‘Pretty Little Liars’ Chandler Kinney on What She’d Like to See in Season 3

[Editor’s note: The following contains major spoilers for Pretty Little Liars: Summer School.]

The Big Picture

  • In ‘Pretty Little Liars: Summer School,’ the final girls survived Season 2 by reclaiming their power and facing their trauma head-on.
  • Tabby’s journey to find her voice and power was a constant fight throughout the season.
  • The season finale sets the stage for a potential Season 3, with the possibility of bigger stakes and even bolder choices.

The Max original series Pretty Little Liars: Summer School started with a bloodbath of loose ends, put its five final girls to the test, and ended with the reveal of just who was behind it all. After surviving Archie Waters in Season 1, Imogen (Bailee Madison), Tabby (Chandler Kinney), Faran (Zaria), Noa (Maia Reficco) and Mouse (Malia Pyles) had to face Bloody Rose, who brought a very different vibe to Season 2, paying homage to all the female figures of horror.

After being betrayed by Chip Langsberry in the first season, Christian (Noah Alexander Gerry) helped Tabby overcome her past trauma, as he supported her and stood by her side. But ultimately, when she came face to face with who had been responsible for all the murder and mayhem in Season 2, Tabby found the strength within herself to ensure her survival.

During this one-on-one interview with Collider, Kinney talked about Tabby’s journey to finding her voice and power in Season 2, her favorite moment to shoot this season, her reaction to the fate of Dr. Sullivan (Annabeth Gish), what those five dopplegangers in masks walking down the high school hallway could mean, why she think the stakes should be raised with a team of killers, how film buff Tabby has inspired her to try her own hand at directing, doing scenes with Bloody Rose, learning the killer reveal, shooting in the church, why she’s glad it wasn’t Christian, and what she’d like to see with Tabby in a possible Season 3.

Tabby Fought For Herself Every Step of the Way in ‘Pretty Little Liars: Summer School’

Chandler Kinney as Tabby smiling while looking to the left in Pretty Little Liars: Summer School
Image via Max

Collider: One of the things that I really love about this show is that these final girls have not allowed themselves to become victims. They’ve really fought back, every step of the way. How do you feel Tabby was most empowered this season?

CHANDLER KINNEY: Wow. You make a really good point. They go through so much and, at any point in their journey, they can just wave the white flag and say, “This is too much,” and that would be valid. They really get put through the ringer, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Something that I love about our show is that we show the horrors of the serial killer targeting and threatening us, but then also the horrors of everyday life, as a person in this world and as a young woman, specifically, in this world, and the struggles of that experience sometimes. For Tabby, specifically, every step in her journey is a fight. Even from episode one of the season, she is really trying to reclaim her power and her voice and tackle this really horrible, traumatic thing that’s happened to her. It’s really her first step in trying to heal, and immediately she’s silenced and her story is erased and stolen from her. So, she is in a constant fight, throughout the entire season. The finale is the amalgamation of all those things that she’s been through. Wes has undermined and belittled her, every step of the way. I don’t know if I can really pinpoint any one moment. She is in a constant state of fight, for her voice, for her power, and for her truth.

Did you have a favorite moment to shoot this season?

KINNEY: I would love to say the finale, but I actually just really didn’t enjoy it because it was so horrific. We shot that post our little pause hiatus for the strike, so we were in upstate New York in December, filming in 25-degree weather. Those nights were chilly and icy. We were actually fighting the snow and the weather, and it was crazy. Actually, I really enjoyed filming the little moment in the finale episode where the girls let the tension of the circumstance get to them a little bit and they start pushing each other’s buttons and it gets a little personal with each other’s love interests. That was just such a beautiful moment to see because our goal in this entire show and the way that we portray these characters is to show real girls and their real stories. It’s real friendship when you have those moments of disagreement, especially if you are in a state of paranoia. That was fun to film. There are actually a few improv lines that made it in there.


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These final girls have actively worked to keep themselves alive, but one thing they really have no control over is what happened to Dr. Sullivan. What was your reaction to learning about her connection to Archie Waters, to learning that he would come after her again, and to learning how that would end?

KINNEY: I was reading it as we were getting the episodes. At no point, did we know how things were gonna unfold, until we got that final episode. Along the way, I was like, “I think this lady needs therapy because she’s really going through it.” I always had my suspicions about her. Annabeth Gish is just such a talent, and I think that would be talent wasted, if we didn’t get to see her in some of these sticky situations. We also love a red herring. That’s a huge part of the PLL IP. It’s always throwing people off and keeping us on our toes as we watch, and she was a beautiful tool in that story. And yikes, her demise is quite sad. RIP.

At the same time, just before then, we learn about what she’s really been thinking and feeling about the girls, so it feels a little bit like karma.

KINNEY: Yeah, and karma works fast, too. She’s quick. I think it’s silly that she said that we’re narcissists. We’re literally in therapy, girl. We’re supposed to be laying it out on the table. Yeah, karma.

Chandler Kinney Wants a Bigger, Badder, Bolder Season 3 of ‘Pretty Little Liars’

When you got to the ending of the season and you found out that these five girls in masks were walking down the high school hallway, what was your reaction? What were your questions? Do you have any answers about what all that means?

KINNEY: I wish I could tell you, but no. I do know that (showrunners) Lindsay [Calhoon Bring] and Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] are absolute masterminds and they are already cooking up new storylines. They really just have so many more stories to tell with us. I think it’s about time that we have an A team. Let’s go bigger, badder, bolder, as Tabby says. That raises the stakes, it raises the threats, it increases the suspect list, and it only expands the world, which would be fitting for a Season 3.

After playing a character who’s a film buff that’s directing her own movies, do you feel like it’s rubbed off on you, at all? Has Tabby inspired you to think about directing yourself?

KINNEY: I love that you asked this question. Actually, yes. Tabby and I have a lot more in common than maybe I first thought. Sometimes I like to hide in my characters, and she hides behind the camera. You see a lot of that in the first season, where she is coping with her trauma by using some of these escape mechanisms. In Season 2, it’s really beautiful because she takes that story on, head on. She starts with her short, Avenge, but especially with Christian being so supportive of her and really encouraging her to be a front-of-camera person too and that she can do it, it empowers her. And she’s empowered me to step behind the camera, which is a very daunting space for me, just because it’s new. I’m actually working on a little short right now that I can’t say much more about, but it’s hopefully shaping up to be my directorial debutand I would say that is directly inspired by my girl, Tabby.


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Did you also find yourself wanting to pay attention more to what the directors of the episodes were doing and just having more of an awareness of things that you don’t necessarily think about when you’re just acting in a scene?

KINNEY: A hundred percent. For the short, Avenge, that Tabby makes in the first episode, Maggie [Kiley], our director who did the first two episodes, was very supportive of the idea of me coming in to co-direct the short. Unfortunately, we don’t see the whole thing. We just see the bits on Tabby’s laptop as she’s editing it and when she screens it with the girls. But I was there behind the camera and in video village, with Maggie and Lindsay, helping to direct that short. That was really wonderful and was an experience I hadn’t had before. And so, definitely, throughout the season, I’m paying attention to more and more, and I’m excited to learn more.

What was it like to actually do scenes with Bloody Rose? Yes, you’re making a TV series and you’re working with an actor who’s not really trying to kill you, but the costume and the makeup are so effective, so what’s it like to be in those moments?

KINNEY: It was harrowing at times, for sure. She is a sight to see. Luckily, I can do well with blood, but that is a lot of blood oozing through that gauze. She’s quite wicked and twisted, in all the right ways. When that knife comes out, it’s pretty jarring. But I just wanna do more horror now. It’s actually exhilarating. It’s fun to have that fear in the moment because then, the less you have to really act. It’s all just right there, so it’s coming from a really honest place. I love it, really.

How Did Chandler Kinney Learn the Killer Reveal in ‘Pretty Little Liars: Summer School’?

Chandler Kinney as Tabby with Derek Klena as Wes in a church for a live horror movie in PLL: Summer School
Image via Max

Throughout this, the characters are questioning who could be responsible and the audience is doing the same. Mrs. Langsberry crossed my mind first, and then I forgot about her for a while because there were so many other possibilities. Before you guys actually knew, were you spending a lot of time guessing? Were you convinced that you knew how it was all going to play out?

