It seems everyone has secrets in Cruel Summer Episode 6, which smartly changes the way we look at many of the characters and keeps the mystery going.
The closer you look, the less you’ll see. Or at least that’s what Daniel Atlas is constantly saying in Now You See Me. The same can be true for Freeform’s sudsy guilty pleasure Cruel Summer. This addictive series has quickly become can’t miss television on Tuesday nights. The deceptive story of two girls, one pedophile, and a small town full of secrets is the kind of show you can watch casually but also watch again and again in search of tiny clues and hints you may have missed on the first viewing. Cruel Summer Episode 6 continued the trend of showing us just enough to make our heads spin. Here’s everything you need to know about the music, 90’s references, and timeline.
Jason Goes To Hell, Nerds, and cordless phones make an appearance this week. It’s a nostalgic blast from the past. Mingled between the Discman cameos, neon tie-dye, and Menedez brothers asides, there was some great music. Some from the correct years and others more modern. The unifying thread is they all have a 90’s sensibility. Lowdown Breaks 2018 driver Can I Kick It feels like it could be a child of the 90’s rap scene. A revamped version of 1990’s Unbelievable, originally by EMF, shakes off the booming beat for a stripped-down emotional take. Lastly, Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel in 1995 is a question we are all asking.
August 15th,-1993- The happy Turners are celebrating an anniversary. It’s a glimpse at everything that is lost by 1995. Everything that happened between Kate and Jeanette also destroyed their families and friends. It is clear, though, that cracks had been forming for a while. Jeanette took the blame for Vince when he was almost caught shoplifting, partly because she knew she wouldn’t get in trouble and he would, but also because she is addicted to danger. She is tired of being the ideal little daughter. There is pressure to that too. Just as her mother applied pressure to be popular, his passive acceptance of everything is hard too. She says as much in 1995 when she laments that she wishes she could stay the geeky girl he loved.
Jeanette’s stay in mall jail, which any kid from the ’80s and ’90s can attest is a real thing, provided context to her and Jamie’s relationship. This is how the first started talking. By meeting in the security office, he sees her as something other than a goody goody. This sets the stage for Jeanette’s transformation. Will we soon get a very special makeover episode ala She’s All That from 1999.
Mallory continues to lead the trio down a dangerous path. We know she is an angry girl who is in therapy. What we don’t know is how deep does the dark streak run. Is it possible she is the Annabelle Kate has talked about? Mallory has secrets of her own, and the rebellious girl may be more than meets the eye. Vince and Jeanette could say no to Mallory but don’t. There is a power dynamic that is unhealthy and may be continuing in 1994 and 1995 with Kate.
Tanya Peterson flirts shamelessly with Mr. Harris at the mall until they set up a date. Unfortunately for Jeanette, they arrived at his home after she used the key. She hides in the closet at the same time, Tanya chats up Mr. Harris, drinks too much wine, and divulges WAY too much information. She is the aggressor on the date, not him. More than likely, this is because he has feelings for Kate, but also because Tanya exudes desperation from her pores. When she tells Mr. Harris Tennille’s father isn’t her biological father and has been lying about it to claim child support, it shocks Jeanette. Tanya finds her in the closet while Mr. Harris is out of the room getting a towel and tells Jeanette to run. They agree to keep each other’s respective secrets. Could she be Annabelle? Is it possible she was an accomplice to Mr. Harris?
August 15th, 1994– One year later from the perfect anniversary, Jeanette’s parents are fractured. Jeanette’s mother is jealous and feeling lost, while Jeanette’s father wants to ignore everything and trust their daughter without question. It makes for a nasty, lonely cocktail. Everyone is feeling isolated. Jeanette’s new friends ignore her, Derrick is moving away to college, and her parents have changed. Harassing phone calls don’t help.
