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'13 Reasons Why' Season 2 Episode 13 Recap: 'Bye'

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“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.

Editor's Note

This post is a review of season two, episode 13 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. We suggest everyone skip past minutes 38 to 40.

No one should watch the scene in the last episode of “13 Reasons Why” where Tyler is violently sexually assaulted by Montgomery. I’m not going to share any further details about what happens because it is incredibly graphic and likely triggering for many. I felt sick after watching it and several others whom I spoke to said they felt similarly. I’m not sure why the show felt it necessary to include it, but I recommend skipping the entire scene (from minutes 38 to 40). If you did watch it and are triggered, please reach out to a trusted individual whom you can process your feelings with. If that does not exist for you, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For more resources, check out the resource box at the end of this post.

We’ll come back to Tyler later in this review, but first, let’s go back to the beginning of the episode. Episode 13 picks up one month after Bryce and Justin’s arrest. Bryce is being sentenced and speaks about how sorry he is. Jessica gets to speak as well. “I may not remember all of the details, but I will never forget the sheer terror of feeling your weight on top of me. Of not being able to breathe,” she says looking at Bryce. As upsetting as it is to rehear the details of Jessica’s rape, the show turns her speech into a poignant homage to the #MeToo movement. While speaking, Jessica morphs into Hannah, who shares her story, then Nina, Courtney, Mrs. Baker, Sheri, Mrs. Jensen, Mackenzie and Jessica’s mom all detail times they were assaulted or harassed. 

Jessica asks the judge to give him a tough sentence, “It can say to victims like me, that our story matters.” But that’s not what happens. Bryce gets sentenced to three months probation, Justin, somehow, gets six months. During his sentencing, Bryce’s lawyer and the judge says a few disturbing things that anyone who’s followed the #MeToo movement knows happens in real life. Bryce’s lawyer talks about what Bryce has lost — his scholarships and a potential baseball championship — meanwhile, the judge talks about not wanting to “do any further damage” and that both Bryce and Jessica should look hard at their “lives and choices.” It’s a weak sentence and obviously disappointing but Jessica says she still feels stronger for going through with it and pressing charges.

Another nice tribute to the #MeToo movement was the casting of Anthony Rapp as the priest overseeing Hannah’s service. Anthony Rapp was the first person to come out and say they were sexually assaulted by Kevin Spacey.

Mr. and Mrs. Baker meet with a church to have a service for Hannah. They admit they haven’t done so sooner because they were ashamed. We find out they went to other churches who refused them because Hannah died by suicide, which is considered a sin by some. “One act does not define a life,” the priest tells them and so they hold the service there at the church. The priest also talks to Clay and explains that the God he believes in, a just God, would have mercy on a soul like Hannah’s. 

Clay speaks at Hannah’s service and most of his speech is delivered to hallucination Hannah.  Sharing something similar to what Skye said to him, Clay says, “I can love you and still let you go. So, Hannah, I love you and I let you go. I miss you, and I hope that wherever you go next, you feel peace, you feel safe, in a way that you never did here.” That seems to be enough for hallucination Hannah and she gets up and walks out into a white light. While I’m not sorry to see hallucination Hannah go, the show never addresses why Clay was hallucinating. In season one, it’s discussed that Clay had or has a mental illness. This information paired with his hallucinations would have made for a great conversation about what getting help looks like, but we don’t get that. 

After the service, there is a gathering at Monet’s. Mrs. Baker tells Clay she’s moving to New York because it was Hannah’s dream. She also gives him Hannah’s list of “Reasons Why Not,” which has 11 items on it. “No matter how many reasons why,” Mrs. Baker tells him, “there are more reasons why not.” Clay nods in agreement. This would be a powerful statement if it didn’t just feel like the show addressing criticism for showing suicide as something that comes from a negative series of events. Season one was criticized for glorifying suicide and season two, while it tried to right some of its previous wrongs, still managed to put Hannah on a pillar. 

It’s not just Mrs. Baker who is moving, Clay tells Justin that the Jensens want to adopt him. “You know I’m like really fucked up, right?” Justin says, crying. Clay says they still want to adopt him and Justin accepts. Also at Monet’s, we also learn that Alex and Jessica are dating. It’s worth applauding “13 Reasons Why” here for maintaining Alex’s disability the entire season. I had predicted Alex would have injuries following his suicide attempt for maybe one or two episodes and then be miraculously cured, but, like real life, that didn’t happen. The show treated his disability respectfully and that’s appreciated. 

