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Thirteen Reasons Why last seven episodes recap and review

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Warning: This review contains a profound amount of spoilers as I do a play-by-play of my emotions through each episode. You have been warned. Do not read on if you don’t want things spoiled. Do not blame me. 

Dang Hannah, back at it again with those tapes. (I know. That was bad.) Anyway. This is where the stuff really hits the fan. Reader discretion is advised, and I mean, advised. Sexual assault, suicide and abuse triggers are held within.

Tape 4, Side A

Recap: It’s another tape about a jock, but this one, he’s different. Zach went and sat down with Hannah in the diner after the Marcus incident. He admits that he genuinely likes her for her, not for her butt (remember the list?). Hannah is fed up with the list being brought up and dismisses him off-hand. Apparently though, Zach has never been told no and acts out, but in a silent but deadly way. He starts taking her compliments from her compliment bags (tiny bags in a class people put compliments in to cheer people up). So Hannah writes him a letter about how sad she is and puts it in the bag as bait. Zach gets it, reads it, crumples it and throws it on the floor. Hannah shouts “Why me?” down the hall, and is dismissed.

Clay actually keys Zach’s truck with Hannah’s quote. But the next day, when he shows up at Clay’s house (legal matter due to vandalism), Zach pulls the letter Hannah wrote him out of his wallet. He’d kept it.

My response: This episode freaked me out a little. Everyone had said Hannah was lying and for the first time, there was proof that she possibly could be. I’m still a firm believer that this was the only thing she really lied about in tapes, though. It was just interesting. Maybe Zach wasn’t that bad, after all. Just had a lapse of judgement because of rejection. Doesn’t make it okay, but doesn’t make him an awful person. I do think it’s funny though that quiet, dorky little Clay keyed his car though. Made me laugh, I’ll be honest. Even though the noise of him keying it was absolutely awful.

I should start adding here that I understand Hannah. I get it. I honestly, truly do. I understand her feeling targeted and how she needed those compliments to know that someone was on her side. Everything was very unfair.

Tape 4, Side B

Review before the recap: This episode made me so furious. I gritted my teeth just writing Ryan’s name.

Recap: The ep starts out with Hannah talking about her college goals and being shot down by a counselor. Told to look for something more realistic, she shows up to a college career fair and finds the library booth, oddly enough. She finds out about a poetry open mic and eventually ventures out to it. Ryan shows up to open mic a lot, apparently, and seeing him there makes Hannah obviously upset as he’s the one who published Alex’s list for all to see in his school’s literary magazine (shameless plug for the Guidon’s lit mag here). Ryan offers to tutor Hannah in her poetry escapades and it goes really well for a while. Hannah even reads at open mic. Then one day, Ryan steals Hannah’s personal poem and publishes it for the school to see anonymously. It becomes the talk of everything, even reading it in class.

In current time, Clay has given up listening to the tapes because he just can’t bear to hear Hannah’s story. So, Tony (I never introduced Tony but if you’ve seen the show, which I’m assuming you have if you’ve read this far, you know Tony.) takes Clay rock climbing and they yell many explicits then reveals that Hannah knocked on Tony’s door before she killed herself. Tony ignored her because he just wasn’t feeling like dealing with drama at that time. That’s when she left the second set of tapes. By the time Tony realized what was happening, it was too late. He reveals that Hannah trusted him because he was the only guy who didn’t objectify her (he’s gay). Clay starts listening to the tapes again.

My response: This was the first episode that hurt. I think we’ve all had those situations where you post or say something that you don’t necessarily want to get noticed but it does and it causes a flurry of issues. Ryan took advantage of Hannah’s weakness and talent and totally destroyed her sense of security in it. No one should ever take away security from another. It just isn’t right, by any means. I mean, I had to sit my phone down during this episode and walk away because I was livid with Ryan. He legitimately took away Hannah’s only safe space and publicized it. What a sleeze.

One of my favorite moments in the entire series takes place in this episode, though. I absolutely adore when Clay and Tony get to the top of the rock they scaled and just start shouting at the world. To see Clay finally let some emotion out is a huge turning point. Also, Tony discussing how he was the last one to see Hannah alive is honestly the most heartbreaking moment of the episode. Christian Navarro does an outstanding job at conveying the raw regret, pain and feeling of responsibility that Tony has towards Hannah’s passing.

