13 Reasons Why binge recap
Hannah Baker sends 13 tapes to the people who played a role in her decision to end her life
Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, based on Jay Asher’s addictive YA novel and executive produced by Selena Gomez, is streaming now, and we’re binge-capping every hour for you. We’re breaking down what happens in all 13 episodes, with one recap per page (so don’t click “Next” until you’re ready for spoilers!), to learn about the events leading up to Hannah Baker’s suicide. The show is dark, but it will hook you. Join us as we listen tape by tape.
EPISODE 1: “Tape 1, Side A”
1. “Hey, it’s Hannah.”
Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) voice opens 13 Reasons Why. She sounds cool, calm, and collected, even though she’s about to take her listener through her painful and heartbreaking journey — a journey that involves 13 recorded tapes, each explaining a reason (read: a person) who had a hand in leading her to commit suicide. She greets her listeners with a set of rules: Everyone must listen to the complete set, then pass it along to the next person addressed on the tapes. If they don’t continue passing the tapes along, a second set of tapes, held by a friend not on the tapes, will be released and all of them will be implicated. Her death is fresh in everyone’s minds at school, to different extents: A pair of students stop for a selfie in front of her locker to post on Instagram, while another, well…
2. Meet Clay.
Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) is a Nice Guy, a floater among high school cliques, more serious in demeanor than the jocks yet cool enough not to be considered a loser. He’s our way in to Hannah’s story, as the latest recipient of the tapes — and he’s a good protagonist to follow as someone who’s better at listening than at chatting. After all, he’s still reeling from what happened to Hannah; we see him flash back when in class (a class being taught by Mrs. Bradley, played by Keiko Agena a.k.a. Gilmore Girls‘ Lane Kim) to an earlier time when he complimented Hannah’s short hair and remarked that change his good. His memory is bathed in warm sunlight; his present is all cool blues. Hannah meant more to Clay than she probably knew: Through his other flashbacks, we learned that the two worked together at the theater, and it’s easy to see how Clay falls for her almost immediately. She’s frank, confident, and candid in their early interactions, teasing him for being a nerd and giving him a nickname.
3. Clay struggles with the tapes.
Clay has some trouble operating his father’s boombox — in his defense, no one uses them anymore — and winds up breaking it when his mother walks in on him listening to Hannah’s first tape. Remembering that his friend Tony (Christian Navarro) has a Walkman, Clay rides his bike to Tony’s house on the other side of town, steals the Walkman, and continues listening. But listening to the tapes will prove harder than it seems. The first one causes him to crash onto a sidewalk, leaving him with a gaping wound on his forehead. “Helmet” could have used a helmet.
4. The first tape is for Justin.
Justin (Brandon Flynn) is a grade-A jock with an irresistible smile, notes Hannah in her first tape. As she puts it, he’s someone who made her happy until he didn’t and became her “kryptonite.” Their story begins at a house party thrown by Hannah’s one friend Kat, who introduces Hannah to the people she’ll need to know at school. Kat’s dating Justin at the time, but that changes soon enough.
5. A party of crushes, connections, and chaos.
Kat’s house party sheds light on several of Hannah’s eventual connections. There’s Bryce (Justin Prentice), head jock and all-around douchebag, who casually hits on her before his attention goes somewhere else. There’s Clay, awkwardly making a rare party appearance and looking far too buttoned-up for the occasion. He’s obviously enamored with Hannah, but Hannah’s attentions have wandered over to Justin and his teammate Zach (Ross Butler), who are wrestling on the ground with the sprinklers turned on just outside the house. Hannah falls hard and fast — but not for Zach, the one Kat recommends.
6. Kat leaves.
Kat moves away before the start of school, leaving Hannah alone to make new friends. Kat’s departure also means that Justin is single, and after receiving Kat’s permission to pursue Justin instead of Zach, Hannah grows closer to her crush. The two are adorable at first: Justin is a stereotypical jock at this point, slow to catch up to Hannah’s wit yet confident in his ability to win her over all the same. He hops aboard a stuffy school bus just to chat with Hannah and only finds her more attractive when she reveals it was a trick all along.
7. A first date…
It’s a teen girl’s dream: a perfect first kiss with the perfect boy. Hannah and Justin meet up at a playground, and after plenty of flirting and fooling around, they lock lips after Hannah goes down the slide in a dress. They’re happy, and in the present, Clay stares at the empty playground, having followed Hannah’s instructions to visit the significant locations she’s marked on a map for her listeners, imagining where things went wrong.
8. …that goes wrong.
Here’s what went wrong: Nothing at all — at least, nothing on that date. Hannah’s sadness stemmed from what happened the day after: Justin boasted of his night with Hannah and revealed that he took an upskirt shot of her as she went down the slide. Bryce then grabbed his phone and messaged that photo to practically everyone at school, embarrassing Hannah and shattering the illusion of a perfect first romance.
9. Tony knows more than he lets on.
By now, Clay is having trouble continuing to listen to Hannah tell her story, but as he hesitates, Tony finds him and confronts him about the stolen Walkman. He lets Clay keep it and reveals that he knows exactly why Clay needs it. See, Tony’s listened to the tapes — he’s helped shepherd them along — and he knows that Clay is one of the 13 reasons. “It’ll only get worse,” he warns Clay, especially if Clay doesn’t do as the tapes say.
10. Clay’s profound change.
All of this scares Clay, who up until now has thought that he was only ever kind to Hannah. The prospect of listening to a dead girl explain why he partly caused her to kill herself isn’t something he or anyone could possibly look forward to — and as he faces what comes next, he remembers something he did…
11. Clay’s first strike.
…He remembers the first time he failed Hannah. When Hannah became shunned by her classmates after the photo spread, she tried to strike up conversation with Clay in the cafeteria. Back then, though, Clay had been jealous that Hannah was so into Justin, and so he dismissed her without asking for her side of the story. He remarked that some people should wait. Hannah held back tears — and present-day Clay is horrified to think back to that memory.
12. Justin gets taken away.
Back at school, Justin appears to finally break. He’s summoned by the guidance counselor and the administration and gets taken away from class. Hannah, in her tape, warns him to stick around for a later tape. A girl, Courtney (Michele Selene Ang), who had checked on Clay earlier in the episode watches as Clay stands in the hallway contemplating Hannah’s story. And just before the bell rings, he sees her, projected from his memory, dressed in white and looking angelic and alive, smiling from down the hall.
13. “Now your mess is mine.”
That image fades as the scene changes and Vance Joy plays and the students rush out of their classrooms and on to their next classes. Clay stands in the middle, unsure of where to go, who to talk to, and what to do about the journey on which he’s embarked.
Right off the bat, 13 Reasons Why has a lived-in, high-school feel, which helps it somewhat overcome its dicey premise. Is it fair for a show to dramatize a novel that, in a way, justifies suicide through concrete, numbered reasons? Is it responsible to create a series of 13 episodes that addictively asks the viewer to hit “Next Episode” to figure out why a teenage girl decided to end her life? These questions aren’t exactly answered, but the series is certainly bolstered by incredible performances from its young cast so far — and if anything, the story is honestly told. In fact, the subsequent tapes only build on the raw hurt and confusion that anyone who went through high school can understand.
Episode grade: B+
Click ahead for episode 2.
EPISODE 2: “Tape 1, Side B”
1. “Are you having fun?”
Hannah can come off somewhat hostile in her early tapes. She mocks her listener and strings them along, teasing them about what she knows and what they’re about to hear. But she has good reason to do so: Behind her playful words at the start of the second tape is, again, raw anger and pain — a hurricane of it, if you will. And Clay, being a sensitive teen made more sensitive with the knowledge that he had something to do with his friend’s death, internalizes every single one of her comments. He remembers making eye contact with Hannah in the hall after laughing as she made her way past a group of jocks pretending to grab her ass. He remembers the way she looked when she became their object of mockery, not of affection. He knows he’s guilty — he’s just not sure why.
2. Clay is seeing things and keeping secrets from his parents.
None of this overthinking helps with the gaping wound on his forehead, and the more it bleeds, the more he fails to tear his thoughts away from Hannah. He thinks he sees Tony’s car parked outside his house in the morning, and when he rushes downstairs, he’s met with an intervention from his parents. His mother is the more worried of the two: She cheerily offers his breakfast, and he accepts until he spots the new bottle of pills she’s brought home for him. He fights back, saying that he hasn’t needed them in a while and then quickly scurries away while his parents debate how much he’s keeping from them. If only they knew…
3. Justin has disappeared.
Justin, after meeting with Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), the guidance counselor, has ditched school entirely for the day even though he’s supposed to show up at a pep rally, or else, as the coach puts it, he’ll be “running suicides until the lights go out.” (Uncomfortably cutesy writing there, 13 Reasons Why.) The coach isn’t the only one looking for him, though. His girlfriend, Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe), is even more frantic to find him.
4. In fact, tape 2 is about Jessica.
Jessica was Hannah’s former friend who later became a popular cheerleader and Justin’s significant other. In the present, she’s also being hounded by Mr. Porter to talk about what went down between her and Hannah, but in the past, we see a sunny series of flashbacks that show just how the friendship began for the girls, both of whom were new to the school. It’s hard to see where things went wrong — but we’ll get to that.
5. Sheri reaches out to Clay
Clay isn’t satisfied with listening to the tapes; he’s also searching for Justin and for more answers. When he exits the gym, Sheri (Ajiona Alexus), Jessica’s fellow cheerleader, follows. Sheri’s kind and offers up some answers to Clay’s questions, saying that Jessica is concerned about Justin. More importantly, she reassures Clay that Hannah liked him very much, and that she misses Hannah as well.
6. When Hannah met Jessica…
Clay’s surprised to learn that Sheri was friends with Hannah, but then again, friendships in high school are complicated. They can be simple and sweet at first, though: Through flashbacks, we see how Hannah and Jessica were both called to the guidance counselor at the time, Mrs. Antilly, who was concerned that the pair of new girls to school wouldn’t have any friends. They riffed off of each other’s jokes and wound up grabbing coffee afterward at Monet’s, another significant location on Hannah’s map.
7. Clay lands on Mr. Porter’s radar.
Porter has already tracked down Justin, wants to meet with Jessica, and now asks to speak with Clay. He knows Clay knew Hannah, but it’s unclear what exactly he wants. As Hannah mentions on her tape, it’s too bad that Mrs. Antilly left and got replaced by Mr. Porter — an issue she promises explain in another tape. Could he be the subject of a later tape?
8. Meet Alex.
For now, Hannah’s more concerned with explaining the friendship that blossomed between her, Jessica, and Alex (Miles Heizer), a loner who sat in Monet’s and watched them until they invited him to join them — as long as he passed a test. The three clicked pretty much immediately, becoming a close group that did everything together and saw each other as often as possible.
9. Monet’s and the “hot chocolate friendship”
This all leads to a beautiful sequence midway through the episode, in which Hannah describes the bliss of a first friendship. “Day after day, drink after drink, we lifted mugs and lifted each other,” she recalls, adding that they would arrive at Monet’s to talk about their FML’s (you know, “f— my life”). Jess, for example, would talk about her dad being deployed again. It’s moving to see how deeply their friendship was felt, even though they all came from different backgrounds.
10. A “hot chocolate friendship” that cools over time…
As Hannah explains, she eventually realized their little trio had always been a “hot chocolate friendship,” a phrase borne out of how much Jessica depended on a hot chocolate to lift her spirits. It encapsulated how they were a social circle that worked for a short season before moving on: Alex was first to stop coming and, as Hannah put it, “traded up” for new friends. Then it was Jessica’s turn to move on as well — but when Alex and Jessica started dating, it shifted Hannah’s perspective of her friends. It hurt Hannah because as confident as she seems, she has the same insecurities as anyone at that age, and she wonders if she’s as pretty as Jessica to Clay in a flashback. He calls her “special” but it only irks her not to get a straight answer from him. As kind as he is, he couldn’t see how much she needed to hear him say how he felt.
11. …and ends in a slap.
If only it had all ended there. Instead, Hannah goes on to tell the story of how Jessica came to hate Hannah for something Hannah never did. Alex apparently wrote a list about the girls in high school and their looks, and Jessica blamed Hannah for Alex’s newfound douchebaggery and for causing him to break up with her. It’s not completely clear what happened between Jessica and Alex, but it made Jessica angry enough to slap Hannah in the face at Monet’s, fracturing a friendship and breaking Hannah’s heart further.
12. Clay corners Jessica after the pep rally that celebrates Bryce, and Jessica finds Justin.
In the present, Clay begins to draw attention from the jocks. Zach and Marcus (Steven Silver) try to give him a ride to Bryce’s — it turns out Justin’s been hiding out at the pool house behind Bryce’s mansion, snacking and smoking the day away to avoid the consequences of Hannah’s tapes — but Tony saves him from the trip. Clay then gets a chance to talk to Jessica, who warns him not to put so much faith into Hannah’s words. She’s listened to all the tapes already and tells Clay that Hannah lies. Hannah was the second one to leave the Monet’s trio, she says, not her. But even if that’s a lie, Hannah may be telling the larger truth: Later, when Jessica finds Justin in the pool house, she realizes that if Hannah were lying about everything, Justin wouldn’t be so scared.
13. Hannah’s parents find the list.
Hannah’s story can’t be contained, it seems. Though the tape’s recipients haven’t shared a thing, Hannah’s mom (Kate Walsh) finds Alex’s list buried among Hannah’s things in her bedroom. She reads it, then dashes to her husband (Brian d’Arcy James), insisting that the list is proof Hannah was bullied at school. To learn more, she calls, of all people, Tony, who arrives at the Bakers’ house while Clay watches from across the street.
It’s another strong episode buoyed by strong performances for 13 Reasons Why. Teen friendships are, as characters put it in this hour, complicated: Friendships form quickly and passionately but break just as easily, feelings rocket between extremes in a world built on cliques and reputation, and for Hannah, Jessica, and Alex, grabbing hot chocolate at a local cafe meant so much more than a casual reprieve at the end of a long day. Without Jessica and Alex, Hannah was left on her own again — and the last place in which anyone should be alone is high school.
Episode grade: A-
Click ahead for episode 3.
EPISODE 3: “Tape 2, Side A”
1. Tape 3 is for Alex.
Did you think it would be for anyone else? Alex’s story is thoroughly intertwined with Jessica’s. He’s the one who wrote that damning list, he also left Hannah behind, and he “traded up” for cooler friends. But what exactly did he do or say to Hannah?
2. Justin’s home life is a mess.
Before we find out more about Alex, we see Justin coming to grips with his situation. He’s still at Bryce’s, but while he’s alone, he stumbles around Bryce’s beautiful home, stopping to take a long look at a family portrait. He cries because his home life is nothing like this one; he can’t stay at home with his mom and her latest meth-head boyfriend, and the only comfort he has now is Jessica, who shows up at Bryce’s to talk Justin through everything.
3. Mrs. Baker learns about high school culture.
After discovering the list in episode 2, Mrs. Baker works quickly to find out how else the school and its students treated Hannah. She tries to talk to the principal, but given the lawsuit she and her husband have against the school, he can offer very little other than his condolences. Disappointed by the outcome, Mrs. Baker cries in the bathroom — and then notices the messages scrawled on the stalls. They’re lewd notes left behind by girls, calling each other sluts and whores and insulting anyone who sees them. Horrified, Mrs. Baker takes snapshots of the notes, and by the time she leaves, she’s in no mood for Courtney’s memorial, only noting that if Courtney really knew Hannah, she’d have known Hannah hated roses.
4. Porter is still hoping to talk to all of the students.
Meanwhile, the guidance counselor is still poking around for more information. He seems uneasy about Hannah, telling the principal he only ever talked to her about colleges. Later, he even meets with Courtney and Marcus, hoping to get a better sense of how the student body is reacting. But something tells me he’s also trying to protect his own secret in some way — but that’s probably saved for another tape.
5. Clay confronts Alex.
Without finishing the tape — Clay is incredibly slow to listen through Hannah’s testimonials because it hurts him too much — Clay tries to talk to Alex to find out his side of the story. Out in the hall instead of sitting through a wash of a history class, Clay finds Alex ripping down the suicide prevention posters that went up. He can’t figure out why Alex would have hurt Jessica, but Alex doesn’t tell him anything. Instead, another student brushes past them to rifle through the scraps of paper in the trash, collecting pieces he likes for a project he’s hoping to publish, while Tyler (Devin Druid), the photographer, walks in on them and gets too close.
6. Clay, Astronomy Boy.
We learn plenty more from the next flashback. One fine day in the past, Clay asks Hannah if she’d like to watch an eclipse with him that night. She agrees, and after work, they clean up — they see Alex walking out alone instead of with Jessica as usual — and head up to the roof. It’s a sweet scene from there: Both are two shy to act on the sparks they feel, and Hannah especially has too much baggage to deal with at the time. So instead, they just spend a night in the cold, glancing at each other and staring at the sky.
7. Clay, Just Another High School Boy.
The next day, Clay’s goodwill with Hannah fades when Alex’s list gets passed around. Even he reads it — and does so while Hannah’s watching from across Mrs. Bradley’s classrooms. It turns out the list targets the girls in school and gives them superlatives based on their looks. You know, like Best Ass (which goes to Hannah), and Worst Ass… which goes to Jessica. Later that day, Clay can’t help but notice (and objectify) his female classmates in a different way, which the jock he’s tutoring, Jeff, picks up on. Imagine if the girls came up with a list of boys this way — but then again, the girls would never do such a thing.
8. Alex finally wants to talk.
After thinking it through, Alex decides he wants to talk to Clay about what really went down. He requests a meeting with Clay at Monet’s, where Clay arrives early and talks to Skye, his classmate and barista. They were friends a long time ago, but at least their relationship didn’t turn as frosty as Alex’s did with Hannah: Alex explains that he became admired by the jocks for attracting Jessica, whom they considered hot, and because he started to hang out with that group of guys — he couldn’t bring himself to say no — he felt he needed to put pressure on Jessica the way the rest of the jocks did on girls. But then Jessica said no to having sex with him, and because of that, he lashed out with the list, which he made with some of his new friends.
9. Alex regrets the list.
This is no surprise, of course, considering how it blew up his relationships with Jessica and Hannah and caused the two girls to lose each other as friends. When Alex reaches this conclusion, he starts to grow louder and louder, confessing his guilt and saying that all of them killed Hannah Baker. Before he gets carried away, though, Tony and Mrs. Baker walk into Monet’s, and Clay decides it’s time for them to go.
10. Clay follows the tape’s instructions to the liquor store, “where butterfly met hurricane.”
Hannah’s story about Alex doesn’t end with a slap. Instead, it ends with something more invasive and even more damaging on Hannah’s soul: Bryce’s inappropriate grab of her ass in the liquor store she frequented for candy. When Bryce spotted Hannah inside, he casually harassed her, and there was nothing she could do about it. “You made it open season on Hannah Baker,” she explains in her tape to Alex, pointing out that putting her on a list, even as a joke, left her a target for cruel interactions like these. In the present, Clay walks to the store and bumps right into Bryce, too.
11. Clay gets caught in his own hurricane.
Bryce doesn’t let Clay leave the store without purchasing a giant bottle of beer, and when Clay tries to toss it away outside, he gets caught by Bryce, Justin, Zach, and Alex, who are drinking while loitering around the alley. He’s forced by the jocks to chug his entire bottle and compete against Alex, and though Clay wins, he gets caught and admonished by Tony, who watches the entire scene with disgust. Tony still refuses to share more with Clay, and so Clay, frustrated, chases Tony on his bike until he spots Tony beating up someone he doesn’t know with another man behind a factory. What exactly is going on here? Too bad Clay can’t think too much of it: By the time he gets home, he’s drunk and sick and winds up vomiting all over the dinner table in front of mom and dad.
12. Alex can’t deal with any of it anymore.
Later that night, Alex hangs at Bryce’s pool house with the guys but can’t find any joy in their activities. He walks out alone, leaving Justin, Bryce, Zach, and Montgomery behind, before falling into the pool and staying submerged for a long while. Alex appears to have taken the tapes the hardest so far, even though, as he told Clay, he listened to all of them in one sitting.
13. Clay prepares for an ominous fourth tape.
Hannah concludes her third tape with a warning that the next one will require the listener to break some rules. “Be careful,” Hannah says. “And don’t get caught.” Easy for her to say: Now that Clay’s grounded, he has to sneak away from his house through the window. Tony was right about the tapes — they only get harder to deal with as you go along.
Episode grade: B
Click ahead for episode 4.
EPISODE 4: “Tape 2, Side B”
1. We’re always being followed, and not just in a fun social media way.
Stalking someone in real life is a whole ‘nother thing. This truth, shared by Hannah at the top of the episode, pretty much sets up the fourth reason for her suicide and reveals the next culprit on Hannah’s list. The stalker in question? Liberty High’s very own student life photographer, Tyler Down, a.k.a. the skinny kid with glasses the popular jocks like to trip and pants in the hallway. Turns out that Tyler is a bit of a creep; he would stand outside Hannah’s window and take photos of her, preventing her from being able to sleep at night because she was so afraid. Tyler took away her sense of safety, so she wanted him to feel as scared as she did by bringing all the tape-listeners to his window to watch him – most of them end up throwing rocks at his window. Those Liberty High kids sure are stellar human beings.
2. Tyler is in love with Hannah.
He felt like he really “saw her” because when he put his camera on her, she didn’t smile or pose or fake it. (Probably because she was asleep and didn’t know you were snapping, Tyler!!) She was real and he fell for that, and he only took the pictures because he knew he couldn’t just hang out with her. Tyler calls Clay out for loving her too and just hanging out on the sidelines
3. Clay is not the best cyclist.
He crashes his bike into a car AGAIN (there’s no nasty head gash this time, though).
4. Pun costumes aren’t always winners.
It’s Halloween and the students of Liberty High are all dressed up for a costume competition, which comes with a $200 cash prize. Marcus opts for an “El Niño” tropical storm ensemble, complete with a sombrero adorned with hail drops and lightening sound effects, but loses out to Jessica and Justin, who go as the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious and his soon-to-be-stabbed girlfriend Nancy Spungen, or “sexy punk rockers” – students at Liberty are not up on their ‘70s music scene.
5. Bryce is the worst.
But at least he and Zach didn’t win the costume contest. They show up as m–f divers. Roll those eyes.
6. Marcus is on the tapes, and he’s also a liar.
When he bumps into Clay outside Tyler’s house, Marcus tells him that he didn’t listen to the tapes in an attempt to get Clay to pass them on to the next person without listening either. Only he totally listened.
7. Clay thinks zombies are stupid.
In a flashback, after a night of refilling TP and popcorn containers at the movie theater, Clay and Hannah walk home together and discuss the merits of zombies. “What’s their story? They don’t want to take over the world. They don’t want to kill their masters or anything interesting. They’re not good or evil, they’re just hungry… for brains,” Clay explains. He has a point. Somebody tell the Walking Dead producers. There’s a moment where Clay could’ve/should’ve kissed Hannah, but he goes for the hug instead.
8. The sounds of a camera lens clicking is loud enough to hear from feet away.
Take note, would-be stalkers.
9. Tony only beats up guys that hurt his sister — apparently there are an overwhelming number of males in this town who are just plain s—ty individuals.
So when Clay followed Tony in the last episode and saw him relentlessly punching some guy, he at least had a good reason for doing so… kind of, I think… ?
10. Mr. Porter, the school counselor, has two babies.
One is two and a half and the other is 9 months old. There’s a high probability that the strain of having a young family is distracting him from doing his job properly. He also stops by the Bakers’ pharmacy and tries to warn Hannah’s dad about the perils of the recently opened Walplex: the megastore with great prices that’s stealing all the Bakers’ customers.
11. Kids in Hannah’s neighborhood suck.
Apparently a recently deceased daughter isn’t a sufficient reason to skip handing out Halloween candy, so some kids TP Hannah’s parents’ house. Clay is passing by and yells at them to stop, only to be caught by Hannah’s mom, who thinks he responsible. She threatens to call the cops until Clay shares that he knew Hannah. Desperate for all and any information about her daughter, Mrs. Baker invites him in and tries to get him to go through Hannah’s stuff with her to see if he has any insight. He quickly makes excuses and leaves.
12. Courtney is gay, but too scared to come out, even to herself.
After Hannah shares her fear that she’s being stalked and photographed by some creep, Courtney offers to sleep over and bring her bear-scaring-away super-bright flashlight to catch the culprit. So the girls convene at Hannah’s, and after partaking in a little liquid courage (Hannah mixes them a concoction of vodka, scotch and Kahlua and anything else her parents won’t notice is missing), Courtney apologizes for misjudging Hannah; she assumed she was a slut like everyone else. The girls start playing truth or dare and end up making out (totally initiated by Courtney because she’s apparently also in love with Hannah). Perhaps the worst time ever to act on a secret crush is when there’s a stalker with a camera on the loose, and sure enough, Hannah soon hears her shutterbug stalker’s arrival and grabs the ultra-bright flashlight, exposing Tyler as the stalker. Courtney freaks and leaves, and poor Hannah loses yet another friend. The next day, Courtney barely talks to Hannah, even though she makes every effort to get the pics back from Tyler. He gives her the negatives, but after Hannah laughs at him when he asks her if she’d like to hang out some time, Tyler gets his revenge by sending a photo of the girls making out to half the school. Nobody immediately knows it’s them, but Courtney decides to blame Hannah regardless.
13. Clay is out for revenge.
In an attempt to even the score, Clay sneaks up to Tyler’s window and snaps a pic of him changing. He sends the photo of Tyler’s naked butt to the whole gang — really not Clay’s best idea. Tyler also receives the text and cries alone in his bedroom. Tony texts Clay “What the hell?” and Clay responds that he’s making his own justice and cycles off into the night.
Episode grade: B+
Click ahead for episode 5.
EPISODE 5: “Tape 3, Side A”
1. Boys are a–holes; some are a–holes all of the time, all are a–holes some of the time…
…Apart from Jeff, the baseball-playing kid Clay tutors. He seems to be just lovely and encourages Clay to ask Hannah to dance at the winter formal.
2. Girls are even worse than boys; in fact, they’re evil.
Courtney is particularly terrible, even though she seems like she’s “just so nice.” Still upset about the photo Tyler took of her and Hannah making out (even though people think it’s Laura, a lesbian girl in class), she continues to ignore Hannah. Finally Hannah ambushes her at lunch. She tells Courtney that she knows what it feels like to have people judge you. Courtney relents a little and tells Hannah she should come to the upcoming winter formal. Her other basic pals ask Hannah if she’ll drive, so Hannah asks her parents if they’ll rent her a limo for the night — to which she receives a resounding no. But her dad does upgrade the lease on the jeep he already has so she can drive her new kinda-friends to the dance in style. Courtney pretty much abandons Hannah as soon as they arrive at the dance, but at least Jessica is nice to her for half a second, until she’s distracted by a pining Alex and a flirting Justin. When Hannah catches up to Courtney, they start dancing in a group until Bryce comes over throws his arms ’round them and asks if there’ll be an encore performance tonight – referencing Tyler’s pic. Afraid she’s going to be discovered to be a lesbian, the “just so nice” Courtney tells Montgomery that Hannah did a lot more than just kiss. Later, Clay overhears Montgomery accusing Hannah of having oral sex with Justin, and for just a moment, he appears to believe it could be true, upsetting Hannah further.
3. No, Clay did not shower.
Back in the present, he overthinks the whole standing-under-water process and decided he can’t do it. It’s a lot.
4. Clay’s mom is representing Liberty High School in the lawsuit the Bakers have brought against them.
She works for a big firm, and the school is playing to win. She tells Clay and asks how he feels about the whole thing. Once again he lies to her, saying he didn’t really know Hannah that well.
5. Clay is trying to do something, anything to make up for what everyone else did to Hannah.
6. Mr. Porter is terrible at his job.
Tyler is sent to the office to see him after he’s pantsed in the halls, and Porter suggests that Tyler figure out what he’s doing that makes the kids pick on him. Solid advice. Tyler also wants in with the cool kids on whatever they’re planning against Clay, but they unceremoniously tell him to get the hell out. Zach even goes as far as to threaten to break his arm.
7. The tape concerning Jessica’s party seems to contain some really damning information.
The cool crew is really worried about what will happen when Clay listens to that tape. They keep reiterating that Hannah was lying on that tape, even though everything else so far has turned out to be true.
8. Clay has some moves.
At the winter formal (Clay’s only there because he lost a bet to Jeff when he did better than a C on a paper), he and Hannah enjoy a slow dance to some of DJ Tony’s sweet beats. It’s yet another missed opportunity for Clay to seal the deal with a kiss.
9. Jessica decides she really likes Justin.
She gets pretty drunk at the formal, and Hannah offers to drive her home. Jessica apologizes for slapping her when she thought she was stealing Alex.
10. Headstones take a couple of months to make.
Clay takes Courtney to Hannah’s headstone-less grave. He accuses her of causing Hannah’s death by sending yet another a–hole in her direction just because she was scared of her sexuality. Courtney opens up a little, saying she doesn’t want her gay dads to think they’re the reason she’s a lesbian and put them through any more hardship than they’ve already faced. She apologizes, but Clay tells her he wasn’t the one who needed to hear that. He really needs someone to pay for what happened to Hannah.
11. Mixtapes are a lost and essential art, according to Tony.
After the dance, he gives Hannah a tape that starts with the song she and Clay danced to that night.
12. Alex can get away with speeding because his dad is a cop – so long as he’s home in time for dinner.
Justin, Zach, and Alex pick up Clay and race at a crazy speed to try and scare him into silence. They’re soon pulled over by the police for going 50 miles over the speed limit, but since it’s Alex’s dad who stops them, he just playfully warns his son not to be late for dinner. Alex is unhinged and needs help. His dad may be impressed by the show of manly bravado that it takes to drive recklessly, but clearly Alex is not doing so well.
13. The jocks think they’re bulletproof, and Clay can’t touch them since Alex’s dad is a cop.
Episode grade: B
Click ahead for episode 6.
EPISODE 6: “Tape 3, Side B”
1. Alex is not calm.
When Montgomery nearly hits him with his car, the two boys get in one helluva fight, and Alex pretty much gets the s— kicked out of him — but don’t worry, his dad is proud of him for standing up for himself. An emergency meeting of the student honor board — chaired by the ever-honorable Marcus — lets Alex off and suspends Montgomery.
2. Valentine’s Day is celebrated at Liberty High with a dollar Valentine survey.
The students fill out a questionnaire describing who they want to be with, and they’re matched up on dates with their classmates. Unfortunately, despite describing Clay to a T, Hannah doesn’t match with him since Jeff hijacked Clay’s answers in an attempt to make him more dateable.
3. The school is really worried about covering its own ass when it comes to bullying, which is entirely the wrong approach to the situation.
4. Sheri doesn’t think Clay is an a—hole.
In the present day, he offers to help her with a paper, and they end up making out on his bed but stop when it’s clear Clay’s mind is on Hannah and not her. Sheri then blurts out that she doesn’t want Clay to listen to her tape and think she’s a terrible person. He didn’t even know she was on the tapes until she brought it up and now is worried she wanted him to like her so he wouldn’t judge her when he does listen. She tells him that she genuinely likes him and it would kill her if he heard what was on the tapes. She really wants him to give up the tapes, but Clay now thinks that’s the only reason she kissed him. He tells her to leave.
5. James Madison wasn’t a “mad stoner,” as Jeff thinks – luckily he has Clay as a tutor to set him straight.
6. Clay used to watch Lord of The Rings on repeat because he’s a legend.
7. Sheri has always wanted to set Hannah up.
The Valentine’s Day survey puts Bryce at the top of Hannah’s list and Hannah at the top of Marcus’ list. Not the desired result for Hannah. Marcus calls to asks Hannah out, and she finally relents, then — because this school is just brimming with top-notch guys — he shows up an hour late to their date with an entourage of friends because of this logic: “Make a girl wait, and if she’s still there when you show, she’s DTF.” Ugh. With this in mind he tries to grope her, but she pushes him off, and he leaves with an angry, “I thought you were easy.” Hannah just sits there stunned, thinking this was somehow her fault and that she’ll be alone for the rest of her life.
8. Justin’s mom is going through one of her “things”.
She’s broken up with her boyfriend and is not in a good place (think: drugs). Jessica comes over to see Justin since he’s been MIA, but when she propositions him, he pushes her away – literally, with some force. She storms out in tears and steals a bottle of vodka on her way.
9. Hannah’s parents can’t accept that Hannah was such a mystery to them.
They’ve been going through her room, and so far they only have circumstantial evidence to bring against the school in their case. Mrs. Baker can’t understand how they didn’t know their daughter was in so much pain. Andy tells her they can’t only blame themselves, but Mrs. Baker thinks they focused too much on the store and not enough on her. It seems Hannah also experienced some bullying in her previous high school, and that was art of the reason for the family’s move.
10. Clay’s mom really wants him to talk to her.
She can’t help him if he doesn’t open up, but he tells her she can’t help anyway. She looks utterly despondent as he closes his bedroom door in her face.
11. Hannah still wants to believe there are good guys in the world.
So when Zach comes back to the diner alone this time, she lets him sit with her.
12. Jessica’s dad warns her (and essentially the boys of Liberty) that he’ll kill anyone that hurts her.
She responds by gulping down some vodka straight from the bottle in her bed. Not a good sign.
13. Hannah did her research on epitaphs for gravestones.
“Don’t try” was the best one she could find. She wonders what will be on hers.
Episode grade: A-
Click ahead for episode 7.
EPISODE 7: “Tape 4, Side A”
1. We finally learn how Hannah died.
Mr. and Mrs. Jensen are talking about Clay — how he might need to go back on his meds, how his nightmares have returned. Mrs. Jensen mentions that Hannah “slit her wrists and bled out in a bathtub.” We saw her with the slit wrists at prom but didn’t have the bathtub detail until now. It’s a gutting, devastating thing to visualize — and of course Clay overhears the conversation.
2. A new girl at school takes Hannah’s locker.
As she struggles to open the locker, Clay rushes over — not to help, but to figure out why someone is in Hannah’s space. He thinks she asks him, “Why did you do it? What you did to Hannah?” But then he snaps out of it, realizes she’s a new student, and helps her open the locker.
3. Clay thinks he’s finally gotten to his tape… but we’re actually listening to Zach’s.
4. Zach was nice to Hannah after the disastrous, humiliating date with Marcus.
He sat with her, letting her ignore him, and then offered to pay for her milkshakes. But when he tries to be nice to her at school, she freaks out. This is one of the first times it seems like Hannah is in the wrong — I really don’t think Zach had an ulterior motive.
5. The compliment bags in communications class were a big deal to Hannah, and then Zach starts stealing Hannah’s compliments.
So she eventually tries to make things better by writing him a letter and leaves it in her bag, telling him about how she feels so unbearably lonely and how hard everything is. Hannah tells us in the tapes that Zach reads it and throws it on the ground.
Also, Clay leaves Hannah cute little bunny cartoons, but they don’t seem to mean as much to her as they should. How can she not see that she does have a friend in him?
6. Clay is losing it — and has disturbing visions at the basketball game.
Is he depressed, too? He hears people saying things to him that aren’t true — people telling him his own secrets. It’s a tough episode to watch as a viewer, because we don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. Did Clay really throw a basketball in Zach’s face? No… but he does key Zach’s Audi in the parking lot. He writes “Why me?” — the question Hannah yelled to Zach in the hallway after he read her letter and did nothing.
7. Skye and Clay bond in the parking lot.
She sees him keying Zach’s car but says she won’t tell. She says she likes this new, angry Clay — and can’t believe he didn’t know what a terrible place this school was before.
8. Hannah does lie in the tapes, whether she meant to or not.
Jessica kept saying it, but I don’t know if I trust Jessica yet. Either way, that part is true: Hannah lied, because, as Zach shows Clay, he still has the letter. He keeps it folded in his wallet and explains that he just didn’t know what to do when he read it. It was too heavy. “I’m sorry, Clay,” he says. “I’ll always be sorry.” But when he asks Clay if he wants to read it, Clay shakes his head. “I don’t think I could. I don’t think I ever could.”
9. Clay returns the tapes to Tony, once and for all.
I think it’s partly because of Hannah’s lie, and partly because of how uncomfortable he was when confronted with Hannah’s letter. “I can’t listen,” he tells Tony. “I can’t hear it in her voice… It’s starting to make sense to me why she did what she did.” He asks Tony once again if he can just tell him why he’s on the tapes. Of course, Tony says no, but that he can help Clay through it. That’s not what Clay wants, though.
10. At school, Clay is acting strange. He’s either gotten a weight off his shoulders with the tapes being gone, or… he’s getting worse.
He starts saying hi to everyone — “Hey, Justin, good!” “Hey Sheri, how was the rest of your weekend?” It seems like everything might be okay for a bit, until Hannah’s tapes start playing over the loudspeaker. Is this Tony’s way of making sure everyone hears what Hannah wanted to say? Nope… just another of Clay’s hallucinations.
11. Jessica and Justin are having issues.
After she gets suspended from the basketball game for being late, Jessica starts drinking with Bryce and his friends, and heads to Bryce’s house after. Justin asks why she didn’t text him, and she says Bryce did. It’s true — but Bryce didn’t tell Justin that his girlfriend was there. Jessica tells Justin he’s not really one to get mad at her about not answering texts or being at Bryce’s, since he’s the one who was hiding out there in the first place.
12. Clay calls Mrs. Bradley out in class after he hallucinates on a questionnaire.
“How important is it to you to help Hannah Baker?” he sees — before the real words on the questionnaire materialize and it really says “others” where it said “Hannah Baker.” Still, he takes this as an opportunity to confront Mrs. Bradley, another person who may have known Hannah was hurting and couldn’t do anything. “How important was it to you to help Hannah Baker?” he asks. She replies that it was extremely important — why does he ask? “Remember that note you got in your bag last year? About not feeling anything anymore? It was from Hannah.” His boldness is shocking — but before it can go much further, Mr. Porter comes to pull Clay out of class. Is he finally getting in trouble for his strange outbursts, or for keying Zach’s car? Nope — turns out he forgot he signed up to show a group of international exchange students around with Courtney. And show them around he does.
13. Clay has a complete meltdown on the tour.
Probably one of the best scenes in the series so far: I think I watched the entire thing with my jaw hanging open. Clay hijacks the tour and uses it as an opportunity to explain to the international students all the truths of the school, like who runs it (Justin and Zach), how the librarians aren’t very smart, and most importantly, why there are so many “Don’t Kill Yourself posters” on the walls. “Everyone is just so nice until they drive you to kill yourself,” he explains. “Sooner or later, the truth with come out. It’s going to come out.” As everyone gathers around in a shocked stupor, Mr. Porter finally bursts through the crowd and tells Clay to come with him — right now. Clay has finally, 100 percent cracked.
Episode grade: A-
Click ahead for episode 8.
EPISODE 8: “Tape 4, Side B”
1. Clay meets with Mr. Porter.
The counselor notes that Clay is lonely — he doesn’t seem inclined to punish him, unless that’s what Clay wants. This is the first time it’s really hitting me (albeit belatedly) that Clay really doesn’t have any friends, except Jeff, who makes him go to social events. Hannah really was one of his only friends. My heart breaks for him all over again.
2. Tony tells Clay he has to show him something and makes him get in the car.
3. Alex has a serious stomach issue that causes him to double over in pain.
It doesn’t seem to be related to the beating he took a few episodes back. The way Jessica kindly asks, “Are you getting your stomach things again?” and tries to get him to sit down shows it’s an ongoing problem. At the end of the episode, he goes to the Bakers’ pharmacy to pick up his medicine, and as Mr. Baker tries to explain the instructions, Alex informs him he’s been taking this medicine for a while. He’s just new in their system because he’s switched from getting his medicine at the Walplex — you know, the Wal-Mart-esque giant that might put the Bakers’ store out of business. It’s nice to see Alex doing one small thing for his old friend’s family.
4. Hannah has a disappointing experience at the college fair — until she meets a friendly face.
She goes in with an open mind, but a college rep quickly shoots her down: Her grades probably aren’t good enough to get any scholarship money, and Hannah knows from hearing her parents’ arguments that the store isn’t doing well financially. No wonder she started to feel like she didn’t have a path.
5. There’s hope, though, when she talks to a young, hip librarian who runs a poetry group.
Hannah loves to read and write. Has she found a kindred spirit? Has she found her tribe? She goes to the poetry group and is dismayed to find that it’s mostly old people probably having midlife crises — until she sees Ryan Shaver, a guy from school who runs a zine called Lost and Found. She’s not happy to see him.
6. And… we’re listening to Ryan’s tape.
Turns out Hannah isn’t a huge fan of Ryan: He published Alex’s Hot or Not list in his zine, thus fanning the flames of the “Best Ass” drama that Hannah would really like to forget. Soon, though, he comes to the Bakers’ store and apologizes, giving Hannah a pink journal for her to write her thoughts, calling it “a peace offering.” I like Ryan! He seems friendly, if a little sassy, but definitely up to Hannah’s speed. I don’t want to think about how this friendship could go wrong.
7. Hannah asks him to teach her how to write like he does, making people feel the way he feels.
He comes over, and they read through all Hannah’s old diaries — which got me awfully nervous that he was just going to spread the diaries’ contents around school. That’s not quite what happens though.
8. At home and at school, Hannah is still looking for some sort of direction, but no one is giving it to her.
Mrs. Baker encourages Hannah to pursue a career as a writer, but it’s hard to tell if this is what Hannah wanted her to say or not — she tells her mother that she was supposed to tell her to do something practical instead. This is what Hannah wants, I think… or does she wish her parents ruled with a firmer hand? She tells Hannah, “Allow yourself to dream a little. Dream big. Don’t settle.”
At school, Hannah meets with Mr. Porter to talk colleges and says she’s considering Columbia or NYU. He replies that she doesn’t quite have the grades for schools like that. “You need to make some changes… or maybe think smaller,” he tells her. So, conflicting information from the two sets of adults who are supposed to be guiding Hannah’s choices. No wonder she feels directionless.
9. Hannah takes Ryan’s advice and writes a raw, moving poem. She performs it at the poetry group.
The poem is about being objectified as a woman but feeling like a child, too. It’s about drowning and trying to call for help. Ryan tells her it’s amazing and that she needs to publish it, but that’s the very last thing Hannah wants. So…
10. Ryan publishes it in his zine anyway, anonymously.
It goes “viral,” kids alternately praising it and making fun of it. Even one teacher decides to take the opportunity to discuss it in class, since she knows all the students will be talking about it anyway.
Hannah is furious at Ryan and completely humiliated, even though, like the photo of her and Courtney, nobody knows it was actually her. Clay is especially moved by the poem, and Hannah has a glimmer of hope as he’s reading it to her at the movie theater. But when he says he’s not sure he’d want to hang out with the writer, her face falls. I just wish we could help her be more confident in herself. This show is so heartbreaking.
11. In present day, Mrs. Baker pretends that Hannah is still alive when talking to a stranger at a restaurant.
This disturbs Mr. Baker so much that he wonders if they should move, abandon the store, start over in a new town.
Later, Clay gives Mrs. Baker Hannah’s poem — letting her be alive to her, in a way, a little bit longer.
12. Clay’s mother has been feeling sick, both about having to build a case against a poor dead girl and about not being able to get through to her son.
Mr. Jensen thinks that Clay will be fine and that Mrs. Jensen shouldn’t focus on “going after” Hannah — she should focus on going after the truth. I feel like Mr. Jensen is way too chill about things, and it makes Clay’s mom look hysterical. It’s not fair that he gets to be so laid back while she’s the one worrying herself to death.
13. Tony’s mysterious trip with Clay turns out to be a terrifying, exhilarating rock climbing excursion — which leads to a traumatic revelation.
After making Clay fear for his life, the two sit atop the giant… hill? Mountain? Rock formation? And Tony drops a bomb on Clay: He finally talks about his connection with Hannah and the tapes. Turns out he was apparently the only guy at school who didn’t try to grab Hannah’s ass, so he was on the receiving end of a lot of her drama and venting. (This leads to a pretty hilarious aside where Clay, off in his own head all the time, had no idea that Tony was gay. Though to be fair, I didn’t know either until we saw him on a date.)
The night Hannah died, Tony saw her drop a box off at his front door, but she didn’t ring the bell or knock. He figured if it was important, she would have — and he also just didn’t have the energy to listen to her right then. We’ve all been there. But when she left and he picked up the box and listened to the first tape, he realized what was happening. He called the Bakers and they didn’t answer, so he raced to their house — but it was too late. The ambulance was there, and he painfully describes they way they just threw her body, zipped in a body bag, into the ambulance. No wonder he feels like he has some responsibility with the tapes. Tony has a serious weight on his shoulders.
Clay asks for the tapes back.
Episode grade: B+
Click ahead for episode 9.
EPISODE 9: “Tape 5, Side A”
1. On this next tape, it’s summer vacation — and Hannah is ready to let summer be her reset button.
To commemorate her new attitude and attempt to start over, she gets a haircut — but neither her parents nor Clay make that big of a deal about it. She’s crying out for attention (and she looks great) but no one is giving her enough of it.
2. This is the first time Clay hears a tape before we do.
He heads to school having already heard about Jessica’s party — and he’s furious. I thought I had missed an episode, but nope. It’s finally time to learn about the event we’ve heard so much about.
3. Jessica is getting wilder and wilder.
She’s smoking and drinking at school, brushing off Clay’s attempts to talk to her about what happened at her party. Which, as far as we know, was just that she hooked up with her boyfriend, Justin. But Clay doesn’t believe it. “If something happened, I’d remember it,” Jessica says.
4. Mr. Baker brings the poem to Mr. Porter. He’s furious.
In hindsight, it’s obvious that Hannah’s poem was a cry for help. And since it went “viral” around the school, with students and teachers alike reading it, Mr. Baker accuses Mr. Porter of not trying to find out which student, who was clearly in pain, wrote it. Mrs. Baker is furious that her husband had this confrontation, because he essentially gave up the only piece of evidence they had on their side in this horrible legal case, alleging the school knew about Hannah’s bullying and did nothing.
5. Jessica’s infamous party is a back-to-school party at the start of the year.
Clay tries to convince Hannah to come, since Jeff has convinced him to go. “It might be cool to actually hang out,” he says. She isn’t quite sure if she wants to go or not, but she definitely likes that Clay wants her to.
6. Hannah’s mom barely notices her hair, and pushes her to go to the party.
She seems excited that Hannah wants to do something social, although it kind of seems like Hannah wants her to make her stay home. She mentions all the homework she has, but Mrs. Baker just replies, “Go, don’t go, it’s up to you.” Remember that whole “direction” thing? Hannah still isn’t getting any.
7. The tape gang is still after Clay.
Marcus takes it upon himself to ask, “What’s your play here?” and Clay is furious that Marcus is implying this is all a game. They decide, again, they need to stop Clay once and for all. Marcus buys a bag of pot and puts it in Clay’s backpack, then tells Mr. Porter he’s “worried” about him. Clay gets searched — and suspended for three days.
8. Turns out, there are going to be three stories from Jessica’s party — and the Jessica/Justin story is only one of them.
9. And by the way… this horrible story is what warrants Justin’s second tape.
So here it is: Jessica and Justin were all over each other all night. Jessica was getting drunker and drunker, which is partly Justin’s fault, but partly because they’re high schoolers, and everyone was getting way too drunk that night. Hannah tries to “warn” Jess about Justin — since he’s the one who took that photo of her on the slide — but Jess brushes it off. And it turns out he’s not the one she needed to be warned about. Justin and Jess go up to Jessica’s room to hook up — although that’s where Hannah had been seeking refuge from the party, so she hides in a closet while they make out on the bed. Jessica passes out. Justin is annoyed, but leaves.
In the hallway, Bryce tries to go in the room, and Justin tries to stop him. “I bet you had some fun with her in there. Let me see,” Bryce says. Justin persists: “She’s my girlfriend!”
Bryce shoots back, “She’s your summer hookup. What’s mine is yours, right?” This is nauseating. It’s horrible. He pushes Justin away and goes into the room, locking the door behind him, and proceeds to rape Jessica while Justin, horrified and crying, sits on the outside of the door, and Hannah, horrified and crying, hides in the closet. The first few times we get glimpses of this scene, it seems like Jessica might have been unconscious the whole time. But when we finally do see it, we realize she woke up, she fought, she cried, and he still kept going, and still Justin and Hannah didn’t stop it.
I barely have words for how awful this is, but Hannah puts it bluntly to Justin on the tape: “That girl had two chances last night. But we both let her down.” She doesn’t know how to live with it.
10. Clay finally tells his mom some of the truth about his friendship with Hannah.
“I did know Hannah Baker,” he tells her in front of the police station, where he’s supposed to sign up for an anti-drug course because of the pot. “We worked together at the Crestmont… she was my friend. And I miss her really f—ing bad. I didn’t know how empty it would feel. There’s this big part of the world that’s gone and everyone else keeps moving forward.” It’s utterly heartbreaking to hear him admit what we all already know.
11. Clay tries to get Justin to tell Jessica the truth about what happened that night.
“Why are you protecting Bryce?” Clay asks, which is what we’ve all been thinking. “What does he have on you?”
Justin finally admits, “I’m protecting Jessica!”
No wonder Jessica and Justin are having problems: She’s confused and traumatized by what happened, not fully sure if what she remembers in fragments was real. If no one is acting like it’s real and no one is admitting it happened… did she imagine it? It’s even more disturbing how much she’s hanging out with Bryce — and now I understand why Justin is so angry about it. He’s traumatized and ashamed for not stopping the rape, but also trying to protect his girlfriend, whom he really, really loves, by not reminding her of this trauma. It’s a tough situation all around, but like Clay says, why are they protecting Bryce? Why not just take it to court?
12. Clay confronts Tony in the garage about the contents of the tape.
“How did you listen to that and ignore it?” he cries. Tony says he’s doing it for Hannah, so that it’s not Bryce’s word against the dead girl’s, making it open season on Hannah Baker all over again.
13. Clay lunges after Tony, then starts kicking his own bike, which obviously breaks. Tony fixes the bike, and then ices Clay’s leg.
Is Tony some kind of saint? Clay starts the next tape while sitting next to Tony in the garage.
Episode grade: A-
Click ahead for episode 10.
EPISODE 10: “Tape 5, Side B”
1. The episode starts with Clay back on his bike, listening to the tapes while riding around — which is basically how the entire 13 Reasons Why novel goes.
For my fellow book fans, this scene feels the most like what I pictured while reading it.
2. On this tape, we’re still at Jessica’s party: This is going to be story No. 2 from that night, and we learn that there was a car accident.
The only thing we know at first is that it involves an old man we’ve never met.
3. Jeff and Clay chat briefly outside the party.
Jeff asks Clay how it’s going with Hannah, but Clay says he doesn’t know, he never knows. This is a scene we haven’t actually seen yet, and won’t during this episode. They talk about how they’ll see each other Monday, and it’s clear once more what good friends they are. Why aren’t we seeing more of Jeff in the present day? We’ll find out soon.
4. Jeff needs to leave the party to go on a beer run, but Sheri’s car is blocking him in. She was about to leave anyway, so they both head out.
Neither Jeff nor Sheri seems to be drunk — and they both explain it to their friends in different ways before getting in their cars. Sheri offers to give Hannah, who looks miserable, a ride home. But on the way, when Sheri is looking for a charger for Hannah’s phone, she crashes into stop sign and totally flattens it. Hannah wants to call the cops, but Sheri freaks out and drives home, leaving Hannah on the side of the road. When Hannah runs to a gas station to call 911 and report the stop sign being down, the operator tells her the accident at that intersection has already been reported. Hannah is confused, but relieved. She shouldn’t be.
5. Tape club has another meeting: This time poetry Ryan is here.
They’re starting to fragment and question each other’s decisions. Ryan asks the same thing Clay has been asking all of them: Why are they defending Bryce, a rapist? Courtney says they can’t let Clay pass the tapes to anyone else and still tries to convince everyone they’re not sure what really happened at the party. “Really?” Ryan asks. “That’s still your position? Hannah’s lying?” What is Courtney’s problem? Is she more involved than we know right now? Is she really only hiding her sexual orientation?
6. Clay talks to Sheri about the tape and the accident, but she asks if before he enacts his version of revenge on her, he could please meet her after school so she can show him what she’s doing.
“I didn’t want you judging me for the worst thing I’ve ever done,” Sheri tells Clay. Because of the felled stop sign, there was a car accident: The old man we saw at the top of the episode getting carried away in an ambulance was injured, but he lived. Turns out Sheri hasn’t exactly told the old man and his wife that the accident was her fault, but she started showing up at their house, and now she helps them with chores and errands and spends time with them. She’s making amends for her actions without exactly telling the truth, but still, her heart is very much in the right place. She wants to prove to Clay that she’s not like everyone else on the tapes, and I think she does a good job of it.
7. For some reason, people think Jeff was driving drunk. Wait, Jeff? We still don’t know exactly how he’s involved… but I feel sick.
8. Alex starts talking to Clay on the bleachers outside — and it’s hard to tell at first whether this action is in the past or present, because they very cleverly style Clay’s bangs over the place his forehead cut would be.
“Aren’t you sad?” Alex asks him.
“I’m more pissed off,” Clay says. Alex says he thinks you can be both and tries to encourage Clay not to judge someone. Turns out we’re in the past, and the accident has already happened.
9. Hannah comes crying to Clay about what happened, but Clay gets angry at her.
“What are you crying about?” he asks. “You barely knew him… Every drama has to be your drama, or it doesn’t count.” It’s clear at this point, though they still haven’t said it outright, that Jeff died in a car accident after he left the party. Clay is in so much pain, and he can’t see that Hannah is, too. But I think, at least in this moment, she has to understand that. Jeff was his best friend!
Sheri won’t talk to Hannah anymore either, though — she thinks it’s best they stay away from each other. Now Hannah has absolutely no one. “This was starting to be more than I could live with,” Hannah says on the tape. The events in Hannah’s life seem to be reaching their tipping point. Between witnessing and not stopping her former best friend’s rape, and then indirectly leading to Clay’s best friend’s death, Hannah is going through hell.
10. Justin and Jessica hook up in the theater, but Justin stops it.
They get into a fight, where Justin asks her why she’s acting so crazy, and she shoots back, “Why aren’t you?” Angry, she finds Bryce and convinces him to come back to her place so they can get high. When they get there, she opens her father’s safe and takes out a loaded gun, teaching Bryce how to hold it and shoot it. What on earth is she doing? I thought for a minute that she was going to shoot him. I wish she had.
11. The Bakers and Mrs. Jensen have a legal meeting, where Mrs. Jensen, in her position as the school’s lawyer, tries to convince the Bakers to settle the case.
But the Bakers’ lawyer is tough and won’t back down. After the meeting, the two moms run into each other in the bathroom, and Mrs. Baker asks how much Mrs. Jensen thinks Clay’s life is worth. She asks if Mrs. Jensen would settle for $200,000, and Mrs. Jensen says she’d only settle for the truth. I still don’t know why Mrs. Jensen doesn’t remove herself from the case, but at least she gave Mrs. Baker advice as a mom, and not necessarily what she should have said as the opposing lawyer.
12. We finally learn the truth about Jeff’s accident — and Clay tells Jeff’s parents.
Turns out Clay was on his way home when he heard the crash, and he sprinted to the scene. He was the first one there — and he’s the one who called 911. He never said anything to them before because he was angry that Jeff had lied, that he really was drinking. But now that he knows the truth, he wants Jeff’s parents to know it, too. He also finds out that he meant as much to Jeff as Jeff meant to him, even though he always thought Jeff was so cool, older, and nice, and that Clay himself was just “nobody.”
13. Clay and Tony are on a swing set as this tape ends, and Tony tells him that the next tape, No. 11, is Clay’s.
Clay doesn’t want to listen before getting the answer to one question. He asks Tony flat out, “Did I kill Hannah Baker?” Tony dodges it with, “We all let her down,” until he can’t anymore, and finally answers Clay’s question. “Yeah,” he says, quietly. WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN? What kind of an answer is that?!?!
Episode grade: B
Click ahead for episode 11.
EPISODE 11: “Tape 6, Side A”
1. We made it.
I’d like to officially welcome you all to Clay’s tape. Once again taking us back to the night of Jessica’s party, Hannah tells us that she has one more story to tell from “that same awful night.” And it’s all about Clay, the person Hannah admired for his ability to be himself and not care about what others think. The person who showed up at 6:55 p.m. for a party that started at 7 p.m. (which really meant it started at 9 p.m.). And the person who nearly ran out of the party when Hannah arrived, but thankfully, dear Jeff was there to stop him. But that’s only the beginning of that story, which we’ll come back to in a bit.
2. The trial is on.
After Clay gets a call from his mother informing him that she’s going to be working late, we find out from Principal Gary that the Bakers turned down the offer to settle and want to move forward with the trial. That means anyone involved can expect a subpoena very soon. Then, highlighting the very problem with the message of this show, Mr. Porter says the kids have been through a lot before Gary adds, “They’re about to go through some more.” THINK OF THE KIDS!
