Cruel Summer Episode 4 Recap and Ending, Explained

Set in the fictional town of Skylin, Texas, Freeform’s teen mystery drama series ‘Cruel Summer’ revolves around two young women: Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) and Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia). The show’s fluid narrative takes place in the summers of 1993, 1994, and 1995, and depicts Kate’s abduction by family friend Martin Harris (Blake Lee), her returning and accusing Jeanette of failing to report her (Kate’s) kidnapping, and Jeanette’s lawsuit against Kate for defamation. Each episode unfolds from the perspective of different characters, switching back and forth between the three timelines.

Episode 4, titled ‘You Don’t Hunt, You Don’t Eat,’ takes place on July 15 of 1993, 1994, and 1995, the day when the Willis family goes on their annual hunting trip. The episode exclusively focuses on Kate and her relationships with her mother Joy (Andrea Anders), her step-sister Ashley or Ash (Ashlei Sharpe Chestnut), and Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith). The latter becomes her closest friend following her return and accompanies Kate’s family on the trip in 1995. If you are wondering about episode 4’s suspenseful ending, this is what you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 4 Recap

In 1993, the Willis family prepares for the trip, and Ash, Rod’s (Ben Cain) daughter from a previous relationship, joins them. During the trip, Kate tries to speak to Ash about Joy’s affair but gets shut out when she mentions that she initially thought Rod was cheating. Later in the night, with no one else to talk to, Kate turns to the only person who seems willing to listen to her, Martin. He has joined the trip on Joy’s invitation.

In 1994, Kate goes to therapy. During one such visit, she runs into Mallory, and a friendship quickly forms between them. Mallory previously held real animosity towards Kate and even lamented to Vince (Allius Barnes) that Jeanette had turned herself into a replica of Kate. But Mallory recognizes that the person who has returned from the hellish trauma is not the person the town knew and loved. This new version of Kate and Mallory rapidly bond over their shared derision towards the world around them and dislike of Jeanette. Meanwhile, Ash tries to reach out to Kate and learns about the inadvertent role she played in pushing the younger girl toward Martin.

In 1995, Kate and Mallory’s friendship is stronger than ever. Kate meets her lawyers and prepares to defend herself in court against Jeanette’s defamation case. Joy is distraught after finding a note stuck to their door with the word “Liar” written on it. Kate convinces Mallory to come with her on the trip and later declares that she has no desire to shoot or eat meat. Believing Mallory to be responsible for the changes in her daughter, Joy confronts her about the note, and Mallory, in her wilful and condescending way, assures her that she isn’t the one behind the note. When Kate hears about this, she tells a story about a girl named Annabelle and how she gets abducted because of the negligence and apathy of the adults around her.

Cruel Summer Season 1 Episode 4 Ending: Who is Annabelle?

In 1995, Kate relates the story of Annabelle to everyone taking the trip with her, including her mother, stepfather, and Mallory. This comes after she learns that Joy has accused Mallory of pasting the note on their door. Initially, Annabelle comes across as Kate’s surrogate as she holds the adults present there responsible for the abduction. Her mother invited Martin to the trip and made him a part of their exclusive social circle. Since they have learned that they have to testify during the trial, the neighbors seem jittery.

Kate warns them to get their stories straight and basically demands that they help her deliver justice to Jeanette for her actions. However, the recordings from the therapist’s office reveal that Annabelle can be a real person. She asks for the tapes, apparently to get her own story in order. We, the audience, learn from the tapes that Kate met someone named Annabelle shortly before she was rescued but doesn’t really recall anything about her. Her memories have been understandably affected due to the trauma, and she continues to struggle with it.

While trying to deduce Annabelle’s identity, we must first decide whether she is real or not. If she is not real, she is likely an extension of Kate’s personality, like Richard Parker is of Piscine Molitor Patel in ‘Life of Pi.’ Kate created Annabelle in her mind to deal with what must have felt like unrelenting and perpetual horror as her hopes of escape and freedom all but diminished. This notion contextually fits the story that she tells during the 1995 trip. She wears Annabelle like armor while revisiting the past to remind the adults that they owe her.

If Annabelle is real, she can be another victim of Martin’s, or an accomplice, or even both. This episode shows that Martin drugged Kate’s food at one point. When she regained consciousness, she discovered that the room was filled with provisions. It is possible that Martin abducted another victim and put her with Kate. The supplies were there for their use. If that’s the case, he must have killed her and disposed of her body shortly after, as when Kate was rescued, she was alone in Martin’s basement.

If Annabelle was Martin’s accomplice, one possibility is that she was one of his previous victims, who was brainwashed and traumatized to such an extent that she became a perpetrator and a willing participant in Martin’s crime. She likely left Martin’s home right before Kate’s rescue and is probably still out there. If this is true, we might see her in the future, making a comeback to avenge Martin.

Who is Behind the Username Berenice4?

It is shown in previous episodes that in 1995, Kate frequents an abduction victim forum on the internet under the username “Traumarama79” and often chats with the user “Berenice4.” In episode 4, it is revealed that Ash is behind that account. In 1993, she says some extremely unkind things to Kate when the latter approaches her to talk to her about her mother’s infidelity. After Kate’s abduction, she must have felt horrible about it. This feeling is likely amplified when Ash comes to know that Kate only communicated with Martin after Ash rebuffed her attempts.

Ash goes through Kate’s computer and learns about the abduction victim forum. During her conversation with Derek (Barrett Carnahan), Ash gets the idea of using a proxy to communicate with her sister. She creates an account named after Berenice IV, a Ptolemaic princess of Egypt, and reaches out to Kate. Believing that she is speaking to a stranger, Kate opens up, and they have been speaking for a year by July 1995.

Read More: Is Cruel Summer Based on a True Story?