Post Mortems

Pretty Little Liars: 'A' Defends Finale's Biggests Twists, Previews Charlotte's Future With Alison in Season 6

Pretty Little Liars fans, the cAt is finally out of the bAg — and “A” is telling all.

Fresh off Tuesday’s polarizing summer finale, in which “Charles” was revealed to have become Charlotte/CeCe, TVLine spoke with actress Vanessa Ray about… well, pretty much everything.

Read on to find out how long Ray knew about Charles’ twist, how she approached playing a transgender character and whether or not we can expect to see Charlotte in the second half of Season 6.

TVLINE | Good morning, Charles.
Please, call me Charlotte.

TVLINE | Yes, of course. When you first got this part, did you ever imagine it would become such a big deal?
Never! No way. How could you imagine this? I was so thrilled to get this job to begin with, the first job I ever had in Los Angeles. It was a really happy place I got to go to work where they had spa water with mint and lime and the girls were all beautiful, nice and cool. I got to play a true character, this larger-than-life girl who was so different from me. I get mushy about it actually, because I’m just so unbelievably grateful and happy for this experience.

TVLINE | When did you find out you were Charles, and how did you respond?
I believe I found out June, like, 7 maybe? We normally don’t get scripts until we get on set, but they couriered this one over to me. I was like, “That’s weird.” I figured not at a lot was revealed, which is why they sent it around. Marlene texted me right away, “Did you get it? I’m really excited for you to read it!” So I read it casually in my apartment, and when I got to Page 4, it says, “It’s CeCe effing Drake,” or whatever word they used. I screamed and I threw the script across the room. My soon-to-be-husband came out to see if I was OK, and I was like, “You’re not going to believe what’s in that!” It was the Neverending Story book all of a sudden. The script had power, I thought light was going to beam out of it.

TVLINE | What was that table read like? Just a lot of gasping?
I believe Troian [Bellisario] had known for a while, maybe even as soon as I came to the show. I didn’t, but as I looked back at everything that happened, it started to make sense. Like, that’s why Marlene told me to do that back in Season 2. I’d been getting hints all along and I didn’t pick up on any of them. But yes, the table read was crazy. Ashley [Benson] and Lucy [Hale] hadn’t read it yet, so as we turned each page, they were like, “What?!” Drew [van Acker] also hadn’t read it, so when the Charles twist was revealed, the biggest question for most of us — and what I’d written in my script — was “Did I sleep with my brother?” The energy was really exciting in the room; no one was eating craft services that day.

TVLINE | Will we see you in the second half of Season 6, or is your story over?
Well, she did all these terrible things, so there have to be consequences. Charlotte and Alison have reconnected by the end of the episode, and we see in the flashforward that Ali stayed in Rosewood. Why did Ali stay and the other girls left? You’d think Alison would have been the first one to high-tail out of there. So it all relates back to what happens with Alison.

TVLINE | How did you approach playing CeCe this time around, knowing that she’s transgender?
There was a lot of thought put into that. I didn’t want to play at being transgender. The villain was being revealed, but evil didn’t exist within Charlotte. It was the neglect, the hurt and all the pain that were put upon her at such a young age that caused her to do bad things. Marlene and I plotted it out: When you see her as CeCe, when you see her as Charlotte and when you see her as Charles. When she first turns around, that’s definitely CeCe, the bad-seed mastermind. Then there are moments where you see Charlotte, who’s just a hurt, sad, broken doll. That’s who you see when her mom visits her and tells her she gets to go to UPenn. And then there’s Charles, who’s a combination of CeCe and Charlotte, good and bad. That’s how we plotted it out. You’re talking about a kid who went through major tragedy before the age of 13; what he learned from his parents was to lie and that human lives don’t matter.

Pretty Little Liars fans, what are your thoughts on the finale (and beyond!) after reading Ray’s take on the character? Drop ’em in a comment below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. webly3 says:

    I loved how everything was explained. If you think about it, this honestly makes a lot of sense. I know that a lot of people didn’t love the finale, but I really did.

    • alistaircrane says:

      I still don’t understand why CeCe tried to kill Alison in the pilot, causing Alison to fake her death and go on the lam.

