If you aren’t watching 13 Reasons Why you need to stop what you are doing and watch it immediately. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be breaking it down, episode by episode.
Let me preface this by saying this show is so important that it’s hard for us to put into words just how amazing it is. If you aren’t familiar with the book, 13 Reasons Why is about a young girl, Hannah Baker, who kills herself, only leaving behind thirteen cassette tapes for thirteen different people. The kicker is, these thirteen people are all reasons why she killed herself. What they did or didn’t do created a ripple effect, one that affected Hannah and sent her into a place that she felt the only way out was by killing herself.
It’s gritty. It’s ugly. It’s hard. As Liz said in our review of Tape One, Side A, ” It’s uncomfortable and ugly and that’s the point of 13 Reasons Why; in no way is it glamorizing suicide. Instead, it’s showing how our actions can have consequences—no matter how small the action, no matter how small the reaction, what you do can affect someone. The Netflix original show is not preachy or overdramatic or too light, it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be, painful.”
So we’re on Tape 1, Side B. And this one is going to continue to hurt.
At the beginning we see Hannah walk into the movie theater and leave her uniform on the counter. A confused Clay looks at the name tag and at her walking away.
We instantly move from there to seeing Hannah and Clay making out in bed.
Clay is laying on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He’s got a lot on his mind – which, hey, we’re not shocked about. But what can he say, these tapes have been left behind for him by a girl that he cared about and she committed suicide. That would fuck with anyones head. His parents see that something is wrong so his Mom is knocking on the door to get him to come to breakfast. He’s a little confused because family breakfast is not the norm in his house.
Friendship, it’s complicated.
We hear Hannah narrating as we watch Clay getting ready. It’s eerie to hear her narrating. You want to save her. She reminds you that there are others, that you are not alone listening to these tapes.
Clay sits to have breakfast with his family and he notices a bottle of pills on the table. His Mom is proposing family breakfast, but he’s a little withdrawn. I am not shocked when he is pissed that his Mom went and got him a new prescription. His Dad is totally right when he tells her there was a better way of introducing that.
School is a vicious place. Hannah Baker has a point on the tapes. She knows that part of the reason that people continue to listen is because they want to know why they are on the tapes, but they also want to know why they are there.
Clay is searching for Justin Foley. He’s lying again, telling people that he’s looking for him for a project they have. But we want to know something else – who is this tape about?
It’s not long before we find out just that. Jessica Davis.
We meet Jessica and she’s a hot mess. SHe’s on edge, searching for Justin. She wants to know where her boyfriend is because she’s next on the list of people that Mr. Porter wants to talk to. One has to wonder what she has to hide.
But let’s break down this episode.
THE FML CLUB
So Hannah and Jessica met when the guidance counselor introduced them. They were both and she wanted them to have an ally. Evidently she doesn’t realize that high school doesn’t work that way. It’s not blind dating. But Hannah and Jessica have the greatest exchange to remind her that it’s not a blind date.
But when Hannah sees Jessica walking home they decide to go and get hot chocolate together, because what doesn’t hot chocolate solve? It’s the way they bond. Jessica’s Dad is in the Air Force and she tells her all about herself. Hannah really just wants to be the best friend, someone that Jessica can relate to.
And as there friendship grows, they bring a new one into the mix. Alex is also new and for awhile everything is working out. Their friendship is growing, but it comes to a halt. Alex stops showing up at Monet’s first and then Jessica. Turns out that friendships can develop feelings and it becomes very complicated.
What kills me is that Hannah really just wanted to be there for everyone. She was a good friend. She wanted to be there for her friends and to be supportive. They turned their backs on her so that they could have a relationship. Rather than just tell her that they liked each other, she found out watching them in the cafeteria.
She comes face to face with Jessica and Alex’s relationship when they go on a date to the movies. She offers Jessica her ticket for free, when Alex walks up to get his ticket. She charges him. And yes, she’s hurt. But who wouldn’t be. It’s when she charges Alex, Jessica realizes that something is really wrong. Umm, yes, you dumped your BFF for no reason.
We see a flashback with Jessica coming up and grabbing Hannah’s hand. She’s pissed. She wants to talk and Hannah knows just why, Alex’s list. But what is the list? Well that’s a story for another tape. We know that Jessica is mad, she’s irate really. She blames Hannah and calls her a slut. Rather than accepting the blame for herself, Jessica is deflecting blame.
