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Who Is Annabelle In Cruel Summer?

Freeform got its own taste of true crime with their popular teen series "Cruel Summer." With Season 1 airing in 2021, the show depicts the harrowing events of three consecutive summers in 1993, 1994, and 1995 (via IMDb). Though peppered with nostalgic songs of the time, the big accomplishment of "Cruel Summer" is exploring the trials of teenage girlhood, as well as how different some perspectives can be from one another. The main perspective of the series is that of Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia), a girl with a close group of friends who really yearns to be popular like "It Girl" Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt). It seems like she may get her wish when Kate mysteriously disappears and is presumed dead.

Jeanette slips easily into Kate's life. She starts a relationship with Kate's boyfriend Jamie (Froy Gutierrez) and abandons her old friends for Kate's more socially adept ones. But this is all thrown into chaos when Kate escapes from being held captive by a man named Martin Harris (Blake Lee) and accuses Jeanette of knowing where she was. The trauma that Kate endures continues on, especially when she can't get the thought of someone called Annabelle out of her head. Annabelle is a largely mysterious figure for most of the show — presumed to be related to Martin. The truth doesn't fully come to light until the last episode of Season 1 when viewers finally get the answer to who Annabelle is, and why she is so important.

Annabelle represents Kate's survival

A lot of "Cruel Summer" centers around Kate dealing with the trauma of her experience. After she is rescued from imprisonment, she goes through extensive therapy but remains convinced that Jeanette saw her in the window of Martin's house during her captivity. Jeanette may not be the witness, but Kate still must grapple with the emotional repercussions of being trapped in a basement by a school administrator. Most of her pain resurfaces in memories she attributes to "Annabelle."

It is only revealed in the final episode of Season 1 what this actually means. Annabelle is not actually a person, but a firearm. The gun belongs to Martin, who inherited it from his father. But it is Kate who ultimately uses it in the season finale. In order to escape her captivity, Kate gets a hold of Martin's gun and shoots him in self-defense, and this moment is a defining one for her. 

Though Kate is willing to get out of the basement by any means necessary, it doesn't take away the post-traumatic stress of the moment. Afterward, Kate continues to struggle with the fact that she took a human life, as well as her complicated feelings about Martin. After a year of being someone else's prisoner, Kate's state of mind is under immense stress. She has the added pressure of going through a trial against Jeanette and uncovering her feelings about Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith). 

Kate's journey towards healing is long, and far from being concluded after the act of violence. Hopefully, Season 2 will further explore Annabelle's effect on her.