Exclusive Interview With the ‘PLL’ Super Sleuth Who Figured Out the Twist Ending
Spencer has a twin; Spencer’s twin is “A. Drake,” aka “A.D.”; Wren, Noel, and Jenna are “Uber A” helpers; Ezria, Spoby, Haleb, and Emison are endgame; the series finale doesn’t mention That Night again.
These are all things we know now, but they’re also all things the Tumblr account TheBestPLLTheories predicted… immediately after Season 7, Episode 10 aired.
So is the person behind TheBestPLLTheories a secret insider on the Pretty Little Liars set or are they just omniscient?
As it turns out, the answer is neither. We spoke with James, the 19-year-old man (yes, he knows you’ll be surprised to hear the account isn’t run by a woman) behind the Tumblr, whose love for Pretty Little Liars has us thinking it gave him future-seeing superpowers.
Wetpaint: When did you first start thinking Spencer had a twin, and what was the moment you were *positive* she was going to be "A.D."?
James: Season 7, Episode 1. It hit me hard!
There was a scene where Hanna has a dream of “Spencer”, and "Spencer" says the initials A.D. This sent alarm bells ringing, because Hanna was kidnapped before the initials A.D. was even revealed, so Hanna couldn’t have possibly dreamt Spencer saying that; the “Spencer” in the "dream" must have been A.D. in real life.
I was not absolutely positive that this meant Spencer had a twin, since we know PLL loves to play around with realistic masks.
But as Season 7 went on, we began to see even more scenes that are totally out of character for Spencer. For example, the Spencer I know would never kiss Toby when his wife is literally 10 meters away behind a door — and if that were someone in a Spencer-mask, Toby would've felt the rubber.
So Season 7, Episode 1 is when the idea first came to me, but as Season 7 went on, we got more and more scenes of Spencer being out of character and, knowing twins run in the family, and knowing the major twin-themes in the book, it just seemed like a natural ending to the show.
How did it feel watching the "A.D." reveal in the series finale?
I was mind-blown when Spencer realized that she isn’t looking in a mirror, rather looking through a glass reflection. I jumped out of my couch when Alex said "boo!" and I finally saw my theory come true.
Even though I was right, I was still shocked, because seeing it come to life is a totally different experience than just writing about a potential concept.
I know some people’s instant reaction was “ugh, I’m so angry A.D. is a new character we’ve never met before,” but, since I was aware of the breadcrumbs the writers had been leaving for a long time, it never did feel like a new character for me. I embraced it and was excited to hear Alex’s story.
What's one theory you had you wish ended up being true?
While I was watching the episode, I kept on waiting for Alex to admit to being the real Black Widow and Red Coat; and that Charlotte made up the story about Sara Harvey just to protect Alex’s identity. That was a really popular theory among Twincer-theorists.
I really wanted Alex to admit to having helped Charlotte play the “A” game from Season 3 onward. I would’ve loved Charlotte and Alex to have been the “A” team, with Alex being the only one alive now. But unfortunately, that never played out, and Alex only wore the hoodie from Season 6B onward.
While I love the reveal of Alex Drake, I still think her story lacked depth in the sense that we cannot trace it back any earlier than Season 6B.
You get a lot of fans messaging you with their own theories — what's your favorite crazy fan theory you've received, not just for the finale but during the whole course of the show?
That all of the girls are A! Literally, all five of them, but they don't know it! They are all receiving texts from the one supreme leader, “A.D,” who is blackmailing them to go against their friends.
Aria working for A.D. in Season 7B was our first sighting of it, and the theory was that we will soon learn that the other four girls are also doing the same thing. So A.D. is sitting back eating popcorn, sending texts, watching the girls be their own enemies.
That would've blown my mind but also it would've been heartbreaking since I love their friendship.
What's your most infuriating lingering question the show didn't answer?
It's so hard to pick just one! My main annoyance is that they did not address why Charlotte lied during her “A” reveal in Season 6, Episode 10. She clearly knew she is a Drake, since she was having secret meetings with her sister Alex, yet she told Ali that she is her sister, a DiLaurentis like her. I have no idea why she lied about her true family.
This second one bothers me just as much: If Mona killing Bethany was a total accident (Mona thought it was Alison in the yellow top), then how did Alison’s bracelet end up on Bethany’s dead body?
Oh, and who the heck was Jason hiding in his house in Season 2, Episode 3!?
How do you come up with theories? Do you re-watch a lot, do you read Tumblr and Reddit? What's your process?
I don’t rewatch episodes, surprisingly! It’s in my character. I can’t sit myself down to watch something I’ve already seen. I get bored.
Essentially I listen out for things that could be interpreted differently. Someone asking Spencer “Do you want some coffee?” does not deserve any deep analysis, but Mary saying to Spencer in Season 7, Episode 1, “you look so much like your sister, almost like twins” is certainly something to start writing about. I’m always listening out for dialogue that could be interpreted differently than the obvious interpretation the writers set up. Not everything is single-sided on this show!
Will you theorize any other shows now that PLL is over?
I have started to develop a blog for Riverdale (@thebestriverdaletheories). I think that show is absolutely fantastic. The cast is amazing, the mystery is intriguing and deep, and the plot progression per episode is rapid … A lot of PLL fans also watch Riverdale, so it’ll be a nice way for our traditions to continue.
And we'd love to know a little bit about you: How did you get involved in all this, what is your life like off Tumblr?
I only recently shared this (on the day of the finale) that I am actually a guy … So I’ve always had to keep PLL as a secret, since it’s unfortunately been stigmatized as a “show for females only.” No one in my personal life knows what I’m doing every time I’m passionately typing away at my keyboard on my laptop or phone, when I’m not studying!
When I watched the pilot in June 2010, I was shamed by my sister and her friends for liking a “chick flick” so I knew I had no one to talk to about PLL theories. So I decided to take it to Tumblr, a place where no one will know who I am.
I’m a very social person, I love being with my friends, and there have been numerous times when I’m on my phone and they ask me “why are you typing so fast?” I would either be replying to a Tumblr message or jotting down ideas for a new theory before I forget, but of course, I’d tell all my friends that my mum texted me and I need to reply ASAP.
How did you find all the time you devote to Pretty Little Liars?
Some people may think that it’s overly obsessive of me to dedicate so many hours to a TV show. I hear the validity in those claims: How is it possible that a TV show can seriously become a part of one’s life? And the only answer to that, is that you have to be a part of it to understand it.
I fell in love with these characters and and so they became my friends. I encountered funny, joyful, intelligent fans from across the world and we communicated daily about this common passion. This became something to eliminate us from reality when we needed to, reminded us that are voices are valued in this world, and generally was down right fun!
PLL really was more than “just a TV show”. It was an unforgettable experience, which, again, may seem hyperbolic and overly dramatic, but it’s hard to understand this unless you throw yourself in the deep end and truly immerse yourself.