Cruel Summer Season 1, Episode 4 starts once again with that ominous title screen that makes you think this all really happened (it hasn’t), before focusing on Kate’s perspective as she and her family start preparing for the new lawsuit filed by the Turners accusing Kate of character defamation. The main event in this episode is the annual Wallis hunting trip, where the family and many of their close friends escape for a weekend to hunt game and skeet shoot.
In 1993, this event is a fun, sunny weekend of festivities, featuring a still very much in love Kate and Jamie. We meet Kate’s step-sister (Rod’s daughter from a previous marriage), Ashley Wallis (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), who has zero interest in cultivating any genuine sisterly bond with Kate despite her best efforts.
Kate is still reeling from the discovery that her mother is having an affair and desperately needs someone to talk to, but when she tries to talk to Ash about it, her step-sis shuts her down. Guess who is willing to listen to Kate, though? Martin Harris. He scores an invite to the hunting trip from Joy after he so graciously got Kate home safely post-garden party.
At night, when Kate can’t fall asleep, she slips out of her cabin and crosses paths with Martin. They sit on the lawn and admire constellations, swapping stories about family trauma. Martin has begun grooming Kate.
Cruel Summer Season 1, Episode 4 recap: Kate makes a surprising new friend in 1994
By the summer of 1994, Mallory and Jeanette are officially no longer friends, leaving the door open for a new relationship between Mallory and Kate. The two strike up a conversation at their shared therapist’s office and discover they have quite a bit in common, particularly their shared hatred of Jeanette.
From then on, they become incredibly close best friends. Kate even tells Mallory she saw Jamie and Jeanette kissing after the most recent garden party, something she’s yet to tell Jamie (who is still lying about it having happened at all).
Also of importance in 1994 is the police investigation into Jeanette Turner. When we last left off with that, Kate had given them Jeanette’s necklace. Kate and her mom are called into the police station, anticipating that they’ll be charging Jeanette with failure to report a crime or even accomplice to kidnapping (“Let’s see how she likes it behind bars.”) –– but instead, the detective admits they have no case against Jeanette.
Not only are the fingerprints on her necklace inconclusive, but even if they were, she says the only thing they could really slap her with is community service. They need hard evidence to go after a minor, and right now, the whole thing is Kate’s word against Jeanette’s. Kate is upset that she seems to be the only person who has to face any consequences.
Now that we know the case against Jeanette is dismissed, it makes more sense as to why Kate would later go on national television and name Jeanette in an interview.
In 1994, we also see a significant change in Kate’s step-sister, Ashley. With Kate back, she’s changed her tune about wanting a relationship with her, but now it’s too late. Kate is bitter with Ash because she tried for years to cultivate a bond between them and Ash always blew her off. Now, suddenly, she wants to be her sister and support her. It’s hard for Kate to believe.
Desperate to connect to Kate, Ash makes a fake account on the abduction chat room Kate frequents and messages her there to start a conversation.
Cruel Summer Season 1, Episode 4 recap: Who is Annabelle?
And no, we’re not talking about the doll. In 1995, Kate and Mallory’s friendship is still going strong, to the point that Kate even invites her along on the annual Wallis hunting trip. There, Kate first mentions the name “Annabelle,” when telling a “ghost story” about how she willingly trusted Martin Harris in 1993 because all the adults in the group trusted him. Should they all have blood on their hands?
The bulk of the 1995 segment in this episode is about Kate and her family preparing for the lawsuit from the Turners. Kate’s lawyers warn her that Jeanette’s attorney will go at her story hard to poke holes in any potential details. They’ll try to make it appear that Kate’s trauma has messed with her memory, so Kate needs to be 100% sure she has her story straight.
Her attorney tries to drill her with difficult, leading questions in a test run, and Kate mostly does okay. One interesting thing is Kate confirms she saw Jeanette through the windows of the basement. Her lawyer points out the windows are barred, and Kate says she peered through the slats to see Jeanette, who looked up and saw her. They made prolonged eye contact. This statement rules out the social media theory about two-way mirrors.
Kate and her family’s main concern now is ensuring the public’s opinion doesn’t turn against her. It could be happening already, as a typewritten letter turns up at Kate’s house with one simple word printed on it: Liar. Joy even accuses Mallory of sending it because she likes it when Kate is dependent on her, but Mallory denies it.
In the final moments of the episode, Kate and Mallory decide to go through her old therapy tapes. It’ll be challenging and traumatic, but Kate wants to be sure she remembers everything. She mentions that the only other person who could have confirmed details down there is dead now, so her story and memory are all she has to go on. It has to be ironclad.
Kate starts to listen to her old session tapes, and in them, she reveals that before she got rescued, something changed with Martin, and that was the first time she met “Annabelle.” Her therapist asks her who that is, and Kate says she doesn’t remember. What a twist!
Odds & Ends from Cruel Summer Season 1, Episode 4
- I think there is more to Derek Turner’s role on this show since he’s appeared in every episode, even in small scenes. What’s his deal? He clearly has a bond with Kate’s step-sister Ash. The two even continue meeting up in secret in 1994 at the height of the Jeanette/Kate conflict. Derek also gives Ash the idea (albeit inadvertently) to start communicating with Kate through the online chat room.
New episodes of Cruel Summer Season 1 air Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. on Freeform.