Spoiler-Free Review of “13 Reasons Why” Season 4 on Netflix: High School is Over

**Major spoilers have been left out for your convenience so feel free to read on!**

“Life is a pretty spectacular thing.”

The final season of 13 Reasons Why premiered on Netflix on June 5th 2020 with 10 new episodes (Approximately 58 minutes in length) in season 4. It stars Dylan Minnette, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, and Miles Heizer.

The show is based on the novel written by Jay Asher. It follows a young high school student who suffers from depression after dealing with bullying and betrayal. The series allowed us to see things from Hannah Baker’s perspective in the first season, but the other seasons focused more on the lives of her friends and family members as they coped with grief and other significant changes.

If you are a fan of this show, then you know that it is like nothing else you have ever seen. It tackles a lot of important and sensitive issues without holding anything back. When the show first premiered, there was a lot of controversy surrounding it and there are several warnings that come up before each episode that should not be ignored.

Coming to the end of a brilliant series is not easily done, but does 13 Reasons Why give our beloved characters the proper farewell they deserve? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

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Images courtesy of Netflix

Moving performances by Dylan Minnette, Alisha Boe, and Brandon Flynn.

The entire cast is great, but this trio really gives us some heart-wrenching moments that will have you in tears. They are real, believable, and thought-provoking. You can truly empathize with them. You can easily imagine them as your own best friend or brother or sister. In a way, we have really watched them grow up on screen. 

When I first started the series, I had mixed thoughts on all of the characters and while Clay Jensen stole our hearts and compassion from the very start, Justin and Jessica really went through important character transformations throughout the series.

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Images courtesy of Netflix

Proper goodbyes.

A lot of series don’t really get the chance to give each and every one of their characters a proper send off. Some series are canceled too early and others drag things out too much. However, I thought that 13 Reasons Why did a really great job of allowing us to truly say farewell to each character.

High School can often feel like the end and unfortunately, it is the absolute end for some of our beloved characters. But for others, it is just the beginning of their journey and we can all relate to that.

While some characters discovered new relationships and passions, others went down dark roads of despair. But each one got enough screen time so that we could appreciate and understand their growth. Not just in high school, but in life.

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Images courtesy of Netflix

Episode 6

Each episode gave us some tropes about the end of high school. We got to witness a senior camping trip, college interviews, the prom, and graduation. However, I thought that episode 6 almost could have been a standalone for the series.

It was so intense and it really brought me back to that same feel I had while watching season 1, which I appreciated. Again, the warnings should not be ignored on this series and I strongly recommend watching it with someone else, but I thought the writing and direction for this particular episode was brilliant.

The Cons:

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Unsure of its plot.

A lot of season 4 focuses on Clay’s anxiety, especially after coping with what happened to Bryce and Monty. It is not easy to personify mental illness, but I could have done without the cheesy horror effects sprinkled in. They were kind of distracting and it took away from Clay’s actual issues. I thought it would have been better to stick with Clay’s revealing conversations with his therapist, which were extremely well done.

I’m still also not sure what the main plot was. Season 4 was kind of all over the place in certain aspects. In season 1, we focused on Hannah. In season 2, we looked at things from other eyes. In season 3, we watched things from a newcomer and also focused on a murder. However, season 4 didn’t really have much of a plot.

There were moments of pure brilliance and some really heartbreaking ones that still have me in tears, but I guess I was hoping for something to really captivate my attention like with the other seasons.

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Images courtesy of Netflix

Jessica Davis deserved more.

Jessica’s character transformation across the seasons has really been something spectacular. In season 3, she really embraced her strength and identity as a woman and became a leader. However, in season 4, she still talks a lot about these issues, but we spend too much time tangling her up in a love triangle that was unnecessary.

Jessica has been in toxic relationships, but she has also discovered her individuality. I just didn’t want that completely tainted and I thought that we could have moved away from the love triangle plot all together.

So am I in or out?

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Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m in because I have a lot of respect for this show. There are a lot of teen dramas around that skim over important issues and I really thought that this particular one dove right in without censors. There are some moments throughout the show that are extremely difficult to watch, but sometimes we need to watch them in order to process all of these important issues in our lives.

The world can be scary and overwhelming and 13 Reasons Why reminded us that through all of the grief and difficult moments, there are also really beautiful ones as well and that life is worth living. While I had some personal preferences and issues with the final season, I will forever be a fan of this show.

