Dot-matrix printers, Cassiopeia, antipodes, and the skeet shooting trip from groundhog hell round out a successful Cruel Summer Episode 4.
“Secrets are scary because everyone has them.” Kate is correct and true to the formula we’ve grown to love and hate, Cruel Summer, reveals secrets and lies with devastating calculation. No matter how much you think you know, Cruel Summer Episode 4 proves, you don’t know jack. Kate seems to remember Mr. Harris holding her hostage, but our minds can play tricks on us, as the therapist pointed out. Who else has some secrets to protect?
Oliva Holt’s Kate took the reigns again this week in a powerhouse performance of steely determination, self-doubt, fear, and crippling anger. Little by little, her ordeal is being laid bare. Unfortunately, we don’t know how much of that is fact and how much is a drug-fueled fabrication. Between the sunny memories of high wasted mom jeans and star gazing, there is an undercurrent of pain even before Kate was taken. Friends and parents couldn’t be relied on to keep her safe. By the time her year ordeal is over, she has even fewer people to trust. Let’s hope she is trusting the right ones.
Three of my favorite songs from the 90s were used to good effect in Cruel Summer Episode 4. Green Day’s hit She from 1994 is a powerful musical symbol of everything Kate feels after coming home. She doesn’t want to be her mother’s perfect doll in her ideal room. Her experience changed her, and nothing will ever be the same. Beautiful girl from INXS in 1992 is a reminder that sometimes we can’t remain in the past, and Duran Duran’s haunting 1993 classic Come Undone speaks for itself. Kate feels like she is unraveling, but maybe she is just molting? She might be preparing to emerge as something new.
July 15th,1993- We meet Kate’s stepsister Ashley. The tension between the girls is thick despite Kate’s best efforts. Ashley thinks Joy is a gold digger and potential adulterer and Kate tries to talk to her about it. The first skeet shooting camping trip is shown, and at this point, Kate is a crack shot. Joy’s mother does not like Derek Turner and invited Mr. Harris along on the trip. Kate made it home on July 4th, 1993 and Joy is appreciative. However, he is startled by the gun retort, which is ironic considering just one year later, he would be shot in Kate’s rescue.
When Kate can’t sleep, she finds Mr. Harris sitting by the water. They discuss antipodes which are opposite points on the globe. Are he and Kate the antipodes? Is it Kate and Jeanette, or is there someone else who is pulling the strings? He tells her about his family’s tragic past. His father committed suicide when he was younger. It is why the gunshot bothers him so much. If this is true, does that pinpoint a trauma that turned into mental illness, or is this a lie designed to groom Kate for what is to come? Shortly after, we see Kate already locked in the basement. She appears to have been drugged.
July 15th 1994-Kate is resentful that life continued without her. Her parents redecorated. Her boyfriend partied and got a new girlfriend, and Mr. Harris continued teaching. So many things happened while she was locked up. The spaces she once loved the most are now gilded cages.
Mallory and Kate started their friendship on July 15th, 1994, while in the waiting room of their therapist. By this point, Jeanette and Mallory are no longer friends. Mallory confides that she has some serious issues she is discussing with the therapist that goes beyond typical divorced family drama. Is it possible Mallory knows more than she is admitting to? Kate’s Mom is a nightmare, but she may be right to distrust her later.
Kate and her mother get bad news that the police will not be charging Jeanette as there isn’t enough evidence. Therapy is causing Kate to remember her time with Mr. Harris, and she recalls an escape attempt that did no go well. She tells her therapist after the attempt; things got worse. Several warped memories show Kate in the basement with boxes of supplies and Mr. Harris looking down at her. There are lots of shots of his ankles and shoes. Is it possible Kate has confused Mr. Harris’s face with someone else who looks similar? Someone like a dangerous stalker ex-boyfriend named Jamie?
Berenice the IV was indeed Cleopatra’s older sister. She was the daughter of Ptolemy XII Auletes. She ruled Egypt after her father was ousted. He reclaimed the throne several years later and had her beheaded. Ashley is comparing Berenice IV’s cunning with her catfishing of Kate. Ash gets the idea from Derek Turner, who is her friend and potentially more. Ashley claims to feel terrible about what happened to Kate and only wants her to open up to her so they can be close. She could be telling the truth, but she could also have another agenda that involves knowing what Kate does to protect herself if she was involved in the kidnapping. Let’s hope this is just a misguided attempt to help her step-sister.
July 15th, 1995- Kate’s lawyer is preparing her for battle. This version of Kate is hardened and resentful. She is no longer content to be the obedient scared child. Kate is also adamant that Jeanette saw her as Jeanette left the house. She says they locked eyes. However, between the bars on the windows, the coverings, and captivity, she may imagine this. We don’t know yet.
Mallory and Kate are best friends now. Just because Kate trusts her doesn’t mean Joy does, though. Joy confronts Mallory about the note left on their door. She accuses Mallory of leaving it herself as a way to ensure Kate still needs her emotionally. We know Mallory is angry and has admitted to some instability. How deep does that darkness run?
Joy is prepared to protect her life at all costs. She invites the Stevenson’s on another shooting trip to bolster their support. She needs them ready to testify that Kate never lied. Unfortunately, Babs knows Kate lied in 1993 about her walk in the woods and probably suspects she has lied about other things like typical teenagers.
After Mallory tells Kate that her mother accused her of leaving the note, Kate tells a ghost story about Annabelle. The story, which was designed to make the adults feel guilty about their respective roles in her kidnapping, was a red herring. Kate did not pick the name Annabelle on a whim. That name is rattling around in her brain because Mr. Harris had an Annabelle at his house the day she was rescued. The problem is, Kate can’t remember who that is. The only thing she does remember is Mr. Harris seemed wrong.
Cruel Summer Episode 4 was everything we have come to expect from the addictive series. It was emotional, insightful, and maddening in its patient story progression. Some tales take time to tell properly. It is prestige television and the show that everyone should be watching. Follow all our Cruel Summer coverage here and stay away from grilled cheese and trail mix.
- The exchange between Joy and Mallory was gold. It takes a player to recognize game, and I am not convinced that Joy is wrong about Mallory. I do, however, love Mallory’s comeback to Joy.”You’re not a very nice young lady.”, says Joy. “You’re not a very nice old one.”, says Mallory.
- Could Annabelle be another girl Mr. Harris had kidnapped at some point which now was a willing guest? Is she real?
- Joy was drunk and vulnerable on July 4th, 1993. Why didn’t Mr. Harris take her then? Was he not prepared for a captive yet?
- There are several men who all look a little like Mr. Harris, especially if you were drugged. Jamie, Ben, and Derek all have similar builds and hair color. While I doubt Derek or Ben did this, I have severe reservations about Jamie. What would have been his motive, though, and why punch Jeanette when Kate was rescued?
- Cassiopeia is a constellation but also a Greek legend. In the myth, she was a very vain queen who boasted she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs. This angered Poseidon, who ordered her daughter Andromeda tied to a rock near the ocean for Cetus or the Kraken for those Clash Of The Titans fans to devour. Perseus saved her with his winged horse Pegasus and Cassiopeia was ordered to live far away in the stars tied to a chair for eternity.
- In her 1993 complaint about women being allowed to compete in Skeet Shooting in the Olympics, Joy has things out of date. This happened in 1996. In 1992 women were allowed to complete, but in 1996 it was a male-only sport.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.