This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the TV show being covered here wouldn’t exist.
If the narrative format of the fifth episode of the The Summer I Turned Pretty Season 2 seemed familiar, that’s because it’s the second week in a row where the Cousins crew has escaped reality and gotten back in touch with their childish side. The pros of turning lemons into lemonade, this episode found Conrad, Jeremiah, Belly, Steven, and Taylor (plus Skye and Cam Cameron, who for some reason are still there and for an even stranger reason seem to suddenly have sparks flying) searching for a place to stay after Aunt Julia sold all of the furniture inside of their beach house. However, all the hotels were sold out and going home would mean admitting defeat, so Jeremiah offered the genius idea of sneaking into the Cousins Country Club.
The night offered many of the same themes and development as last week’s episode with similar shenanigans to their adventures at Cousins Boardwalk, swoonworthy moments between Taylor and Steven, and continued flashbacks providing insight into the events of the previous year. There was also the ever-lingering shadow of Susannah’s loss tainting the night, as a sage Cam Cameron offers his advice on how to move through grief and move forward from loss.
However, this week’s episode of The Summer I Turned Pretty veered away from the prior episodes and into new territory by being set in Jeremiah’s perspective. Getting a peek inside Jeremiah’s brain provided more insight into the youngest Fisher boy. As it turns out, his usually sunny demeanor is less empty-headed optimism and more of a selfless shield as he works to play the part of the happy and supportive brother, friend, and son.
As they all explore the Country Club in search of snacks and a place to sleep, Jeremiah can’t help but reflect on how painful the last year has been for him. After being heartbroken by Belly, he was essentially forced to grant Conrad permission to date her, otherwise he would be standing in the way of his brother’s happiness.
Further, after watching Belly and Conrad’s PDA at Thanksgiving dinner, when he told Conrad that he doesn’t want to be around the two of them together anymore, he’s accused of being unsupportive and ruining the dynamic of the Fisher and Conklin siblings. Watching Conrad and Belly talk in the present and seemingly be back to a normal place of camaraderie, Jeremiah continues to feel hurt, knowing that Belly will always choose Conrad no matter what he does or how he’s hurt her in the past.
What’s even worse is that he knows that he would have been a better boyfriend than his brother. In a flashback of him and Susannah watching Conrad and Belly get ready for prom through a video-call with Laurel, Jeremiah remarks that he would have honored Belly’s night by not forgetting her corsage and for actually trying to enjoy the night.
This episode of The Summer I Turned Pretty proves that Jeremiah is the more responsible of the two brothers. While Conrad spends his time moping and smoldering, Jeremiah actually stepped up to support Susannah. In her final weeks, he not only stayed with her every day, but he also dressed up her medicinal drinks to mimic fancy cocktails and took over organizing her finances. While Conrad’s avoidance is also certainly an apt portrayal of grief and trauma responses, Jeremiah’s hard work is a heartbreaking revelation that he feels the pressure to meet everyone’s expectations of him always being happy and fine, even in the most devastating of circumstances.
The story’s not over
Luckily, Susannah saw Jeremiah for who he truly was, telling him that he needs to stop trying to please everyone. Susannah probably meant for her words to urge him to show his feelings more and be more in touch with his emotions. To Jeremiah in the present, though, it means that he is going to play the game to get what he wants. And what he wants is Belly.
After a game of Truth or Dare where he refuses to kiss Belly and she heckles him, he confesses to her that a kiss between them would mean more than just a stupid game. While Belly doesn’t respond like a self-aware woman who knows how her mixed feelings are affecting Conrad and Jeremiah, when she tells him that she always supported him from afar even when he wasn’t willing to talk to her, he takes that as enough of a confirmation that there might still be something there.
As Susannah told him, if it isn’t a happy ending, then his story isn’t over. Jeremiah certainly seems ready to do what it takes to make sure that Belly can truly see the tender, selfless, and perfect-for-her man behind the tan. This might be hard to do, though, as the Cousins crew returns to the house the next morning to find out that it’s already been sold. Once again, The Summer I Turned Pretty makes reality come crashing in, reminding the kids that the magic of Cousins and the magic of each other might be harder to hold onto than they think.
Feature image courtesy of Erika Doss/Prime Video
'The Summer I Turned Pretty' 2x05 - 8/10