      • Hailey says:

        She didn’t try and kill Ali…she tried killing Bethany. She thought Bethany would hurt Ali but Bethany was wearing the same yellow shirt as Ali.

        • alistaircrane says:

          So Ali faked her death and skipped town because she mistakenly thought someone was trying to kill her?

          • Well, she wasn’t mistaken. Mona was trying to kill her, she just got the wrong person. Lots of mistaken identities that night. Mona thought Bethany was Alison and Charlotte thought Alison was Bethany. It was all due to Bethany wearing the same clothes as Alison.

          • Brenda Blue says:

            Somebody was Mona was the first A and Mona was sending her all those threats.

      • Azerty says:

        I am not sure, still trying to connect the dots but Cece said she thought it was Bethany. That night Bethany was trying to “ruin everything, she learnt that Mom (so Mrs D?) had an affair with her dad (B’s dad?)” but I am not sure. Is this affair thing between Mrs D and Bethany’s dad new or was it mentionned before? Anyway apparently Bethany threatened Mrs D and was dressed in the yellow top (God knows why) and Cece hit Alison thinking it was Bethany. It’s very weird that we haven’t seen Adult!Bethany’s face, I have a feeling she is still alive and will be next A.

        • Episode 100 confirmed Bethany was in Alison’s grave!

          • Azerty says:

            But in season 1 it was “confirmed” the dead body was Ali, wouldn’t be the first time the cops and/or forensics make a mistake!

          • Christy says:

            Why was Bethany in Allisons grave? Allie pulled herself out and left the hole empty. Does anyone remember how Bethany got where Mrs. D buried Allie?

          • A says:

            melissa (specar’s sis) buried bethany coz she thought spencer killed ali (who was actually bethany)

        • Curly Girly says:

          Boy, Mrs. D. sure gets around….first the affair with Spencer’s dad and then with Bethany’s dad?? Hoochie mama!

        • trish says:

          The affair between Mrs. D and Bethany’s Dad was discussed a few times in episode 100 and in the Christmas episode. It’s also discussed in the Christmas episode that Ali lured Bethany to Rosewood. CeCe explains that their mother has boughy Ali and CeCe the same clothes since she was 12. Cece also explains that Bethany stole her clothes the night she escapes.

          • Azerty says:

            Thanks! I went back to 512 and 513 and Spencer found a recording of Bethany talking about Mrs D, saying “like mother like daughter” at the time everybody thought it was Alison but now I am wondering if she was talking about Cece. Also thanks I missed the explanation about the clothes!

        • Christina bosslady Oscar says:

          In my understanding…Bethany was wearing same clothes as Alison because Mrs D bought 2 sets of the same clothes, one for Alison and the other for Charles who was at Radley. Bethany pushed Mrs Cavanaugh (Tobi’s mum) and Charles was blamed for it. When. When Bethany was released she tooks Charles pretty clothers (another reason why Charles hated her). So Alison and Bethany sort of ended up having the same outfits that night it was just coicidence that both were wearing yellow tops.

          • Shelby says:

            I thought Ali gave her the shirt in the letter Bethany thanks her for the top, but that could have been faked

      • Kayla says:

        That was Mona, not Cece

  2. Katy says:

    So Ali stays in Rosewood, Cece probably goes back to Radley and that’s where Ali meets her future husband (the doctor)

  3. Froggy says:

    last night they showed cece wearing all black when Ali was hit in the head, buried and carted off by wilden to radley but a few years back that night they showed cece wearing the yellow top talking to Mellisa that night. :(

    • Tricia says:

      That was from Jason’s super wasted POV though, he wasn’t exactly a reliable witness.

      Honestly, I’m most interested in his life in the time jump, there’s no way he didn’t start drinking again.

  4. Hailey says:

    Everybody is mad because they went this route. People thought it was wren. I actually thought it was good. A little limp on the motive but I liked the reveal. However I’m a huge CeeCee fan though!

  5. Tragic villains are the best villains.

  6. Win says:

    “It was the Neverending Story book all of a sudden. The script had power, I thought light was going to beam out of it.” I love this quote!

