Cruel Summer Finale Explained- All The Biggest Questions Answered Including That Final Surprise And What To Expect From Season 2
Cruel Summer was the surprise hit of the summer. The teen mystery was the highest performing Freeform series by a mile and has already been picked up for Season 2. It even eclipsed Freeform’s other summertime guilty pleasure, Motherland: Fort Salem, which returns for its second season next week. What Cruel Summer Season 2 will look like, we still don’t know. It could be an anthology series with the same cast or an entirely different cast. It could be a continuation of Kate and Jeanette’s story, or it could even veer off and flesh out the stories of Ben, Vince, Jamie, Ashley, or even wildly underused Derek. Everything is on the table.
The Season 1 finale, which aired last night, was anything but cruel to viewers. It delivered all the goods. We finally learned who knew what and when and everything was wrapped into a neat and tidy bow. That is until the last-minute shocker that kind of confirmed what we have all been thinking for a while. Jeanette is a little too good at lying. Here’s everything you need to know about that surprising reveal and how some of Kate’s inconsistencies can still be true.
Who was Annabelle?
The titular extra character wasn’t a person at all. She was not another kidnap victim, nor was she Kate’s baby. As many fans guessed, Annabelle was a gun. The gun Mr. Harris’s father used to commit suicide, specifically. After Cruel Summer’s Episode 9 painfully showed how Mr. Harris preyed on Kate and then twisted her naive trust, his demise was cathartic. In the end, Kate was able to save herself. The experience left her severely traumatized, but after sitting with Mr. Harris all night, the police came, and she rejoined society. The gunshot that was heard on Jeanette’s birthday was Kate shooting Mr. Harris in the basement of his home.
The news reported him dying in a shoot out which was obviously false. We don’t know if that was lazy journalism or purposely deceptive to shield Kate from further scrutiny. Regardless, there was no shootout, just an ineffective attempt at suicide by Mr. Harris followed by Kate’s more effective shot. She stayed with him because, despite everything he did to her, she still cared for him. That is the worst thing he took from her. He betrayed the trust and love of a young, idealistic girl. As an adult and a person in power, he should never have acted the way he did. Joy ingrained in her daughter obedience and trust. She was wrong to mold her daughter into the gullible mess she was, but make no mistake, Mr. Harris is the true monster.
Blake Lee continued his tour de force performance as Mr. Harris this week. He proved what a star he was in the last two episodes that showed the placid calm of a human monster and how quickly a young girl’s love can be perverted and exploited. Unless Cruel Summer Season 2 is a flashback to his earlier life, we can safely say he will not be back for Season 2. It will be a shame to lose his incredible performance, though. Perhaps we could see his childhood, or maybe he did this before and didn’t get caught? That would be interesting to watch.
Who did Kate think she locked eyes with at Martin’s house?
As predicted by many superfans, Mallory was the one Kate saw through the window. When Jeanette entered the house yet again to steal stuff on Christmas Eve, she heard Kate and quickly left the house with the snowglobe in hand. That snowglobe was heard on the voicemail recording Jamie got and later played for Jeanette and found its way to Mallory when the two fought that night. When Kate and Jeanette had their tete de tete in Mr. Martin’s house, Jeanette realized it was Mallory that saw Kate through the window because Kate described Mallory’s bike.
Kate never intended on destroying Jeanette’s life out of spite. She wasn’t making things up to get back at the girl she thought stole her life. She simply was mistaken about what she saw, and with Jeanette’s necklace left behind, she thought she had proof that the girl knew exactly what was going on in the house and did nothing to stop it. After she realized her mistake, she cleared Jeanette’s name, and Jeanette dropped the lawsuit.
In the dark, with her hood pulled up, neither girl realized what each saw. Kate thought she saw Jeanette, who she knew had been in the house, and Mallory thought she was looking at a friend, relative, or girlfriend visiting Martin for the holidays. Later after Kate was rescued and Mallory learned that Kate had been held captive shortly after seeing her, she kept the secret. She did so to protect her friendship with Kate and also to protect Kate.
Mallory did believe that Kate should be the one to tell her story or keep it a secret. Although I am no fan of Mallory, she did not willfully leave Kate to rot and was not trying to replace Jeanette when she was rescued. The final kiss as the two danced in front of Mallory’s truck, though, does leave room for another fan theory that Mallory has had feelings for Kate all along. It might be fun to learn that Mallory has more than a few skeletons in her closet. After all, she was a terrible bully to Vince and Jeanette and seemed to be on track to becoming a juvenile delinquent. That could be a fantastic train wreck to watch in Cruel Summer Season 2.
What was the final shocking reveal of Cruel Summer Season 1?
Just when we thought it was safe to call this story done and the characters all largely innocent, the rug was pulled out, and 1994 Jeanette was shown in Mr. Harris’s house one final time. Jeanette’s hair was straight, and from the clothing she was wearing, it is obvious this was Spring of 1994. So it could have been months or at least weeks before Kate killed Mr. Harris and was freed.
The glammed up current “it girl” heard Kate asking if someone was there. Kate was begging for help, and instead of letting her out or answering her, Jeanette smiles, and the episode ends. There is no doubt now, Jeanette knew what Kate was going through. She didn’t know in December, but she certainly knew as early as Spring of 1994. She still has her curly hair on Christmas Eve, so this final scene was after the holidays but before Jeanette’s birthday in June.
Jeanette has shown many times that she is an accomplished liar. She has been lying the entire time about Kate and what she knew. Kate was focused on the wrong lie, though. Earlier in the season, Kate insists she saw Jeanette through the small windows in the basement. Still, we saw her remember seeing Mallory through the larger living room windows in the final episode. So was this a plot hole? Likely no.
Kate admitted her memory was fuzzy, and this is likely just one example. She probably saw Jeanette through the small window in the basement and jumbled that story with seeing Mallory on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t matter if Jeanette saw her through the window on that day as Kate told her who she was and asked for help. Jeanette heard her and chose to stay silent to protect her newfound popularity. Jeanette is a sociopath, and her mother has been right all along. Poor Greg Turner has no idea what his daughter is capable of. This could be another fascinating thread to pull for Season 2. Jeanette’s absolute lack of concern for Kate is chilling. What might she become in the future?
The Cruel Summer finale was one of those rare final episodes where the audience got everything they wanted and more. It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun if both Kate and Jeanette were completely innocent. By showing Jeanette was the liar Kate said she was; the sudsy show got a jolt of realism. But, of course, things are seldom black and white. There are rarely completely good guys and bad guys, and life isn’t always fair. Cruel Summer took all those delicious ingredients and mixed them into an intoxicating cocktail of mystery, intrigue, and time-jumping teen drama. We can only hope Season 2 offers the same delectable dishes. Find all our Cruel Summer coverage here.
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.