Danny Feld/ABC
Tanner Stransky
June 14, 2011 AT 04:39 PM EDT

The season finale of ABC Family’s addictive and stylish teen soap Pretty Little Liars left a lot of questions hanging when it aired back in March. Most glaringly, what the heck happened to Ian’s body after he was seemingly hanged in the belltower at the hands of Spencer and the ever-mysterious “A”? Since the series returns tonight with its second-season premiere, answers are to come soon enough. But how about a little preview of what’s gonna happen this season to tide you over? EW was on the show’s set last month and has all the scoop. “Last season was really about what appears to be isn’t,” explains series creator and executive producer Marlene King. “This season, there’s more to each episode, there’s more to each text [from ‘A’], there’s more to every character.” Here’s what’s in store:

CONFUSION, INITIALLY Star Lucy Hale, who plays level-headed Aria Montgomery, says season 2 picks up moments after the fracas with Ian (Ryan Merriman), and the girls are still reeling from that final text from “A.” “At the start of the season, the girls are figuring out: Did Ian really die? Because in the finale, it was up in the air. Was it all a hoax? Who planned this? Was it ‘A’? Is he ‘A’? There’s all these questions.” The reveal about what actually happened with Ian will come rather quickly — “it gets pieced together little by little over the first three or four episodes,” says King — and let’s just say that the Little Liars will hear from him (or someone impersonating him?) by the end of tonight’s premiere.

GROUP THERAPY Since the girls’ story about Ian’s demise seems unlikely — his body has gone missing — their always-present and concerned parents send them to a therapist, Anne Sullivan (Brotherhood‘s Annabeth Gish), who becomes a big part of the season. (The picture above shows them on the therapist’s couch.) Explains Ashley Benson, who portrays the feisty Hanna Marin: “The therapist tries to help the girls piece everything together and by doing that, she’s in danger now,” Marin says. “Because she’s getting in contact with the girls and ‘A’ is always around, so she puts her life in danger which is really interesting.” Additionally, the therapist storyline sparked a bullying-themed episode that will come later in the season. “She thinks the girls are being bullied by a mean girl, and we address the whole mean-girl issue,” reveals King. “The girls can’t tell anyone about ‘A,’ but she is the ultimate mean girl.”

SEPARATION ANXIETY At the end of tonight’s episode, amid other shockers, the girls’ parents — still über-concerned about how what occurred in the belltower looks to the town — makes them spend less time together. Says Benson: “You’re going to see us separated and with our families and different friends and that kind of thing. You get more into our personal lives, and that’s kind of fun.”

THE RETURN OF ALISON’S BROTHER Yup, Jason DiLaurentis is coming back, though Drew Van Acker has taken over the role from last season’s Parker Bagley. “He bought his family’s house,” explains executive producer Oliver Goldstick. “He’s moving back. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding why would he come back? He’s pretty damaged as a character, and you’re going to find out what baggage he’s carrying.” Adds King: “There’s a lot more to his story. One of our Liars is attracted to his darker side.”

LOTS OF PERSONAL DRAMA For all the girls, of course.

  • Aria‘s relationship with Ezra (Ian Harding) will not only be complicated by the return of his ex-fiancé, but Aria gets distracted by another potential love interest, too. “There is also someone out there who is catching Aria’s eye,” says Hale.
  • Emily (Shay Mitchell) will get some unexpected help from “A” to avoid her move to Texas. “Emily is packing,” Shay teases. “I can tell you that.”
  • Hanna‘s estranged father comes back to town. The storyline is “really heavy,” says Benson. “Let’s just say that Hanna’s family life at home is going to change a lot and someone will be moving in.”
  • Spencer (Troian Bellisario) gets more serious with love interest Toby (Keegan Allen), despite the very loud protests of her overbearing parents. Says Bellisario: “I think the only person she can go to is Toby, so she and Toby get a lot closer and kind of seek solace in each other.”

For more on Pretty Little Liars‘ hot new season, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.

Tanner on Twitter @EWTanStransky

Read more:

‘Pretty Little Liars’ finale: Alison’s death (maybe) solved, another character (maybe) dead, and more mystery to come

‘Pretty Little Liars’: Troian Bellisario on Spencer hitting ‘rock bottom’ and the mystery she’d like to see more of next season

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