like mother like daughter.’ And we thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that docks so well with the story we’re telling.’ So that felt really fun.

Aguirre-Sacasa: There was one episode that didn’t have principal Clanton and then we added him back in. I mean, I think one of the last things we added in was actually in Episode 1, which was the janitor kill, which we feel also kind of ties the school and Principal Clanton to ‘A.’ Why did no one talk about the janitor getting killed? It’s because Principal Clanton made it all go away. There’s also one scene I can’t remember what it is, I think Tabby is talking about her movie, and Principal Clanton says something like, ‘I wish the world was a kinder place to young women.’ I think we wrote it alluding to Angela.

I’m glad you brought up Tabby. The growing friendship between Imogen and Tabby was a highlight of the season for me. Can you talk more about building that relationship through this really heartbreaking, traumatic shared experience of being sexually assaulted by the same person?

Bring: That’s a beautiful episode. We love that episode. Early on, we knew being in the ‘PLL’ universe, we wanted to give service to original fans by making a trip to Rosewood. We also wanted that to be really meaningful and make sense for the story we were telling. Roberto and I were talking one day about what we were going to bring the writers room, and Roberto had mentioned the movie ‘Thelma and Louise’ — how ultimately that movie really is a road trip with two women bonding over trauma. So we thought, to your point about having singing and joy, we have to tell a story that lets these girls be young women who have fun in a fancy hotel room and get room service. Through that joy, we could still bond them and they can still open up to each other. I think it’s honest, that closeness and that friendship that they have is what allowed them to tell each other their stories. I think was so important in the DNA of the episode to get Imogen comfortable enough to tell Tabby what Tabby told her at the beginning. It really important to us that that the story didn’t end with Chip. And that was something that stayed the same from our pitch to the end. And part of that was just speaking about the realness of that story and the statistics of that story. The idea that this could be someone that both of these girls knew and that one of these girls was really good friends with was hugely heartbreaking, but also a very real story and a very grounded version of that story for us.

How did you develop the ending for Imogen, having to reconcile with who her mother really was compared to who she perceived her to be?

Aguirre-Sacasa: Similar to not knowing exactly who ‘A’ was when we began, there were like two or three open questions like that when the writers room stared. One of them was did Davie kill herself or was Davie murdered? And that’s very much tied to who is Davie, really. I think one of the things we talked about was that the most powerful journey for Imogen would be not to discover that her mother had been murdered but that her mother really wrestled with who she was as a teen girl and the awful things she did, that she regretted and felt guilty about and that it ultimately was up to Imogen to absorb the two different versions of her mother and choose which one she wanted to remember and hold on to. That felt like it completed Imogen’s journey as opposed to just ‘Oh, I knew my mom was a good person’ or ‘I knew she couldn’t have done that.’ It felt like the more complicated version that was definitely something that developed as we were in the room throughout.

I also want to ask about Kelly. She’s struggled more so than the other girls to find support through her trauma, and now she’ll have to cope with her father dying too. How might she handle that going forward?

Aguirre-Sacasa: On Friday, we took our own little mini road trip to Ohio, à la Imogen and Tabby. While we were driving, we were brainstorming and spitballing about Season 2, and one of the things that we talked about was that all the girls have been through a traumatizing experience. They were terrorized by this guy who was going to kill them all in the school gymnasium. That also includes Kelly, who witnessed trauma upon trauma and was traumatized by her father and her family life. The idea is that in the second season, it wouldn’t be like all is forgotten emotionally from Season 1. The girls are still dealing with what they experienced.

I think everyone will be wondering if Aria and Ezra adopting Imogen’s baby means that Lucy Hale and/or Ian Harding might make an appearance?

Bring: I think we’ve always said the door to Millwood is always open. So we should be so lucky to get to have an appearance from Ian or Lucy. That would be incredible. I think it’ll just be about where the story takes us and where we find Imogen in a post pregnant world. She spent the entire season up until the final moments of the show pregnant and literally carrying her trauma with her.