How many of you live your lives based on the constant anxiety of the question “what will people say”? Because that’s basically what Steve Chambers did and look where it got him. We are talking about the season finale of Cruel Summer, and assuming you are only here after watching it, you know what I am talking about. I knew it would be futile to predict what was going to happen in the end because Cruel Summer was always going to surprise us. But we went ahead because it was way too much fun, and in the end, I am glad that the show threw most of our wild theories in the trash and gave us something entirely unimaginable. Let us take a closer look one last time.
Chambers Of Secret
Before we begin, let us take a moment to appreciate Griffin Gluck’s performance as Luke Chambers, especially in his final moments. I was already a fan of his work in the fantastic Netflix mockumentary American Vandal, and the young actor’s stint in Cruel Summer only proves that he will go far if he gets the right kind of opportunities.
Back to usual business now. The finale goes back and forth between two timelines only: the winter of 1999 and the summer of 2000. In the winter timeline, we get to see exactly what happens to Luke, and in the other one, we see the effect of it. The show tries to come off a bit tricky, but from the moment it is revealed that Luke paged none other than his big brother Brent, we know for a fact that things were never how they seemed. And it is actually sad how things turned out for the Chambers brothers, neither of whom were inherently bad people in the first place, but thanks to a father like Steve, they were doomed. One of them paid the ultimate price, while the other ended up taking the fall. I particularly like the writers’ decision to have Brent have a conscience and do the right thing in the end. Brent’s confession also exonerates Megan from all the charges against her, which only proves that Brent Chambers was actually the best of them all.
Let us get back to Luke, who inarguably had the most fascinating character arc of the season. From starting off as this sweet, confused teen to falling victim to his own wrongdoings as well as his unfortunate circumstances, Luke Chambers’ tragic end is going to haunt the Cruel Summer fandom for a long time. And when you think about the fact that for his entire life, Luke was forced to bear the guilt of his mother’s death by his own father, it only makes your heart ache for him even more.
Who Really Killed Luke?
This is where things get really dicey. While Brent was responsible for his little brother’s death, it was in fact an accident, and he had absolutely no intention of killing Luke. Brent jumping into the water and frantically searching for Luke further proves his love for his brother. Yes, not standing up against his father when Steve actively plots to put the blame on anyone, but his son is not an ideal choice, but we need to consider that Brent is a guy who had a bad father as his only role model. Even then, he ended up doing the right thing, which only proves his worthiness as a human being. But the question is, did Brent Chambers really deserve the ending he got?
This obviously brings us to none other than Isabella, who should now feature in a “weirdest TV characters ever” list if something like that is made. I would say that by not particularly revealing what her real deal was, the show did a smart thing, as it only allowed us to dive into a sea of endless possibilities. And, of course, forming new theories. So, I am just going to share the one I have managed to come up with.
Isabella was damaged inside her head. Her parents had a lot of money but never actually tried to look into what was wrong with their daughter. This echoes the parenting of Steve Chambers and makes bad parenting a recurring theme of the season. Although Debbie Landry was a better parent to Megan, she took a long time to fully take her daughter’s side when it mattered. Isabella moved around a lot and never really made real friends or found a family. That is, until Lisa and Trevor happened to her. We would never know what exactly happened to Lisa unless the show plans to make a story out of that, but my assumption would be that Isabella’s darker side had something to do with it.
In Chatham, Isabella found a friend in Megan, and that friendship meant the world to her. But Luke made things complicated. Even though Isabella consciously didn’t mean any harm, her subconscious did tell her that Luke was taking her best friend away from her. This also implies that Luke was right when he told Megan that Isabella was trying to create a rift between them. Isabella’s activities seemed seemingly harmless, but underneath them all, there was always a demon. Did Isabella have romantic feelings for Megan? We are not entirely sure, but we also cannot rule out the possibility.
Now coming to Megan Landry, while many of us saw her as the Jeanette Turner equivalent of this season, in reality, she was actually more like Kate Wallis. Megan was neither a bad person nor did she have any bad intentions. In fact, she kept considering freeing Luke after coming back from the cabin on the fateful night. And she eventually decided to do so, but, by then, it was too late. Megan finding a job opportunity in Palo Alto is a hopeful sign for the character, but unfortunately, the final twist might actually stop her from pursuing that. It was ironic that, at the same spot where Megan and Luke professed their love for each other, Megan lost her soulmate forever. And if that is not enough, she also found out the truth about him standing at the same spot. It was Isabella who killed Luke after all, when she had all the chances in the world to save him.
The Season 2’s ending with Megan’s agonizing reaction to her finding out the actual truth only shows that Cruel Summer has no sympathy for its characters, even the good ones. The show will most likely bring another new story with a new bunch of characters for the next season, but a Megan versus Isabella showdown, along with the Lisa and Isabella story from the past, sounds like quite an idea to me. Should we all start a petition for that?