3. No one here has a perfect home life.
While Clay is caught up in finding out exactly how he’s “responsible” for Hannah’s death, Justin finds himself in need of shelter. After he forces his mother to choose between her son and her boyfriend, she chooses wrong, and Justin ends up over at Alex’s in need of dinner. It’s there that we get a glimpse at Alex’s home life: His overtly masculine father loves nothing more than his sons being “tough,” and his mother is a nurse who works long shifts. But it’s better than Justin’s place, and considering no one else is responding to his texts — I’m looking at you Zach — this is his best choice.
4. And that brings us back to the party, where we piece together more of Hannah’s horrible evening.
After a little help from Jeff — truly the best person on this show, may he rest in peace — Clay and Hannah decide to head upstairs to get some alone time. No really, they just want a space to talk. Hannah quickly reveals that she’s going to have to quit the Crestmont to work at her parent’s store, after which Clay chickens out of his first opportunity to kiss the girl he likes. But when Jessica’s bedroom opens up, he’ll get another chance.
5. Mr. Porter is hiding things.
Back at the school, Pam heads into Mr. Porter’s office and finally tells someone about the note she received last year. You know, the anonymous one that clearly signaled that a child was in trouble? She tells Mr. Porter about Clay’s recent claim that it was written by Hannah, and until they can do a bit of investigating, Mr. Porter tells Pam it’s probably best to keep that information private. (Yeah, there’s nothing bad going on at this school.)
6. Tony, you rock. Don’t ever change.
Just as Clay gets to the “Jessica’s bedroom” portion of the evening, he has to take a break from listening, and Tony, or as Clay now calls him, “unhelpful Yoda,” decides: They need to get some food. I’d like to dedicate this portion of my recap to my love of Tony. It was in this episode that I decided that this character, who at first seemed like a wannabe Fonzie/potential ghost from the 1970s, has evolved into arguably my favorite character. From his banter with Clay to his comedic interjections with Skye, he’s the stabilizing factor this show needs: a character you’re not worried about. He’s the Teen Angel, if you will. (Maybe that explains the hair.)
7. Skye is also hiding things.
Back to Monet’s, Tony’s trip to put food on Clay’s stomach somehow turns into Skye’s chance to read Clay’s Tarot cards and share her opinions on the Hannah Baker of it all. After we find out that Clay and Skye used to be friends, we find out that Skye cuts herself. But when it comes to suicide, she claims it’s for the weak. With that, Tony drives Clay to a good spot where he can finish listening to the tape.
8. This episode also gives us a glimpse inside Mr. Porter’s home life.
When he arrives home late to his wife and baby, we see just how much pressure this entire debacle is putting on him, though we’re still not entirely sure the extent of his role in the kids’ lives.
9. Now to the moment we’ve been waiting for: what happened between Clay and Hannah in Jessica’s bedroom.
Long story short, they kissed… and almost took it further. At first, Hannah admits that she started picturing a future where she was happy, how good life could be if she were with Clay. But when things started getting more intimate, Hannah was overwhelmed by everything that had happened to her in the past year — the playground rumors, the list, Bryce at the convenience store, etc. As she put it, she “thought of every other guy and they all became you.” So she told Clay to stop. Furthermore, she screamed at him to leave her alone, and then when he left, she (unfairly) told him on the tape that she’d hoped he’d stay. But at least in this moment, she admits that Clay doesn’t belong on this list. He’s not one of the reasons why she did what she did. But, as she says, “You need to be here if I’m going to tell my story.” In the end, she didn’t feel that she deserved to be with someone like Clay. “I would’ve ruined you,” she says. “It wasn’t you. It was me. And everything that’s happened to me.”
10. It turns out what’s really going to haunt Clay is what didn’t happen in Jessica’s bedroom.
Clay stops listening there and immediately starts blaming himself for her death, so much so that he temporarily threatens to jump off the cliff Tony has taken him to. He shouldn’t have left her that night, but as Tony points out, she told him to. What could he have said that would’ve changed anything? In that moment, we’re taken back to the night as Clay imagines what he could’ve and maybe should’ve said: He tells Hannah he won’t leave until she tells him what’s wrong. He tells her that he loves her and that he won’t leave, not ever. Then he hugs her.
Back with Tony, he breaks down. If he’s one of the people responsible for her death, he asks Tony, “How am I supposed to live with that?” As unhelpful Yoda responds, “Any way you can.”
11. Clay isn’t the only one mid-breakdown.
When Justin finds out that Jessica is hanging out at Bryce’s house, he and Alex head over. And when Jessica sits on Bryce’s lap to play some poker, Justin’s had it. He drags her outside, where she begs him to tell her why he cares so much about her hanging out with Bryce. She says it so much that Justin eventually breaks, admitting to everyone that Bryce raped Jessica. Jessica then slaps Justin, but it’s Bryce who is eerily calm about the whole thing. Proof? The hour ends with him texting Jessica to ask if she’s okay.
12. Oh good, another list with Clay’s name on it.
As for Clay, Tony takes him home and makes him promise not to do anything stupid. Once inside his house, Clay’s mom joins him on the couch and informs him that Hannah’s case has been fast-tracked. They will be issuing deposition subpoenas very soon, and she knows for a fact that Clay’s name is on the list. He promises to tell his mother everything, but not yet.
13. And finally, the last takeaway from this hour:
Digging through a number of shoe boxes, Hannah’s mother finds a piece of paper. On it, Hannah wrote the names of certain classmates, ultimately connecting the ones who’d come to form her 13 reasons. Mom just found a clue…
Episode grade: B+
Click ahead for episode 12.
EPISODE 12: “Tape 6, Side B”
1. After much of this show has been about Hannah’s side of the story, it’s now time for everyone else to tell theirs.
Well, sort of. We probably won’t hear much of it, but episode 12 is when the deposition subpoenas are handed out. And Alex, for one, is glad the truth’s about to come out. Everyone else seems to be panicking. There’s Justin, who shows up in Jessica’s room and tries to explain why he let Bryce into the room that night, but she doesn’t want to hear it. And then there’s Marcus and Courtney, who refuse to stop bullying Tyler despite the fact that the last person they bullied killed herself. So, they’ve learned absolutely nothing, and Tyler claims he’s sick of it. So that can’t be good.
2. Hannah’s worst day.
As for Clay, he’s sitting at Monet’s when he starts listening to Tape 12, which starts at the beginning of the worst day of Hannah’s life. After the landlord threatens to evict her parents from the store, she tries to lend a helping hand, which today means taking the $700 deposit to the bank. Only, when she puts the money on top of the car to check a text from Clay, she forgets it.
By the time she shows up to the Crestmont, the money is long gone, but she only realizes that after her conversation with Clay, in which she says she’s sorry for what happened to Jeff and he hands her a paycheck. It’s then that she realizes her mistake.
3. Walkman with a plan.
Back in present day, Clay heads to the Bakers’ store to buy some candy and the same blue nail polish that Hannah used to label the tapes. He then meets up with Tony at school to trade in his Walkman for something with recording capabilities. Why? Because Clay has a plan. According to him, the tapes will never get to person 13 if he gives them to person 12. So instead of passing them on, he has another idea. More on that later.
4. At least one truth comes out.
With the subpoenas causing everyone to take yet another look at their actions, Sheri goes to Mr. Porter, who encourages her to tell the truth (without actually knowing what the truth is). So, instead of meeting up with everyone else at Monet’s to plot, she calls 911 and reports herself for the accident.
5. Then there’s Tyler.
He goes from being “sick” of being bullied at school to buying a gun in a sketchy alley.
6. What is Courtney’s deal?
At Monet’s, Alex, Marcus, Courtney, Ryan, Zach, and even Tyler sit down to talk. (And again, Courtney continues being a horrible person to a clearly very vulnerable Tyler.) Courtney encourages everyone to call Hannah a liar in their depositions, but considering Justin and Jessica didn’t even show up to school today — and the fact that Justin admitted the truth to her — things aren’t looking good. So Tyler has another idea: use Bryce as a scapegoat. Let his family pay the Bakers. But as far as Alex is concerned, Hannah told the truth, and it’s about time it came out. “Hannah was my friend,” he tells them. “We should tell the truth about her.” Because after all, if any one of them had remained her friend, she might still be alive. At this point, everyone’s in… except Courtney, who is still the worst.
7. Tony’s in a tough spot.
Back at the Bakers’ store, Hannah’s mom shows Tony the list of names she found and screams at the teen to tell her why his name is on it with a question mark next to it. But Tony doesn’t cave. Instead, we flash to his conversation with his boyfriend, Brad, where he finally breaks down. His job was to keep Hannah’s secrets, and he tried to honor her memory, but he’s not sure he did the right thing. And now, he doesn’t know what to do next.
8. Hannah hits a turning point.
Taking us back to the worst day of Hannah’s life, she tells her parents about losing the money, which leads to an important moment in her journey: the first time she thinks everyone else’s lives would be better without her. Feeling a “deep, endless, always blank nothing,” she decides to go for a late-night walk, which takes her to Bryce’s house. Welcome to Bryce’s tape, everyone.
9. Out for a very long walk, Hannah hears music coming from Bryce’s and decides to stop in.
She quickly finds Jessica and Justin in the hot tub with Zach and another girl, and within minutes, Jessica has convinced her to join. And at first, Hannah loves it. Sitting in the hot tub looking at the stars, she says she feels peace for the first time in days. But that peace quickly disappears when she realizes she’s alone in the hot tub… with Bryce. As Bryce forces himself on her, Hannah’s voiceover explains that there are two types of death: If you’re lucky, you get to live a long life before your body eventually stops working. If you’re not lucky, “you die a little bit, over and over, until you realize it’s too late.” In the moment that Bryce raped her, she says, “It felt like I was already dead.”
