Monday, May 28, 2018

REVIEW: Netflix's '13 Reasons Why' - Season 2

Netflix dropped the entire 13-episode second season of 13 Reasons Why on Friday, May 18. This post will feature brief reviews of each specific episode of the season.

The new season stars Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Miles Heizer, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Amy Hargreaves, Derek Luke and Kate Walsh.

13 Reasons Why is the first streaming show I've covered through paragraph reviews of each individual episode where I felt the need to write something up before I delved into the first episode. I feel like it must be stated that I did enjoy the first season of this show. It was a brutal and visceral viewing experience. And yes, it did suffer from streaming drift. There was no reason for it to be 13 episodes long. And yet, I did ultimately appreciate the way the show approached certain issues. Of course, there has been a ton of controversy swirling around the show since its debut about the way it tackled teen suicide. I never thought that the show romanticized or validated that choice. In my viewing experience, the narrative showed that all of these reasons Hannah was laying out were equally bad and destructive to her even though some were clearly more traumatizing and important to the audience. It was also necessary to see her ultimately make that choice in the end to commit suicide. Just focusing on the aftermath of that act would have just glossed over the pain and destruction of that very personal choice. Sure, there were definitely romanticized elements of the first season - mostly through Clay's relationship with Hannah. He was the one weighing his feelings for the woman he wanted her to be with the woman she actually was following her death and the release of the tapes. It was easy to get into that head space while still being annoyed by how slow he was moving through the tapes. All of this mostly worked because of the performers involved and the seemingly close-ended story. From the moment the finale was over, I knew that a second season would be completely unnecessary. It felt like the audience could easily tell how the story would unfold next. It was inessential to actually see it. And yet, the show is back for a second season because it was a success for Netflix and it needs to run for multiple years to be a financial success for the production company. And so, here we are. It was hard to imagine the show covering these topics well in the first season. I believed they did so in an emotionally honest way. It's just as hard to imagine the show being able to do so again in the second season. And now, it's time to find out.

201. "The First Polaroid"
Written by Brian Yorkey and directed by Gregg Araki

In the above paragraph, I talked about the show suffering from streaming drift and featuring an inevitable story this season that everyone in the audience will basically know how it'll play out. As such, it's going to be completely agonizing and annoying to watch if every episode is verging on 60 minutes and features the various characters taking the stand in court to share their side of the events of last season. It's the show basically re-litigating everything that occurred in the first season. Last year, the main story had power because it was being told with consistency. It was always told from Hannah's perspective with Kathering Langford's voiceover in every episode being haunting and really connecting everything together. It was through that that the audience got into her head and understood how she saw these various interactions with the other characters leading up to her suicide. And now, this season has those characters taking the stand to tell the world how they interrupted those previous actions after also listening to the tapes. It does allow the show to produce more flashbacks that feature Hannah. And yet, every inclusion of Langford here feels so completely unnecessary and just because the show wanted to keep a great actress around even though the character is dead. Heck, Clay is now hallucinating her! That is unintentionally hilarious. It should present as more evidence that Clay is dealing with some significant psychological issues. That shouldn't be surprising based on what occurred last year. But here, the show just plays it so sincerely even though it's just a cheap trick to once again romanticize what he thought his bond with Hannah was like. It's clear that the ghost Hannah is simply just his mental projection of her instead of her actual self. That will get old real quick. Meanwhile, it's just annoying that the show has given Alex amnesia with the ominous tease that he didn't try to commit suicide because he felt guilty about what happened to Hannah. That's how last season played that twist. But here, it's mostly set up as a mystery to further open this world and just how messed up this high school really is. And yet, the show is just being so broad in revealing just how horrifying this place is. Any student who mentions "suicide" will immediately be suspended. There is apparently multiple sexual assaults that have been kept quiet. And now, their lawyers are trying to blame Hannah for distorting reality and seeking attention through her suicide. Yes, Hannah does have to take a portion of the blame for her death because she has destroyed many lives. However, that doesn't immediately excuse the actions of others who created a hostile environment that made this feel like it was her only option left. C+

