In episodes 5-8, I was blown away by how 13 REASONS WHY handled themes like sexuality, death, bullying, rape among many others proving this show is necessary viewing. Netflix can often over promise and under deliver but with 13 Reasons Why they get it right. In the fifth installment in the series we meet another reason for Hannah Baker to take her own life, Courtney. Within in minutes of this episode we learn that Courtney and Hannah were caught kissing in a photo that was shared by Tyler, Yearbook Photographer and local stalker with the entire school. Oddly enough no one can recognize the girls in the photo until the girls attend Winter formal in a group. Unfortunately for Courtney, some people did pick up on the fact that it was Hannah and Courtney kissing — including one disgusting guy that really wants a threesome with the girls. He approaches Courtney who lies and tells him that it was Hannah and Sky (another student) in the photo and she even gives him details of the night in the park with Hannah and Justin.
It was surprising when Hannah forgave Courtney and tried to get her friendship back as it seems like she’s desperate for friendship even it means it’s filled with more drama than it’s worth. I did however like how the writers wrote for Courtney. She’s nothing like what I’ve ever seen on TV before she not only breaks stereotypes but confronts them in such a manner that her honesty prevails and makes her likeable.
The sixth installment takes place on Valentine’s Day which for most highschoolers already makes you cringe but for Hannah you get even more upset. Hannah admits, she hoped would help her connect with a special someone, which we presume is Clay but turns out to be Marcus, her next reason. Hannah and Marcus connect when Marcus gets her name during a school-sanctioned “match-making” charity event. He begs her for a date at Rosie’s Diner, and, against Hannah’s better judgement, she shows up. Unfortunately, Marcus is an hour late and arrives with a bunch of jocks making Hannah even more upset – but not so angry that she won’t share the rest of her milkshake. Weirdly, it appears that things are going well he makes her laugh and they do share a couple of cute moments that is until Marcus tries to feel her up. She pushes him off her as he mentions that he only asked her on a date because he thought she would be easy. Hannah is paralyzed with embarrassment and shock she can’t even move, she sits as eyes past judgment. In present day, Clay offers to help sweet cheerleader Sheri with her essay and invites her back to his place. Unfortunately, Sheri has ulterior motives because she’s also on the tape for setting up Marcus and Hannah as part of the charity event, but so far, the tapes haven’t mentioned any cruelty she’s committed against Hannah.
One of the biggest shockers for me was Alex getting into a fight at school given his father is a cop and he’s been trying to lay low to keep eyes on the group. The fight was hard to watch as he gets pummeled punch after punch and the aftermath leaves his face looking like a misplaced puzzle. The fight does bring to light what I feared could only be true at a school with such a poisonous student body that the administration’s ability to ignore anything that could make the school look bad. Perhaps, this is not only the overarching cause to Hannah Baker’s suicide but the perfect backdrop for the Bakers to win their case.
This was by far my favorite episode thus far, as it deals with sexual harassment in such a manner that doesn’t leave anything under question. I appreciate the “in your face” approach to telling this story, as you’re unable to get around the hard subjects but instead forcing you to watch everything as it unfolds in front of your eyes. The plot points and storylines coupled with the cinematography, smooth editing and amazing performances from the cast leave you wanting more.
The seventh episode involves Zach. He was on of the athlete’s that was a part of Marcus’s crew at the dinner. Following Marcus groping Hannah at Rosie’s Diner, the basketball star actually comes back and sits down with Hannah. Zach appears to be completely different than Justin he actually seems like a nice human. He admits to admiring Hannah for some time at the dinner and she perks up as they talk. The next day, Zach approaches Hannah and proclaims his feelings for her but makes the mistake of bringing up Alex’s list that only makes her upset as she’s obviously unsure of his intentions. When a guy sits down to tell you he likes you and throws in something horrible when you’ve been trying to fit in, you’re obviously going to be turned off. Hannah loses it and Zach goes back to his friends with his tail between in his legs. Duh. The next day, Hannah finds that her “compliment bag” — an exercise in communications class for students to share kind anonymously — is mysteriously empty. She quickly realizes that Zach has been emptying her bag, which only makes Hannah feel even more upset and alone. She gets the crazy idea to not only set a trap but write him a letter about what she’s going through and how the notes represent hope.
She catches Zach with the letter, and sees him reading it in the hallway — only for him to toss it on the ground and walk away once she publicly calls him out. This sends Clay down a spiral of emotions as he wants to punish Zach for what he’s done to Hannah – taking away the hope she so desperately needed. He vandalizes his $60,000 car while at a basketball game and is confronted by his mother the next day. Clay admits to it, and he and Zach talk about what Hannah said on the seventh tape, prompting Zach to show that he still has the letter and never threw it away. Maybe Zach is an okay person? This new admission makes Clay question if he should even listen to the rest of the tapes. This episode attempts to end with Clay putting down the tapes and for a moment we believe for him it is over. At last, Clay finally reaches a turning point that I never even saw coming. When he decides to put the tapes down part of me wondered if Hannah knew he would do that and if she did maybe she instructed Tony to publicly release the tapes as it’s obvious the most important person that needs to listen to the tapes is Clay. The aftermath of the tapes is already looming and it at this point it feels like we’re moving in slow motion.
In the 8th episode we learn that even though Clay may be taking a break Hannah’s story will keep going. The next person who hurt Hannah is the man who published her private thoughts in his poetry zine, Ryan (Tommy Dorfman).
Hannah searches for a college that will give her both financial aid and acceptance given her low GPA and meets a librarian (MTV Scream’s Tom Maden) who invites her to a poetry reading. The event is put on by Ryan which makes her angry at first since he published the hot list but once she hears Ryan’s poetry she’s moved and inspired to do the same for others.
Ryan becomes Hannah’s tutor. They go over Hannah’s old diaries, and Ryan tells her that all poetry should be as embarrassing as reading your diary out loud. He steals a few pages from her diary and publishes them in his zine making Hannah even more upset. She rightfully loses when it becomes even more clear that Hannah is the one who wrote those poems and is met with criticism on her most private thoughts.
This episode enraged me to my core because this is something every single person on her tapes has played a part in. She received so much judgment from her peers it became increasingly harder to even watch as I lost all sympathy for everyone. I’m now rooting for Clay and Tony to not only seek revenge on those that have wronged her, but hopefully they release the tapes publicly so the Baker family can receive the justice they so desperately deserve.
What did you think about the tapes? Would you forgive Courtney? Will you keep watching 13 Reasons Why?
Season 1, Episode 5-8 (S01E05-08)
13 Reasons Why is available now on Netflix
Jerrica Long | Contributor