Dial-up modems, Rube Goldberg machines, Kurt Cobain, and River Phoenix combined in a tense Cruel Summer Episode 2 full of even more breadcrumbs to chase.
Chiara Aurelia(Jeanette) was terrific in episode 1 of the twisty turny thriller. Still, Olivia Holt(Kate) matched her with a chameleonic performance that proved both actresses are committed to showing the good, bad, and ugly of their characters’ transformations. Cruel Summer Episode 2 answered many questions but left us asking even more. Set on and around June 26th, 1993, 1994, 1995, everything happened just a few days after Jeanette’s birthday. On the day of a critical garden party at her stepdad and mom’s house, Episode 2 put us a few steps closer to understanding what happened to Kate and how much Jeanette knew. Here is everything you need to know about Freeform’s addictive mystery.
The music of Cruel Summer Episode 2
The soundtrack is a dream from the mid-nineties. Billy Ray Cyrus was every bit the mom heartthrob. Punk, Emo, and grunge all shared space on the airwaves. You And Me by Tiger Trap from 1993 and Rebel Girl from Bikini Kill in 1992 brought the girl power, while The Cranberries again reign supreme with their haunting 1993 classic Zombie, which coincidently Billy Ray’s daughter Myley Cyrus covered in 2020. Kate was her mother’s perfect sunny doll, almost always doing the right thing before her abduction. After it, she became a zombie of bottled emotions, pain, fear, and anger. She’s lying about something, but it’s not all in her head, in her head, zombie,bie, bie.
The Timeline Explained
1993- Kate and her Mom are doing step aerobics. Similar to Jazzercise in the nineties, it featured a small step and lots of lycra. Jeanette and her mother are in the same class, and Mrs. Turner craves Joy Wallis’s acceptance. Kate is genuinely kind to Jeanette despite how nasty her mother behaves. Kate’s stepfather is not having an affair as she thought but is planning a romantic cruise for Joy for her birthday.
Joy gives a passionate speech at the garden party about how much she loves Rod, and the party gets raided by Jeanette, Mallory, and Vince, who throws shaving cream-filled balloons at them. Jeanette and Joy have a toxic relationship built on perceptions and insecurities. After Joy told her, she was embarrassing, and she didn’t want to talk to her, Kate took a bottle of champagne to the park. On her way there, she saw Jeanette run away from the ballon raid. She was not angry and smiled at her.
The landscape guy Scott Jones found her drunk in the park and took her home. Kate saw her mother kissing Scott, and she ran out of the house. This is the night she first met Mr. Martin Harris. In Ezra Fitzgerald fashion, he tells her to call him Martin and not the more appropriate Mr. Harris.
Jeanette and Jamie became friends and later girlfriend and boyfriend when she started helping put up missing flyers for Kate. Jeanette used what I refer to as the frog in a pot technique to courting. Jamie’s friend Ben liked Jeanette and thought she was good for Jamie.
1994- Kate is a shell of her former self. Poor Kate has been through hell, and her friends don’t understand. We don’t know the exact date she was rescued, but it was between June 21st and June 26th of 1994. She takes baths fully clothed and tries to ignore her friends. Her mother is less concerned with her mental stability than her appearance. Jamie has picked up right where he left off with Kate. Ben believes Jeanette and tries to broker a reconciliation of the two. Kate, unfortunately, sees the message that Jamie will be meeting Jeanette at the park and follows him there.
She watches as Jamie and Jeanette talk and then kisses. Jamie acts as if he believes Jeanette at this point. To Jeanette’s credit, she is either a gifted liar, or she really didn’t see Kate. After seeing Jeanette and Jamie kiss, Kate goes to the police, which she had been avoiding. She tells them Jeanette saw her at Mr. Harris’s, and she has her necklace to prove it. She also says she didn’t know Martin before the abduction. Kate believes this was sometime in December, so well after the hide and seek game we saw in the summer.
Jeanette’s brother was whispered about and ostercized at the Wallis’s garden party because everyone had heard the rumor his sister failed to report seeing Kate. He doesn’t believe his sister could do that but leaves at his friend Tuck’s advise. At the party, Joy gives another speech about how depressed she was while Kate was gone and that even though she just got her back, Joy needed to be at this party to celebrate, I guess? SMH
The final important note is that Mr. Harris was shot dead. Evidently, it happened right in front of Kate. I’m assuming during her rescue; he was shot and killed. There is a news story that hints he may have done other terrible things before kidnapping Kate.
1995– Kate has shorter, darker hair now and is haunted by what happened to her. She flashes back to her abduction when she hummed to herself for comfort. Kate got a belly ring to rebel against her mother. She has a therapist but frequently skips sessions and is very angry with Mr. Harris and Jeanette. Rod is living at her home, and she talks with him, but things are strained with her mother.
Jeanette’s lawyers depose Ben, and he says he doesn’t know what to believe anymore. Kate is still talking with an online chat group for abduction survivors. She tells her friend online that she is worried about what will happen when and if people find out she hasn’t been perfectly honest. We find out Jeanette is suing Kate for defamation. Joy is present for this announcement heard through another new story. There is still no mention of Jeanette’s brother.
Next week we are sure to have even more to dissect. Until then, find all our Cruel Summer coverage here.
- How did Kate get Jeanette’s necklace? Did she drop it on the night she allegedly saw Kate?
- Suing someone costs money. How is Jeanette paying for this if her father doesn’t believe her and is obviously angry with her? Why pay for her to sue if he doubted her innocence?
- Was the scene with the red dress and Kate banging on the door from her kidnapping day?
- Why was Jeanette at Mr. Harris’s house that December when Kate said she saw her?
- What is Kate lying about? Did she lie about Jeanette out of jealousy and anger that she took her boyfriend, or did she see her? Is it possible she only thought Jeanette saw her?
- I think I overheard Rod Wallis say “one of” my daughters. We have only seen Kate in the house, so did I misunderstand, or is there a step-sister out there? Does it matter?
- Did Kate and Mr. Harris have a brief relationship before he abducted her? He didn’t meet her until the end of June. Sometime between school starting and then she was taken. That is more than enough time for a predator to groom someone.
- Is it possible the thing Kate is lying about was something shameful to her, like repeated rape?
- Who doesn’t love a good pager?
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.