13 Reasons Why. Netflix.

Netflix’ 13 Reasons Why: 11 Reasons Why Not

Netflix Original: 13 Reasons Why.
Netflix Original: 13 Reasons Why.

YBLTV Review: 13 Reasons Why

It all starts with a rumor, some inappropriate photos, and a little bit of bullying. Or a lot of bullying. “The tapes were just the beginning.” 13 Reasons Why season two picks up five months after the shocking conclusion of season one of the hit Netflix show. This time around the show is focused more on the trial between the deceased Hannah Baker’s parents (mainly her mother) and the high school. However, it still does concern the students that were affected in some way by Hannah’s gruesome suicide from season one. The tapes play a role in this season, too. But, as season two’s mantra states, they were only the beginning. The spectacular cast returns to reprise their roles in the controversial Netflix series, with a few more actors added to the list.

Five months after Hannah’s suicide, Dylan Minnette’s Clay Jensen finds himself in an awkward, yet somehow very sweet, relationship with former childhood friend Skye Miller, played by Sosie Bacon. Skye, unfortunately, has her fair share of issues… but so does Clay; lots of them, in fact. Skye has suicidal tendencies, which Clay knew about and they apparently set up a pact that she is to contact him any time such thoughts pop into her head. This pact was made in an effort for him to be more conscientiously aware of a dire situation, so he would not ‘fail’ Skye as he feels he did with Hannah. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for either of them, as Clay becomes emotionally distracted by none other than the deceased Hannah Baker. How? She becomes a figment of his guilt and possibly serving as his thought process, and plays a recurring theme to about 99% of season two. Hannah Baker is reprised by Katherine Langford. At times, she ‘tortures’ Clay through making him relive the tapes as well as her memories about what happened with certain characters, like Ross Butler’s Zach Dempsey. I would be remiss if I did not say that these scenes were emotional.

Netflix Original: 13 Reasons Why.
Image Source: Netflix Original: 13 Reasons Why.

As mentioned above, season two is focused on the Bakers, mainly Kate Walsh’s Olivia Baker, seeking justice against the high school, whom both parents felt was responsible for their daughter’s suicide. It also surrounds the mystery of several Polaroids, depicting dark sexual acts committed by several jocks in the school against the girls, usually by ‘head’ jock Bryce Walker. One thing is for certain: the high school had a really good, very manipulative, lawyer. Said lawyer managed to twist the words of everybody, including the parents, into either contradicting themselves or saying something that ultimately benefited the school instead of the Bakers. Throughout season two, Hannah pops up in Clay’s scenes with different characters, trying to help him think things through or, perhaps, to get him to understand the truth of events that transpired. For example, at one point, an entire episode centers on Justin Prentice’s Bryce Walker and what he did to Hannah and Alisha Boe’s Jessica Davis. In this same episode, Hannah appears before Clay and recites, word for word, the tape that she made about Bryce. The series of scenes surrounding the topic of Bryce raping Jessica and then Hannah were ridiculously powerful, and very emotional. Especially if you watched season one as I did. A viewer literally has no real emotional connection to any character in season one, but then, you feel yourself feeling bad for some of them. As for Hannah, you cannot hardly fathom what she eventually did to herself.

Relationships are mended and frayed throughout season two, but in the background, more nefarious happenings are occurring in the form of how Devin Druid’s Tyler Down is treated at the high school. So, while the lawyer is destroying the Baker’s case against the school, there are more kids being bullied and humiliated inside. Tyler is numero uno on that list. Labeled as the school pervert because of how he took pictures with his camera of Hannah and another character, Michele Selene Ang’s Courtney Crimsen, in an innocent moment, Tyler is repeatedly picked on by the high school jocks. Sadly, even a few of the ‘good’ characters disregard him or dislike him. Clay, in particular, verbally expresses at one point how he feels Tyler simply can’t be trusted. You begin to see this darkness growing in Tyler, and considering the theme of the series, suspect that he will commit suicide because of it. I will say nothing else regarding Tyler’s character, but I will say that it gets hectic very fast.