It’s one of a kind and something that will stand the test of time for me.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on 13 Reasons Why in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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13 Reasons Why you should watch “13 Reasons Why” Season 2

If you’re a devoted television fan like me, then I’m sure you have heard of the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why.  Last year I spent an entire day binge-watching the first season and I have to say that it had me laughing, crying, and shocked more than I thought possible.  I do recommend that you read the warnings before each episode, as some of the content can be emotionally disturbing.  Having said that, the characters on this show are so real and it’s hard not to connect to their stories and dive into their world.  Our hearts break for some characters and we find ourselves angry at others, but we learn that “everyone affects everyone” in some way or another and it’s up to us to decide how we are going to behave and who we are going to become in the process.  It may be difficult to step out of a label or an expectation, but doing the right thing and supporting the people around us is so much more important.  While season 1 focuses primarily on Hannah Baker’s story, season 2 gives us the chance to see what happened from other perspectives, as unlikely heroes emerge and second chances are presented.  Please note major spoilers are ahead.  My top 13 reasons to check out 13 Reasons Why season 2 are: 

 

13

Clay gets a tattoo.

In the beginning of season 2, Clay is still with Skye and we learn that it has been 5 months since Hannah committed suicide.  Clay decides to get a semicolon tattoo, but ends up passing out.  As a result, he has a “fucking comma.”  Skye has emotional problems of her own and ends up moving away, but is an important influence on Clay’s life.  At the end of the season, Clay returns to finish the tattoo.  The semicolon symbol is important, representing another way to continue a sentence, rather than end it simply with a period.  This can be true about a sentence, a story, and about one’s life.  Selena Gomez and several of the actors on 13 Reasons Why have gotten the same tattoo and have discussed its message and significance.  The tattoo marks the beginning of Clay’s new journey, as he tries to deal with his life without Hannah.  No one said it would be easy, but Clay is ready to move on.

12

“There’s always another side to every story.”

Part of what makes season 2 so great is that we get to see what happened from different perspectives.  In season 1, everything we learned was mostly through Hannah’s eyes.  However, season 2 allows us to explore more of that story and understand how her suicide has truly impacted those around her.  For example, we learn that Zach actually had a summer romance with Hannah and had real and true feelings for her.

11

Clay is still seeing Hannah.

It’s hard not to root for Clay and want the very best for him.  Clay’s world is still falling apart, even though he has tried to move on.  He begins seeing Hannah and even has full conversations with her throughout season 2.  Clay clearly understands that Hannah is gone, but his loneliness is sometimes too much to handle and it seems to bring him some sort of comfort to talk out loud to her.  While this allows us to see more of Hannah Baker, the real emphasis here is on Clay and him trying to make sense of his life and figure out a healthy way to move on and still get justice for Hannah.

10

“Feeling the pain and facing it.  That takes courage.”

Hannah’s mother, Mrs. Baker is dealing with quite a lot.  Her daughter is gone, her husband is filing for divorce, and she is consumed by the trial against the school.  It’s difficult to sit through the trial as some witnesses tell a truth that is difficult to hear, while others completely lie.  Later on we learn that Hannah was responsible for bullying a girl at her old school.  Hannah wasn’t perfect, but Mrs. Baker’s love for her is unconditional and like Clay, she desperately wants justice for her daughter.  Mrs. Baker does have a second chance to make things right, as she becomes an important influence for both Jessica and Alex.  While Mrs. Baker may not have been able to save Hannah, she has the opportunity here to make a real difference with two kids in pain.

9

Alex puts the pieces back together.

At the end of season 1, Alex shot himself in the head, but did survive.  It’s difficult for him to walk and he has lost huge chunks of his memory, but he is determined to put the pieces back together.  He even listens to the tapes again, which eventually Clay leaks out to everyone anonymously so that they can learn what truly happened.  In episode 11, a huge fight breaks out and Alex begins to remember things, like Monty’s part in all of this.  He refuses to sit by on the sidelines and becomes a character you can truly relate to.

8

“Love as infinity.”

In one of my favorite moments of season 2, Clay and Hannah are lying on the floor and looking up at the ceiling.  They discuss the concept of infinity and how to understand it and Hannah suggests that “maybe that’s how we understand it.  Love that goes on forever.”  In this moment, it’s like the entire world has stopped and it’s just Clay and Hannah.  Clay’s love for Hannah is beautiful and transcendent.  This is a memory he can always hold on to forever, suggesting that her words are actually spot on.

7

Unlikely heroes step forward.

