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“Cruel Summer” Season 2 Is Full of Twists and Turns: “[Fans Will] Be Really Surprised by the Ending”

"Cruel Summer" Season 2 Is Full of Twists and Turns: "[Fans Will] Be Really Surprised by the Ending"

CRUEL SUMMER - Welcome to Chatham - In Summer 1999, small-town computer genius Megan resents the arrival of outgoing and mysterious foreign exchange student Isabella. Little does she know how her life will change by Summer 2000. (Freeform/Justine Yeung)GRIFFIN GLUCK, SADIE STANLEY, LEXI UNDERWOOD

Nothing is quite as it seems in season two of “Cruel Summer.” Freeform’s breakout anthology series officially returns this summer with a new mystery and a fresh cast led by “Little Fires Everywhere” star Lexi Underwood, Disney’s Sadie Stanley, and “Locke & Key”‘s Griffin Gluck. Set in a small Pacific Northwest town, the second installment centers on a complicated love triangle between friends Megan Landry (Stanley), Isabella LaRue (Underwood), and Luke Chambers (Gluck) and a mysterious incident that changes their lives forever.

“I don’t want to spoil anything, but the mystery is going to be very hard to move on from,” Stanley tells POPSUGAR. “The events that happen are life-changing. The stakes are really high this season.” Though it follows a completely new storyline, similar to the first season, the second chapter is told through three different timelines surrounding Y2K, which is part of what drew Stanley to the project in the first place. “I think that we haven’t seen a lot of that before, and that was really cool for season one, and it worked really, really well. You saw how different the characters became in each timeline,” Stanley notes.

“The events that happen are life-changing. The stakes are really high this season.”

Stanley’s character, Megan, is described as a computer coder and honor student who decides she needs to start making the most out of life after she meets Isabella. While the 21-year-old actor is “not a coder by any means” in real life, she says she immediately connected with Megan upon reading the script. “I just really fell in love with Megan. She’s a lot like me,” she says. “She’s super ambitious, very driven, and hardworking, and she’s got a really strong plan for her future and what she wants to do, and I admire that about her a lot.”

Isabella, on the other hand, is the daughter of foreign diplomats who comes to live with Megan’s family for a year. But apparently, she’s hiding a major secret about what really brought her to town. “She is someone who knows what she wants for her life, but I feel like because of her parents and just her circumstances, she’s had to live the life that they’ve envisioned for her and that they’ve set up for her,” Underwood says of her character. “But with this period, in summer ’99, I feel like she’s really taking control, and she’s being able to live the life that she’s always wanted to, which is just be a regular American high school teenager.”

Rounding out the cast are Lisa Yamada as Parker Tanaka, Sean Blakemore as Sheriff Myer, Braeden De La Garza as Brent Chambers, Paul Adelstein as Steve Chambers, and KaDee Strickland as Megan’s mom, Debbie Landry. “The story takes place over the course of one year, as opposed to the first season being three years in a row,” Strickland explains. “This event causes so many changes to Megan’s character that I’m just trying to keep up and also deal with my response to a situation that affects the entire town. I’m from a small town, so it was very easy for me to imagine if an event like this took place that it would deeply affect everyone in the community.”

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While the cast is careful about not giving too much away, Blakemore says there are “so many twists and turns” that’ll keep viewers on the edge of their seats. “I think that’s the most exciting [part], which is the goal of the show,” he says. Stanley adds, “I think the way that the show is written is really interesting because each episode you start to get suspicious of a different character. You never really know who to believe, and they’re really good at manipulating the audience into thinking that it might be this person’s fault or it might be this person’s fault. I think they’ll be really surprised by the ending because you think you know these characters really well, and then maybe you actually don’t.”

“Cruel Summer” season two largely revolves around the show’s central mystery, but Yamada notes that it also touches on social class and “how the amount of money you have distorts the way you view the world.” She explains, “Obviously, the Chambers are very wealthy, and the Landry family, on the other hand, are not as much. And so, it’s interesting to see the dynamic and how different upbringings shape different people.” Adding to that, De La Garza says, “I think this show does a great job of having a core message about what’s right and what’s wrong.”

“Cruel Summer” returns to Freeform on June 5 with a two-episode season two premiere at 9 p.m. ET. It’ll then move to its regular 10 p.m. time slot for weekly new episodes.

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