This artilce we’re breaking down the finale of 13 Reasons Why.
The Netflix Phenomenon has just dropped its final season and throughout this, we’ll be breaking down everything that you need to know about it and it’s ending.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you haven’t had a chance to check out the show yet then I highly recommend that you turn off now.
With that terrible pun out the way, let’s get into our breakdown of the series.
13 Reasons Why Season 4 Plot Recap
Season 3 pretty much centred around the murder of Bryce Walker. The highly hated teen died a disgrace with very few friends and because of this everyone was a suspect.
We learned that it was Alex that carried out the crime but the season ended with the blame being pointed towards Monty which exonerated him completely.
Throughout Season 4 this lie slowly unravels and we pretty much watch as the truth slowly comes to the surface so that the characters can finally close the book on it.
However this isn’t the only closing of the book and metaphorically, Season 4 culminates with the students leaving high school and starting a new chapter in their lives. The tapes Bryce are seemingly destroyed, the college applications begin and we watch as the group slowly drifts apart.
13 Reasons Why thematically has always been about choices and how certain choices can have a butter fly effect that ends up in things spiraling out of control. Season 4 exemplifies this with the choices that the characters have made in the prior three entries all having large carryovers.
I’m going to primarily be focusing on the arc of Clay as I think that has the most repercussions on the others but there’s just so many things going on that I would of course love to hear your favorite aspects of the show.
From the off the season really drives home how difficult it can be for some to survive high school. The show even opens with a line stating that some people just don’t make it and a big death is teased with a funeral that happens six months ahead of where the majority of the season takes place.
Now I really think another major theme of 13 Reasons Why is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Though Bryce was a terrible person, the murder of the character was also wrong and thus the group has to deal with the repercussions of it. The choices they made to cover it up to have devastating effects.
What’s Up With Clay?
Nowhere is this more represented in Clay and the anxiety that he suffers with throughout. As someone who has dealt with anxiety myself, I found the portrayal very accurate. Though I haven’t exactly had the ghost of the person I framed for murder haunting me, overthinking things and thus creating paranoia can often happen. It can send your body into weird states such as agitation, over heating and shutting down.
Worrying is often an overuse of your imagination and I loved that this season dealt with the inner turmoil that Clay was suffering from because of all that he’d been through. Whether it’s Tylers gun, the cover-up being unearthed, or just the ghost of Alex that haunts him, you really see what is happening to him mentally.
The paranoia heightens when Winston arrives at the school and it emboldens Clay’s mental illness as he believes the truth will finally come out. Winston was of course the secret ex of Monty and he knows he’s innocent due to being with him on the night of the murder. He starts to get closer to Alex and I actually spent a lot of the show wondering whether his feelings were genuine or if he was simply manipulating the character.
The Mysterious Caller
Someone starts to taunt Clay with strange phonecalls and as he slowly loses his grip on reality in our eyes he slowly becomes an unreliable narrator as we as viewers can’t really distinguish what’s real and what isn’t.
This voice tells him to do more and more things and it slowly starts to escalate. I was convinced he was pennywise when they found blood in the show but it’s just revealed to be Monty’s team mates. They were just pulling a prank but because he freaks out they realize he’s hiding something darker.
I’ll kinda jump ahead a bit as I don’t wanna recap the whole season but the paranoia within all the characters slowly starts to come to the surface as the ghosts of their past start to come to appear. I did kinda feel like this was a slightly slower season than some of the prior entries as I didn’t think it had as many big moments early on, however, it quickly ramps up and at just 10 episodes as opposed to the regular 13, it really feels like the big moments start to come thick and fast. Clay loses that V card, a big crash happens and the school goes into lockdown with a suspected shooter.
This is revealed to be a drill but the experience of it sends Clay into a complete nervous breakdown. The blackouts, hallucinations and paranoia all hit a high point when both visions of Bryce and Monty torture him.
Now, these are important to note as Clay’s mental health issues eventually cause him to develop a dissociative personality disorder. He pretty much takes on a dual identity in which a violent side of him begins to subconsciously commit crimes that will eventually unearth the truth and bring to light the things that he has done. This revelation comes much later in the season but watching certain elements with the knowledge of how he develops, definitely needs to be kept in mind.
He finally accepts culpability for it and in facing his inner demons that have manifested as the pair realizes that he has to right the wrongs of his past and in a heated rage he grabs a gun and has to be disarmed. His mental health declines further and in the wake of the lockdown. Tyler is revealed to be an informant for the police that has been working with the police in the wake of guns being discovered and I think this reveal sort of symbolises the major theme towards the ending of the season.
That is the future and how we must always be mindful of it but in doing so we must make sure we are present in the well…present.
Living In The Moment
Clearly Tyler was stuck in a corner with the police and he found a way to navigate towards the future, still having it intact by his choices. Clay, however, continues to live in the past, constantly haunted by what he’s done which makes him no longer mindful of the present or future, and thus he makes brash mistakes. His past literally becomes a physical manifestation within his personality in a way that it trues to constantly bring the past to light so that he can finally move on to the future.
Thinking about the series as a whole, 13 Reasons Why is all about how the past can always come back to haunt you and it is rightful to be mindful of the present so you can have a future. Had Clay looked ahead rather than always behind I think that the season would’ve gone a different way with him not being tortured by the apparitions that seemingly stalked him and eventually lead to him commiting some truly terrifying acts.
The only time we see Clay actually thinking about the future properly he doesn’t actually have a realistic grasp upon it and instead imagines the year 2161 where the earth is a polluted landfill under attack from a sentient robot army that exists in the Andromeda galaxy. Yeah it’s completely crazy.
