Cruel Summer Season 2 Almost Ended With A Different Killer
This would’ve been a much better twist!
Cruel Summer is always going to end with a twist, but was Season 2’s finale reveal a little too predictable? All of the clues throughout the season pointed to one person as Luke’s killer, and then... that person actually did wind up being Luke’s killer. Maybe it was a bit of reverse psychology to throw theory-crafting fans off the scent, but the season’s showrunner revealed that ending wasn’t always the one that was planned. Cruel Summer Season 2 nearly ended with a completely different killer reveal, and TBH, that alternate ending sounds like a much juicier twist than what we got.
Spoiler alert: This post discusses the Season 2 finale of Cruel Summer. For most of the climactic episode, it looked like Brent was the one to kill his brother, after it’s revealed he angrily pushed Luke off the dock and fled the scene. But Luke actually survived the near-drowning... only to wade back to shore to find Isabella waiting for him. She callously pushed Luke’s face back underwater and kicked his corpse back into the lake.
It was definitely a dark twist, but not one that came as a total surprise to viewers. Previous episodes had dropped tons of clues about Isabella’s shadiness, including the fact that one of her friends from her past also mysteriously drowned while Isabella was with her. By the end of the season, Isabella had already pulled a gun on Luke, shot him in the ear, and made it very clear how dangerously possessive she had become of Megan. It just seemed too obvious for her to wind up being the killer, which is why a newly revealed alternate ending sounds so much more enticing.
Cruel Summer showrunner Elle Triedman told Entertainment Weekly that the writers had considered several possible killers before choosing that ending. “We had different potential killers before we landed on Isabella,” Triedman said. “We certainly went down many avenues with other characters. Surprisingly, Debbie was a possibility, something you wouldn't see coming, Brent, obviously Steve, the girls together. We just wanted it to be surprising and hopefully satisfying.”
Brent and Steve were other main suspects for fans throughout the season, but an ending with Debbie as the killer would have been a truly jaw-dropping twist, and one that could have made a lot of sense looking back.
Throughout the season, Megan’s mom had been fiercely protective of both her daughter and Isabella, to the point where she stood up to her boyfriend Steve when he was belittling the girls. Debbie was also one of the only characters who really knew everything Megan and Isabella were going through, from the truth about the sex tape to Isabella’s dark past. On top of all that, she’s constantly struggling to stay afloat financial, something that would have surely added a lot of tension to how she viewed the wealthy and corrupt Chambers family. So yeah, it would have been a real shocker but also a plausible ending if Debbie killed Luke after discovering he’d been mistreating Megan and Isabella.
But unfortunately, that’s not the ending Cruel Summer fans got. Triedman explained that she wanted the season to end on a moment showing both Megan and Isabella, as Megan watches the tape of her former friend killing Luke. She also clarified that Isabella didn’t plan on killing Luke before she saw his already half-dead body on that beach.
“She didn’t go there to kill him. I think that’s important to say,” Triedman said. “She went there to have a serious conversation of, ‘You’re not going to screw up my friend’s life.’ She saw Luke as a dead end for Megan. She wanted Megan to dream on a bigger landscape to get out of Chatham, travel the world with her, go become this amazing coder, and she saw Luke as this tether to this town and this life and just this very small world and small life, and also one in which she didn’t feel like there was room for both of [them]. So when she got to the water and he was in really rough shape, then it was a decision in a moment, but it was not a premeditated killing.”