13 Reasons Why season 2 binge recap
Episode 1: “The First Polaroid”
1. The trial is underway
At the end of last season, it looked like Hannah’s parents, the Bakers, were going to settle their lawsuit against the school, meaning there’d be no need for a trial. Clay even mentions that at the beginning of this season premiere. It’s been 5 months since Hannah’s suicide, and he mentions, with equal parts anger and acceptance, that a settlement is on the way and that Bryce will never pay for what he did. Before long though Clay’s mom is telling him that the Bakers have refused the school’s final offer, largely because the board included a Non-Disclosure Agreement in the deal, and that the trial is set to begin the very next day.
2. Tyler is the first witness
Without the organizing structure of the tapes, it seems like this season might use witnesses to guide the narrative if each episode. Tyler is the first to take the stand, and his voiceover pervades the entire episode. He speaks to the culture of bullying at Liberty High before being pushed by the school’s defense team to paint Hannah as not so innocent. It’s clear that the school is trying to portray Hannah as provocative and sexual in a way that suggests she deserved what happened to her, a strategy that uncomfortably mirrors real life.
3. Clay’s new relationship
Early on in the episode, we get glimpses of Clay seemingly having moved on from the trauma of Hannah’s death and the tapes. He’s hardly more than a tertiary character in the season premiere, but we learn that he’s now in a relationship with Skye, who convinces him to get a tattoo to honor Hannah. He agrees, but passes out in the chair, turning his semicolon tattoo into something that largely resembles a comma.
4. What do we know about Skye?
Skye wasn’t all that important of a character in the first season, but “The First Polaroid” suggests that she’ll play a larger role in season two. So what do we know about her? We know she loves Clay’s more rebellious side, that she steals spray paint in order to paint murals, and that she apparently cuts herself, a fact revealed when Clay and her are about to have sex and he feels the recent cuts on her legs.
5. The fate of Alex
At the end of last season it looked like Alex had attempted suicide. We didn’t get any visual confirmation, but a phone call and a stretcher certainly planted the idea. “The First Polaroid” thankfully doesn’t waste much time confirming that Alex is alive, and that he did try to kill himself. Along with Jessica, he’s been at home recuperating for a few weeks, and now he’s ready to go back to school.
6. What’s on everyone’s mind
Back at school, Alex and Jessica learn that things have changed while also staying the same. What’s changed is that nobody is allowed to talk about suicide or the Hannah situation. It’s unclear whether this has to do with the trial or because the school wants to shelter students and get them to move on, but Zach lets Jessica and Alex know that nobody is talking about them or Hannah, even though it’s what’s on everyone’s mind. What stays the same? Well, Liberty High is still a placed filled with cruel, nasty people. Bryce welcomes Jessica back and asks if she wants to grab a drink sometime, his villainy apparently knowing no bounds. I really hope he gets what’s coming to him.
7. A mysterious suicide note
“The First Polaroid” sets up two big mysteries for the season, and the first is a line in Alex’s suicide note. Alex tried to kill himself by putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, an act that left him in a coma. Now, he has no memory of the month leading up to that suicide attempt. He’s aware of the tapes, and knows that they all did some bad stuff to Hannah, but he’s fuzzy on the details. When he asks his mom for his suicide note, presumably to jog his memory, he’s struck by one particular line: “I could have stopped it.” He spends the episode agonizing over what he could have stopped, and while Clay and a few others tells him he probably felt guilty about Hannah, he thinks there’s something more there.
8. Someone is intimidating witnesses
The other big mystery is the identity of who’s pressuring witnesses to keep their mouths shut. Tyler, the first witness in the trial, comes into his dark room to find a number of pictures of himself strung up, the eyes cut out in a visual suggestion that he didn’t see anything and should probably keep it that way. Tyler certainly won’t be the last to get threatening messages this season.
9. The Bakers’ marriage
Hannah’s mom is in a slightly better place at the start of this season. She spent all of last season grieving, and now it looks like she’s ready to go to battle with the school. We first catch a glimpse of her firing practice shots at a gun range, just in case we needed a visual metaphor for her new mindset. What’s missing though? Her husband. Are they separated? Divorced? Just at odds with each other? All we know is that she couldn’t convince him to come to the first day of the trial.
10. How deep does the disgusting, criminal behavior of the jocks go?
Bryce being revealed as a rapist in the final few episodes of season one wasn’t much of a surprise. The season had been clearly building him up as the one who truly did something wrong to Hannah. What was surprising, for those that hadn’t read the book, was his sexual assault of Jessica as well. Now, we know there may be more victims, perhaps because of Bryce, or perhaps because of other members of the sports teams. Clay finds a Polaroid in his locker. It’s a picture of what looks like a school athlete with a girl, and on the back of the photo are the words “Hannah wasn’t the only one.”
11. Hannah’s first day at Liberty High
In an effort, presumably, to get the outstanding Katherine Langford some more screen time, “The First Polaroid” gives us a few scenes of her first day at Liberty High. The flashback is part of Tyler’s testimony, as he approached Hannah with the idea of a photo shoot. Tyler sees this as yet another sign that she had romantic feelings for him—seriously, the dude is your typical, creepy “nice guy”—and the defense team sees this as evidence that Hannah liked having her picture taken, and therefore couldn’t have been too upset about Justin’s lewd photo being shared around the school. I didn’t go to law school, but that feels like some pretty flimsy logic, even for a TV lawyer.
12. What is Tony’s role in all of this?
Tony is still a very mysterious character. His presence in season one was largely to act as a guide for every other character, so we never really got a sense of how he plays into the tapes and Hannah’s death. Now, he’s burning notes from her, with the help of Ryan, and still refusing to speak about Hannah. It’s all very strange, and it would seem that Tony is hiding something pretty significant.
13. Ghost Hannah
It’s a bit of a goofy gimmick, but Clay is seeing Hannah everywhere. He keeps telling himself he’s moved on, but he can’t have sex with Skye because he sees Hannah instead of her—to the point that he freaks out and tries to throw a blanket over her, an action that produced a laugh from me when that probably wasn’t the intention—and he even sees her standing outside his house, lurking in the middle of the night. This is nothing new for Clay, but the final scene of the episode brings about a change. Ghost Hannah asks him what he’s going to do with the photo of Bryce that he found in his locker. “So you talk now? he says. “Apparently,” she replies. “Oh,” he deadpans, and the episode cuts to black, promising plenty of ghostly interactions in the future.
Episode Grade: C+
(Episode 2 on the next page)
Episode 2: “Two Girls Kissing”
1. Courtney’s episode
With the season apparently following a similar template to the first, with a single witness taking the stand during each episode rather than being the subject of one of Hannah’s tapes, “Two Girls Kissing” is Courtney’s episode. It’s one that’s more powerful than the premiere, but still boasts similar issues with pacing and a few other odd storytelling choices. What works though is the focus on Courtney, as she’s finally able to tell her story.
2. More witness intimidation
The season premiere saw Tyler’s dark room as the scene of the intimidation, as he’s told to keep quiet about everything involving Hannah. This time around, it’s Jessica who gets the messages to keep her mouth shut. In “The First Polaroid” she finds a sex doll with the word “slut” written on it hanging from her front porch. In “Two Girls Kissing” there’s a note in her locker warning her about what she’ll say on the stand. Jessica, as the only living victim that we know of, is the clearest threat to Bryce.
3. The parents are scared
With all these kids set to take the stand in the trial, the parents are all coping differently. Zach’s mom isn’t happy that he’s testifying, so she secures him a lawyer, one that comes recommended by Bryce and his family, which is totally not sketchy at all. Jessica’s parents worry that she’s going to put herself through something too traumatic to handle. Tyler’s dad, despite the fact that his son’s testimony already happened, is concerned that his son is isolated at school. It really did take a suicide for all of these parents to finally get a little more involved.
4. So, about that first Polaroid
Clay takes it to Tyler to see if he can identify who’s in the picture. I thought it might be Bryce and we just couldn’t tell, but Tyler says that the two people in the picture are Tommy and Erica, two students who were seniors when Clay and Tyler were freshmen. The relevant part is that Tommy was an athlete, part of the baseball team. Everything seems to be coming back to the student athletes. Does this mean there’s been a culture of abuse, and protection from the consequences, for athletes at Liberty High?
5. Shut up, Coach
Seriously, the baseball coach quickly hopped to the top of my list of characters I loathe, right up there with Bryce. After Porter institutes mandatory training on affirmative consent, something that student athlete Scott Reed thinks is a joke, the coach confronts him and says he’s sick of athletes being blamed for everything. Porter has no time for that nonsense though, quickly shutting down the conversation and not allowing the coach to deflect the blame.
6. Tyler makes a new friend
Despite his dad’s worries, it looks like Tyler is making new connections at school. He befriends Cyrus, a punk rock-looking kid in his class who he sees making sketches. They bond over their shared creative impulses, even if Tyler seems like the least punk rock guy ever. That said, his new friend does say that a night vision picture that Tyler took of a dog peeing is “very punk rock,” so who knows.
7. Bryce isn’t off the hook just yet
From the intimidation of upcoming witnesses to the way the defense lawyer is trying to slander Hannah, the early episodes of the season suggest that Bryce has nothing to worry about, that the truth about him will never come out, especially with Jessica afraid to testify. Bryce even tells Zach that he hasn’t been called to testify, which suggests he can’t even be caught in a lie. However, it turns out that he lied to Zach. Late in the episode he opens up a subpoena, staring at it with worry in his eyes. He knows the walls are closing in.
8. We need to talk about Ghost Hannah again
Okay, so Ghost Hannah appeared at the end of the premiere, but she plays a major role in “Two Girls Kissing.” She’s there talking Clay through his relationship with Skye, and helping him deal with the weight of the trial (I guess?). Anyways, am I the only one that finds it all a little…silly? It feels like a flimsy storytelling gimmick, one that’s there to create contrived conflict for Clay while not serving any other purpose.
9. Courtney gets to live her truth
Pushed on the stand about her kisses with Hannah, by a lawyer who apparently wants to paint Hannah as some sort of manipulative lesbian forcing her sexuality on others, Courtney is forced to come out to defend her friend. She says that she was the one using truth or dare to have her first kiss, and that Hannah was there for her as a friend in that moment. It’s ridiculous that Courtney has to do this on the stand, but it’s heartening to watch her live her true life after that, eyeing up a cute girl at Monet’s and enduring an awkward movie night conversation with her dads.
