[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 1 finale of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, “Chapter Ten: Final Girls.”]Season 1 of Pretty Little Lairs: Original Sin has come to a close and the finale episode did indeed give us answers to the show’s biggest burning questions, namely the identity of A and the person responsible for assaulting Tabby (Chandler Kinney) and Imogen (Bailee Madison).
After learning that Chip (Carson Rowland) was at the bonfire, Tabby shares her suspicions with Imogen, and the two head to Chip’s house to investigate. They do find a curious movie collection, but it doesn’t qualify as evidence. However, Imogen trusts Tabby’s instincts, so the two try another tactic — getting Chip himself to confess by implying they have proof that he’s guilty, and confess he does.
As for the identity of A, that was revealed to be Archie Waters (Travis Patton), the brother of Angela Waters (Gabriella Pizzolo), and the secret child of Rose Waters (Jeanette Bonner) and Principal Clanton (Robert Stanton). When Angela reveals to Davie (Ava DeMary) that it was her own boyfriend, a young Sheriff Beasley (Eric Johnson), who assaulted her, Davie dubs her a liar and sets out to teach her a lesson by recruiting Sidney (Kristen Maxwell), Marjorie (Sarah-Anne Martinez), Elodie (Emily Bautista), and Corey (Kristian Mosley) to ignore her, or rather, to “erase” her. That paves the way to Angela taking her own life, which makes Clanton hellbent on having someone pay for his daughter’s death, and in his mind, “The sins of the mother, must fall upon the child.”
With all 10 episodes of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin now available to stream on HBO Max, Bailee Madison and Chandler Kinney both joined us for an episode of Collider Ladies Night to discuss these huge reveals.
Wondering when the cast first learned the answers to the show’s biggest questions? Turns out, their experience was quite similar to the viewers because they weren’t told the full details until their characters discovered the truth on the show. Madison highlighted, “You’re watching with them, not at them, and I think that’s such a wonderful concept and makes it such an immersive experience for the viewers with the show.” Kinney also explained why keeping those reveals from the cast for as long as possible proved vital to her performance:
“With Tabby, and I think specifically with her story, with her assault, it was very, very important that I didn’t have that information. I didn’t want it, nor did they offer it up, specifically with who and how. None of the performances did we want to be affected at all … and same with A. I think we found out as soon as we got the script and we started filming a day or two later.”
Given the fact that they didn’t get answers until the tail end of the production process, one’s got to imagine the cast played along just as the audience does. Madison confirmed that they did but also admitted, “Our A theories were a mess.” However, there were points in the filming process when she suspected she might have pieced things together correctly, and it turns out, she did. Here’s how it happened with Principal Clanton’s involvement:
“I remember I had a moment in Episode 8 where I looked at who plays Principal Clanton and I looked at him and I was like, ‘I think you’re behind this.’ And he was like, ‘Why would you say that?’ And I was like, ‘Why are you here for this scene?’ And he was like, ‘I don’t know.’ I was like, ‘I think they’re plotting you!’ But none of us truly had faith in any of our thoughts. I think Roberto and Lindsay, they did such a good job at keeping you guessing. They really did. And as people who were there and filming, to have been so lost and confused and having no idea what was going on — I mean, 10 hit us and we were like, ‘Wait! What?’ Even if we had come up [with] or guessed certain things, it still felt like a slap in the face.”
As for Chip, Madison revealed when she started to suspect it might be him, but also took a moment to emphasize how challenging it must have been for Rowland to learn his character’s disturbing truth in the middle of production:
“I remember in Episode 7 was when my read flag went off. I always looked at Chip and just had a gut feeling, but I just was like, ‘There’s no way,’ and then 7 hit and I remember we were doing these scenes and Carson, who’s an amazing actor and obviously not an easy role to be handed. Not easy information to find out while you’re filming, because we all didn’t know. So I think for him, such a caring and lovely and respectful man, he was kind of heartbroken I think a bit. And we were like, ‘We know it isn’t you! We love you!’ And so we were just waiting to hear if that was gonna be the case and obviously broke all of our hearts as I think it did to a lot of people when they find out that news.”
As far as performance goes, Kinney admitted that, after learning the news, “a little bit of distance” was necessary in order to ensure she was ready to tap into the headspace necessary for those final scenes involving Chip.
