Who the Eff Is Annabelle? 7 Theories About Cruel Summer's Latest Mystery
Freeform's Cruel Summer tells the story of Kate Wallis's disappearance and the whirlpool of events swirling around her rescue from Martin Harris's basement. Bouncing back and forth between three different timelines set in the years 1993, 1994, and 1995, the show's driving force has been Kate's bombshell claim that one of her schoolmates, Jeanette Turner, saw her being held captive and didn't report it, leading Jeanette's family to launch a high-profile lawsuit in turn on account of defamation. Seeing Jeanette seamlessly slip into her shoes and replicating her former life on top of tackling the incomparable trauma she suffered in captivity is calling Kate's state of mind and integrity in question. However, as we dig deep into the past events that morphed into the devastating catastrophe, one riddling mystery of substance seems to crop up now and then – who is Annabelle?
We first hear Annabelle's mention in the fourth episode during the Wallis' annual hunting trip in 1995, where Kate indulges in narrating a dramatic and chilling bonfire story of Annabelle, who trusted a man that other grownups surrounding her did blindly as well. She goes on to tell that that seemingly innocuous mistake ultimately "led to something unspeakable." Interestingly enough, the story eerily resembles the events that took place on a 1993 family retreat where the man is played to perfection by Martin, and she likens herself to the protagonist, Annabelle.
As the deposition draws near, Kate starts feeling unsure of her truth. To make sense of what really happened, she starts listening through her taped therapy sessions that took place following her liberation. While recounting the day she was set free, she tells her therapist about first meeting Annabelle. When asked who Annabelle was, nothing comes to her recollection. The key to figuring out the whole did-Jeanette-actually-find-her-or-not seems to be intrinsically tied to the identity of Annabelle.
While we wait for the next episode to fill in more gaps, here are some of the theories making their way around the internet!
Kate Has DID, and *Drumroll* She Is Annabelle
A plausible explanation of Annabelle's identity would be that Kate may have Dissociative Identity Disorder – a condition previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder. DID is a mental disorder that involves a disconnection between a person's thoughts, memories, identity, emotions, perceptions, behavior, and sense of self. According to the American Psychiatric Association, the dissociation is associated with a coping mechanism to deal with "traumatic experiences such as an accident, disaster, or crime victimization" that might otherwise be too difficult to come to terms with. The person experiencing it may "dissociate the memory of the place, circumstances, or feelings about the overwhelming event, mentally escaping from the fear, pain, and horror," which may very well make it a challenge to remember the specifics of the experience later.
We've seen Kate grapple with placing Annabelle in her memories, and it's no doubt that she's endured an inundated amount of trauma in her life. Could Annabelle be her way of displacing those harrowing memories with a version that's more comforting to her? Reddit user Kareberr86 accredits Kate's gap in memory to this theory. It sure has legs.
Another Twitter user noted that '95 Kate's personality "switches from sweet and sensitive to ruthless and mean." And that Annabelle is Kate's other, meaner personality. That'd put her fireside story in so much perspective.
Maybe Martin Has DID Instead
If it's not Kate with DID, maybe it's Martin? Let's look at the facts here. Kate told her therapist that Mr. Harris "came downstairs right before I (she) was rescued, and something was different. Something was wrong. And that was when I met Annabelle." Could Annabelle be Martin's alternative personality that was different – menacing – than his usual charming demeanor?
One fan theory on Twitter proposes that maybe it was the trauma of his sister killing herself (and not his dad) that fed into the origin of Martin's "Annabelle." "So he is trying to save Kate from the adults in her life who are letting her down," she adds. This probable backstory is giving me major House at the End of the Street vibes.
Another Victim of Martin Harris
We know from Jeanette's sneaking around in Martin's house that before landing in Skylin, he was at the Widow Falls. The circumstances under which he left there are still unclear. But if the showrunners bothered to drop this little nugget in there, it must be the crumb leading somewhere, right? What if the reason for his transference was that he attempted to strike an inappropriate relationship with another student, named Annabelle, who rejected his advances? For all we know, Kate wasn't his first victim, and all that time, Annabelle was the one keeping Kate company.
In episode five, we see a '93 Martin harshly berating Jeanette for bailing on her date. Could that be coming from a personal place? @camA5802 on Twitter seems to think so. Intrigued!
Or Perhaps an Accomplice?
To keep Kate hidden under his roof for as long as he did, are there any chances that he appointed help to accomplish that? Likely a person named Annabelle? Since Kate was heavily under the influence of psychedelic drugs, it's a possibility that that's the reason why she couldn't piece together every part of her story. If so, where did Annabelle go? Did she flee before Martin was caught, or did she fall prey to Martin's sinister motives? Or is she still blending in among the town's people?
Mere a Fragment of Kate’s Imagination
The aforementioned drugging may have rendered Kate's mindset disoriented and distorted, leaving her semiconscious mind to hallucinate scenarios that either didn't take place or were entirely disjointed from the way they happened. Could those illusions plant seeds for the conception of Annabelle, who merely existed in Kate's imagination?
@bitchysoftie on Twitter posits that this imaginary Annabelle may have been given the same face as Jeanette in Kate's head. That could actually prove Jeanette's innocence, clearing her of all allegations.
Annabelle Is the Name of a Weapon
"I don't know why but my first thought was that Annabelle isn't a who, but a what," writes Reddit user @u/Amaee. They seem to think that Annabelle is, in fact, the name of a gun. And not just any gun — the exact one that Martin's father killed himself with. "The gunshot that Jeanette, Jamie, and Vince heard was from Annabelle being fired." Slightly off the wall, but totally not out of the realm of possibility!
Annabelle Isn’t Human
Talk about being too on the nose! @u/poopyschoopy on Reddit thinks that Annabelle is, at face value, none other than the Annabelle from the Conjuring horror movie franchise. "Maybe he (Martin) dressed as Annabelle or something because he was jealous of Kate and wanted her as like his doll?" While the odds of Cruel Summer entering into a full-fledged Behind Her Eyes–esque paranormal territory are slim to none, I do like the idea.