Monday, April 3, 2017

REVIEW: '13 Reasons Why' - Clay Finds His Own Justice for Hannah in 'Tape 2, Side B'

Netflix's 13 Reasons Why - Episode 1.04 "Tape 2, Side B"

Hannah thinks someone is stalking her and sets a trap. Hannah's mother confronts the principal. Clay strikes back at someone who wronged Hannah.

"Tape 2, Side B" showcases the potential consequences from all that Hannah is asking from the tapes. She's done all of this to give her death meaning. She's giving her reasons to the people who need to be aware of it. And yet, all of them are going to have different reactions to listening to the tapes. There's no way to ensure that everyone will follow the instructions. However, the safety plan to make sure everything goes right hasn't been that compelling. Tony right now comes across as too all-knowing. He just shows up randomly to stop Clay from making a potentially dumb mistake. He's there to help Clay on this emotional journey. And yet, he's very cryptic about the whole story as well. It's a very one-note character who keeps popping up but doesn't really evolve with the narrative. He's still just the one constantly telling Clay to finish listening to the tapes and do as Hannah instructed. But what Hannah is asking of the people is more than a little crazy. This hour highlights that. The show set up the expectation of something bad about to happen in this hour. That's certainly true given the story Hannah tells. However, it's a little more conventional and broad as well.

So the fourth tape reveals that Hannah had a stalker. Someone was standing outside her bedroom window spying on her and taking pictures of her. It made her feel unsafe in her own home. That's the overwhelming feeling that encompassed her whole life. Everywhere she went she didn't feel comfortable and safe. Every single place had the potential to be destructive. It's not surprising at all that her stalker turns out to be Tyler, the yearbook photographer. That reveal could have been guessed based on his very first appearance on the show. When he first appeared in the series premiere, he was taking pictures out of a bathroom window. It seemed inevitable until he was revealed to be a creep. This episode doesn't really add more to the context though. Tyler took away Hannah's security in her own room. And now, she's asking people to do the same thing to Tyler. However, no one seems concerned that this action could send Tyler down a very similar path as Hannah.

Plus, this story builds to Clay not following the instructions and deciding to shame Tyler even more for what he did to Hannah. Clay is very indecisive throughout this episode. He doesn't know if he should continue down this path and do exactly as Hannah instructed. But he ends up deciding he should find his own justice. It's a phrase that Tony uses to justify his actions. In this instance though, it could really just be destructive. It would be fascinating to see if Clay gets some serious consequences for what he does to Tyler. And yet, it doesn't seem likely because the school doesn't really know how to handle bullying like this. Clay takes a nude picture of Tyler in his room and sends it to half the school. It plays as him taking a stand and remaining committed to the tapes. But it's also him breaking tradition. That could threaten exposure of everything that is going on. Everyone who has had the tapes already fear that Clay will ruin everything for them. They've tried being his friends. But now, Justin wants to take a much more threatening approach. That's a tense way to head into the next episode. It should be fascinating to see what happens. However, it probably won't get in the way of Clay continuing to do a tape per episode.

More importantly, Clay seemingly doesn't learn the lesson of how powerful a picture can be. Hannah has talked about how several pictures reshaped her whole reputation at school. First, it was the picture from Justice which immediately labeled her as a slut. Then, the list from Alex confirmed all of that. And now, Tyler's picture of her kissing Courtney is released because she doesn't want to hang out with him. She's right not to reward such disgusting behavior. But she still has to deal with the consequences. It's fascinating to see Hannah make mistakes as well. She's been hurt by pictures. And now, she's just casually blowing off these new ones with Courtney. Meanwhile, Courtney can't do that because they reveal a deep secret about herself. One that she's not totally comfortable revealing to the rest of the world. These pictures circulate throughout the school. And yet, there's secrecy to them as well because the two can't be easily identified. Until this moment on the tapes, no one knew it was them. That brings a new perspective to things. It makes Clay want to delete them off his computer and stop jerking off to them. That also highlights how he was a part of the problem. He didn't know the truth. But he still took pleasure out of someone else's misery. He may have learned his lesson and will continue to listen to the tapes. But there's only so much he can do now.

It's also horrifying to think that Hannah left nothing behind for her parents to find. Her mom and dad have been struggling for answers. They've filed a lawsuit against the school. And yet, that hardly seems like enough. Everything is seemingly being taken from them and they have no idea why. It's devastating to watch. Hannah's mom just wants answers. She's desperate for anyone who knew Hanna to tell her something. It's also very cruel of Hannah to leave these tapes for the people responsible for her death to listen to but not offer some clarity to her parents. This episode reveals that she doesn't have a great relationship with them. She doesn't feel like she can talk honestly with them. She hangs out with Courtney and sees how her strict her father is. And yet, she admires that they have an open and honest relationship like that. Hannah supports her parents going out on date night. But it's largely just a pattern that has been true all her life. Right now, she feels scared in her own house but doesn't feel comfortable telling her parents about it. Meanwhile, Clay feels that Hannah's mom will lash out at him if she discovers the truth and listens to the tapes. That moment is very manipulative of the audience though. It's a fantasy sequence in a show that has never previously done one. So, it's a bit more laughable than genuine.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Tape 2, Side B" was written by Thomas Higgins and directed by Helen Shaver.
  • This high school gets a little too into Halloween. It's even a big deal over who will win a costume contest and $200. The prize ultimately goes to Justin and Jessica, which cements them as still the most popular couple at school even though no one understands their costumes.
  • Marcus hasn't been an important part of the story yet. But he does show up to try and convince Clay that there's no point to listening to the tapes. It won't change anything. Instead, he should just pass them to the next person and join the secret-keeping club at Bryce's house.
  • Interestingly though, Bryce hasn't gotten the tapes yet. He is still completely oblivious to the truth of the situation. That makes it much more precarious that the rest of the jocks are hanging out at his house. Plus, it just makes him even more of a jerk because he doesn't even have the context of the tapes to target other people.
  • The school holds a meeting for parents to discuss the warning signs for suicide. And yet, the fact that the principal didn't know about all the hurtful messages in the bathrooms just shows how ignorant and out of touch with his students he really is.
  • Will Courtney be getting her own tape later on? This episode highlights how her life changed from her brief friendship with Hannah. And yet, will she ever do something that will ultimately come back to hurt Hannah? It's unclear. This moment feels big and important enough to define her as a character.
  • Hannah's mom has been the more passionate one in the family to demand to know what happened to her daughter. And yet, this hour provides more focus to her father as well. That final moment between the two of them where they present a united front is really simple but emotional.
  • In more evidence against Mr. Porter, he has two toddlers at home and barely sleeps at night. That could be enough reason for why he didn't help Hannah more. Of course, that's still under the assumption that she reached out to him for help.

As noted in previous reviews from this show, every episodic review was written without having seen any succeeding episodes. Similarly, it would be much appreciated if in the comments, the conversation would only revolve around the show up to this point in its run.