13 Reasons Why Review: Tape 2, Side A

(via Netflix)

Hi friends! Liz here to recap and review the third episode of 13 Reasons Why in all of it’s glory. Clay is onto the second tape and third person and Hannah’s story is just getting more and more tragic. We get some insight onto the whole Justin and Jess relationship, talk about the butterfly effect, see a couple of underage drinkers and we find out how Alex’s mysterious list changed the course of Hannah’s life.

Justin still has yet to go back to school, even after Jess found him at Bryce’s. In fact, it seems like he made himself quite at home, a thing Jess realizes when she goes to visit. But he’s not doing great and Jess finds herself comforting him for most of the episode.

Even though Justin is missing, it doesn’t mean school has stopped. In fact, if anything, it seems like people remembering and paying tribute to Hannah has just increased. There’s the jazz band playing some tune in her honor, and Marcus—the class president, asks Clay to help hang posters about how suicide isn’t an option. Clay declines and same, tbh.

School continues and the parallels between life before and after Hannah’s death are uncanny. Clay remembers walking to school with her and asking her to look at the moon with him, when she stormed into the boys’ locker room to yell at someone, eating lunch with her and even talking about her to his friend Jeff. Seems like everywhere Clay goes, he’s reminded of her—even without the tapes telling him the location.

But this tape isn’t about Clay, yet. It’s about Alex Standall. Remember? One of the members of the FML Forever club. What did he do exactly? Let’s discuss.


A hot or fucking not list. How trivial, honestly. But boys are so dumb, SO DUMB, that this is the only way they can entertain themselves. This and believing that girls are just property to be ranked. They don’t think about the effect it has on the girls receiving these titles, being put into these categories.

As young women, we are pressured all the time to be perfect, to look hot, to be desirable and when we aren’t? Well, we just aren’t worthy of anyone’s time. And if we are? Then we’re just a prize to be won. Some people enjoy this, it’s flattering to be in the “hot” category, something that Clay’s friend, Jeff, points out about a girl who won “hottest lips.” or something, but to those who aren’t…it’s shitty.

But the point is, Hannah was put in the hot category. Turns out Alex fucking Standall decided to put his girlfriend, Jess, in the “not” category against Hannah for best ass. You piece of shit, Alex. Battle lines were drawn, dibs were put on Hannah and all of a sudden, her ass was for everyone. Even though it wasn’t.

Alex admits that he put the girls on the list to piss Jessica off because she wouldn’t have sex with him. So, he made a shitty decision, but it’s obvious that he regrets it—something he comes to terms with while talking with Clay about it. He thought that Jess would be mad at him, but instead, Jess was mad at Hannah and that’s what broke the band up.

A part of me does kinda feel bad for current Alex; it’s clear that he’s seriously spiraling, whether it’s by tearing down the anti-suicide posters, not focusing in jazz band or losing his shit on Clay in Monet’s, he’s obviously taking a lot of the blame for Hannah’s death. And that’s just it; when someone kills themselves, those who were close to the person and survive are left with a lot of guilt, no matter if they were the reason why.


Mama Baker took a trip to the school to find out if Hannah was happy at school because she and Papa Baker are still trying to figure out why Hannah did what she did. And unfortunately this isn’t uncommon. Hannah didn’t leave a note for her parents, so they’re left scrambling and trying to put together the pieces. It’s tough to see, especially because we know that serious shit went down.

It’s just as unfortunate that the school can’t help Mama Baker understand why Hannah killed herself because the Bakers are currently suing the school because of Hannah’s suicide. Obviously this is a very tough situation and Mama Baker realizes this, retreating to the bathroom where she finds dozens of messages written on the bathroom stalls. These consist of girls calling each other names, spreading rumors, and being generally vicious towards each other. It was startling to see, but reminded me of my high school days where a girl got called to the office because of a message on the bathroom wall.

Everything that happens in this show is realistic to a degree.

Mr. Porter and the principal discuss a lawsuit in a way where they’re just trying to save their own asses, not really caring about Hannah’s family. Or at least, it seems that way. Mr. Porter is talking to everyone who was seen with Hannah or known to be around her as a precaution—to hear what they have to say about how she was treated. It’s direct and there’s no friendliness about it; they’re there to get the information and be able to know how to use it.

