The final season of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why came out on June 5th, and I just recently finished the series! I didn’t binge it like I am sure most people did, but I am now ready to talk season 4! As usual, if you have not watched season 4 of 13 Reasons Why, I recommend watching before reading this post. Spoiler warning!
At the end of season 3, I had made a few small predictions. I feel that many people probably had the same assumptions as me because they were somewhat cliffhangers. First, the bag of guns that was found in the river. I knew this would be an issue that would arise in season 4 and I was right. Tyler had said that they may be able to track the person who bought the guns and this worried Clay and Tony. Then, I mentioned that since Alex’s dad knew that his own son murdered Bryce, maybe he would get involved in some way. It seemed like Tyler and Alex’s dad were somehow working together. Something didn’t seem right, so I thought that maybe Tyler confessed everything to the police. And lastly, of course, Winston. I just knew he was going to cause trouble in season 4.
Early on this season, Winston made his first appearance at Liberty High. He transferred from Hillcrest for the spring semester of his senior year. It was clear from the beginning that Winston was trying to get close to Clay’s friend group; Tyler, Alex, and then Zach. It seemed obvious that he was only trying to get close to find out what they really knew about Monty’s death. Winston and Alex seemed to have a romantic relationship blossoming but Alex quickly shut it down after finding out that Winston had an alibi against them. I was not exactly surprised to see that Alex was struggling a bit with his sexuality, but he was lucky to have supportive friends and family around him.
This season, Clay’s mental health was spiraling. Keeping such a big secret was really haunting him (literally). Monty and Bryce would appear throughout the season to talk to Clay. While we, as fans of the show, have not known Clay to be a very happy and optimistic guy, he is a lot angrier and a lot more frustrated this season. We can see that Clay began going to therapy and I have to be honest, any time I watch a TV show/movie with therapy scenes, I zone out a bit. These scenes are rarely entertaining to me personally. However, I was glad to see that Clay was getting help, although it didn’t really seem to be working at first.
I was surprised to find that someone had died this season. There were a few scenes that showed a funeral 6 months later, and then it would flash back to present time. I had no idea who it could be, but after watching a few episodes, my mom guessed that it may be Clay. I hoped that this wasn’t true, but episode after episode, it seemed like a real possibility. Especially since he was struggling with his mental health so much. There were times when we even questioned if some of the scenes actually happened or if he was remembering something that didn’t really happen.
We were introduced to Estella, Monty’s sister, this season. I made the assumption that because she joined HO, she may have been assaulted in some way. I also thought this because of the family that she’s from. Monty’s father was abusive, and of course, Monty was too. I had to wonder if anything happened to Estella and I questioned her relationship with her brother and how close they may have been. I guess I ended up being wrong because there really wasn’t much character development for her, though she and Tyler did get close this season.
During the camping trip, someone was messing with the scavenger hunt that they did. I thought it was the football team, but then I wasn’t so sure. I knew that they were upset because they lost their friend and teammate, but how far would they really go? Then I thought maybe it was Ani, but what would her intention be to do that? It confused me because in the next episode, it was as if all was forgotten. (This seemed to be a common theme. Each episode appeared to start from scratch.)
This season was kind of strange in my opinion. I felt that it was, in some ways, unnecessary and the creators seemed to include one TV high school cliché after another (a camping trip, a house party, prom, and a school “shooting”). I found myself wondering if certain scenes were all in Clay’s head or if they were real. For example, in the episode where Clay is driving Zach’s car after the party, they get in an accident. In the next episode, it seemed like the accident was forgotten about until we find out that Zach got hurt and Clay fled the scene.
I felt that the whole “school shooting” was a bit uncalled for. I don’t understand the intention behind the school. Why on earth would they do a drill and have actual gunshots go off? I don’t really see the point other than to scare everyone. I felt bad for Tyler in this episode because as soon as they heard “code red” Tony automatically assumed it was Tyler. While he was wondering where Tyler went, Tyler was sitting in the bathroom stall talking to Estella. The assault that Tyler went through is something he will never forget, but I am really glad that he is getting better. After worrying and worrying, Tony decided to show the Dean of Discipline Tyler’s photos of guns.
