Similar to how the first episode gave us a quick intro showcasing Jeanette on her birthday in 1993, 1994 and 1995, Cruel Summer Episode 2 starts similarly. In this case, we see Kate on June 26, 1993, 1994 and 1995. In 1993, everything is mostly light, literally and figuratively, as kate prepares for a workout class in vibrant-colored lycra with her mom.
Jump to 1994, Kate is again seen sitting in front of her vanity, but this time the color scheme is drab and gray. This is post-rescue. Kate’s mom notices that her ears have closed up since she was held captive and she quickly rectifies that. Fast-forward to the same day in 1995 and Kate has made some radical changes to her appearance similar to Jeanette. She’s seen dancing in front of a car in the middle of the night to the song “Zombie” by The Cranberries.
Cruel Summer Episode 2 recap: Kate catches her mom having an affair & meets Martin
In 1993, Kate and her mom Joy Wallis (Andrea Anders) go to their regular workout class. On the way out, they run into Jeanette and Cindy Turner. Cindy seems just as in awe of Joy as Jeanette is of Kate. She suggests all four girls have a girl’s day out sometime soon and Joy tries her best not to look horrified by the possibility. Kate swoops in to give a tactile response that sure, maybe someday they will.
We follow Joy and Kate after and you get the sense that the two are close, similar to Jeanette and her dad. Joy isn’t a fan of Cindy Turner, she finds her creepy, almost as if Cindy wants to be her –– again, parallels to the relationship between Jeanette and Kate.
Joy also fills Kate in on some gossip, like the fact that Cindy once thirsted after her husband, Kate’s step-dad, a former professional athlete turned town council member named Rob Wallis (Benjamin J. Cain Jr.). Apparently, all the women in town did, including another member of the council, Candice Johnson. Kate’s biological father and Joy’s ex-husband died of cancer, so Joy was a widower and single mom when she met Rob.
After the workout session, Kate and Joy’s big plans for the day revolve around preparing for the annual Skylin Garden Club party. It’s one of those typical, bougie events where all the neighborhood housewives and upper-class residents gather to talk fundraising and hospitality. Before leaving, Kate overhears a salacious-sounding phone call between Rob and Candice. She immediately assumes the two are having an affair with plans to hook up at the party.
At the garden party, Kate tries to tell her mom this and Joy blows her off. Kate goes snooping around to see if she can catch her step-dad in the act, but instead, she finds him and Candice planning a romantic cruise for Rob to surprise Joy. So Kate did get it wrong (although I still find it weird Rob was talking about his sex life with Candice on the phone, but I digress!).
When Kate tries to apologize to her mother, Joy gets nasty and tells her she’s embarrassing herself with these false allegations and basically says “get lost” in rich white woman speak. Then it’s time for the annual garden party speech and this year, Joy gives a special toast to neighborhood newcomer, Martin Harris.
We see a montage of this same speech from 1993 to 1995. In 1994, Joy tells the same group that she can’t believe “evil,” a.k.a. Martin, was lurking among them, although he’s since been shot and killed. In 1995, Joy tells the group she’s tired of having to remember all the horrible things that have happened to her family and daughter, although she points out that she’s disgusted Jeanette is still out and about.
Back in 1993, Jeanette, Mallory and Vince interrupt the party post-speech to throw shaving cream-filled balloons at everyone as part of a prank –– I’m guessing something else off their summer list. They escape on their bikes, but Kate and Jeanette exchange a look after Kate runs out after them.
We next see Kate alone at night on a park swing nursing a bottle of champagne I’m assuming she stole from the party. Luckily, the Wallis family gardener, Scott Jones, finds Kate and gets her home safe and sound. Thinking Kate is asleep in her room, Scott decides to spend some time with Joy and Kate comes downstairs in time to see them making out. So one of her parents is having an affair, just not the one Kate expected.
Distraught at the realization, Kate makes a run for it again and collapses on the side of the road, still wearing her garden party dress. This time, the man that finds her is none other than Martin Harris, who lends her a hand.
Cruel Summer Episode 2 recap: Kate makes her first statement against Jeanette
Months after her rescue, Kate is suffering from severe PTSD and struggling to get back to normal despite everyone in her life wanting to go back to the way things were, including her mom and Jamie.
Since punching Jeanette, Jamie hasn’t seen her until his best friend Ben (Nathaniel Ashton) recommends that he get together with her at least once. At this point, no one knows who to believe between Jeanette and Kate. But since Jamie did date Jeanette for a while and claimed to love her, Ben thinks he owes her at least one conversation.
He agrees to see her the night of June 26, 1994. Until then, he spends time with Kate who happens to see his pager go off indicating that he’ll be meeting someone at 9:00 p.m. at the park. She doesn’t let Jamie know she saw it but then follows him there that night.
What she sees is Jeanette convincing Jamie that she didn’t see Kate held hostage in Martin’s basement. Jeanette kisses Jamie and he lets her, the two start making out as Kate watches from the shadows. Immediately after seeing that, Kate marches to the police station to finally give them her statement. This time she tells them on tape that Jeanette saw her in the basement.
“If I was lying how would I have this?” She asks and places Jeanette’s “you go girl” necklace on the table. I’m guessing the necklace is what’s going to really cement Jeanette as the villain in the town’s eyes. But now that we know what Kate saw before, it’s hard not to wonder if she’s lying out of revenge. It’s possible she could have found the necklace somewhere else.
Around this time, Kate also starts accessing online chatrooms designed for trauma victims. She finds one for people who have been abducted and makes a suspicious remark about, “what happens if they find out I haven’t been honest.” Hmm, so what is Kate lying about?
Also of note in the 1994 segments is a brief scene showing how Jeanette’s brother Derek is impacted by the rumors about Jeanette. He loses a job catering the Skylin Garden Party in 1994 after doing it the year before (and probably for many years in the past) because everyone has heard whisperings of a rumor that Jeanette saw Kate in Martin’s house. It’d be bad for business for Derek to hang around.
Cruel Summer Episode 2 recap: The Turners sue Kate for defamation
So now we’re in 1995 and Kate is going off the rails a little. She starts by getting her belly button pierced in secret, specifically to drive her mom crazy. The biggest reveals from this section revolve around the legal proceedings. It looks like Kate’s family was trying to sue Jeanette’s, but at the end of the episode, a news broadcast claims that now Jeanette and the Turners will go after Kate for defamation.
They certainly have a case, especially after Kate gave that live national interview in 1994. And Kate isn’t thrilled about this new development as both Joy and Rob start arguing about contacting lawyers the second they see the news and Kate just stares at the television set and screams.
There is another important scene set in 1995 regarding Ben, Jamie’s friend. He has a meeting with Jeanette’s lawyer, although she tells him she can’t disclose information regarding the case.
Her lawyer talks about “something” that happened to Ben between 1994 and 1995, something that Ben apparently blames Jeanette for. In the past, he wasn’t sure he believed Kate, now he’s torn between both girls. Who is telling the truth? No one seems to know.
What did you think about Cruel Summer Episode 2? What do you think Kate is lying about? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
New episodes of Cruel Summer air Tuesday nights on Freeform.