‘Cruel Summer’: 1 Promo Photo Might Reveal Mallory’s Truth

If you were hooked on Pretty Little Liars as a pre-teen or teen (or even young adult) in the early 2010s, then Cruel Summer is the show for you this season. Because not only does it give you that gritty, thriller series that you might be craving, but it does it even better. The Freeform show delivers some of the “Who’s A?” mysteries without being as cringey because the writing is great with even better chances to theorize every week. 

And one of the characters at the heart of some of the juiciest Cruel Summer theories after episode 8 is Mallory. And one official series photo might actually give away that Jeanette’s former friend knows way more than she’s letting on. [Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for Cruel Summer, through episode 8]. 

Mallory is the unlikely friend that Kate Wallis seemingly needed

CRUEL SUMMER, episode 5, "As The Carny Gods Intended": Harley Quinn Smith as Mallory and Olivia Holt as Kate Wallis
CRUEL SUMMER, episode 5, “As The Carny Gods Intended”: Harley Quinn Smith as Mallory and Olivia Holt as Kate Wallis | Bill Matlock/Freeform via Getty Images

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Backing it up, Kate Wallis and Jeanette Turner were two girls who were completely different in the small town of Skylin, TX. But after the summer of 1993 resulted in Kate running away from home and into the clutches of her vice principal’s house, things completely switched up. Martin Harris, the vice-principal, had his eye on Kate and was slowly grooming her, and ended up holding her in his house for months on end. In that time, Jeanette completely grew out of her awkward phase and seemed to step into Kate’s old life in Skylin. 

When Kate comes back, accusing Jeanette of knowing where Kate was that whole time, nothing’s ever the same. The major draw of the show is the half-truths the series feeds the audience so that they are dying to guess what’s going to happen week-to-week. 

Mallory, played by Harley Quinn Smith, was once on the anti-Kate train. But by 1995, Mallory is the best thing Kate has and a staunch confidant. And Smith told Refinery29 that she’s the same person from 1993 through 1995, regardless of the situation. 

“It’s interesting because in a lot of ways I think Mallory is still very much the true essence of herself,” Smith said on May 26. “That doesn’t really change throughout the years… Mallory does stay pretty true to who she is as a person, which I appreciate because she’s just the same old Mallory under different circumstances, and in different times in her life.”

However, 1 photo might show Mallory knows way more than she’s letting on

But some fans have pointed out that Mallory is pretty suspicious, especially after this week’s episode 8. Smith seems adamant that Mallory is true to herself and is truthful with Kate. However, the snow globe incident threw a lot of people for a loop. Why did Jeanette need it back so badly after Jamie’s mysterious voicemail? And why is Mallory lying about having it?

One big clue that we do have photo evidence of, though, thanks to Freeform, is an episodic still from “Proof.”:

CRUEL SUMMER, episode 8, "Proof": Harley Quinn Smith as Mallory
CRUEL SUMMER, episode 8, “Proof”: Harley Quinn Smith as Mallory | Bill Matlock/Freeform via Getty Images

It shows Mallory with her big 1990s camcorder against a tree in the same outfit and pigtails from when she got a detention in the episode for playing her video for the whole school to see. She looks like she’s in shock or a bit confused by what she’s seeing in the photo. And recording artist Meghan Patrick tweeted a theory that might explain why. 

“I think that Mallory saw Kate, because she was the one who took the video of Martin walking out where she’s in the window,” she wrote before pointing out the image. 

This means that Mallory could have known Kate was in his house the whole time, but just didn’t know what it meant. Remember, Kate is in that house “willingly” right now, but that changes at some point. And Harris knows he’s not going to let Kate go at this point already, which is why he destroys the tape and doesn’t tell Joy Wallis know Kate’s in his home.

With the snow globe incident in the final moments of episode 8, things are looking shaky for Mallory 

But what does this mean for Mallory in 1995? Well, it could mean many things. For one, she again, doesn’t know why Kate’s in the house which is why she might not have brought it up to Jeanette and Vince beforehand. And she definitely doesn’t bring it up after when she sees how bent out of shape Harris is when he finds the tape. Plus, she knows how googly-eyed Jeanette is for Kate and then she was dumped by Jeanette after tape-gate; Mallory was not about to feed her any info about Kate that day. 

Surely, though, after Kate’s disappearance becomes more profound as the days go by, if Mallory did see Kate in Martin Harris’ house, she probably would go to investigate. This might lead to her seeing Jeanette at the house — who we know is a frequent visitor — and it might be her way of planting the necklace there too at some point if she really wanted to screw her former friend over. 

There are windows that can see into Harris’ basement where Kate was kept, with clear access to those awful mirrors. Anyone with knowledge of Kate being there might have known to look there, considering she had been there before with Jeanette. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Mallory is Annabelle, as some theories suggest, however it doesn’t look good for Mallory. And if Mallory knew this whole time, then that means that she could have manipulated anything in her relationship with Kate if she really wanted to. Or, maybe she befriended Kate because she felt really guilty. Only the next two episodes will tell.

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