Television

Cruel Summer Episode 5

Cruel Summer Episode 5 As The Carny Gods Intended Review- All The Music, Timeline Details, And Theories

Cruel Summer Episode 5 brought us Kevin Smith’s Clerks and the advent of the karaoke machine. Take a chill pill, y’all, because it was all pretty dope.

The Gods of Summer can be cruel, and for our vulnerable girls, Cruel Summer Episode 5 was tough to watch. Kate and Jeanette are both reeling from events that they can’t forget. There is plenty of blame to go around concerning Kate’s abduction. None of it lands on Kate’s shoulders, though. Regardless of her childish facinatination with Mr. Harris, or her innocent crush, he was the instigator. Before the end of the episode, the carnival is revealed to be a dangerous place for many different reasons.

It’s nearly August, and Kate is still very much in her home and relatively safe. It is evident from her interactions with Mr. Harris that this is a tenuous position, though. He is clearly fixated on her and grooming her for what is to come. At this point, it is safe to say they had some sort of relationship before her kidnapping. That does not excuse his behavior, but it does go a long way in explaining why Kate feels so conflicted. Like many victims, she blames herself instead of the guilty party. Both girls initially go to the carnival to define themselves. As the years go by, they both slowly want to lose themselves in the lights, sounds, and memories of another time.

The music of Cruel Summer Episode 5

Cruel Summer Episode 5 brought us several more classics from the mid-’90s. Spin Doctors Two Princes, a personal favorite(don’t judge), from 1991, tells the story of two princes vying for the heart of their lady love. One is wealthy and respectable, while the other has dreams and little more. Jeanette likely views herself and Kate as though two princes, not realizing how good she has it herself. Green Days’ cover of Mecca Normal’s 1986 classic I Walk Alone was actually released in 2004 and is an obvious choice for Jeanette. Skunk Anansie’s 1995 anthem Weak is a bleak picture of love lost. There are no tears for those we have lost. Finally, 4 Non Blondes gave us the infectious What’s Up from 1993.

July 29th, 1993- Both girls are preparing for the carnival. As part of the summer list, Jeanette is going on a date with clueless by sweet Gideon, and Kate is going with Jamie and Ben. Jeanette still has her glasses and curls but there are already signs that she is ready to shed her shy girl persona. Kate on the other hand is struggling with her own self-confidence issues. She has always been the perfect doting daughter. After seeing her mother and Scott Jones kissing, she struggles with who to tell and how to convince anyone. Jamie who would rather avoid drama brushes off her concerns in what is just the first of many gaslighting campaigns to come.

Both girls have interactions with Mr. Harris. Through a recording of one of Kate’s therapy sessions, we see Kate and Mr. Harris flirt. She wins a game, and he gives her a pink bunny and leaves her scrunchie behind. Seeing the scrunchie, he snatches it up and tries to hide it. Jeanette and Gideon play a carnival game together until Jeanette becomes embarrassed by the mean girl posse. When she blows off Gideon, Mr. Harris chastises her for being cruel to Gideon.

Unfortunately for Mr. Harris, Jeanette catches sight of the scrunchie and offers to return it to Kate. As of the end of the episode, Jeanette still had the scrunchie. Both Mr. Harris and Jeanette are obsessed with Kate. The difference is Jeanette has a schoolgirl crush while Mr. Harris has an unhealthy and criminal fixation. For a girl desperate to be seen and heard, Mr. Harris is dangerous. We know at least one of these two people betrayed Kate. Did both of them?


July 29th, 1994- We now know somewhere between July 15th and July 29th, 1993, Kate and Mr. Harris took their relationship to a new level. We don’t have context to the bathroom scene to indicate if she was a hostage or a willing participant. Thanks to a date on the gravestone, which Kate destroys in 1995, we know she has been home approximately five weeks.

Jeanette is convinced she can fix everything with Kate if she could just talk to her. Her brother Derek who went with her to the fair is not so sure, but he is firmly in her corner. He councils her to let it go and move on. Jeanette’s Mom is still living at home but is struggling with alcoholism. She is being harassed in town and not dealing with it very well. For someone who was once the “It Girl”, this is especially nightmarish. Jeanette’s father meets Angela Prescott for the first time in the movie rental store.

