Credit: Troian Bellisario Instagram

After a seasons-long absence, Peter Hastings (Nolan North) is back on Pretty Little Liars with a determination only someone related to Spencer (Troian Bellisario) could manage. But what is Spencer’s dad up to? Is he good or evil? We speculate below.

He’s good

Mr. Hastings might not be the most supportive father, but that doesn’t mean he’s all-out evil. Though he is super secretive, who in Rosewood isn’t? Heck, we can only imagine how the Liars’ conspiracy meetings and secret-keeping looks to the rest of the town’s residents. They only seem heroes because we know their story. If we knew Mr. Hastings’s story, the same could be true for him. Perhaps, he wants to find the truth as much as his daughter — that doggedness has to be genetic — but he doesn’t want Spencer getting messed up with this dangerous business (yeah, good luck with that), so he keeps secrets from her. By getting Toby to sign the gag order, he doesn’t guarantee that he will stop looking — only that Toby, someone his daughter loves, will stay out of danger. That’s actually pretty heroic when you look at it that way.

He’s evil

On the other hand, it is mighty suspicious that Mr. Hastings changed his tune so quickly. Could he be under someone’s thumb? Or be continuing his affair with Mrs. DiLaurentis, just as Spencer originally suspected? Either way, he seems to be participating in a Radley-led conspiracy with consequences so far-reaching that it keeps Alison from coming home, Toby from finding the truth about his mother’s death, and “A” in power. These things all have to be connected, right? (We hope so.) If they are, by continuing to cover it up, Mr. Hastings is part of a life-ruining, potentially murderous conspiracy, and that may be unforgivable, especially if he is doing it for reasons or power or money.

He’s somewhere in-between

The most likely explanation, in our minds, is that Mr. Hastings is doing the wrong things for the right reasons, i.e. he is trying to protect the people he loves, but has made some morally questionable decisions along the way. The list of potential people Mr. Hastings is trying to protect: Spencer, Melissa, Jason, his wife, Mrs. DiLaurentis, or even Alison. Everyone seems to be connected to Radley in some way, and if the life of one of Mr. Hastings’s loved ones is at stake, we’re not sure if we can judge him or making the choice that he did — at least not until we know more of the story. Spencer assumes that her father is letting his campaign against Radley go to appease his ex-lover, Mrs. D., but we think there is more to the story than that. Much more.

Do you think Mr. Hastings is evil? Why do you think he decided to drop his quest to shut Radley down? Share your theories in the comments below!

Catch the next episode of Pretty Little Liars on Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC Family.

Kayti Burt is a contributing writer for Wetpaint Entertainment with a penchant for all things pop culture. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!