10. Sheri is back
Specifically, she’s back at school, and everyone is staring at her. We only get one scene with her, and it mostly involves her chastising Porter for not doing enough to help Hannah after she came to him with the accusation that Bryce raped her. Sheri was one of the more uninteresting characters in the first season, so I’m curious to see how she plays into the second.
11. Clay and Skye’s crumbling relationship
Oh man, Clay has no idea what he’s doing. First he’s changing in his closet so that Ghost Hannah doesn’t see him naked, then he’s hiding his girlfriend from his parents and slowly pushing her away when his body, um, doesn’t cooperate during their millionth attempt at sex. Clay is such a teenage boy. He never says the right thing, and he has little to no self awareness.
12. There are consequences to that lack of self awareness
Those consequences are Skye leaving his bedroom in tears, angry that he can’t say he’s moved on from Hannah. When Clay goes after her, much to the chagrin of Ghost Hannah, he finds her being carted off in an ambulance, her mother by her side. It looks like she’s hurt herself again, probably from cutting. All Clay can do is scream in the face of Ghost Hannah, which is a totally healthy, normal thing to do.
13. Olivia is still healing
Olivia has a lot of great scenes in this episode, and we’re learning more about how she’s coping with everything. We see her close relationship with Tony, and how he helped her through the trauma of the tapes, and there’s even a cathartic moment with Jackie after she misconstrues a conversation and washes the bloody dress that Olivia found Hannah in, one that she was keeping tucked away in a drawer as a way to remember her daughter. Considering how brutal, and frankly ludicrously crass, the defense lawyer has been during the trial, Olivia is going to need all the strength she can muster up.
Episode Grade: B
(Episode 3 is on the next page)
Episode 3: “The Drunk Slut”
1. Jessica’s turn
This feels like an important early season episode because this is Jessica’s testimony. She’s the one who was first raped by Bryce, and she’s the only one who can get the truth out there. The first two episodes, while focusing on other characters, were building to this moment. Pretty much everyone has been talking about what will happen when Jessica testifies, and in “The Drunk Slut” she finally gets her chance.
2. Clay is still a mess
He actually sums it up rather nicely at the beginning of the episode. When he’s not allowed to visit Skye in the hospital at night—even at the hospital he asks for “Hannah” because he is, like I said, a mess—he rides home on his bike, only to get forced off the road by a Range Rover. Arriving at home bloody and battered at 5am, his parents want to know what’s going on. He tells them that Skye is his girlfriend, that they aren’t having sex despite trying, and that he was driven off the road by a mysterious car, and he has no clue what’s going on in his life. Sounds about right.
3. Depicting mental illness
Opinions varied on how 13 Reasons Why depicted mental illness in its first season, but so far season two has done a good job of providing insight into different kinds of struggles. There’s a really poignant moment here when Skye tells Clay, when he’s returned to the hospital, that while she doesn’t want to kill herself, she “feels like a visitor in her own mind” sometimes. It’s a powerful description.
4. Welcome to the club
Oh my god, Ryan, you are so embarrassing and yet strangely supportive. He immediately welcomes Courtney to “the club” when she shows up at school the day after coming out on the stand, but says he’ll kick her out if she, well, starts leaning into certain lesbian stereotypes. I can’t tell if it’s slightly offensive or simply comforting, but it is nice to see Courtney starting to understand herself.
5. The Outsiders
Speaking of finding your community, Tyler seems to have found his own. He’s joined in the library by his new punk rock buddy Cyrus and a few of his friends. They talk about photography, Tyler clearly has hearts in his eyes for a girl named Mackenzie, and then they flip off a jock who tells them to keep it down. Tyler is feeling empowered now, but a later scene, which sees Tyler and Cyrus working in a basement on something with a “detonator,” tells me that this crowd might not be a great influence after all.
6. The Drunken Slut
The title of the episode refers to pictures from the school dance where Jessica was really, really drunk, the one where Hannah ended up taking care of her. Those pictures are posted in the classroom with the words “Who will believe the drunken slut?” on them. It’s another instance of someone trying to intimidate a key witness in the trial. Even though Bryce isn’t the one being charged, somebody is doing everything they can to make sure nobody mentions him.
7. Olivia reclaims her time
Olivia has been hesitant to speak to the media up to this point in the trial, but her breaking point comes when a blog asks her about Hannah. Olivia stops, scolds the blogger for painting a scandalous portrait of her daughter, and then promises to keep speaking up on behalf of her daughter while making sure the school is held accountable for their ignorance of the culture and climate in the hallways and classrooms.
8. Jessica’s testimony
This is one of the harder ones to watch. Her testimony is all about how her and Hannah’s friendship ended, and the defense wants to suggest it was simple jealousy, initiated by Hannah after Jessica and Alex started dating. Of course, we know they had a falling out when Jessica refused to accept Hannah’s help after being raped by Bryce. So yeah, this is a tough one. You desperately want her to tell the truth and get Bryce’s name into the trial, shifting the focus from Hannah, but you also understand why it’s so hard for her. It’s the most excruciating scene in these first few episodes, and Alisha Boe delivers an outstanding, complicated performance.
9. Will we see more of Skye?
Skye has been moved to some sort of rehabilitation facility, and Clay never got to say goodbye. He calls her again and again, but she doesn’t pick up. Is this the last we’ve seen of her? Will she return to Clay, and will he be over Hannah and have all of this mess sorted out?
10. The search for Justin
With Jessica not mentioning Bryce during her testimony because she knows it’s her word against his, with race and gender playing a huge factor in her decision to stay silent, Clay and Tony go looking for Justin. They find him in Oakland, living on the streets. Clay convinces him to come back by saying that Jessica wants him back. She doesn’t, and it’s a selfish move on Clay’s part that could blow up in his face. It could also give Jessica the witness she needs to tell the truth about Bryce.
11. Why should we care about Marcus?
Seriously, what is his story right now? He’s been accepted to Harvard, he’s just kind of waiting around for his moment at the trial, and his dad is running for election. There’s not much there. There’s a scene near the end of the episodes where Marcus sees that one of his dad’s election signs has been set on fire, and it’s meant to evoke the racial tensions in the community, but it all feels a little flimsy considering how small a role Marcus has played in this story thus far.
12. Rewarded for being a really bad teenager
Clay’s parents buy him a car. Let me repeat that: Clay’s parents buy him a car, and a new Prius at that. After all the secrets and cursing and the rule-breaking, the kid gets a car. I can’t decide who’s more ridiculous, the parents in 13 Reasons Why or the parents in Riverdale.
13. A ticking time bomb
It looks like Jessica’s testimony isn’t finished just yet, but Justin might not be the rock that Clay is hoping he’ll be. While Clay sleeps, Justin, who’s staying in the house without the Jensens knowing, sits by the window and starts smoking what looks like crack. There’s no way his return to this town, and his eventual interaction with Jessica, will go well.
Episode Grade: B
(Episode 4 is on the next page)
Episode 4: “The Second Polaroid”
1. Marcus, as slimy as the rest
Following with the structure, it’s Marcus’ turn to take the stand. I complained in the previous recap that there isn’t much to his story. “The Second Polaroid” changes that a bit. There’s still not a lot of plot there, but the show does double down on the particular insidiousness of Marcus. Bryce may be the most dangerous of the bunch, but Marcus is the type of guy who can lie and charm his way out of anything. He’s the entitled, gross bro who plays the nice guy around everyone else.
2. Detoxing Justin
Yes, Justin is back, but he’s in rough shape. After doing some research and finding out it was heroin that Justin was taking, Clay calls Tony and asks him to help out. As always, Clay goes to Tony for things that are beyond his understanding. Tony can’t help personally though, because of his probation, but he sends Sheri. She’s had to detox two roommates before, so she’s game to get Justin dried out and through his withdrawals with heavy doses of Gatorade.
3. A larger role for Nora Walker
Nora Walker, Bryce’s mother, knows something. We don’t know exactly what it is, but we know that Porter showed up at the Walkers’ house and had a conversation with her, alone, about how her son “interacts with girls” at school, a meeting the Principal doesn’t look upon too kindly. A lot of the parents in this show are fairly one-dimensional, but I have hope that Nora learning more about her psychotic, manipulative son could lead to some necessary, welcome depth, and some explosive confrontations.
4. Jess learns about Justin
Clay can’t contain his excitement when he approaches Jessica to tell her that they found Justin and that he wants to testify and help her take down Bryce. Of course, because this is Clay, he doesn’t realize how selfish he’s being. He’s taking Jessica’s own battle and asserting himself, trying to force her to tell her story before she’s ready. We all want her to tell the truth and for Bryce to pay for what he did, but Jessica has to do it on her own time.
5. Alex and Jessica’s day off
Sometimes it’s nice when this punishing show takes a breather and let’s its characters enjoy a moment of happiness. It doesn’t happen often, but in “The Second Polaroid” Alex and Jess skip school, take in a movie, and bond over their shared trauma. It’s actually really beautiful, and leads to them kissing. Of course, reality comes crashing back in right after that, as Jessica is once again reminded of what Bryce did to her.
6. Marcus is ready to be a politician
Why? Because he lies, and lies, and then lies again. His father gives him one piece of advice before taking the stand: “look out for yourself first.” Marcus has no trouble doing that, lying about his date with Hannah at the diner, saying that she pushed him out of the booth when he tried to hold her hand. Then he says that Hannah used the date to try and get Marcus to hook her up with Bryce. He’s spinning one lie after another, and it comes so easily to him. It’s horrifying to watch, and the next day he’s back at school high-fiving all of his classmates. What a scumbag. At least Porter gives him a small dose of real talk.
7. Revenge of the Outsiders
It’s not just us thinking that Marcus deserves some sort of comeuppance. Tyler thinks the same thing. He sees Marcus and that whole jock crew as a bunch of hypocrites who think the rules don’t apply to them. So, they plant a paint bomb in a bag and put it in what is presumably Marcus’ parking spot. He goes outside, opens the bag, and is hit with a splash of pink paint. Tyler and Cyrus laugh and then take off. With nothing else to do, they head into the woods and Tyler brings along a few guns to shoot. There’s no way this doesn’t escalate into something much, much worse than a paint bomb.
8. Update on the Bakers’ marriage
It’s not going well. Andy makes an appearance for the first time this season, coming into the store while Alex and Jessica are there checking in on Olivia. The whole scene quickly devolves into an argument, the same one they’ve been having since season one. Olivia thinks he’s given up and moved on, and he thinks that she’s being unfair to the way he’s handling things. We also learn that he’s seeing someone else, but isn’t living with her yet. Olivia seems so strong at so many moments, but it’s clear that the presence of Andy brings back so much pain.
9. Where does Zach stand?
Bryce is doing what he can to keep Zach loyal to him, even going so far as to give him the answers to a test that Zach desperately needs to pass. But it’s clear that Zach is feeling conflicted about his group of friends. He’s feeling more alienated from them, and he’s bonding with Alex as he helps him with his physical therapy. The tide is slowly turning, and it’s looking like Zach could be the one closest to Bryce to flip on him.
10. Another Polaroid
So, this one is a lot more disturbing and incriminating. It shows Bryce raping an unconscious girl at a party. The girl’s face is obscured, a fact that Clay reminds Hannah of when she pushes him to start investigating the photos. She urges him to find the room where it happened, as the couch is the same as in the first Polaroid, but he feels helpless. He’s focused on getting Justin to testify, and helping Alex remember what happened so that maybe he can too.
11. Alex gets the tapes
Clay finally giving Alex the tapes is an interesting development. He’s long refused to hand them over, saying that he’s protecting Alex from all the baggage they contain. He even gives Skye as an example of what happens when he stops protecting people from the truth. Now though, with Jessica failing to name Bryce at the trial, he’s scrambling to take Bryce down. Once again, he’s engaging in an action for his own selfish reasons, and with no thought about collateral damage.
12. Stolen files
Lainie shows up at the courthouse to give the defense lawyer some advice, but she’s having none of it. She dismisses Lainie’s attempts to talk to her about the motivations of teenagers, and leaves the room. Then, Lainie goes through her boxes of files and pulls out the one with her son’s name on it. What will she do with it? I’m excited to find out.
13. Ghost Hannah isn’t getting any better
This is not going away any time soon and I should probably just accept it, but I simply can’t. All of the flashbacks with Hannah are great, and they add a lot to her story. The one of her confronting Marcus after their date, where she grabs his crotch and asks him what it feels like to be violated, is the kind of scene that adds something to the show. Every other appearance is a mess, a ghostly figure getting in the way of the story of this season.
Episode Grade: B-
(Episode 5 on the next page)
Episode 5: “The Chalk Machine”
1. The scarlet letters
Tyler official labels himself an “asshole,” thanks to a DIY shirt-designing job he and Cyrus carry out in order to show off their new bad and angry personalities after firing off handguns in the woods. That stunt in his neighbor’s woods, though, reaches his mom, who sits him down later that night to talk about it. Tyler lies, saying that Cyrus simply wanted to try out his BB gun. She accepts the story — Tyler’s never been the kind of kid to go full rebel, so she’s not exactly in touch with this side of him — and doesn’t read into any of the warning signs, like the fact that Tyler now relishes in bullying others like Marcus alongside Cyrus. Even if his behavior doesn’t worry her, it really should.
2. Mr. Porter’s anger boils over
He knows his time is nearly up at Liberty High, and after he gets a brick thrown through his car with the note “know your place” on it, he doubles his efforts to figure out who’s been threatening everyone involved in Hannah’s tapes. He asks Tyler if he had anything to do with the pictures that read “drunk slut,” and our newly established asshole insists he didn’t do it. When news of Justin being back reaches him, he asks Jessica about him, and Jessica lets him in on Justin’s awful home life. That night, he pays Justin’s mother a visit — but ends up in a fist fight when Justin’s father. His frustration got the better of him, and in his final scene, he’s carted off in the back of a police car.
3. Ryan can’t separate the art from the artist…
… but he can separate himself from the case. It’s his turn to testify, and Sonya drills him hard about Hannah’s poems, to the point where she has him read her words out loud, piece after piece. Eventually, he relents and reveals that many of her poems —ones full of longing — were about Justin Foley, and Sonya latches on to this discrepancy. Why would a girl who swore off Justin write such doting poems about him?
At that, Ryan flashes back to his time spent with Hannah crafting her poems. He had asked her to delve deeper, and witnessed her texting with Justin (could he be the one she had sexted?) months after their fallout. She explains that he’s been apologizing to her over text for months and, well, over time, decided to respond. He’s hot, you know? Even Ryan can’t deny that.
But of course, he can’t fully explain why Hannah stayed in contact with Justin. He calls him a “bad decision” of Hannah’s; he doesn’t know the full story, but he remembers seeing them together at Monet’s. (As we see, Justin really did just show up to see her, as she said he did.) Ryan deduces that Hannah was lonely — and when we’re lonely, we don’t necessarily do the best things for ourselves. Case in point…
4. Olivia grapples with how much she misses Andy
When Andy shows up to court for the very first time, Hannah’s mom has her guard up, but by the end of the day, she thanks him for coming. Jackie warns her not to fall into old patterns — especially when it comes to someone as unreliable as Andy — and Olivia assures her she won’t, but later trails Andy to his new home and his new life, with a blonde woman and her young daughter.
What Olivia has is the mystery of her daughter, and when Ryan, feeling guilty over how he didn’t share his full story in court, visits her, he sees her diagram of Hannah’s story. Olivia asks him to help her analyze Hannah’s writings, and Ryan does, but holds back the fact that he not only stole a poem from her journal, but also a journey entry detailing, as best as I can tell from pausing the episode, the time Tony showed up to the movie theater bleeding after fighting a homophobic guy who called him and Ryan “bad names.” In his flashback, Ryan looks upset as he reads her words and tears that page out of her journal. This incident, to the best of my memory, wasn’t shown in season 1. Could Tony’s fight have something to do with the threats? But how?
5. Chloe has no clue
Bryce’s girlfriend can’t believe her good luck when Bryce asks her over for dinner to meet his parents — both of them, as his strict father is also back in town for the night. Bryce wonders if Chloe’s okay, given the fact that she’s on the squad with Jessica and everything, but Chloe hasn’t noticed anything amiss. At Bryce’s, she impresses his dad because she’s, as he puts it, “loyal.” (Ugh, like father, like son.) She also impresses Bryce’s mother — but then, curiously, she worries her, when she lifts her arm and exposes bruises. Chloe explains that they came from cheerleading, which is very likely, but Bryce’s mother looks concerned. She probably has her own suspicions of how violent her son can be…
6. Justin takes a shower
Hooray! He’s just about clean! Unfortunately, when Clay leaves Justin alone with Tony as his babysitter this time — Sheri can’t skip school two days in a row — Justin manages to convince Tony to take a walk with him outside. As afraid as Tony is of people spotting them together (he’s on probation, and one more strike means doing time), he relents after Justin finally tells his story: When he ran away with his junkie mother’s boyfriend’s money, he burned through the cash quickly via motels and pricey pills. Heroin, though, is cheap, so that’s what he turned to after he ran out of funds, to “take the edge off.”
It’s a tragic story, and Tony sympathizes, but during their walk, a car decked out in Liberty High spirit passes by — and Tony’s right in assuming that whoever’s driving it and sitting inside of it probably took notice of former high school king Justin Foley.
The 6’ 3” jock remains rat-tled (sorry), but when he subtly tries to see if Bryce thinks of him as a traitor, Bryce just looks confused. After all, Bryce is more concerned with whether everyone will back up their stories that the entire team is clean of steroids — which, as we know, they aren’t, though the baseball coach is clearly also in the ruse. (Going to States matters a lot to the baseball coach.) Zach assures them that he won’t snitch, and Bryce seems convinced — though another jock who hangs out with Bryce looks much more suspicious of him. That jock’s also worried about Justin being back in town (again, news travels fast), but Bryce simply waves him away, which Zach witnesses.
8. Life’s hard for Alex
Now that Clay’s finally given him Hannah’s tapes, Alex can’t stop listening to them over and over, just as he did the first time around. They help him flash back to certain images from the times he can’t remember, but they’re also making him more frustrated over the fact that he still feels like he’s missing something. And that’s just the least of his worries: He kissed Jessica, but as he confesses to Zach, he felt nothing “down there” during their encounter, and he’s worried he can’t get himself, well, going. Zach suggests porn, and Alex tries to get hot and heavy with a webcam girl, but even that doesn’t work.
9. Clay and chalk
Clay gets a lead on the Polaroids that doesn’t require having Justin, who offered to help, ask his old jock friends whether they recognize the room in both of the Polaroid pictures of Bryce taking advantage of unconscious girls. In the corner of one of the photos is a “chalk machine” — Alex’s term — used by the athletic department to redraw outlines of their fields.
Too bad Clay, searching for the right room with Ghost Hannah, only finds dead ends, even though he’s deduced that the presence of the chalk machine means the photos must have been taken at school. But none of the floors or furniture inside the school’s storage rooms match the photos, so where could they have been taken?
10. Another round with Ghost Hannah
Ghost Hannah isn’t exactly the best Watson to Clay’s Sherlock, but she does help him understand that some things, like teenage romance, just can’t be explained. Frustrated over not finding the location of the photographs and the fact that she continued to talk to Justin even after he hurt her, Clay lashes out at Ghost Hannah, wondering why she felt the way she did. Ghost Hannah, rightly, shrugs sadly at him. “We don’t choose who we fall for,” she says. And he of all people knows that to be true.
11. Bye, Justin
Clay returns home to find Sheri babysitting Justin (after duping Clay’s easily duped mom and helping her with a question about the case), and angrily confronts Justin about being seen outside, only to walk into Justin being angry at him over being lied to about Jessica. Clay had said that Jess wanted him back, but clearly that’s not the case — and Clay’s left trying his best to explain that Jess kept his postcard and will come around. But Justin’s done waiting; later that night, when Clay’s asleep, he sneaks out. But to where?
12. Jessica starts to heal
This episode, Jessica finally says what she thinks and begins to accept that she needs more people to talk to than just the people from the tapes, and all the toxic relationships she’s been mired in at Liberty. At school, she quits cheerleading, tells Chloe to back off, and heads to group therapy — where she finally, properly meets Nina. She’s come around on being a “survivor,” and at home, she sleeps in her own bed for the first time in a long time.
13. Ryan understands
Sort of. In his final voiceovers, Ryan explains that all Hannah was doing with her poetry was attempting to be heard, to connect to someone — and the sad, twisted thing that happened was all her words were taken from her, then used against her, and eventually, she lost herself in the mess that followed and believed her to be the person everyone thought she was. It’s an understanding and sentiment that comes far too late, and as thoughtful as it is, the monologue lands with too little impact: Ryan just isn’t one of the bigger players in this story, and the episode falters because of it. On the other hand, Jessica’s material, and Clay and Justin’s story — especially those brief moments of levity — could have used more screen time. Well, at least Justin’s escape means something big is going to happen, that hopefully brings us one step closer to uncovering the mystery of those threats, and those Polaroids.
Episode Grade: B-
(More episodes to come)
Episode 6: “The Smile at the End of the Dock”
1. Hannah and…Zach?!
This hour revealed something no one could have guessed going into season 2: Zach Dempsey and Hannah Baker secretly dated over the summer, when practically everyone else was out of town. The episode knows it’s quite the curveball, which is why it has practically every character not named Zach question exactly how and why they carried on a relationship that Hannah never mentioned in her tapes. Does it drag the story a little bit? Yes. But did I feel for Zach by the end? Absolutely — though I’m sure your mileage may vary.
After all, Zach struggles to explain what happened. During his testimony, he warily spills the details of his relationship with Hannah while avoiding his stern mother’s gaze. He flashes back to last summer, when he apologizes to Hannah for stealing the notes she had considered a lifeline — the events of which we saw in season 1 — and then struck up a relationship with her over films and how much he needed someone to talk to after his father died that summer. That relationship eventually turned sexual, as Hannah felt comfortable enough to ask Zach to take her virginity. Zach, being a virgin himself, ends up asking Justin for tips, and Justin wisely advises him to cater to the needs of his partner. Fast forward to another flashback, when Zach and Hannah awkwardly (but sweetly) have sex for the first time.
And in court, Zach tells the truth — which only makes Hannah look worse, like a liar who slept around and didn’t even tell the full truth in her tapes. He tries to explain that they really did care for each other, but everyone’s shell-shocked — most of all, Clay.
2. Sheri puts the pieces together.
Sheri’s now helping Clay figure out the mystery of the polaroids, even if she also has no clue where the photos were taken. Luckily, Ryan helps her figure things out when he stops by to chat in class: He wants to know if she knows of a place called “the clubhouse,” and at that, she puts two and two together.
3. Andy versus Olivia
The Bakers are cracking under the pressure of the trial and their own impending divorce. Though Andy tries to grasp Olivia’s hand to make a show of their united front, she refuses to give in. He keeps asking for forgiveness, but she’s not relenting — which only makes their battle for justice that much harder.
4. Bryce torments Zach
He just can’t help himself. After Zach’s testimony, he and his jock buddies leave a rather disgusting memento in Zach’s locker to shake him, and when Zach fights back, their baseball coach rushes out to break things up. Again, the coach seems way too invested in this “brotherhood” of Liberty Tigers; he even reveals to Mr. Porter that he has an in at the police station (remember, Porter got arrested at the end of the last episode and just got bailed out), and that his pals there helped make it all “go away.” Could he have used that relationship to his advantage in other situations, say, with Bryce and Company? I’ve got a bad feeling about the coach — anyone else?
5. Tyler and Cyrus take action
I’ve also got a bad feeling about this pair: In this episode, they seem to relish in violence, as Tyler’s dad (unwisely) takes them to a shooting range and has Alex’s dad teach them how to use handguns. Later, they poke through Zach’s iCloud — Cyrus hacked it easily — and find a video of Marcus with a woman writhing in his lap. Tyler grins gleefully and suggests they use the use the video against Marcus. Uh oh.
6. Alex is more frustrated than ever
He’s failing to remember any more, even though he’s been studying as hard as he can, and when his doctor tells him he’s perhaps plateaued, he loses it. Zach tries to help him, but Alex lashes out, angry over how useless he is in his useless body. He and Zach wrestle shirtless in the locker room — Zach’s just trying to keep him from hurting himself — but then, mid-fighting, Alex, um, performs. Finally. Zach tries to explain the awkward situation away as simply a reaction to physical contact, but Alex isn’t even thinking about how awkward everything is. He’s just happy his dick works.
7. Justin’s homecoming goes over poorly
Justin ran off from Clay’s house only to show up at school during lunch. He’s there to see Jessica himself, after learning that she didn’t actually want him back, but he couldn’t have chosen a worse time to reappear: Everyone stares as he ambles toward Jess, who forcefully rejects him. She says she doesn’t want to talk to him, and angrily tells him to leave, and that she wishes he were dead. Behind him, Bryce gets up as well, and when Justin turns around, he lunges at Bryce, only to collapse. Clay and Tony haul him away from harm, Jess leaves the cafeteria with Nina, and Chloe can’t figure out what happened. Bryce tells her not to worry, but there’s something clearly wrong — and she walks away when he refuses to explain.
8. The Justin jig is up
Back at Clay’s house, Justin hears a man break in and hides in the closet when he rushes upstairs to Clay’s room. He spies a man wearing a hood, poking around his bag — but when he rushes to Clay’s window to see who it was, he’s found by Clay’s dad. Later, Clay’s parents chide both of them for keeping Justin hidden; they allow him to stay, but Clay’s mom rightly points out that they’ll have to report him being back, or else they’re breaking the law. Everything seems to have calmed down — until Justin discovers that something is missing from his bag, but doesn’t tell Clay. Who was the intruder, and what did they take?
9. Clay doesn’t understand, well, anything
Thrown by the Justin situation and by Zach’s testimony, Clay takes his anger out on the latter, telling him that he never deserved Hannah. He’s bitter and envious of Zach for sleeping with the girl he loved, and when he sees Ghost Hannah, he just cries. He even rejects Sheri, who only swing by to tell him about what she’s uncovered regarding the polaroids. At this point, though, Clay just says he no longer cares, because Hannah “betrayed” him. Ugh, Clay.
10. Olivia reaches out to Clay
It’s unfortunate timing, but Olivia has decided that she wants Clay to take the stand. Everyone who’s testified so far has tried to help Hannah, only to make her look worse because of all the secrets they kept. She thinks that Clay will finally be the right character witness — shouldn’t the boy who loved her daughter be the perfect person to describe just how good she was? Clay’s wary of the idea, especially given how much he thinks Hannah “betrayed” their friendship, but he eventually agrees when Olivia encourages him to push his new opinions of Hannah out of his mind, and only focus on who she really was, to him. After all, they’ve all learned new things about Hannah that they’d perhaps rather forget.
11. Jessica tells her story
Not on the stand, but in group therapy. She describes everything she remembers from the night Bryce raped her, and reveals that she feels him “all the time.” Nina later wonders if Jess wants to talk about Bryce openly, because it’s her story to tell. Jess doesn’t give a definitive answer, but looks comforted just from having someone to talk to, who understands.
12. It’s not always about you, Clay
Of all people (even Ghost Hannah), Justin finally helps Clay understand why Hannah had a relationship with Zach, and how something like that shouldn’t shake Clay’s opinions about Hannah. Justin rightly points out that his reputation has never been tarnished despite how many girls he’s been with, while Hannah’s name gets dragged through the mud just because she slept with one guy (Zach), had a crush on another (Justin), and ultimately kissed one more (Clay). Hannah’s no slut, Justin says, but Clay’s a “dumbass” for thinking it. Let that sink in, Clay — and good for you, Justin.
13. Hiding isn’t the answer
And just to wrap up, let’s get back to Zach, who, at home, argues with his mother about his testimony. She can’t understand why he kept his time with Hannah a secret, even from her, but he explains that they’ve been keeping things from each other for a long time now, just brushing things under the rug so everything seems fine. He’s done keeping things under wraps; thinking back, he realizes how much he hurt Hannah when he told her he didn’t want his jock friends to know, even though she was the one who said they should break up at the end of summer. Neither of them told each other how they felt — and that just made everything worse. It’s a lesson learned too late for Zach, but helps illustrate just why Hannah felt as lonely as she did, and why, at the end of that summer, she cut her hair and came back to Liberty a different person. Though the idea of their secret romance seemed far-fetched at first, Katherine Langford and Ross Butler sold those scenes of them together from that summer. It’s genuinely moving, even if, for an episode, it places the mystery of the polaroids and the trial on the back burner.
Episode grade: B
Episode 7: “The Third Polaroid”
1. To infinity and beyond
Clay and Hannah are tripping. They’re in a basement somewhere, talking about existence, about living in the moment, about the butterfly effect, and about love — how it’s perhaps the only thing with no limit. Oh, and all of this is animated, rendering Clay and Hannah two-dimensional, just to really drive home the fact that these two are clearly high. It’s an inventive, cool way of opening an episode. I’m on board.
2. Clay’s turn
As we learned from the last episode, it’s time for Clay to testify. We hear how he’s (pretending to be) doing through a series of voicemails to Skye — it’s been so long since we’ve seen her that I had forgotten she was a crucial part of Clay’s story earlier this season, oops — and he’s justifiably nervous. Not only is he dealing with seeing Justin integrate himself comfortably into his family, but he’s also confronted with another threat when he goes outside to pick up the paper. Someone’s written the words “HANNAH LIED” across the pages, and Clay’s unnerved.
Things only get worse from there. Clay testifies about how good of a friend Hannah was — Olivia and Andy smile at his mention of how they would talk about their “hopes and dreams” — but as he starts to describe how Hannah had wanted him to write her letters, he begins to cry, feeling guilty over never writing her a single missive. Sonya only piles on the guilt as she begins questioning him: She wonders if he’s a part of the bullying culture (he did torture Tyler), if he ever bought weed (he did), and whether, given all the bad he’s done, if he’s responsible for Hannah’s death. Clay tells the truth: He is.
And then she goes all in on the one thing Clay didn’t think Sonya would ask about: the night he and Hannah got high together and talked about existence. (How do they know about that night? That’s another mystery to be solved…) Apparently the morning after that night, Hannah had said something that was distressing, but Clay didn’t act on it at the time.
3. The night at Jeff Atkins’
Clay flashes back to the night at hand, this time in full 3D. As it turns out, the late Jeff Atkins — who’s being honored at a pep rally in the present — had tried to bring Clay closer to Hannah by throwing a party at his house, where he’ll be able to let loose and perhaps make up for making fun of Hannah’s poem in front of her.
And let loose he does. In fact, they all do: In Jeff’s (awesome-looking) basement, the group (Clay, Hannah, Sheri, Alex, Jeff, and Jeff’s girlfriend) take pills, with Clay reluctantly joining in. Soon, they all begin rolling, with Hannah saying that she has “tremendous positivity” for everyone in the room. Jeff notices Clay and Hannah touching hands, and so he leaves. The room eventually empties until Hannah and Clay are left alone, talking about love and infinity and destiny.
4. Happy (?) birthday, Alex!
Alex isn’t exactly in the mood to celebrate turning a year older, but at least his friends are there to try to his mood. Jess and Zach (and Clay) have created a banner for him at school — maybe they’re Arrested Development fans? — that goes over well until Bryce walks by and teases Alex just for the fun of it. It riles Alex up, and as Bryce walks away, he loses it. “F— you, you f—ing rapist,” he screams at Bryce, who pauses but doesn’t turn back. Zach tells Alex not to provoke Bryce, and when Alex tries to explain his side, he sees Jess, whose face has crumpled at the incident. “Why would you that?” she sobs.
Needless to say, it puts a real damper on Alex’s festivities. His family has gathered him and his friends for a night at a local arcade, but no one’s really into playing games. Alex attempts to apologize to Jess, who’s had too rough a day to talk to him further about his outburst, and Clay’s distracted as all his memories of him and Hannah at Jeff’s come rushing back. Tyler also walks in at the wrong moment — Alex and his dad has invited him earlier — and gets rejected, rather harshly, by Jess and Zach, who make him leave. Alex spots this and tries to explain that they shouldn’t have pushed Tyler away, but the damage is done: Tyler once again feels rejected, while everyone left at the party is now arguing. To make matters worse, Zach conspicuously lies to his mom that he’s with “the guys,” which sets Alex off further.
5. Alex has a breakthrough
Still, at least some good came from a disastrous party. Fuming from all the arguing, Alex decides to play a first-person shooter game by himself, and while struggling with his father who tries to make him play a different, less triggering game, he has a flashback to playing a similar game. But just as he’s finally remembering something, he falls to the ground and begins shouting at everyone around him, frustrated over being broken and treated so delicately. (He even causes his mother to cry!) Jess, just as angry, yells at him for what he’s doing. She points out that everyone there loves him, and that what he did was selfish. At that, Alex finally stops ranting, and tries to apologize.
6. Tony’s still keeping secrets
It’s what he does best. (No wonder his hair’s so big…) This time, though, it’s not Hannah’s secrets; it’s his own. Tony bolted out of Caleb’s gym when the man with one eye introduced himself, and he’s not ready to tell Caleb what he’d done in the past.
7. Tyler gets a date
Cyrus’ sister, Mackenzie, has been harboring a crush on Tyler for a while, and finally acts on it in this episode. She asks him out, he says yes, and all’s going well, until he’s rejected at Alex’s party and returns home with a new idea for what he and Cyrus can do at school. This time, he wants to target Zach. Uh oh.
8. Marcus gets blackmailed
By Tyler and Cyrus, who have the clip of him in the clubhouse. The student body president attempts to get Bryce to help him out of the situation, but Bryce just brushes him off. He doesn’t owe Marcus any favors — shee, he didn’t ask Marcus to bring his name up in court and lie — and so Marcus is on his own to do as Tyler and Cyrus say. And for now, all Tyler and Cyrus want is for Marcus to put on a dress, which Marcus does at the pep rally. He spins the dare into a publicity stunt, rushing out in a cheerleader uniform as part of school spirit. Tyler and Cyrus are pissed, and Tyler insists that they do something bigger. Again: Uh oh.
9. Olivia and Andy make up, break up
The Bakers’ marriage melodrama heats up further this episode when Andy accompanies Olivia to visit Hannah’s grave. There, Olivia breaks down, and Andy comforts her. The two start kissing and decide to get dinner together. But just as things are looking up, Andy reveals that he doesn’t want to stay “in limbo,” and that he would like them to finalize the divorce sooner rather than later, or even after the trial. “I see,” Olivia responds coldly.
10. Jess is struggling
She’s come a long way since the beginning of the season, but when she’s out shopping with Nina and Nina’s boyfriend, she flashes back to the night she was raped by Bryce, triggered while she’s in the changing room. Nina eventually calms her down, and Jess is surprised that Nina’s boyfriend doesn’t know how they know each other. “I don’t let what happened to me define me,” Nina explains. Is that what Jess wants to do, too? It’s hard to tell: Despite her reaction to Justin in the cafeteria, it looks like she does miss him. Later that night, she parks her car outside Clay’s house and watches as Justin hangs out with Clay’s dad.
11. A new polaroid
When Clay leaves Alex’s party, he spies a third polaroid on his windshield. This time, the back is labeled “The Clubhouse.” Clay needs to solve this mystery and find this place soon; given everything with the case, Bryce may just get more aggressive than ever. He may also lose Chloe: She had heard what Alex screamed at Bryce, and she’s perplexed by the accusation. When they hang out at Bryce’s pool house, he forces himself on her, insisting on having sex instead of watching the movie. She unconvincingly assures him she wants it, but blankly — and unsettlingly — keeps her eyes focused on the television screen throughout the scene.
12. What Hannah said
Finally, after several scenes in which characters frustratingly refer to what Hannah said without actually saying what she said, we get a flashback of the morning after the party at Jeff’s. They had gone to Monet’s to recover, but they’re all lower than low, thanks to the drugs wearing off. “What’s the point of anything?” Hannah asks the group. The question lands on deaf ears; everyone’s far too tired to think about an existential problem like that. Hannah, though, just continues: “Don’t you ever think, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore?’ Like, ‘I just want to die?’” Out of everyone, Clay hears her, and they make eye contact, but Clay does nothing. He thinks it’s just the drugs, but now, he regrets his reaction more than ever.
13. Clay goes too far
Those memories and his guilt push Clay over the edge: At home, he reads the comments on the news story about his testimony, and he’s driven to fight back against the people who now think Hannah wasn’t just a slut, but a liar who took drugs and wanted attention. And so, against even Ghost Hannah’s wishes, he uploads the tapes and posts them with the hashtag “#JusticeForHannah.” Now everyone will be able to listen to Hannah’s story in her own words. It’s a dramatic, reactionary, and absolutely boneheaded move. Come on, Clay. Get back to finding the clubhouse!
But even if Clay’s doing something absurdly dumb, this episode stood out as one of the stronger installments this season, and not only for its opening sequence. Focusing on Clay centered the series better than the episodes before this, which felt like they were telling tangential stories. The flashbacks felt organic, as did Jess and Alex’s arcs. And besides: It’s never a bad choice to bring Jeff Atkins back.
Episode Grade: B+
Episode 8: “The Little Girl”
1. Clay has truly lost his way and will do anything to get justice for Hannah
When all the cool kids of Liberty High get to school on Justin’s first day back, it turns out that people aren’t staring and whispering the halls because he’s been gone but actually because the tapes have been leaked online. Bryce and cronies are not pleased, the lowly ones like Montgomery want to know what their leader wants them to do, but Bryce’s only solution is to call his dad so they go rogue and lock Tyler in a closet instead.
2. Bryce’s girlfriend might not be the worst ever…maybe
When Clay leaked the tapes, he made sure to add in the 14th tape that he made himself — the one that contains Bryce’s confession that he raped Hannah. When Chloe overhears girls talking about what her boyfriend said on said tape, she’s noticeably upset. Later she sees all the lies written about Jessica on the back of a stall door in the bathroom and crosses them all out with a sharpie. Maybe there’s hope she’ll see the light after all, but probably not right now.
3. Cyrus’ sister is cool
After meeting at Cyrus’ house a few episodes back, Mackenzie and Tyler plan to go on a date. She’s cool and confident and doesn’t seem to buy into all the Liberty BS that consumes the other kids. In short, she’s good for Tyler who desperately needs someone to feel close to. Even Cyrus is okay with them going on a date next week when they talk about it over shooting cans. Tyler gets carried away and celebrates his upcoming date by shooting a crow. He’s very interested in the fact it was just alive and now it’s not.
4. Justin is willing to get in trouble to take down Bryce
Bryce catches up to Justin and reminds him that no one will listen to him if he testifies. According to Bryce, Justin is a white trash piece of s— who has nobody, while he has state senators on hand to talk about what a fine citizen he is. Justin is unfazed and ready to go ahead with the court appearance. Though later, after flashing back to a phone call with Jessica after the rape where he makes sure she doesn’t remember anything from the night before, he’s driven to seeking out the school’s resident drug dealer to acquire some heroine.
5. Hannah’s dad had an affair when she was still alive
And she knew about it. In a flashback we see that Hannah saw her dad kiss a blonde lady (the woman he is now living with). He tries to explain it to her by saying he loves her mother but marriage is complicated. Hannah feels patronized and tells him he must end it and tell her mom or she will. In court, Mr. Baker tells the jury he and his wife had dealt with it and moved on so it had no bearing in Hannah’s suicide. Still, the defense lawyer tries to blame them and later Mr. Baker kind of agrees with her telling Mrs. Baker they are partly responsible too.
6. Bryce wants to make a statement
But his parents say it’s not the time. Everyone has gathered at the school playing fields for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and Bryce dutifully goes off to hug some kids who are fans of his. Gross. It’s nauseating and Bryce’s dad is truly terrible; he thinks, or is choosing to believe, that the other kids are just jealous of his son so are making up lies about it. His mom, however, is more skeptical but at least the school loves Bryce’s dad because he bought them the field.
7. Zach has had enough
He doesn’t even hang around for the opening of the new field. His mom is naïve and wants Zach to stand by his friend Bryce, but he’s over it. He grabs his sister and gets out of there.