Tape 5, Side A

Recap: This episode starts the three-part crap show that really sends Hannah down the drain, and it all revolves around Jessica’s party. The actual tape this time around is about Justin, once again, and what he didn’t do that night.

Hannah originally was not planning on attending Jessica’s party as she was trying to get a fresh start on life for the new school year, but Clay ends up inviting her and she’s a sucker for Clay. (Who isn’t?)

We get to the party and we start into the first on three stories about that night. Hannah is hiding in Jessica’s room when she hears drunken Jessica and Justin fumble into the room and onto the bed. Quickly, Jessica kicks Justin out, saying she just wants to sleep and her boyfriend agrees, annoyed. But on the way out, Bryce slithers his way in. I say slither because he is a snake.

He rapes a barely conscious Jessica while Hannah covers her mouth crying and hiding, hoping Bryce doesn’t find her.

Present day, Clay confronts Justin about not doing anything to help his girlfriend when he knew Bryce was in there with her. Justin understands that the situation affected Jess in a huge way and feels, visibly, terrible about it. He tells Clay to forget the tapes and that Hannah is lying, and no one knows the full story.

This also about the point where we find out that Justin comes from an awful, abusive household. Basketball is his only escape and his scholarship is his only hope of getting out of his situation where he’s constantly beaten and verbally attacked. We discover that Justin is so loyal to Bryce because Bryce is the one who takes him in when circumstances get unbearable. That’s why Justin let him into the room, even though he is visibly uncomfortable by it. Bryce exclaims that what is Justin’s is also his, and physically throws Justin out of the room to have his way with Jessica.

My response: I wish this was the worst of Bryce, but it so totally is not. The worst comes episodes later, so I’ll save my rant for then. I respect this episode for the sake of it not being about Hannah as much as it is Jessica and the explanation as to why she has changed so much. It also adds some real depth to Justin’s character. You understand why he is the way he is, and even start to feel a little sympathetic for the misunderstood bad-boy.

Tape 5, Side B

Recap: Finally, we arrive at Sheri’s tape. Remember her trying to bribe Clay into not listening? Didn’t happen. The worst part is, her tape has to deal directly with the death of Clay’s best friend, wingman, star athlete and number one person the show did dirty, Jeff.

The story starts with Hannah running out of the party after witnessing the rape of Jessica. Sheri realizes Hannah is high intoxicated and offers her a ride home, as she was sober. But apparently, this doesn’t matter as Sheri manages to hit a stop sign and knock it down. Hannah wants to call the police, but Sheri refuses, thinking about how livid her father will be with her. Hannah sticks to her stubborn ways and refuses to leave, so Sheri drives off, leaving drunk Hannah alone on the side of the road.

Our girl walks her way to a gas station and calls up 9-1-1 only to find out that the incident has been called in. She believes Sheri phoned it in, but it turns out that due to the stop sign being down, a fatal accident occurred. We find out that Clay made the call. He’s the one who found his dead best friend, who didn’t stop (he was sober) because there was no stop sign.

The tape actually made Clay feel better, as he’d put a lot of blame on Jeff, convinced he had lied about his sobriety as the police reported. But it does make Clay upset with Sheri and he demands that she goes and tells Jeff’s family the truth. She suggests a later time, because she isn’t ready to deal with it. So instead, Clay takes off and lets them know.

We do find out that Sheri is helping the other victim of the crash, an elderly man. The family doesn’t know that Sheri caused the incident, but they are grateful for her help and think she is a phenomenal person, regardless. Clay understands it’s her way of trying to get right with the situation, even though he still wishes she’s talk to Jeff’s family.

Finally Clay is at a park mulling over whether or not he is physically and mentally capable of putting in his tape and listening. Tony shows up, like always, and offers to be there with Clay for it. But Clay only has one question, “Did I kill Hannah?” to which Tony replies hesitantly with, “Yes.”

My response: Jeff is probably my favorite character of the entire show. He’s the one who always pushed Clay to get to know Hannah and to not let life pass him by. He was even totally sober and being an awesome person at the party. Definitely the most lovable of characters. Jeff seriously didn’t deserve to die in a horrific car crash. I cried when he died. Legitimately, sobbed.