  7. Joey says:

    I still want to know how CiCi and Sara knew each other, they never explained that…

  8. Azerty says:

    Like a lot of people I thought it would be Wren but I am not very disappointed by the reveal. Despite a couple plotholes, when we look back it explained a lot, specially the relations between Cece and Wilden and Cece and Mrs D. Just one thing, what was up with the high tech room with 3D screen and all that? It looked like the liars were in a Star Wars spaceship.

  9. scott21 says:

    I didnt mind cece being A. But Sara being red coat doesnt make any sense. The character is annoying and the actress are the worst actress of the show. Why couldn’t be it Paige? Or anyone else who wasnt just on only season 6…

  10. BrittBrat says:

    I think I would have liked this episode a lot better if they hadn’t thrown out a bunch of information at us. They made it sound like this episode was so new and exciting, but most of it was them standing in two different rooms and just telling us what happened. They should have spent more than one episode explaining everything out. I think it would have been a better finale that way. Also the large amount of loose ends just annoyed me, since most weren’t answered. It was pretty sloppy in my opinion.

    • BrittBrat says:

      I’m confused about a time line. Was Bethany killed the same night as Ali? If she was, what are the odds that they would be wearing similar things on the night two different people were trying to kill them?

  11. Television says:

    This was the worst episode ever. I really thought they were joking. I mean, the matrix like room, the flash forward to fall, the flash forward to 5 years later. I don’t want to watch that. Please just make a different episode and pretend that didnt happen.

  12. Hannah says:

    I feel bad for any viewer (and apparently actor on the show) who believes this storyline was planned out prior to 2015. Like no. The writers saw something that was popular in the news at the moment and went with it.

  13. abz says:

    I’m sorry, but I call BS on Marlene King giving her hints about how to act all the way back in season 2. LOL they’re trying pretty hard to make us believe that A was planned to be Cece all along. Please. Pretty Little Liars and other similar mystery type shows should be a lesson to all future writers, show creators, etc. It’s clearly easy to come up with many questions, but harder to give good answers. When you have a mystery like this, you should not start the story unless you have a clear idea in my mind of the final outcome and an outline of how you plan to reach the outcome. You can alter little things along the way, but you can’t come up with MAJOR things like this at the last minute. And also length. The mystery should not be dragged out.

    • Kimmy says:

      Agreed! They said all questions would be answered.. But I still have many! A lot of things that happened in past seasons don’t add up! They lost control because they wanted to relate this to present day social media. I do not believe for 1 sec that they had this figured out from the beginning!

    • Michelle says:

      Cece didn’t even appear until season 3, so everything Vanessa Ray said is a load of crap.

    • Adam says:

      They had some hints throughout the series that A looked like Allison. For example the blonde hair that was supposed to make us think it was Allison and the fact that Mona thought she was talking to Allison in radley. It would be a little weird if drugged or not she thought a man looked like Allison.

    • Deena says:

      Perfectly said! When I read that this was planned from season 2 I scoffed out loud and scared my dog.

  14. lina says:

    I thought it worked out pretty good that cece is charles. I liked the way it fit mostly. But yes I agree her reasons for tormenting thr girls being a stable person or not was weak. Could have found something better. I think the writers made a mistake when they changed alli from a manipulative sneaky brat to a pitiable nice girl. Yaaawn. She was more interesting being a snot. All her flashbacks and clues and comments don’t jive with her new personality and the outcome of her being clueless about her tormentor. One comment that makes me scratch my head was when alli visited aria and she said..U know why I picked u right? Ur mmm no. Whatever is that about..strange. it would be more interesting if alli is more of a biotch than they think..but I’m curious to know who the new bad seed will be.

  15. Kimmy says:

    Wasn’t Cece helping Ally while she was in hiding?

    Wasn’t Cece prom queen of her HS in Rosewood?

    Who killed Mrs D? Who killed Maya?

    When did the guys separate from the girls? Prom was being held at Radly? I’m a little confused there…

    Did the mothers ever escape the basement?

    • Bee says:

      CeCe never wanted to hurt Ally. Just manipulate her and throw her off. CeCe was a liar so prom queen could not have been true being that she was in Radley. Maya was killed by the stalker guy Nate that was killed in a finale. The girls left the prom and drove to the Carissmi Group. After being there with Mona and watching CeCe tell her story, the girls left and drove to Radley where CeCe, Sara and Allison were. No idea who killed Mrs. D and the mothers are still stuck i guess haha

  16. Jamie says:

    Biggest plot hole is how was Toby’s mom alive when Ali and Toby were teens BUT died when Charles and Bethany were kids! Guess they forgot that whole scene!

