The actress tells PEOPLE about her character coming back from the dead and whether there's hope for Mona and Mike
Despite the camera panning to what looked like the geek turned queen bee’s corpse during the summer finale, the original A was actually kidnapped by Charles, who trapped her in his lifesize dollhouse and tried to brainwash her into being Alison (Sasha Pieterse). Creepy – especially considering we’re 99 percent sure Charles is Ali’s long-lost brother.
PEOPLE chatted with Parrish, 26, about her character’s resurrection, what’s next for the Liars and whether Mike (Cody Christian) and Mona shippers will be satisfied in season 6.
RELATED: I. Marlene King: You May Have Seen ‘Big A’ Charles Before the Finale
Welcome back from the dead! Did you always know that Mona wasn’t really gone?
No! Marlene [King] got me! She called me and told me that I was dead and not to worry, that I would still have a job but that it was going to be a lot less work than I had been doing before, which I was bummed about! I was happy to still have a job, but I was bummed that I wouldn’t be around as much as I had been before. And then about a week before we shot the finale, she called me and said, “You are alive.” And I was very happy to be back and kicking in Rosewood.
What were your castmates’ reactions when they found out you’d be returning for real?
I walked into the table read late, so I missed the initial reaction – I was doing Dancing with the Stars at the time – I walked in like 10 minutes late, everyone had been told, but when I walked in, everybody was like, “Awesome! You’re back! You’re alive!” I missed the shock, but I got the positive reaction, and it was very nice. I’m very happy all the fans seem to be happy that I’m back as well.
You looked pretty dead in that car trunk
I believe all that will be revealed as well in season 6, but the way I understand it is that she had been planning her death, and A got the best of her. The fight was real, and I believe that I was drugged, which is why my eyes were open when I was thrown into the back of the car.
I personally love that Charles is A and how it kind of pays homage to the twin twist in the books, but some viewers were upset it wasn’t one of the Liars or another character we’re already familiar with.
I know! Well, I believe that there’s a lot more to the story, and season 6 will explain more about Charles, but Marlene has been leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, as I understand it, to leave little hints here and there that Charles is around, and that Charles maybe is somebody that we’ve seen before, you just don’t know it yet. All of that will come to light. I know some fans were disappointed that they didn’t get to see Charles’s face, but now they have a name, and season 6 is going to be dedicated to finding out exactly who this person is and why A hates the girls so much.
As both an actor and a fan of the show, were you happy with the Big A reveal?
Definitely! I think that it’s so satisfying to finally have a name and to stop wondering, “Well maybe it’s this person, well maybe it’s that person.” Everybody in Rosewood at some point becomes a suspect, and it’s nice to have one person to focus on and find out who and why this person did it. I thought it was great. I thought it was extremely creepy, Spencer (Troian Bellisario) as always is the mastermind behind it. I loved it, I think it’s going to be a great season 6.
You had me for a minute there when Mona was acting like she really believed she was Ali. I was like, “Oh no, Mona’s A again! That makes me sad!” Was it fun playing her so shell-shocked?
I always have so much fun playing Mona because she’s always unpredictable, and she’s got so many sides to her, so many layers, and you never quite know what’s going on in her mind. I love the moment she lets everyone know she is Mona, that’s she’s playing this game – and that she’s playing this game because she’s terrified and she fears for her life if she doesn’t do what Charles wants her to do.
It was also nice to see Mona completely terrified and vulnerable for a second, because she’s always so smug. She knows how smart she is, she knows she’s usually a step ahead of everyone else, but this time, she’s not. This time, she can’t beat Charles, and she knows it.
Should we be concerned about Mona’s mental state once she’s freed? I know she was only acting like she believed she was Ali to appease Charles, but it seems like something so traumatizing would have an effect on someone who already has issues. She was in Radley for a reason.
I honestly think that we should be concerned for everybody’s mental state when they’re free. Because we’re going to start seeing in season 6 that the girls are going to be punished for their actions by A, and slowly we’ll start finding out more about what exactly happens to them, and I think think that they’re all going to leave the dollhouse pretty messed up. Everyone is going to have some serious scars when they leave the dollhouse.
Once the Liars escape Charles, do you think Mike and Mona will be able to reunite romantically?
I really hope so! They had such a sweet romance, and he killed me in that scene where he was talking about Mona being dead. I love working with Cody, I think he’s such a sweetheart, we have so much fun together, and so I really hope that there is a rekindled romance between the two of them.
When she got kidnapped by Charles, Mona and Ali were not on good terms. How will their relationship be once she escapes and Ali is freed from prison.
I don’t know that part yet. We just started production yesterday, so I’m not sure where that’s going to go. But I do hope that they can both reach a common ground, because they’ve been at war for so long, and Ali is not the monster that Mona thought she was, at least not anymore. So I hope that they can reach an alliance at some point.
I know you just started filming, but what are you most excited about for next season?
I’m excited for everyone, and also for myself, to find our more about Charles, because I know just as much as everyone else does. I have my theories the same as everyone else, but I don’t know the answers, so I’m looking to find them out as well.
Can you tell us one of your theories, just as pure speculation?
Yes. Out of pure speculation, I do think that Charles is a DiLaurentis, but I don’t know to what extent.