- Cruel Summer -Did Jeanette See Kate On 'Cruel Summer'? Hear Me Out...
Told through three timelines, Freeform's Cruel Summer tells the story of Kate, a popular pageant queen, who is kidnapped by her new assistant principal Martin in 1993. The following year, Kate is rescued, to find that she has essentially been replaced in the social hierarchy by one-time wallflower Jeanette. By 1995, Jeanette is the most hated teenager in America. Did Jeanette really know where Kate was on Cruel Summer, as she claims, and do nothing to free her? Or is Kate just mad that Jeanette fell in with her friends and boyfriend while she was suffering?
Right now, the show teases that there may only be one real explanation: Either Kate or Jeanette is lying. However, with the show alternating perspectives between both girls, it's hard to think that the series will paint one of them as the villain and the other the good, honest heroine.
My theory? Perhaps the explanation is incredibly simple: They both believe they are telling the truth.
In the first episode, Jeanette and her friends Mallory and Vince sneak into what they learn later is Martin's new house — it's part of their plan to have an epic summer, by completing a series of dares off their checklist. Jeanette goes into the basement — where we know Kate was ultimately held captive — and finds part of the wall is covered in mirrors. She stares at the mirrors for a moment, then turns back to find her friends.
Mirror imagery is a big thing in Cruel Summer, and it's easy to see why: Jeanette is essentially a mirror of Kate, if a distorted one. However, Cruel Summer showrunner Tia Napolitano teases that there's more than meets the eye.
"On a thematic level, duality is something that we’ve played with very much, just by the nature of the show we’re doing with shifting perspectives," she explains in an interview with The Dipp. "The imagery that you’ll continue to see is meant to stand out. Take from that what you will."
What if the importance of the mirror imagery in Cruel Summer also serves a functional purpose: to tip fans off to the truth behind Kate and Jeanette's stories. Kate claims that Jeanette saw her in the basement, and then essentially left without telling a soul. Jeanette swears she didn't see Kate — but Kate did seemingly find Jeanette's necklace in the basement, and we know she kept the key to Martin's house, so it's certainly possible she returned.
So what if it's a mirror trick? What if Kate was hidden in a room behind a two-way mirror, but was too drugged or disoriented to realize it? She could have seen Jeanette, and thought Jeanette saw her. Perhaps she even realized, at a certain point, what the truth was — but by the time the media turned against Jeanette, it was too late. She had to double down, especially given Jeanette's defamation lawsuit against Kate's family — which certainly would be won by Jeanette at that point if Kate told the truth.
Could all this ugliness be just a misunderstanding? Maybe — or maybe there are more twists and turns that we could ever predict coming our way in Cruel Summer. Either way, I wouldn't be surprised if between Jeanette and Kate, there are no true villains.