“As The Carny Gods Intended” shows events from (approximately) July 29th, 1993, 1994, and 1995. For the remainder of this recap, we will be getting into heavy spoilers; so only continue reading if you’ve seen episode 1×05 of Cruel Summer.
Jeannette and Kate cross paths at the Skylin High takeover of the County Fair, where one is desperate to prove herself and the other to lose herself.
In a twist that Chiara Aurelia teased in her recent interview with us, this episode is not solely told from Jeannette’s point of view, but rather from both hers as well as Kate’s. We get introduced to this concept as we see both girls getting ready in all three years at the beginning of the episode.
1993 shows us Jeannette’s (Aurelia) first date, which takes place at the County Fair, and is another list item. We then see Kate (Olivia Holt), Jamie (Froy Gutierrez), and Ben (Nathaniel Ashton) all at the fair together. Kate sees her mother (Andrea Anders) and Scott, asking Jamie if they seem weird, but Ben easily blows the topic off. She walks off from the pair, not bothering to get into any other details. While on one of the rides, Jeannette tells Gideon that she’s getting in with Kate’s whole group, adding that she also knows Jamie. Martin (Blake Lee) is running one of the games at the fair, which Jeannette plays. When Kate’s two friends see Jeannette, she immediately ditches her date, saying she doesn’t even know him.
We then see Kate also end up at Martin’s booth. The whole interaction between the two doesn’t sit well with the audience, but the feeling only grows when Martin then reveals that he was watching her at the Garden Club Party and comments how he actually thought Kate was an adult. Kate forgets her scrunchie, but Martin actually decides to keep it and in the background, we can hear Kate’s therapist telling her about the concept of grooming, which we just witnessed.
Jeannette tells Vince (Allius Barnes) and Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith) that her date got sick and left, covering the truth of what actually happened. As they pass Martin’s booth, he calls her over and tells her how wrong what she did to Gideon was since he saw the whole thing. She sees Kate’s scrunchie in Martin’s hand and says she can give it back to the other girl, which he reluctantly agrees to, handing it over. When Jeannette tells her friends, Mallory reminds the other girl that she doesn’t actually know Kate.
We see both girls get home from the fair, Jeannette with Kate’s scrunchie and Kate with the prize (a stuffed bunny) she won from Martin’s booth. After they put both items away, the camera focuses on Kate as she practices talking to Mr. Harris in the mirror, saying how young he looks to be a principal.
In ’94, we see Jamie and Kate in the car arriving at the fair. Jamie apologizes for being late, but Kate obviously is still struggling with the fact that he’s hiding the kiss from her. She asks if Jamie really wants to be with her or if he just feels bad for her and actually wants to be with Jeannette. Jamie doesn’t hesitate to bad mouth Jeannette, but Kate finally drops the bomb of seeing the kiss. Jamie says he loves her and tries to lie his way out of it, but it doesn’t work. Seeing as he’s trapped by the truth, he tries to control the situation, but Kate storms out of the car. Jeannette expresses to Derek (Barrett Carnahan) that she’s hoping to see Jamie at the fair, but her older brother is not amused by the plan. Jeannette is confident that she and Kate can work things out, saying Kate’s version of events never happened, and adding that Derek is there as her witness.
A reporter corners Joy and Rod (Ben Cain), who just stress how strong their daughter is, leading to us then seeing Kate getting confronted by a photographer. Jamie gets in front of his girlfriend, forcing the guy to back off. Kate goes to leave, still upset with Jamie, but he tries to offer an explanation for what she saw at the park. He says everything is true except the kiss. Kate knows what she saw, but Jamie tries to blame the trauma and says that maybe Kate didn’t see what she thought she saw. Kate calls Jamie out for trying to make her doubt herself before ending things between them.
Cindy (Sarah Drew) is at home drinking and watching TV when Greg (Michael Landes) finds her. He asks her about the movie she was supposed to pick up for tonight, but she reveals that someone spit on her car in the parking lot while she was in it and said a bunch of hateful things about Jeannette so she doesn’t want to go back. Instead, Greg goes back to the video store to try to find a movie to make his wife feel better and ends up accidentally meeting Angela (Brooklyn Sudano), who is on her way to look at an apartment. Angela hit his car and immediately apologizes, but Greg doesn’t hold it against her, just offering instead to help her find a place since she’s new to town.
Just as Jeannette is about to reach Kate, Mallory helps Kate escape, hiding in the funhouse. This scene definitely plays with the whole mirror concept from the poster. Jeannette isn’t able to find her and Derek tells her that she needs to drop it, but he also assures her that he believes her, which obviously means a lot to his younger sister. Before they leave, he tells her to try to be a nerd again like she used to, but Jeannette says she can’t.
As we see Kate getting ready in ’95, she hallucinates Martin behind her in the mirror, calling her a liar; an obvious callback to the note she received in the last episode. We see her continue to listen to the therapy tapes, opening up about her interactions with Martin before he kidnapped her. Even bigger though, we see her writing the name Annabelle over and over. Next, Jeannette meets with her lawyer, who tells her that she needs people that believe her to speak on the record. It’s up to Jeannette to find those people. Kate is still chatting with Ashley (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), though is unaware that it’s her stepsister on the other side of the computer. Mallory comes over and Kate asks if she’ll come with her to the fair to confront Jeannette, which Mallory agrees to.
Jeannette asks her father if he’s still on her side, which is something we’ve all been wondering. He turns the question back around to her before expressing everything he’s lost for standing by her, which he still does. Angela sees Jeannette looking at a tabloid trashing her and throws it out, calling the magazine ‘garbage,’ before suggesting the two of them go out. Angela is obviously trying her best to be an ally to the younger girl but needs Jeannette to open up and allow her to be. Instead of Jeannette in the dunk tank, Kate discovers that it’s actually Jamie. She throws the ball, hitting the target, and walking away as Jamie falls in the water. Before they leave the fair, Kate puts her headphones on and listens to another tape of a memory that took place at the fair from ’93. Angela and Jeannette end up at the bar and talk about Greg.
Kate ends up deciding to speak to Jamie, who takes the opportunity to apologize for lying about his kiss with Jeannette; telling her that she was right and that he lied because he thought he was protecting her. Kate asks him to say it again and he does, before she leans up to kiss his cheek. Holt and Gutierrez work off each other very well in this scene as Kate tells her ex-boyfriend that that’s the nicest thing he’s ever done for her. Angela and Jeannette do karaoke in the empty bar, allowing us to see Jeannette actually happy for the first time this year, but it doesn’t last long.
Mallory and Kate climb over a gate, Kate struggling with something they’re about to do and Mallory telling Kate that she deserves to finally put an end to this and release her anger. We then realize she is at Martin’s grave with the stuffed bunny she got at the fair in ’93. She digs at the grave, putting the bunny in and spitting on it before hitting the headstone with her shovel to break it.
New episodes of Cruel Summer air Tuesdays at 10 PM EDT/PDT on Freeform and are available the next day on Hulu.