The much-anticipated spinoff series, Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, premieres tonight on Freeform. Since the show is based on the young adult book series The Perfectionists by Sara Shepherd, fans are turning to the source material for clues as to what to expect on the show adaptation. They are especially curious about the major mystery the show is already teasing: the murder of Nolan Hotchkiss.
The series’ official trailer starts off with several brief clips of Nolan interacting (and antagonizing) a few of the show’s main characters, explaining “Students here will do whatever it takes to stay on top” and “I don’t have a choice but to be the best at everything,” the trailer cuts to a shot of Hotchkiss’s dead body being covered as it hangs over an iron fence. Voice over from major characters elaborates on who Nolan was while he was alive, as they attempt to piece together clues and solve the mystery of his murder. Mona says “Whoever did this is smart enough to pin this murder on anyone they want,” and later that Nolan “was someone who could push another student to the point of snapping.” In typical Pretty Little Liars fashion, everyone’s can and will be a suspect.
Beware of spoilers and speculations below, and stop reading if you do not want to know what happens in the Perfectionists novels or television show.
In the books, it is eventually revealed that Nolan was killed by Parker, one of the book’s main characters. In an added twist, Parker and Julie Redding (another main character involved in the mystery) are the same person, and Parker is the split personality Julie created after her sister Parker was murdered by their father. As Bustle points out, this twist is unlikely to play out in the same way on the show, because neither Parker nor Julie is listed as characters (Mona and Alison are additions to the series, to tie it back into the Pretty Little Liars franchise). It is possible that one of the other characters (Ava, Caitlin, or Dylan, all of whome Nolan was blackmailing) will take on that split personality storyline, though this twist would be harder to pull off in a visual medium than it was for Shepherd to accomplish in a written one.
The absence of Parker leads to another major difference between the books and the shows: in the books, Parker was the only liar that Nolan had a relationship with before his death. Without her, the show gives him backstories with Ava, Caitlin, and Dylan, rather than simply making him their bully.
Nolan Hotchkiss is played by Chris Mason. Although Nolan dies quickly on the show, Mason is credited on IMDB as appearing in all 10 of the first season’s episodes and has been a major part of the show’s promotion, so expect that Nolan Hotchkiss will still be a regular presence on the series in spite of his death.
Remember that Pretty Little Liars included frequent flashbacks to Alison DiLaurentis before her “death” and that even though they found her alleged dead body in the pilot episode, she turned out to be alive several seasons later. Glamour watched the pilot episode ahead of its premiere and made this comparison, remarking that “There’s a similar, just-as-shocking story line on The Perfectionists. I can’t say much else without giving away spoilers, but just know these hot people don’t stay dead for long.
Tune in to Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists on Freeform, Wednesday nights at 8/7c.