Lexi Underwood Didn’t See That Merciless Summer time Finale Coming

Spoilers beneath for the season finale of Merciless Summer time season 2.

It’s difficult when your finest good friend seems to be a assassin. That’s definitely the conclusion Megan (Sadie Stanley) involves by the tip of Merciless Summer time season 2, which wraps with the revelation that her BFF, Isabella (Lexi Underwood), pounded the ultimate nail within the coffin of her ex-boyfriend, Luke (Griffin Gluck). Nevertheless it’s additionally the sentiment of Underwood herself, who didn’t be taught of her character’s nefarious deeds till two days earlier than filming the finale’s large twist. That shocker goes like this: After almost drowning within the Chatham city lake due to his large brother’s overzealous mood, Luke washes ashore, clinging to the vestigial stays of life. Solely then does Isabella present up—maybe to apologize for taking pictures him in episode 8?—and drive his head underwater. Together with her boot.

The small print get murkier from there. Merciless Summer time season 2 operates on three separate timelines: summer time 1999, winter 1999, and summer time 2000. Megan doesn’t be taught the reality of Isabella’s deception till summer time 2000, when she watches a CCTV tape that captured Isabella ending off the murder. She realizes this after already having helped Isabella escape culpability; following Luke’s dying, the 2 of them made a pact to “get their tales straight” to make sure neither of them went down for the homicide. As a substitute, Luke’s older brother Brent (Braeden De La Garza) takes the autumn, Isabella flies off to Ibiza, and Megan prepares for a brand new job in tech in Palo Alto. Isabella even will get the possibility to rebrand herself as “Lisa,” her former boarding college pal who additionally…died in a drowning. Absolutely a coincidence!

Nonetheless, Isabella’s crime “was a giant secret to us,” Underwood tells me throughout an interview previous to the finale airing on Freeform. “We had no clue the entire time who had truly carried out it.” As such, discovering who Isabella actually was (and what she was able to doing) required Underwood to stretch her understanding of her character—and of the ferocious energy of feminine friendship. Forward, we focus on what drew her to the anthology sequence, and what made Isabella’s last reveal a honest shock.

What was it concerning the first season of Merciless Summer time that made you need to be part of the second?

I actually beloved, as an viewers member, watching the construction of the present—and tonally how they used three totally different timelines and lighting, basically, as one other background character within the present. It truly is so totally different from what I had seen earlier than, and I used to be hooked each step of the way in which. After which once I came upon that they have been doing a season 2, I used to be so excited.

I used to be so occupied with the truth that you have been capable of play a personality over the span of a yr, however get to see three totally different variations of them. It’s undoubtedly a problem as an artist, however it’s actually enjoyable to have the ability to do. Isabella is a personality like I’ve by no means performed earlier than. She’s simply so complicated and so mysterious. I don’t suppose that she even is aware of who she is, so I used to be form of going alongside together with her as she was discovering that out.

Why did it really feel as if Isabella was a personality that you can actually personal?

Nicely, my audition story is slightly totally different. I auditioned for Megan. I used to be within the combine for Megan. I didn’t get it, and the undertaking went on. After which there was a recast that occurred for Isabella, and I solely had 24 hours to decide. I learn the primary few scripts and I actually beloved her.

You’ve stated earlier than that, whenever you discovered Isabella’s destiny, it actually shocked you. What was it prefer to study that twist after which translate it to the display screen?

Once I first came upon that it was me who did it, it was actually thrilling, but in addition nerve-racking. It’s enjoyable, however no one needs to be the villain, and particularly as a result of I had genuinely had a lot religion in the truth that Isabella didn’t do it.

Once we truly bought on set and the entire scene performed out—I keep in mind all people got here on set that day, the entire solid. All people was holding their breath the entire time, simply because it was actually months of us attempting to determine this out as actors that had the scripts. So, we have been piecing it collectively, and none of us noticed that ending coming, even the Brent element of it.

Was there any a part of you, whenever you came upon that it was Isabella, that thought, Nicely, that may’t be proper. That doesn’t make sense? How did you reconcile what you thought you knew about her with what you later discovered?

Even when she shot him [in episode 8], I used to be like, “That is so not her! What’s going on?” As a result of I genuinely had religion that she didn’t [kill him], and I genuinely believed the whole lot that occurred with Lisa was an accident. Every part about [Isabella]—she simply appeared like she had an incredible head on her shoulders, and she or he was within the improper place on the improper time, sticking up for the improper individuals.

However once I then came upon, it additionally made sense to me. As a result of, in the event you do return to the cabin and also you understand what Luke is saying to her—basically threatening her—she does have an understanding that, on the finish of the day, she shot him. Additionally, I used to be having this dialog earlier with someone: Race performs a task in it. She is a Black lady that simply shot a white boy, and she or he most definitely goes to be the one which’s going to get the toughest punishment.

Megan is just not an outsider. All people in Chatham is aware of her. If Luke is alive, he’s going to stay up and fend for Megan and ensure that she’s good, and ensure that Isabella is the one which has all the implications. I believe that there’s a second [for Isabella] the place it’s “each man for himself” slightly than a “ride-or-die” kind of factor. I don’t suppose that she kills him as a result of she’s attempting to again up Megan. I believe she kills him as a result of she’s genuinely interested by her personal future, and now what’s in danger, and the way the stakes are extremely excessive. And that if he got here out of that water, then Isabella’s destiny can be extremely totally different.

