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'13 Reasons Why' Season 3, Episode 9 Review, “Always Waiting for the Next Bad News”

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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 nine of “13 Reasons Why” and contains spoilers. 

In this Justin-centered episode, it is revealed that he has been using again. Clay wrestles with the fact that he has been named a person of interest in the Bryce Walker investigation.

What Happens in Episode Nine

Clay confronts Justin with the oxycodone prescription he found in Bryce’s name. Justin stole it from Bryce’s room on the day of the funeral.

Clay and Justin enter the house and it is revealed that Clay has officially been named as a person of interest. Clay is approached by a reporter at Monet’s but Justin comes to the rescue.

It is revealed during a conversation between Justin and Monty that Justin has been using again. Justin and Jessica declare their love to each other.

Zach insists Justin is clean. Justin started playing football again to get back into a healthy lifestyle mentally and physically. Alex and Justin have a conversation in the bathroom…furthering suspicions that he is using.

Tyler gives Clay some advice about being the subject of negative attention. Ani tells Clay that Bryce’s room was swept clean after they found the steroids, which is proof that Justin is lying.

Justin snaps at Jessica and tells her that he cheated on her. He ends the relationship. Clay and Ani interrogate Justin about where he got his pills. It is revealed that Justin was dealing for his father and using. He got caught by the cops in an altercation with his father and Bryce bailed him out. Bryce also pays off his father. He found out that Justin was using again and gives him the oxy to take instead.

Justin thinks that his father, Seth, might have killed Bryce. They go to investigate where he lives and they find Bryce’s watch. Seth comes in and tries to shoot the kids but Ani knocks the gun out of his hand.

Justin, reaching his breaking point, snorts drugs right in front of Clay. It is revealed that Zach actually covered for Justin during drug testing. Justin asks Clay to help him get clean. There is a touching exchange between the two, showing huge growth in their relationship.

Justin’s lingering addict behaviors are a testament to the fact that recovery is a long and hard process. It isn’t as simple as getting clean. Staying clean and resisting temptation is what’s the most difficult. Clay is distraught when he finds out that Justin has been using again, but he works with Justin to find a solution. Justin’s addiction to drugs affects all aspects of his life, as it would if he were a real person and not just a character. Addiction affects relationships, physical and mental health.

Some of this episode felt rushed and hectic, which contributes to the portrayal of the chaos of addiction. However, this left me feeling unfulfilled. The fact that Clay did not encourage Justin to tell his parents and seek professional help bothered me. Why is it that everyone is so resistant to seeking professional help in this show? It isn’t easy by any means, but maybe a depiction of doing the responsible thing for one’s recovery would help encourage people to do the same.

In the end scene, Clay receives a call from Mrs. Baker but we don’t know what she says.

Rating: four out of five stars

Discussion Questions

  • Who do you think killed Bryce?
  • How can you support someone going through addiction?

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

Previous review: Episode eight              Next review: Episode 10

Need a refresher? Check out what happens in season one and season two

Originally published: August 24, 2019
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