This post contains spoilers for Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists was clear about its premise from the beginning, promising an unlikely murder in a relatively safe college town that sends the campus into a frenzy. Viewers had to wait until the very end of the spinoff series' first episode to learn how this killing happened, but even then, the murder only inspired more questions. Rich blackmailer Nolan Hotchkiss is dead after an encounter with a mysterious figure, so who murdered Nolan on The Perfectionists? Time to break down the possible suspects.
Soon after Alison (Sasha Pieterse) arrived at Beacon Heights University to be a teaching assistant, she quickly caught on to the shifty dynamics among a group of her students. Gifted cellist Dylan (Eli Brown) was writing papers for Nolan (Chris Mason), the son of wealthy tech moguls who were involved in BHU's foundation, and aspiring fashion designer Ava (Sofia Carson), but neither Dylan nor Ava would admit the truth about this to Alison. It turns out that a brand new TA immediately digging into students' relationships with each other is never received well.
Nolan also made his stance on payback clear in a class discussion on Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, raising Alison's concerns about how much the school's superiors knew about her past. Meanwhile, Nolan's blackmailing efforts toward Ava, Dylan, and his fake girlfriend Caitlin (Sydney Park) encouraged the three to jokingly vent about wanting to kill him. Little did they know, Nolan was meeting with his seemingly dead sister Taylor (Hayley Erin) about exposing their mother's use of the school security system to spy on this specific group of students.
His secret plans culminated in a meeting with a hidden figure on a rooftop, during which he revealed Taylor was alive and they needed this person's help. We don't know how the other responded, but seeing as Nolan's body was next seen impaled on a campus fence underneath the building (just how Caitlin imagined it), he or she probably didn't take the plea for help too well.
So, who is the likeliest killer? Based on the characters we've met, here are the options.
Alison Or Mona
Fans of Sara Shepard's The Perfectionists book series know that Pretty Little Liars characters Alison and Mona (Janel Parrish) aren't in the original story, but the show has already changed around other key facts of the books. This means that Alison or Mona's involvement in the case is plausible, but the episode seemed to clarify that neither was near the scene of the crime. Alison was ripping up wallpaper in her house before hearing sirens near the incident, while Mona questioning people in mirrors (Beacon Guard staffers?) about whether the death was her fault suggests innocence for now. It may be worth it to keep an eye on Mona, but the chances of her being the killer are slim.
Dylan, Ava, Or Caitlin
You can't exactly ignore the fact that this trio gathered moments before Nolan's death to talk about how they'd kill him. Caitlin's pinpoint accuracy in foreshadowing the details of his murder is also noteworthy, and her reaction to Nolan's body was the most ambiguous of the group. Ava collapsed and began sobbing at the sight of him, while Dylan was stuck on how Caitlin predicted the specifics of the impalement. However, all three were still in the campus quad as Nolan secretly watched them from the rooftop, so there was no feasible way for one of them to have reached him seconds later.
Andrew Or Jeremy
As the boyfriends of Dylan and Caitlin, Andrew (Evan Bittencourt) and Jeremy (Graeme Thomas King) both had serious beef with Nolan. Jeremy offered to get him off Caitlin's case, while Andrew didn't understand why Dylan repeatedly did Nolan's schoolwork. But like the trio, they both appeared soon after authorities discovered Nolan's body. Never say never, but their ties to his death could swing either way.
Nolan's Mom Or Dad
Putting extra surveillance on him and his blackmailed posse, Nolan's mother Claire (Kelly Rutherford) has evil intentions on the brain, but as Nolan and Taylor are seemingly plotting against Claire, Nolan wouldn't exactly meet her to ask for help. But where was Peter Hotchkiss during this episode? Nolan's dad was only mentioned during the explanation of what happened to Taylor and then again when Nolan was anticipating a family dinner. Because of Peter's mysterious absence, maybe Nolan's dad isn't as close with his wife as an initial glance suggests. If he's the killer, then Nolan must have thought he could trust Peter, only to be proven wrong.
The show has already set off plenty of fan theories, so here's to receiving some answers about Nolan's murder soon. Season 1 of Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists continues on Wednesday, March 27, at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform.