Spencer and Toby kissed and made up toward the end of Pretty Little Liars’ summer season, but it looks like the Spoby drama will reach a boiling point when Season 4 returns this winter. (Can these two ever catch a break?)
Toby wasn’t happy that Spencer told the Liars about his mom, but Spencer knows just how much damage a secret can do to a friendship. Will Toby be able to trust Spencer again? Wetpaint Entertainment chatted with Pretty Little Liars scribe — and Ravenswood co-creator — Joseph Dougherty about Spencer and Toby’s arc in the upcoming Season 4B, particularly in the episode Joseph wrote and directed, Episode 19 (“Shadow Play”). If there’s anything better than Spoby, it’s film noir Spoby!
Wetpaint Entertainment: Pretty Little Liars is heavily influenced by film noir. So how excited are you for Episode 19?
Joseph Dougherty: Every step of the process has been more exciting that the step that’s come before. When we started doing it, it was with a certain amount of trepidation, but we had a tremendous amount of support from ABC Family. We’ve been moving in this direction for some time, and the fans have been going with us. But I have to say, it turned out — I haven’t seen the edit yet, just based on looking at dailies —it came out amazing. Every time we sat down and looked at the monitors, because we were getting black and white images on the monitors, we were like, “Oh my god. That looks insane!” It’s arguable the most beautiful episode we’ve ever done.
Was the cast excited for the episode?
They were! They were excited to do it. They were excited to look differently. They were excited to play slight variations of the characters they’ve been playing up until now. That excitement wasn’t restricted to the cast. Everybody on the crew was excited about it as well. Actually, we had one day where everyone dressed up like a film noir film crew. It was a wonderful experience to direct when everybody was having a great time!
What about the tone of the episode? Will it feel different for viewers? Obviously, when the Liars ventured into Ravenswood, it had a very different feel to it.
I think everyone is going to be at home with it. You will recognize it as an episode of Pretty Little Liars. It’s not alien. It’s just a slightly different approach. It’s certainly related to what I was able to do with the second Halloween episode. A lot of things have happened since that second Halloween episode. Ravenswood, to a large extent, comes out of the success of that episode. The audience was there for something that was a little scarier and had the supernatural aspects. It was an opportunity to build more events.
And I think the fact that Ravenswood looks different — not different in a way that’s jarring — it’s part of the message we wanted to send when we created the show. This is for the Pretty Little Liars fans. This is definitely for people who enjoyPLL. We want them to enjoy this show. But we didn’t want the exact same show. We wanted to tell slightly different stories in slightly different ways. The thing I always says is that we’ve got a lot of books in this library, and we want to read you a few different stories. We want to scare people, but we want to do it our way.
It sounds like this is going to be a very Spencer-centric episode. What can you tell me about Spencer in Season 4B?
As you know with Spencer, her spring is wound tight. We’ve seen that Spencer is vulnerable. With her experiences last season, and the events that landed her in Radley, she’s tremendously smart, but I think she’s vulnerable. I think the other three girls look at what happened with her in Radley — and this is not a conversation that happened on screen — but I think they’re saying to themselves, “We really shouldn’t let Spencer take all of this on by herself. Maybe it’s time to protect her a little bit.”
Let’s talk about the relationships in Episode 19. We know it’s a good one for Paily fans, but what about Spencer and Toby? Is it going to be a big one for them as well?
Yes! Yes it is. Again, much of 4x19 is about the relationships, as they’ve been created over the last three or years, but everything is heightened and intensified. That means the emotions you’re used to will be intensified. There will be an intense attraction between the two of them, but at the same time, these are two people who have kept secrets from each other, and that has had an affect on their personal trust level. There’s still things being worked out there, so there’s an intensity in the relationship that you’ll see between Spencer and Toby.
Everything gets turned up a little bit in this episode. When we decided to do this, one of the first things I said is if this is going to work, it can’t be a joke. It can’t be a gimmick. We have to do it seriously, and that means everything in the episode has to have a real emotional base — and it does. What’s happened is that because it’s in this slightly heightened world, with a different set of expectations and conventions, the affection between characters is intensified, the jeopardy is intensified, and their desire to take action is stronger. Everything just gets turned up a notch or two… or three… or four!
What do you think, Pretty Little Liars fans? Are you excited for Pretty Little Liars to go black and white? Sound off in the comments!