13 Reasons Why—Season 1

13 reasons why season 1 poster review episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Rough and edgy

Tackles too many issues, timeline gets muddled at points

13 reasons why season 1 title card review episode guide

You know what happened, now find out why

Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) has killed herself…but she isn’t gone.  Not only does she leave open wounds for her classmates, she leaves a set of tapes explaining her actions.  The tapes have now reached Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) who learns he’s part of the tapes as well.  As Clay tries to come to grips with what he is hearing, a series of events are unleashed that reveal the truth of what occurred to Hannah and how those around her failed her.  Is Hannah innocent, is Hannah a martyr, or is Hannah a liar?  Clay must uncover the truth…and then decide what to do with it.

13 Reasons Why—Season 1 (sometimes spelled Th1rteen R3asons Why) was released on Netflix on March 31, 2017.  The series is based on the 2007 Jay Asher novel of the same title.  The series was met with praise and controversy due to its nature and later received a warning placed before each episode.

13 reasons why season 1 tape 1 side a review episode guide

Pop in a tape (which of course will make tapes hipster retro)

13 Reasons Why is an odd show.  It feels like a blend of Twin Peaks, Veronica Mars, and the movie Brick.  You know the ending but it is the path to the ending that the story is laid out.  The show has both high points and low points.  13 Reasons Why is a gritty but sometimes over-the-top look at the problems for teens.

The series is largely about teen suicide, but also raises other issues.  It is in these other teen issues that the series seems to falter a bit.  The show takes up so many issues…rape, drugs, drunk driving, LBGTQ issue, voyeurism, abuse, cyberbulling…it becomes almost unnaturally overwhelming.  I realize that teens face this issue, but the combination of the events seems to almost get unrealistic.  I wish the show had pulled back a few of these issues and did not try to tackle everything in one season because it seems to dilute in its message with each episode verging on an Afterschool Special (though it never reaches that).

13 reasons why season 1 episode 11 tape 6 side a hannahs fantasy dylan minnette katherine langford

What could have been…

The show was criticized for “glamorizing” suicide.  It doesn’t necessarily do that, but I do understand the criticism.  Reasons for suicide include causing pain or ending pain.  You could argue that through her tapes Hannah is “sticking it to” the people who hurt her by causing a ton of pain by putting their futures in jeopardy…that’s dangerous.  It does try to balance this with the hurt she caused her parents, etc., but it is easy to see how someone who is already having problems could go the other direction with it…especially since she plotted her suicide (which many suicides are actually spur of the moment ideas that can’t be taken back).

The cast is quite strong.  Dylan Minnette has to be the anchor for the show because he’s the primary listener, and he has to take action.  He has to be likable and he succeeds.  Katherine Langford also is strong as the deceased Hannah Baker (and you wouldn’t know she’s Australian).  The supporting cast is strong but it is also very expansive.  I feel some people get left in the dust by the size of the show and a first viewing of the show doesn’t allow you to differentiate the characters…it also doesn’t make sense entirely that characters don’t show up more until they become a part of the tape when you consider that the tapes are events in the past.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 13 tape 7 side a hannah suicide katherine langford

Don’t think this is easy…

The show looks good, but it looks good to a fault.  There are clever transitions between the tapes and the present with Hannah’s spirit occasionally showing up as well.  It sometimes makes it hard to organize the past and present…especially in the middle of the series where the timeline gets a little fuzzy.  Some of the imagery (including rape and suicide scenes) are rather hard to take and could pose real problems for people watching.

13 Reasons Why isn’t for the squeamish.  The last episode is quite hard to take…it is raw and real.  The path to the ending is long and hard and is necessary for the ending to have an impact, but it is hard to get through the show which sometimes feels like it is moving at a snail’s pace due to how the story retraces steps occasionally.  The series sets up an obvious second season, but I don’t know how it will work with the “13 reasons” exposed and the aftermath as a whole season.  It could be a great discourse on teen problems or it could collapse in on itself…Netflix makes us wait.

13 Reasons Why—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

13 reasons why season 1 episode 1 tape 1 side a hannahs locker

“Tape 1, Side A”

1.1       Tape 1, Side A Release Date:  03/31/17

Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) is dead.  She’s committed suicide and the school is coping with her death.  When Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) receives a mysterious package with tapes blaming him among others for her death, Clay finds himself on a quest to listen to the tapes and hopes they will unlock the secrets of Hannah’s death.  Clay is set on the path of Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn) a guy who sparked Hannah’s interest…and a scandal starts.  Clay finds Tony Padilla (Christian Navarro) might know about the tapes.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 2 tape 1 side b alisha boe katherine langford

“Tape 1, Side B”

1.2       Tape 1, Side B Release Date:  03/31/17

Clay works on the next tape and learns that Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe) is the next subject.  Clay tries to find out what Tony knows about the tapes and receives a warning from Hannah about who knows about him.  Clay learns about Jessica and Hannah’s friendship and the addition of another new student named Alex Standall (Miles Heizer) who joins their circle of friends.  As Clay tries to learn the truth from Jessica, Clay learns Hannah’s tapes might not be accurate as Justin and Jessica worry what Clay will uncover.  Hannah’s parents Andy and Olivia (Brian d’Arcy James and Kate Walsh) seek out why their daughter committed suicide but worry what they’ll find out…leading them to ask Tony for help.

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“Tape 2, Side A”

1.3       Tape 2, Side A Release Date:  03/31/17

Justin continues to dodge school and which draws attention to his absence.  Olivia goes to school to seek answers about her daughter’s death from Principal Gary Bolan (Steven Weber) but discovers secrets about the school’s atmosphere in the bathroom.  A “Hot List” went around the school and Hannah’s place on the list caused a point of contention between Clay and Hannah, but also making Hannah a target by Jessica.  Clay talks to Alex about the tapes, but Alex gives him a warning about Tony.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 4 tape 2 side b tyler devin druid

“Tape 2, Side B”

1.4       Tape 2, Side B Release Date:  03/31/17

Clay learns about Hannah’s stalker Tyler Down (Devin Druid) and what he did to Hannah.  Hannah tells the story of how she became close to Courtney Crimsen (Michele Selene Ang) and how it all went wrong.  Clay’s parents worry about Clay’s changes in behavior as Olivia meets Clay for the first time.  Tyler learns actions have consequences.

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“Tape 3, Side A”

1.5       Tape 3, Side A Release Date:  03/31/17

Clay remembers the Winter Formal and reaches out to Courtney about the tapes…but learns that Courtney might not be trusted.  Clay’s mother Lainie (Amy Hargreaves) learns that she’s been tapped to defend the school in the Bakers’ case.  Justin, Jessica, Alex, Courtney, Tyler, Zach Dempsey (Ross Butler), and Marcus Cole (Steven Silver) set out to stop Clay from listening to the tapes and give him a warning.

13 reasons why season 4 episode 6 tape 3 side b marcus stephen silver katherine langford

“Tape 3, Side B”

1.6       Tape 3, Side B Release Date:  03/31/17

A fight breaks out between Alex and Montgomery (Timothy Granaderos) leading the school to face potential legal issues.  Dollar Valentines ended up hooking up Hannah and Marcus Cole (Steven Silver) while Jeff Atkins (Brandon Larracuente) pressured Clay into doing it as well.  Hannah’s parents wonder if deciding to move Hannah led to Hannah’s decision.  Hannah revealed how her date with Marcus failed.  Jessica and Justin worry that things are falling apart, and Jessica finds Justin crosses the line.  Clay spends time with Sheri Holland (Ajiona Alexus) and wonders if he made a mistake with the Valentine’s Day plans while Sherri reveals a secret to Clay.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 7 tape 4 side a basketball court hannah katherine langford

