We’re here again! After the double episode of the previous week, Cruel Summer 1×03 “Off With a Bang” comes loaded with more unknowns, secrets, questions and … some answers. Although, as always, it leaves us wanting more. The stories of Jeanette and Kate progress and intertwine more and more as we unravel this web of secrets and lies that surrounds them.
Here we go!
Luck is not on Jeanette’s side in any sense. By chance, she and Kate meet on both sides of the road and, how could it be otherwise, nothing goes right. Jeanette stays in the car, wanting that traffic light to turn green, while Kate gets out of her car, insults and scolds her, provoking her to get out of the car.
What Kate says to Jeanette is really interesting to me. She throws in her face that Jeannette replaced her in every aspect. That is, if a person has really seen you while you were being raped and abused, I think that taking your life would be the last claim you would make. But it’s what Kate does.
This makes me more convinced that she is lying about Jeanette seeing her. In fact, I think Kate needs someone to blame and … Jeanette is that person. Kate feels that Jeanette stole her life from her, thinks that Jeanette is the reason things are no longer the way they used to be. So she wants to hurt her, she wants to make her pay.
However, while I firmly believe in Jeanette’s innocence, there are things that still don’t quite add up. That pendant … that pendant is from Jeanette and she lied to the police about it, why is she lying and how did that pendant get into Kate’s hands? And the way Jeanette rehearses a statement … it gives me a bad feeling. They are questions and unknowns that Cruel Summer has to answer.
But even though this is all suspicious, I remain convinced that Jeanette is innocent. But not everyone thinks like me. Until that moment, Jeanette’s mother had not doubted for a moment of her daughter, but when she hears her lie in the interrogation room, everything changes. She has doubts about Jeanette because … why would she lie? If she has nothing to hide, if she is innocent, why not tell the truth about that pendant?
She shares these doubts with Jeanette’s father, but he doesn’t take them seriously. Although this changes later, because we see how Jeanette’s father goes from protecting her and blindly believing in her to treating her with contempt that is felt to the bone, he hardly even looks at her and basically doesn’t care about her.
It seems that her father tolerates Jeanette’s presence in his house but that he doesn’t care about her at all. He gives the impression that he has abandoned her. How did he get there? Because he is her father, he must know his daughter and know that she would not be capable of something like that. But he doesn’t believe her, he doesn’t trust her. And that, right now, strikes me as a lousy thing on his part.
In fact, the only one who supports her in her family is her brother, whom I love from now on and we have to protect at all costs. He is always there for her and believes her, even if no one does, he knows that Jeanette is innocent and doesn’t get carried away by what people say about her. Give it up to him because he’s the only one in Jeanette’s family who is really acting like family.
But before everything went to hell, things were different. Jeanette’s mother, once she gets in a fight with her best friend, advises her to move on. In our adolescence, there is always a time when we go from girls to women and in which mischief, games … all of that become children’s things and we focus more on our appearance, on being popular, on boys, on clothes, on makeup … we begin to grow and our interests and priorities change.
Maybe that moment has come for Jeanette. Maybe it’s time to do her hair differently, to put on contact lenses, to care more about her appearance and try to get closer to Kate, to the popular girls, to be one of them, just as her mother was at the time. Jeanette’s mother wants the best for her and wants her to know if she doesn’t feel comfortable changing like this and wants to reconcile with her friend, that’s what she should do, but maybe it’s time to start growing a little.
I find this advice a bit … different than expected. I like that Jeanette’s mother advises her at the end to do what her heart tells her, but I don’t like the pressure she puts on her to change her appearance and get closer to people she thinks are better or more convenient. It is clear that she wants the best for her daughter, but I also believe that appearances are too important to her.
In fact, the first thing she said when Kate started telling her story on television about Jeanette is that everyone was going to find out about it, but she didn’t consider how Jeanette would feel about everything that was going on. And I don’t doubt that she’s worried about Jeanette but I think it’s hard for her to keep her balance on all of this.
