'Pretty Little Liars' Producers: Are You Really That Surprised About Toby?

"His darkness isn't coming out of nowhere,” EP says at Thursday's TCA.

Plus, more highlights from the panel!
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The fan reaction to the reveal of Toby (Keegan Allen) as a member of the “A” team on the midseason finale of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars was so insane that executive producer Marlene King told reporters a Mom even called the EP's offices asking to speak to the head of television. But, fellow executive producer Oliver Goldstick says fans shouldn’t have been that surprised by the character’s evil turn.

"His darkness isn't coming out of nowhere,” Goldstick said during the show’s panel at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena Thursday morning. “This is not a betrayal of his character. It's actually a reminder of where we started, coming fill circle."

If you can recall, Toby was an outcast when the show first started after he returned from reform school. Even the Liars thought he killed Alison (Sasha Pieterse) at the time.

Goldstick and King, along with Allen and cast members Troian Bellisario (Spencer) and Shay Mitchell (Emily)  were all on hand at TCA to dish on what’s to come on Season 3B,  just how long the show can last and the “A” of it all.

Of course the biggest storyline fans will see on this half of the third season will be the reveal of Toby as an “A” team member to the Liars, specifically Spencer. King told reporters, “It's a mind-blowing storyline that we had a lot of fun with.”

She remarked that in previous seasons, “A” has really gone after Emily but with this revelation the storyline really shifts to Spencer’s direction. Bellisario noted that her storyline this year, “was truly beyond anything that [she] ever imagined that you guys would allow me to have” calling it an “amazing” and “harrowing” experience.

As for the “A” storyline in the long term, King revealed, “We always know who 'uber-A' is. I don’t think we could be successful doing what we’re doing if we don’t have the final answer.”

Goldstick added, “But it's very specific as far as season to season, because we really do begin the season knowing what the end of the season is and try to work backward from that as well. There are tentpoles that we create, that we mount and then just say, 'OK, we have to get to this.' But as far as knowing, yes, we have a plan. But if it were that direct and straightforward, there wouldn't be a lot of twists, and a lot of fun along the way. There are a lot of detours.”

King remarked that they try to keep fans satisfied by “giving little bits and pieces of the puzzle” while targeting “mysteries within the big mystery” noting that “part of the fun of the show is everybody trying to figure out who ‘A’ is.”

As for the longevity of the show, King noted that Sara Shepard, who writes the books the show is based upon, is now 12 or  13 books into the series showing them that they can keep the mystery going.

Goldstick also noted that the show doesn’t play as real time and joked, “They’re going to be the Golden Girls’ Liars.”

Other highlights from the panel included:

  • King told reporters that Episode 16, which she directed, is “Misery-themed” whereas the “finale pays homage to [classic Hitchock film] North by Northwest.”
  • The show’s premiere on Tuesday accounted for 52 percent of all of Tuesday’s TV Twitter activity.
  • Mitchell says getting into her Converse sneakers to play Emily “really does help” noting that in real life she is “probably the girliest” of all the actresses.
  • The girls really want one of them to be on the “A” team. “I think we’ve all been kind of begging for that,” Bellisario said. “It’s so much fun to be the villain. And especially on our show because there’s so many crazy directions that they can think up.”
Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays at 8PM on ABC Family.

What do you about the Toby and Spencer storyline? How are you hoping he will be revealed to the Liars? Give us your theories in the comments below!

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  • Lauri
    Lauri

    I am really hoping that Toby will be ultimately good. I was proud to have my kids see that love brings good. It was a good moral. I am hoping that he started A - stopped being A for Spencer and was back to A to protect her. I am thinking their is a reasonable suspicion that Spencer killed Ali and he is doing this to protect her. Which is why he is A now. Also why he got Mona to try to recruit her to A, and Garrett Saved her by pushing Ian - Garret said he tried to save her and he liked her . It can all tie in.