Episode 9, the penultimate episode of Cruel Summer, largely broke with its format this week. Instead of jumping back-and-forth between the years of 1993, 1994, and 1995, the story stuck to the fall and early winter of 1993, the time in which Kate Wallis lived in the home of Martin Harris.
As the episode reveals, Kate Wallis “decides,” after she’s reported missing by her parents, to continue living with Martin Harris. It’s hardly a “decision,” however, given the power dynamic — Martin Harris is in his 30s and Kate Wallis is in high school. Martin Harris manipulates her into staying by acting as her savior, but also giving her no alternative but to stay while leaving her with the impression that it is her choice.
For roughly three months, the two continue to cohabitate and build a little life for themselves inside of Harris’ home. He goes to work every day and then comes home to Kate. He buys her presents and attempts to make continuing to live with him the most attractive option for her.
Once, on Christmas eve, he even goes to the mall to bring Kate some comfort food (a soft pretzel), and while he’s there, Jeanette spots him and decides to break into his house again. She steals the snowglobe from his house, but she hears a rustling upstairs and flees. Kate sees her, but Jeanette does not appear to see Kate (although, Jeanette does drop her necklace). This resolves the snow globe mystery. During the phone call that Kate made to Jamie, she was playing the music from the snowglobe, which is why Jeanette recognizes it. We’re still not sure how the snowglobe falls into the hands of Mallory, but we can assume that Jeanette gives it to her as a goodwill gesture.
Meanwhile, Harris and Kate continue to live together for four months, until a lonely, cabin-fevered and homesick Kate decides to sneak out in the middle of the night and return to her home, where she sees her mother and father sharing the only laugh Joy had expressed in four months. Upset that Joy seems to be fine without her, Kate returns to Harris’ home, but not before Martin notices that she had escaped.
He insists that she can’t leave again. He insists that she has to remain in his home until she turns 18. He insists that if she leaves, it would ruin his career. He insists that he loves her. Kate, however, feels trapped. The loneliness is suffocating. She demands to leave. She asks where her suitcase is. Martin tells her it is in the basement. She goes to retrieve it, and he locks her inside. On Christmas Day, the psychological captivity transforms into physical captivity.
Next week, the rest of the answers will be revealed in the season finale: We will find out if Jeanette follows through to the bitter end with her defamation lawsuit. We will find out how Martin Harris died. We fill find out who Annabelle is.
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