Another teen mystery has hit Freeform!
Cruel Summer is a thriller that unfolds over the course of three summers in the 1990s. One teen goes missing and is presumed dead, while another one essentially takes over her life.
Admittedly, I was skeptical about the series considering the “missing teen” premise has been explored thoroughly (and quite chaotically) on Pretty Little Liars.
But it’s evident from the pilot that Cruel Summer has no intention of dragging out the mystery of Kate Wallis’ disappearance the way PLL did with Alison DiLaurentis’s.
There really isn’t much of a comparison between the two shows as Cruel Summer embraces a very serious and, oftentimes, dark tone.
The series sets the scene by introducing Jeanette Turner on her 15th birthday.
The pilot unfolds in three timelines spanning 1993, 1994, and 1995. All of the action happens on Jeanette’s birthday, but the celebrations are vastly different from one another with each passing year.
In 1993, Jeanette is a vibrant and nerdy 15-year-old who is woken up by her doting parents to celebrate the day. She hangs with her friends Mallory and Victor at the mall, she gives popular girl Kate a compliment, and the trio breaks into a newly sold house to play hide-and-seek. It’s all very innocent and fun.
In 1994, Jeanette has ditched the ’90s waves and braces for a more sophisticated look that pulls inspiration from Kate. She’s also ditched her former besties and replaced them with Kate’s… and she’s dating Kate’s ex-boyfriend, Jamie. In other words, her wish of becoming cool and popular has come true by essentially assuming Kate’s life.
At this point, we know Kate has been missing for quite some time, but no one suspects Jeanette had anything to do with it.
In 1995, Jeanette’s reality is much darker and hopeless. She’s the most hated person in America, her picture-perfect family has crumbled (it’s unclear what happened to her mom and brother, but her father, Greg, is dating the local bartender), and Jeanette is gearing up to stand trial for her role in Kate’s disappearance.
Her lawyers want Jeanette to be more “likable,” but with the world turned against her, that’s nearly impossible. As she notes, even her father resents her.
Three years, three very different realities.
Flip-flopping between the timelines is easy to keep up with, and while we’ve been given a full picture almost immediately, it’s clear the rest of the season will find audiences filling in the blanks and between the lines.
Throughout the pilot, we wonder “what happened to Kate?” and “how is Jeanette connected?” but we can put our minds at ease because, by the end of the episode, we’ve been given many of the answers.
Kate turns up alive, and it’s revealed that she was abducted and held captive by the assistant principal, Martin Harris.
That was quick!
It’s a surprising revelation considering 15-year-old Jeanette broke into his house and Martin seemed pleasant and kind. I guess those are always the ones you have to watch out for!
In her first TV appearance post-abduction, Kate also reveals that Jeanette saw her in captivity but never got help. Instead, she assumed her life as Kate waited to be rescued for months on end.
The episode ends with Kate deadpanning the camera and telling Jeanette Turner to rot in hell, which I guess is fitting, but it begs the question: when did Jeanette see Kate?
And more importantly, did she know what happened to Kate and ignore it so that she could have her “perfect” life? Is Jeanette guilty?
It’s unclear if Kate was already missing when Jeanette and friends broke into Martin’s house, but the moment where Jeanette explored the basement and looked around did stand out.
However, I assumed the scene happened shortly after they saw Kate at the mall, which likely means we haven’t seen the moment Jeanette allegedly saw Kate in captivity and ignored it.
Cruel Summer is not like other teen thrillers; it’s a well-executed series that hooks you from the very beginning, especially if you have a soft spot for the 90s (butterfly clips and all) and love untangling a layered mystery.
Kate Wallis’s abduction may be the crux of the story, but I’m just as invested in Jeanette’s motivations.
We know Jeanette’s life drastically changed throughout the course of three years, and I’m intrigued to see it pan out. Did the public and media turn her into a villain when there’s a logical explanation for not reporting Kate’s whereabouts (did she not actually see her?) or did Jeanette bring this upon herself because of her obsession with Kate?
What did you think of the Cruel Summer pilot premiere? Will you be tuning in again?
Let us know in the comments below!
‘Cruel Summer’ Season 2 Is Coming—See the Teaser
Who is ready for another cruel, cruel summer?
Jessica Biel hyped fans up for Cruel Summer Season 2 with a brand new teaser trailer posted on Instagram.
