'13 Reasons Why' Season 2 Episode 11 Recap: 'Bryce and Chloe'
“13 Reasons Why” was one of the most talked-about shows of 2017. This season, we’re analyzing what each episode means for the mental health community.
This post is a review of season two, episode 11 of “13 Reasons Why” and contains spoilers.
Content warnings: This episode of “13 Reasons Why” shows graphic depictions and explanations of rape, references suicide and has a gun plotline that may be distressing to viewers.
Episode 11 begins with an extra content warning from Netflix, and as a warning, the content of the episode may be incredibly triggering for sexual assault survivors.
The episode focuses on both Bryce and Chloe’s testimonies and the different ways they both lie on stand. In Bryce’s testimony, he claims him and Hannah had an “on again, off again relationship.” He says he could tell she was a bit troubled when she invited him on a date near a bridge and talked about how she liked to come there to remember how precious life is and how easily someone could “splat” if they jumped off. He claims they went there often to look at the stars, make out or sometimes “make love.” When he said “make love,” I almost choked. As we know, what Bryce does is anything but loving.
During the testimony, Clay struggles with not knowing if Bryce is lying or not. Hallucination Hannah makes an appearance in court and whispers in Clay’s ear, “I wanted to be with him forever. I was in love with him.”
The Baker’s lawyer then goes after Bryce in a direct line of questioning that leaves little doubt that Bryce did not obtain consent when he had sex with Hannah in the hot tub. He asks Bryce if she said she wanted to have sex, to which he replies “no.” He asks if Hannah gave any hand gestures, like a thumbs up for example, that indicated she wanted to have sex. Bryce replies in the negative again. Finally, the lawyer asks, “Then you had sex with her against her will, isn’t that correct?” to which Bryce replies, “I knew what she wanted.” These are the kind of words that can send shivers down your spine.
Bryce then explains he would never want to hurt any girl, especially when he thinks of his mom and girlfriend. But as we saw a few seconds before, Chloe gets up and leaves as he is on the stand. The camera pans over to Chloe’s empty seat, and Bryce sees that she has left. When court adjourns, we see that there is a group of guys waiting to congratulate and cheer on Bryce after his testimony. Can you say, yuck? Seriously, who does that?
Later on in the episode, we learn what Bryce says in court is false, but we’ll get to that later.
After Bryce’s testimony, Jessica goes to Chloe to show her the polaroid Clay and Justin found in the clubhouse of Bryce raping Chloe. Before showing her the photo she says, “This is going to be hard to look at, OK?” They talk and Chloe has no memory of having sex with Bryce and realizes she was raped while unconscious. Chloe admits she was the one who put up the pictures that called Jessica a drunk slut in an earlier episode. She explains she thought it would keep Jessica from speaking out against Bryce in court because she believed him at the time. This conversation leads Jessica to ask Chloe to testify in court about Bryce raping her. In the next scene Chloe, Chloe’s mom, Mrs. Baker, Jessica and the Baker’s lawyer sit down and talk through her assault and what she will say on the stand. But when Chloe actually testifies, she makes eye contact with Bryce and says she remembers wanting to have sex with him and that he did not rape her.
Multiple people are devastated after Chloe’s deposition. When discussing options about moving forward in the case with her lawyer, Mrs. Baker says, “I don’t want Bryce Walker’s money, I want him dead.”
Clay is especially distraught after Chloe lies on the stand, so Tyler takes him to the woods to shoot bottles with guns to make him feel better. Clay comments on how good Tyler is and he replies that it helps him to name his targets and think of people he doesn’t like. Clay tries Tyler’s strategy, and hallucination Hannah appears to help him name his target — Bryce Walker. Clay hits the bottle perfectly. The cops come because of the gunshots and while Tyler is trying to get them to flee, hallucination Hannah begins describing her rape in graphic detail to Clay. Clay pockets the gun and runs away before the cops arrive.
Later on in the episode, Justin, Clay and Tony are in the hallway at school. When Justin sees Bryce, he calls him a liar then throws him against the locker and punches him. Tony joins in when Montgomery calls him a faggot, something we know triggers his rage. Cyrus is always looking for trouble, so he and his band of punk kids join in. Clay joins in as well, and it becomes chaos in the hallway with all the boys fighting. Tyler stays back in the crowd gathering around and takes pictures as the fight goes on. Zach goes in on Bryce, and Montgomery defends Bryce by hitting Zach. Alex arrives on the scene and hits Montgomery with his cane. Seeing the fight triggers Alex’s memory of Montgomery beating him up about something related to Hannah, though he’s not yet sure what that is. Even Mr. Porter and Coach get involved while trying to break up the fight. Courtney eventually ends the fight by pulling the fire alarm.
Now, let’s talk about what really happened during the events Bryce described in his testimony. We see Bryce reflecting while sitting in his room and find out that when they drove out to the bridge, it was him who said the things about how easy it would be to “splat” by jumping off the bridge, not Hannah. We learn Bryce is very troubled by his parents’ absence from his life, and talks to Hannah about this. They didn’t actually hook up in the clubhouse like he said they did. He tried to kiss her and she rebuffed him saying, “I like you, but as a friend.”
We learn even more about Hannah’s rape in the hot tub in a conversation Bryce has with his mom. We’ve seen in the last few episodes that Bryce’s mom seems to know her son isn’t innocent. She begins questioning him about his actions with Chloe, then Hannah. In regards to Hannah, she says, “Was she just another thing you wanted?”
Bryce then goes into a graphic description of what happened. “I fucked her from behind. Hard. Until she cried. Is that what you want to hear?” Bryce’s mom responds by slapping him and saying he brought shame on the family.
As Bryce reflects on mental images of Hannah being raped, we see that he gets an erection from the thought of overpowering her. Bryce couldn’t handle Hannah’s rejection, so he took what he wanted by force. It’s not the thought of sex that makes him hard, it’s the thought of power, and feeling entitled to taking what he wants.
The next time we see Clay after stealing the gun from Tyler, he’s walking with purpose and calls Justin and asks him to meet him in his car. He says he has to do something. At this point, we are worried he’s going to shoot someone. When he hangs up, we see hallucination Hannah continue to describe her rape to him in graphic detail, which is what propels him forward. In this case, hallucination Hannah seems to represent intrusive thoughts Clay can’t shake.
Clay walks to Bryce’s house. Justin pulls up in Clay’s car just in time. Clay is determined to get justice for Hannah by shooting Bryce. He says, “I can’t count on anyone else anymore. I have to do this for myself.” Justin tries to talk him down and Clay points the gun at Justin. Justin tries to explain that Jessica agreed to have him testify about her rape and that they can get Bryce that way. During this conversation hallucination Hannah continues to scream graphic details about her rape. Finally, Justin says, “Listen Clay, I know you loved her, but she’s gone. And going in there and hurting Bryce now is not going to bring her back. She’s gone.”
Clay asks Justin how to get “her” to stop. Justin doesn’t know who “she” is because he obviously cannot see hallucination Hannah. Clay then puts the gun to his head and hallucination Hannah keeps talking through details of her rape. Then Bryce opens the door and there is a tense moment. Clay lowers the gun from his head and the episode ends on a cliffhanger.
Stray Observations and Future Questions
- Bryce does not look more empathetic in his glasses like his lawyer hopes he will. Still looks like a jerk to me!
- The baseball coach tries to get Zach to be more of a team player by manipulating him (“Wasn’t I there for you last summer?” referring to when Zach’s dad died). Much to my surprise, Zach stands up for himself. He calls the coach out on his manipulation (“You don’t get to do that… If you were any kind of ‘father’ to this team, you would have stopped their bullshit years ago”). Woo! Go, Zach! Boundaries! Zach then quits the team.
- Jessica shows Nina the polaroid of her in the clubhouse from her assault, and it leads to a conversation about how Nina may not be as healed from her rape as she hoped she was. She explains a feeling many survivors and advocates face — suppressing their own pain to be strong for others. She tells Jessica, “I wanted to be strong for you, to be what you needed, but I’m not.”
- When the baseball coach talks to Mr. Porter, in regards to Bryce he says, “I would hate for someone’s future to be ruined.” This is a very common sentiment we heard in the wake of the #MeToo movement — people expressing concern for the careers/lives of the perpetrators. Folks said their lives shouldn’t be ruined for “one mistake,” but the reality is, many survivors of sexual assault experience lifelong mental health effects as the result of that “one mistake” and we often fail to acknowledge this.
- Clay’s car was broken into and the box from the Clubhouse was stolen. Who took the polaroids?
- Alex gets a package with a gun and note that says, “How can you live with yourself?” Alex finally remembers the memory he has been searching for all season. He and Montgomery hear Hannah being raped while they are playing video games.
- We finally see hallucination Hannah as less of a “voice of reason” and more a manifestation of Clay’s deteriorating mental state.
Though it was important to show the horror of Bryce’s thinking as a rapist, (i.e. that power is more important than the sex), it was hard to watch. Also, hallucination Hannah’s narration of graphic details of her assault was pretty painful and potentially triggering to hear. The fact that Clay has not yet received treatment and is unraveling more and more is very concerning, particularly because it’s being used as a way to “ramp up” the drama, not create awareness about seeking help for mental health.
What would you rate this episode? You can vote in our Twitter poll below or in the comments section at the end of this article.
Because "13 Reasons Why" covers topics relevant to the mental health community, we are reviewing every episode so people can determine if episodes are too triggering to watch or can read afterward to work through the subject matter. If you watched Ep 11, how would you rate it?
— The Mighty (@TheMightySite) May 20, 2018
You can follow along with the rest of our “13 Reasons Why” reviews here.
Want to watch “13 Reasons Why” with us? Use the hashtag #WatchWithTheMighty when you post your thoughts on social media or let us know what you think in the comments below.
- What do you think about the way this episode ended?
- Do you think the details hallucination Hannah was shouting were too triggering, or do you think they moved the plot forward in an important way?
Header image via Netflix.