Breaking Down That Killer 'Cruel Summer' Season 1 Finale

The twisty Freeform teen drama just wrapped up, and it was a doozy.

Freeform/Bill Matlock
Freeform/Bill Matlock
Freeform/Bill Matlock

Please note: This Cruel Summer Episode 10 recap contains major spoilers.

There’s teen series that you keep coming back to for the melodrama-and then there’s Freeform’s Cruel Summer, which, this spring, has been utterly addicting. The show, created by Bert V. Royal, about the lawsuit between two teenage girls after one who went missing claims the other saw her in captivity and failed to report it, just wrapped up its first season on June 15. As teenagers are known to keep secrets and bend the truth, the series, told over the summers of ’93, ’94, and ’94, has slowly been peering into diary pages (er, chat room logs) throughout the season, until the 10th episode finally spilled the beans about what really went down between Jeanettte Turner (Chiara Aurelia) and Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) in the fictional town of Skylin, Texas.

After Jeanette and Kate decided to talk it out face to face alone in the now abandoned house of Martin Harris (Blake Lee), it was revealed that it was really Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith) who caught a glimpse of Kate. Then, once it seemed like the show was about to stamp on a Lisa Frank sticker and call it done, a shot from ’94 showed that Jeanette did, in fact, break into Mr. Harris’ house on yet another occasion and didn’t see Kate, but heard her yelling from the basement. It made for a shocking episode for a number of reasons, so to help you sort through everything, we’re breaking down the Season 1 finale.

Freeform/Bill Matlock
Freeform/Bill Matlock
Freeform/Bill Matlock

So, how exactly did Mallory see Kate? 

Once Jeanette’s legal camp played dirty by bringing up Kate’s chat log that revealed she willingly went to Martin’s house and wasn’t always in the basement, the two decided to meet to get to the bottom of what really happened. After lashing out at each other for ruining the other’s life, they walked through each of their perspectives of that infamous Christmas Eve in ’93. Jeanette said she never went into the basement-she just took the snow globe, heard a noise, and left. She says that if Kate saw her, she figured she wasn’t in the basement either, and mentions that theory of hers was confirmed when she heard the phone call Jamie (Froy Gutierrez) saved that featured the sound of the snow globe. Kate admits to being upstairs at the time, and says that when Jeanette left, she came back down, turned off the light, and saw a shadowed figure outside looking in. 

“But you didn’t see my face, did you?” Jeanette then asks, and the truth fell into place. Kate admits she didn’t see whose face was under the hood, but she saw what she thought was Jeanette’s bike with a card in the wheel. It’s that bit of information that makes Jeanette point out that the bike with the card and boombox actually belongs to Mallory. 

Turns out, Mallory must’ve happened upon Jeanette and wanted to catch her then-former-BFF committing her frequent crime of breaking into Martin Harris’. Immediately after, she went to Jeanette’s house where she tried to call her out on her bizarre obsession with breaking-and-entering and asked shat she stole, which is why she ended up with the snow globe after Jeanette gave it to her. Why didn’t Jeanette consider it was Mallory that Kate saw if Mallory was following her? Hard to say! Perhaps she was wrapped up in defending herself. 

Regardless, at first Mallory didn’t consider it was Kate that she saw since she didn’t see her face. She only caught a glimpse of her in the living room on the phone, so, at the time, she assumed it was a girlfriend or sister. When she later put two-and-two together that it was Kate, she figured it was none of her business, since she was moving freely and potentially wanted to stay hidden. That still might seem questionable, but it was solely because of their friendship that came as a shock to Mallory, but she didn’t want to jeopardize, that she never told Kate later on. 

How did Martin Harris really die?

Fans may have been able to piece together the reality behind the allegations between Jeanette and Kate, but one surprising reveal that came out of left field in the finale goes to the explanation to who “Annabelle” is. Or, rather, what Annabelle is. Kate always said that Martin started acting strange right before she was found-when she met Annabelle- and the finale explained why. 

Martin came downstairs distressed and carrying a box, and tells Kate the police came to his house and it was only a matter of time before they returned with a search warrant. He says that he and Kate have always wondered how everything was going to end between them, and that what’s inside the box is the only inevitable option. He then opens it to reveal a handgun-a family heirloom named Annabelle (ah, yes, of course!)-that his father used to take his own life and that he nearly used to kill himself. Just after he decided not to go through with it, Kate picked the gun up herself, and shot and killed him. 

Apparently, she then stayed with his body for the night before going upstairs and calling the police herself the next morning. For a time, she led herself believe the media’s assumption that Martin was killed in a police raid since he died of a gunshot wound. Considering how traumatic it was to kill someone-let alone someone she believed cared for her-it makes sense Kate repressed the memory of the incident.

How did the legal battle end? 

After the two girls decided to talk amongst themselves about what really happened, the Turner family dropped the whopping $11 million lawsuit against the Wallis family. Based on how much the truth was bent from each party, how their reputations were both at stake, and that it would spiral the Wallis’ into bankruptcy, it was definitely the most viable conclusion. 

Somewhat surprisingly, the truth of Mallory’s involvement didn’t keep Kate (who is, as we were originally led to believe, seriously kindhearted) from being friends with her. She is the only person in her life who really understands and listens to her. Even Jeanette chose to let it all go-deciding not to drag Mallory’s name through the mud and forgiving Kate on national television. It’s likely because she finally what she got what she always wanted-going from “America’s punching bag” to the pinnacle of teenage perfection, absolved by millions, appearing as a star herself on The Marsha Bailey Show that ruined her life to begin with. 

What about that shocking final scene?

Just when Jeanette seems to be cleared from the case that turned her life as Queen Bee upside down-the legal battle was over and she was finally getting the adoration that she always craved-Cruel Summer threw in another twist just before the finale cut to black. The timeline jumped to ’94, cutting to a sunny shot of Martin Harris’ home, where (unfortunately and yet predictably) Jeanette was once again breaking in. This time was different, though: Almost immediately upon entering, she heard someone yelling. Kate called from the basement, announcing who it was, and pleaded for help. Jeanette clearly heard her, as she was about to put her hand on the doorknob, but ultimately stopped before making any noise herself… and then showed a devious smile. It’s uncertain when this took place-did she intentionally keep this a secret for awhile? Or did she immediately offer a tip to the police that led to Kate’s release?-but Jeanette definitely kept this bit of information to herself throughout the lawsuit. Like many of the secrets she’s kept, it sure was incriminating and a shocking end to the season. 

The already confirmed Season 2 will likely delve into those final moments, which might just be Jeanette’s darkest secret yet. Those final moments (and that smile in particular!) make your head spin-considering the teen queen’s obsession with reputation, how she’s perceived, and her ability to lie-which is what’s made the teen series stand-out and so addicting all along. Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Sadie Bell is the entertainment editorial assistant at Thrillist. She’s on Twitter at @mssadiebell.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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