This should come as no surprise, but expect a healthy heaping of drama when Pretty Little Liars returns to finish out its third season on January 8. On a conference call with reporters, showrunner Marlene King assured us that all the characters and couples are in for a rocky road in the second half of season three. 

“No one escapes the drama in season 3b,” King assured.

But could some of that drama come as a result of a male character questioning his sexuality? Pretty Little Liars has been highlighted as a show which handles the issue of gay teenagers with sensitivity and reality. This is due in large part to Emily Fields, played by actress Shay Mitchell, who is not only a core member of the liars but also a lesbian.

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The show has received a GLAAD nomination this year, and rightfully so, as Emily’s dating life always gets as much drama, heartbreak, and attention as her straight counterparts. It shouldn’t be, but that’s rare on television.

King touched on how attached fans were to Emily’s first love Maya, citing her character as the hardest time they’ve had killing off a character…and they’ve certainly killed many!

So when asked about where the gay boys are in Rosewood, King admitted the writing staff had been toying with the idea.

“We actually have been talking about revealing that a character we’ve already established on the show might be questioning his sexuality,” King said. “So it’s possible that you will be seeing that.”

Who could it be? Your guess is as good as mine, but that’s not all King had to say about the upcoming season.

When asked about what’s coming up for Emily and new love Paige she responded with the obvious: more drama of course!

“They have some great and very grounded drama about what it’s like to be a couple and learning to trust. Their relationship was, in some part, based on original missteps,” King said. “So they have real drama and issues to overcome that are just natural to any new relationship like that.”

Fans can also expect Spencer to have a hard time dealing with the news her dedicated boyfriend and first love Toby is actually playing for the ‘A’ team. King admitted that while they never wavered on the decision to have Toby don the black hoodie, they were concerned with how fans would react.

“I did have concerns about how the fans would react to it. And actually the reaction was much more positive than I thought it would be,” King said. “I was afraid there was going to be some backlash of people being devastated–and some people are. But I think the majority of our fans were so thrilled to be completely surprised by that reveal that they allowed us to turn that character dark and get away with it.”

Not bad for a character King admitted the writing staff hadn’t intended to be as integral to the show as Toby has become. She chalked his expanding role up to the performance by actor Keegan Allen. Now that he’s an official member of the ‘A’ team, we can expect his motivations for terrorizing the liars to be explored when the show returns.

Plus it certainly won’t be smooth sailing ahead for fans of the Spencer and Toby relationship. According to King, the third episode back will be the one to look out for when it comes to the Spencer and Toby of it all.

“I directed my first episode this coming season, it’s the third episode in, and there’s a lot of deep, deep emotion that begins with that episode and is carried throughout the rest of the season,” King revealed. “It’s so powerful and so gut-wrenching.  Troian Bellisario did such an amazing job for us this year.”

On the Ezra and Aria front, expect Ezra’s baby mama drama to continue in the New Year. And will little brother Wesley cause a problem for our favorite May-December power duo?

“You should watch for yourself and see if Aria and Wesley have a connection,” King advised.

When asked about Ezra and Aria’s storyline coming up, King described it as heartfelt and emotional. We will be seeing sides of Ezra and Aria we might not have seen before.

“We get to see them go through some real life drama and real life emotions,” King said. “They really sort of dig deep in terms of how soulful their connection is.” 

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Other things to look out for in the coming half-season is a return of a character from the web series Pretty Dirty Secrets, some bonding between Mona and Jason, and even a peak into Lucas’ bedroom.

For all those worrying the show is flying by the seat of its proverbial pants, King assured us the endgame has always been in place.

“We really try to know where we’re going with things. In addition to the big mystery of the show–who is ‘A’ and who killed Alison–when we have these mini-mysteries we always try to know the beginning, middle, and the end before we start,” King said.

“I think it’s mostly well thought out, but every once in a while we’ll have a fantastic surprise of an actor bringing something special to the story and we’ll integrate that into the plan.  We know what the endgame of the series will be, what the ultimate reveal will be in the final episode. So it’s been really fun being on this path and this journey to get to that place.”

We’ll come a little closer to solving all these mysteries when Pretty Little Liars returns to ABC Family on January 8 at 8pm. Until then, we’ll just be here trying to puzzle out which Rosewood fella might be stepping out of the closet.

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(Image courtesy of ABC Family)

Morgan Glennon

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV