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TAKE 2: 13 Reasons Why

Eileen McCormick / Khmer Times Share:

Season 1 of the highly controversial drama series ‘13 Reasons Why’ is an adaptation of Jay Asher’s book. It was produced by former Disney star and now pop artist Selena Gomez who herself has dealt with the paralysing effects of depression.

The series became somewhat of a cult classic as Hannah Baker, a young girl who kills herself, leaves behind series of tape recordings. Each side of the tape signifies Hannah’s wrongdoers. Along with telling the story of the main character’s suicide, the show also dealt with difficult topics such as bullying, rape and guilt. And I dare say, incompetent teachers, counselors and adults.

By the end of the season, there was somehow a closure as the tapes were handed to the police and Hannah’s parents. Viewers assumed that an investigation would eventually be opened for Hannah’s suicide case and justice will be rightly served. But how exactly would this happen remained an unanswered question until Season 2 came out last month.

Now streaming on Netflix, Season 2 of ‘13 Reasons Why’ now concentrates more on the life of the people that have been haunted by Hannah’s death. The Bakers, the mom especially, pursue justice for her daughter. She takes Liberty High School to court. Clay Jensen, meanwhile, makes it his personal mission to put Bryce Walker behind bars for what he did to Hannah and Jessica.

Poster advertising the second season of 13 Reasons Why. Photo: Netflix

This time, Hannah’s tapes are replaced by court testimonies, with each episode beginning with a voiceover from one of the people called to the stand to talk about the event leading to Hannah’s decision to take her own life. Hannah’s mother wants to hold the school responsible for her daughter’s fate.

Clay, despite the burden he’s feeling for Hannah’s death, tries his best to move on. He finds himself a new girlfriend and seems happy with the relationship. But when he is called to testify in court, his newfound stability crumbles down. To make matters worse, he falls target of a mysterious vigilante who threatens him not to talk about the case. As Clay’s story progresses, it becomes clear that he still is grieving for Hannah. He does not only have visions of her, but now gets to have conversations with her as well.

We also see Clay dealing with the other truths of Hannah. Her tapes showed her side, but Clay always saw her other character. As he converses with the dead Hannah, he always reminds himself to remember the real her – the one she wanted people to relate to from the tapes she left behind.

Like Season 1, the new season of the drama series has its own Nancy Drew-kind of mystery the group can only solve if they stick together. Clay discovers that he’s not the only one getting threats from an anonymous individual. At the end of this season’s first episode, we get haunted by the fact that something bigger is happening in the lives of the people of Liberty High School – polaroid photos with baleful messages are handed out with Clay getting the first copy, which says “Hannah wasn’t the only one.”

These photos prove that there is not just “Rapist Bryce” but possibly a whole culture of athletes that not only participated in the acts of rape, but have been living freely and abundantly at the school’s club house.

Were there more ‘Hannahs’? Has there been a big coverup? Netflix

Jessica, meanwhile, is still struggling with the aftermath of knowing her boyfriend let his best friend rape her. While she tries to come out to her parents in Season 1, we see that she tries to deny things in this new season. She claims to not know anything about the rape cases at school. And as Bryce comes back to school, she is forced to act like nothing has happened.

The slut-shaming culture at school has deemed the ‘rape issue’ as a lie as people are made to believe that it’s Jessica who cheated on Justin.

Justin, meanwhile runs away after stealing money from his mom’s drug-dealing boyfriend. Clay creates a game plan to find Justin and have him testify against Bryce. However, Clay discovers Justin so high on heroin he couldn’t be a good source of testimony.

On the other hand, Alex, who tried to commit suicide after hearing Hannah’s tape in Season 1, is now trying to overcome his physical disability. He has become much closer to Zack, who now serves as his physio-therapist. Dealing with the repercussion of shooting himself in the head, he now has several episodes of outburst and struggles.

Zack, who still hangs out with Bryce and his old gang despite everything that has happened, seems to get confused on how to deal with things and people. As the season progresses, we are left to wonder if he will ever make a stand.

But for this season, the most complex character to follow is Tyler. He no longer sits down taking shit, but has found a way to vent out his anger. He teams up with a group of anarchists who want to destroy the system. While some of their pranks involve mere spray painting, the group can also become dangerous.

But while the group as a whole is not as angry as Tyler is, his aggression and life circumstances take a big toll on him this season. He becomes interested in guns and shooting cans that have faces of his tormentors.

A scene with Bryce, who is accused of raping Hannah and Jessica. Photo: Netflix

The season’s end shows three athletes brutally raping Tyler. Bleeding and humiliated, he gathers all his weapons and amo and plans to stage a shooting rampage at the school prom. He shows up at the prom, but is immediately apprehended by Clay.

When the cops arrive, Tyler is already gone with Tony’s car. Clay, meanwhile, is left alone with a gun in his hand.

Will Clay get all the blame? That’s what we have to find out in Season 3. But that one has also yet to be seen as producers and writers have not yet announced the renewal for another season.

Even with a cliffhanger ending, Season 2 has given us another issue to talk about – gun violence – which is undoubtedly so timely in the US.

With deeper issues and more disturbed characters, this season has taken us from the teen drama theme (of the first season) to a courtroom and school thriller.

This weekend, you might want to spend time questioning and understanding and then questioning again the behaviour of high school students and their psyche in ‘13 Reasons Why’ Season 2.

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