'Pretty Little Liars' Star Sasha Pieterse: The Big 'A' Reveal Is 'Dark' and 'Twisted'

"It's literally going to blow their minds," Pieterse predicts of fans' reaction to the season finale

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Innocent or guilty?

That’s the question Pretty Little Liars‘ reformed mean girl Alison DiLaurentis (Sasha Pieterse) faces ahead of Tuesday’s episode, when a judge will hand down the verdict in her trial for rival Mona Vanderwaal’s (Janel Parrish) murder.

But Pieterse promises the biggest shock will come when Big “A” is unmasked.

“I’m just really excited for the fans to see this A in a new light,” Pieterse, 19, tells PEOPLE. “It’s more disheartening and sad than anything.”

Read on to hear her thoughts on the cliffhanger to come, next week’s finale, how her character has developed and if there’s any hope for stragglers still shipping Emison.

In the next episode, we see the verdict in Alison’s case. Can you give us any hints about what happens?
There’s not a lot that I can tell you about that, but [laughs] obviously Alison is in a lot of trouble either way, whether she’s convicted or not. But there’s a lot of bad stuff headed for the girls as well. I personally love this cliffhanger – I think it’s the best cliffhanger we’ve had in the history of the show. You find out a lot about A and the twisted nature of the way he/she works. I think the biggest shocker you’ll see too is the way the sixth season is heading and everything I know about it, it’s actually so exciting because [show creator I.] Marlene [King] has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. I love the way this episode turned out, and I think the fans will, too.

I’ve spoken to a few of your castmates, and some of them knew who Big A is before getting the script for the reveal, some of them didn’t. Did you choose to know ahead of time?
I did, I wanted to know. What I think is kind of funny too is they always tell one person something different and the other person something else, so we kind of come together like, ‘Did you hear this? Did you hear this? Well what do you think about this? Do you think this is true?’ So they kind of either pit us against each other or really make us try to figure it out through different pieces, which I think is kind of fun. Kind of in the nature of the show, too.

But I do know who this person is, and it’s very twisted, and I don’t think anyone will see it coming. It’s not something that you would expect or even that the viewers would be like, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’ It’s actually very dark, especially for this kind of TV show. I enjoy it, and I think it’s got great places to go, and I know the writers are having a ball continuing writing for the sixth season and planning for the seventh season. We’re very lucky, and I think the fans, it’s literally going to blow their minds.

It seems like Ali has finally come clean about everything to her friends, especially now that she admitted to Hanna (Ashley Benson) that she was in touch with A after her mother’s death. But can they really trust her completely?

I honestly think that they can. I think at this point she doesn’t have anything else to lose, and in her mind, she’s probably going to be convicted of a murder that she didn’t commit. She can’t get away from anything, so there’s really no reason for her to continue to lie anymore. So I really do think that you can trust her now. All the information that I have about Alison now is that she is telling the truth, she just wants this whole nightmare to be over and she knows that it’s far from that. And I think also that she’s worried about the girls, whether they consider her a friend or not or whether they’re willing to start over with her. She still cares about them.

Are we going to learn what happened to her a couple weeks back when it seemed like she was attacked in the prison laundry room? We saw your face looking scared, and then the camera cut away. Later, she had a bandage on her arm.
Yes, you will, but also, this person, whether it be someone that A hired or A, you’re not going to really know. But, that being said, she got burned with an iron, which was really fun for me, actually, because of the kind of burn that our makeup artist Cindy ended up putting on my arm. It’s a lot of fun for me to be able to do all those crazy, weird things, and it looked really, really real, which makes it also feel more real for me, too. You’ll find out all those details, and [laughs] I just cannot even begin to describe the surprises that our fans are in store for. This is an insane episode.

Until this season, everyone thought Ali was dead, and all of your scenes were flashbacks or what looked like dream sequences. At what point did Marlene and the writers tell you that Ali would be coming back in the flesh?
Well, I figured at some point just because of the books that – either if they were going to go the twin route or Alison – someway or another my character would probably be alive. But I never knew how they were going to do it or when they were going to do it, and so when they sat me down and were like, ‘Okay, in this season, this is what’s going to happen,’ I was just so excited because it’s a totally new revamp of my character and I get to play so many different versions of Alison, and I knew I was going to be able to explore her more.

When you’re on a TV show – as much as Alison’s character even in flashbacks was never, ever boring – but when you play the same character for a period of time, sometimes you get into a rut of doing the same thing every day. I never have that problem on Pretty Little Liars, especially now that I got to basically change my view on Alison and what I thought of her, which also changes what people think of her as well. This has just been really fun for me, and it’s been so nice to work with the writers to figure out what they want Alison to come across as.

Fans have a lot of different, wild theories about who A could be, some of them, like the twin thing, coming from the books, some of them coming from clues in the episode. What is your favorite, craziest one you’ve heard about, even if it’s not true?
I’ve heard a lot of different crazy theories, from fans actually and from other costars, but I think the one that’s always stuck with me is Maya being A. I think that’s actually, whether that’s true or not, it’s actually a really good idea because generally in our show the person is only dead if you see their face, and Maya was really the only person that died that you didn’t actually see her face, she was in a body bag. I think that’s actually kind of clever, whether it’s true or not. You never know on our show anyway, but that was kind of interesting and not as far-fetched as you think – but you never know.

What I love about the show is that even if you find out this A, there’s always going to be another one.
Exactly – well, not necessarily, though, not necessarily. This is kind surprising and you might know more than you think you will.

Can you say anything about the Twitter theory that Mona’s note is an anagram for someone with the last name DiLaurentis, either Charles or Rachel S.? Do you think people are hot or cold with that guess?
[Laughs.] I actually don’t know how much I can say about that, but I would say that they’re getting warmer.

She could be playing with us, you never know, but Marlene Instagrammed a photo of both Hanna and Emily in orange jumpsuits in the finale.
She’s right about that. I can’t tell you the context necessarily but there’s some truth to that photo. And I was kind of surprised when I saw it, so it will be interesting to see the fans’ reaction to that. There’s a lot of crazy things that happen to the girls at the end of the season, so I think the fans are either going to be really sad or angry or – I think it’s going to bring out a whole range of emotions.

I interviewed Shay Mitchell a few weeks back, and she told me she was shocked to learn that people are still shipping Ali and Emily – and a little bit disturbed by that. Do you think they should get together for real? How authentic do you think Ali s feelings were for Emily?

I think that Alison was so confused in her state, too, and I think she was just manipulating Emily to a degree but also trying to figure out her own feelings. I don’t think it was genuine in the fact that she was really looking for a relationship, and after everything that happened and all the trust that was broken, I don’t think realistically that they would ever have a relationship, which is going to crush all of our Emison fans.

But I kind of do agree with Shay in the fact that looking at the history these two have had with each other, I think it’s toxic more than anything.

You touched on this a little bit, but what are you most excited about for season 6?
I don’t know everything that’s going to happen, we’re actually just about to start filming, so I’m really excited see what they have in store for us, but I think mainly what I’m excited about is to see the progress of what we know about A and also what my character’s going to go through, because she needs some serious help. So I know that they have plans for that, for her mental well-being, so that’s going to be fun for me. And I think the fans will enjoy that because you’re going to find out even more about what’s happened to Alison and why she’s gotten to the state of mind that she’s in and why she’s chosen to lie about all these things.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC Family.

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