The Best Way To Fail Is To Have No Plan
A great line that appears towards the end of the season is that the best way to fail is to have no plan at all and I think that this is exemplified by Clay who is constantly trying to navigate the past in order to ease his conscience, rather than thinking how things may play out. He’s brash, impulsive, and acts on a whim without really thinking of the repercussions it can cause because deep down he wants it to come to light.
By the prom, he does eventually get to live in the moment but he definitely spends most of his time buried in the past.
This is mirrored by Tony who initially doesn’t really think of how things will go ahead but he does eventually gain a big opportunity by changing his focus. School is all about preparing us for the future and I think as a whole the show has pretty much been about how we must be constantly mindful of it. A lie can do far more damage over time than the truth can and I think that Clay and co could’ve saved himself a lot of pain had they opened up early on rather than trying to cover things up.
However, another theme of the show is of course unity and the group definitely managed to get through things because of each other. Nowhere is this idea of taking a stand shown more than in the walkout that happens after an authoritarian attack. It’s difficult to not draw comparisons with real-world events and though the show has always been controversial, this definitely feels like it’s come at the right time. Clay states that they have to bring it all down because he is merely a prisoner of the structures that have been put in place around him. I think that his personality is literally trying to bring these walls down and that is why he destroys the Dean’s car.
A Guilty Conscience
Again this is all the repercussions of choices early on that Clay made and he was unable to truly process the weight of his actions so his brain had to find a way to deal with them. Every time the truth is suggested it’s shot down when it could have ultimately stopped so many more lies happening. The lie is reflected in the character’s parents who track their children and I did appreciate how they were initially just trying to keep their children safe through a lie whilst Clay and co were doing the same thing to protect one another.
Ultimately most of the truth all comes out in the end and this includes drug use, sexuality and more being talked about openly. The prom is a celebrating of them finally lifting the weight off their shoulders…wait you brought a hooker to prom?
Clay embraces the moment and is finally present in the present, Winston gets to dance with Alex and it feels like a certain sense of closure. This to me symbolizes all of the characters finally letting go of the past though it may not have a literal sense to it, it shows the ending of the pain that the past has caused all of the characters.
We all have regrets from our lives but we have to learn to live with them and move on much like how the characters in the show do. They are progressing and whether it’s two prom kings, a big twist with Boundry and more, this is about moving forward in a positive direction.
13 Reasons Why Season 4 Ending
This is 13 reasons why though so of course the happiness doesn’t last long and Justin who has been exhibiting flu-like symptoms throughout the season is eventually diagnosed with AIDS which was passed on through drug use and sex work. There was a point in the show that Justin and Clay had to take drug tests and the former blamed the other for switching the tests to provide a positive result.
He’s revealed to be the character that the funeral was held for and it’s honestly not something I was expecting.
It comes as a big blow and though it’s tragic it reminds us that we have to make the most of what we have and the time we do by being present in the moment and appreciating all of it.
We must take the good with the bad because that’s what makes life worth living. That’s really the message that Justin tries to pass on before his death and I think it’s also the message that the show is trying to portray. High School and life in general passes by in the blink of an eye so make of it what you can. Love what you have and man…I’m not crying you’re crying…
Justin’s death finally makes him and the group appreciate all they’ve gone through but to leave the past in the past and focus on improving themselves. Alex also confesses Bryce’s murder to Winston and the latter hands over the tape to the former, which means that Bryce can no longer ruin any more lives. He returns to taunt Jessica mentally but she says that though Bryce made the world a certain way, they learned to love each other by taking a negative and turning it into a positive.
13 Reasons Why True Meaning
There’s a lot of scenes of closure and discusssion but you really feel like everyone has grown in a positive way by learning to accept how things are. We’ve all made mistakes as the therapist states and we are guided onto the right path by others just like how they were guided when they were younger. This sort of brings everything to a close and he states that he began much like how Clay does after closing the lid on what’s happened to him.
Jessica admits that she was a one-issue person but she has shifted this to focusing on love, loving all that she has and all that will happen to her. Hate is too easy and it drove Bryce down a dark path and almost took those around him with him. But they survived and together, the friends loving one another are what got them through.
You can survive anything, no matter how hard things are right now and it’s definitely a message that is more important now than ever. Choose to live, choose to get through it because there’s always going to be something worth living for even if you haven’t encountered it yet. Love the moment, live in the moment and enjoy it.
It’s the perfect way to end the show and watching these characters say their goodbyes after the four seasons that they’ve been through really feels like the best send-off they could get. The group goes their separate ways, onto their new lives and the next chapter but still they’ve learned so much.
Clay is even accepting of his ghosts and though they’ve tormented him he eventually learns that the past is making him stronger and it’s not something that he should be driven to hate. You can find the love where you look for it and forgiveness is always something that you should have.
Clay finally accepts the ghost that has driven him the most and that is Hannah. She returns for a final goodbye and its…a…man I swear I’m not crying. He says goodbye to her in some form just as he meets someone new and they bury her tapes along with the past.
At home he reads a piece by Justin that reminds us that though there is darkness, the light shines through to move it all out the way and this makes Clay realize that though he was a negative person a lot of the time he had a positive influence much like how his therapist did on him. Though we don’t know what happens to the characters after this….they will survive.
Life is just a set of chapters and through it all, we will have many ups and downs but we can get through it.
You take care Clay.
That closes out the season and it’s been an emotional ride that really feels like a fitting farewell for one of Netflix’ biggest property.
So that was 13 reasons why and after watching all episodes in the same day I feel like it was an incredible journey that felt like the best send off we could’ve gotten.
13 Reasons Why was brilliant and it gets a…
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on the season and what you took from the ending. Comment below and let me know.