And it’s gross. Jessica needed it to be anyone but her or Alex that caused the list. It took everything in me not to cuss out the TV when Jessica slapped Hannah. I wanted to slap the shit out of her.
CLAY JUST WANTS TO KNOW WHY
As with every tape, Clay wants to talk to the person the tape is about. This one being about Jessica, he stops her and tries to talk to her. She wants nothing to do with it and reminds him to not believe everything that he hears. She seems genuinely distraught. But Clay seems torn apart, wrapped up in the memories. How could he have saved the girl that he loved, even when he didn’t know what was going on?
You can’t help but feel for Clay. He doesn’t know what he did, but then again – maybe it’s that he didn’t do anything that is the problem. Sitting by and being a by standard, not doing anything, not seeing the problem can sometimes be an issue.
Clay is called to the office and he’s put on attendance alerts. He doesn’t understand because he’s got good attendance. But he uses the moment to ask about Justin again, until Alex walks in. He asks how he is, but Alex is defensive and really just doesn’t know what to say. He’s hiding something, but more about that in future episodes.
Clay can’t escape Hannah or her memory being everywhere. The tapes are there, but everywhere in the school people are talking about it and he can’t escape his memories of Hannah.
When Clay is at Monet’s, Tony sits down and the have a little talk. Tony won’t give away anything. He tells Clay that he’s the slowest yet to listen to the tapes. Clay wants answers, but Tony won’t give them. Tony knows that Clay has to get through them.
Clay loved her. You can see it in every move that he makes, every word he pronounces. He is in physical pain and it breaks my heart. But we have to get there to know if that is deserved (and yes, I have read the book, but I am trying not to go just by the book).
JUSTIN IS A PIECE OF CRAP
We know that something is up with Justin, because he doesn’t show up at the pep rally. Jess is distraught and she wears it all over her face. What is on those tapes? I know, I know we are going to find out. What kills me though is that Jess seems more intent on defending Justin and overlooking his actions versus hearing the truth. I know that young love can be complicated, but girls, never sacrifice yourself and your ideals for anyone.
Remain true to who you are.
Clay leaves the pep rally and finds Jessica outside trying to get a hold of Justin. He wants to talk and he wants to tell someone about Justin. But as Clay will be reminded so many times by all of them, they want him to shut his mouth. But part of what I admire so much about him is that he isn’t willing to do that.
Clay is leaving school and Justin’s friends offer him a ride. He is confused, wants to know why they are talking to him. He’s confused and knows that it’s not on the up and up. Tony drives up and defuses the situation. As much as I don’t like Tony at times, I admire the fact that he just seems to want to do the right thing.
Clay goes to talk to Jessica and wants to know what’s going on. Jessica is shaming Hannah, calling her a liar and saying what she says on the tapes is a lie. But there is not a part of me that doesn’t think that this has to do with Justin and her need to protect him.
Clay tells Jessica about the offer of the ride and that he was invited to hang at Bryce’s. This tells Jessica where Justin is. And yes, he’s at Bryce’s – in the pool house, stoned out of his mind. Justin – whatever is on those tapes – whatever you did – has got to be horrible.
And it’s not long until Jessica shows up. She tells Justin that he’s not telling her something. I want to scream at her – IF YOU THINK SOMETHING IS UP IT PROBABLY IS.
Justin tells her that they’ll deal with Clay, that he won’t say anything about the tapes. They will deal with it. One has to wonder, when will she realize that all the questions she has to ask herself are for a reason. She knows something in her heart.
HANNAH’S PARENTS HEARTS ARE BREAKING
One can’t imagine what Hannah’s parents are going through. Her Mom is in her room, where she finds a list. She believes that it’s proof that she’s been bullied.
She won’t give up fighting for her daughter and as you watch her, your heart breaks. She makes a phone call, asking for help and we shortly after that find out that she’s calling Tony for help in figuring out what she found. He heads to the house to talk to Mrs. Baker and Clay see’s him walk in the front door. He’s confused.
What exactly is Tony hiding?
If you haven’t sat down to watch 13 Reasons Why, you are missing out. The book had a profound effect on my life – my mother committed suicide – and I know what it’s like to be left behind. I also know what it’s like to not know the reasons why.
That being set aside, the thing that I love about 13 Reasons Why is that we get to see how choices build up. How everything that happens has a reaction. The way that things weave together are so effortless in this show and the acting is superb. The kids in this show are amazing actors.
Pay attention, 13 Reasons Why is magnificent.
13 Reasons Why is streaming on Netflix now.