Seriously, what’s up with all of the mirrors in Cruel Summer?! Throughout the primary three episodes, we repeatedly see Jeanette and Kate posed in entrance of their bed room mirrors, emphasizing as soon as once more simply how a lot they’ve modified over the course of three years.There’s the creepy wall of mirrors in Martin’s basement (from Episode 1), and on this episode, Jeanette even admits to to Vince that when she first encountered the unusual room in 1993, she had an explicable feeling one thing dangerous was going to occur there. “I assumed I unleashed one thing down right here. Something dangerous,” she explains. The poster for Cruel Summer even options Jeanette and Kate wanting by a double-sided mirror. Kate is adamant that Jeanette noticed her in captivity, which Jeanette fervently denies. But what if there’s some sort of two-way mirror in that basement, and each of their accounts are true?
Fans in all probability will not get solutions earlier than the tip of the season, however that sort of twist can be a lifesaver for Jeanette —as she repeatedly mentions in Episode 3 (titled “Off with a Bang”), so long as her honesty is in query, an entire lot of individuals want she had been deceased — particularly Kate herself, who violently makes an attempt to confront her at a ’95 site visitors cease. While the primary two episodes centered just about solely on Jeanette and Kate’s views, it looks as if the remaining episodes of the season will alternate between them, with extra time dedicated to supporting out the supporting gamers.
One character who we get some much-needed context about this week is Jeanette’s mother, Cindy. She appeared as a doting mother within the pilot, however was mysteriously absent from the ’95 timeline; outdoors of the Turner home, we primarily noticed her by the contemptuous eyes of her former classmate, Joy Wallis. But as she tells ’93 Jeanette, this wasn’t at all times the case — again in highschool, Cindy was homecoming queen and cheerleading captain, whereas Joy awkwardly trailed her like a pet. She definitely does not strain Jeanette to observe in her teenage footsteps to the identical diploma that Joy hounds Kate. But whether or not Cindy is encouraging Jeanette to put on glasses or encouraging her to “department out” and befriend extra in style ladies following a battle with Mallory, it is simple to see how she pushed her daughter to remake herself by ’94. Of course, this all backfires when rumors about Jeanette’s function in Kate’s kidnapping started to swirl, and Cindy begins worrying extra about what different folks thought than standing by her personal daughter. In ’95, the general public scrutiny has presumably made her stroll out on her household — Jeanette even refuses to take her calls. Don’t be like Cindy.
At least the Turner guys appear to have Jeanette’s again. While her father Greg is sullen, he and her brother Derek have the wherewithal to confront Jamie about punching Jeanette in ’94, and resolve to defend this data from Cindy. For his half, Jamie is able to transfer previous his secret kiss with Jeanette and concentrate on Kate. When she tries to confront him on the city’s 4th of July fireworks celebration, he hits her with a chilling query: Why did she seemingly know Kate was lacking earlier than anybody else did? After all, Jamie was her boyfriend, and even he did not know till Jeanette instructed him.
Plenty of individuals always reinvent themselves of their teenage years earlier than settling right into a extra assured grownup type. But Jeanette and plenty of different teenage ladies typically face probably the most scrutiny and mistrust for doing so… her case is simply rather more public. While Cruel Summer has refreshingly prevented its fair proportion of on-the-nose ’90s nostalgia, Episode 3 takes time to think about how Jeanette’s case would fare below the cultural weight of ’90s bitchification. The “woman energy” motion of the time signaled a large pendulum swing towards gender parity within the United States, however the ’90s additionally spurred intense media fixations on girls who carried any trace of scandal, from Monica Lewinsky to Anita Hill.
As Jeanette watches TV in 1995, she sees a neighborhood reporter who’s spent the previous couple of years overlaying Kate’s kidnapping go on nationwide tv and recommend that Jeanette is actually “wired in another way” from regular folks and naturally has no ethical compass. On one other channel, a late night time discuss show host jokes about how nobody in the complete nation can relate to Jeanette. Finally, she stumbles upon a criminal offense show scene during which a younger lady tearfully insists she is not the villain, however the sufferer. Jeanette begins mockingly imitating the woman in hopes of studying to be “likable,” earlier than her eyes begin to nicely up, too. It can be unquestionably horrifying if Kate’s claims that Jeanette was complicit in her kidnapping turn into true, however after Martin spent months torturing a teen, it is telling that the media scapegoat turned out to be one other younger woman as an alternative.
Jeanette could be the most hated individual in America, however she’s not solely alone. We’ve identified that she and Vince have remained in contact because the pilot, however as Episode 3 delves into extra of Vince’s backstory, it is clear the lifelong buddies’ bond has been one of many solely to outlive all three summers. We study that Vince is homosexual (clearly a means larger deal in ’90s Texas), and had a relationship with Ben in 1994. But their days of dancing in secret homosexual bars appear to be behind them in ’95, when Ben refuses to talk to Vince. It looks as if Jeanette is the one one who is aware of his secret, and he is the one one who is aware of hers: She’s been periodically sneaking into Martin’s home since 1993, when she acquired hooked on the frenzy it gave her. Jeanette’s ties to Greg, Derek, and Vince appear robust, however within the twisty world of Cruel Summer, how lengthy will or not it’s earlier than somebody is pushed to their breaking level?
Abby Monteil is a New York-based author. Her work has additionally appeared in The Daily Beast, Insider, Elite Daily, Thrillist, and others.