'Cruel Summer': Olivia Holt and Blake Lee Break Down Powerful Kate Revelation (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you have not watched Tuesday's episode of Cruel Summer.
A lot of questions were answered on Tuesday's penultimate episode of Freeform's Cruel Summer, which focused on what really happened between Kate (Olivia Holt) and Martin (Blake Lee) following her disappearance in 1993. And what led to her abduction by the vice principal. The truth, as revealed in the hour -- appropriately titled "A Secret of My Own" -- unraveled an inappropriate relationship between Kate and Martin that began when Kate sought out an emotional respite from her mother, turning to Martin as a balm.
As the episode progressed, which charted the initial days of Kate's disappearance, their relationship turned romantic -- a practice called grooming. It wasn't until they shared a tense conversation over Christmas dinner, 119 days into her "disappearance," that gave Kate clarity on their illicit (and very wrong) affair. "Sounds a lot like you're my kidnapper," Kate fires back in the scene. Desperate to leave, Martin then sent her to the basement (oh, the basement) so she could retrieve her bag to pack her things. Without even batting an eye, Martin waited until she made it down the basement stairs and locked her inside. And we all know how that turned out.
"We knew that this episode was coming for a while because all of the creatives were sort of gearing Blake and I up for it, but getting the script and reading it was extremely satisfying," Holt tells ET. "Lots of questions answered and I think we were really looking forward to telling this story and putting it on its feet and breathing life into it. I'm very happy and very satisfied with the way that we executed it because I think it's something that's really important for the audience to know is that this relationship isn't OK. This episode really showcases that because every single scene that we see is their relationship, but it also is something that shouldn't be happening. It shouldn't have happened. Us diving into this episode was huge for all of us."
"There was an excitement that we get to do it and then there was so much fear because it's such a big episode," Lee agrees. "Our director of our episode, Alexis Ostrander, Olivia and I were so grateful that it was her because she really wanted to dive in with us. She did her homework, like it was insane the amount of work that she put into this episode. It's so rare on TV that you get to rehearse but she made sure we had a day before we started shooting the episode where Olivia, myself and her went to the house that we shoot in and we worked through every scene and we talked about it in detail and we spent hours running it. We felt a lot of responsibility to show what actually happens when someone has been groomed. I'm very grateful that the writers and the network allowed us to show just so much of it because it's so scary that this is something that happens in life daily to people. I hope that it brings awareness. I hope that victims feel seen. I feel this stops it from happening to someone going forward."
Holt called out the aforementioned Christmas scene as Kate's breaking point and notes that that was the moment everything truly clicked for her character that she was being manipulated.
"She really needed to get out out of that situation," the actress says. "It finally clicked where she knew that this was not going to work anymore. She even says to him. She's like, 'Martin, thank you for everything and I'm sorry it couldn't work out.' That deeply affects Martin and that's why he makes the decision to tell her that her bag is in the basement. Blake has said this before but I don't think Martin knew he was going to lock her in the basement for as long as he did, but he knew that he did not want her to go. And Kate was sensing that. Kate was sensing the 'You can't leave here until you're 18,' and that is when it clicked in her body that no, this is not OK. That was the ultimate turning point for her and why she stood up for herself and asked for her bag and make the decision to walk out the door. No matter the stakes."
On the other side of the coin, Lee zeroed in on one key line Kate says to him in that scene that drove him to go deeper into his spiral.
"Behind closed doors, Martin felt like they were living this dream. If he took one minute to actually step back and look at this situation... I mean, all of the blinds were closed! He's living a lie. He was starting to also believe his own lies and that moment where Kate says, 'You sound a lot like...' And he says, 'Like your father?' and she goes, 'No, my kidnapper,' I almost feel like him hearing that was a turning point, where he was like, 'How could you say that to me?' It's so hurtful because he's, at this point, believed his own lies," he explains, adding that he believes Martin is "a sick person" and "has so much white male privilege that he thinks he's going to get away with this." "That was the turning point and as Olivia just said, I don't think before that moment he realizes he's going to lock her in the basement. I just think at that moment he's like, 'I will do whatever I have to to keep her.' And it's terrifying."
With only one episode remaining in the season, Holt and Lee warned viewers that next week's finale is "wild." "Everyone is going to be satisfied. A lot of questions are going to be answered. I know all of us were excited about that when reading the episode," Holt says.
"The audience will finally meet Annabelle, which is a big one," Lee chimes in.
"It's going to be really good and everyone's going to be very happy with the ending," Holt teases.