But I really loved how appreciative Jeff’s family was when Clay came and told them the truth, even if they were a little apprehensive at first about Clay’s role in the whole ordeal.

The real highlight of the episode though is that end scene with Clay and Tony.

Tape 6, Side A

I feel like I’m about to cry typing this.

Recap: “Clay… Helmet… your name does not belong on this list. But you need to be here if I’m going to tell my story. If I’m going to explain why I did what I did. Because you aren’t every other guy. You’re different. You’re good and kind and decent. And I didn’t deserve to be with someone like you. I never would. I would have ruined you. It wasn’t you. It was me, and everything that’s happened to me,” said Hannah Baker in the opening sequence.

We find Clay waiting at Jessica’s party, anxiously, for Hannah to arrive. When she arrives, Jeff urges Clay to go up and talk to her, and the pair ends up having a really good time together. They end up in Jessica’s room and after a discussion about Jess’s rock collection, they hookup. That is, until Hannah has a panic attack as memories of all the wrong doing that have been done to her rush to her head and shoves Clay off and screams at him to get out. Clay, scared out-of-his-mind and just wanting to make Hannah happy, leaves at her request. But, Hannah really wanted him to stay.

Clay imagines what could’ve happened if he stayed. He is haunted by guilt.

Clay is so hurt by this in the present and Tony reassures him that they ALL killed Hannah, not Clay solely and directly.

Then the episode cuts, and it goes to Jessica and her fighting with Justin about how he won’t skip with her to drink. So she goes with Bryce instead, reassuring herself that if she can kick it with him, then what she thinks happened (the rape) couldn’t be that big of a deal. Jessica’s erratic behavior hits an all-time high as she drinks, flirts and even shows Bryce her father’s gun collection and pressures him to try them out, inside the house.

Then the moment we were all waiting for happens. When Justin finds Jess flirting with Bryce at his house, he gets into a screaming fit with her. She demands to know why he doesn’t want to be at Bryce’s and why she can’t be around him. He ends up yelling out that it’s because Bryce raped her. Out loud, it’s now known that Bryce is a rapist. Bryce isn’t mad at all, just kind of almost amused that Justin would pick a fight with his girlfriend. The episode ends with Bryce texting Jessica and asking if she’s okay. She reads it and goes back to crying.

My response: Definitely my favorite episode. As soon as I heard the word “Helmet,” I was in tears. No, I was sobbing. Actual, body-wracking sobs were coming out of me. Dylan Minnette sold Clay’s suffering so well. I have never felt so attached or empathetic towards a fictional character. Ever second of this episode made my chest physically hurt. Oh, Clay Jensen. You deserve better.

As for the Jess/Justin/Bryce subplot: oh. my. GOSH. You can see that Bryce has zero remorse and you get even more insight later on but, good lord. Jessica’s trauma is so obvious, it’s heartbreaking. And Justin cares so much and doesn’t know how to fix it but I’m not sure I’ve ever been rooting for the wrong thing more when he screams out that Bryce raped her in front of everyone. Totally wrong way to go about it, but it was satisfying to have all of their friends there to hear it. Bryce deserves the worst, and this was getting there, even if he’s unfazed.

Tape 6, Side B

This is by far the worst of the tapes. The content is very graphic. This is my final warning.

Recap: The worst day of Hannah’s life. Her parents’ shop is running out of money and no one comes to them for business because of their competitor’s success. Hannah offers to take some edge off by running some money to the bank while Mrs. Baker tries to convince their landlord to give them more time on rent. Issue is, Hannah goes to the movie theatre to collect her final check and talk to Clay (who is cold-shouldered, understandably), and loses the money along the way. Hannah feels awful and even though her parents aren’t that angry, she feels like a failure. She goes out for a walk to clear her mind and ends up stumbling upon Bryce’s party in the rich part of town. She ends up getting into a hot tub and chatting with some people before they all split ways and eventually, leave Hannah alone in the hot tub. Bryce comes over and gets in with her, and Hannah is obviously uncomfortable but tries to be polite. He ends up grabbing her and raping her in a violent, heartbreaking scene while Hannah lies there, almost corpse-like.

Hannah goes home that night and makes a map of all the people who lead her life downhill. She makes a decision that no one gets to hurt her again. You see her deep bruises while she drips, still wet from the hot tub.

