The last 5 episodes of 13 REASONS WHY provides an unexpected conclusion that was undoubtedly worth the wait. The quiet analysis and commentary on high school life brings chills to your soul that will leave you broken open and questioning how you treated others while in high school. In the world of Instagram, Facebook, cyberbullying, and Donald Trump this is required viewing because if you didn’t understand empathy or what exactly could drive a person to commit suicide you will at this end of this series, as writers chose to hold nothing back.
In the 9th installment of the series is devastating as it brings out the truth of what really happened at Jessica’s party. We quickly learn that tape nine is Justin’s tape well part two of it at least and it’s not what he did but what he didn’t do. Clay invites Hannah to Jessica’s party, she’s ready for a new start, with old friends. Hannah hides when she hears a drunk Jessica and Justin come into Jessica’s bedroom. The couple starts making out, until Jessica, obviously drunk, tells Justin she needs to sleep. Justin leaves slightly annoyed that they won’t be having sex as he walks out he bumps into Bryce. Bryce uses Justin’s loyalty to his advantage as he pushes his way in, telling Justin that Jessica’s not his girlfriend but his “summer hookup,” and even remarks that “what’s yours is mine” as he goes into the room to rape Jessica. Justin did attempt to stop him but Bryce pushes in and locks the door behind him, meanwhile Hannah is still hiding in the bedroom. This moment explains Jessica’s behavior but not Justin’s as he only wants to forget it even happened and constantly questions why she’s acting so erratic. At this point I’m really starting to question why Jessica is still even with Justin, he’s a coward but maybe there’s something we still haven’t learned yet.
In the 10th episode in the series we learn that Hannah’s suicide is directly connected to the death of another student, Jeff (Brandon Larracuente). It was Clay’s tutoring student and friend that died in a car accident shortly after leaving Jessica’s party. As Hannah later explains, Sheri — the subject of tape 10 — is to blame for his death. After bearing witness to Jessica’s rape, a wasted Hannah makes her way downstairs and accepts a ride home from a sober Sheri. While driving Sheri accidentally hits and knocks over a stop sign and refuses to call the police because she’s scared that her dad would be upset with her if he found out. This is by far one of the most selfish decisions anyone makes in this episode and is a direct result of a lot of the pain that follows.
Hannah heads to a liquor store to make a phone call since her cell is dead and Sheri left her. The cashier could care less about Hannah doing the right thing so she has to take his phone and make the call herself. However, the “accident” at the intersection has already been reported to the police. At first, Hannah believes Sheri called but we learn that it was Clay that made the phone call. A secret that has finally come to light in present day.
Jeff who was on his way back from making a beer run, got into a collision with another car — he never stopped because there was no sign. This new admission gives Clay some peace of mind because he believed that Jeff was driving drunk. He confronts Sheri and insists that she tells Jeff’s parents what really went down that night, but she says she won’t: what’s done is done.
Clay takes it upon himself to tell Jeff’s parents and admits to calling 9-1-1 and that Jeff didn’t knock over the sign. Jeff’s father questions how Clay could know this information and questions if Clay knocked down the sign.
This episode is reminiscent of all those times teachers tell students not to drink and drive which can sometimes miss the heart of that conversation, which is to be a responsible driver. If Sheri would’ve done the right thing and called about the sign or at least tried to fix it somehow, a boy wouldn’t have died. This entire series brings to light all the decisions made in one moment and the domino effect it can have on one life. Why is it that the good people always die?
At last, we finally get to Clay’s tape in the 11th installment, and quickly learn that he didn’t do anything to Hannah and is in fact “innocent.” Hannah admits that Clay shouldn’t really be on the tapes but is a huge part of her story which deserved its own tape. We go back to Jessica’s party and see Clay and Hannah finally sharing a cute moment that was encouraged by Jeff. This alone is heartbreaking seeing what happened to Jeff in the last episode; he was truly a good friend and person. Clay and Hannah end up having a fun night together and end up in Jessica’s room, and begin to make out. Finally! The moment is cut short when Hannah realizes she couldn’t stop thinking about all of the guys who hurt her. That was the reason, she stopped the make out session and screamed at him to leave when she really wanted to make him stay.
In present day, Clay is torn up with guilt about what he could have done to help Hannah. He tells Tony that he shouldn’t have left her — he killed her, and possibly Jeff, by not insisting that he stay. Tony reminds Clay that Hannah was the one who made her choice. She told him to go, and he did what she asked.
This episode has a modern day Romeo and Juliet feel to it as it showcases a love that may have begun but never really found its place. I enjoyed finally getting to Clay’s tape as I wondered what could he have done to hurt Hannah. I should’ve known that Clay was only being himself and that what’s landed him on the tape, so maybe all the tapes won’t be so bad.
Episode 12 brings us to Hannah’s penultimate tape finally bringing to the light the worst day of her life. It all starts with her parents arguing over how to deal with their landlord, whom they owe back rent too since the WalPlex has hurt the family business. Hannah offers to drop off some of her money at the bank to ease the tension, which actually settles things for a bit with the Baker family.