Was it an ending you have been glad by, each as an actress and as a fan of the sequence from the start?

Oh, completely. Identical to season 1: I used to be rooting for [Chiara Aurelia’s] Jeanette, and I believe that lots of people are rooting for Isabella, and it’s form of enjoyable when the character that you simply’re rooting for is the one which turns into the villain.

That needs to be such an fascinating expertise as an actress—whenever you consider whilst you’re filming that your character is harmless, and you then discover out she’s not.

There have been plenty of moments the place I believed that it was all people else. There have been instances the place I believed that it might be me, however I all the time shook it off as a result of I used to be like, “No, she stated this within the interrogation room, and she or he was right here on this night time, and she or he wouldn’t do that if that was the case.”

Nevertheless it goes to point out that you simply actually have to concentrate to each single character, and even within the moments the place you suppose that you already know what’s occurring otherwise you actually belief them, you don’t. While you return after watching the tenth episode, I believe that it is smart.

lexi underwood as isabella in cruel summer season 2

Ricardo Hubbs

Was it tough, feeling as in the event you needed to work with comparatively little—when it comes to concrete data—about who Isabella was? And what she did?

It was undoubtedly difficult at some factors. However then there have been additionally moments the place I noticed, us as human beings? We don’t know our destiny both. We’ve got no clue the place we’re going to finish up. Summer time 2000, that was slightly onerous with the interrogation scenes. However with summer time ’99 and winter ’99, [these characters] haven’t any clue how they’re going to finish up. They haven’t any clue the place Luke goes to be in a yr, and I believe that that authenticity reveals, that innocence reveals.

Nevertheless it was onerous. I believe we undoubtedly leaned on our scripts, but in addition the usage of hair, make-up, wardrobe, and the whole lot, all of our totally different work methods that we’d do to have the ability to preserve observe of timelines and preserve observe of the place our character was emotionally.

For those who don’t thoughts me asking, what have been a few of these work methods?

I do that for all my characters: I first create Venn diagrams between my character and all of the totally different characters round them. That basically helps with regards to breaking down their friendships. I do a Venn diagram between my character and I, in order that I actually perceive the similarities and variations. It doesn’t matter what my character does, I by no means need to decide her, and I all the time need to have intention behind each transfer and motion that she does. But when I’m in an area of judging her and questioning her motives, then I can’t essentially do this in an genuine method.

Additionally, on this occasion … I had by no means carried out this earlier than, however doing Venn diagrams between every model of Isabella in order that I may perceive what about her was so drastically totally different in every timeline. I additionally journaled from her perspective. I had playlists for every timeline. Stuff like that helped me actually keep in that area of immersing myself in Isabella’s world.

As you have been diagramming, what did you discover have been the most important variations between you and Isabella? Outdoors of the plain homicide side, after all.

I’m not an outgoing particular person, however I will be assured. However with Isabella, I believe that her confidence stage—it’s a masks that she’s placing on to cover the whole lot that’s occurring beneath the floor. So, she makes use of her persona, she makes use of her bubbliness to have the ability to lure individuals, to essentially connect them. I believe that’s one other distinction between her and I, is her want for acceptance and her attachment points. I believe that’s a giant factor together with her and Megan the place they bump heads: The 2 have very totally different definitions of what ride-or-die means to them.

I really feel like the most important similarity [between Isabella and me] is the truth that we’re each teenage women that don’t have all of the solutions and are determining life as we go. You make errors, and clearly I’m not making the identical errors that she’s making.

Let’s hope not.

[Laughs.] Proper. I’m undoubtedly not. However the summer time ’99 side I can undoubtedly relate to.

Are you able to be carried out with reveals set within the ’90s?

You realize what? Truthfully…No, I like the ’90s. I’d undoubtedly like to do one thing else, although. If I’m going to do a interval piece, I’d like to do ’70s, perhaps, and even like a Bridgerton model. That might be one thing. However yeah, I like the ’90s. I like the whole lot about that point, and it’s all the time so enjoyable once I’m capable of immerse myself in that world.

What are you engaged on subsequent?

Nicely, I did movie a film on the prime of the yr, fortunately earlier than the strike: I Want You All of the Greatest. It’s Tommy Dorfman’s directorial debut. It’s an adaptation of a ebook a few younger, non-binary teen who’s performed by Corey Fogelmanis, and it’s principally their coming-out story. They get kicked out of their home, and so they transfer in with their sister, who’s performed by Alexandra Daddario, and a bizarre brother-in-law, who’s Cole Sprouse.

It’s actually humorous. I play their finest good friend, and it’s simply such an necessary story. Particularly once we discuss normalizing everybody, and ensuring that everybody feels represented. There are a variety of LGBTQ tales on the market, however not rather a lot with regards to non-binary individuals. I’m excited for individuals to see that undertaking. I’m actually, actually extremely happy with it. It’s particular.

This interview was carried out previous to the SAG-AFTRA strike. It has been edited and condensed for readability.

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Tradition Author

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a employees tradition author at ELLE, the place she primarily covers movie, tv and books. She was beforehand an affiliate editor at ELLE.