202. "Two Girls Kissing"
Written by Thomas Higgins and directed by Gregg Araki

It's painfully obvious that the show didn't consult any legal experts when crafting the stories of the second season. All of the scenes set at the actual trial are absolutely laughable. Wilson Cruz and Allison Miller are playing things sincerely. And yet, both of them are terrible lawyers who don't actually understand how the law works. They are asking leading questions, they are badgering witnesses, they are testifying themselves. All of those things would get numerous objections. But here, the show has a framing device it needs to uphold. Each episode focuses on the one person testifying during that particular day. Of course, it's also ridiculous for the show to say that only one witness takes the stand every day of this trial. That's not how the system works. Nor are they just allowed to monologue because it fits into the voiceover narration of the episode. Only bad characters and writing actually go on and on while testifying. Usually, they just have to answer the questions in the simplest and clearest way possible. And yes, Courtney's coming out story is genuinely moving because she finally accepts the truth. That doesn't completely excuse just how awful she was for the majority of last season with her desire to keep everyone's secrets despite hers being much easier to accept than the multiple sexual assaults. It seems like the show is completely reworking her character this year through the idea that the trial is a freeing experience for her to tell the truth even though it's absolutely despicable of the school's lawyer to force a girl to come out on the stand. Elsewhere, Clay continues to be such a stupid teenager. The show wants to excuse some of that behavior by saying that he has conflicted feelings towards Hannah that are now dramatized through actually seeing her again. But he also just does a terrible job expressing what he's feeling while dating Skye. Right now, Skye needs a friend who will support her and listen to what's going on in her world. The end of the first season seemed as if Clay was willing to help her because he couldn't help Hannah. But here, it mostly plays as Clay having a type for damaged girls who like to cut themselves. That's absolutely horrifying and a huge condemnation of the lead character whom the audience is suppose to follow along on this journey and understand where he's coming from at all times. It's just such a mess! C+

203. "The Drunk Slut"
Written by Marissa Jo Cerar and directed by Karen Moncrieff

This has been a rough start to the season so far. And yet, the third episode features the most stirring and emotional sequence of the new episodes. Of course, it's also surrounded by a bunch of stories that are so completely random and unnecessary. Everything with Marcus is completely inessential and doesn't actually do anything except remind the audience that he's a character who exists. The fallout of Skye's emergency room visit mostly serves as a way of writing off that character to explain why she really won't be seen for the remainder of the season. Courtney returns to school expecting to be judged and ridiculed only to get nothing from her classmates. Clay and Tony track down Justin as he's living on the streets and panhandling for money. Clay brings Justin home with him in secret despite his parents trusting him with a new car. Plus, Justin now has a drug addiction that will probably become very complicated very quickly. Tyler has fallen into a potentially dangerous crowd. Alex still wants to listen to the tapes. All of these stories are mostly just happening without actually feeling like they are important. The only thing of true merit in this hour is Jessica's testimony and her struggle to say that she was raped by Bryce. It's such a powerful moment because it would be so freeing for her to add that horrific detail to the record of this case while also being understandable why she struggles to say those words. She already sees herself as the latest victim of bullying at the school. The attacks against her are only increasing. She hopes that can be beneficial to Hannah's trial. But the school's lawyer is just able to turn that against her. She is able to present an argument that the only reason Jessica and Hannah stopped being friends was out of jealousy and not bullying. It would be so transformative for Jessica to talk about being raped. And yet, it's also such a dangerous "he said, she said" situation where no one really believes her. This hour serves as an indictment not only of toxic masculinity but of nice guys who contribute to the pain and suffering of girls even though their intentions are pure. Both Clay and Alex fall into that camp. It's going to be so destructive that Clay finds Justin in order to be proactive about the trial. Ghost Hannah is forcing him to make a difference. But he may be forcing the other characters into talking openly about things that they are simply not prepared or know how to properly address. B-

204. "The Second Polaroid"
Written by Hayley Tyler and directed by Karen Moncrieff

