[Editor's Note: Spoilers ahead for season one of 13 Reasons Why.]
Netflix's new series, 13 Reasons Why, tackles extremely heavy but important subject matter in 13 emotionally charged episodes. The Selena Gomez-produced series, which is based on Jay Asher's bestselling novel of the same name, explores serious issues like teen suicide and bullying by chronicling the reasons why Hannah Baker decided to take her own life.
As the series progresses, the chain of events that led Hannah down such a state of despair becomes more clear. But what remains uncertain for much of the season, is why Clay Jensen, who is seemingly a sweet, reserved and respectful kid, would end up as a reason for his classmate's suicide. Of course, we do eventually learn what role Clay played.
Unlike many of the other tapes' subjects, Clay's actions were not nefarious. But still, we do realize that he likely could have prevented Hannah from experiencing certain events that ultimately led to her downward spiral. And to fully understand why Hannah would make such a drastic decision, let's dig a bit deeper into each one of her tapes.
Tape 1, Side A: Justin Foley
Hannah's first tape chronicles her early moments as the new girl at Liberty High. This first episode allows us to get know Hannah before she went down such a path of despair. She was a sweet girl who worked at the local theater and seemed to just be looking to meet new people. And at her first party, she meets Justin Foley, a charming and popular jock.
The two eventually hit it off at school, and Hannah agrees to meet him at a nearby park, where they end up kissing — and nothing more. The next morning, Hannah comes to school with a smile on her face, likely feeling as good as you'd imagine after a laid-back night with a crush. But her world is turned upside-down when a picture Justin takes from under her skirt gets sent around school.
And this truly begins Hannah's troubles, as she becomes labeled as "easy" and a "slut."
Tape 1, Side B: Jessica Davis
On the first side of Hannah's first tape she is betrayed by a crush; on the second side she is betrayed by a friend. And so it seems to go for the new girl at school who is just looking to find her place. Early on it looks like Hannah is able to overcome the horrible events from the previous side of the tape. And she eventually even develops quite a friendship with Jessica Davis.
The two initially seem inseparable, and meet at the local coffee shop almost daily. Later, the duo invite Alex Standall into the group, and the three new kids at school appear to have found their place together. Things go downhill, though, when Jessica and Alex start dating, which ultimately leads Hannah to feel pushed out.
But things really get bad when Alex creates a school list, which rates Hannah as having the "best ass," and Jessica as having the worst. This leads Jessica to blame Hannah — though she had nothing to do with it — for her breakup with Alex. And despite Hannah's pleas to talk things out, Jessica ends up slapping her.
Tape 2, Side A: Alex Standall
Many of Hannah's tapes tell of the same event from different points of view. And the first side of the second tape rewinds a bit and shows why Jessica and Alex end up having their falling out. Alex's relationship with Jessica makes him popular among some of the jocks at Liberty High, who are impressed with how much "he's getting."
But since Alex actually hadn't sealed the deal with Jessica, he lashed out by creating a list identifying the best and worst of Liberty High. And as previously mentioned, he lists Hannah as having the "best ass," while marking Jessica as having the worst. And for making this list, in retaliation against Jessica, Alex ends up a subject on Hannah's tapes.
It is important though to note that Alex, unlike many of the other subjects, does feel an incredible amount of guilt for the role he played in Hannah's suicide, leading him to make an attempt on his own life.
Tape 2, Side B: Tyler Down
If you thought that things couldn't get any worse for Hannah, you were wrong. The next subject on her tapes is Tyler Down, a socially awkward kid who works as the photographer for the school yearbook. At some point, Tyler becomes infatuated (he says in love) with Hannah and ends up stalking her.
Hannah, who suspects that she is being watched from outside her window, enlists the help of Courtney, a nice girl from school. The two plan on catching the stalker in the act, but after some drinks and a game of Truth or Dare, they end up sharing a kiss, which is caught on camera when Tyler snaps a photo.
When Courtney realizes that the stalker is a boy from school, she freaks, clearly afraid that she will be outed. Hannah tries to protect Courtney by getting the photos from Tyler, but her rejection leads him to send the photo around the school.
Tape 3, Side A: Courtney Crimson
Courtney is the next subject, with Hannah punishing her for the actions she took in the aftermath of Tyler's photo going viral throughout the school. While nobody is able to tell exactly who the two girls are in the image, the continued scrutiny eventually becomes too much for Courtney, and to save herself, she throws Hannah under the bus.
At a school dance, which Courtney attended with a few of her friends, including Hannah, she tells a boy that it is not her in the photo, but Hannah and a student named Laura, who is openly gay. This, along with the rumors that surround her and Justin, leads to a continued deterioration of Hannah's reputation.
Tape 3, Side B: Marcus Cole
Things obviously do not get better for Hannah as the tapes progress. And on her next tape, Hannah tells of her experiences on Valentine's Day. At Liberty High, the cheerleaders organize a matchmaking service, where for a dollar, students can find out who they are most compatible with at school. While Hannah is disappointed with her results, she gets a call from Marcus, who had her on his list.
At first, Marcus seems genuinely nice. He begs for a chance to take her out, saying that he would buy her anything she wants at the local diner. And Hannah agrees to the date, which Marcus shows up an hour late for, and with his friends no less. Still, Hannah decides to give Marcus a chance. But things soon turn ugly when Marcus tries to take advantage of Hannah.
When she rejects him, Marcus lashes out, exclaiming that he thought she was supposed to be "easy." And the tape ends with Hannah humiliated and in shock.
