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Why Cruel Summer's Annabelle Is More Important Than You Think

These days, it seems like there's a near-endless supply of teen dramas on television. The popularity of series like "Riverdale," "Outer Banks," and "Euphoria" shows that the genre itself remains a staple of mainstream media, and even in a genre as oversaturated as the teen drama, there are still plenty of gems that rise above their peers. One such gem is Freeform's "Cruel Summer," which follows the intertwined stories of two teenage girls who find their lives changed forever when one disappears without a trace.

After Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) goes missing in 1993, a girl named Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) takes over her old life — dating Kate's old boyfriend and hanging out with all of Kate's old friends. Things become more complicated when Kate is found alive in 1995 and claims that Jeanette saw her being abducted and let it happen. The series follows the conflicting stories of both girls through a nonlinear narrative that switches perspectives as often as it jumps between time periods. The result is a gripping drama with some great twists and plenty of mystery. One of those mysteries is the story Kate tells about a girl named Annabelle.

Annabelle is not a person at all

After Kate reappears in 1995, we get a scene where she and her family head out on their annual hunting trip and Kate offers to tell a scary story around the firepit. She tells a story about Annabelle: a girl who (just like Kate) was abducted by a man the adults around her all trusted. At first glance, it seems like the story is just a metaphor for her own situation, as Kate is held captive by a man named Martin Harris (Blake Lee). 

Things take a turn when Kate listens to her therapy tapes and hears herself talking about Annabelle again — this time speaking about her as though she was a real girl she met in Martin's basement. Kate has fully repressed any memory of Annabelle, and she breaks down in tears upon hearing the tape. Eventually, we discover the truth: Annabelle is not a person, but is instead the name of Martin's gun. 

The day before Kate is found, Martin brings "Annabelle" downstairs and explains the dark history it has in connection with his father's death. Now, it seems like Martin plans to use the gun to kill Kate. Kate later takes "Annabelle" and shoots Martin, killing him and freeing herself once and for all. Kate's use of the gun would go on to traumatize her for years afterwards, and from the way she reacts in 1995, it's clear that "Annabelle" still has a hold over her mind to this day.