Characters like Mr. Porter, Justin, and Zach all get second chances in season 2.  Mr. Porter breaks down in court and even though he did everything he could according to policy, he feels like he could have done more.  He ultimately loses his job, but his words are important and he tries to make a difference in as many lives as he can.  While he feels like he let Hannah down, he has a second chance to make it right.  Justin has been living on the streets and Clay finds him and lets him stay at his house secretly.  Justin has an addiction to heroin and has been dealing with quite a lot, but he is able to do the right thing and tell the court and the police what he saw Bryce do to Jessica.  While Justin has consequences of his own because of his involvement, he is willing to do the right thing and become someone to be proud of.  When Clay tells Justin that his family wants to adopt him, it looks like he can finally get the second chance he deserves.  Now he just needs to kick that nasty drug habit.  Zach is another character who becomes an unlikely hero.  Even when he was with Hannah, he was a coward and allowed Bryce and the others to make fun of her.  Zach finally breaks out of this and stands against Bryce.  In the huge fight in episode 11, he finally picks a side.  Zach is an important character because he reminds us that sometimes it’s easier to do nothing and stay quiet, but taking a stand takes real courage and can shape us into who we are meant to be.

6

“Some people will still blame others.”

While many of the characters are trying to pick up the pieces and move on, poor Tyler is having a rough go at it.  While it’s easy to dislike Bryce who refuses to believe that he is wrong, a character like Monty can be even more dangerous.  Monty’s actions are cruel and disturbing.  In a graphic sexual assault, Monty does the unthinkable to Tyler.  The rape scene in the bathroom is extremely difficult to watch.  Tyler is traumatized and is looking to take revenge against his classmates as a result of this.  Even though unlikely heroes have emerged, there are still bullies and villains present, refusing to take a hard look in the mirror to see what they have done.  Bryce and Monty have destroyed lives with their actions.  But will they ever truly try to make amends?

5

Justice for Jessica.

Jessica is having a very difficult time coping and is unable to name Bryce throughout most of season 2.  After Justin comes forward, Jessica is able to finally file a police report.  Even though Bryce gets off with 3 months probation, she no longer needs to hide from the truth.  Jessica learns how to live her life without being defined by something that happened to her and to step forward for those who can’t.  For example, Chloe has the opportunity to speak out against Bryce and can’t go through with it.  However, Chloe has another problem to deal with, as she confides in Jessica that she is pregnant.  Jessica is also able to get justice for Hannah in this moment as well, who never got the chance to speak out against Bryce.  Even though the trial ends with ruling in favor of the school, what happened to Hannah is not to be forgotten.  Jessica’s justice is also extremely important.

4

“I can love you and still let you go.”

Earlier in season 2, Skye leaves and says these words to Clay.  They are beautiful and meaningful and later when Clay speaks at Hannah’s service, he applies them to his love for Hannah.  The service allows everyone to finally say goodbye to Hannah and cherish her memory.  Clay’s eulogy is so real and heartbreaking.  While he will never forget Hannah, he is ready to move on with his life.

3

“The Night we Met.”

In the season 2 finale, Clay and everyone are at the school dance.  “The Night we Met” song comes on again, which is the song he danced with Hannah to.  Clay’s emotions begin overwhelming him and Tony immediately goes to find him when he hears the song.  In a beautiful moment, Tony and all of his friends surround Clay and sway back and forth to the music.  All of these characters have come together to be there for Clay.  He is no longer alone and these characters are now linked forever.  In season 1, they were all brought together by terrible secrets, but in season 2 they are brought together to honor Hannah and to support each other no matter what comes their way.

2

“What do we do?  Do we look the other way or do we help them?”

When Clay discovers that Tyler is on his way to the school with an assault rifle, everyone suggests that they call the police and get out of there.  Clay refuses to run away, however.  He knows that Hannah would want him to step in and help.  It’s never too late and Clay risks his life trying to tell Tyler this.  Tony gets Tyler out of there in the nick of time, while Clay is left standing outside holding the gun.  In this moment, Clay is beyond courageous, but he has a lot to explain once the police show up.

1

“But no matter how many reasons there might be why, there are always more why not.”

This is probably the most significant moment for me.  Mrs. Baker finds Hannah’s list of reasons and discovers that she made a list of reasons why not.  Clay and “Helmet” are on there, which reveals how important he truly was to Hannah.  Mrs. Baker tries to tell him that she left so many reasons out and that there are always more reasons why not, reminding us that living is what’s important.  Clay and the other characters are ready to finally start living.  The tragic moments are always going to happen and we can’t always control that, but we can control what we do afterwards.  It’s what makes us who we are; who we can still become.

 I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own theories and thoughts on 13 Reasons Why in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

@TV_Fanatic_Girl

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