While the post didn’t reveal a premiere date, it did confirm that a second season was on its way. Deadline previously reported its set for a summer release!
“It’s gonna be a cruel, @cruelsummer. Season 2 is coming!! 👩🏼💻 @freeform” she captioned the clip, which sees a teen girl typing an angsty away message into her AIM profile. Ahh, remember the good ol’ days?
Unfortunately for her, they aren’t good at all as a fatal system error pops up and takes over her entire computer screen.
It’s not much to go off of, so if you’re wondering what the heck the upcoming season is going to be about, I don’t blame you.
Cruel Summer Season 1 was highly addictive, but the anthology series wrapped up the storyline between Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia) and Kate (Olivia Holt).
The second season will be set in the “idyllic waterfront town in the Pacific Northwest,” and follows the rise and fall of another intense teenage friendship.
“Approaching the story from three different timelines surrounding Y2K, the season twists and turns as it tracks the early friendship between Megan, Isabella and Megan’s best friend Luke, the love triangle that blossomed, and the mystery that would impact all of their lives going forward,” the outlet notes.
The cast includes Sadie Stanley, Lexi Underwood, Griffin Gluck, KaDee Strickland, Lisa Yamada and Sean Blakemore. Paul Adelstein will appear in a handful of episodes.
Are you ready for it?
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Cruel Summer Season Finale Review – Hostile Witness (1×10)
And we finally have the truth.
Though the truth is pretty dark no matter how you look at it.
Cruel Summer wrapped up its freshman run by providing all the answers along with plenty of jaw-dropping twists.
As the Turner vs. Wallis case kicked off in 1995, Jeanette and Kate came face-to-face — and almost to blows — both in the courtroom and outside of it.
After Jeanette’s lawyers revealed a private convo between Kate and Ashley (she didn’t know it was her step-sister until after the printouts were submitted into evidence), Kate was forced to confess that she lied about her kidnapping and the fact that she destroyed an innocent girl’s reputation.
Jeanette was hounded by the media and painted as a monster on the basis of the narrative that Kate sold to protect herself.
Kate was scared of what people would think if they knew she went to Martin’s willingly.
This led to a heart-to-heart between Kate and Jeanette during which they figured out that this whole thing was just a misunderstanding.
Both of the girls were defending the truth… the only truth they knew.
Kate thought Jeanette saw her since she snuck into the house, while Jeanette knew she wasn’t guilty of what she was being accused of.
Turns out, the person that did actually see Kate was none other than Mallory. While it may have seemed like we were right not to trust her this whole time, Mallory had her reasons.
While her friendship with Kate was a result of misplaced guilt, eventually, the two did actually become good friends.
The finale made it very clear that everyone was harboring secrets and lies in order to protect themselves.
Once Kate confronted Mallory, she learned that she didn’t say anything because she knew that in telling the public what she saw, she would be ratting out Kate as the reality of what she saw didn’t match the narrative Kate was selling. In a twisted way, she was protecting her friend, who she knew wasn’t being held against her will — at least not physically — when she saw her.
She was there for Kate before they were even tight, which speaks volumes to who Mallory is as a person.
I was sure the two of them were going to kiss when Kate confronted Mallory and asked her to stay, so I was thrilled when the smooch finally happened in the end.
There was a chemistry between them that lent itself to more than friendship.
Mallory may have betrayed Kate, but despite it, she was one of the only people who had a genuine connection with her and understood her for who she was.
The real villain was Jeanette all along.
After Kate realized she wrongly accused Jeanette, she immediately cleared her name and made things right.
However, there was something genuinely off about Jeanette. They say when someone shows you who they are, you should believe them.
The first suggestion that Jeanette may be a sociopath came when she was trying to learn how to make people feel sorry for her in the courtroom.
Things also took a weird turn on the Marsha Bailey show as she was wearing the same exact outfit that Kate wore the first time she accused her right down to the pearls and headband.
She also forgave Kate in the same way Kate accused her initially.
Mallory was right — there was something truly off about Jeanette’s appearance.
And it turns out, Jeanette was lying the whole time. She may not have seen Kate on Christmas, which is when she was accused, but Jeanette did sneak into the house in 1994 when Kate was already locked in the basement. She heard Kate begging for help and never reported it because she was at peak popularity. She weighed her options and decided that it wasn’t in her best interest to help Kate, which is deeply concerning.