As for Jeanette’s father, as we discussed, he believes her until he reaches a point where he doesn’t. But, before that, he didn’t hesitate to make things clear to Jamie: he should never hit a woman. And I have to say that I don’t care if Jamie says he’s sorry or not – he is not, because he didn’t even dare to accept it in front of his mother – I really wanted to have Jeanette’s brother punch him or, rather, let her do it.
But Jeanette is not in for that. In fact, when her father tells her what happened, she excuses and denies Jamie’s aggression. She … justifies it. This is an abusive relationship. Battered women, attacked by their couples, always justify these attacks, because they themselves feel guilty, they believe that it is their fault and that if they had done things differently or if they had not done something, nothing would have happened.
But it’s not like that. The fault is always with the aggressor. And no one has the right to attack you in any way. Aggression is never justified. And I like that Jeanette’s father made it clear to her.
However, some lessons we have to learn for ourselves. Despite everything, Jeanette looks for Jamie at the 4th of July celebrations. She still wants to see him and … she gets what she wants. She doesn’t care that he attacked her, she returns to him, like a moth to fire. Because she still thinks that he loves her, she has not yet understood that what they have is a toxic and abusive relationship and that no one who loves her would attack her like that.
Jamie takes care of letting her know. In fact, he basically tells her that he doesn’t believe her but that even if he did, Kate is back and he’s not going to leave her. I mean, Jeanette was only the replacement while Kate came back but now that she’s there, Jamie basically doesn’t care about Jeanette and what happens to her.
I want to kill him for this.
Seriously, I already wanted to kill him after he assaulted her, but now I want to finish him off even more. He never felt anything for her, of course. Apart from the fact that he would never have assaulted her, he would have believed her or, at least, would have given her the benefit of the doubt because it is the least that Jeanette deserves. And he would never, ever, have treated her as a second course, as a mere replacement for someone who is gone. He would have stayed by her side.
And staying with her doesn’t mean abandoning Kate. It’s ok that he wants to support and help her, but not at the cost of abandoning Jeanette. Here, Jamie shows his true colors and shows us clearly that he never really felt anything for Jeanette. At least, this helps her to realize that such garbage is not worth it and, finally, she is determined to leave him behind. Perhaps, with a little more distance, she realizes the toxic and abusive relationship they had.
The fact is that we discovered that Jeanette sneaked back into the Director’s house once Kate had disappeared but she didn’t see anything, not Kate or anyone else … and, later, in 1995, she sneaks into that house again. The house in which horrible things happened and that changed her life forever. There, she meets Vincent, the only other person besides her brother that she can count on.
And finally, we see Jeanette open up to someone about everything that is going on. She opens up a bit, about something minimal like that house. It’s … strange but there she finds peace in the midst of so much chaos, there she can remember when everything was easier, there she can close her eyes and feel as if everything is as before.
Somehow going back there makes her think. Vincent listens to her and understands what she means and why she goes back there. Even though he doesn’t fully understand things, he supports her. And Vincent takes advantage and asks her some things that he had been wanting to know for a long time, that kept haunting him. And she is honest with him. She returned to that house many times …
As we watch all this, we discover that Vincent always supported her, in fact he supports her so much that when the police questioned him in 1994 about whether Jeanette came back to that house … he lied and says that she didn’t. Never. And I have a feeling this will bring trouble …
Speaking of Vincent, I love that Cruel Summer explicitly shows his sexuality and show us what it is like for a teenager to live it in a time when society was even more backward than it is now. They had to practically hide and only show themselves in “safe places” to avoid insults and laughter from others. It’s unfair. And I’m glad we’ve made progress in changing this. Even if it’s a little bit.
The last scene of Cruel Summer 1×03 “Off With a Bang” is Jeanette following the advice of her mother and beginning to leave childhood behind, beginning her journey in adolescence. A starting point for the story that we are only beginning to learn.
And here ends our Cruel Summer review. We will be back next week with a new one!
Agree? Disagree? Don’t hesitate to share it with us in the comments below!
Cruel Summer airs Tuesdays at 10:00 p.m in Freeform and you can stream next day on Hulu.