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'Dead of Summer' recap: 'Mix Tape'

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Jack Rowand/Freeform

Dead of Summer

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
1
run date:
06/28/16
performer:
Elizabeth Mitchell, Elizabeth Lail
broadcaster:
Freeform
genre:
Drama, Horror, Mystery

Rude: A backstory episode about a character named Cricket that does not explain why her nickname is Cricket. Ruder: Ending said episode with a surprise twist in which the show’s protagonist gets electrocuted in a lake during a thunderstorm summoned by a satanic cult. Two crimes, unbalanced in magnitude, but equal in impropriety.

Of course, we don’t get to the Electrocution of Amy™ without first exploring the strange case of Cricket, who gets the brunt of the backstory in episode 3 of Dead of Summer, which I’m keen to dub Cricket’s Big Night — or, Cricket’s Series of Two Big Nights and Half a Big Day.

On the first of these eventful nights, Cricket is taking a shower in a bathroom facility, located far too many leagues away from camp to be considered a sensible proximity, when the first noises begin. What Cricket doesn’t notice in her unwieldy trek back to civilization is the sudden appearance behind her of hooded figures wearing wooden deer heads. In the dark, their masks are terrifyingly gnarled wooden deer busts; in the light, they just seem like your average living room decor on Pinterest.

Cricket somehow manages to not see them, yet they appear in her dream that very night, because Camp Stillwater has a way of making weird s— like that happen. In her dream, one of the masked men grabs her and puts a knife to her throat. She escapes and wakes up in a cold sweat, telling Amy the next day that she had the strangest, most visceral nightmare. Curiously, the boots she was wearing in it have now gone missing.

Still, Cricket dismisses the spooky experience and the bootless aftermath as but a dream, too focused instead on her primary mission this week: Winning the heart of Russian laundry thief Alex. Her quest for his unrequited attention brings her to Bad Night Number Two at the local townie bar (which she’s warned against attending by a sentient Hear ‘n Speak that a camper inexplicably brought).

At the bar, Cricket tries to make Alex jealous by accepting a joy ride from local drug dealer and bandana aficionado Damon. I’m willing to look past the fact that Damon is constantly around the camp and is just one Instagram like away from being a straight-up stalker. But I’m keenly unwilling to ignore what Cricket finds in his glove compartment: The red Sharpie she’s been using to self-mythologize her non-slutty ways all over camp, and the knife that was held to her throat in her nightmare. (Obviously, it makes perfect, non-questionable sense to Cricket that Damon and his knife appeared in her dream. Obviously.)

So, Cricket gets into a scuffle with Damon, who crashes the car and is eventually apprehended by Garrett, tailing closely behind. But of course Damon gets released from jail, ostensibly for the second time in a week, because the sheriff can’t think of anything to charge him with (other than, maybe, some sort of assault and/or battery and/or theft and/or criminal bandana use).

The good-ish news: Cricket ends up alone in a room with Alex, finally getting a chance to get the man she’s always wanted. They start to hook up in the bunk, and it’s a brief moment of bliss before they fall to the floor and Cricket discovers a mixtape Blotter made for her. Suddenly, mid-pre-coitus with the man of her dreams, Cricket decides that she would rather save herself for a boy who would make her a mixtape instead of a boy who would rather just give her his 8-track. So, Alex romance over.

It’s worth noting that Cricket has the realization during one of the episode’s flashbacks, which involve her struggling with her body image in high school. That’s where she first started self-slut-shaming, despite Blair’s discouragement otherwise. But Cricket’s biggest trauma comes from discovering that her father has been having an affair with the blonde bombshell who lives next door. Her mother, who we’re told is overweight based on the amount of bacon she takes with her morning maple syrup, apparently already knows this information, which hurts Cricket even more. She’s crestfallen at her mother’s advice that “women like us sometimes have to settle.” And even sadder, she’s not talking about Catan.

The happy ending, sort of, is that Cricket spends the next morning listening to Blotter’s mixtape, and it miraculously gives her the confidence to take off her shirt and wear her bikini during beach volleyball (even if literally nobody else was wearing a bikini). It’s a delightful day! She’s newly motivated and, hey, she looks great! Nothing can go wrong!

Except she hits the ball into the middle of the lake, and Amy, who wades in to fetch it, gets electrocuted thanks to a thunderstorm summoned by Damon and his gang. Okay, so, no, not really a happy ending, actually.

NEXT: Garrett Sykes and the Silly Satanists[pagebreak]

To get to Amy’s outrageous electrocution, we need to rewind to what Deputy Garrett Sykes has been up to this episode.

Something’s been bugging him ever since the accumulation of dead bodies and deer carcasses and cabin fires and everything else that has already happened in one week of camp. He’s unnerved by Deb’s silence, and he’s disturbed by Anton’s ominous warning that someone will soon die. Garrett takes this all quite seriously, but his dubious sheriff boss is doing that horror movie thing of denying everything at every turn.

Is the sheriff in on the spookiness at Camp Stillwater? Or is he just truly, dumbly dubious? The sheriff’s skeptical attitude extends even when Garrett produces a letter from a soldier in the 1870s claiming bizarre things have happened at the camp. (The letter he only gets after calling a local museum and conveniently asking “for anything unusual that happened at the lake in the 1860s or 70s,” by the way.)

In the letter, a soldier chronicles finding a spiritualist cult at the lake, led by a man named Holyoke — whom we know as the Tall Man. His followers believed the lake had supernatural power; the villagers, privy to their rituals, dragged Holyoke from his piano cabin and burned him down. A deer carcass is, expectedly, also involved. Garrett, having visited that cabin just a day prior, can testify to its tangible existence, but the sheriff doesn’t seem to care about that strange coincidence either. “What does a cult from 1871 have anything to do with that lake?” he wonders aloud, doing his best impression of a horror movie stock character who’s about to get killed in an upcoming episode.

The takeaway here is that Garrett has indeed found the identity of the Tall Man and is now one step closer to honing in on any spooky ritualistic behavior. Conveniently, there’s an upswing of that exact type of behavior back at camp.

Damon and his gang are revealed to be members of said cult, and the men in the deer masks. (Related: Deb also has a wooden deer mask. Because of course she does.) Damon’s gang swipes a lock of Cricket’s hair to wrap around a ritual knife, which they use to stab a deer heart, which they place next to a skull, which they place inside a Pentagram, which they place on a bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea. (My favorite camp song!)

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“We found her,” they say to the spirits. “Now, take her. Her blood will bring yours.” The ritual summons a sudden thunderstorm that sweeps over the camp, and just as Amy wades into the water to get Cricket’s terribly-hit volleyball, lightning strikes, and Damon comically decides that something went wrong. Apparently, there’s some sort of prophecy about Cricket being “the one,” but said prophetic turns out to be Amy instead.

So, is Amy actually dead? Why is Blotter’s severed hand in the lake? Does he own multiple baby bottles? Will Jess ever really win Garrett’s approval beyond latent interest? And are you remotely emotionally invested yet in Drew and Blair’s sparsely developed romantic arc? 

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