Cruel Summer Episode 3 recap: Is Jeanette a victim or a villain?

CRUEL SUMMER - "Off With a Bang" - Victim or villain? Jeanette continues to add fuel to the fire as her reckless behavior causes her friends and family to question her even more. This episode of “Cruel Summer” airs Tuesday, April 27 at 10:00 p.m. on Freeform. (Freeform/Bill Matlock)SARAH DREW, CHIARA AURELIA
CRUEL SUMMER - "Off With a Bang" - Victim or villain? Jeanette continues to add fuel to the fire as her reckless behavior causes her friends and family to question her even more. This episode of “Cruel Summer” airs Tuesday, April 27 at 10:00 p.m. on Freeform. (Freeform/Bill Matlock)SARAH DREW, CHIARA AURELIA /

We’re already into Cruel Summer Episode 3 and seemingly no closer to finding out whether Kate or Jeanette is telling the truth, although “Off With a Bang” does lay the groundwork for Kate’s side of the story. Jeanette is quite adept at keeping secrets and telling lies.

Her story starts spinning back in 1993. In Cruel Summer Episode 3, our timeline is set for “approximately” July 4 in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

In 1993, Mallory, Jeanette and Vince are still intent on completing their epic list. The next step is swiping contraband of some kind. Vince swipes his mom’s cooking sherry and Jeanette steals her brother’s porn, but the big win is from Mallory who manages to find her mother’s pot stash hidden in the bathroom.

Jeanette and Vince immediately freak out at her find since neither is keen on the idea of smoking it. Mallory isn’t impressed with their lack of bravery. But before the argument can continue, Mallory gets called home.

While she’s gone, Jeanette decides to flush the pot because it’s in Mallory’s best interest. When Mallory finds out, it leads to a fight between the girls. Mallory turns to her mother, Cindy, for advice and we start to see how Cindy’s point-of-view might have warped Jeanette’s thinking.

Cindy was the most popular girl in school, by her own account, when she was in high school. Homecoming queen, cheerleading captain, and supposed best friend of Joy Willis, Cindy proudly brags about how she had the good looks and charm to get every boy in town lining up for her.

She makes several comments about how Jeanette could be prettier without her glasses and when she gets her braces off. Nothing she says is outright cruel, but instead of encouraging Jeanette to be herself and appreciate her current self-image, Cindy lightly implies that things will get better when Jeanette makes some cosmetic adjustments.

She also gives her daughter some sound advice for mending things with Mallory. Bring her a peace offering. So, Jeanette opts to skip Skylin’s annual July 4th shindig to make amends and the best way to impress Mallory is for Jeanette to complete something else off the list, so she decides to steal something. She returns to Martin Harris’s house, having kept the key she took from her dad’s office. There, she takes one of his yearbooks to show Mallory and the two girls bond.

In the final moments of the episode, we see that not only has Jeanette kept the key stashed away in her jewelry box, but she also has a joint from the pot stash she supposedly flushed away.

Cruel Summer Episode 3

Cruel Summer Episode 3 recap: In 1994, Greg confronts Jamie

After Derek tells his dad that Jamie punched his daughter, Derek and Greg confront Jamie and tell him to stay away from Jeanette. Of course, that’s easier said than done since Jeanette doesn’t want to stay away from him.

At the annual Skylin July 4th festival, Jeanette attends with her parents. She immediately approaches Jamie who tells her their previous kiss was a mistake and pleads with Jeanette not to tell Kate. He’s still on the fence about whether or not he believes her story. Before Jeanette walks away, he asks her how she was so sure Kate was missing, mentioning that she seemed to know before anyone else did.

Also of note at the festival is Cindy’s reaction to the town’s growing rage at her daughter as the rumors start to spread that Jeanette might have seen Kate in captivity. Kate hasn’t given her big national news interview yet, but already Cindy is falling apart at the seams, especially when the police ask Jeanette to go in for questioning and they present her with the necklace.

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Jeanette tells them that she threw the necklace away a while back because she had a falling out with the friend that gave it to her, but the cops aren’t really buying that. Even Cindy starts to doubt her daughter and one has to wonder at one point Cindy has had enough since we’ve yet to see her in the 1995 portion of the show yet.

We find out that Vince and Ben have struck up a relationship at this point, but of course, since it’s 1994, they have to keep it as secret as possible. They get to share a sweet moment in a secluded LGBTQ+ bar/safe haven set up in someone’s house. At this point, it doesn’t look like anyone knows about Ben and Vince, but something big happens to tear them apart by this time in 1995.

Cruel Summer Episode 3 recap: Jeanette returns to the scene of the crime

The 1995 segment in this episode starts with a volatile confrontation between Jeanette and Kate. They happen to reach a stoplight at the same time and when Kate notices Jeanette she immediately gets out of her car and starts screaming at Jeanette for the lawsuit against her family.

Apparently, Jeanette leaked the news of the lawsuit to the press before her family even had a chance to serve Kat with papers, something Greg points out while cracking open his second beer of the night. Things at home aren’t great for Jeanette, especially since people are continuing to graffiti her car and house.

It’s also the annual Skylin Fireworks Festival yet neither Greg nor Jeanette is planning on attending. Instead, Jeanette slips off into the night to return to Martin Harris’s house and down into the room where Kate was held captive for all of those months. Vince follows Jeanette and confronts her there.

She admits that she’s returned to the house many times since that first time with Mallory and Vince in 1993, claiming she got addicted to the rush of sneaking in. So that means it is possible that she saw Kate in the basement.

Jeanette explains her current visit as her desire to return things to the way they used to be. She says that the day they first broke in, she went into the basement and felt unnerved by the energy there. Since then, Jeanette believed she might have unleashed something bad into the world. She hoped by returning, perhaps she could make things right.

In the basement, Vince also reveals to Jeanette that he tried calling Ben again. We hear their conversation earlier in the episode, Ben is distraught and asks Vince to stop calling him because it’s too painful. Jeanette apologizes. So it sounds like whatever happened between Vince and Ben had something to do with Jeanette.

Regardless, it doesn’t stop Vince from lying for her when questioned by her lawyer and Kate’s counsel. When asked if Jeanette had ever returned to Martin’s house since that summer in 1993, Vince says that his knowledge, she hasn’t.

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New episodes of Cruel Summer air Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. on Freeform.