“Tape 4, Side A”

1.7       Tape 4, Side A Release Date:  03/31/17

Clay gets to Zach and Clay learns how Zach moved in after Marcus’ failed Valentine’s date.  Clay’s hallucinations of revenge and lashing out continue to grow…leading to Clay lashing out at Zach with some help from Skye Miller (Sosie Bacon).  Clay’s actions with Zach leads to Clay’s mother and father (Josh Hamilton) having questions about what is going on with Clay.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 8 tape 4 side b mountain climbing dylan minnette christian navarro

“Tape 4, Side B”

1.8       Tape 4, Side B Release Date:  03/31/17

Justin, Zach, Alex, Jessica, Marcus, and Courtney wonder what to do about Clay, and Tony agrees to try to talk to him…leading to a big climb.  A career day led Hannah to join a poetry group where Ryan Shaver (Tommy Dorfman) helped her tap into her emotions…but decides Hannah’s expression needs to be seen.  Tony reveals how he came to possess the tapes.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 9 tape 5 side a jessica rape justine prentice alisha boe

“Tape 5, Side A”

1.9       Tape 5, Side A Release Date:  03/31/17

Hannah dreamed of a change over summer vacation while Clay learns what happened at Jessica’s party after Justin started dating Jessica.  Marcus and Justin decide they have to deal with Clay and head Clay off at the pass.  Clay confesses he knew Hannah to his mother as he tries to find a way to right a crime that Hannah saw.  Justin debates telling the truth about what happened at Jessica’s party.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 10 tape 5 side b sheri ajiona alexus dylan minnette

“Tape 5, Side B”

1.10     Tape 5, Side B Release Date:  03/31/17

Clay reaches Sheri tape and learns what happened after Jessica’s rape by Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice).  Clay learns how Jeff’s death occurred and how Sherri might have had to do with the death of his friend…leading him to take action.  Jessica continues to spiral out of control as Justin distances himself from her.  Sheri tries to convince Clay that Hannah’s view of her isn’t the truth.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 11 tape 6 side a clay kisses hannah katherine langford dylan minnette

“Tape 6, Side A”

1.11     Tape 6, Side A Release Date:  03/31/17

Clay has finally reached own tape and learns how what happened between him and Hannah at the party affected Hannah.  Counsellor Kevin Porter (Derek Luke) learns that Hannah might have reached out to a teacher and worries he could lose his job.  Clay has a confrontation with Skye over his relationship with Hannah and their past.  Hannah reveals the night that Clay could have changed things leaving Clay wondering what he could have done differently.  Justin learns that Jessica is spending out with Brice leading to a confrontation.  Olivia discovers Hannah’s list of the tape recipients.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 12 tape 6 side b bryce justine prentice dylan minnette

“Tape 6, Side B”

1.12     Tape 6, Side B Release Date:  03/31/17

The Bakers have called the people from Hannah’s list for testimony as Hannah recalls her worst day when she made a mistake involving the store’s deposit.  Clay works to deliver the tapes to the next person, but worries that the thirteenth person won’t get the tapes.  Tyler plots his future as Sheri makes a decision about her actions.  Zach, Tyler, Alex, Marcus, Ryan, and Courtney meet to plan their strategy.  Olivia confronts Tony about Hannah’s list and why he is on it.  Clay confronts Bryce about what happened to Hannah at Bryce’s party.

13 reasons why season 1 episode 13 tape 7 side a hannah suicide kate walsh katherine langford

“Tape 7, Side A”

1.13     Tape 7, Side A Release Date:  03/31/17

The deposition begins and the story begins to come out.  Hannah finishes her tapes and realizes that she still has hope…leading to a failed cry for help to Porter.  Alex makes a life or death decision.  Tyler makes a decision on how to handle the people who have targeted him.  Hannah’s parents get a copy of the tapes.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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