Kate and Jamie are at the carnival together, but their date is short-lived. She doesn’t trust him, and after what she has been through, she won’t be pushed aside anymore. Jamie tries to convince her he never kissed Jeanette, but Kate is through with being doubted. In a truly repugnant turn, he tries to convince her she is unstable and imagined the kiss. From what we see later of Jamie, she is right to counsel him on the opposite of love.

He only thinks he loves Kate. She’s sweet and pretty. He seems to love Jeanette, though. There is no other explanation for his continued stalking and anger with her. He is not indifferent to Jeanette. He is enraged. As Kate pointed out, rage is not the opposite of love. In fact, some could argue it is a warped version of it. The Monkey Maze funhouse is anything but for poor traumatized Kate and desperate Jeanette.


July 29th, 1995- Kate and Jeanette are haunted by the past two years. Kate still sees Mr. Harris everywhere, and her guilt is eating her alive. We don’t know what she feels guilty about, but it is becoming clearer she may have encouraged Mr. Harris’s advances. She should not feel guilty, however, as she was a child. Hopefully, she will begin to believe her therapist. Kate still doesn’t know who wrote the liar letter, but her sister, who is catfishing her in the chat room, wants her to believe it is Jeanette. Who benefits or Cui bono in Latin is the big question. Just as a year ago, Jeanette wanted to confront Kate and makes things right, Kate intends to confront Jeanette at the fair.

Mallory is more than willing to help humiliate her former best friend. A cathartic dunking of Jamie leads to a rare moment of humility for the emotional boy. He finally admits he lied to her last year about kissing Jeanette. Kate forgives him and tells him that was the nicest thing he could have done for her. For Kate, the truth is all there is now. Lastly, Mallory convinces Kate to bury her pink stuffed rabbit over Mr. Harris’s grave. She digs a small hole, but before she covers the bunny, she destroys his gravestone.

Jeanette and her lawyer make plans to bolster the jury’s perception of her. Vince did a good job, but they will need more character witnesses. Jeanette and her father have a tense conversation. He wants to believe her but obviously doesn’t anymore. Her father paid for her lawyer but has lost everything in the process of defending her. He tells her he is always on her side and will say to the court she is a gentle person who wouldn’t hurt anyone, “as far as he knows.”

It is a dig that speaks volumes about the divide between the once-loving family members. Luckily, Angela is supportive even if Jeanette won’t admit she needs help. She will need to lean on Angela to weather the storm. Jeanette is having panic attacks because she doesn’t think she deserves to be happy. We don’t know yet if she has anything to feel bad about.

There is still so much to the story we don’t know. One thing is for sure, Mr. Harris is a pedophile and a monster. There is no ambiguity now. What Jeanette did or did not know we still don’t know, but there is no doubt Mr. Harris took advantage of a young girl. Follow all our Cruel Summer coverage here.

Stray Thoughts and Lingering Questions:

  • Troy Aikman and the 1993 Dallas Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. It was the final year under head coach Jimmy Johnson.
  • Ironically the 1994 movie starring Meg Ryan Jeanette’s parents want to see is When A Man Loves A Woman. It is a film about a mother who is struggling with alcoholism. It was released in April of 1994. The other movie Meg Ryan starred in from 1994 was IQ which was released in December. As a result, they couldn’t be trying to rent that one.
  • Jeanette’s mom is correct about dead bodies on a plane. If someone should die on a flight, the body is moved to an empty row and covered with a rug or blanket. Empty rows are more frequent in business and first-class sections of the plane. Fly cheap, people!
  • Jeanette is looking at an entertainment news magazine, and it has a story about her but also about Anna Nichole Smith, whose older rich husband died on August 4th, 1995. This scene had to be after August 4th, or there are date discrepancies again.
  • Kate was rescued, and Mr. Harris was killed on June 22nd, 1994. There was a gunshot heard the night of Jeanette’s birthday. We do not know what time of day Kate was rescued, so if it was after midnight, this could have been the shot that killed Mr. Harris.

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