How fascinating it is when a show shifts between three different timelines so effortlessly that the entire narrative remains hyper-engaging for the viewers! If you thought Cruel Summer was a one-season wonder because of its relatively unknown cast and the show being the product of a network like Freeform, then you were clearly wrong. Because the current season has turned out to be a worthy successor after all. It took no time last week to drop us into its new world, where we saw a lot happening, including a possible murder. The mystery only intensifies further in this week’s episode, but you do get some answers and a lot of breadcrumbs. Given the show’s nature, I don’t think that should surprise you.
Boys’ Day Out
It is all cheery and colorful in the Summer of 1999. Luke and his boys are going for their yearly boys’ day (and night) out at the cabin, where they just let loose and be nerds. Technically, it is the boys and Megan, though, as she has always been a part of this, and this year is no exception. But this time, Isabella is joining in, and Luke is naturally very excited about it. Despite Megan trying to discourage her from joining the group, Isabella obviously goes ahead.
At the cabin, Jeff appears to be extra nice to Megan, hinting at him having a crush on her. This one little thing makes the character seemingly normal, compared to the first two episodes, where he was mostly off-putting. However, this doesn’t rule out the possibility of him being the person behind the tape- especially now that he has actual motive, if you think about it (will address this again in a while). The age-old genre trope of introducing a character as something typical only to reveal other character traits that you wouldn’t see coming works wonderfully well for this show, thanks to the writing, which has always been on point. It also keeps the audience guessing and changing their theories of the character. For example, Brent- who came off as nothing but a stupid pervert from earlier,- turns out to be a young man struggling with his mother’s death and using the douchey personality as a coping mechanism. The guy actually likes Megan and treats her mostly like a sister when no one is around. He also doesn’t approve of Luke’s new relationship with Isabella as it hurts Megan, which basically implies that he didn’t have anything to do with the tape.
Meanwhile, the love triangle and the jealousy around it keep intensifying. During a harmless target practice session, Isabella and Megan get their hands on Luke’s gun. While Isabella doesn’t seem to get it quite right, Megan appears to have the potential to be a sharp-shooter. This is a very important, carefully laid out plot point that becomes very essential for the narrative in the Summer 2000 timeline- which I will dissect later. Anyway, things take an interesting turn when Isabella makes up a fake story of “sleepwalking naked” to impress Luke’s friend, which gets backed by Megan as she claims to be an eyewitness. Isabella thanks Megan, and the two find each other’s company rather more tolerable than putting up with the dumb shenanigans of the boys. In fact, they decide to get back to Megan’s place and spend the night hanging out together. The duo gets back and accidentally walks in on Debbie making out with a man- which visibly upsets Megan as she storms into Isabella’s trailer.
Well, the man happens to be Megan and Lily’s absent father, Keith- a super successful rock musician who has clearly failed miserably at being an ideal father. Isabella and Megan bond over bad parents while munching on European candies of “terrible taste.” The eventual “friendship” between them doesn’t seem to be anything unnatural at this point. And thus, the show pretty much clears out one of the questions I had last week.
An Eventful Winter
Megan gets mad at Isabella for spilling the secret to Debbie. Isabella explains that if she hadn’t done that, Debbie would have had the wrong idea of her. Megan later apologizes for lashing out at her best friend and also tells her she would have done the same as well, in a role-reversing situation.
Even though Brent had made it clear that he had no involvement with “The Tape,” Luke makes a decision to do the noble thing by dropping all of Brent’s tape at the station. Police Chief Mayers seems to like Luke a lot- which explains his eagerness to find out the truth about Luke (in the Summer 2000 timeline). Luke being in the police duty program for the summer is also important here, as that probably helped Mayers to see the boy closely and start to care for him. It is an example of both good writing and attention to detail, where this show keeps acing it every now and then. While Luke’s good deed gets appreciated by Mayers, his own father doesn’t take it well, as Steve Chambers would have preferred to deal with the dirt within the boundaries of “family.” This also makes sense if you consider Steve’s social status in the community. Anyway, Steve basically coerces Mayers not to do anything to Brent, as he intends to handle the matter on his own. Mayers seems to be not pleased with it, but with Steve bringing up how he has always helped the Police chief in so many things, both on the personal and professional front, he gives up.
Meanwhile, Jeff slips back into his “creep” mode when he taunts Megan about the tape- implying the fact that he knows it was her and not Isabella. He also boasts about how Megan chose the “wrong guy” instead of him. We don’t know a lot of things yet, but we can all agree that Jeff is a salty loser. That is why I really enjoyed seeing him getting blackmailed by Megan, as she knows about him illegally acquiring his equipment. Well, that’s what happens when we mess with the wrong person. I also have a feeling that this is also going to be something important to the actual plot and not a random throwaway.
Are Megan And Isabella Lying About Their Involvement In Luke’s Death?
I actually rephrased the question from- “Did Megan and Isabella kill Luke?” because of having a hunch and also not seeing any proper motive for that happening, at least from what we have seen yet. But yes, they are definitely lying, and it is going to cause a lot of trouble eventually. Something tells me that Mayers cares about Luke a bit too much, and he is not going to let things go. Neither would Steve Chambers, who is now on a journey filled with regret and wants to do right by his dead son.
Isabella’s parents might be ignorant, and they are rich enough to send a really good lawyer to protect the daughter from whatever trouble that she is in. Nothing substantial can be drawn from the only conversation we get to see between Isabella and her lawyer, Rebecca- other than the fact that Rebecca keeps stressing on Isabella keeping her distance from Megan and Debbie. One other interesting piece of information would be the mention of something happening in “St. Bart” in last winter. I am not sure which winter Rebecca is talking about here- the one we are seeing or the one before that, in the year 1998? Either way, Isabella does seem to be a trouble inviting magnet, but with someone as competent as Rebecca on her side, she always gets rescued. At least up until Summer 2000. With the impending doom upon them, Isabella asks Megan and Debbie to get a good lawyer for them as well- which can either be her being concerned about her own involvement or her genuine care for Megan. We shouldn’t ignore that only six months ago Isabella was ready to be slut-shamed for Megan.
When three different prints are found on Luke’s gun from the ballistics, Mayers practically hounds Isabella and Megan. However, that doesn’t seem to be an issue given they both practiced with the same gun last summer. Steve is understandably not bothered by this piece of information, although he mentions to Debbie that he finds it strange that the cabin has been cleaned recently and it was neither him nor Brent that did it. We know who is responsible for that, of course, and it’s my responsibility to remind you that it was none other than Megan- in case you are wondering. Things get real dicey when Mayers investigates Megan about the last time she saw Luke and caught her lying red-handed. While Megan confidently says she left the New Year’s Eve party with Luke and then dropped him off at his home, Mayers brings in the security footage of that night from the Chambers’ house, which obviously doesn’t show Megan dropping Luke. We can all assume that Megan will only find herself in more trouble in the upcoming weeks unless her lawyer, Tom, who also seems as good as Rebecca, finds a solution for her. She would only need one if she has really done something though, and we can’t say whether she has or not.