Violence, rape and bullies reign in this want-to-be provocative sequel
13 Reasons Why was so popular that a sequel was almost immediately announced while the buzz was still going strong, but the question is does there really need to be a sequel?
The first series was based on the 2007 novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher and it was adapted by Brian Yorkey for Netflix. Yorkey was also on hand for season two, but why is it necessary?
What's the point? Well, the first season was a hit and season two is likely going to keep people going to Netflix for another voyeuristic go into the aftermath of the suicide of Hannah Baker played by Katherine Langford and how Clay portrayed by Dylan Minnette and the rest of the gang are all holding up.
People who liked the first season will be instantly compelled to watch the second, even though the odds of it being a disappointment were really high. And for the most part, it did.
Season one ended with many things left unresolved, but that seems like that is how things should be. It embodied the symbol of suicide prevention coined by Amy Bluel: a semicolon; a pause and not the end.
13 Reasons Why season one ended with Clay creating a new tape where he got Bryce to confess to the rape of Hannah Baker. Alex was in critical condition after attempting suicide. Tyler had a hidden arsenal. It is likely that the tapes will make their way to the proper authorities. Life was slowly moving on.
The level of guilt and remorse varied from person to person. Clay, Justin, Andy and Olivia Baker and Alex are racked with guilt. Marcus, Ryan and Courtney are just trying to forget about it and get on with their lives. Zach and Jessica are in-between. They feel bad, but are attempting to make sense of the events that transpired in the story and get their own lives together. Tyler is a troubled soul from years of being bullied. Bryce is an unrepentant sociopath.
Something different between the two seasons is that in the first, the tapes are purely from Hannah's point of view. In the second season, we learn that Hannah wasn't always a reliable witness and omitted some important details.
Season two begins five months after the suicide of Hannah Baker. Olivia Baker is taking the school to court for their negligence that helped cause the death of her daughter.
Unlike season one where the whole thing was set up as the people on the tapes represent the 13 reasons why Hannah killed herself, season two relies on when people are called to testify in court and what they say and do.
Clay receives a Polaroid that reads that "Hannah wasn't the only one," so he embarks on a journey to find out what's going on and how to bring predators like Bryce to justice.
Justin's storyline is troubling but feels authentic. He was a heroin addict living on the streets after his falling out with Bryce and leaving his abusive household. The kindness shown to him by the Jensen family is touching and it leaves you rooting for him to get better.
The overall story is very melodramatic and some of the reveals are purely for shock value. The last fifteen minutes of the final episode "Bye" are brutal, far-fetched and unnecessary. How bleak do the creators of this show want high school to be?
Sure for some it really sucks and there is bullying, but the school itself and the adults who run it could easily be charged with criminal negligence. Mr. Porter finally gets fired, which had to happen even though he was trying to make amends for his mistakes concerning Hannah, but it was too little too late.
A fight breaks out where almost all of the boys get into it and even a few teachers do to and no one is punished for that. It takes a lot of suspension of belief to get through that bit, though Courtney played by Michele Selene Ang does deliver one of the only funny lines in the series while watching the brawl take place.
The series is a little reminiscent of '90s teen hit Pump Up the Volume where Christian Slater shakes up his corrupt school through his pirated radio show and doesn't intervene in the correct way when a student said that he was suicidal.
Something that is as good in season two as one is the music. The amazing soundtrack which features Echo and the Bunnymen's "The Killing Moon," which was featured so prominently in season covered by Roman Remains.
There are a few things that make season two almost worth watching: Great acting by Dylan Minnette, a touching storyline involving Zach played by Ross Buttler, Tony's (Christian Navarro) backstory and Anthony Rapp's (yes, one of the original forces of the #MeToo and #TimeUp movements) guest star turn as a good priest who celebrates God's mercy and forgiveness and helps the family and friends begin to heal.
But the violence and possible school shooting lingers throughout the series and not in a compelling or relevant way.
The ending of this one is brutal and still ambiguous.
Will they rush to do a season 3? If they do go for a third, I hope it will take place many years later. Hopefully, the good people will have peace and the bad ones will get what they deserve.
13 Reasons Why has posted resources for people in crisis who need help. Find them here.
Crisis Text Line
If you are in crisis, reach out for help. Text REASON to 741741 or go to http://www.crisistextline.org.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline