13 Reasons Why has been the talk of not just the town but the world ever since the first season came out in 2017. While the critics praised it for starting a conversation about mental health, something that many people shy away from, some believe that it glorifies suicide and self-harm.
Hannah Baker, the protagonist of the story takes her life, leaving behind a series of taps that explain what led to her horrific decision. The first season spoke about Hannah’s side of the story, while the second season focuses on the aftermath of everything that happened.
There is a lot that happened in 13 Reasons Why Season 2, and here’s how the show asks the right questions but fails to give the right answers. Major spoilers ahead.
1. The psychology of a victim
By the end of season 1, we knew Jessica was raped by Bryce. If there is one character who has developed a lot since last season, it has to be Jessica Davis. Season 2 is where we see Jessica struggling as a sexual assault victim.
She’s taking her time to cope with what happened, and eventually succeeding in coming to terms with what happened. Her journey in season 2 is beautiful. Chloe, who is introduced as Bryce’s girlfriend in the new season, has us questioning many times as to why is she suffering through it all.
Here, the makers tell it like it is with Chloe, showing her as someone who is completely under control of Bryce. Yes, her storyline is completely messed up. But that’s how a victim behaves when under influence of someone they’ve given too much authority. The show gets this part right.
At Liberty High, the jocks rule the school. We knew this last season itself how they bully they’re way out of everything, beating up classmates or seeking entertainment by ridiculing the others. Season 2 delves a little deeper into what can be called the highest form of bullying, using power to shut people down.
From sending threatening letters to fatally wounding people, there are all forms of bullying this season. What the show fails to answer is what after bullying. If only they would have shown at least one character open up to a responsible adult about the bullying they face at school, it would send a powerful message to everyone dealing with bullying in reality.
Justin Foley, the heartthrob who soon turned into a just another messed up kid at Liberty High in season 1 itself. He chose to leave in the last episode of season 1, and for the early episodes of season 2, we don’t see him. However, he comes back. Teaming up with Clay, he’s shown as a remorseful yet lost boy, who is determined to make Bryce pay for what he has done.
On the streets, he got addicted to heroin and struggles with the same. From an arrogant brat to a sympathetic, regretful kid, Justin is someone we root for. However, he needs to pay for what happened with Jessica too. He is sent to jail along with Bryce and gets 6 months parole. The makers get Justin’s road to redemption right.
4. Mental health
A conversation on mental health is what the show began with the first season. Hannah’s journey from a happy kid to a sad, depressed soul was heartbreaking to watch. But that is what happens. Depression is real and it takes a toll on most people. It happens to the best of the people.
This season, many characters struggle mentally. Be it Tony and his anger management issues, Clay seeing Hannah’s “ghost” and having conversations with it, or Jessica, Nina, Chloe, Sky, Alex, Tyler, most characters are shown dealing with mental health issues. It shows how these issues are common to people, and tries to normalize them instead of treating them inappropriately. It’s like 13 Reasons Why season 2 is trying to say, you’re not alone.
Much of the speculation around 13 Reasons Why season 2 was around Bryce. People wanted to know what happens to Bryce after all this. Will he pay for what he has done? Or walk away freely? Bryce comes from an affluent family, along with friends who clean up his dirty work. The way Bryce is shown in season 2 kind of sends out the wrong message. He raped not one but two girls while abusing his girlfriend.
You’d expect this guy to be behind the bars as soon as Jessica goes to the police. But it’s disappointing to see him ready to start a new life, with only 3 months parole when Justin gets 6 months. He shows no remorse, no regret, nothing. He knows it’s just a minor inconvenience in his life.
In fact, he lies about him and Hannah still controls Chloe and pretty much gets away with things. Probably the seasons ahead will show him paying for his actions. But this season was an absolute disappointment when it comes to Bryce.
In all the mess of 13 Reasons Why season 2, Tyler’s story is the worst. We see him vandalizing, acting out for whatever happened. We also see him turn into a different person a brief time, only to see him get raped, that too in the most pathetic scene in the season. Hopefully, the third season does some justice to him.
Zach and Hannah’s relationship was beautiful. If only life was that perfect.
13 Reasons Why Season 2 is streaming on Netflix.