Spoilers are ahead. As we head towards the end of Cruel Summer, the show is still reluctant to reveal its hand. Last week's shocking twist saw Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia) and her brother Derek (Barrett Carnahan) get their hands on chat transcripts of Kate (Olivia Holt) and her sister Ashley (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut). The chats revealed that the former willingly entered Martin Harris' (Blake Lee) home the night she was kidnapped. To 1995 Jeanette, it seems like a smoking gun. And while it's a disappointing turn, we begin this episode seeing her hand those transcripts over to her lawyer to use against Kate in their ongoing legal battle. Whether or not the show will truly go the victim blaming route is still to be seen, but until then Cruel Summer has left us with three key clues that might hint at where we're going as we head into the final episodes.
What Martin Sees On Mallory's Prank Video Tape
As part of their summer pranks list which was started by Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith) in 1993, we see the trio — completed by Vince (Allius Barnes) — putting on a show for their classmates on the first day of school. Their plan includes putting "a prank tape" in the AV Club room and playing it when classes start. Before we see that happen, we learn how Jeanette found out about Kate's disappearance before anyone else. It was not as Jamie (Froy Gutierrez) implied — seeing Kate in Martin's house — but because she overheard a conversation in which Kate's mother Joy (Andrea Anders) revealed to Martin that Kate hadn't come home. Martin knows this because Kate came to his house the night before, but if you're counting it's one more point towards Jeanette's innocence.
While Jeanette is wandering the halls, however, she leaves Mallory in the AV room where Martin finds her and the so-called prank tape featuring clips of teachers filmed without their knowledge. And when Martin walks in he sees footage of him leaving his house the morning after Kate went missing. After losing it on Mallory, he takes the tape which he's obviously worried might incriminate him. And at the end of the episode we learn why. On the video that Mallory said was playing instead of school announcements we can see a scene of Martin in front of his house and while you may need to pause to see the image clearly, in the background Kate can be seen looking out of the window. That tells us two things: she wasn't his "prisoner" on the first night she visited and she wasn't in the basement the next morning. But Martin's response — smashing the tape to smithereens, along with the fact he lied to her mother about Kate's whereabouts — proves he was always planning to abduct the young girl.
Why The Message On Jamie's Answering Machine Matters
In 1995, Jamie is trying to reconcile with Jeanette and he does so by inviting her over to his garage to talk. While also realizing he might have messed up in 1994 by punching Jeanette in the face — um, duh — Jamie finally reveals what Ben (Nathaniel Ashton) blames Jeanette for. See, Jamie attempted to drive himself and Ben to her house, crashing the car and breaking Ben's shoulder, effectively ending Ben's football career before it truly began. After that horrible revelation, he tells her about an answering machine message that he got on Christmas Eve of 1993, which he thinks might have something to do with Kate. He plays the tape to Jeanette and we hear heavy breathing along with what sounds like a chiming song, and voices from a television saying "'til death do us part" but for whatever reason it freaks Jeanette out exponentially. That leads us to our last and perhaps most vital clue.
What The Snowglobe Means
The most mysterious but also most telling piece of potential proof we get here is the mysterious snowglobe that Jeanette rushes to Mallory's house to retrieve. Why is she so worried? And what is the relevance of the message and the snowglobe? Here's one theory: we know that in the past Jeanette stole things from Martin Harris' home to give to Mallory. After their first argument about the summer list, she stole Harris' old yearbook — which seems like it will become relevant before the season ends — and gave it to Mallory, achieving a goal from the list and offering an olive branch of friendship.
This week's episode takes place around August 30. So there's a chance that, after their big bust up in 1993 and in the days leading up the the holiday that year, Jeanette was feeling guilty and broke into Martin Harris' home on Christmas Eve. Jamie's answering machine recording sounded like a snowglobe or music box was in the background. That mixed with Jeanette's panicked response hints that she was in the house with the snowglobe, and that she later gave it to Mallory. This is huge, as it supports Kate's story that Jeanette was in Martin's house while Kate was his captive.
So what's the truth? Well, it does seem like Jeanette was in Martin's house and accidentally butt-dialed Jamie, leaving him an incriminating message with a cryptic recording. Her heavy breathing made it sound like she was in a closet or wardrobe — where we saw her hiding in a previous episode when Tanya (Kim Jackson Davis) found her — so could Jeanette have seen Kate? Or could Kate have seen Jeanette without Jeanette seeing her? One popular fan theory is that there's a two-way mirror somewhere in Martin's house, which means Kate could have seen Jeanette while she was in the closet without Jeanette knowing or seeing that Kate was there. But if you remember, Kate told the police she saw Jeanette through a window, so maybe that one doesn't hold up after all.
Whatever happens now that Mallory has the snowglobe and knows that Jeanette wants it, we'll likely soon see its relevance come to light.