If Cruel Summer has demonstrated one thing, it’s that no one is safe from the show’s core mystery. Although teenagers Kate Wallis (Olivia Holt) and Jeanette Turner (Chiara Aurelia) are at the center of it all, their highly publicized dispute has forever altered the lives of everyone around them, too. That means everyone will have a big role to play in how the truth finally unravels. And as Allius Barnes (who plays Vince on Cruel Summer) warns, not all of your fan theories will come true.
The Freeform show jumps between the years 1993, 1994, and 1995 — and along the way, it slowly reveals there’s more to each character than meets the eye. Vince, for example, is introduced as Jeanette’s lifelong neighbor and best friend. In ‘93, he’s part of a close-knit trio with Jeanette and their friend Mallory (Harley Quinn Smith). But that all falls apart over the next few years, as the trio disbands and Vince goes from crushing on his friend Ben (Nathaniel Ashton), to getting his first boyfriend, to losing everything. Somehow, he remains loyal to Jeanette through it all and even lies to cover for her. But does Vince know more than he’s letting on? And how will his relationships with her and Ben continue to evolve as Jeanette and Kate’s trial looms?
Viewers will have to tune in to the last two episodes of Cruel Summer to find out the details, but according to Barnes, there are plenty more twists and turns ahead. “I don’t think there’s any way you can prepare for [the ending],” the actor tells Elite Daily. “Every episode, everyone’s loyalties are shifting.”
Ahead of the big finale, Barnes discusses Vince’s role in the mystery, debunks one big fan theory, and gives some intel on a potential Season 2:
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Elite Daily: So many clues about Cruel Summer’s big mystery are revealed in Episode 8, like the snow globe and Christmas Eve and the tape of Martin Harris’ house. What can you tease about how these clues play into the final two episodes?
Allius Barnes: I think [the tape and the snow globe] tie together with the “You Go Girl” necklace. And it’s a big question as to how each of these characters acquired these things. That’s the bigger question everyone should be asking: How did they come to get them? Just like the “You Go Girl” necklace, [each item] always starts with one owner and somehow ends up with someone else. So finding the origin and who had it first will play a big part in solving the mystery.
ED: Vince remains one of the few people who seems to have total faith in Jeanette. Why do you think he continues to stand by her side?
AB: [She’s] his best friend in the whole world. I think he loves her on another level. He has the sort of friendship where you’ve known someone for so long, and you’ve known them from a certain age, and you can only see them that one way. I think there are a couple of people in life who look at you [as a young adult], and still see the innocent boy or girl that you were. So I think [of] Vince as that person for Jeanette, and I think that’s the only way he knows how to see it.
ED: Speaking of relationships, what can you tease about Vince and Ben’s story in the final episodes?
AB: That relationship is so beautiful. I’m excited for the audience to see how that came to be, which you get a taste of in these final few episodes. You’ll see how they came to know each other so well, and how that relationship started in the first place. You’ve gotten glimpses of them at the underground party. You see them have their magical moments. But then again, you’ve seen scenes where [Ben is] on the phone [in 1995], and he’s telling [Vince] he doesn’t want to speak to him anymore. So getting a good understanding of what’s going on in these next couple of episodes [is important].
ED: How do you feel about Vince and Ben as a couple?
AB: I’m just excited to see where they go. I really hope for the best with them. They seem to be the only wholesome relationship on the show that doesn’t involve any outside violence or opinions on their relationship.
ED: One fun part of a show like Cruel Summer is reading theories about what’s really going on week to week. Do you have a favorite fan theory you’ve read as the show’s been airing?
AB: A funny one [is] that Annabelle is Kate or Martin’s alter-ego, and that Martin has passed on this different personality to Kate and trained her to become another person. That was pretty crazy. It sounds like a really good show. Unfortunately, it’s not ours.
ED: Cruel Summer also has these three very distinct timelines. How do you get yourself into the headspace for each specific year?
AB: It has to do with the music. The music changes a lot on set. They do a great job [of] providing space to allow us to jump into [each] year. Especially on a day where you have to do more than one year. I think it’s very important to have a clear transition, and music definitely helps me personally make the distinction between years. There was a complete ‘90s playlist [I used] that consisted of all types of music from all types of genres from the time period. All the grunge stuff, all the hip-hop stuff. It was a big time for music.
ED: Did you have a favorite year to play?
AB: ‘94 is my favorite, because that’s the year where Vince is sort of in the middle of everything. He’s still loyal to Jeanette, but at the same time, he hasn’t 100% broken free from Mallory. I think running into her in the video store and seeing her with Kate Wallis is an eye-opener for him, and what pushes him in another direction and allows him to step back, because he sees the choices she’s making for herself and he has to choose a side really soon, or else be in the middle of this big thing. I think ‘94 is great because, as an actor, it allowed me to work with everyone on the show. It didn’t matter if you’re Team Kate Wallis or Team Jeanette Turner. I was sort of in the middle of all the trauma.
ED: Have there been any conversations about a potential Season 2?
AB: Fingers crossed for Season 2 and the continuation of that story possibly. But I think fans will be really, really satisfied with how the show plays out at the end of the season.
Cruel Summer continues on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Freeform and the following day on Hulu.