I liked the first season of ’13 Reasons Why’, as I mentioned in a previous article. Unlike season 1, I binge-watched season 2 without paying any attention to the reviews or tweets related to it. As I finished the 7th episode, I came across an argument about a scene in the 13th episode that was too harsh. The first 12 episode showed many nerve-wracking processes that the school focused on to ruin Hannah’s reputation while defending themselves. We see Bryce being all cool before his peers. The witnesses are threatened one by one. Despite all that Clay, Courteney, Ryan, Alex, Justin and Jessica fearlessly combatted.
Since the trailer came out, I kind of knew the outcome of Baker’s lawsuit against the school and it pretty much turned out to be exactly how I predicted it. Along with that, the questions related to Bryce’s prosecution runs in.
Before I talk about the controversy, I want to point out that despite the heartbreaking outcomes from the lawsuit, the series shed light on redemption and character development. The character we hated the most (apart from Bryce) Courteney turned to be the best witness for Hannah. She did the right thing even if it meant having to reveal her big secret. And she stood shoulder to shoulder with Hannah and Jessica.
Justin returns and he became the anchor for Jessica to hold on to while finding the courage to speak out about her sexual assault. The scene in episode 12 where she and Justin report Bryce to the police is undoubtedly the most powerful moment from the whole show. Both of them walk out of the briefing room to meet their friends, most of whom are subjects in Hannah’s tapes. We see a smile on Jessica’s face along with the confident look. She finally did it and the truth, in a way, set her free. The creator of the show, Brian Yorkey mentioned in an interview with Netflix that the moment Jessica says “Bryce Walker” in her statement is the most courageous act out of all characters from the series. That teared me up a little and I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t care how bad the final episode turns out because this moment, the courage, determination and unity, definitely makes it worth it.”
And it is immensely satisfying to watch Bryce Walker in handcuffs at the end of the episode.
Then came episode 13.
Jessica speaks out against Bryce and we see a montage of women with their stories reflecting upon the #metoo moment. Through Jessica, we see how different sexual assault and its aftermath is for women of colour. Afterwards, Bryce gets away with just a 3-month probation and the show highlights the victim shaming culture as the judge (a white male) blamed Jessica for the decisions she made which brought her to the incident. It is never her fault. Bryce made the decision to rape her and the fact that he is should take up that responsibility is clear. According to Yorkey’s views, the intention is to piss people off because that is what happens in real life. Brock Turner, a well-known face of white privilege, got away with just 3 months in prison. I guess the show wanted to put these characters out there and make people question the system and if not more, act on it. Bryce got away but then Jessica’s courage and Justin’s willingness to sacrifice himself managed to bring Bryce to the book.
That being said, when you look at it plot-wise, the whole ending of the series is just underwhelming. Olivia Baker’s loss is disappointing in itself because what was the point of it all? More than that, it is Tyler’s plot point that ruined the essence of the whole show.
Then comes the controversy.
Tyler had been messing around with Bryce and his teammates by calling them rapists and by vandalising their field. Because of overconfidence and frustration, Tyler reveals that he did it on Facebook. After counselling, Tyler comes back and at one point he finds himself in the bathroom alone with Monty de la Cruz (with whom Bryce broke up to save his reputation) and his team. Monty assaults and afterwards with the help of his friends, rapes Tyler with a broomstick. Well, the graphic depiction of suicide and rape in season 1 had been under scrutiny, due to which the makers had to issue a warning, so I had been counting on the writers to go a little easy and leave out the same in season 2. Instead, they had to make it 10 times worse and it led to an outburst on social media. And Tyler’s arrival at the party and Clay going down for it after disarming him makes the whole ending just pointless, just like Baker’s loss.
It makes you say, what is the point?
I just wished that they ended the whole series with this episode because I don’t see where the show is going to go without Hannah and judging by what is said at the end, even Bryce may not appear in the next season. Tyler’s storyline lead to this horrific scene and if the makers’ intention is to start a conversation then it shouldn’t be ruled out and Monty his friends should be brought to justice in season 3 because what happened cannot be limited to an incident with “violent” boys.
What did you think about ’13 Reasons Why’ season 2? Tell me in the comments below!