This second season of the hit Netflix show based off the novel by Jay Asher picks off five months after the events of season one. The trial to prove that Hannah’s school was responsible for her suicide is set to begin. We see the show’s hero, Clay is now dating Skye and even sets out to get a tattoo in memory of Hannah (which leads to Clay passing out, but he does redeem himself in the end). We see how each of the characters have lived since everything pretty much went to shit at the end of season one. Jessica is trying to move forward since revealing to her parents that Bryce raped her, by going back to school. Alex also returns to school after his suicide attempt that has left him needing a cane to walk. Tony is working on his anger by boxing as per court order to keep himself out of jail.
But drives this second season are the photographs that show that Bryce is even more horrible than we thought, which is saying a lot for a teenager that is violent and a serial rapist. Clay wants nothing more than to forget about Hannah and move on with his relationship with Skye (they were very cute together), but when Clay finds a polaroid of Bryce in the act of raping another unconscious woman with a note on the back that says “Hannah wasn’t the only one” it triggers Clay seeing Hannah’s ghost (not really her ghost but it kind of feels like her ghost). Although Clay feels he did his part by getting Bryce to admit what he did on tape last season, he is called back to get justice for Hannah.
The photos seem to be this season’s version of the tapes that told Hannah’s story. They are left for Clay to find and shows that Bryce has no limits. Even raping his girlfriend, Chloe while she was unconscious in the house of horrors known as the clubhouse. Bryce knows what he is doing, even admitting it to his naive mother what he did. Her slap and look of horror when she learns her son is a monster doesn’t even affect Bryce. More disturbing, Bryce replays the memory of raping Hannah in the hot tub and has an erection. If this season is known for one thing, it is showing how evil and soulless Bryce is. Even, telling Clay that he is a good kid, needs to get laid, but is a good kid. The very smugness of this guy made me want to punch my TV because men like him exist in the real world, and much like the real world, they are not brought to justice even when their victims stand up to them and tell their story like Jessica did.
FYI, Bryce only gets three months probation after he is arrested for raping Jessica, after the school is found innocent of responsibility for Hannah’s suicide.
Now, here’s the thing. This season doesn’t feel that it is out to get justice for Hannah, even though that is Clay’s mission, and one he takes so seriously that it nearly destroys all his relationships. This season feels like unnecessary continuation when season one told Hannah’s story and seemed to get justice for her in a way that this season didn’t even come close to doing. In fact, a sincerity was lost in this season. Although, it was great to see a character like Jessica begin to heal from her assault, grow stronger and start to rebuild her life. However, that is a small glimmer of hope in a season that was made solely for entertainment value.
This season does not spark the conversations about depression, sexual assault, and bullying as the first season did. We are given looks at what it is to be teenager and how the earth shattering reality of the pain that many go through is often overlooked by the adults that are supposed to guide and protect them, but at the same time it feels hollow. The sake of shock value to keep the viewer interested. Such is the case in the last episode Bye where Tyler returns to school after being sent to a diversion program after he post a picture of him and new friend Cyrus burning the word Rapist in the school’s baseball field. Tyler is viciously and graphically sodomized with a broomstick by Montgomery (Bryce Jr) in retaliation for the baseball season being canceled. That act leaves Tyler broken both mentally and physically. During the school dance where everyone seems to start the healing process since Hannah’s suicide, Tyler arrives outside armed and ready to shoot everyone until Clay talks him down and gets Tony to drive Tyler away, leaving him holding the assault rifle that would have taken so many lives if used. However, again it all feels like a tool to propel a possible third season and gives a scene that is so hard to watch that I had to look away.
However, I leave it up to you to judge. I just urge that for many of us who have dealt with the issues that this series explores, that you don’t watch this alone.
13 Reasons Why, is available for streaming on Netflix.