KINNEY: I am never convinced of anything on the show. I was like, “Do I make it to the end of the story?” I definitely suspected Mrs Langsberry, but then, like you, I thought, “Well, no, there are just so many other suspects. How is this all gonna tie together?” But really, Tabby tipped me off because she is such a horror film buff, aficionado, and expert in that space and in that genre. Once she really started suspecting Mrs. Langsberry in a genuine way and she even puts the star next to her name on the board, I’m like, “Of course, my girl Tabs got it right. She has killer instincts.” That was what tipped me off.

I have to admit that for a while, I thought it was her boyfriend because of the creepy masks.

KINNEY: He’s just a sweet, misunderstood boy who loves to make masks. No. I’m actually happy that he ended up not being a part of the killer duo because that is a trope that we see a lot in horror. It can be done so well and can be so entertaining to watch at times, but especially after the nature of Season 1, being betrayed by her closest male friend, I didn’t want to see her re-traumatized in that same way.

After that betrayal, was it nice to be able to be the one to stab Wes with a pitchfork? Did that feel like it gave her some of the power back, taking charge of that situation?

KINNEY: That definitely was not the first thought that crossed her mind, and I don’t think, by any means, that she wanted for it to come to this moment. But at some point, you realize only one person is emerging alive from this cabin, and she knew in her heart that it had to be her, and that her story was not over, and she had so much more to live for, and that Wes is a hack and a pathetic man. While she’s physically stabbing him, it’s symbolic of so much more, with her taking control of the situation at hand and, from a broader perspective, taking control of her life, her voice, and her power. It’s a very powerful moment.


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When she breaks through the confessional and essentially finds herself in a creepy movie set with stained glass windows and heads on spikes, I was quite impressed. For as creepy as it is, it’s also really beautiful to look at. What was that set like to be on? What would surprise us about the detail that went into that, that we can’t necessarily see just from watching it?

KINNEY: This is an amazing question. I’m so happy we’re talking about that set because it was beautiful and sickening. I remember stepping in there and I could feel it in my gut. I was like, “I do not wanna be in this space.” But that’s really just a testament to our art department and our creatives. They really went ham. That church, too, is really cool. The owner was so sweet. His grandparents had built the church, years and years and years ago, when he was a young boy. The top of it is built with actual trees. He walked me up to the attic of the church and you can literally see the branches as support beams. It was actually a really special location and our production helped renovate it. They saved it and really poured a lot of love into the place. From what I understand, the owner of the church was really grateful. It was a really sweet moment when he gave us mugs with a picture of the church. I still have that. It’s definitely one of my favorite set pieces from the season. And the masks were so detailed. Watching it, I wanted to see more of the detail in those masks. Every mask was made with so much attention to detail. Even if you don’t get to see it, up close and personal, you can still feel it. It all adds to the space, which is something our show does really well. It’s just a lot of attention to detail.

Chandler Kinney Would Like to See Tabby Pushed Further Outside Her Comfort Zone in ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Season 3

Bailee Madison, Chandler Kinney, Zaria, Maia Reficco & Malia Pyles sitting together in PLL Season 2
Image via Max

Is there anything that you want to see happen with Tabby in a third season?

KINNEY: I haven’t really thought about specifics yet, only because getting to this moment has been a journey, so I really haven’t thought past it. With it now being out, I’m just present in this moment. But I will say that Tabby is a very internal character. She’s very reserved, she pushes a lot down, whicg is something that she’s working on, for sure. But I think it’s always really fun in TV and film when you get to see external forces push a character outside their comfort zone and outside of their homeostasis, if you will. You definitely see that in the finale for Tabby, and I want more of that. I want more externalizing of her inner world and her conflict in an actionable way. That would be really fun for Tabby, and I think she needs to. It’s cathartic and healthy. So, that would be fun to play more, as that fire inside her is relit.

I’m all for more kicking ass.

KINNEY: That was actually one of my favorite things to film, the fight sequence. I wanted more fighting. I studied martial arts growing up and it came in handy.

Pretty Little Liars: Summer School is available to stream on Max. Check out the trailer:

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