Tape 4, Side A: Zach Dempsey
Watching 13 Reasons Why can be a complicated experience. It is truly difficult to see one student go through so much pain, when just one positive experience could save her life. But also, it can be hard to see how some students, who are not inherently bad people, could end up pushing Hannah toward making an irrevocable decision. Zach Dempsey is one of those students.
Zach, like Justin, is a jock at Liberty High. In fact, he is the school's best basketball player. But he is also more reserved than his classmates; you can tell that he wants to be a "good" person. And following Hannah's experience with Marcus, Zach tries to comfort her. He later expresses his feelings for her, but by saying the thinks she is more than just a "great ass," he really puts his foot in his mouth.
And Zach does not take rejection well. In retaliation for Hannah turning him away, Zach ends up stealing anonymous compliment notes that were meant for Hannah. And these are notes that Hannah looked forward to each day. When she learns that Zach is the one that is stealing the notes, she leaves a note for him, baring her soul. But he tosses the note aside, leaving Hannah utterly dismayed.
Tape 4, Side B: Ryan Shaver
Prior to this tape, we do not know much about Ryan Shaver. But as it turns out, he plays a monumental role in Hannah's ongoing depression. At a point when it seems things could not get any worse for Hannah, she decides to join a poetry group and eventually gains the courage to recite her own poems. She also develops a friendship with Ryan, who is in the group.
But Ryan becomes upset when Hannah is unwilling to publish one of her poems in his school magazine. He felt that Hannah should enlighten those at school by sharing her powerful words. And to that extent, he was paying Hannah a compliment. But in a complete betrayal, Ryan goes ahead and publishes Hannah's poem anonymously, without her consent.
Now, the entire school can read the dark and intimate words that Hannah never intended to be shared with anyone else.
Tape 5, Side A: Justin Foley
You may now notice that a familiar name has come up. And that is because Hannah makes not one tape for Justin, but two. And this tape, along with the next two, ultimately chronicle the night that sent Hannah plummeting down a deep hole of despair. It is in this tape that Hannah first explains the events of a party at Jessica Davis' house.
At this point, Jessica is now dating Justin, and the two are all over each other. But because she has too much to drink, Jessica passes out while the two are fooling around. When Justin is unable to nudge her awake, he leaves her on the bed to sleep. Unbeknownst to Justin, Hannah was hiding in the room for reasons that we will learn in subsequent tapes.
While Jessica is sleeping, Bryce Walker persuades Justin to allow him into the room with her. His argument is essentially: "What is mine is yours." And what happens next is painful for both the audience and Hannah to watch. Bryce rapes Jessica, with Hannah in the room crying. And for allowing it to happen, Justin becomes the subject of his second tape.
Tape 5, Side B: Sheri Holland
Now we come to another student at Liberty High who never intended to be a bad person, but made a mistake that had grave ramifications. And in this respect, 13 Reasons Why continuously serves as a cautionary tale; one that exemplifies that our actions do have consequences.
Sheri Holland is a popular cheerleader at Liberty High, and someone that appears to be outgoing, friendly and respectful. But at Jessica's party, things go wrong. Sheri offers to give a distraught and completely shocked Hannah a ride home, but while driving distracted, ends up knocking down a stop sign at an intersection.
Afraid she would get in trouble, Sheri leaves the scene of the accident. And because Hannah refuses to do so, she is left behind. While Hannah goes to a nearby convenience store to alert the police to the stop sign being down, she is too late. As moments later, Jeff Atkins is killed in a car accident that likely would have been prevented if the stop sign remained upright.
Tape 6, Side A: Clay Jensen
After listening to 10 tapes, Clay finally makes it to the role he played in Hannah's suicide. And we learn that Clay likely could have prevented much of what Hannah experienced in the prior two tapes. Again, we are at Jessica's party, where Clay and Hannah are beginning to hit it off. They eventually go up to an empty room — which will later be occupied by Jessica and Justin — and fool around.
Things initially seem to be going well, and Clay even asks if what he is doing is all right. But Hannah begins to feel overwhelmed while reliving all her previous interactions with men. This causes her to ask Clay, quite pointedly, to leave her alone. And while he tries to console her, he does eventually acquiesce. And it is for leaving Hannah behind in that room that Clay is made the subject of the tape.
If you think Clay was just respecting Hannah's demands, you'd be right. And Hannah says as much when telling Clay that he really doesn't deserve to be on the tape. But still, she felt it important to chronicle how that night with Clay did contribute to what came next.
Tape 6, Side B: Bryce Walker
We now come to what initially was going to be Hannah's final tape. Despite everything that came before this, Hannah still tried to keep an upbeat spirit. But after losing a large sum of money that she was supposed to deposit for her parents, she ends up going on a long walk that leads her to a party at Bryce Walker's house. And this party ends up being the last straw.
By the time Hannah makes it to the party, things are already starting to wind down. Still, she joins Justin, Jessica and Zach in Bryce's hot tub. But when they all leave her behind, Bryce joins her and eventually forces himself upon her. And by raping Hannah, Bryce sends her down a path of no return.
Tape 7, Side A: Mr. Porter
Before Hannah gets to tape seven, she records the previous six. She seemed to have made up her mind that she was going to take her life. But before going through with it, she decides to give herself one more chance, and visits the school's guidance counselor, Mr. Porter. She takes with her a new tape, which she uses to discreetly record the interaction.
Without explicitly stating that she is suicidal, Hannah tells Mr. Porter everything she needs to in order to convince him that she is in a bad place. And though Mr. Porter listens, by not taking her concerns quite as seriously as he should have, and for not going after her when she leaves his office, he becomes the subject of Hannah's final tape.
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