General Thoughts and Analysis

13 Reasons Why season two does a great job of picking up where the first season left off. New characters such as Chloe Rice, Cyrus, Mackenzie, and so on, play intricate but necessary roles in the second season. Five months have come and gone, and the high school seems to be the same as it was last season. The major changes in character growth is Brandon Flynn’s Justin Foley and high school guidance counselor Kevin Porter, played by Derek Luke; they both change for the better and boy, does it show. Mr. Porter in particular tries so very hard to get justice for Hannah in the courtroom, despite being on the defendant’s side; unfortunately, he does not succeed in doing so thanks to the lawyer. He tries to make changes within the school and, thanks to the corruption from within by the Principal and Bryce Walker’s father, he is let go. Justin is a recovering drug and alcohol addict now, but he does so much to try to better himself; even getting on the stand to get justice for Hannah. It did not seem to matter who spoke up on the plaintiff’s side, the lawyer for the high school chewed them up and spat them out. It was maddening to watch, for sure. One of my absolute favorite scenes in the series as a whole, and definitely the second season, was when Hannah’s mother gives Clay a note that Hannah wrote the night she killed herself: Hannah’s “11 reasons why not.” It was such a beautiful but heartbreaking scene to watch.

The Walker family had financial clout that protected Bryce on every level, even the school, from the case made against them. The way the case breaks apart is heartbreaking for the Baker family, and even more so when Bryce is finally brought on trial for the rape accusations. As viewers, we know what he did to Jessica and Hannah. So as viewers, it was truly discouraging to see Bryce get such a meager punishment; all thanks to his father and his family’s lawyer. From an emotional and justice-seeking standpoint, there is no justice on this series; so if you go into it thinking there will be, prepare to be disappointed. From a logical, ‘this is how it happens in the real world’ standpoint, you cannot help but feel like the justice system is very broken.

Pros

  • Hannah’s 11 reasons why not
  • Terrific acting on all counts
  • Everyone reprises their roles!
  • Bryce is brought on trial for his crimes
  • Justin and Mr. Porter had the biggest character growths, and in a positive way
  • Katherine Langford returns as Hannah, and has an appearance in all thirteen episodes!
  • Clay and Justin’s scenes together, especially at the end, can be humorous
  • Christian Navarro’s Tony Padilla finally finds his peace… and his ‘One’
  • Jessica and Miles Heizer’s Alex Standall come to terms with everything they have been through, and become better people
  • Tyler finds acceptance with new characters Cyrus and his sister Mackenzie
  • Clay and Hannah’s scenes were spectacular and mind-blowing!
  • Hannah and Zach’s relationship; showing that not all relationships in the series were bad ones
  • Bryce’s mother slapping him

Cons

  • Bryce’s trial
  • Tyler’s downfall
  • The high school
  • Firing Mr. Porter
  • The Principal disregarding the files that Mr. Porter left behind
  • Bryce’s girlfriend Chloe siding with him out of fear and fear of losing popularity and ‘relevance’
  • Justin being dealt a harsher sentence than Bryce for his involvement in the Jessica situation, all because he couldn’t afford a lawyer
  • The gruesome scene between Tyler and Timothy Granaderos’ Montgomery de la Cruz
  • The court system is not one believing in justice
  • Rape pretty much being disregarded
  • The Polaroids were destroyed and couldn’t be used in Bryce’s trial
  • There might not be a season three!

Conclusion

As plain as day, this series does an amazing job at confronting controversial issues such as rape, bullying, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, suicide, and even school shooting. Season two is emotional in a far different way than season one was. In season one it was because you were forced to confront Hannah’s suicide and the tapes every episode, and then eventually the gruesome, powerful scene of the act being committed. Season two is powerful because we as viewers are finally seeing it all come to a head. We’re seeing how the characters deal with Hannah’s death after five months, and how they are dealing with the trial. There are frustrating scenes and celebratory scenes. Everyone dealt with these events differently. The perfect example is the shocking final scene in season two. No matter what, if you are someone desiring to try the series out, just go into it thinking about how it would be in the real world; because this show very accurately conveys this.

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