8. Someone is blackmailing Marcus
That someone is Tyler and Goth kid Cyrus. They fancy themselves as puppet masters of the school so send Marcus a video of him making out with a scantily clad girl at the clubhouse and threaten to send it around if he doesn’t say something against Bryce. He’s super Christian and super concerned for his place at Harvard so when he gets up to make a speech as student council president, he calls Bryce out as the rapist he is, then runs off stage. After an attempt at smoothing things over by the principal, everyone applauds the Walkers anyway; at Liberty, buying a field absolves all sin. When Bryce catches up to Marcus later, he threatens him telling him he’s made a big mistake.
9. Skye is doing much better
The mental health facility has really worked for her. She hasn’t had phone privileges until recently so wasn’t receiving Clay’s calls/messages. Skye is diagnosed as bipolar and is responding well to the medication they have her on for now. Her mom doesn’t want her to go back to Liberty so she’s moving to another state to live with her aunt and uncle. As she tells Clay, she needs to hit the reset button and move on because she’s realized she needs to work to get well and wants to live a better life. Clay is heartbroken that she’s going to forget him, but she says she can let him go and still love him. She’ll always love him. Skye tells Clay he’s a good person and he can help people, just maybe not how he thinks they need to be helped. Listen up, Clay.
10. Alex discovers Justin overdosing
Alex arrives at Clay’s house to find Justin passed out on Clay’s bed with a needle in his arm. Then Justin starts choking on his own vomit and Alex struggles to roll him over because of his injuries. Eventually he manages and by the time Clay comes home, they’re sitting talking — presumably beside a pile of vomit. Alex is madder with Clay about the tapes than Justin for OD-ing. Clay defends his actions, saying it was time for Jessica’s truth to come out, but the others don’t agree. He asks for their help.
11. Alex grew his hair out to hide his scars
If you wondered about his new look, it’s mostly strategic. If people (including himself) can’t see the scars maybe they won’t be constantly reminded of his suicide attempt.
12. Tony beat up a dude names Lucas
While he’s working out with Caleb, a boxing gym regular (who can’t see out one eye because of injuries inflicted upon him) is introduced. Tony gets sketchy and makes a quick exit when Lucas seems to recognize him…
13. Clay’s parents fight
And it’s enough to drive Justin out of their house. He goes home to his junkie mom out of guilt for causing (more) trouble in the Jensen household.
Episode 9: “The Missing Page”
1. Kevin Porter – the school counselor – is dealing with some serious guilt
In a nutshell, Hannah didn’t spell it out for Mr. Porter that she was going to kill herself, so he didn’t take action and that is the truth he has to live with. He takes to the stand in this episode for a heartbreaking interrogation. Yes, he failed Hannah and yes, that makes him partly to blame for her death, but nobody owns their role in her death as much as Mr. Porter. He tells the courtroom he believes Hannah was raped though he didn’t necessarily think so at the time and — much to the school’s lawyer’s consternation — names Bryce as the student who raped her. Though the defense lawyer tries to make out Mr. Porter did everything by the Liberty High handbook, he doesn’t agree and thinks there’s more he could’ve done. He knows he could’ve stopped her from walking out the door. He knows he let her go. In an imagined scenario from the day she came to see him, Mr. Porter stops her and tells her it wasn’t her fault, men can control themselves and that consent isn’t complicated; Bryce should’ve known. It was his job to know. It wasn’t her fault. They need to get her some help. It isn’t too late. It’s so sad to imagine him replaying that scene in his head, editing it to say all the things he wishes he had at the time. Mr. Porter breaks down in tears in the stand. He thinks protocol needs to change, but more importantly he needs to change. He didn’t mean to let Hannah down and he’s truly sorry. The school won’t like it, but he has some peace at least.
2. Clay’s mom has moved out for a couple of days
She’s staying with her sister after that fight she and Mr. Jensen got into in the last episode. Clay, probably inspired by Skye’s leaving, wants to move to a new town and start over. He doesn’t want to go to Liberty anymore. His dad doesn’t think anything is broken that can’t be fixed, but Clay thinks he’s wrong.
3. Mrs. Walker doesn’t know what to believe
The Walkers have gathered for Sunday brunch at their home. Chloe is invited but doesn’t show up. When Bryce goes out to call her, his mom expresses doubts about her son’s innocence. She’s pissed about the “every girl at this school wants to be raped” line from Clay’s recording, but once again Bryce’s smarmy father puts it all down to jealousy.
4. Chloe doesn’t know what to believe
She’s still troubled over what she heard on the final tape but Bryce spins a story about he and Hannah hooking up and Hannah getting obsessed with him, so he just said the stuff on the last tape to get back at her. Logical. He tells her he would’ve told her sooner, but didn’t want to talk s— about a dead girl. Chloe kind of buys it, for now. His invitation to spend the summer in Italy with his family helps. Though she clams up a bit when his buddies come by and seems to think twice about the whole thing. When Zach approaches her later, she tells him she believes Bryce and that he has a good heart. “You can tell Bryce I believe him,” she tells Zach like she thinks he’s checking up on her on her boyfriend’s behalf.
5. Tony skips his boxing session
When Tony and his new boyfriend are hanging out, Caleb brings up Lucas (the guy from the gym that made Tony nervous), wondering why his presence affected him, but Tony says he’s only bothered about the trial and he doesn’t want to make his drama Caleb’s. They plan to watch soccer together to take his mind off things, but later, when Tony finds his car badly damaged, he’s furious. He and Caleb get into a physical fight but end up making up and making out. Tony wants to tell him all the bad things he’s done but he doesn’t think Caleb will like him after hearing it.
6. Tyler gets overexcited at the movies
After making a very particular popcorn order, Tyler and Mackenzie start making out in the theater until Tyler, well…Tyler has to excuse himself to go clean up. Embarrassing enough sure, but potentially lethal in a high school like Liberty where rumors get out all too easily. He leaves Mackenzie at the theater, saying he has a family emergency…
7. Which doesn’t sit well with her brother
Cyrus is pissed and Tyler pretends he was trying not to disrespect their friendship by dating Mackenzie, so that’s why he’s ending it. The guys make up and get down to plotting a takedown of more of Liberty’s jocks involving supplies and the word “boom.” Sure sounds ominous.
8. Justin’s mom is deluded
She’s so in love with/scared of Meth Seth that she won’t leave him as per Justin’s suggestion. Justin raids the house until he finds cash under a lamp and is about to take off when his mom sees him. He tells her he’s getting out of there and that she should too. She tells him Seth will kill her when he finds out, so Justin leaves her some cash telling her he can’t kill her, if he can’t find her and leaves.
9. Mrs. Bradley takes to the stand
She doesn’t think she did anything wrong. You’ll remember from season 1 that it was her class where students submitted anonymous letters to express their emotions and that included Hannah’s letter crying out for help. She maintains that she was trying to establish an honest environment in her class so couldn’t make anyone come forward even if their writing suggested emotional distress. Mrs. Bradley believes she made every resource available to her students and that sometimes teenagers just don’t know how to ask for help.
10. Principal Bolan makes a meta point
Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why was criticized for glorifying suicide as a means of escaping the world but still living on forever after they die, as well as encouraging copycats. In a conversation between Principal Bolan and Clay, the show seems to point to this very criticism. “Suicide contagion is a real thing, and we’ve got to take measures to protect you kids,” says Bolan. “Kids get talking about Hannah, maybe even admiring what she did. They might think somehow that this is an answer…”
Clay response seems to mirror the show’s intention: “Maybe they just wanted to start a conversation.”
11. Clay gets the s— kicked out of him and makes a big discovery
Yes, again. In the locker room, some guys throw a bag over his head and kick him repeatedly. It’s pretty brutal and enough to inspire him to team up with Cyrus and Tyler to take “back the power” by vandalizing the baseball field. They burn the word “rapists” into the grass and graffiti the surroundings. Then, while they’re busy spray-painting the fence, they notice a group of guys from the team go into a shed with some girls. Clay puts a few things together deducing that that shed is where the Polaroids of the girls that have been left mysteriously in his locker were taken. He texts Justin, who’s on his way out of town, ‘I need you. Please.’
12. Jessica is having fun with Nina’s pals
Having bonded over their mutual trauma, Jessica is spending more time with Nina and now some of her other friends. She winds up making out with one of her guy friends but freezes up mid-kiss. Her dad sees her and is not impressed. He’s worried about Nina not being a good influence. When Jessica asks if it’s because they’re black, he’s all like, ‘Have you looked at me recently?’ (He’s black.) They both laugh. She says she isn’t ready to be back kissing boys; she’s just trying to figure things out. They both agree not to tell her mom about it.
13. Alex gets a job at Mrs. Baker’s pharmacy
While they’re chitchatting at the counter, Mrs. Baker recognizes a woman and her daughter walking past the store. Later she shows up at a hotel room and begs the afore-spotted women, Maureen and her daughter Sarah, not to testify. Guess, we’ll find out more about that next episode.
Episode 10: “Smile, Bitches”
1. It’s Tony’s turn to take the stand
In a flashback scene, Tony and Hannah are getting manicures, when Tony admits to having a crush on Ryan. Hannah encourages Tony to ask him out and so he does. It seems Hannah and Tony were much closer than we initially realized, they kept each other’s secrets, as Tony puts it — including the fact that on Ryan and Tony’s first date, Tony beat the crap out of a dude who called them ‘faggots’ in the street. Yes, the same guy Tony has been avoiding at the boxing gym recently. After the incident, he runs from the police and ends up at the movie theater where Hannah is working. She hides him in the back when the cops come looking for him. Guess we finally know why Hannah signed the note that she left to Tony along with the tapes “you owe me.” Tony fails to mention the note’s existence in court.
2. Clay’s angry all the time
He has been since Hannah’s death and can’t tell anyone. Ghost Hannah advises he tells someone who’s alive who he’s feeling but Clay just can’t forget her, specifically kissing her; it was the happiest he’d ever been. He tries to kiss the ghost but can’t. Ever.
3. Sarah’s testimony in court is damning to Hannah
The teen girl from Hannah’s past we met fleetingly in the last episode is on the stand. Turns out Hannah and her former friends at her previous high school bullied Sarah at Ridgeview High. When the bully got so intense Sarah couldn’t take it anymore she told her mom, who told the school and Hannah and her two friends were suspended for a week. Sarah later dropped out of school. The defense lawyer is practically gleeful about this revelation, painting Hannah as troubled and cruel. Later Tony goes to see Sarah to tell her that Hannah was sorry for how she treated her and she knew she’d hurt her.