Hannah stops by the movie theater on the way back from the bank to pick up her last paycheck from Clay since she quit at her parent’s request. Clay is a bit put off since this is the first time they’ve seen each other since the party but surprisingly they have a great conversation. Hannah’s good deed comes to a halt when she loses the money meant to save her family. She feels horrible about the entire situation but her parents seem alright propelling her emotions to an all-time high. She takes a walk and finds her way at Bryce’s party. She walks in to find Jessica completely wasted in the hot tub but somehow she has the energy and invites Hannah to get in. Jessica and Justin disappear leaving her in the hot tub with Bryce as she tries to leave he pulls her back in and rapes her.
This last moment was so triggering I had to pause the episode and take a moment before I could continue. I understand the writers wanting to show the honesty of what just happened in its purest form and that it was supposed to be hard to watch as I’ve said before there is no sugar coating any tough subjects in this series but that doesn’t negate the fact that this moment like many others can be triggering. The saving grace of choosing to show these moments on a global platform was that they were handled with such care that moved me to my core and broke me open in a way a TV show in the last 5 years has yet to do.
When Hannah leaves Bryce’s party, she makes a map of everyone that’s ever hurt her and how each of their all connected. She steps back to examine the list and makes the decision that no one will ever hurt her again. The list includes everyone who has done horrible things to protect themselves from judgment (read: justice). Everyone except Sheri has been subpoenaed to appear in the Baker’s civil hearing so in fact the Baker Family may actually get justice. Assuming no one will believe Hannah’s story Clay takes justice into his own hands and confronts Bryce while pretending to buy weed. He uses this opportunity to ask about that night with Hannah. Bryce believes that Hannah gave consent which makes Clay loose it and punche Bryce in the face. The football player beats Clay so badly it hurt to even watch. He secretly taped the conversation with Bryce and this will become “Tape 14.” Meanwhile, Jessica comes to terms with her pain and pours out the liquor bottles down the bathroom sink and takes a hot shower to clean herself of all the pain.
The final installment of the series starts with a happy and optimistic Hannah who wants to turn her life around and give it one more shot. She seeks help from guidance counselor, Mr. Porter (Derek Luke), who is everything but helpful and understanding. He makes several mistakes in trying to guide Hannah but the worst was telling her to move on and suggesting that she consented to her own rape. Mr.Porter lacked the empathy and prowess to be of any help to Hannah and ultimately helped her make the decision to end her life. We quickly learn that she’s been recording this conversation for her last tape. Tape 13. “Some of you cared. None of you cared enough,” says Hannah at the end of her recording. “And neither did I.”
Hannah goes to the post office to mail her tapes and runs into Robert, the librarian she met at the college fair who asks her to come back to the poetry readings. It was at this moment I wondered if she would call her suicide off and take Robert up on his offer. Unfortunately, she stands by her decision and puts on some old clothes, fills her bathtub with water, and slits her wrists open. The scene was one I knew was coming but wasn’t ready for. Throughout 13 Reasons Why we’ve gotten to know Hannah in a way that makes her feel like a friend so when she takes her life it hurts.
In present day, Clay confronts Porter about Hannah, and he refuses to take the blame for anything since he didn’t know what was going on in her head as Clay pulls out the tapes. It’s so incredibly sad that the people who are supposed to make sure students don’t fall through the cracks are the ones that can hurt them when they’re needed the most. Meanwhile, the other students are giving their own taped deposition and no one fesses up to anything except Sheri who admits to her role in Jeff’s accident. Tyler, who doesn’t confess to his wrong doing does mention the tapes and all of the bullying that happens at Liberty High School.
Just before he leaves for his deposition taping, we see Tyler packing up guns and ammunition into his camera case. It’s clear he has plans and even a list, as he stands in a dark room surrounded by photos of all the people who were cruel to him. There’s a quick flashback to Alex standing up for Tyler in the school hallway as we jump back to the present he removes Alex’s photo and we see Clay’s photo hanging. Tony goes to the Baker’s pharmacy and presents them with Hannah’s tapes including Bryce’s confession. Tony apologizes for the delay and realizes this is the only way for Hannah’s story to end. Meanwhile, as the group makes confessions to their loved ones we learn that Alex, has shot himself in the head. His was the body we saw in the back of an ambulance at the very beginning. It was no surprise that he was suicidal but as the group struggled to stay together I wonder why anyone didn’t try to help him.
Clay being the good friend we all need sees another person hurting, Sky, walking down the hallway who appears to be Hannah for a quick moment as he asks her if she wants to hang out. Clay is noticeably becoming more at peace with the entire ordeal as is looking to move forward in his life. Clay, Tony and Tony’s boyfriend take a ride in Tony’s car, a quick callback to the tapes, ends with a peaceful ride into what I hoep is a better future.
Overall, this show has changed me as a person and a critic the bar has been raised to a level most broadcast and networks have yet to reach too. This show is something that will stick with you for years to come and undoubtedly make you a better person to others. The casting, writers, directors, and cinematography are more than worthy of awards as this show not only raised the bar but put it so high it’s going to take years for other shows to catch up.
Season 1, Episode 09-13 (S01E09-13)
13 Reasons Why airs on Netflix
Jerrica Long | Contributor