There is going to be a lot of overreaching. That’s the only way we can actually do this. Yes, we are talking about Cruel Summer season 2 here. The show dangled its central mystery before us in the opening episode of the season, but even after six episodes, we can’t exactly say that we have any clear idea about what happened. However, that is not going to stop us from forming theories about how Luke, aka the male lead character of this season, died. For this article, I scratched my own head a lot as well as scoured the fan pages of the show on Reddit. What you are going to read is the outcome of that. To make things simpler, I am going to separate the characters and discuss their individual motives behind killing Luke or speculate about their possible involvement in his death somehow. There is a possibility that in four weeks, I am going to feel utterly stupid about this article, but nonetheless, let’s go ahead with this. I am going to categorize each character’s chance of being involved in Luke’s death as none, low, medium, high, or extreme.
Let us start with Luke’s elder brother, Brent. The character has primarily been established as a stupid pervert, who, we know for a fact, has made quite a number of sex- tapes. But the way things have moved so far, it doesn’t indicate in any way that he would have anything to do with his own brother’s death. However, one noteworthy thing here is that Brent has a fairly good relationship with Megan, and he sees her mostly as a sister. This also clears him off from anything related to the infamous sex tape because if he had made it, then he would have known that it featured none other than Luke and Megan—two people he actually likes.
Chances of Involvement: We are going with Low for Brent.
Here’s a reminder- Parker is Sheriff Mayers’ stepdaughter. The information was randomly thrown in, and these two characters have never really come across each other so far until the final scene of Episode 6, but this is something that might come into the equation. Parker and Luke had bare minimum interactions between them, and it never really seemed like Brent’s ex had any grudge against Luke. I stumbled onto a ludicrous theory that was saying Parker accidentally killed Luke while she intended to do that to Brent. This theory doesn’t make any sense, as Parker wouldn’t have had any motivation to do that to Brent. But what we also need to remember is that Parker and Isabella have a friendship, and it was Parker who picked Isabella from Debbie’s in the last episode when Isabella was basically asked to leave. Parker also eavesdropped on Megan and Isabella’s conversation in the last episode and went to her stepfather to (probably) report about it.
Chances of Involvement: Parker didn’t kill Luke, but we do believe there is something up with her. But we are still going with Low.
3. Sheriff Mayers
Sheriff Mayers seems to take Luke’s death personally, and he is hellbent on finding the truth. If we keep that in mind, then his being involved in Luke’s death is a complete contradiction. However, there is one small hitch. This might not be anything, but when Isabella and Megan went to the bar (in the Summer 1999 timeline), they came across Mayers there. Mayers didn’t confront them, and he mentioned something about counting. We do have a bit of information that the Sheriff used to have some sort of gambling issue. His good intentions regarding Luke’s case might as well be a facade—an attempt to divert any kind of doubt against him.
Chances of Involvement: The Sheriff does seem like a good guy, but something tells us to keep an eye on him. Hence, we think he has a Medium chance of being involved.
Debbie Landry being somehow involved in Luke’s murder seems like a far-fetched theory. There is nothing particularly suspicious about the character, at least from what we have seen, apart from one minor thing. Debbie has been way too nice to Isabella, so much so that her own daughter asked her to take her side in the last episode, when it came to the point of choosing between the two. Not that there’s anything wrong there, given what Isabella has done for her family, but there is a theory that she somehow knows about Isabella’s past and is getting paid for protecting her. At this point, I don’t see any reason to indulge in that, but Cruel Summer has a tendency to surprise you, so you never know.
Chances of Involvement: Still Low.
Like Debbie, Steve Chambers involvement in the death of his own son doesn’t bear any proper logic. From what we have seen, Steve is genuinely grieving, and like the Sheriff, he is also seeking the truth. However, it was his gun that was used, as a bullet had already been found at the cabin. There is no proof that it was used to shoot Luke as, if we go by the postmortem report, Luke was drowned, but the gun and the bullet does raise some doubt. That can be solved by the fact that Isabella, Megan, and Luke’s fingerprints were found on the gun. There is a theory that Luke might not be Brent’s son, and if we pair that up with the fact that Luke was planning to get away from Chatham, then Steve can’t be given a clean chit. But I am only mentioning it for the sake of covering all the bases.
Chances of Involvement: Let us settle on Medium for the time being.
