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.