The following story will get into spoilers for the first five episodes of Cruel Summer, so stop reading now if you aren’t yet caught up on the latest episode, titled “As the Carny Gods Intended.”
Freeform’s new show Cruel Summer has been teasing out a juicy mystery over the course of its debut season. The bulk of the plot focuses on Kate (Olivia Holt) and Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia), high school students caught up in a scandal after the former gets kidnapped and the latter gets accused of hiding an important secret tied to the abduction. But with each passing episode, it’s feeling less and less likely that we’re going to get a tidy resolution to the various mysteries happening in all corners of Cruel Summer by the time this season concludes following episode seven. A second season should be in order.
CinemaBlend recently got the opportunity to interview Cruel Summer star Chiara Aurelia about the show, and the amount of online speculation that it is generating. When we probed her for clues, she kept pretty tight lipped, but once I asked her if the mystery was designed to last longer than one season, her answer was interesting. Click the video above to watch that part of our conversation.
The abduction of Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) isn’t as cut-and-dried as Cruel Summer originally led us to believe. And in the closing scene of this most recent episode, it’s suggested that Kate might have shown an interest in the man who was her abductor, vice principal Martin Harris (Blake Lee). That certainly imposes an unexpected wrinkle to the case, and makes us question a lot about what Kate has been telling people since she came back from the kidnapping.
I’m also clinging to the belief that Kate made up her accusations about Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia) because she caught the girl kissing her former boyfriend, Jaime Henson (Froy Gutierrez) in the park one night. That conversation finally was raised between Kate and Jaime, though Jamie lied to Kate and made her distrust her memory (at least, temporarily). Kate definitely has trust issues of her own, thanks to the suspicion that she harbors about her mother (Andrea Anders) and her fidelity. But is that what’s driving Kate forward in this war against Jeanette and the Turner family?
As I said, there’s a lot happening beneath the surface of Cruel Summer, and it extends beyond the Kate-Jeanette feud. Almost every family member has been caught up in the fallout from the accusations made against both girls. Also, who the hell is Annabelle? With only two episodes left, the screenwriters would have to sprint through too many obstacles to wrap it all up. So when I asked Aurelia if the mystery lends itself to a second season, she admitted:
It seems like the cast of Cruel Summer is comfortable playing these characters at different stages, from the youthful innocence of the 1993 timeline to the emotionally-haggard hellscape of the 1995 story. The show really could evolve to explore how this one event, spanning a three-year period, went on to affect these characters for years to come. So far, Cruel Summer has been luring good audience numbers to Freeform, and many more catching up with the episodes the next day on Hulu. Make sure you catch up with this story before the show concludes, and then scan our list of 2021 Summer TV premieres to see what show you can dive into next.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.