  17. K says:

    Give her some award nomination because even though it was a ridiculous twist, her acting was flawless!

  18. Kayla says:

    Why did Garrett die? That’s what’s confusing me. And why did Jason have a hole in his side after S3 Halloween.

    • Deena says:

      Wilden killed Garrett because he found out about him being a dirty cop. And I’m sure Jason’s injury was just to throw us off.

  19. Emma Evans says:

    Why are all the ‘I’s in the questions capitalised? It’s really confusing me..

  20. Brenda Blue says:

    I loved it and it makes so much sense. My daughter and I had said it was Cece but we had dropped that theory when she wasn’t in the show (ah, but she was just as a hidden A), we loved it so much.

  21. Seahawks 12th Man says:

    no no no, i was just doing my research, and there’s a third person and its shaped like a man. no its not 100% CeCe. there is a man involved i know it. i might be wrong but i have this feeling there is a guy involved. CeCe was just covering him up.

  22. I thought it was pretty genius with how they told the back story of it all! It was so exciting!
    But I am confused …
    Did Aly know another girl was killed? How would she have faked her death knowing there was another body?

    • Maddie says:

      She was able to fake her death because it was actually Bethany who was in her casket. Mona killed Bethany, thinking she was Allison, then Melissa tried to cover up Bethany’s death because she thought Bethany was Allison and that Spencer had killed “Allison”. Idk how Bethany ended up in Allison’s casket, but I think Melissa is the cause of that.

  23. Brianna says:

    This finale is so disappointing and to me it didn’t just make any sense. First, it doesn’t make sense that Cece/Charlotte was A, second it also doesn’t make sense that she spent so much time torturing the girls which one of them happens to be her sister, just because she wanted to protect her sister. Also, how does Shana relate to all this, and what about Ian, where do they fit in in Cece/Charlotte’s story. And also who killed Mrs. D? This finale was really disappointing. Cece/Charlotte is not A, it doesn’t make sense.

  24. Maddie says:

    I feel really sorry for Jason, tbh. I mean in a very short time he found out that he had a twin who his parents made him think was imaginary who is now his sister Charlotte. Surprise, your former imaginary friend is actually your formerly presumed dead sister, who accidentally tried to kill your other sister, used to be your twin brother, and who also happens to be your ex-girlfriend. Whoops.

  25. Wow says:

    More lies. There is no way Lying Marlene had it all planned out early on in the series. I have given this show chance after chance, even when a lot of people said they were done. I am at that point, after watching it. This show just so happened to coincide with social issues that have recently become prominent? No way. I see you ABC “Family”.

  26. Mally says:

    “Evil didn’t exist within Charlotte.” Please see the list of horrible things Charlotte has done. Excuse after excuse.

  27. Diienchen says:

    I agree with all of you, on one hand those who say it makes a lot of sense that it’s CeCe, and on the other hand, the fact that they want to try to put every answer to every question from the past seasons in one. How ?! Once they said every little hint from the past seasons is important soooo, I figured out that in the first seasons A wasn’t always signed as “-A”, as well as “–A” , “…–A” or “xoxo A” , so there might have been more A’s at the beginning beside Mona and Cece. What about Noal, Melissa, and the N.A.T Club (Jason, Wilden, Ian). There might have already been some answers to it, but not put together as one. And Wren plays an important role as well, since the very first episode. I’m still confused, but let’s see what is goig to happen. Bye – A (Haha just kidding :D )

  28. M says:

    Ali run away, because of Mona. Mona picked up Ali on the road and “helped” her, then she convinced her to leave town and pretend she was dead. Ali thought she was running away from A. And didnt know who that was. Mona lured Ali out of town.
    I loved the finale. I have always suspected Cece but I was still shocked because there have been so many people to suspect. But I have always had Cece in mind when I thought of who A couldbe. Some clues was a little to obvious, but that is because it was her. And I am very satisfied with how the finale turned out.

  29. Jaidyn says:

    Where can I watch the show