The present is looking bleak for the ladies of Pretty Little Liars.
When we saw them last, Aria (Lucy Hale), Hanna (Ashley Benson), Emily (Shay Mitchell), Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and a newly alive Mona (Janel Parrish) were trapped in Charles DiLaurentis’ lair, wearing tattered prom dresses.
So it makes sense that Hale, 25, is excited to see the characters’ future when PLL flashes forward in season 6 – a first for the show built on crimes from the past.
“For the first time, we get to venture out of high school, we get to grow up a little bit. We haven’t shot these episodes yet, but we’re doing hopefully a significant time jump,” Hale tells PEOPLE. “So just to see if the girls are dealing with the same issues, if A is still around, how much they’ve grown up. I’m curious to see how Aria is going to dress, what her job is, does she have pets? I want her to have a pet really bad!”
Though the teens have been bonded by tragedy, the Liars may not really be best friends forever.
“It’s just cool to see how they’ve evolved. From my knowledge, they’re going to go their own separate ways for a little bit,” Hale adds. “We still have a season and a half to go, so I’m sure there’s going to be more turmoil and craziness and everything.”
Let’s rewind: The season 6 premiere does pick up right where the season 5 finale left off, Hale says, and the trailer shows Rosewood’s wrongfully convicted criminals trying to escape a still unseen Charles.
Aria’s hair is once again colored pink – the same punk look she rocked before moving to Iceland. Could Big A be forcing them to relive the night Alison (Sasha Pieterse) disappeared?
Hale dances around our theory (“How can I answer this without getting into trouble … “) but hints there’s more to the ‘do than meets the eye.
“We’re literally in the middle of nowhere, essentially in a cage,” she says. “It’s kind of like a life and death situation as per usual on the show – literally, this time. So the girls are like caged animals, that’s the only way I can really describe it.
“The pink hair is back, but not in the way that you think it’s actually happening, if that makes sense. Because if you notice, I’ve got the pink hair and my new haircut.”
As for the clip showing Ali in the exact top she wore to Spencer’s doomed sleepover?
“The return of the infamous yellow shirt!” Hale teases. “I always ask Sasha, ‘What do you think of that shirt?’ And she’s like, ‘I’m definitely over it by now.’ Poor thing, she’s always in the flashbacks, so she gets to wear one outfit, and all the other girls are wearing five an episode.”
We know Mona was “Original A” and Charles is “Big A,” but PLL‘s cast and crew have suggested there’s one last baddie to be unmasked, the so-called “Über A.”
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That means fans who’ve been building the case that Aria is A – check out Tumblr to comb through the evidence – still have a shot at being right. (For the record, showrunner I. Marlene King told PEOPLE in March, “That’s a good theory.”)
“At the beginning of the show, I was playing Detective Lucy, and I was trying to figure out what was going on, what was going to happen, and I’ve always been proven wrong,” Hale says. “I don’t know where they’re going. Obviously any actor on the show would love to be the ultimate A, because who doesn’t want to play the bad guy? That’s really fun.
“It might be someone we haven’t met yet, it might be someone who’s been there all along. I don’t know if the writers have even figured it out yet. Even for the actors, I think that’s why it’s fun, because we’re just as in the dark as everyone else.”
Get the answers when Pretty Little Liars season 6 premieres June 2 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family.