4. Clay and Justin have a plan to get into the clubhouse
But Sheri has a better plan. She wants to do it without tipping them off that they’ve been in there, so she convinces a couple of guys on the team to go there to smoke pot with her. Once she sees the code on the door’s lock, she tries to make an excuse so she doesn’t actually have to go in but then Bryce shows up and gives her no choice in the matter. She’s scared in their presence and quickly makes an excuse to leave but not before Bryce snaps a Polaroid of her that he then puts into a box along with a stack of other pics of girls. When she tells Justin and Clay about it, they make a plan to steal it.
5. Mr. Porter’s job is under review
Principal Bolan is not pleased with the guidance counselor’s testimony. Mr. Porter isn’t allowed direct contact with students while he’s under review, but when Justin stops by he tries to engage him in conversation. Porter tells Justin he can help him graduate on time and wants to know what his long-term plan is. Justin isn’t much of a talker but when he tries to walk out, Mr. Porter doesn’t let him, righting the wrong he did to Hannah. He tells Justin things are going to be hard, and he has to let people help him.
6. Jessica and Nina get into a fight
Jess realizes that Nina maybe hasn’t dealt with her s— as much as she claimed to when discovers she’d rather start things up with a new guy than tell her boyfriend the truth about what happened to her. Nina isn’t pleased about being called out and accuses Jess of still being in love with Justin. Jessica does not deny it.
7. Someone puts a bullet in Alex’s locker
BECAUSE THESE KIDS ARE TERRIBLE.
8. The baseball team is a f—ing family
Or so goes Bryce’s speech in the locker room before their big name, anyway. He’s all riled up and telling the guys he loves them, but Zach is really done with it and walks off mid-game. Meanwhile, Clay and Justin are rummaging through the clubhouse when Zach barges in. But fear not, he’s here to help. After establishing that Clay’s not afraid of any retribution coming his way, he grabs the box of Polaroids and hands them over. Turns out it was Zach leaving the photos in Clay’s locker all along. He was just too much of a coward to talk to him about it directly.
9. Jackie leaves Mrs. Baker
With a note, Mrs. Baker’s emotional support is gone. It seems the story about Hannah being a bully in her old school was too much for her.
10. Tyler goes to a concert with Cyrus and pals
It’s a heavy punk metal kinda thing and there’s a crazy mosh pit. Tyler is just getting into the swing of things when he takes an elbow to the nose and starts bleeding. He heads to the back to clean up and Cyrus’ sister MacKenzie comes over to see if he’s okay. They’ve not seen each other since the disastrous date. She tells him she knows what happened and tries to make him feel better about it, but he gets embarrassed realizing some of his friends can hear and ends up yelling at her that he left because she’s boring and he doesn’t like her like that. Cyrus overhears and yells at Tyler that no one talks to his sister like that and to get out. Poor lonely Tyler can’t catch a break.
11. Marcus gets his revenge on Tyler
After Tyler and Cryus blackmailed Marcus with a photo of him with a girl, Marcus posts a pic of Tyler naked along with his phone number on some kind of dating site. Tyler is inundated with texts from people looking to hook up.
12. Someone breaks into the Bakers’ pharmacy and trashes it
They paint the word “move” on the windows. We suspect it’s the same troublemakers targeting everyone else.
13. The sleazy Polaroids go back years
And there’s even one of Hannah wearing Bryce’s jacket to torment Clay further. He doesn’t get why these girls are getting themselves into this situation in the first place, but Sheri’s having none of that and makes sure to put him in his place. “Girls don’t get themselves into bad situations; guys make situations bad,” she tells Clay and Justin. They find a photo of Nina and then one of Chloe passed out while Bryce is having sex with her and decide they need to show it to her so she’ll want to report it and take Bryce down. We’ll see how that pans out next episode.
Episode 11: “Bryce and Chloe”
1. Bryce Walker, football star
There’s many things have that bothered me about Liberty High, but a very trivial one is why the baseball kids are the top jocks. Well, the Bryce spotlight episode begins with a flashback to all the same baseball kids playing football (a real popular guy sport!). After Bryce goes full Odell Beckham Jr. and wins the game, he has no one to celebrate with, considering his parents are nowhere to be found, until he spots Hannah. They a pleasant back-and-forth that includes a concussion joke (don’t tell Will Smith). Then, as she leaves, Bryce says in voiceover that she pursued him.
2. Bryce Walker, glasses wearer
Back in the present, Bryce’s preparation for court includes suddenly wearing glasses, which his dad says make him look more empathetic and relatable. “Can’t he just be those things?” his mom asks. Fair question, but probably too late for that.
3. Bryce and Hannah’s “relationship”
Once he takes the stand, Bryce begins spinning a tale of his on-again, off-again relationship with Hannah. Through his testimony, we see unreliable flashbacks of their “creepy” hangout, deep conversations, and multiple hook ups. He says it never became more than that because Hannah wasn’t girlfriend material.
4. Clay can’t help but question Hannah
No word on what the jury thinks of Bryce’s story, but it’s working on Clay. “I wanted to be with him forever,” Ghost Hannah whispers in his ear. “I was in love with him.” As she refuses to give him a straight answer on whether Bryce was lying, he continues to completely spiral.
5. Nina and Chloe learn the truth
Clay may be unhappy with his search for the truth, but Nina and Chloe are finally getting answers, even if they didn’t know they needed them. First, Jess shares Nina’s clubhouse photo with her, and then does the same with Chloe. “Why would he do this?” she asks upon seeing the photos of Bryce having sex with her as she lay unconscious. Chloe says she had hoped the rumors about Jessica were true, which is why she was the one who plastered those photos of Jessica in the classroom. But, these new photos have her ready to switch sides and testify for the Bakers.
6. Tyler’s good times aren’t lasting
It wasn’t that long ago that things were looking up for Tyler. But gone are his new BFF and his possible GF, and maybe even worse, his little incident at the movies has gone public, hence a kid squirting either ranch or glue all over Tyler in the hallway.
7. Zach’s transition is complete
Welcome to the non-jock side, Zach. Having previously walked off the field mid-game, Zach officially quits the baseball team after his coach tries to guilt him into staying with memories of how he was there for Zach when his father died. I don’t know your name, Mr. Jerk Baseball Coach, but you sir, are no Coach Taylor. (To be fair, who can be?).
Upon his return to school from court, Bryce gets a hero’s welcome from his boys, which doesn’t sit well with everyone else. Justin confronting Bryce over lying about Hannah leads to an all-out brawl with Tony, Clay, Alex, Monty, Zach, and Cyrus joining in (like always, Tyler is just taking some pics). Heck, even Mr. Porter and the coach go at it after initially attempting to break things up. One person who didn’t throw any punches is Scottie, who we often see accompanying Bryce. “I play baseball, that doesn’t make me a f—ing rapist,” he declares to Clay. Good to know.
9. There’s a polaroid thief on the loose
Word is out that Chloe is going to testify, prompting everyone to somehow easily get out of detention. But, unfortunately, Clay didn’t get out in time to stop someone from breaking into his car and stealing the box of clubhouse pictures. “We are f—ed,” opines Clay.
10. Chloe doesn’t stick to the script
Maybe not! Chloe is on the stand, recalling her time in the clubhouse, which she calls a “blur.” She doesn’t remember the photos being taken, but when Dennis asks if she remembers having sex, she pauses, looks at Bryce, and says she does. Okay Clay, you were right.
11. Guns for everyone
A disappointing day in court has left Clay a mess (again). Tyler attempts to comfort him, offering to show him what real power feels like. They go shooting in the woods and they’re both way too into it. It gets even worse as Tyler suggests putting a name to the targets. Clay doesn’t, but Hannah does, whispering Bryce’s name as he pulls the trigger. When approaching sirens breaks up the pal around, they split up, with Clay keeping the gun. Elsewhere in kids having too easy access to guns, someone has sent one to Alex with the accompanying note: “How can you live with yourself?” This jogs Alex’s memory of playing a shooting video game with Monty as Bryce raped Hannah nearby.
12. Bryce’s home life
She heard his story in court, but Bryce’s mom wants to know what really happened with Hannah. He tells a dark and graphic account, admitting to raping her. “Is that what you want to hear?” he says, prompting his mom to slap him. Later that night, he’s drinking and reflecting on his testimony, but this time, we see that —unsurprisingly — everything was the opposite of what he said, including the rape, which he gets aroused thinking about.
13. Clay goes to Bryce’s house, again
Ghost Hannah is fully in Clay’s head and he’s out for justice. Just as armed Clay arrives at Bryce’s house (the scene of last season’s beat down confession), Justin shows up and tries to talk his new friend down. “She won’t stop,” cries Clay, pointing the gun at his own head. At this moment, Bryce walks out, sharing the appropriate reaction: “What the f—?”
Episode Grade: B-
Episode 12: “The Box of Polaroids”
1. Powerful friendship
Taking a page from Arrested Development, 13 Reasons Why goes full Boyfights for the beginning of “The Box of Polaroids.” In the Bryce and Justin friendship origin story, the third-graders become BFFs after Bryce comes to Justin’s aide during a fight and steals him a Twinkie.
2. Where we left off
The two have come along the way in the time since, which currently has them both wondering what Clay is going to do with the gun in his hand. Justin is able to talk him down, grabbing the gun and telling Bryce to go inside and be quiet. “I’ve got nothing left to lose,” Justin tells his former friend. “And that makes me the dangerous one.” He will definitely be a very dangerous witness as he’s officially set to take the stand.
3. Alex has cracked the case
Worried that he’s once again tried to take his own life, Alex’s mom and Zach beat down Alex’s door, only to find him awaking from quite the slumber. Mom is mad that Alex is eating candy, while Zach is mad that he sent texts about a gun and then didn’t respond. But don’t worry Zach, because Alex knows who has been messing with them.
4. Justin is ready to testify
Clay’s mom is back home just in time to help Justin prepare for court, which he warns Clay could involve sharing some stuff about Hannah that’s tough to hear. “I just don’t want you to start hating me again,” says Justin, to which Clay responds, “Who said I stopped?” Awwww, look at these adorable new BFFs. Dennis and Olivia are also helping Justin prep and they want to know if he’s afraid of Bryce: “Not a goddamn bit.” Okay, I’m officially all in on Justin.