“I tried to not let it affect any performance before the confrontation, but it’s hard, you know? It’s hard when you see the person. I think also with the person too, it almost affects how you interact and so knowing that I had certain scenes coming up where this confrontation was happening, where everything was going to come to a point, I think that there was just a little bit of distance, at least on my part emotionally with said person because I wanted to be in the right headspace to go there.”
As for that confrontation scene in particular, Madison dubbed it one of the most complicated beats to tackle because of how many layers there are to it. Here’s how she broke it down:
“It’s the not having the information but pretending that you do and putting on that brave face knowing damn right that if it’s a yes for Imogen or if it’s a yes for Tabby, that’s gonna break their hearts. And having that friendship dynamic of, in this moment I have to have a poker face, but the moment that it comes crashing down, even though I think they both knew it and knew that they were gonna walk in there and have this heartbreak, when someone confesses, how do you not completely lose it in that moment and how do you stand there for you friend and know that everything inside of her is breaking down right now, and then vice versa? So that scene specifically was a very complicated scene to figure out because it’s not just one thing going on, and it shouldn’t have been just one thing going on.”
Of the many layers and emotions on display in that one scene, there’s one in particular that Madison insisted on beefing up. She explained:
“I had a really wonderful conversation with [creators] Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] and Lindsay [Calhoon Bring] about a day before we started filming where they added a few little things for Imogen to say to Chip at the end because I was calling them and I was like, ‘I’m pissed at him,’ because I just want us to remember the fact that he did all of this and then took this girl on a date and went to the adoption agency. [He] not only took so much away from her in that time and during that night, but then also the first source of joy and trust that she put in a different guy was then again taken away by the same person. And so, that dynamic, walking in with that, Imogen didn’t know what was going on, Tabby didn’t know how they were gonna handle it, but they were fighting every single second of that scene.”
Another major season finale reveal for Imogen? The identity of the couple adopting her baby. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin had already planted a number of nods to the original series, but this last one might be the biggest and most powerful of the bunch; Imogen’s baby is being adopted by Ezra (Ian Harding) and Aria (Lucy Hale). Madison shared her own thoughts on that original series tie-in:
“As an OG fan, I was so happy with the callback because I remember how heartbreaking that scene was between Lucy Hale and Ian, and I remember watching that scene and just, honestly, it brought me to tears. I mean, the way that she did it and the fact that they went there and then that was a part of the story. It broke me watching that, and so I loved the fact that that pain was never resolved when the show ended, but I think the idea that we can bring hope to that pain as well and bring it full circle with not just talking about an OG PLL character to namedrop, but to actually call back and bring a source of full circle to that I think was really exciting. I was stoked. And also, because now I’m like, ‘Well, now I can visit the baby and see Lucy,’ so it’s good.”
While there still hasn’t been any update from HBO Max on the fate of the series, both Madison and Kinney see great potential for growth in their characters for future seasons. Here’s what Kinney chose when asked for a new quality Tabby gained during Season 1 that she’d be eager to explore in a second go-around:
“I think Tabby has this beautiful optimism and fire within her and when you first meet her, that’s so hidden and she’s kind of jaded. She expresses herself through film and by being jokey, and there’s so much really to uncover there. And now that she’s had or has begun to actually have some closure with that specific trauma in her life, I’m excited to see that fire come alive again because it once was very, very strong and it was dimmed, and now I think it’s burning brighter than ever.”
Fielding the same question, Madison explained:
“I think [Imogen’s] realized that she’s actually a very smart young woman. I think she’s realized that she is capable of surviving, that she’s capable of tackling things that people might run away from … Obviously our show is so horror reference related and nods to iconic characters and I think you look at Jamie Lee Curtis and you look at Neve Campbell from Scream and it’s like, these women continuously grow and grow and own it, and I think for Imogen there’s so much that she has to heal from still, and what is it like after she’s given birth? What does that feel like and what does that do to someone as a young woman? Once you experience that I don’t think you’re ever the same, let alone everything else that she’s experienced, but she’s not gonna stand down from it. I think we’ve just witnessed a hint of what these girls are capable of doing. That’s why we better get picked up because I’m like, let us soar! Let them live! They’ve got lots to do.”
Looking for more from Kinney and Madison on Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin? We’ve got you well covered in that department! You can catch the clip of Madison talking Original Sin spoilers at the top of this article, and you can also find both of their official episodes of Collider Ladies Night below: