Type keyword(s) to search


Even the Pretty Little Liars: Summer School Cast Couldn't Crack the Killer's Identity

Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Zaria, and the PLL EPs break down the bloody season finale and that shocking death.
  • Zaria, Bailee Madison, Malia Pyles, and Maia Reficco in Pretty Little Liars (Photo: Karolina Wojtasik/Max)
    Zaria, Bailee Madison, Malia Pyles, and Maia Reficco in Pretty Little Liars (Photo: Karolina Wojtasik/Max)

    [Note: This article contains major spoilers for the Pretty Little Liars: Summer School finale, "Chapter Eight: Final Exam.”]

    Pencils down, everyone! After eight bloody episodes, Max’s Pretty Little Liars: Summer School wrapped up its sophomore season on Thursday with a killer finale. The teen drama slasher picks up directly after the events of Original Sin and follows Imogen (Bailee Madison), Tabby (Chandler Kinney), Faran (Zaria), Mouse (Malia Pyles), and Noa (Maia Reficco) as they’re tormented by a mysterious new villain, Bloody Rose. 

    The season finale, “Chapter Eight: Final Exam,” finally reveals Bloody Rose’s identity: Chip’s (Carson Rowland) mother, Mrs. Langsberry (Carey Van Driest). After Chip was murdered by “A” in the Season 1 finale, she became obsessed with getting revenge on Tabby and Imogen for “lying” about her son raping them. However, there’s a twist — Wes (Derek Klena), Tabby’s boss at the movie theater, has been her accomplice this whole time. 

    Mrs. Langberry and Wes hold Tabby captive and force her to either “confess her sins” — basically, they want her to recant her accusations about Chip — for the cameras or be killed. They livestream the whole ordeal on Spooky Spaghetti like a twisted movie, leaving the rest of the group watching in horror and scrambling to figure out how to save Tabby in time. 

    Series creators and executive producers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring tell Primetimer that they had a few suspects in mind at the start of the writers’ room, but they didn’t firmly lock in the killers’ identity until Episode 6 or 7. Prior to that, nothing was truly off the table — at one point, Aguirre-Sacasa says, laughing, an executive even suggested that Greg [Elias Cacavas] should be the culprit.

    “For a while, Mrs. Beasley felt so right [as Bloody Rose], because her daughter [Karen] would have never died had it not been for the Little Liars. She had such a reason to hate them,” Calhoon Bring explains. “There was a very dark day in the writers’ room where we thought, ‘Oh god, it makes perfect sense that it could be Johnny and Christian. Maybe they knew Chip and they were all friends.’”

    Until they read the scripts for the finale, the cast also had no idea who the killers were. “We all were really rooting for it to be Karen,” Chandler shares. “Like, some crazy twist where she’s alive.” Madison says she had her suspicions about Mrs. Langsberry, but didn’t see the double reveal coming. Zaria “accidentally guessed” early on that Chip’s mom was Bloody Rose, but changed her mind when Jordan Gonzalez (who plays Ash) didn’t buy her theory. 

    Kinney also reveals that she didn’t find out about her “final girl moment” until about a week before shooting the finale. She describes it as a “physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding” experience — the finale took several days to shoot, and she had never spent so much time filming solo. However, this also helped her get into character. 

    “When you’re in that state of survival mode, all that's running through your brain is: ‘I gotta make it to the end. I gotta make it to the end. I gotta live. I gotta survive,’” Kinney says. She also notes that the chase scene in the woods was filmed in December in upstate New York, so it was freezing. “My whole body was shaking in between setups, and then I would lock back into final girl mode and just be focused on staying alive.”

    Kinney never doubted that Tabby would come out on top. When she thinks back on her big final girl scene, she says that Taylor Swift’s “I Did Something Bad” — which she and Madison used to blast in their set trailer — perfectly sums up Tabby in that moment. “She was, like, born a final girl. She was literally made for this,” she says. “She's not gonna lie. She's not gonna run or hide. She's gonna [stand by] her truth, and I think that is so empowering. [Tabby] has made me so much braver than I ever thought I could be, and that's a testament to her strength.” 

    The finale includes nods to several horror movies, including The Purge and The Strangers: Prey at Night — Madison, who starred in the latter film, says she was “so excited and honored” when she read the reference. Aguirre-Sacasa says they looked to a lot of horror movies, classic and otherwise, for inspiration when crafting the episode: “We talked about the end of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the final girl having dinner with the family of cannibals. We talked about Florence Pugh at the end of Midsommar.” 

    Like the Season 1 finale, “Final Exam” packs in one last bombshell twist at the end of the episode. Just when it seems like there might finally be a moment of peace in Millwood, A breaks into Dr. Sullivan’s (Annabeth Gish) office. Knowing she’s going to die, she begs him to at least first reveal what really happened to her late son, Sebastian, first. But instead of offering her even an ounce of mercy, A just immediately stabs her. Dr. Sullivan’s death is shocking, especially because her character has been around since the original Pretty Little Liars series. 

    When it comes to the mystery of how Sebastian died, Aguirre-Sacasa says that viewers shouldn’t expect to ever see it solved. “That's ultimately an answer that [Dr. Sullivan] will never have, and we will never say definitively,” Aguirre-Sacasa says. “It's one of those haunting things where you just kind of have to accept that not everything is tied up with a little bow.”

    The finale also leaves things somewhat up in the air regarding the Liars’ romantic relationships. After Imogen mistakes Johnny (Antonio Cipriano) for the killer and attacks him with a wrench and drags him to the freezer, he (rather understandably) decides they should “cool it.” 

    However, Madison says she still has hope for the couple’s future. “It's been a joy to watch the audience accept Johnny and Imogen the way that they have,” she says. “There's something really special there. We kind of have to wait to see where it goes. It excites me that it didn't end so cookie-cutter for them, because I think that there is a [sense of] care there, and there's growth to be had.”

    Zaria adds that she’s eager to see where Faran’s unexpected fling with Greg might go. “I can't even count on two hands how many mistakes I made as a teenager,” she says. “Greg [Elias Kacavas] gets a chance to be wrong, and he gets a chance to redeem himself. I'm looking forward to seeing more of that redemption later on. We'll see. It’s been very fun exploring.”

    Meanwhile, Tabby and Christian’s [Noah Alexander Gerry] relationship finally seems to be going smoothly. “He speaks her language and gives her a soft landing,” Kinney says. “He shows her that she can be the final girl of her own life. She believes she’s a behind-the-camera person, and he looks at her and says, ‘You can be an in-front-of-the-camera person too.’ That symbolizes her stepping into her power again.”

    There’s no word yet on if Pretty Little Liars: Summer School will be back for a Season 3, but the cast and EPs remain hopeful and excited about the endless possibilities. Calhoon-Bring teases that, in an ideal world, she’d love to bring back Mona (Janel Parrish) from the original PLL if it made sense for the story. Aguirre-Sacasa chimes in, “Lucy Hale having been Aria and having been Katy Keene in the Riverdale [universe]... I just feel like there's something there.”

    As for possible future season titles, Zaria says she’d love to see the Liars study abroad together. “Pretty Little Liars: Paris,” she proposes.

    Pretty Little Liars: Summer School is available to stream on Max. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Kelly Martinez is a TV Reporter based in Los Angeles. Her previous work can be found at BuzzFeed and People Magazine, among other outlets. She enjoys reading, spending time with her cat, and explaining the plot of Riverdale to people.

    TOPICS: Pretty Little Liars: Summer School