It’s hard to believe that three seasons have gone by since Pretty Little Liars first premiered. With more than a month left to wait until the Season 4 premiere, we thought we’d take the chance to take a look back at how far Spencer (Troian Bellisario), Aria (Lucy Hale), Hanna (Ashley Benson), and Emily (Shay Mitchell) have come since we were first introduced to them. Here are five things that have changed since Season 1, Episode 1, and five things that haven’t:
What Has Changed?
1. The Liars Used to Giggle. A Lot.
Check out the opening scene from the PLL pilot. You may recall the series opens with a flashback to the night Ali disappeared. The girls are sleeping over Spencer’s, and it is an all-out giggle fest. Seriously. They even manage to giggle through Ali’s successful attempt to scare them. It’s strange to see the Liars so light-hearted and carefree. We so rarely see them like this anymore, as there brows are generally furrowed by the “A” Team’s latest blackmail attempt.
2. Aria Had a Little Brother! Remember Him?
Mike Montgomery (Cody Allen Christian), Aria’s little brother, is not only in this episode, he appears in multiple scenes! It was jarring to see Mike pop up and remember that Aria has another family member outside of Byron and Ella. We hope Aria remembers she has a brother in Season 4, and Mike is given a chance at another storyline.
3. Mona and Hanna Were BFFs
We are introduced to present-day Hanna while she is out shopping with Mona (Janel Parrish). It’s fun to watch the scenes with Hanna and Mona knowing what Mona will become, knowing that, as far as we know right now, she was the one sending the “A” messages. It really makes us realize how unstable Mona is. One minute she’s playing BFFs with Hanna and the next, she’s harassing her. It also makes us worry that the girls might be trusting her again come Season 4.
4. Emily Was a Square
We forgot how straight-laced Emily used to be. It was all ponytails and jean skirts. Her mother even tells her that she would never let her streak her hair hot pink like Aria’s parents did. Emily is obviously feeling smothered so when new next-door neighbor Maya offers her some weed, Emily is up for trying something new. It’s nice to see how far Emily has come since Season 1: coming out to her friends and family, pursuing relationships with both Maya and Paige, and just generally sticking up for who she is. Now, Ems is all edgy with her leather jackets and her combat boots, and we wouldn’t have her any other way!
5. The Liars Were Estranged
Of course we remembered that the Liars started out the show all estranged from one another or, as Aria puts it, “friendly, but not friends,” but it was jarring to see it in action. They’ve been through so much together in the past three season and, even when Spencer joined the “A” Team, we never really doubted she had the other Liars’ best interests at heart. We really take the girls’ closeness for granted sometimes. It’s nice to see a show that has such a positive portrayal of female friendship that lasts!
What Hasn’t Changed?
1. Wrencer Chemistry
We had forgotten how adorable Wren (Julian Morris) was on this show, and how much we were rooting for him and Spencer to get together. We may be Team Spoby now, but there is a part of us that will always root for Dr. Wren and Spencer to make it work.
2. Spencer’s Sassiness
In the words of Wren, Spencer is “a bit of a smartass,” even in the first episode, and we love it! Spence’s one-liners have been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show and it’s fun to see them present in the pilot. She even utters the epigram that is quickly becoming her catchphrase: “Well, you know what they say about hope...? Breeds eternal misery.” If only Pilot Spence knew all that she is in for!
3. Melissa’s Still a Bitch
In the pilot, Spencer has just spent the summer converting the Hastings barn into a loft so she can live in it for junior year. She also keeps her grades up and agrees to do an internship at the mayor’s office to please her parents, effectively giving up her summer. Then, Melissa swoops in (with Wren in tow) and takes the loft out from under her without so much as an apology. “Well, you’ll just have to wait,” she tells Spencer. We forgot how much of a bitch Melissa has always been!
4. Ezria Angst
Wow. Ezra (Ian Harding) and Aria manage to have angst in the very first episode, which is actually kind of impressive given that we have just met them, and they have just met each other. They also manage to break up in the very first episode (though we all know that’s never going to stick). One of the final scenes of the episodes sees Aria saying goodbye to Ezra with a kiss on the cheek, only to have Ezra whip her back around for one “last” kiss of passion before she walks away forever. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it was mimicked in the Season 3 finale Ezria break-up. Some things never change!
5. The Girls Have Each Other’s Backs
Even though the Liars had drifted apart, these girls still had each other’s backs! They are happy to see Aria back in town. They worry about Hanna when she is seemingly arrested for shoplifting. They quickly come back together when Ali’s body is found. Though the girls are estranged for the year following Ali’s disappearance, they never stop caring for one another, and that’s what makes this show so great!
Pretty Little Liars Season 4 premieres on Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC Family.