So far this season, I'm only really liking Jessica and Alex's stories. The rest are a complete mess. The trial is ridiculous and laughable. Ghost Hannah is completely unnecessary. And there are simply too many characters for the show to sufficiently handle. And now, the show is spending even more time with Bryce and it's just so icky. Who wants to see a sex scene between him and his new girlfriend? That seems like a random and odd inclusion here that mostly points out that some people somehow find him charming. He's the ultimate villain of this story. But Marcus is pretty bad and sinister as well. He's essentially the politician of the school. He has popularity just like the jocks. But he also has a plan for his life and won't let anything stray him from that path. Now, he's being confronted by his own sinister actions from the past. He's just as condescending and cruel as his group of friends. And here, he is able to lie so easily on the stand. He is protecting himself first and foremost while being able to pitch a story that will ultimately help Bryce and the school's case. It's so sickening. But again, it makes the audience question why Olivia and her lawyer thought he would be a good witness for them? Elsewhere, Justin is detoxing at Clay's house with help from Sheri. That mostly just highlights how Clay is acting out of selfish reasons. He's trying to push Jessica into telling her story to ensure that Bryce pays for his crimes. It's what Olivia is hoping for as well. She wants the truth to come out with Bryce being convicted for rape. But it's a story that should only be told when Jessica is ready to tell it. She needs to be the one to share her story. She can't be dragged out by those who wish to manipulate it for their own gain. Clay is just the absolute worse this season. He doesn't get the support from Jessica and he's lying to Justin now to get him clean. He then sends the tapes to Alex who may not be stable enough to handle listening to them. Alex and Jessica have such a simple and sweet day away from school. They visit some of the places around town that have cherished but painful memories. It's just a nice time that shows that the series doesn't have to be doom and gloom all the time. Then, Alex has a meltdown in his room out of fear that he'll never become as normal as his father wants him to be. And Jessica pushes Alex away while they are kissing because she is still dealing with her own trauma. All of this is stuff that Clay simply doesn't understand despite him thinking he's a nice guy. B-

205. "The Chalk Machine"
Written by Nic Sheff and directed by Eliza Hittman

Ryan has never been an important character. Yes, he's had a recurring presence and had a deeply personal story with Hannah last season. It was so crushing to see her able to express herself through her words and then have those words used against her. Ryan was the one who did that to her and deprived her of the hopes of escaping this high school drama. And now, it seems like he's learned his lesson too late about people just wanting to be less lonely in this world. He is still choosing to keep secrets as well. That could be fascinating if he was an important character. But it's much more interesting to see Tony step up as the friend Ryan needs to ensure that nothing bad happens to him as well. And yes, there is a lot of intimidation and bullying going on right now. There are the continuing mysterious threats about the trial to keep people from telling the truth. Then, there is Tyler and Cyrus hurting those who they deem to be lying at the trial. Marcus actually lied while Ryan just withheld information. But that doesn't matter to Tyler and Cyrus. And that immediately makes them seem like such destructive characters this season whose actions are bound to only escalate further. Meanwhile, it's important that Clay is exposed for lying to Justin about Jessica wanting him back. He wants to believe that she would only keep the postcard if she still had feelings for him. But that just plays into the episode's overall theme of being in love with people who are clearly bad for you. Hannah was still talking with and being friendly to Justin months after he hurt her. Clay is still obsessed with Hannah even though she's a dead girl whose story keeps getting more and more complicated and mysterious. Jessica and Alex are awkward around each other because of the kiss and how it proved that they aren't dealing with their traumas as well as they thought they were. That motivates Jessica into taking action that is actually beneficial to her because she goes to a support group. Meanwhile, it just sends Alex spiraling further because he's struggling to make sense of the past and why his body is no longer working for him now. But it's also tragic that Justin was willing to get clean for Jessica only for him to run away after learning it would take more work than that. Of course, it's inevitable that he won't be gone for good despite that ominous final shot of him missing from Clay's bedroom. The rest of the school knows that he's back in town after all. B-

206. "The Smile at the End of the Dock"
Written by Julia Bicknell and directed by Eliza Hittman

