“I know some people don’t want us to talk about what happened. But if we don’t talk about it, it’s never going to change. So it’s important for everyone to understand how it all happened. The whole story.”
That’s the voice of one of the many students who was on Hannah Baker’s tapes and is recovering after the events of season one of the Netflix super-hit series 13 Reasons Why, which was the most tweeted show of 2017. But his monologue isn’t just in reference to the show. It also takes aim at the critics. It is directly reminding audiences how crucial it is for there to be a second season two.
Season one, while well-received by many, faced controversy over how it treated sensitive subject matters such as suicide, sexual assault, depression etc. This season, the writers have engaged with the viewers responsibly (by adding a link to resources at the end of every episode), but also tackled other social issues that are sometimes not even talked about.
Season two picks up five months after Alex (Miles Heizer) tried to commit suicide and was in a coma. He and Jessica (Alisha Boe) decide to come back to school and face their peers, who pass judgment and serve cold glares habitually. The school has even banned talking about Hannah’s suicide and Alex’s attempted one.
Hannah’s classmates try to move past her suicide and the tapes she left for 12 of her classmates and a counselor. However, her parents’ lawsuit against the school brings forth a trial wherein each classmate takes the stand to give his/her version of the story. This season, the tapes are traded in for testimonies, sharing more of the events that actually happened in Hannah’s life, which were not told in season one. Also, someone keeps threatening the students with notes and warnings to keep quiet and not reveal any more secrets.
Alex’s storyline is particularly heartbreaking as he is a suicide survivor. The events leading up to a month before his suicide are a blur and he’s struggling to remember what happened, asking the hard-pressed question, “Why?” You see what he goes through, especially dealing with his family and classmates, which make his story all the more necessary.
Miles, who plays Alex, turns in an applause-worthy performance as he gives everything in the moment, whether he’s lashing out, breaking down or simply trying to move on. Miles shines with every struggle his character faces.
Jessica, who was also assaulted by Bryce, struggles in coming forward. She cares about what people will think and say about her. The fact that she’s being called a “drunk slut” doesn’t help matters, but further proves why the school was toxic. Alisha Boe tackles Jessica’s recovery and acceptance of what happened to her with sincerity, and leaves you wanting more of her screen time.
Clay (Dylan Minnette) tries to move on by dating Skye, but seeing Hannah’s ghost everywhere, and communicating with said ghost, doesn’t help his case. Dylan gives one of the strongest performances on the show. While in season one, Clay was discovering Hannah’s tapes, this time he’s fighting for her.
He loses control, lashes out and even questions Hannah’s decisions. But eventually, he’s tied to her memory. Dylan perfectly carves out a character you cannot help but root for. His sinks his teeth into his character and is able to deliver Clay’s emotions by expression alone, a true testament of his acting abilities.
Kate Walsh, as Hannah Baker’s mother, puts heart and emotion into her role. Mrs. Baker stands strong for her dead daughter, but breaks down when no one’s looking. Kate gives a winning performance, reminding us what a talented actor she is.
Season two delivers hard punches and continues to tackle sensitive subject matters. It delivers OMG-moments, twists you don’t see coming, and leaves you with your jaw dropped and a dent in your heart as you think about how real these teenage situations actually are. Yes, the show does get dark at times, and if season one was too much to digest, then maybe this one isn’t for you.
For those who liked season one, season two is every bit as binge-worthy. It’s real, it’s compelling and it’s marinated with the essentials of great TV content. ~Marriska Fernandes
Season two of 13 Reasons Why begins streaming Friday, May 18 on Netflix.
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We chatted with 13 Reasons Why stars Miles Heizer and Ross Butler in Los Angeles about season two, their roles and how the series opens up conversations.