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13 Reasons Why Season 3, Episode 8 Review 'In High School, Even on a Good Day, It's Hard to Tell Who's on Your Side.'

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“13 Reasons Why” is one of the most talked-about shows within the mental health community. This season, we’re breaking down each episode to see how the show’s coverage of mental health issues has evolved.

Editor's Note

This post is a review of season three, episode eight of “13 Reasons Why” and contains spoilers. 

This episode revolves around the growing suspicion of Clay being linked to Bryce’s death. Mr. Porter and a police officer pull in students one by one in order to ask them about various school incidents over the past year, zoning in on Clay’s actions, reactions, and character. Clay learns about Bryce’s therapy sessions with Mr. Porter. He also finds out that Tyler was sexually assaulted by Monty in the bathroom.

What Happens in Episode Eight

Things are pretty tense between Clay and Ani throughout the episode, starting when he catches her in his room. Clay is clearly upset that Ani has been asking students about him and Homecoming all day.

Clay and his family have a meeting about what measures need to be taken in order to protect Clay, who is looking like a suspect in Bryce’s murder case. Things escalate when his parents suggest that Clay should talk to Dr. Ellman. Clay gets offended, interpreting it as his parents thinking he is “crazy.”

The stigma surrounding mental health services is shown by Clay’s reaction to his parents suggesting he speak to Dr. Ellman. “So, you think I’m, like, crazy?” Unfortunately, this is how a lot of people see services such as therapy. This can prevent many people from seeking help. It is clear that Clay could benefit from talking to a mental health professional. He is under an immense amount of stress and lacks healthy coping mechanisms for his anger. Also, Clay recently saw, heard, and spoke to Bryce, who is dead. What is up with that? Is that supposed to be an indicator of some kind of psychosis? History seems to be repeating itself as once again Clay finds himself obsessing over and being possessive of a girl who does not love him back.

Clay goes to talk to Mrs. Walker, emphasizing that while he did not like her son, he is not responsible for Bryce’s death. While snooping, Clay finds a note which appears written by Mrs. Walker and states how much of a burden her son is to her. He becomes convinced that Mr. Porter and Mrs. Walker are trying to frame him for the murder.

Clay spots police officers and Mr. Porter at the school. They are questioning students one at a time regarding Clay’s character and actions. Overall, the students speak highly of Clay’s character, defending him at every opportunity.

Clay’s obsessive and possessive nature comes through when he displays his anger over Bryce and Ani’s relationship. He makes a scene in school while talking to Ani, and other students may now think that Ani and Bryce had sex.

Mr. Porter sees an interaction between Monty and Tyler, one which indicates some incident may have happened between them. He later reports this to Clay, asking if he noticed a “sudden change in behavior” because it appears as if Tyler has been through trauma.

Mr. Porter is concerned about Tyler and possible trauma linked to Monty, leading to Clay asking Tyler himself. Mr. Porter noticed a “sudden change in behavior,” but even Clay claims to have noticed signs, such as Tyler not wanting to be touched by anyone (e.g., flinching away from touch), avoiding the school bathrooms, and exhibiting suicidal behaviors. Tyler finally opens up to someone about this trauma, but he is not open to going to an adult for help. This provides some insight into how complicated it is to report sexual assaults. Many times, victims are not believed and a trial itself can be a devastating experience. Clay reacted by asking if it was okay for him to hug Tyler. This brings up the topic of sexual assault and how to react to such disclosures.

Ani recognizes Mr. Porter from a previous visit at the Walker household. She tells Clay that Mr. Porter was helping Bryce, even giving him a journal and providing therapy. Bryce was working on becoming better, driven by his new relationship. Bryce admits that he still has intrusive sexual thoughts and expresses concerns to Mr. Porter that he will always be a “rapist.” Mr.Porter suggests programs to deal with the emotional issues, also suggesting that he hold off on dating and having sex.

Tyler finally tells Clay about the bathroom incident with Monty. Tyler says he does not want to tell an adult, but told Bryce, who left him a voicemail claiming to have handled it.

Monty and Clay get into an argument. Monty tells Clay to look closer to home (at Justin), especially the shaving cream Justin is always carrying around. At home, Clay opens up the cream container to find a prescription bottle of Bryce Walker’s oxycodone. Is Justin linked to Bryce’s death?

This episode looks into Bryce’s therapy sessions with Mr. Porter and his mother. Bryce journaled daily and clearly was driven to become a better person. He opens up about his difficult family relationships as well as his sexual intrusive thoughts. Bryce not utilizing the programs Mr. Porter gives him may be another example of stigma. It can be very difficult to seek help, especially for certain stigmatized topics. It is interesting to see the character development of Bryce, a character who is formerly seen as purely evil. Now, the flashbacks show that he wants to change and become better, giving depth to a previously one-dimensional character. Can someone overcome such issues? What does it take to turn someone with a violent past into someone who is better?

Rating: four out of five stars

Discussion Questions

  • What are some reasons people seek therapy? What are some reasons people avoid it?
  • What can people who are battling intrusive thoughts do to deal with them?
  • Mr. Porter mentioned sudden changes in behavior associated with trauma. What are the signs Mr. Porter may have been referring to here?
  • What have you noticed in Tyler’s behavior following the bathroom incident?
  • How can you help someone who opens up to you about a sexual assault?

Let us know your answers in the comments below or by posting a thought on The Mighty using #13ReasonsWhy.

Next review: Episode 9

Originally published: August 24, 2019
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