It is, unfortunately, time to return to Tyler’s storyline. I think I’ve said this in every review I’ve written where guns were involved: I wish the show didn’t go there. While we can try and justify the reasons someone may end their life, nothing can justify a school shooting. Brutalizing Tyler to show a “reason why” he might turn to guns was unnecessary. The show could have cut both the violence to Tyler and the gun storyline and still have been a complete show. In fact, if it ended after episode 12, it still would have had enough suspense for there to be a “13 Reasons Why” season three.

The violence against Tyler is perpetrated by Montgomery (Monty). Earlier in the episode, we see charges have been filed against Monty for terrorizing Clay and the others. Despite everything, Monty is still loyal to Bryce, who is leaving Liberty to go to a private school called Hillcrest. Monty asks Bryce how he can help, and Bryce tells him to forget it as well as get out of his life. 

Monty doesn’t take this rejection well and decides to take it out on Tyler, who has just met the new school counselor. Tyler tells the counselor he is going well and has learned how to control his emotions. This is the first time we see a fairly major character (I’m not counting Skye here) get help, so what happens next is all the more devastating.

Monty, for some reason, blames Tyler for ruining the baseball season and takes his anger out on him. Tyler tries to respond the way he learned in his program, but Montgomery doesn’t let up. It’s devastating to watch, and again, if you haven’t watched yet, I recommend you skip over this bit. 

Tyler is seriously wounded after the assault. One would hope that someone would find him or that he’d reach out for help, but similar to Hannah’s storyline in season one, he decides to take matters into his own hands. How he is functioning at this point is beyond me. He has a serious head wound and should be in the hospital. Tyler lies to his parents about his first day back, and you have to wonder how oblivious his parents are.

It’s time for the school dance and almost everyone at Liberty High is there, including Bryce. No idea why the school would let him attend the dance, but there he is. Other than Bryce being there, the dance starts off nice. Caleb is there with Tony, Courtney is there with her girlfriend Tamika and Jessica and Alex kiss.

Of course, in “13 Reasons Why” land, things can’t stay nice for more than two minutes. Jessica wanders off and finds Justin. Justin asks Jessica if she thinks about ending her life. She says no and Justin agrees. He’s had shitty days but always wanted to live. They kiss and are intimate. It’s nice to see Jessica be in a position of power, but it’s hard not to feel for Alex.

The song Clay and Hannah danced to at last year’s formal “The Night We Met” by Lord Huron plays and Clay gets sucked into the past. Fortunately, Clay isn’t the only person who remembers how meaningful the song is. Tony comes over and the rest of the crew follows until it becomes a slow dancing group hug.

The hug doesn’t last for long because Tyler is on his way with his arsenal of guns. He texts Mackenzie on his way over to the school, likely something along the lines of “get out, I’m going to go on a shooting spree.” Cyrus shows the text to Clay, who decides he has to do something. He tells Jessica and Justin to get Tony and to lock the doors and keep everyone inside. He also tells them not to call the police. If you call the police, it’s over for Tyler, he explains. It’s clear he wants to save Tyler, whereas he couldn’t save Hannah.

We’ve already discussed here and in previous reviews how comparing Tyler and Hannah is dangerous. Clearly Hannah needed help and, clearly, Tyler needs help. But it’s not Clay’s responsibility. No 17-year-old should feel that burden. It’s fortunate that Clay is able to stop Tyler from going through with the school shooting, but the risk he took was huge and should not be celebrated.

Clay asks what we should do when someone is in need and makes a terrible mistake. I don’t know how to answer that when it relates to a student bringing guns to school to kill their classmates, but I do know the way he handled it was wrong. If your response is, “it’s just a television show,” you are technically correct. However, the show aired on the day of the school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, so the message we send to teens — a demographic who watches this show — about school shootings and gun violence seems important here. I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation, but I don’t think the answer is arranging a getaway car a la Tony.

Stray Observations and Future Questions

  • I really hope Clay drops the gun before the cops arrive.
  • Clay’s mom leaves the firm she was working at to represent survivors of sexual assault. 
  • Was that “Meth” Seth, Justin’s mom’s boyfriend, sitting in the car outside Monet’s after Hannah’s service?
  • Clay finally finishes getting the semicolon tattoo he wasn’t able to finish in the first episode.
  • Alex cuts his hair and you can see the scar from his suicide attempt. It was nice seeing him become more comfortable with himself as the show progressed.
  • Justin returning to drugs in front of the child version of himself was devastating.
  • It was Nina who stole the photos and, in episode 13, burns them.
  • Chloe is pregnant. Yikes. Maybe that explains her change in heart and why she didn’t testify against Bryce.

Our rating:  (zero stars)

Anything good this episode did is irrelevant due to the graphic sexual assault scene and gun violence storyline.

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. 

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.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the way the episode ended?
  2. Do you think the show learned from the criticism it received after season one?

Header image via Netflix

Originally published: May 21, 2018
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