While I didn’t think that Tyler would do anything bad, I was curious as to why he seemed to be hiding something from everyone. It turned out that he was working with the cops. After the bag of guns was traced back to Tyler, the cops wanted him to help them catch the guy selling said guns. After being followed by Tony and Clay, Tyler was understandably frustrated as to why they didn’t trust him. I was upset for Tyler because at the end of season 3, it seemed that he got really close to Clay, Alex, Tony, and even Jessica.
This season, everyone really seemed to distance themselves from each other. I guess it was because they didn’t want anyone to find out what they were all hiding. Parents, teachers, and even the police officers felt that students were on edge and being secretive. This led to what a lot of students felt was an invasion of privacy. Cameras were put into the school and some parents were tracking their children’s cell phones. The students fought back by walking out of school and protesting to get their privacy back.
Since it was the end of their senior year, of course, college was an important topic to discuss. Pretty much everyone bombed their college interviews (or at least it appeared that way). One after the other, they just seemed to be giving up on their futures. I understand why Justin was struggling especially. He had just gotten news that his mother died (most likely from a drug overdose), so he was in a bad headspace. In the next episode we found out that Justin got accepted to a college, though this still didn’t help him with his sobriety.
As I watched each episode, I found that I had quite a few questions: who spray painted “Monty was framed” at the school? Who was messing with everyone on the camping trip? Who set the principals car on fire? All of these questions were answered in episode 7. It was Clay. I know this may have seemed obvious to some people but I wasn’t really expecting that! Apparently he didn’t remember doing any of it; proving how bad his mental health really was. Somehow in episode 9, Clay’s mental health problems seemed to disappear. He seemed to be doing much better all of a sudden. I don’t believe this was very realistic because in reality, it would take a while for him to be even close to ok.
The last episode was absolutely heartbreaking. While dancing at prom, Justin collapsed on the floor. To me, this was unexpected, but at this point I was pretty sure it was Justin who was going to die. We soon find out that Justin was diagnosed with HIV-1 and it quickly turned into AIDS. Justin got sick because of his past using drugs, sharing needles, and being involved in (unprotected) sex work. While he could have prevented his own death, he didn’t see the signs, and he didn’t get tested. Seeing him in the hospital broke my heart, and when Jessica and Clay spoke to him before his death, I just couldn’t stop from crying. I felt bad for Clay the most. He grew so close to Justin, and they truly became brothers rather than just friends. When they told each other “I love you” I just about lost it.
After Justin’s funeral, Winston spoke to Alex. He wanted to know why he killed Bryce. Alex explained everything, and Winston decided to let it go. I really did feel bad for Winston because I believe he really did love Alex, at least a little bit. Not only that, but he lost Monty too. I was happy to see Alex and Charlie happy together though. (I thought it was sweet that they were both prom kings and that others were so supportive of their relationship.) Also, Ryan and Courtney made an appearance in the final episode. Ryan and Winston seemed to hit it off immediately, so I hope that means that Winston got a happy ending too.
I was wondering what would happen with Bryce’s case. Sheriff Diaz really seemed to be working against Clay and his friends, and I thought that he would want them to come clean. Somehow, Sheriff Diaz knew that it was Alex who killed Bryce. In the scene when he was speaking to Officer Standall (Alex’s dad), it was clear that they both knew the truth, and they ultimately decided to permanently close the case. I had a feeling they would get away with it all, and this turned out to be what happened.
In the end, Hannah’s tapes were on Clay’s doorstep once again. I knew that Hannah had to be a part of this last episode somehow, and while I wish Katherine Langford came back for this final episode, they did show her ghost (a scene from a past season). Everyone came together to burry Hannah’s tapes in the spot where Clay first heard them. Everyone was going off to college and they were going to have a fresh start, which is what I think they all needed.
As for their futures, I really hope that Clay can help young people the way that his own therapist helped him. While he is most likely going to need to continue going to therapy sessions for a while, I hope that he can work on his mental health and strive for a better future. For Jessica, I hope that she will continue to speak up for and help those who have been sexually abused. This issue became very important to her, and it was obvious that she had leadership qualities.
I think bittersweet is the best word to describe an ending to any series. While I did feel that this season was not the best, I was sad to see the end of the series as a whole. I think the main point of this season was really to end the school year and say goodbye. Everyone pretty much got a happy ending, though some main characters lost their lives along the way.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this recap/review! I would love to know your thoughts on this season (and the show in general), so leave me a comment below and tell me what you thought!