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.