There was the worry heading into this season that the continued focus on Hannah and the trial would just murky up the clear and consistent story of the first season. As such, it's a huge risk to reveal a previous relationship Hannah had with someone else for an entire summer but failed to mention on that person's tape. It could be seen as nothing more than the show revising its own history because it found a story they wanted to shoehorn into things. And yet, this hour absolutely sells the romance between Hannah and Zach. It focuses on just how personal it was because they were able to share their feelings genuinely with one another. So much of Hannah's story has been about these brief attempts at friendship that quickly blew up and destroyed her life. This tells a different story in that the two of them were happy for months but absolutely terrified to let this relationship go public. It ends in the same way that Hannah chose to end her tape about Zach. It ends with the refusal to share one's true feelings. It was so destructive when he stole her notes last year. She managed to forgive him for that. But it was also just so completely destructive when this relationship ends because they no longer have the one thing that made it special to begin with. They had the freedom to be their true selves with each other. Once the school year started, they once again had to put on their masks to fit into a certain crowd. That just further alienated Hannah and put her on her tragic path. She may have kept all of this out of the tapes in order to protect Zach. She felt like including him because he was an important part of her story. But now, it's clear that he didn't hurt her as much as some of the other people on the tapes who she felt like calling out for the crimes they committed. Of course, Clay decides to make this entire story all about himself. He's angry at Hannah for keeping this secret even in death. It took a trial for this to come out and he's lashing out at Zach for having this relationship at all. He's mad because he wanted to be the guy in a relationship with Hannah. He has always wanted himself to be perceived as the nice guy who would never hurt her. The first season framed it that way because his tape showed that his biggest crime was not stepping up and being there when she needed it. But this season, Clay has become such a despicable monster who wanted to control Hannah and her story. If it's not done the way he wants, then he gets furious at whomever is testifying. As such, it's very fitting that Justin calls him a dumbass. But the damage of Clay's words has already been done. Now, he's the one (alongside the baseball team) who is bullying Zach and making him feel suicidal and unable to confide his true feelings with anyone. That's so tragic but also earned by the end of this hour. B+

207. "The Third Polaroid"
Written by Brian Yorkey and directed by Michael Morris

There was so much anticipation heading into the reveal of what's on Clay's tape in the first season. He was the co-lead of the show who was helping drive the story forward. It was one of the more pivotal hours of the season. As such, it was assumed that the hour where Clay testified at the trial would also be a pivotal one for the season. And yet, my reaction to Clay has been so completely different this time around. He has become such a toxic personality who really only does things out of selfish reasons. Yes, the show could be making a larger point saying that all of these kids are suffering from mental issues that need to be properly addressed. But it can also feel like the show wants the audience to be on Clay's side no matter how destructive and stupid he is being. It's a lot of tonal whiplash that makes his stories really less effective as a whole this time around. It should be absolutely gut-wrenching to be hit with the reveal that Clay and Hannah dig drugs at a party and during the comedown the next morning Hannah talked about wanting her life to end. And yes, that is so devastating and the show puts in the effort to have it stand out in a season that has revised so much of the history of these characters' interactions with Hannah. But it's also being exploited to build an even more damaging case against Hannah that will essentially protect the school and Bryce. As such, Clay is angry enough to take action by posting the tapes online for the entire world to listen to. He believes he's doing what's right by Hannah because she wanted people to hear her story. This is the best way to do so. And yet, it's against the advice of everyone around him. He keeps shutting himself off to other people and it's gotten so destructive because he then pouts when people don't do things how he wants them to. It's exhausting. Plus, he's not even focusing on the new mystery with the polaroids - with the introduction of the third basically just confirming what the audience already knows about the Clubhouse. It's much more effective watching Alex have his big breakdown during his birthday party. He needs the love and support of his family and friends in order to heal and get better. And yet, his friends are too divided because they are attacking each other for what has happened to them because of this trial. Clay has been a bully. Tyler has been a bully. Everyone has basically been a bully. Alex believes they would be happier if he wasn't around for them to worry about getting back to normal. But Jessica rightfully stands up to him in saying that it's selfish to do or say something like that because everyone is here right now because they love him and want to support him in whatever way he needs right now. It's tragic but very emotional to watch. B

208. "The Little Girl"
Written by Felischa Marye and directed by Michael Morris

This episode essentially makes the argument that the characters are much better off at addressing their problems the moment they leave the world of the show. The start of this season was so focused on Skye and her relationship with Clay. The show was basically positioning her as Hannah 2.0. She was the girl Clay was crushing on but who he struggled talking with about her serious mental health issues. It's frustrating that the show has put so much emphasis on her problems when so many of the other characters have much more destructive problems that aren't being addressed at all. Plus, Clay was never too worried about her because he was too busy having conversations with Ghost Hannah. But here, Skye returns as a changed person who was able to get the proper help she needed. It's the show saying that these resources do exist and are available for those who need it the most. It can be very beneficial. But her story mostly comes up now in order to highlight that Clay doesn't always know the right way to help people despite his good intentions. Him releasing the tapes only causes more chaos and destruction. It's him essentially outing everyone's secrets even though he only wanted Bryce to pay for his crimes. That's been his sole focus. He just wants to get justice for Hannah. But he's perfectly fine making Alex, Zach, Tyler and Jessica's lives more difficult. He has to reckon with that. It's important for him to be outed as the one who released the tapes too. It puts his mother's job in jeopardy even though that also highlights how she may not be working in his best interest either. Again, it's so difficult to figure out the kind of help that people need. The show presents a somewhat scattered message in that regard here. The entire season has struggled with the characters in high school figuring out how to share their stories. They may not have helped Hannah's case at all. They are facing that guilt while dealing with their own problems. But here, Skye gets the precise help she needs offscreen while it's therapeutic for Olivia and Jessica to hug and cry after connecting over their shared pain and love. It's the show trying to be better and learn from past mistakes. But it also presents as the show doing so much to say that it does not support or glamorize the choice that Hannah made in the first season. In fact, she's the ultimate destroyer because she blew up everyone's lives because of the pain she was in. That doesn't seem like the appropriate message to take away from this either. It's messy but not in a very compelling way. B-

209. "The Missing Page"
Written by Rohit Kumar and directed by Kat Candler

Are there lessons to be learned from Hannah's death? The show has always taken the position that it strived to start a conversation about these very serious issues. Of course, the characters and the reaction to the show could perceive it as romanticizing and validating suicide as a choice for people to make. The principal says as much during his meeting with Clay which is the most meta scene of the season so far. He wants to protect students by silencing these thoughts completely. And yet, pretending they don't exist and thus shouldn't be talked about is not going to be helpful to anyone. Meanwhile, Mr. Porter is reckoning with his role in Hannah's death. He should feel more responsible than anyone else because he was the adult she sought out in her final hour of need. She recorded that conversation too. So, it's not just her recollection of the events. His words can literally be played back and highlight just how he failed her. It highlights just how traumatizing and destructive it can be if someone doesn't know how to handle this situation accordingly. Mr. Porter failed Hannah and she killed herself. He believes he could have done more if she just used the words "rape" and "suicide." But that's a flimsy rationalization. It's him thinking of how he and the school can do better when these students don't always know how to ask for help or explain how they are hurting. It's also important to note that the fantasy conversation for how he would now talk to Hannah through this turmoil is still not great. He believes he can be a vocal supporter for her because he has daughters. He shouldn't have to say that in order to get that she is in so much pain right now but needs to feel love and support. He should just understand that and be able to give it to her. He ultimately proves to be a helpful witness for the Bakers case. He is basically saying that the school is to blame for her death. And the school is continuing to fail its students too. Marcus is suspended for calling Bryce a rapist in his speech. Clay is punished for skipping school. Clay is attacked once more in the locker room. There are so many problems in this school that it feels like the only solution to Clay, Tyler and Cyrus is to create more violence. They just want to be heard. They believe vandalizing the baseball field will make that happen. They want the school to accept that these jocks are abusive rapists. They continue to be propped up because they bring so much recognition to the school. However, it seems inevitable that the trio of outcasts will be punished while the jocks will continue to have free reign over the school. B