Back in the present, all of the kids on the tapes are called into court to vouch on how Hannah was treated in the school. Clay’s worried everyone will lie and not believe Hannah’s story, especially on Bryce, so he takes it back into his own hands. He takes off to Bryce’s acting like he just wants to buy some weed, but starts in with the hard questions about whether or not Hannah was willing that night. Bryce dismisses it all. Says she wanted it. Bryce practically mauls Clay, but little does he know that the entire time, Clay was recording what is now called the 14th tape. Bryce’s confession.

My response: Bryce. Whether he was raised to assert a sort of patriarchal, male dominance or not, he is an awful, vile person who has no remorse for his actions. I mean he shows no smidgen of regret or even understanding of what he’s done to all of these girls. Then to beat Clay senseless? I’m enraged. When Clay is going on about how this is rape and Bryce just doesn’t quite get it but basically goes “Hey, if that’s rape then yeah, sure.” I just. Ugh, infuriating.

Tape 7, Side A

Recap: Clay rides home and we hear ambulances and a voice over about a teenage boy with a bullet wound to the hand, and we’re left wondering who it could be.

Hannah declares this tape as the one where she will give life one last chance. She seeks help, and from Mr. Porter, the counselor. This tape is his. Hannah pours her heart out to the best of her ability to Mr. Porter but he basically says that she has friends and options, and he can’t seem to silence his phone or leave it alone to help her for one second.

“I just want it to stop… everything, life…” Hannah nudges towards what she is going to do, and it piques Porter’s interest but for the most part, he is still disengaged. She even brings up her rape asking if her anonymous rapist would be lead to jail, in which Mr. Porter tries to spin the story into Hannah possibly consenting, unknowingly. (What does that even mean? If you don’t know, is it consent?)

Porter tells her to move on and Hannah leaves his office. She reveals she was recording the whole conversation between the two, and it is tape 13.

“Some of you cared. None of you cared enough, and neither did I.” Hannah said.

She goes to the post office to mail out her tapes, and is met by her poetry group leader. He talks about all of the people who miss her and even wrote poems about wanting her to return to the group. This doesn’t change anything. Hannah heads home, puts on old clothes and fills up her bath tub. She slits her wrists open. It almost moves in slow motion, and it shows ever second of the act. She passes away in the bath tub. We see Hannah’s mom find her, frantic and confused. Pure heartbreak.

We then get back to the present with Clay confronting Porter. Porter refuses to take any blame, so Clay slides him the tapes hoping to change his mind.

It turns out that Sheri is the only one on the tapes who wasn’t called in, and she’s the only one who calls into the police and confesses their true wrong doings. Meanwhile, Tyler does confess to the cyberbullying that happens at the school and talks about how Hannah probably endured physical abuse as well. he also confesses that there are tapes. We then see Tyler packing guns and ammunition into a case and hiding it. Next, he hangs up pictures of those who did him wrong, but after a flashback of Alex defending Tyler in the hallway, takes his picture down. The final photo is Clay.

Tony heads to the Baker’s store and hands them a flashdrive with the tapes on it, including Bryce’s confession. He apologizes for not being able to follow Hannah’s wishes but believes this will make things better. Jessica admits her rape to her father. Courtney comes out to her dads. Justin cuts off Bryce, who is confused on why he is doing it.

But finally, after not hearing from him the whole episode, we find out about Alex. He was the one in the ambulance, and we’re left to wonder suicide or homicide?

We end with Clay going up to Sky, a visibly depressed friend of his, and asking her to skip and hang out. We know he won’t let Hannah die in vain.

My response: A heavy episode. So much goes down it is hard to keep it all straight. Hannah’s suicide wracked my body with sobs. It was obvious people cared but she was just to blind to see. It is the most gruesome and honest scene I have ever seen in any show or movie. Her mother’s response is the real kicker, though. It broke my heart.

Then all of the confessions and growing that happens with all the side character throughout the episode is just phenomenal.

But, honestly, the hardest I cried in the whole show if when I found out Alex killed himself, or attempted to. (Debatable, I know but this is MY review)

In conclusion, I cannot wait for season two to come out. I need to know if my boy Alex lives.

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Thirteen Reasons Why last seven episodes recap and review