Cruel Summer Episode 3 Recap and Ending, Explained

Created by Bert V. Royal (‘Recovery Road’), ‘Cruel Summer’ is a teen drama thriller that centers around two young women living in Skylin, Texas: Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) and Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia). Life cannot be more different for outgoing and popular Kate and reclusive and awkward Jeanette. After Kate goes missing in 1993, Jeanette gradually takes her place. She befriends Kate’s friends, seemingly discarding her own, and begins dating Kate’s former boyfriend Jamie (Froy Gutierrez). When Kate returns in 1994, freed from her abductor Martin Harris (Blake Lee), she claims that Jeanette saw her in Martin’s house and didn’t tell anyone about it. As the case has already garnered widespread attention, Jeanette quickly becomes one of the most hated people in the country.

The timeline of ‘Cruel Summer’ is fluid, shifting back and forth between 1993, 1994, and 1995. Each episode depicts the events of a particular date in each of these years. In episode 3, titled ‘Off with a Bang,’ that date is July 4. One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between the timelines is Jeanette’s fashion sense, as it progressively gets sharper. Here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Cruel Summer’ episode 3. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 3 Recap

In 1993, Jeanette and her friends, Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith) and Vince (Allius Barnes), decide to check another item off their list. Still, when Mallory shows them the weed that she has brought from her mother’s stash, both Jeanette and Vince become reluctant. Later, Jeanette tells the others that she has flushed the weed down the toilet, making Mallory furious. Jeanette’s mother tells her to get her friend a gift to make amends, so she once more breaks into Martin’s home and steals a yearbook to show Mallory that she is serious about the list.

When she gives the yearbook to Mallory, the friends make up. It is later revealed that she has kept a joint. In 1994, Greg (Michael Landes) and Derek (Barrett Carnahan) threaten Jamie for hitting Jeanette. The police question Jeanette in the presence of her parents and show them the necklace that Kate submitted as proof of Jeanette being inside Martin’s home. Although Jeanette vehemently maintains that she threw away the necklace after a falling out with her old friends, even her mother starts suspecting her. Meanwhile, Vince and Ben (Nathaniel Ashton) go to an LGBTQ bar together.

At the fireworks show, Jamie asks Jeanette not to tell anyone about their kiss, prompting her to point out that everyone is saying that she is good at lying. In 1995, Jeanette and Kate spot each other while waiting at a traffic signal. Kate gets out of the car to confront the other girl, and all Jeanette can do is drive away as fast as she can. When most of the town is out to watch the fireworks show, Jeanette gets inside Martin’s house and climbs down to the basement. As she stares at the large mirrors there, Vince comes in.

Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 3 Ending: Why Does Vince Lie for Jeanette?

During their interaction in Martin’s house in 1995, Vince feels that Jeanette has been there before. And his hunch is proven true when she admits that she has been in that house “a lot” of times. Despite knowing this, Vince lies when he speaks to Jeanette’s lawyers, telling them that he has no idea whether she ever returned to that house. When we first meet Vince and Jeanette, the former has a massive crush on the latter but hasn’t managed to say it aloud.

Even after Kate goes missing and Jeanette’s radical transformation, those feelings evidently haven’t gone away. But at some point in 1994, Ben comes into his life, and things begin to change. By 1995, things have changed again. Jeanette may have genuinely convinced Vince that she really didn’t see Kate when she was at Martin’s home, and he is trying to protect her by lying to the lawyers. The other possibility is that he lies to the lawyers despite suspecting her.

It appears that since the allegations, Jeanette’s relationship with Vince has somewhat returned to normalcy, and he desperately doesn’t want to lose that. But if this episode proves anything, it’s that Jeanette has always been a habitual liar and is capable of doing things that one doesn’t necessarily associate with a girl like her. So, it is equally possible that Jeanette manipulates Vince to give a testimony in her favor.

Are Vince and Ben Dating?

Yes, Ben and Vince are dating in July 1994. But it appears that both of them like to keep it private. Vince hasn’t told Mallory about the relationship, and he and Jeanette aren’t that close during this period. However, by July 1995, Vince and Ben seem to have broken up. The former even tells Ben to stop calling him because it’s too painful. Meanwhile, Vince and Jeanette appear to have resumed their friendship. From their interaction in Martin’s home, it’s clear that she knows about him and Ben and is sad about how things are between them.

Are the Mirrors in Martin’s Basement Two-Way Mirrors?

They may be, and if they are, it can explain why Kate thinks that Jeanette saw her, even though Jeanette maintains that she didn’t. In episode 3, we learn that Jeanette has been in Martin’s house multiple times, likely even when he kept Kate locked in his basement. In one of these instances, Jeanette might have locked eyes with Kate from the other side of the two-way mirrors without knowing about it. Kate, however, saw Jeanette and thought the other girl had seen her as well.

Read More: Where Was Cruel Summer Filmed?