Jeanette’s mom doesn’t trust her. Good parents probably shouldn’t trust everything their kids say. Everyone tells lies. Some are harmless white lies, while others can have life-changing consequences. When Cindy finds the house key to Mr. Harris’ house taped to the bottom of Jeanette’s jewelry, she knows her perfect sweet daughter isn’t perfect. When she questions Jeanette about being in Mr. Harris’ house, Jeanette lies without blinking. Why is Jeanette still lying about everything? A trip to Mr. Harris’ house is all Cindy needs to prove Jeanette is lying.
Rather than convincing Mr. Turner to verify things for himself, she drives the wedge wider. Cindy needs him to understand their daughter isn’t perfect, and neither is their family dynamic. In the end, she only succeeds in putting the first nail in the coffin. Cindy sees her daughter as she is. She pushes too hard and cares too much about what others think, but she sees the real her. On the other hand, Jeanette’s father sees only the shy, nerdy girl she once was. Considering Jeanette lied about the pot and the key, we know she is capable of deception. He just doesn’t want to see it.
Ben and Vince continue their sweet relationship but are keeping it very private. Jeanette is the only one who knows because she walked into the video store and saw them. Considering Jeanette’s new friends no longer want to talk to her, she needs their friendship. Jeanette is upset because she tells Vince her mother doesn’t believe her, but why should she? Jeanette is lying about being in the house and maybe seeing Kate. Cruel Summer Episode 6 continues to twist the knife.
Tanya Peterson is a nightmare. The grasping social climber is grabbing her five minutes of small-town fame by blabbing to anyone who will listen. Mr. Harris is a child abuser and kidnapper, but he wasn’t inappropriate with Tanya. She was aggressive. When Jeanette calls her Tanya a liar, Tennille viciously hurls back that Cindy is a “freak show has been. It’s a truth that Cindy has been trying to shake since high school. She isn’t content, and her dissatisfaction with her career leaks out as social insecurity. Tanya is a different beast and has created an equally monstrous daughter. What has Cindy’s unhappiness made?.”
August 15th, 1995- Angela continues to be the most significant source of support for Jeanette. The bar owner who moved into town right after Kate was found has found herself right in the middle of the Turner family drama. Is she what she appears to be? She is a sounding board for the entire Turner family, including Jeanette’s Mom, who finally appears in 1995. Following Kate’s accusations in 1994 and then finding the house key in Jeanette’s room, she left town to pursue her dreams. Jeanette’s father has evidently told Angela she left him, but her comments indicate that even Mr. Turner has some skeletons in the closet. After he checked the key for himself, he also knows what several others do.
It’s an interesting angle to show that the perfect family from 1993 is just a heartbeat away from being broken. Their relationship appears to be predicated on happiness already being present. Jeanette’s mom hasn’t felt fulfilled, seen, or understood. Jeanette’s situation just gave the unhappiness room to grow. Jeanette may blame her mother for the separation, but her father also plays a part. Children often have different views of their parents’ relationship. Jeanette is no different. As a Daddy’s girl, she views him as perfect and her admittedly judgmental mother as flawed. In reality, it is more complex than that. Janette’s mom wanted to keep Jeanette from making the same mistakes she made.
Vince and Jeanette are spending time together again, which is good for both of them. They have a true friendship, and both of them are hurting. He offers to help Jeanette sneak out to the mall and confront Tanya Peterson. Tanya is an attention hog and has an explosive secret she can’t afford(literally) to come out. Jeanette knows that secret and reminds Tanya just how dangerous talking could be for both of them. Luckily, Jeanette’s cold reasoning gets through to Tanya. Jeanette is calculated and chilling in this scene which makes her smile and laughs when playing cards with her Dad and Vince so disconcerting. Which Jeanette is the real one? Is she an impulsive young girl hungry for popularity, or a sinister socio[path capable of anything?
Cruel Summer Episode 6 was everything we have come to expect and love about the who’s done it series we can’t get enough of. It doesn’t matter how much we think we know; each new episode spins all that around, keeping us pleasantly puzzled and desperate to learn more. Find all our Cruel Summer coverage, including all the timelines and music, here.
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.