Everything the media said about Jeanette being a monster was absolutely on point.
Worst of all — it always some sick game to her. She got the same thrill from it that she did from breaking into Martin’s house. She never truly felt remorse for what she did and how she contributed to Kate’s destruction.
While it’s an unexpected twist and likely included for shock facotr, I think I would have preferred the storyline where Kate and Jeanette remained friends and bonded over their shared trauma. Jeanette may have always been driven by this desire to be beautiful and popular, but I would think this experience would have changed her and given her a new outlook on life, especially since she was vindicated and ended up getting the guy.
There was even a great setup for the two to remain friends who could lean on each other and heal together. Kate said she wanted someone to understand what she was going through, and though Jeanette’s experience was wildly different, they kind of saw eye-to-eye at the moment at Martin’s house.
It was nice to see them work together to figure out what really happened. As Kate shared her experience of being locked in a basement, it was as though Jeanette genuinely felt sorry for Kate.
It would’ve been a great way to wrap up their story arc as two young girls who were wronged.
Jeanette even helped Kate remember who Anabelle was, and for those that figured it was a gun — you were correct.
Kate revealed that the day before her rescue, Martin seemed to have run out of options and found himself oddly at peace right before turning the gun on himself.
Martin was plagued with guilt after what he’d done, which seems to prove that he didn’t fully think his plan through and kept trying to wing it.
However, he also looked pretty conflicted about how to handle the situation. Going from wanting to kill yourself to screaming at the top of your lungs to begging Kate not to shoot you and convincing her you love her kind of screams bi-polar to me.
While Martin couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger, Kate, however, didn’t have that problem and shot him when he was at his most vulnerable.
It was a huge and heavy decision for Kate, but she was brave enough to finally save herself.
It was a warranted shot that finally put an end to her misery, but the aftermath left her conflicted as she loved her captor while also hating him.
It wouldn’t do the situation justice if Martin died in a police shootout, but having Kate pull the trigger sort of paralleled all the pain he caused her while keeping her.
Hopefully, Kate took the time to work through all of that in therapy because it’s a lot.
I’m slightly disappointed that Angela didn’t have more to do with the storyline as I was convinced she was going to have some kind of connection to Martin. Also, Jeanette’s own mother didn’t even come to the trial.
Also, where was Jamie, who Jeanette seemed to be dating at the end of everything!
The resolution between Vince and Ben also felt a little weak, but I’m glad they’re going to work through things and hope they end up together as they deserve a bit of happiness.
Jeanette also ended up with Jamie, so I guess it was all worth it since she got what she wanted after all.
What did you think of the finale? Are you happy that we were given all the answers we were promised?
Leave your comments below, and we’ll see you for season 2 on Freeform!
‘Cruel Summer’ Renewed for a Second Season at Freeform Ahead of Finale
Cruel Summer may be airing its season finale tonight, but fans can already look forward to more spine-tingling thrills.
Freeform has picked up the psychological drama for a second season, according to TVLine.
“Renewing Cruel Summer for a Season 2 was an easy decision,” Freeform President Tara Duncan said.
“It’s the biggest series debut in Freeform’s history and the audience response has been overwhelmingly positive. [Executive producers] Jessica [Biel], Michelle [Purple] and [showrunner] Tia [Napolitano] did a phenomenal job telling an addictive story that’s tapped into the cultural zeitgeist. I’m excited to see where they take the series next,” she added.
Napolitano also noted: “Collaborating with Iron Ocean, our dedicated crew, charismatic cast, and our partners at Freeform and eOne has been the best first showrunning experience I could ask for. I am beyond grateful and excited by the amazing fan response to our show! Continuing to bottle Cruel Summer magic for a Season 2 is an absolute dream come true.”
The freshman drama stars Olivia Holt (Kate Wallis) and Chiara Aurelia (Jeanette Turner) whose worlds collide when Kate goes missing and later accuses Jeanette of knowing who kept her captive and not telling the police. Jeanette is adamant that she never saw Kate in captivity. The story is told over three timeliness in 1993, 1994, and 1995.
The mystery is set to be resolved in tonight’s finale.
Per Deadline, Biel revealed that the mystery could return with a new story and the same characters or feature a new cast of characters.
You can recap all of the Cruel Summer reviews below!
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