Ned, aka CBABBAGE5, is by far the most interesting character in the mix. While he only appeared as a mysterious background character in the earlier episode, things have changed now that we know about Megan’s involvement with him. Ned’s house is not only the closest to the cabin but he is also a character who is not particularly fond of Luke or the Chambers. And he genuinely seems to care about Megan, whom he sees as a protege. But that is not exactly a solid reason for him to kill Luke. However, if Luke ends up at Ned’s house by some sort of accident, Ned might kill him, only by accident, thanks to his extreme security concern. This theory has a lot of ifs and buts, but it does have some meat to it. We are going to talk about Ned some more while putting Megan under the microscope.
Chances of Involvement: High. He is involved in the mess, for sure. But Ned still doesn’t qualify as the killer, considering that Luke drowned.
Out of all the characters, Jeff is probably the only one who has a clear grudge against Luke. After all, Luke was the one who snatched Megan away from our budding filmmaker. And even though it was not exactly Luke’s fault, teenage hormones can make you do a lot of stupid things. And given that Jeff appears to be a sore loser in the December timeline, we can’t rule out the possibility of him harming Luke. With Isabella and Megan blackmailing him regarding his equipment (that was his own fault, though, as he tried to blackmail them first regarding the tape), Jeff is clearly not having a great end to the year 1999. But is that reason enough for him to go all out and kill Luke, one of his closest friends? Time will tell.
Chances of Involvement: Despite having a motive, the character doesn’t appear to be someone who could be a killer. He does have a Medium chance of being involved in the matter, whatever that is.
What do we know about Isabella so far? Her best friend Lisa died at St. Barts in the winter of 1999. As per the police report that Megan found, Isabella coerced a drunk Lisa to jump into the water, where she drowned. Although Isabella denies this when Megan confronts her in episode 6, we can’t rule out her involvement, even if she is telling the truth. Her parents having a lawyer (Rebecca) ready for her to get her out of any kind of trouble is also an indication that Isabella is not good news.
But here’s the thing: unless the show is tricking the audience, Isabella does seem to care for the Landry family, especially Megan, whom she considers her best friend. From breaking up with Luke in order to make way for Megan to absorbing all the shame related to the tape just to protect Megan to presenting Megan with an expensive computer as a Christmas gift, all her actions have been an indication of her not being the kind of person who would murder someone. At this point in time, we are 100 percent certain that Isabella is involved in the mystery surrounding Luke’s death, given where the story has taken us. One particular thing we need to remember is that Isabella is a bad shot, so the bullet that was found in the cabin was possibly her doing. But the question that remains is: why would she pick up a gun and fire at Luke? Yes, Luke did lie about Isabella trying to kiss him at the plunge, which would eventually jeopardize her relationship with Megan, aka her best friend, but that is definitely not reason enough for her to pull the trigger on him.
Chances of Involvement: We are going with High. It is quite obvious at this point.
From being a goody two shoe top student in the Summer of 1999 to a goth hacker queen in 2000, Megan Landry has come a long way within the span of just one year. In that one year, she made a new best friend, got into a relationship with her other best friend, got pregnant (and possibly got an abortion), and also got featured in a sex tape (although very few people are aware that it is actually her). Clearly, Megan is not what she seems to be, and she has something to do with Luke’s death for sure.
But her grief seems real enough for us to rule her out as the killer. However, here is the strongest theory that I could think of. And this one starts with Luke’s lie. Clearly feeling guilty after trying to kiss Isabella and getting (rightfully) rebuffed, Luke attempts to save his relationship by putting the blame on Isabella. Because obviously, the truth would have potentially ended him and Megan, given that their relationship was already wobbly post-sex tape. But this sets off a chain reaction of events that leads to his doom. Megan gets mad at Isabella, but upon confronting her, she tells the truth. Megan doesn’t initially believe her but also fails to fully buy that her boyfriend is innocent. So in order to get the truth out, Megan and Isabella drug Luke inside the cabin.
We have already seen Isabella flush down a lot of pills in an earlier episode, which only strengthens this theory. And drugging Luke is an idea that originated in Megan’s mind, not Isabella’s. However, neither Megan nor Isabella kills Luke. He somehow escapes, and Isabella fires the bullet out of panic. Luke gets away, ends up in the lake in a drugged state, and falls prey to death. Ned witnesses the whole thing but decides to keep it to himself. There are theories of Ned being Megan’s real father going around, but given that Ned already lives like an outcast, keeping the whole thing secret makes sense for him. Add to that his dislike for the likes of Chambers and his soft spot for Megan, and him not going to the police does make sense. By far, this is the only theory that makes sense to me. Several people on Reddit have also agreed to this, if you go and check. However, I do believe this theory is very obvious and is eventually going to be debunked. But for now, let us just stick with this one.
Chances of Involvement: It has to be Extreme, right?