210. "Smile, Bitches!"
Written by Kirk Moore and directed by Kat Candler

The polaroid mystery simply wasn't as compelling or meaningful as the tapes. They were a conceit put into this season in order to build a new mystery that relied on the same things that made the tapes so successful. Except there was only so much the show could do with this new mystery. It made sure the audience and Clay knew the polaroids were important. But it only introduced three of them before this episode. Plus, it was easy to question why someone would trust Clay with this information instead of trying to do something about it themselves. It's actually physical proof that Bryce and the other guys on the baseball team have been raping girls for years. It's disgusting and horrifying. But more importantly, Clay is simply the wrong person to trust with getting the truth out. He is only motivated into action when he finds a personal reason to be upset about what's going on - which he conveniently and lamely does here with Hannah being in a polaroid. Here, he's completely dumbfounded as to how girls get themselves into these situations in the first place - with Sheri rightfully putting him in his place with guys making the situations bad to begin with. Even the answer as to who has left the polaroids for Clay to find is lackluster. Zach has been handing these clues to Clay. He sees himself as a coward unable to act while Clay is fearless. That could make sense considering Zach's character arc this season has been consistently better than Clay's. And yet, it mostly feels like something that needs to be resolved at this point so that Clay has the evidence to push back against this system of abuse at Liberty High. But his big plan is to talk to Chloe and get her to come forward. That may not work out because she has proven to be loyal to Bryce in the past even though she has had some conflicted feelings as well. Elsewhere, it's significant that Tony is put on the stand because he was one of the major characters who didn't get a tape last season. Here, it's important to see what his relationship with Hannah was actually like and why she trusted him to get people to listen to her story. The story explains why he owed her. She was his alibi after he assaulted someone while on his first date with Ryan. He doesn't feel like he does his best in fighting for Hannah on the stand either. So, he too takes to action outside the courtroom to make Sarah, the woman Hannah bullied at her previous school, that Hannah was sorry about what she did. It's a pretty late in the game twist that mostly pops up so that the school can further present Hannah as a drama queen who did this to herself because she was a bully too. B-

211. "Bryce and Chloe"
Written by Marissa Jo Cerar & Thomas Higgins and directed by Jessica Yu

Ghost Hannah has been such a bad creative decision this season mostly because it was unclear what the show's intention with the device was. Could the rest of the world see Clay talking to someone who wasn't there? Or were these conversations just in his head as he was finding a way to cope with the big reveals of the trial? For most of the season, it's been the latter. He's been out in public talking with Hannah and no one notices. But here, he is having a complete mental breakdown which forces his friends to notice. This is such a downward spiral into despair for Clay. He listens as Bryce lies on the stand about an on-again, off-again relationship he had with Hannah. He is tormented by Ghost Hannah basically confirming it all to be true. That just further fuels the idea that Clay is suffering some kind of psychotic break and needs to get the proper medical treatment. He is being haunted by hallucinations that are slowly forcing him to commit violence. That's so terrifying and traumatizing. He feels like the only way he can get justice for Hannah is by going over to Bryce's house and killing him. Fortunately, Justin is a good enough friend to pull him away with a different solution that may potentially lead to a different but worthy conclusion. But Clay desperately wants this pain to end. It would be moving if not for the fact that it was so obvious that he was suffering from these delusions. He needs help and the show is more interested in propping up a cliffhanger where the audience doesn't know if Clay pulls the trigger while Hannah is once again detailing the time Bryce raped her. That's the overwhelming story of this episode and it is pretty awkward and forced. It fails because the show just really didn't think this through while not being aware that the audience would want Clay to get the help he needs. Yes, he has friends who will care for him unlike Hannah. But it also seems inevitable that this season will end in yet another tragedy happening at Liberty High in a way to mirror the shocking end of Hannah's story. That just feels like a structure the show should avoid because it created so many problems heading into this season. Plus, it only continues the cycle of violence. Characters are trying to do the right thing. But their best efforts keep getting destroyed with Bryce and the baseball team continuing to get rewarded because they have a coach solely focused on winning championships. He will protect criminals just in order to get those titles. It's despicable and so destructive. That's not even mentioning the fact that Chloe fails to testify truthfully about Bryce raping her too and Alex remembering that he was at Bryce's house when Hannah was raped. C

212. "The Box of Polaroids"
Written by Hayley Tyler & Brian Yorkey and directed by Jessica Yu