10. Clay goes after a confession…
In present day, Clay rides his bike to Bryce’s house to “buy some weed,” which is about as believable as Courtney saying, well, anything nice. Once there, it’s evident what Clay’s agenda is: He wants Bryce to confess to raping Hannah on tape. Of course, Bryce doesn’t know he’s being recorded, but that’s the point. But when Bryce clearly isn’t looking to confess, Clay comes out and accuses him, which quickly dissolves into a full-blown beat down.
11. …and he doesn’t back down.
But even after he’s spitting up blood, Clay isn’t willing to give in, and his resilience is ultimately the thing that earns him Bryce’s respect. And once Bryce lets his guard down, we get a confession. Or we at least get him saying, “You want to call it rape? Call it rape. Same difference.” Always classy, that Bryce.
12. Things get bleak(er).
The episode’s final moments check in on a number of characters: After his mom’s boyfriend nearly chokes him to death, Justin grabs some cash (and a gun) and leaves the apartment for good; Sheri pays a visit to the scene of the accident; Jessica pours out her alcohol stash under her bed and takes a shower, clearly struggling with what happened to her; Courtney starts to tell her dad something about her relationship with Hannah; Zach ignores Justin’s call; and Alex cleans his room as his father tells him he thinks he can get him out of the deposition. And finally, we listen as a couple of paramedics identify a 17-year-old male as their patient, having suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
13. Hannah writes the list.
Hannah, arriving back home after Bryce’s party, sits down and starts to piece everything together. In other words, she makes the list that her mother would find weeks after her death. As she says, “Once I took a look back, and I finally understood how everything happened, I decided that no one would ever hurt me again.”
Episode grade: B
Click ahead for episode 13.
EPISODE 13: “Tape 7, Side A”
1. Unfortunately, we’ve made it to the final chapter of Hannah Baker’s life.
As she puts it, she’s giving life “one last try.” After recording all 12 tapes — for Jessica and Justin, who broke her heart; Alex, Tyler, Courtney, and Marcus, who helped destroy her reputation; Zach and Ryan, who broke her spirit; and Bryce Walker, who broke her soul — she felt something shift. Having poured it all out into the tapes, she decided to give life one more chance, and this time she was going to ask for help. With that in mind, she headed to her parents’ store to grab one more cassette tape, but while she was there, she also grabbed a pack of razor blades because, as we know, she failed. Or as she puts it, “he” failed.
2. Elsewhere, the depositions have begun.
So far, Zach is honest about having said unkind things to Hannah, and Marcus does the same, admitting to hurting Hannah’s feelings, though his reasoning that he “thought she wanted to date me” is crap. Then there’s Courtney, who refuses to call Hannah a friend and lies about knowing who’s in the photo. At this point, this just serves as confirmation that Courtney will never do the right thing.
3. Clay is getting bold.
At Clay’s house, Tony stops by before school. Both Clay and Tony have their depositions tomorrow, but first, Clay has something more important: He plays Tony part of Tape 14, a.k.a. Bryce’s confession (though the part he plays is something Bryce said before he beat Clay up, so take that as you will). At this point, Clay doesn’t think they should give the tapes to Bryce, who’s No. 12. He feels it’s time to stop thinking about what Hannah wanted and think about what she needs, along with Jessica and any other girl Bryce hurt. “This tape blows up the world,” Tony tells Clay. But Clay’s argument is simple: That’s exactly what they should do.
4. But he gives Jessica an out.
Clay then heads to Monet’s to sit down with Jessica. He offers to burn the tapes if that’s what she wants, or fight along side her if she’d rather. As much as he wants Bryce to pay for what he did, he’s willing to do whatever will make this even the tiniest bit better for her. But she’s not sure if she’s ready to tell the cops or her father the truth. So Clay keeps the tapes, for now. But before he goes, she tells him not to burn them.
5. Kat came back.
Back at the depositions, Kat makes her return to explain that the jocks own Liberty High School, and everyone else is simply there to cheer them on. She never should’ve let Hannah date Justin. If she hadn’t moved away, and if she had prevented the Justin Foley of it all, she thinks Hannah would still be alive. As for Justin Foley? He’s dead to her.
6. Speaking of Justin…
He’s currently waiting outside Monet’s so that he can run into Jessica, which he does. After walking around all night with no place to stay, he tells her he contemplated suicide before stopping himself for her sake. She’s all he can think about, and he’s willing to do anything to make things better: He’ll go to the school, talk to the cops, or even kill Bryce. But what Jessica says she wants is “never to see you again in my life.” Again, I know all these kids are hurting, but they’re all SO mean to one another when they are all very clearly vulnerable.
7. Hannah and Clay dance around the truth.
Getting back to the tapes, Hannah tells us that a few days after she recorded Tape 12, she saw Bryce in the hallway at school, and if you thought he couldn’t get any worse, HE WINKED AT HER. But once he passed, she got a little flash of light in the form of her last conversation with Clay. But sadly, they don’t talk about anything of importance. She stops herself before saying what she wants to and instead says she’ll see him in class, which she will, but not for much longer…
8. This brings us to the subject of Tape 13:
Mr. Porter. I’m going to start with Hannah’s final visit to see him, and then we’ll move to Clay’s. On the day of her death, Hannah Baker’s “last try” involved asking for help from Mr. Porter, but needless to say, that visit didn’t go as planned. Aside from the fact that his phone kept going off, Mr. Porter was not prepared for what Hannah said.
The first sign? She told him that she didn’t feel anything, that she didn’t care anymore. Then she said, “I need everything to stop… people, life.” At that, Mr. Porter perked up, but he still didn’t seem to grasp the severity of the situation. And that brings them to the party. Hannah tells him that a boy forced himself on her, but instead of comfort and understanding, it feels as if he’s interrogating her: Did she tell him to stop? Did she tell him no? And when Hannah isn’t sure if she’s ready to go to the cops and properly accuse this individual, she asks Mr. Porter for the impossible: She wants him to promise that the accused will go to jail and she’ll never have to see him again. But of course, Mr. Porter can’t promise that. What he can do, however, is focus on the hurting student in front of him and try to provide her with a bit of hope.
Instead, he tells her that if the boy is a senior, he will be gone soon. And if she won’t go to the cops, her only option is to “move on.” So with that, Hannah Baker leaves Mr. Porter’s office with the realization that things aren’t going to change, so she might as well “get on with it.”
9. And that brings us to Clay’s visit with Mr. Porter, where he tells him what happened next:
After Hannah, who was recording their session, left, she waited for Mr. Porter to follow her out into the hallway. But instead, he answered his phone and let Hannah walk away. Clay tells Mr. Porter that it was Bryce Walker who raped Hannah, and furthermore, he details what happened after Hannah left his office that day.
Walking down the hallway at school, Hannah finished Tape 13. Having made herself clear, she realized that no one was coming forward to stop her. “Some of you care,” she says. “None of you cared enough. And neither did I. And I’m sorry.” With that, we’ve reached the end of Tape 13.
10. Hannah’s last moments.
Hannah Baker left school that day and put the tapes in order. She dropped off one set with Tony and went to the post office to mail the other set, which is where she briefly ran into Robert from her poetry group. Then she dropped off her uniform at the Crestmont, made her bed, put on old clothes, and got into the bathtub, where she slit her wrists with the razor blades from her parents’ store. It was her parents who would find her, but they were too late.
11. Clay hands over the tapes.
This takes us back to Mr. Porter’s office, where Clay and the counselor go back and forth about the very basis of this show: Can you blame someone else for someone’s suicide? In the end, they disagree, but Clay’s got a surprise for Mr. Porter: He hands him the tapes. He’s No. 13. And considering that Hannah’s instructions end when Mr. Porter listens to the tapes, it’s up to him what to do next, though Clay is hoping Tape 14 — Bryce’s confession — will point him in the right direction. Clay, seemingly the only person to learn from this horrible experience, then tells Mr. Porter that “it has to get better” at school before he finds Skye in the hallway and asks her if she wants to hang out. He’s not going to let another friend feel alone in this world.
12. The latest victim is revealed.
As for the final moments of the show, Tyler tells the lawyers about the tapes in his deposition, which comes right after Tony gives the audio files to Hannah’s parents on a USB. Jessica then claims she doesn’t know about any tapes, but decides to tell her father what happened to her. As for Justin, he leaves town after Bryce buys him some booze, claiming that he finally knows what’s true. Then there’s Tyler, who’s looking at photos of everyone in the dark room when he takes down the photo of Alex. It’s unclear why, except Principal Gary just revealed that Alex Standall is the victim from the last episode: He shot himself in the head last night and is in critical condition.
We then leave Hannah’s parents as they start listening to the tapes, a journey that Clay just finished. So now, he, Tony, Brad, and Skye are going for a drive, because no one knows what happens next.
13. Is this the end?
I’ve saved my thirteenth item for questions/issues with this final hour. I understand that this is a dark show, and one of the purposes of this story is to show the negative effects of bullying and, furthermore, how difficult it can be to break that cycle. But aside from Clay and arguably a few others, there’s very little light at the end of this tunnel, as they portray it. Not only has another of the students attempted suicide, but we leave Justin knowing that he’s not only contemplated suicide but is in possession of a gun, and then there’s Tyler, who is last seen hiding his gun and scary amount of ammunition in his trunk and hanging photos of everyone in the dark room. Are we supposed to believe that he’s planning a school shooting of sorts? Does he take down Alex’s photo because Alex already shot himself?
Also, if we’re talking about questions, what was with Alex texting Zach but someone else answering the phone when he called? Did anyone else notice that?
Here’s the deal: With all of these mysteries, it feels very much like the show is angling toward a second season, but in doing so, it takes an already dark show one step too far. Overall, this season was really well made, but this is a show that should end with episode 13. And the proof of that is the fact that, in trying to create any sort of “cliffhanger,” the show crafted its weakest episode.