5. And it could have gone better
Well, admirable try, but that ruthless defense lawyer for the school is a piece of work. It started well with Justin’s sweet story of his one innocent night spent at Hannah’s. He even came off sympathetic when he admitted to not saying anything because he was afraid “of losing my best friend, my girlfriend, my entire life, which I guess I already lost.” It takes a rough turn for Justin, though, as the lawyer brings up his drug use and continues to repeat that he never actually saw Bryce and Jessica having sex.
6. Tyler lands in trouble
Tyler and his parents have been called into the principal’s office over his vandalism of the baseball field. He deserves to be in trouble since he narc’d on himself by sharing photos of it on Facebook. Principal Bolan is referring Tyler to a diversionary program and, upon completion, he’ll be welcomed back. On the way out, they run into Cyrus and his dad, who tries to be nice, but Tyler returns the favor by taunting his one friend.
7. Who the hell is Monty?
We finally know who was threatening everyone! It was Monty!! Right?! I can’t believe it, even if it’s mostly because I had to double check that Monty (fun shortening of Montgomery) is this generic jock’s name. Yes, I noticed him in the background throughout the year, but this is about as underwhelming as a reveal can get considering the lack of development of that character. Another generic jock Scottie is the one who notified our rat pack of Monty’s troublemaking (at least he had the memorable baseball player line last episode). After Alex pulls a gun, Monty agrees to take him to the photos, but it was all a lie to get Alex alone so he can get away.
8. Goodbye, Mr. Porter
Speaking of going away, Mr. Porter is officially out at Liberty. This is a sad day for me since he’s my favorite character (and only 60 percent of that is because he’ll forever be Boobie Miles). Porter tells the principal that he’ll take the blame this time, but what about the next time? He leaves behinds folders of the most critical kids, which Principal Bolan seems to have no regard for, just dropping it back on the desk. And whose picture do we see at the top of the stack? Tyler.
9. Chloe standing by Bryce
As if her testimony wasn’t enough of a sign, Chloe is sticking with Bryce, assuring her boyfriend that she believes him. He thinks that trust is well earned, declaring, “I’m a good person.”
10. Jess is ready to tell her story
With the pictures still missing, the whole crew shows up at Jess’ house with a message: All of these girls need someone to stand up for them. “We stand by you,” says Clay. “We believe you.” Like Hannah, he insists that Jess’ story deserves to be told. “If I do this, everything changes,” she responds, to which Clay opines, “Maybe it needs to change.” No, it definitely needs to change. Justin and Jess both go speak to the cops about her rape and the rest of this new group of friends are there to support them.
11. The verdict is in
Everyone (minus Papa Baker) convenes at the courthouse to learn that the jury has found the school to not be responsible. Despite the outcome, Olivia delivers a powerful speech afterwards. “My daughter wasn’t the perfect victim… there’s no such thing,” she says. “I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t faced sexual assault, abuse, or worst. Not one. Many survive. My daughter didn’t, and that’s not her fault.” On a show dominated by teenagers, Kate Walsh has delivered as good a performance as anyone this season.
12. Tough ruling, but at least Bryce is going to pay!
There is good news for Olivia and Jess: Bryce is arrested. “You’re making a big f—ing mistake,” he tells Jess as he does the perp walk. Happy ending, right?
13. Oh wait, Justin too.
Not so fast. Justin is also arrested, charged with being an accessory. He’s much nicer to Jess, saying that it’s okay. Jess is crying and asks Olivia what they’re going to do. “We keep fighting,” declares Olivia, who embraces her daughter’s former BFF.
Episode Grade: B
Episode 13: “Bye”
1. 13 Reasons Why women speaking about sexual assault
The season 2 finale jumps ahead one month to Bryce’s sentencing. Still with the glasses on, he apologizes, blaming the party culture and assuring the judge he will be a positive influence. Jess then gets her turn to speak, before a powerful and emotional sequence of the other female 13 Reasons Why characters sharing their own stories of sexual assault, which are all different but also all too familiar. “When we leave this courtroom, Bryce Walker gets to leave convinced that he chose the wrong girl to have sex with,” says Jess. “I get to leave constantly looking over my shoulder for monsters dressed up as the popular kid, constantly on edge, always assuming the worst in every boy.” She closes by imploring the judge to prove that their stories matter too.
2. Another disappointing verdict
And we’re officially two-for-two in bad rulings. With Bryce’s lawyer arguing that he’s been punished enough, having lost his scholarship and baseball season, the judge opts for rehabilitation with a sentence of only three months probation. Clay’s mom, who now works with Dennis, rightfully flips out.
3. Justin is still in jail and Monty may be headed there
Continuing to show how screwed up the legal system is, Justin is still locked up, unable to be released until his missing mom is tracked down. Meanwhile, Monty isn’t in jail yet, but Alex’s dad is interrogating him about the threats he made against his son and the rest of the crew.
4. Bryce and Tyler return to school
Bryce doesn’t waste anytime going back to campus to clean out his locker, which is when he runs into old BFF Zach. They’ll see each other next year on the football field since Bryce is transferring in as a junior to a private school that he definitely only got into because of his rich parents. But they’ll actually see each other even sooner as Bryce is accompanying Chloe to the dance. “Loyalty,” Bryce says. “It’s a thing, huh?” Also making their big return to Liberty is Tyler, who seems to be doing really well. He’s got a new haircut and a new attitude. After seeing the new guidance counselor (Dr. Neela!), Tyler tracks down Mackenzie and asks her to the dance. Unfortunately, she’s dating a guy named Eric. There’s always an Eric.
5. Clay finishes getting inked
It took a while, but Clay finally finishes getting inked up, now sporting a legit semicolon (read here for more on the meaning). “The thing I’m most afraid of is forgetting you,” Clay tells Hannah, who says not to. “The second thing I’m most afraid of is that I’ll never be able to let you go.”
6. Hannah officially laid to rest
Initially too ashamed, Andy and Olivia are now ready to have a service for Hannah. “If there is a God, I want him to see that my little girl deserves his care,” Olivia tells a sympathetic priest. On the day of the service, Andy and Olivia speak before giving way to Clay. “Hannah, I love you, and I let you go,” he declares as we see only her looking on. She then gets up and walks into the light at the back of the church. Goodbye forever, Hannah Baker?
7. 11 Reasons Why Not
Clay organized an after service hangout at the coffee shop, which ends up being pretty eventful. Quick summary: Justin is out of jail and going to be adopted by Clay’s parents; Alex and Jess are dating; Ryan (yes, he still exists) is taking a gap year to travel; Tony and his boyfriend are cool; Olivia is moving to New York to live Hannah’s dream for her. But before Olivia leaves, she has something important to show Clay: Hannah’s Reasons Why. Olivia found the list of reasons to stay alive on her daughter’s computer. The list includes Clay, Clay again (as helmet), writing, New York, mom, dad, two mom and dads, and maybe, three times. “She came up just short,” notes Olivia. “But she left so many out, you know that, don’t you? No matter how many reasons there might be why, there are always more why not.” They share a warm embrace.
8. Tyler’s return takes a dark turn
Like many scenes in the first season, this is hard to write about. In the bathroom at school, Monty and two other jocks suddenly surround Tyler, who apologizes for anything he had done to them. But an enraged Monty smashes Tyler’s head into the mirror and sink, then dragging him into a stall and drowning his head in the toilet. Then, as Tyler is held down, Monty grabs a mop and shoves the wooden end into Tyler’s rear. After a few moments of holding it in, Monty pulls it out the now bloody handle and leaves Tyler on the floor with his pants down.
9. Justin and Nina’s secrets
Life should be good for Justin. He’s now with a loving family and has a new BFF/brother, but that doesn’t erase his demons. When Clay makes a food run, Justin shoots up, even as a young version of himself looks on. Also harboring a secret, albeit not as dark, is Nina. She’s the one stole the clubhouse pictures, subsequently burning them all.
10. Who doesn’t love a classic Hollywood high school dance?
The trials and lawsuits and everything are over, so it’s time to dance your problems away. Like the post-service get together, a lot goes down here, so let’s quickly summarize: everyone enjoys a big group dance; Jess and Alex kiss; Justin and Bryce reminisce; people keep telling Clay he needs to get laid; Jess and Justin have sex in the locker room; Clay goes emo when “The Night We Met,” a.k.a. the song he and Hannah dances to, comes on, but is surrounded and comforted by Tony, Jess, and company. What close group of unlikely friends they have all become.
11. Well, Chloe has been better
Not everyone is enjoying the dance as Jess runs into a panicked Chloe in the bathroom. It turns out, she’s pregnant with Bryce’s child.
12. Tyler’s breaking point
Tyler tried; he really did. He came back with a good attitude and looking to make amends, but that was all out the window after his abuse at the hands of Monty. As his classmates enjoy the dance and each other, Tyler looks to be preparing for war. With a large collection of guns in tow, the troubled teenager heads for the school. But before he arrives, he gives Mackenzie a heads up, hoping she’ll leave. Instead, she shares the info with Clay who decides that he will try to talk Tyler down. After instructing the others to lock the doors and star inside, Clay meets a fully armed Tyler outside. “I hurt too,” admits Clay. Tyler gets spooked when Jess and Justin make an appearance, soon followed by sirens. “There’s nothing else I can do,” he says as he points a gun at Clay, who responds, “There is. We’ll figure this out.” Clay is eventually successful, helping Tyler lower the gun just as Tony pulls up. Tyler gets in and Tony speeds off. One problem, for some reason, Clay kept Tyler’s huge assault rifle. As the sirens get closer, Jess and Justin once again arrive, with Justin declaring, “This is f—ed up, right?” Yes, yes it is.
13. What now?
The last line of the episode belongs to Justin, who asks, “What do we do now?” Well, great question, J. Whereas the first season appeared closed ended and a second season unnecessary, the door is clearly left wide open here for a third installment. Hannah’s story is now over, and with the final scene and the constant real life incidents, it seems likely that gun violence could take on a large role when the show makes its likely return.
Episode Grade: B+
Based on the 2007 novel written by Jay Asher, the Netflix drama follows a teen named Clay who attempts to figure out what led his classmate and crush, Hannah, to commit suicide.