During Mr. Porter’s talk with Courtney and Marcus, he treads carefully around their relationship with Hannah and it’s clear that the two of them are in cahoots. They even defend Clay, a boy they both barely knew, almost like they were protecting each other. I’m curious to see how these two tie into Hannah’s story.


What exactly is the butterfly effect? It’s something that Hannah references at the start of this episode, something that’s a common theme throughout the episode, so what is it? It’s in reference to the chaos theory and is the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. Hannah uses a hurricane as an example and quite frankly, she is a literary genius. She cites Alex as her hurricane, someone who came through and changed her entire life in the matter of seconds, just by writing her name on a piece of paper.

Alex damned her, let’s be clear. He made her an object instead of a person, he made her someone that guys could stare at and they would think it was okay because of the list. Hannah was hyper-aware of any lingering glances, any accidental grazes and one particular touch sending her spiraling out of control.

On a particular visit to the Blue Spot Liquor store, Hannah was approached by Bryce who bought her candy along with his beer. They exchanged pleasantries before Bryce went to leave, giving Hannah’s ass a quick squeeze before he left. In a very uncomfortable moment, we’re forced to watch as Hannah tries to confront the situation and Bryce continues to make crude innuendos towards her ass.

We’re feeling like Clay does as he pictures Hannah running out of the store, hand covering her mouth as she sobs at what just happened to her. We want to reach out and hug her and comfort her, but instead, we’re left alone, in front of a liquor store, feeling just as helpless as Hannah was.

At the beginning of the tape, Clay thinks that the list was just a harmless game, a compliment even. When the list first came out, he even discussed it with Hannah about how he didn’t see it as a big deal, even though it most totally was. Clay made a comment about how girls would never make a list like that, to which Hannah agreed that her point was made. After listening to the tape and realizing how negatively the list affected Hannah, Clay obviously felt a little guilty about being so blasé about the whole thing. But again, boys are dumb.


In need of a little pick me up, Clay heads into the liquor store to get himself something to drink (non alcoholic) only to be confronted by Bryce, who buys him a forty for some unknown bro reason. Clay does what any normal, good, teen would do and heads outside to throw it out, but is stopped by Justin and the rest of the guys, including Alex. Justin is insistent, telling Clay that drinking with them is the least he can do.

Since we’ve established that boys are dumb, let’s just get on with it. The boys challenge Alex and Clay to a chugging contest so of course, both of them chug their forties. Idiots, I swear. Clay ends up finishing first and decides to peace out afterwards because he sees Tony carefully watching the group.

Clay goes to confront Tony because this whole episode Alex tells Clay that Tony can’t be trusted; Tony isn’t even on the tapes. So of course, Clay goes yelling at Tony to stop following him, only to follow Tony on his bike. He sees Tony and his brothers beating up some random kid and then Clay takes off, drunkly riding his bike home. Don’t do that kids, don’t drink and drive—no matter what.

Arriving home, drunk, Clay immediately admits that he’s drunk and then proceeds to throw up all over the kitchen table. His parents are obviously concerned about how different he’s been acting and his mom goes into yelling mode while his dad tries to be understanding. Either way, it seems like Clay is beginning to spiral.

Everything Affects Everything

At the end of the episode, we see both Clay and Alex dealing with their guilt. Clay takes a moment by himself before he decides to begin listening to the next tape. It’s clear he’s anxious about his tape, something that Alex kept saying was bad, and we know that these tapes are a source of anxiety for Clay–which is understandable. I for one would not like to receive something as heavy as these tapes. They’re almost a burden; once you know what you did, you have to live with, knowing you can’t apologize to the person.

On the other hand, Alex is feeling so broken that he lets himself fall into the pool, sinking to the bottom and staying there for a moment before heading back to the surface. He floats there, hearing his “friends” play fight and you realize that no one even noticed him falling into the pool. It’s a sad image, but it’s a punch to the gut–Alex may be feeling just as alone as Hannah was. 

In their own ways, these tapes are having a serious impact on these boys, and maybe the others involved, something that can either be negative or positive. We’ll just have to wait and see.

13 Reasons Why is streaming on Netflix now.

Liz Harkins

Well versed in all things concerning pop culture and social media. I write recaps not tragedies. #GIRLBOSS