SPOILER ALERT! This publish accommodates particulars from the primary two episodes of Freeform’s Merciless Summer time Season 2.

Freeform’s anthology sequence Merciless Summer time is again with one other small city thriller.

Season 2 debuted on Monday night time with two episodes, introducing audiences to the rise and fall of a friendship between two youngsters, Megan Landry (Sadie Stanley) and Isabella LaRue (Lexi Underwood). Simply as with Season 1, the story takes place over three intervals of time: Summer time 1999, Winter 1999 and Summer time 2000. In every timeline, the 2 women are in very completely different locations of their friendship.

The sequence begins in the summertime of 1999. Isabella has simply arrived within the idyllic Pacific Northwest waterfront city of Chatham to spend the summer season, and her senior 12 months, with Megan and her household as a part of an trade program. She left the U.S. when she was younger, and he or she hasn’t been again since. Whereas she’s welcomed with open arms by a lot of the city, Megan is hesitant to let Isabella in.

“I think what it comes down to is just Isabella is everything that Megan isn’t and doesn’t identify with. She sees Isabella when she first comes [to town] as privileged,” Stanley instructed Deadline. “She’s had this amazing life, and she’s never had any problems, and she gets everything that she wants…she’s charming and magnetic. Megan just is just resistant to that. She doesn’t want to fall for that.”

However all will not be what it appears on the floor, and it shortly turns into clear that she’s received some secrets and techniques.

“When we first meet Isabella, she’s incredibly charming and alluring. She knows what she wants, and she doesn’t stop until she gets it. That’s when it comes to who she is on the surface,” Underwood mentioned, including that who Isabella is on the within “a very different question.”

The truth is, uncovering Isabella’s true self is the thriller that plagues the primary timeline, Underwood defined.

“Over the span of 10 episodes, we get to see a young girl who’s doing her best to uphold this image or maintain this facade that she feels she’s had to put on due to her life prior to [Chatham]. I feel like there’s a lot of trauma that we get to unpack with Isabella. She has issues when it comes to attachment and when it comes to her need for validation,” Underwood continued. “While Isabella has had everything that she wants, she hasn’t had everything that she needs. And while being in Chatham, I think that that’s the first time where she really discovers that what she needs is pure love, care, acceptance, validation and the space to just be vulnerable.”

Whereas Summer time 1999 is planting seeds for his or her eventual friendship, Winter 1999 is establishing for his or her downfall. And by Summer time 2000 they’re now not on talking phrases because the sheriff investigates Luke’s disappearance.

Every episode toggles between the timelines, giving the viewers items of the puzzle that don’t appear to suit collectively simply but. As complicated as it might get for viewers, the actors additionally needed to stretch their expertise to have the ability to shoot throughout all three time intervals directly, moderately than chronologically.

“I was doing all three timelines in the same day, most days,” Stanley defined. Along with the bodily adjustments that every character undergoes all through, they’re additionally in vastly completely different emotional states. The actors had been fed scripts as manufacturing progressed, which is typical for a tv present. However for a narrative like this, it meant that the leads weren’t clued in to how issues would play out for his or her characters.

“For me, I use music as tools and then also journaling as Isabella from her perspective. That helped me kind of stay in the right headspace and stay on track with what was happening in her life during that time,” Underwood mentioned. “Listening to playlists that I felt as though Isabella would have put together during summer ‘99, during winter ‘99, and summer 2000 that reflect how she’s feeling on the inside.”

By midway by means of their senior 12 months, within the winter of 1999, the women have develop into the most effective of pals. That’s, till a somebody sneaks a intercourse tape into the VCR at a city Christmas celebration depicting Megan’s then-boyfriend Luke (Griffin Gluck) hooking up with Isabella. One other present might need let issues blow up there, however not Merciless Summer time.

Episode 2 reveals that the tape has been edited to exchange Megan with Isabella. As an alternative of coming clear, Isabella decides to guard Megan, who’s frightened about dropping her school scholarship, or being kicked out of faculty altogether, if folks had been to know the reality.

“I definitely think that it was a major decision that she made, but it was an incredibly impulsive decision that I think stems from the lack of acceptance or lack of love that she received from her parents,” Underwood instructed Deadline. “She feels as though she has to do absolutely anything, even go to the lengths of putting her future and her character on the line, her reputation on the line. She’s willing to do that if it means that she’s able to keep a stable relationship with someone that shows up for her and that validates her every step of the way.”

Sadly, irrespective of who the city thinks is on the intercourse tape, each women are affected by it. Megan is now the lady whose boyfriend cheated on her together with her finest buddy, who’s secretly afraid of what would occur if anybody came upon the reality. Isabella is the city pariah who refuses to be pressured out of Chatham, even when it means waking as much as blow up dolls in her entrance yard and icy stares from individuals who she as soon as thought-about pals. Luke, alternatively, won’t ever perceive their dilemma.

It highlights the obtrusive double commonplace, which nonetheless exists, through which “people kind of pat men on the back for things that they shamed women for,” Stanley mused, teasing that Isabella’s choice to take the autumn, and the women are handled consequently, is in the end the “catalyst” for what’s to return.

“It’s just the mere fact that men continuously sometimes feel as though that they can get away with anything, especially knowing that they’ll have people that have some voice — in this instance, you see [Luke and Brent’s] dad and their brother with high power in that town,” Underwood mentioned. “You have that person to back you up and to say that everything’s gonna be fine, and usually everything is fine, and you get away scot free.”

Besides it doesn’t appear to be Luke received away scot free in spite of everything. Episode 2 ends on a serious cliffhanger, with Luke’s physique being pulled out of the lake in Summer time 2000. The sheriff needs to re-question everybody about his disappearance, now that his dying is confirmed, and Isabella approaches Megan to inform her that they should “get their stories straight.”

“I promise you, it gets even crazier and crazier as we keep going. Ideally, at the end of it, you’re going to [have your] jaw on the floor freaking out,” Stanley mentioned, assuring that, wherever audiences assume the story goes, issues are going to maintain taking surprising turns till the very finish.

Along with her personal ominous warning, Underwood reminded viewers that “you can’t trust any one of the characters because everyone is hiding something in some way, shape, or form.”