"'By the end of Season 3, you'll have a clear idea of whether or not you can still love Toby,' teases [creator, Marlene] King."
Toby's (Keegan Allen) reveal as part of the "A" team in the mid-season finale was definitely a shocker, but the writers of Pretty Little Liars assure us that this new depth to Toby's character is really just building on the foundation they've built since the very beginning.
We will get to learn more about Toby's motivations though, namely in a flashback this season involving Alison (Sasha Pieterse).
Pretty Little Liars writer and executive producer, Oliver Goldstick told Zap2It a little bit about it.
"The flashback will reveal a visit Allison made to Toby while he was in juvenile detention. 'The question is, what was he doing with Spencer, and with Emily?' says Goldstick. 'Was this all part of a Machiavellian plan to get in and then expose them and destroy them? Was he trying to get them as vulnerable as possible to turn them inside out? You're going to get to see a great flashback, where Allison goes to visit him in juvie. It'll reveal the A of it all. You'll go 'Oh, my, this was the beginning of it all.' That's the fourth or fifth episode.'"
Otherwise known as episode 16, "Misery Loves Company" or episode 17, "Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Inferno". But where does this leave poor Spencer (Troian Bellisario), especially once she finds out about Toby's involvement?
"'Spencer is at the end of her tether, a depth of despair, and we'll question whether she can come out,' Goldstick says. 'The actress was like 'Do it. Go deeper, make it harder.' That's who Troian is, truly. Keep an eye on that girl. I've been doing this a long time. ... She's funny, she's fearless, she's incredibly sensitive, she's authentic, and living in the moment. Her performance is really remarkable. She sustained something and built on it and made you feel for her every step of the way.'"
"'In the way that we saw Emily be pushed to her breaking point [last season], we see Spencer pushed to her breaking point,' says King. "The sheer understanding that Toby -- her soulmate, her safe place to land -- is on the A Team devastates her. There's nothing left for her to care about after that.'"
As far as the finale itself, showrunner, Marlene King also told Zap2It that, following the Alfred Hitchcock finale theme, the season 3 finale will be influenced by North by Northwest.
"'Watch the movie. I think if fans pay attention to the journey that we're taking this year, and the things I've said about the journey that we're taking this year, you'll have several clues about how 'North By Northwest' is incorporated. It worked beautifully, actually,' says King.
"'Going into the finale of Season 3B, as much as I tried to not worry about it, because I wrote that episode, [having a twist] was definitely on my mind,' says King. '[Toby] was a shocking revelation, so how do we come up with a finale that feels as big as that, and also satisfying? I think we have. It's a really fun, kick-a** finale.'"
If you've seen North by Northwest, you'll know it's about mistaken identity - which sure sounds like it fits in with all this "A" business, doesn't it? But who is Carey Grant's Roger O. Thornhill in the Pretty Little Liars universe? Toby, perhaps? Make your guesses in the comments!