This sure does feel like the finale, doesn't it? As such, it leaves me absolutely terrified about what will happen in the actual finale. This is the episode that provides most of the resolution to the season's many stories. Jessica gets the confidence to share her story to the police with Justin also coming forward as a witness. Justin also gives his testimony at the Bakers trial. The verdict is then delivered in the case with the school being found not responsible - which is crazy considering Mr. Porter's testimony. Mr. Porter is also fired from the school with him leaving behind a stack of files for students who need the most attention which the principal completely disregards. Top of that list is Tyler who loses his friendship with Cyrus after posting responsibility for the vandalism and wanting to kill the many students at school who have abused him. There is even resolution to who has been secretly tormenting the witnesses throughout this season. It was Monty! That's such a lackluster reveal because before this episode I didn't even know that Monty and Scott were two different characters. They look alike and fill the same role as background extra on the baseball team. That reveal is mostly tied into the box of polaroids still being missing and thus forcing Jessica to come clean about her story. That does lead to Bryce getting arrested for sexual assault but Justin is also arrested as an accessory - a complication he was warned about by Clay's mother as well. Plus, Clay is learning to cope with the fact that Ghost Hannah is asking for forgiveness instead of demanding him to kill everyone who hurt her in life. That's a lame ending as well that does in no way justify what that plot device was throughout the season. It's the show basically disregarding all of the serious ramifications of what Clay talking to her meant for his mental state. This episode covers so much plot that it feels like there is nothing left to occur in the finale. I'm guessing the show will rush through Jessica's case with outcomes being delivered for Bryce and Justin. That could be fascinating if Bryce actually pays for his crime. But it's hard to trust that he will considering the show's approach to the law this season has been flimsy at best. Olivia has such a profound moment speaking on the courthouse steps after the verdict is delivered. It's one of her best moments on the show. But there was also no outcome the show could have delivered that seemed genuine because the trial was a complete and nonsensical farce throughout the entire season. B-

213. "Bye"
Written by Brian Yorkey and directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez

This was a contrived season of television. It was completely unnecessary and only produced because the first season turned out to be a huge hit for Netflix. The first season stirred up conversation. The debate could be had about the effectiveness of the story and how the creative team told it. It brought things to a finite ending. This season strived to make Hannah's story more complicated. Of course, the choice to keep the focus on Hannah ensured that the show still felt relatively similar to what it was last year. Sure, it just made everything more murky by revealing new details about her life and failing to get justice in the courtroom. But it does build to a satisfying conclusion here. And yet, the story that the show has been about for two seasons should effectively end with Clay's eulogy and seeing Ghost Hannah walk out of the church. That's the final moment of this series. It's him and his friends finding closure and peace with what had happened. Instead, the show is contorting itself to continue being a high school drama where a lot of sensational and violent things keep happening. The show continues to provoke conversation. And yet, Tyler's assault in the bathroom is simply not earned. Lots of controversy came up because of the show's decision to show Hannah killing herself. The same has also been true of this assault against Tyler. But the moment with Hannah worked because it was a culmination of everything else that happened throughout the season. Her story was at the forefront of the entire show. Tyler has been important this season too. It was clear his story was heading to a tragic ending. But this just feels like one more reason to kick him down for no other reason than the one-dimensional Monty is upset that baseball was cancelled. Tyler even went away for a month to attend a program to rehab his thoughts and be a better person at this school. It took this one act for him to be ready to walk into the school dance with an automatic rifle. That just seems like such a forced moment though. It's to ensure that Clay's overwhelming voiceover proves that it's much harder to do these beliefs in practice than in just thinking about them. The main characters are all able to come together as friends at the dance. Sure, there are plenty of contrived and forced moments there to keep the drama going as well. The show is obviously setting up a lot of melodrama for a third season that's inevitably coming. There is the renewed love triangle between Jessica, Alex and Justin which is so lame because Justin will inevitably hurt Jessica again because he's still using heroin. Meanwhile, Chloe is pregnant with Bryce's baby and struggling with what to do next. Bryce has only gotten three months probation and is transferring schools but will still battle Liberty High in sports. Yes, there are some rewarding and emotional moments throughout this finale like the Jenson family wanting to adopt Justin, Clay learning that Hannah had him on the list of reasons why not to kill herself and the women in court detailing their own experience with sexual harassment and assault. But again, everything is building to that lackluster and forced ending. It's the show depicting violence and brutality for no other reason than it being sensational and continuing to provoke conversation. That's all that it is striving to do here. Plus, it further shows that Clay is such an idiot for taking the gun from Tyler after talking him off the ledge and somehow not thinking to run away with it as the police sirens keep getting louder and louder. C