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The teen thriller on Freeform, Cruel Summer, is so binge-worthy that the fan theories are rampant and compelling. A new-to-town assistant principal, Martin Harris (Blake Lee), groomed and kidnapped Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt). While she was held captive in his basement, another teen, Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia), seemingly took over her life. After her rescue, Kate insisted that Jeanette knew she was abducted but didn’t tell the authorities. Jeanette swears she never saw Kate at Martin’s home. Who is lying? Who is Annabelle, and what does she have to do with everything? 

Cruel Summer fan theories consider whether Jeanette Turner is lying or not
Cruel Summer Season 1: Sarah Drew as Cindy Turner, Michael Landes as Greg Turner and Chiara Aurelia as Jeanette Turner | Bill Matlock/Getty Images

‘Cruel Summer’ theories: Kate is lying

Some fans believe that Kate is the person lying, not Jeanette. For this fan theory, viewers need to rewatch Cruel Summer Episode 3.

“When Kate confronted Jeanette at the stoplight, what she said stood out to me,” one fan wrote on Reddit. “She said, ‘You stole my life because yours was pathetic!’ But if Jeanette knew Kate had been kidnapped and didn’t tell anyone, I would think Kate would be more upset about that, and she would have said something like, ‘you left me there to rot in that basement!'”

Many viewers wondered if Kate only blamed Jeanette because she stole her friends and boyfriend while she was abducted.

Jeanette and Kate confided in each other

Several fans wonder if Jeanette gave her “You Go, Girl” necklace to Kate during one of the many times she broke into Martin Harris’ home.

“I also believe that Kate catches Jeanette breaking in, and the girls confide in each other,” one viewer wrote on Reddit. “Kate that she is “dating” Martin and Jeanette that she is breaking in. I think that Jeanette takes the necklace off and gives it to Kate as a token of their pact to keep each other’s secrets. Maybe Kate gave Jeanette something as well?”

Since Martin groomed Kate, she thought she was there of her own free will when she bumped into Jeanette breaking into the house. However, when things took a turn, Kate thought Jeanette would rescue her, but she never told anyone because the two girls agreed not to tell.

Who is Annabelle? Kate and Martin’s baby in ‘Cruel Summer’

Many other Cruel Summer fan theories revolve around who the mysterious “Annabelle” might be. This theory will make you want to rewatch every Kate scene in Martin’s basement.

“Maybe Kate was cooperative in the beginning but got pregnant, so Martin panicked and held her captive to keep people from finding out,” another fan added on Reddit. “She was missing from the end of summer 1993 until the beginning of summer 1994, so about nine months. Kate didn’t meet Annabelle until the day of her rescue because that’s when she was born, and her going into labor/giving birth is what caused Martin to act ‘weird’ that day. The baby could have died, or Kate’s mom may have made Kate give the baby up for adoption.”

Other viewers agreed that this theory might be possible because we don’t see Kate’s midsection in many scenes in the basement. A few things that Martin says to Kate further solidifies the theory.

Angela knew Martin before moving to town

What does Greg Turner’s (Michael Landes) new girlfriend, Angela Prescott (Brooklyn Sudano), have to do with the plot? Several Cruel Summer theories suggested that Angela might know more than she’s letting on about Martin Harris.

“So my theory is [Angela] knew Martin before and moved to town to figure out what happened to him,” another fan guessed on Reddit. “What better way to find that out than shacking up with the father of the girl Kate accused of being in Martin’s house while she was kidnapped on national television despite that family being social pariahs?

It seemed odd that Angela stopped in at a movie rental store when she didn’t have a place to live yet. She happened to hit a realtor’s car in the parking lot accidentally. Was she an old co-worker of Martin’s? Could the two be related somehow? Viewers believe she knew him before moving to Skylin.

‘Cruel Summer’ theories: Annabelle is Mallory

Could Mallory Higgins (Harley Quinn Smith) be the mysterious Annabelle? In 1993, Mallory made her two best friends, Jeanette and Vince (Allius Barnes), commit crimes. She pushed them to defy the law at every turn. Then in 1994, she became friends with Kate Wallis (who she hated) relatively quickly. Could Mallory be Martin’s accomplice?


‘Cruel Summer’ Episode 6 Recap: ‘An Ocean Inside Me’ and Answers about Cindy Turner

“We see Mallory in the waiting room of the therapist’s office as Kate is leaving, but we never actually see her visit the therapist,” one Redditor pointed out. “She only started calling the therapist by name after Kate had stated her name. She could have just been waiting for Kate to come out of the office. Mallory is invested in helping Kate remember what happened to her in the basement. Maybe she’s trying to gauge how much Kate remembers so she can cover her tracks. To me, it still seems like there’s a missing piece to the kidnapping. I believe that Martin wasn’t working alone; he had an accomplice.”

Many fans have an uneasy feeling about Mallory. Could she be on Martin Harris’ side? Only time will tell. Cruel Summer episodes air on Freeform Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST.